D1203 T2157 Y2007Inside Bungie Studios

Click here to spend 17 minutes with Bungie Studios.

On 29 November 2007, “Tied the Leader” bypassed lobby security and infiltrated the multiplayer test lab at Bungie Studios for an advanced view of the downloadable content [hereafter to be referred to as “DLC”] in the Heroic Map Pack. Since that time, we have existed in a cone of silence at an undisclosed location, honoring the terms and conditions of a Non-Disclosure Agreement that we didn’t read as carefully as we should have. With the press embargo lifted, the story can be told…

The developers behind this offering put a carefully selected press corps through the paces of what awaits the Halo Nation on 11 December 2007. Various objectives were prosecuted in test matches hosted within each new environment. They also shared with TTL their perspectives on the rigors of keeping the Halo Experience fresh and new on Xbox Live.

You are welcome to listen in on the dialogue.

Special thanks to the Bungie guys who were gracious enough to sit before the mic and submit themselves to our curiosities.
They include:

Lars Bakken, Multiplayer Designer

Steve Cotton, Mission Design Lead

Brian Jarrard, Community and Franchise Lead

The hospitality of everyone at Bungie Studios was immensely appreciated. This was not a press event as much as it was a LAN Party – right down to the sprawling spread of pizza boxes that showed up at Noon. TTL was thrilled to lock horns and butt heads with everyone from HBO to IGN. The mood was casual and the gaming was good.


What’s that? Oh! You want to see the new maps? Why didn’t you just say so?

Very well then. Commencing full disclosure of all that was revealed…

This is an Official Warfare Briefing from the Tied the Leader Intelligence Agency. What you are about to see is Classified. Below the line, you will access tactical analysis and file photos for the next three theatres of combat in the Battle of the Halo Nation.


This skirmish zone has been compared to “Blood Gulch, except squished together, with 4000 foot satellite dishes”. While the resemblance to that coagulated classic is obvious, this map provides a more intimate gaming experience. By “intimate”, we do in fact mean more violent. You won’t find yourself joyriding across the plains of Standoff in search of targets – they will be everywhere.

On a symmetrical field that is perfect for team-based gameplay, opposing bases stare each other down from across the map. Missile silos border the midfield and add shape to the space. You can exit the map quite easily, but your time outside the boundaries will be spent in freefall – briefly.

With a Warthog [as well as a Mongoose or two] in every garage, there a lot of ways to get from one base to the other – and safely home again. Some are more dangerous than others, it should be said. Holding to the perimeter is a better means of insuring a strike team’s safety.

Love your motorpool on this map. No one gamer will carry their team to a win in a match on Standoff alone. It may be a smaller map, but it’s still a long walk home, carrying that flag all by one’s self. The Spartan Laser in the center will be the prized possession of both teams.

Anticipate a ruthless crossfire in the midfield. They don’t call this map ‘Standoff’ for nothing. When the objective is in play, both teams will find themselves fighting toe to toe to decide the outcome. The shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line.

Of course, in the effort of balanced gameplay, there are many ways to take down the vehicle team that tries to skirt the fight in the center. Power weapons litter the lanscape, and a turret perches atop each roof. No free rides. Weapon control equals map control.


Like the name suggests, “Foundry” is the perfect companion to “Forge”. The hammer and anvil of the custom game architect will be gifted with a blank canvas to fill with howling darkness from every corner of their imagination. The default maze of scenery will provide a willing thunderdome for game variants found in every matchmaking hopper.

Prepare for close-quarters combat. Danger lurks around every corner. If you can hear that grenade bouncing at your feet, you may find that it is already too late, as you have nowhere to run! Get comfortable and make some friends – and some enemies.

Don’t let the tight spaces fool you, however. There is enough room to make the outcome of any objective uncertain. When you see your territory marker winking under the assault of your opponent, you will actually find yourself wishing Foundry was smaller.

Rule of thumb: Hold the high ground. Rain down ordnance on your opponents, or choose a route for safe passage above the carnage below. Death awaits any foolish souls who patrol the trenches. How is your crouch jump? It will be tested.

Memorizing every nook and cranny of this killzone will take more than a few games. Foundry is a camper’s delight. Cover is ample. Hiding spots are abundant. With one’s favorite power-weapon, and a little patience, the pickings will not be slim. Look to the skies for vultures if your boots are on the ground.

Everything you see in Foundry can be made to go away in Forge. Drop in your own scenery. Add your favorite weapons. Throw down a vehicle or two. Maybe even add a soccer ball [that’s right, I said a soccer ball]. The potential for customization of Foundry is as endless as any gamer’s imagination.

Rat’s Nest!

This gamerblogger’s favorite environment in the Heroic Map Pack, Rat’s Nest is an indoor track with a very hostile infield. Hit and run vehicular tactics will come into play on any objective match. The call for a race game forged onto this map is so obvious, you can almost smell the smoking rubber.

Welcome to blue base. Your objective site lives here. To your left is a multi-level passage-way [bristling with power weapons] that leads to red base. To your right, outside the arch, is your motorpool. Use it well, or perish you will.

The “outer ring” promises a demolition derby at every turn. It’s the fastest way to the other side of the map. Your opponents know this as well. Ready yourselves for some head-on collisions, as there is not much of a passing lane on this obstacle course.

You are looking at the only sunlight you will see on this indoor map. Enjoy the view, but don’t fall – or get blasted – off the cliff. You are also looking at the best way to see your flag carrier home safely. Don’t make a brother walk! It’s a tough road to travel.

Your alternative is a field trip through the middle of the structure. As you can see, it is not a quiet neighborhood. The locals have access to just about everything that makes you dead, fast. They have been known to sport itchy trigger fingers.

If you must walk home, try not to play in traffic. There are no crossing guards in the Rat’s Nest. Pedestrians were seen coming to an untimely end on most occasions. While some game protagonists travel through the ductwork, a SPARTAN rises above it.

Here endeth the lesson. Your access to the DLC goes live in a week. See you in the game. Thanks again to Bungie Studios for the sneak peak, and for the chance to learn more about the motivations behind their creative process…

Posted by XerxdeeJ

Comment 24

  1. #LINK D1204 T1426
    TTL Jericho wrote...

    Nice cup of awesome.

  2. #LINK D1204 T1503
    TTL Stuicide wrote...

    I can’t wait another week!

    Great write ups, I wanna play Rat’s Nest now.

  3. #LINK D1204 T1517
    Tornado wrote...

    oh my… counting down the hours to teh awesome.

    christmas is coming early this year!

  4. #LINK D1204 T1518
    Flying Penguin wrote...

    RLY? Soccer balls? I shall make mongeese soccer!

  5. #LINK D1204 T1522
    Hoovaloov wrote...



    Can haS NU mapz NOW, pleAZ??!

  6. #LINK D1204 T1544
    TTL mvuakali wrote...

    Great Interviews. I enjoyed this piece and can’t wait for the new maps.

  7. #LINK D1204 T1550
    XerxdeeJ wrote...

    Flying Penguin wrote…

    “RLY? Soccer balls? I shall make mongeese soccer!”

    Really. Although, Mongoose Soccer is more of a Polo variant. The Bungie guys had us playing Soccer with Gravity Hammers. Sketch was even using scenery items to issue red cards.

    Since there is no way to “score” a soccer game, it is a good idea to play in Forge, so that you have a Monitor to move the ball and keep the peace.

  8. #LINK D1204 T1646
    TTL Bjorni wrote...

    Whoehoe, now I can’t wait for next week.

    Looking forward to all three. Some variation in the BtB diet and a new sandbox to play in.

  9. #LINK D1204 T1650
    Locke wrote...


    Good Game.

  10. #LINK D1204 T1707
    VoltRabbit wrote...

    Man, to think I was within 25min driving distance from this spectacular event! Some day my time will come!

  11. #LINK D1204 T1710
    ScrewChiller wrote...

    Deej I’m seriously in jealous with you. 12-11 = Christmas

    Did anyone say, “So how’s the new Marathon game coming along?” to the Bungie guys.

    Nice write up Deej!

  12. #LINK D1204 T1813
    Blarg wrote...


  13. #LINK D1204 T1850
    TTL zeuz patter wrote...

    Definitly your best podcast up to now. Not just cause my name is there just at the end. Loved the music backgroud. Halowize, ilove knowing there a lot more coming, somehow, someday.

  14. #LINK D1205 T0626
    SG Noodles wrote...

    Nice write up and great interviews deej. I will be having a buddy of mine link here from SG if you don’t mind (I cannot access SG from work…but he can).

  15. #LINK D1205 T0915
    LightSword wrote...

    Nice write up Deej. Sweet looking maps with a ton of potential so time to start our imagination rolling. I’m all in on the soccer matches just be careful I may be tempted to attach a gift with the shot.

  16. #LINK D1205 T0949
    dark eh-nus wrote...

    i see many steak dinners to come…..

  17. #LINK D1205 T1142
    Monte wrote...

    great job deej. Extremely enjoyable listening. I can’t wait for some of those camping spots. Also, thanks for the mention. Now I’m a celebrity.

  18. #LINK D1205 T1157
    TTL Gunslinger wrote...

    That podcast made me giddy. Outstanding work Deej and Jericho.

  19. #LINK D1205 T1424
    Quantifier wrote...

    definitely can’t wait.

    Just wondering if they said whether they’ll have a playlist just for the new maps and/or whether they will integrate them into existing playlists?

  20. #LINK D1205 T1548
    XerxdeeJ wrote...

    Quantifier wrote…

    “Just wondering if they said whether they’ll have a playlist just for the new maps and/or whether they will integrate them into existing playlists?”

    That is a great question, because it points to some very smart actions that they have taken…

    There will be a playlist that features DLC content. However, these maps will be included in the matchmaking playlists where they belong. The matchmaking engine will be able to detect who has the maps installed on their console, and will load them in if everyone is ready to play. This does not punish the gamers who download the content by isolating them from the rest of the community.

    The new Bungie Podcast has some more information on the Heroic Map Pack.

  21. #LINK D1205 T2253
    twinkletoes69 wrote...

    im lovin the new maps and i cant wait for them to come out i sould be level 50 general but until then merry christmas everyone and happy new year!!!! By the way great job on HALO 3!!!! i love it…. HALOS Number 1 Fan!!!

  22. #LINK D0308 T0542
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