Level: Composer

Level: Composer

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Experience the Level

The left column features videos and descriptions of the major events for each section.


 
Development and Analysis

The right column focuses on the planning, decisions, and iterations for the section.

This side also includes analysis of the section's successes and failures.



Re-activating the Defenses

The Master Chief arrives at a small control room with a panoramic window view of the surface of the asteroid (which the station has been built into).  He marvels at the sight:  humans and Covenant fighting in the low-gravity environment outside; powerful MAC cannons dotting the jagged, rocky hills; the Forerunner dreadnought looming over the scene...

If the player has sharp eyes, he'll also notice a human dead body and think to wonder if danger is about.




Otherwise, the Chief will have a nasty shock as he approaches the control console—an invisible Elite was using the console, and another was also invisible just steps away!  Even without backup, these two veteran combatant can be tough to overcome in the small space.

When the Elites have been dealt with, Cortana asks to be put into the console to start up the automated defenses...  but something ominous in her gleeful, Rampant tone might give the player a moment's pause.

When inserted, Cortana manages to re-activate the defense systems and suggests that it's time to return to protecting the Composer.


Gameplay Video
 
Decisions

In addition to providing a "big moment" for the player before the level's final battle, the unique combat of this scene has an interesting story behind it.




While we were developing the level, certain pieces got shuffled around while we looked for the proper places for them.  As the team settled on what would be the level's final progression (one which solved a lot of issues we'd struggled with), we noticed that the end of the level had a few less combat sequences left than originally planned.

I was asked to look at this space (the defense grid control room) in particular and see what I could add that would ensure the room's function wasn't just a narrative payoff (right before another narrative payoff after the level's big finale).

I knew the level, though, and knew that this space hadn't been built in a way well-suited to much of a fight.

As a gamble, I decided to throw in a couple of my favorite enemies from previous Halo games (which I hadn't seen used anywhere else in the game at that point in development)—cloaked Elite warriors.




On the face of it, this was a ridiculous idea:  cloaked Elites are the cream of the crop among their armies, and the possibility that they might be around is enough to give veteran Halo players clammy palms.  Not the sort of challenge to give the player in a room with no cover and no opportunity to retreat.

Against the odds, it worked!  People at the studio loved it.

Hopefully players at home forgive the shock of them showing up without warning (other than the dead ONI soldier)...



Returning to the Atrium

The Master Chief overcomes a few additional challenges on the way back to the Atrium, capping off the "corridors" portion of the level with an intense hallway battle.


Gameplay Video

 
Intent

Sometimes all you want in a Halo combat encounter is a return to the fundamentals.




Similarly, in a game that introduces a whole suite of new Promethean enemies and weaponry, I considered myself pretty lucky to have been assigned a level where the enemies and weapons were largely familiar, known quantities, with their rules already established.

The fiction, essentially, is that the Didact thinks humans so beneath him that he sends his most disposable footsoldiers (the Covenant who worship him as a god) to deal with them rather than spend any of his Promethean warriors on the task.




The reality is that the development team wisely understood that there needs to be an ebb and flow with introducing new elements... a periodic return to the familiar for comparison, combination, and sometimes just a breather from new features.

Since the final level would be heavily based around fighting these new enemies, why not have one last mission with the trusty old Covenant we know and love?



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