Dear 343 Industries: we heartily approve of this newfound willingness to share gameplay details about Halo 4. Long may it continue. And long may you continue to make multiplayer maps like Warhouse, or whatever you end up calling Warhouse. The opportunity to do battle on the surface of a deep-space mining craft? That'll do very, very nicely indeed, thanks.
"The original concept for Warhouse (which is a working title and not the final name) was to build a smaller level catered to Slayer," writes the ever-informative Bs Angel on Halo Waypoint. "It was born from the idea that a symmetrical map doesn't have to be generic. We wanted it to feel like something memorable, from an interesting and unseen part of the Halo universe, that tells a story.
"We explored several ideas for the theme, including a space platform, a spooky science experiment, and a jungle-bound UNSC facility for bio research. We settled on the space-platform idea, which eventually evolved into a stratospheric gas-mining ship. This idea offered not only more explanation for gravity, but also greater opportunities for orienting players.
"Inspiration for this map came from a wide variety of places, including oil refineries, giant mechs from films and cartoons, NASA imagery of gas giants, naval shipyards, and aircraft carriers, to name a few. We also referenced numerous well-developed sci-fi places throughout its development.
"Because Warhouse is a symmetrical map, our greatest challenge was making sure players know where they are at any given point, and yet having it make sense as an inspiring visual story. There are lots of complex mirrored paths which could be overwhelming, so we had to develop landmarks and key features to give players a sense of unique position.
"Adding another layer of complexity to situational awareness was the fact that this map is made entirely of man-made surfaces, with no terrain. Answers came in the form of symmetrical design elements that fit within each side's geometry and convince players that each side is visually very different.
"We wanted this playspace to be similar competition-wise to older symmetrical maps in previous Halos, so we sought influence from those, and also from the industrial close-quarters combat in more recent games. There are many paths from the center room, allowing you to surprise opponents from unexpected directions and separate them from their comrades. There are also numerous over-and-under pathways that can be used to sneak up behind opponents who are holding their ground. Since this map is symmetrical, one team doesn't have an advantage over the other based on where they spawn or what part of the map they control.
"If you are a fan of small-team, close-quarters combat, or you love wreaking havoc with effective, close-range infantry weapons, Warhouse is for you. If you're not a fan of small-team, close-quarters combat, or you don't love wreaking havoc with effective, close-range infantry weapons, Warhouse is still for you. You'll see. In Holiday 2012, of course."