The most memorable aspect of Halo 2 Single Player for me was touching down on Earth in New Mombasa and getting to not only engage the Covenant on Master Chief's home turf, but in a urban setting as well. As a player, I always wanted to have that experience in multiplayer of speeding through the streets and alleyways of New Mombasa in a Warthog, having a running gun fight over the rooftops, and sniping at opposing players as they moved in and out of cover and ducked into alleyways on the intervening city streets.
The initial inspiration for District came from the starting areas in the Outskirts single player campaign, I always thought the atrium area had a lot of great multiplayer gameplay potential and this area served as my starting or anchor point for the design and construction of the level. I am also a fan of the Turf multiplayer level, both in terms of gameplay and aesthetics, so my goal was to not only create a level that combined all of these great gameplay elements, but combined the various aesthetic elements as well.
During design and construction, District was broken down into several sections, each with their own aesthetic and gameplay style. These areas served as landmarks for navigation, which is very important in a map with an urban layout. For example, “The Atrium” provides the player a close combat experience with multiple exits and entrances in the form of a three story building where the player can fight around, on top, or crash through the glass ceiling of the structure in order to reach their objective. It differs greatly from “The Parking Garage” area, where the player is offered a much more medium-range fighting environment around parked cars and ramps, where there is the constant threat of vehicles speeding around and between the floors of the structure.
District was always meant to be very vehicle oriented, especially with regards to the Warthog. Some of the most successful aspects of the Timberland level that I created for Halo PC were the vehicle elements, the crazy and daring jumps and shortcuts, the winding roads and rolling terrain, and the balance these created between players on foot and in vehicles. I wanted to carry over those same successful aspects into an urban setting. Hills and winding roads were replaced with buildings and alleyways, jumps were created so that skilled players could go barreling down the street and catch air as they crested the hills or as they raced to the edge of a multi-level parking garage and flew off the second floor landing onto the street below.
The end result is that District turned out to be a very unique level that compliments the existing set of Halo 2 maps very well. It is a well-rounded vehicle-oriented level that offers a variety of gameplay through the various areas of the level, it is these distinct areas that make the level very fun and challenging in Capture the Flag, the various King of the Hill game type variants as well as the Slayer game type variants. - David Mertz, Pi Studios Lead Designer on Halo 2 Vista
One of my primary goals when conceiving a multiplayer map is to have a unique central theme. With Uplift, I knew I wanted to do something similar to Relic, which is my favorite of the Halo 2 multiplayer maps. The initial concept was to create a Forerunner equivalent of a space elevator by twisting the concept and making it an energy beam of some kind. I figured that the energy beam and associated structure would look cool and give the level the desired central theme as well as provide the main landmark for the level.
With a central theme established, I tinkered with shapes for the main Forerunner structures and created a rough layout. During the rough layout, I experimented with creating this huge bridge stretching across the area. I figured if I set it up right I could get a lot of cover points along the bridge and have a really direct route between the two bases in multiplayer games. This direct route could create some really fun and interesting gameplay situations between players on foot and players in vehicles. The bridge would be a traffic focal point, making things insanely chaotic and dangerous for players on foot, but also tricky to drive in a vehicle. Just as I had hoped, the bridge ended up being the infantry route and the terrain below is a vehicle playground. More adventurous and skilled players will always give the bridge route a try with success or failure being spectacular in either case.
Vehicles play a significant role in Uplift, and in keeping with that theme, I designed and created the level with vehicle access to the interiors of the Forerunner base structures in mind. As a result, the level ended up with two very different feeling gameplay areas. I am very happy with the result and Uplift has proven to be a very fun level in team objective-based modes such as Capture the Flag (CTF) and Team King of the Hill, as well as standard King of the Hill. - Jeremy Statz, Pi Studios Senior Designer on Halo 2 Vista