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I was recently showing my friend around Heretic and I decided to show him the ambiance. After a few tries, I glitched the camera out of the map in Theater mode. We did the usual and flew our cameras around the huge area, to the huge silver Covenant cruisers, when suddenly I decided to fly out further than I ever had. While he was exploring the vast interior of the closer cruiser, I was already past the second, on my way to the proposed "edge of the skybox".
I discovered that the far away purple ships are very 2-D and pixelly; much like some of the trees on Delta Halo and Regret which I love so much. My friend decided to follow me, but by that time, I was already past the last ship, heading closer to the stars. Eventually, after several minutes the stars began getting larger, until only a few were on my screen. Finally, I was past the stars in an impenetrable blackness and I lost all sense of direction.
I was just about to turn back when my screen had a seizure and a bunch of random colors were on it. I looked back at the cruisers; they were tiny, and surrounded by a freaky sphere. By this time, we had clocked nearly a half an hour in exploring the space around Heretic. After escaping the seizury blackness, I decided to try and get to the pretty blue nebula encircling the skybox. I flew beside the stars, which were, by the way, flat white cubes painted to a black background.
I was making progress, when I suddenly realized I hadn't warned my friend to avoid the blackness beyond the stars. When I finally contacted him again, he told me that he was deep in the darkness and was completely lost; all he could see was the cruiser farthest from the level. I immediately told him to turn back. He did, and his screen was assailed by retarded colorful seizures. By now, I was making slow progress to the nebula. Finally, after nearly 45 minutes in space, I was there. It was flat, but arched inward. My next objective was to fly to the ringed planet off in the distance.
I flew along the nebula and after another 10 minutes, discovered that the planet was reachable. It too, was simply a 2-D picture. I flew through the planet, and continued along the nebula to my next objective, the sun. By now you might be thinking, who would spend an hour exploring a vast empty space? I'm an explorer, what can I say. I've clocked hours in Delta Halo, bringing Ghosts, Warthogs, and Scorpions outside the level and fooling around with them.
After another long while, I left the blue nebula and reached the sun, a huge white light in the sky. It was surrounded by a weird aura of orange dust, which I went through. The sun was huge and bright, negated by the aura. It was bright, white, and hot... and flat. Still nice looking though. My final task was to discover the planet that is rumored to host Sandbox. I followed the nebula until I left it again, almost an hour and a half after I started the film. By this time, my friend had decided to fly over the level and approach the planet from the front.
I arrived at the planet, and I discovered it was the largest of the lot, almost four times as large as the huge and blinding sun. I flew past it quickly, now eager to get to the bottom of the skybox and leave. I flew back to the blue nebula for the last time, eager to follow it into the blackness of stars. My friend arrived at the planet minutes later, and I flew past the tail end of the nebula. I flew into the blackness, and my friend explored the surface of the planet, until finally, 2 hours after I had started the film, I ended it.
My conclusion is this: I should have used the Pan Cam. The ordinary camera is simply too slow for circumventing such a vast space, even using the boost. Heretic is surrounded by the largest skybox I have ever seen in a Halo game, even larger than that of Epitaph, and about 100 times larger than that of Citadel (metaphorically speaking). The men who worked on the beautiful art of Heretic should be proud of what they have achieved. This has definitely got me thinking about the unimaginable vastness of the real universe.
Halo: Reach Map Editor
There's a rumor circulating around the web that a Map Editor is set to be released with Halo: Reach this September. This ties in with the Heretic skybox. If Reach has a map editor similar to that of Far Cry 2 or Halo: Custom Edition, imagine the possibilities, especially since we know Bungie is capable of such detail and huge areas. I sincerely hope a full featured map editor will be included in Reach. By the way, you Forge people, Bungie has already confirmed Forge. Combined with the epic campaign, the intense multiplayer, the super-customizable Firefight, Custom Games, and Forge, a map Editor would be a welcome addition to Reach.