The Lost City
From Halopedia, the Halo wiki
- "All I can say is, imagine a beard trimmer, and each blade of the comb is the size of manhattan, each with tiered 'hoods."
- — Paul Russel
"The Lost City", also known as "Forerunner Condo" to Bungie and "Cuesta Verde", was a visual look-development level created during the development of Halo 3. It was cut during the development process, as the space had grown so immense that according to Paul Russel, "it could be a game in itself". The final iteration's exterior appears to have influenced the design of the final game's Cartographer: the forward half of the city, especially its spire, is virtually identical to the map room's exterior structure. A building identical to the third iteration was also featured in the Halo Legends episode Origins.
Development and design
Built by Bungie environment artist Paul Russel, the level was to be based around a massive Forerunner city and served as a visual look-dev test for the game's campaign. Russell stated that they "had a lot of ideas for the discarded forerunner city" including showing what the Forerunner values were and using the architecture to show how they lived their daily life. They stated that their goal was to create something more than "just cool shapes with mysterious purpose," creating something that told a story. Russel stated that in total, there "were probably 10 different versions of the city."
Once the architectural blockout was made, it was passed on to Vic Deleon, who populated the area with vegetation, entropy, and lighting. They worked on the project for around three weeks alongside a cut level named "Tsavo Township" before being moved to making multiplayer maps for Halo 2 DLC. By this time, the fiction surrounding the structure was that it was to be a housing complex for Forerunner scientists living on the ring, possibly the Librarian's team. The idea of this iteration was to design the abandoned living space with a courtyard, one that had fallen into disrepair. Another developer, Dan Miller, stated that the level was cut as the development team felt it would give too much away about the Forerunners and their mystery.
Vic Deleon's art pass
The near-final iterations by Vic DeLeon in 2005, running in the "Halo 2.5-3" engine.
- Twitter, Paul Russel (@Dr_Abominable): "All I can say is, imagine a beard trimmer, and each blade of the comb is the size of manhattan, each with tiered 'hoods." (Retrieved on Oct 30, 2020) [archive]
- Twitter, Paul Russel (@Dr_Abominable): "That's a trace of a screenshot I took of one of the concepts. I think version 3 of a city." (Retrieved on Oct 30, 2020) [archive]
- Picasaweb.google.com (defunct): Paul Russel > Halo 3: The Lost City (Retrieved on Feb 11, 2011) [archive]
- Twitter, Vic DeLeon (@vicdeleon): "We called it Forerunner Condo. I called it Cuesta Verde phase 4. The fiction behind it was a supposed housing complex for Forerunner scientists living on the ring. Maybe for the Librarian's team? I don't really remember." (Retrieved on Apr 14, 2020) [archive]
- Twitter, Paul Russel (@Dr_Abominable): "In terms of creating spaces that had cultural function, tried to imply Forerunner daily life through architecture. What their values were. How function and form worked, probably the most interesting thing I took on, because it wasn't just cool shapes with mysterious purpose. Telling a story" (Retrieved on May 16, 2016) [archive]
- Twitter, Vic Deleon (@vicdeleon): "So here's three shots taken in-game wayyy back in 2005 running a version of the #Halo 2.5-3 engine. The idea was to design an abandoned Forerunner "living space" with courtyard, and fallen into disrepair. @Dr_Abominable made the original structures and I modified, added entropy." (Retrieved on Apr 14, 2020) [archive]
- Twitter, Vic Deleon (@vicdeleon): "I spent roughly three weeks working on both this and a test for Tsavo Township (which was put on hold) until I was moved over to making multiplayer maps for the Halo2 DLC." (Retrieved on Apr 14, 2020) [archive]
- NeoGAF, Halo - OT14 - They call it Halo: "Developer Insight #9 Everyone here remembers the concept art for Forerunner City, right? Bungie cut that in part because, when they went through the concept art, they felt like they would have to give away too much about the Forerunners. Dan was originally assigned to this level and Guardian Forest." - Dan Miller (Retrieved on Oct 10, 2021) [archive]