Level Design‎ > ‎

Leveraging Meta

We have talked about how to add depth to your map through Geometry, through Weapons, and through Vehicles. In each case we are adding meta games through these methods. But now I want to talk about leveraging the meta found in Halo itself. This can be meta that is common to all titles, or meta that is specific to a few titles only.

Halo Is Full Of Meta

I had always known that meta was short for meta game, and that meta game simply meant a game within the game. Everything I talked about thus far in this chapter on Depth can be summarized as adding meta to your map – adding a game within the game when the game is played on your map. But when I asked at Beyond Entertainment what they felt the term meta meant, I was surprised how abstract they took the term.[1]

Halo has meta in it. You simply leverage it in your map. Power Weapons – meta. Vehicles – meta.  Jumping ability – meta (you can create trick jumps that make the game play differently, advantageously, etc.).

Not all meta is good for the game. Take sprint and jet pack for example.

Learning to leverage the meta that is there will help your map become more interesting. I want to take a look at just two. In the first case, dropping the flag, is title specific – Halo 4 lacked this meta. In the second case, jumping, all titles have this, though the height varies from title to title. But they can all result in trick jumps that players discover and utilize to their advantage.

Drop The Flag

If you can drop the flag, you can drop it through a window (throw it) where a teammate is waiting to take it. Isolation on Halo 3 was an example where you could throw the flag out the window of one base, take a short walk to the other side of the tunnel between the two bases, and throw it through the window of the other base to capture the flag. Isolation’s design of having its front doors face away from each other while their back windows face toward each other leverages this particular meta in Halo 3. Isolation’s design makes throwing the flag through the window extremely advantageous, because it bypasses any setup that the defenders may be creating near their front door, and it cuts the trek, the time, and the effort to capture the flag substantially less.

Trick Jumps

There are many examples of trick jumps, or tac jumps (tactical jumps), found on any map. Some are intentionally forged into the map, but quite often many are found over time by adventurous players. You should intend to provide a few trick jumps to make your map interesting to play on. Some players just love trick jumps. But realize there are going to be some that you never saw until others demonstrate them.

Trick jumps are a product of jumping itself. Unlike most other FPS games, jumping in Halo yields a much higher than normal jump. Each title is different, so you need to experiment and see how hard each trick jump will be.

By adding trick jumps to your map, you increase the skill gap. But be sure you make jumps that are readily performed by seasoned players. Trick jumps should not be hit and miss – they shouldn’t be border line in success when done right.


You can leverage game meta in your map to make your map more interesting.

Some meta is title specific and some is across all titles. So you want to get familiar with the title you are forging for and see how you can leverage its particular meta.

Leveraging meta should result in advantages, such as faster movement to a higher location, faster movement of the flag, etc.

[1] Defining Meta @ Beyond Entertainment, a collection of feedback worth reading through