I originally started working on Simulacra on April 15th 2012. As the first details of Halo 4 were starting to surface I wanted to create a map that would start it's testing in Halo Reach, but still be designed around and be intended for Halo 4.
The idea was simple. I loved working on Unconquered, and I wanted to take everything I had learned about asymmetrical design from working on that map and apply it to a new asymmetrical map intended for Halo 4. I knew that I had to carefully balance the power positions as each part of the map had to have it's own appeal for players. Without traditional weapon drops, I knew that map flow had to be controlled using the appeal of locations rather than an appeal of a weapon spawn.
The first version of Simulacra ended up being overly complex. There was three floors. The basement floor had a construct feel to it, and the man cannons and paths would bring you to different location and power positions. The over complexity of the design was brought up and players were not immediately noticing the bottom floor, so it was ultimately scrapped for a two floor version that became the first official Beta.
As time went on players were tired of the bland gray look and I wanted to measure the map out to have the first floors in the blue corner and the man cannon to be at the same height. Even though the aesthetic wouldn't be ultimately decided until Halo 4, I wanted players to want to test the map. Which made having some aesthetics important to continue the testing of Simulacra.
During this version a pillar was also added to Blue room to give cover in the approach to the center. Various height variations were added and Blue corner was given it's own heightened power position. The teleporter entrance was also moved to accommodate the new corner.
Now that I was happy with the gameplay and the layout. I knew I had to adjust the sizing of the map for Halo 4. During this phase i also cleaned up the sizing of hallways and ramps to fit a 3 and 6 foot theme, making the map seem more consistent. The expansion also makes the size of the man cannon grass area larger, so a new path now leads up to the teleporter exit and a separate path leads up to blue spawn. The path from the teleporter exit room to blue spawn room also got broken up, and the teleporter exit room also has a balcony to break up sight lines on the first floor and enable a jump to center bridge.
Now that the new sizing is figured out, I have been working on getting the vertical feeling of the previous versions back into the latest sizing.
Simulacra has been tested for only a few days short of six months. The testing already shows, and I'll be very happy to have something substantial to bring in to Halo 4 on day one. Players like Nak3d Eli, Hypotonic, and EGX Hype have all played and loved the map, so I hope that as time goes on and Halo 4 comes out, I'll not only have forging communities to depend on for testing, but competitive communities as well.
Here's some Gameplay of the newest version. The map is being tested with MLG settings with sprint and radar enabled. This allows for testing the size for Halo 4.
"This dread born of risk is not the opposite of joy, or even of quiet activity and calm enjoyment. It transcends such oppositions and lives in secret communion with the serene and gentle yearnings of creativity."