Halortal: When Portal and Halo collide

(tl;dr? All of the puzzle download links are on the last page for you!)

At this point, I’m sure you’ve played Halo 3, and I’d sure hope you’ve played and beaten Portal already. (It’s only, like, 3 hours long. Go get that cake!) But what if you could take the shooter aspects of Halo and combine them with the puzzle-solving of Portal? Thanks to Halo’s Forge feature, anything is possible, and one particular gamer has decided it’s time to combine these two first-person experiences. KAEBERS, the inventor of Puzzle Play, is responsible for spilling the mind-boggling aspects of Portal into the action-packed FPS world of Halo, and the result is just phenomenal.

The primary goal in Puzzle Play is to escape, very similar to Portal. Using a combination of barriers, crates, weapons, and preset teleports, you’re instructed to plow through each level in a strategic and thought-out manner. Your character starts out with only the sword as a weapon, but eventually encounters new artillery to use throughout the map. While the maps are often linear, they’re extremely mind-boggling and, at the end, very rewarding. Now, the actual game-type is Oddball, and finding the skull means the completion of the puzzle, but once you exit the puzzle and find the skull, KAEBERS will throw in a little extra satisfaction for a job well done. Each puzzle takes anywhere from one to three hours to complete, even for a Halo enthusiast, and manipulates the stages in ways thought impossible.

I recently got the chance to sit down with KAEBERS and discuss the intuitive puzzles he created.

Dac: KAEBERS, first I’d just like to say that the four Puzzle Play maps you’ve created are just inspiring. It’s great to see an average gamer really shifting the way the Forge feature was meant to be used into something so innovative.

KAEBERS: Thank you! I’m just happy people are having fun with the things I’ve created, and that it’s inspiring people to take the idea and make things of their own with it.

Dac: I caught a few Portal references, like the radio, in your puzzles. Now, besides Portal, what was your primary inspiration?

KAEBERS: Well, Portal wasn’t really my inspiration. I actually didn’t even get around to playing Portal until the first map was completed and released. But I guess it’s just that puzzles are one of my favorite ways to pass time. The creation of a puzzle map was actually thought up by accident, kind of. When I helped people Forge maps, all that I would end up doing to their map is add traps. So, I just decided to make a full map completely dedicated to traps, and I guess the creation of a Puzzle map was just waiting to happen with me, it just needed the time to be thought out.

Dac: Your puzzle names all include "K&B" in the title. Can you tell us what that stands for?

KAEBERS: K&B stands for KAEBERS, myself, and Bob. He’s my best friend in real life, grew up together since 1st grade. The puzzle maps are created by the both of us. Most of the time it’s me creating the ideas for the puzzles, and he helps me bring them to actuality and build them. Though, he does come up with some puzzles of his own. Forging with two people is a lot easier than forging with one, the way Bungie set it up. To put things in a fixed area, you practically need two people. It saves a lot of time.

Dac: So, your maps have reached extremely impressive download numbers so far, and it seems like your only advertising has been on Bungie’s forum and through word of mouth. Did you expect your maps to be so well received?

KAEBERS: *Laughs* Well, yes and no. It was something new to Halo 3, and it hasn’t been seen before. It was a puzzle, on Halo. That’s new to people, and I thought people would have a lot of fun with it. People like new things. However, I did not know how will it would be taken in by people. I didn’t know if the puzzles were too easy. Since I created it, I was never able to play them with the ignorance other people have when they do. I kind of knew that the idea would be a big hit, which is why I was so anxious to release it.

Although, we needed rapid testing phases, going through the puzzle over and over again, trying every possible thing people might try to see if it works right. Then we had some people come to my home and play through them with me watching. This allowed me to see their reactions to what is there, and see what the common action is to try and solve each puzzle. I can change things afterward to alter the difficulty of the puzzle. And, you know, just to keep them fun.

Dac: I know I certainly have fun with them. Not that Halo 3 has been getting stale, but puzzles certainly keep the game fresh. Now, speaking of keeping Halo fresh, Bungie just recently added three more maps available through Xbox Live’s down loadable content. Do you have any plans to create puzzles using those?

KAEBERS: Yes, I sure do. There are a few reasons why. First, Foundry is a blessing to me. There are basically endless possibilities, I basically can create the level. Second, Walls! Oh my gosh. Walls. No more Barriers, Crates, or Teleports! Third, they’re new canvases. And there are things that can be done with them, which is more than I can say about some other levels. Like Narrows. *Laughs*

Dac: So is it safe to say that Foundry is really the ideal situation for creating puzzles?

KAEBERS: Well, not super ideal, but it’s pretty close. It doesn’t offer you much of a uniqueness of it’s own, you create what you want to. It’s basically a blank canvas. There are no little areas unique for that level, or little buttons to activate the openings of anything, such as the door on High Ground, or on Last Resort. I like people to play through the maps I’ve made my Puzzles on (after they’ve played) and think of this and that area as you know. "The Ghost Room." or "The Rocket part."

Dac: I guess all we need now is a Halo 3 companion cube!

KAEBERS: *Laughs* And a really really good ending song. And some cake.

Dac: *Laughs* Now, Halo 3 obviously wasn’t meant to be a puzzle game, so you really had to twist the Forge tool to make it work. What was your biggest challenge?

KAEBERS: Walls. That’s an easy answer. Having to use Barriers and Crates for walls for all of these puzzles is a major pain. They don’t give very many to use per level, and they can be movable. It’s really having to mess around with Forge to know how everything works, and how to make things get into a fixed position. I don’t know why Bungie didn’t expect people to want or need walls. I would think that’d be obvious. But I guess they never intended on people really using Forge for more than just a "Set weapons on this side for this team gets this, and this team gets that." You know. Just a fighting scenario, what Halo was created for. Killing.

But a lot of the time was spent going around, and finding ways to have just enough items and budget to make everything work. And yes, Halo 3 wasn’t built to be a puzzle game, so with that said, there will be flaws. I know of the flaws, I have spent hours trying to fix those flaws, and some things just can’t be fixed. But, hey. I’d expect those who really want to play it to go the obvious route. Who cares if you can get out if you try hard enough? You’re only ruining it for yourself.

Dac: So about how long does it take to create each puzzle?

KAEBERS: From start until release? Around two weeks, usually. It can take anywhere from a few days to a week to build it, which are usually done in 12 hour sessions. But after that, it goes into that testing phase to try to find and work out all the little flaws in the map. Quality is a must.

Dac: If Valve ever decided to allow users to create their own maps in Portal easily, would you shift any focus over to that?

KAEBERS: I might check it out a bit, but I doubt it’d be my primary concern. Portal is an amazing game, and it is an amazing concept, and it has an amazing theme song. But you can only do so much with shooting hole A to come out of hole B. After about a week, every possible thing would probably be figured out. Same situation, different location. That’s what happens with those who make puzzles maps inspired by mine, usually. Same puzzles, different location. But luckily Halo 3 has a lot more possibilities.

Dac: I know that more than one person can occupy the puzzle field at one time, making it possible to have two players race to the finish. However, do you have any plans on making a two-player co-op puzzle map?

KAEBERS: Yeah, that was thought about a while ago. I would still like to, and the possibility seems more open now than it ever did before. The reason I kind of denied the idea before was because of the budget and item limitations. I don’t think I would be able to make a long puzzle with two people given the amount of items given. That’s the reason my puzzles right now are around four challenges long. I used all the items given, and budget. But keep in mind that even with it being that short, it’s still pretty long. People sometimes spend hours baffled on one puzzle, so it all works out.

Of course, the other reason why I haven’t gone through with a multiplayer puzzle is because I was simply too busy before with solo puzzles. A multiplayer puzzle always seems like an open idea for the future, but right now I am pretty set with solo puzzles. I have to think of those lonely people with no friends, Dac. I give them a friend. *Laughs* It’s a comfort zone where they can come and play and have fun. K&B.

Dac: Well, KAEBERS, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to allow me to the mind behind Halortal, as I like to call it. Is there anything you’d like to say to gamers out there racking their brains on your puzzles?

KAEBERS: Don’t give up, and don’t cheat! *Laughs* There is a solution to every puzzle, I guarantee it. Sometimes it’s right under your nose. Thanks to all of the fans out there that play through my puzzles, I love my fans! And thank you for taking the time to interview me, Dac. It’s been fun!

After the interview, KAEBERS asked me to post the simple rules of the K&B Puzzle Series:

1.) Don’t melee Crates or Barriers. Don’t break Crates or Barriers with equipment either, if given. (You may melee anything else, just do not melee Crates or Barriers.)
2.) You need the Game Variant "Puzzle Play" in order to play these puzzles. It is in my FileShare as well. Number 6. (This is VITAL)
3.) If for any reason you exit the puzzle arena, kill yourself.
4.) Have fun!

Puzzle Play is a great new concept that really chases away the monotony of continuous Slayer action. There have been a great deal of copycat puzzles out there since KAEBERS’ original map, but I would recommend the originals over anything else. For anyone that hasn’t tried it yet, get your ass onto the Halo 3 website and get those games downloaded to your 360 hard drive. For puzzle and Portal lovers alike, it really doesn’t get any better in the world of Halo.

When downloading his maps, you will also need the Puzzle Play game variant. Everything can be found on his fileshare in slots 5-8. If your Xbox Live account is linked to Bungie.net, then you can also follow the links and download them directly to your Xbox 360 hard drive. If you don’t have your account linked to Bungie.net, then you can just send an Xbox Live Friend Request to "KAEBERS" mentioning you want to download the puzzles, then just delete him as a friend after the download.


Here are all of the links you need to get started in the K&B Puzzle World:

KAEBERS’ FileShare

Puzzle Play Game Variant

K&B’s Playhouse – Puzzle 1

K&B’s Playpen – Puzzle 2

K&B’s Playplace – Puzzle 3


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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