Halo's tallest towers were never built to be climbed, and yet players climbed them, launching skywards with a mountain of grenades and a kick from a rocket-propelled Warthog.
From the top of one you can make out the other tower, just beyond the sheer rock faces and the canyon separating them. It wasn't so long after the first players saw the top that one asked a question nobody could answer for almost seven years - with enough grenades and a little luck, could a player jump from one tower to the other?
Order Xbox World magazine online and have it delivered straight to your door
"Anyone who plays Halo for any length of time will see lots of things exploding, chain-reacting and flying across the screen," says original Halo tricker Randall Glass. "(And they're) usually Grunts." Glass was among the first Halo players on the Halo.Bungie.org fan forums to exploit chain reactions and Grunt-launching physics.
"Someone had posted a shot of himself standing on top of Silent Cartographer, outside of the gameplay area," continues Glass. "I thought I'd one-up him, so after a couple of frustrating hours of experimentation using grenades and a rocket launcher, I managed to launch a Warthog on top of the same mountains and drive around. It felt like landing on the moon."
Glass captured the setup and cut together a one-minute instructional video called 'When Pigs Fly' for the HBO forums. It was an instant hit, but his second video changed everything. 'Warthog Jump' was a series of 'Hog launches over Silent Cartographer's arch, set to Blur's Song 2 and samples from The Matrix and Star Wars.
It went viral in the days before YouTube made online video distribution easy - HBO posters mirrored it and spread it to other forums, and a movement was born. It was such a hit Glass was taken on a tour of Bungie's studios. Halo trickers would use launches and other techniques to explore parts of the game Bungie never intended anyone to see.
A player can carry four frag grenades and will drop them when he dies, so two players can harvest dozens of grenades from a level's enemies and build a stockpile. One grenade triggers nearby grenades, and the cumulative blast can be used to launch vehicles and players great distances. With enough grenades you could propel yourself to the top of Halo's tallest towers - but what would you do when you got there?
In 2004 a poster on Halo.Bungie.org's forums built a website dedicated to Halo tricking. High Impact Halo became the home for players who had launched thousands of Warthogs over Silent Cartographer's arch, seen the bottom of The Maw, and crammed every vehicle into Blood Gulch's bases. On 10 September, HIH forum member Grenadesticker described his plan to launch from one tower to the other on Halo's second level. He never made it, but the idea was too good to let go and others kept at it. Unfortunately, it seemed impossible.
"Yeah, everyone thought it was impossible," says Kevin Marnell - the young Texan known as Mr. Monopoli on the forums at High Impact Halo's successor, Jumprs.org. "But last November I came up with a new idea for the setup, and I was getting some close attempts. Suddenly everyone else started getting back into it."
Originally a Halo 2 tricker, Marnell is too young to have been part of the original tricking community. Now 18 years old, he was aged only eight when Halo hit shelves in 2001. "I went with my brother to get Halo at launch. I didn't even like Halo, because he was three years older than me, and he would always beat me." After Halo 2's release in 2004, Marnell's older brother didn't get to win so often, as Marnell set about tearing the game apart.