Bungie President Harold Ryan Discusses Destiny's Gargantuan Scope
It must be difficult to translate a concept on this scale in such small chunks of footage. Do you think that the vastness of Destiny has been grasped yet?
I don’t think so. There’s a lot to the game. Even with what we showed in the demo, we got to the end and we had seven people all playing in the same encounter. You’ve got player investment in there, you’ve got public matchmaking in there, co-operative gameplay events. What kind of story were those guys going on, what activities were they choosing as a team? That’sjust one narrow slice of the experience.
We showed a couple of the more combatant races in the montage at the end, and you can fight the race of The Fallen, the main enemy. To really get it, you need to play it. So lots of people have been ‘Okay, we’ll play!’ and we’ve had to say ‘Well, we’re still pre-alpha code.’ We did get seven players to work with the dedicated server onstage, which was unnerving. But there’s a lot to Destiny, I think it’s going to take a while for people to really understand the full scope of it.
Do you think that traditional console FPS fans will adapt to the framework of an MMO experience?
We’re definitely very sensitive to the average, let’s call them, Halo player, COD player, even players of Oblivion and games like that. We know they’re not very patient and they want an action game, and the first thing Destiny is an action game. And so everything on top of it is a rich and deep plus, but if you want a great action game experience, you can pick up Destiny and play through a great action game. You’re going to be presented with so many opportunities to progress your character, to care about how you look and how you customise yourself, and who you play with and how you play with them, but ultimately it’s a game we’re very focused on designing for people who just love to play the current generation of online shooters.
How do you balance different skill levels within events?
One of the reasons we showed the Public Event at the E3 demo is that you can see that there are a couple of low-level players, some teen-level players, a couple of twenty-level players, all sharing the same space, the same event. While there are activities where in order for it to be competitive you’re going to have similar power levels for the group, there are also a ton of activities that have been designed for people to just be able jump in and play, no matter what their level is. One of the things you didn’t get a lot of in the demo is that you get loot appropriate for your character and for your level as well, so everyone who engages in that event is going to get compelling rewards for completing them.
What advantages have there been moving development to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One?
It was about increasing the scope of technology, because all of a sudden it made more sense to put more into some fundamental things that would allow us to expand the amount of interactivity that the player has with the game. For the artists on the team being able to build and paint to the scale the next-gen consoles can display, they’re loving it. It turned out really well on the demo, I think, what has been nice and solid from a competitive point of view.
How have you tackled establishing a new science fiction universe?
When we started working on the Destiny universe, the first thing we did was to write a fictional background. You start off as you are now – a Guardian of The Tower – defending the wall that surrounds the last bastion of humanity, and the enemies are growing in strength. You start there and you start talking about how you ended up with that one last city, and what happened with peace. We spent years on it, with about eight or nine writers on the team. We married the concept of the story and the fiction to visual concepts, and that’s how we ended up with things looking the way they do. They’re breathtaking. Sometimes I take them home and hang them on my wall. We have them all over the studio; people have our art up as their desktop.
How have you tried to create a realistic world, one that people will miss when they leave and want to come back to?
That was one of the core principles for Destiny; we wanted to create a place, a world that they would want to belong to. That it would be a hopeful place, a beautiful place, but full of intrigue and mystery. That’s where we went. We went deep into fantasy and sci-fi, and pulled the two together. And I think the team we’ve assembled to pull it off from a visual point of view really nailed it.