“We want to be Avatar, not Waterworld” says Destiny dev


EDIT: we received a message from Jonty Barnes, clarifying a quote that got misheard in transcribing. Initially, the headline read ‘We want to be Avatar, not War of the Worlds’ when Jonty’s actual quote was ‘We want to be Avatar, not Waterworld’ (which makes more sense anyway). We apologise for any confusion.


Director of production at Destiny outlines the studio’s hope for the game, despite “a lot of insecurity” around initial development

Bungie is a juggernaut. After dominating the Xbox and the Xbox 360’s exclusive library with the indomitable Halo franchise, Bungie cut its ties with Microsoft and set its sights on multi-platform supremacy, signing a deal with Activision and taking aim at both current- and last-gen consoles.

In the wake of Destiny’s gargantuan launch, and one of the most successful betas of all time, we sat down with Destiny’s director of production to talk about the risks inherent in going to market with such a massive project.

“Entertainment is a risk – notoriously,” explains Barnes. “There was a saying we’ve said before to keep us from taking our progress for granted: we want to be Avatar, not Waterworld.

“I think there’s this part which is very early on in the project where you don’t know what the game is that you’re making, but we very much trust in the talent at Bungie. We’ve been very fortunate because of our culture – we’ve been able to retain such talented people. The majority of the original Halo team is there, Jason Jones who was the creative director of Halo and previous hits at Bungie is the creative director of Destiny, for example.


“As a result of that you look around the room and they’re the reason that you’re still in the office, because you trust in these people and their expertise, and you don’t have to worry about their area. You just worry about your areas. Ultimately, that’s what Activision did as well – it’s an idea and they loved the vision, so they backed the talent at Bungie.

“I continue to talk about ‘the talent at Bungie’. That’s where you go on this journey together. Entertainment is a risk – I’m fortunate enough to have worked on a lot of new IP. A lot of people at Bungie had never worked on a new IP, and it was very daunting for them, there was a lot of insecurity at times. But we trusted in each other. I think when you have that talent, you’re going to be successful.

“The beta was a huge tonic for the team because the world of players agree with the players at Bungie – the things we love about the game, they love about the game. Things we thought were important, they thought were important.

“This is why we do games – we take risks. Entertainment is risky, and we make sure that we’re taking risks. If you don’t, you’re going to just be copying everything else and you’re not going to be doing something exciting.”


The full interview with Jonty Barnes will be available in games™ issue 152 – on-sale 11 September physically, digitally and from our app.