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Bungie Weekly Update - 11/22/2013

This week at Bungie, we had a wicked homework assignment.

Sounds like a real drag. Doesn’t it? Nope! This wasn’t a term paper. It wasn’t an all-night cram session for a mid-term exam. Yet, you could call it a test. 

For many of us, it was our first chance to play our next game in the comfort of our own homes. Ever since Chris Butcher removed a dev kit from the studio on Bungie Day, there have been a few rare and lonely explorations of the world of Destiny from our own couches. On Wednesday, we equipped enough Guardians to fill the Tower several times over.

The test machines were assigned to us as we left the building, a build of our game installed onto each secure device. We donned disguises and handcuffed the boxes to our wrists, lest they fall into the wrong hands – or get left on the bus. The particulars of our mission were to remain top secret (until now, of course).

For some reason, the change of immediate scenery outside the game made the experience that much more real for us. We play Destiny all the time at Bungie. Playing it on our own couches called forth an echo from a hopeful future in which we’ll play it with you.

Friend requests were exchanged. Invites received. We boosted through the jungles of Venus astride vehicles in search of adventure, arriving just in time to help our Fireteams overcome outrageous odds with newly acquired weapons and gear.

Back in the studio the next morning, it was all smiles. High fives were exchanged (one of our most enthusiastic testers insists upon it). Of course, a favorable test always points out new work to be done. Test or no, our work does not stop until you play. 

The development floor is home to its own battles and discoveries. A debate ensued about the availability of exotic armor and armament in an even newer build of the game. An artist dispelled all doubt in the existence of exotics with a screenshot of his Guardian, clad in rare gear and holding an even rarer rifle. In an instant, red hot complaint turned to a greener shade of envy. And just like that, he became legend.

In the arena of the Weekend Champions, people are experimenting with new toys that will extend their battlefield awareness beyond their line of sight. In the animation pod, each race and class of Guardian is looking, feeling, and moving in a unique fashion – right down the very piece of equipment that they wield. The writers are planting the seeds of the story that will envelope the world of Destiny in soil you may never see, unless you are truly the exploring type.

There were quiet moments, too, in which we might have done nothing more than watch snowflakes touch down on the water.

Once more unto the breach.

Last weekend, we sent one of our own to Amsterdam (tough gig). Jesse Van Dijk is a concept artist at Bungie – one so talented that we imported him from a faraway land. During a brief visit home, he gave a talk at the Control Conference about how the Concept Art Team envisions the spaces you’ll explore in Destiny. The story he tells about the people he works with is fascinating – at least I thought so when I enjoyed a sneak preview of his presentation.

Bungie concept artists don’t just sketch out a world and leave it to others to build. They work in lock-step with the design team throughout the process of making the game. Don’t take it from me. Check out how the creation of Old Russia (a destination you should be familiar with by now) followed a very detailed blueprint for a series of locations that began as art.

Each pairing of concept art and resulting game art is scored by comments from the artists who built the wall, and the frontier that awaits beyond.

The entrance to the wall is a transition from light into darkness. This hallway embodies that notion literally: the first section is lit by the indirect sunlight coming through the window, the section ahead leads further into the dark, abandoned structure. The scene provides the perfect opportunity to bring the Ghost to the stage for the first time. The whole space is brilliantly executed by environment artist Marke Pedersen.

The Fallen Lair is the backdrop for the player’s first encounter with a Fallen Boss. It’s an example of a human space that the Fallen have set up shop in; they ‘brand’ it as their own by putting up the remains of their once regal banners - stark reminders of the former glory of the Fallen race. The concept team worked closely with environment artist Adam Williams to fine tune the exact look of the space, and he managed to capture the essence of the concept perfectly.

The tunnel that follows the boss encounter serves as a precursor to the player re-emerging into the daylight again. It also communicates to the player that while he still is inside the decaying Wall, he is indeed making progress, for the space looks unlike any of the preceding spaces in the Wall. Walking towards the light is a very literal gesture to tell him he’s going in the right direction. Environment artist Adam Williams managed to recreate the concept almost pixel for pixel.

That’s just a few corners of the world that we’re dreaming up. Just imagine where else we’ll take you. That’s what our whole Concept Team is dreaming about as you read these words.

Rally Point: Beta.

That’s Ryan Ellis. You may have heard him recently on the Bungie Podcast. When he talks, we also listen. Special occasions, both inside of our game and out, are one of his specialties. Right now, he’s training all of our sights on your Beta.

This week, we gathered in our theatre to review our beta plans. In attendance was a large sampling of leaders, specialists, and superstars from every discipline in our studio – and me. 

If that screen wasn’t overexposed, you’d know all about the path we’ll send you on when you take your first step away from the safety of the City. For now, it’s for us to work on. We’re taking our steps so that you can take yours.

Soon enough, it will be for you to experience for yourself. Got your code?

If you could be a fly on our wall you might ask a question like one of these. Since our flyswatter is mighty, we can dare only open the Sack.

meltingarmymen  Can you please remind people that this game is going to be on Xbox 360 and Xbox One?

Friendly Reminder: Destiny will be released on four consoles. We’re covering more ground (and reaching out to more gamers) than we ever have before. New consoles. Legacy consoles. Sony consoles. And yes, Xbox consoles.

deadlykiwi99  You have said that the way players customize their guardians will change the way they play. Could you elaborate?

You’ll learn more soon. Maybe you’ll discover if for yourself in the Beta. Maybe someone else will tell you. Maybe I’m dropping hints.

DeeJ BNG When is the Bungie Podcast coming back?

Wow. You took your own question? Is that even legal? The Bungie Podcast will return next week, assuming someone smart can help you load it onto the site.

Apotheosis  How big is the Bungie Community?

Big enough to fill a City. The real question remains: Can they defend it from a hostile takeover? Will they welcome new allies to help them fortify their defenses? Or choose to stand alone against their enemies?

Time heals all wounds and satisfies all curiosities. Every week, we have less of it to spend waiting to grasp a fusion rifle in our hands and face the dangers of the unknown together. Talk to you next week, perhaps even literally.
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