Development studio Bungie has a history as interesting and a past as intricately woven as any in the games industry, and has continued to earn a legendary status amongst its peers, and in the hearts of gamers, for over two decades now.
Bungie began life as a Mac game developer (once referred to as id Software’s “Mac shadow” by John Carmack), with titles spanning slow-paced fantasy adventures, high action first-person shooters, at least one anime-inspired melee combat game, and even a few well-received real-time strategy titles, but it was Bungie’s Halo series of shooters that propelled the studio into videogame super stardom.
Going from wholly-owned by Microsoft to self-owned independence in the space of seven years (but losing ownership of the Halo franchise in the process), Bungie embarked on an all-new adventure to create a brand new intellectual property, this time in a reported 10-year publishing partnership with Activision.
The last game that we saw from Bungie was Halo: Reach back in 2010, though, so what has the team been working on for the last few years “under the cover of darkness,” as the latest Community Theatre video claimed? Today, we learn about Destiny.
Destiny – Pathways Out of Darkness Video Documentary
“In Destiny, you are a Guardian of the last safe city on Earth. You must defend the City. Defeat our enemies. And reclaim all that we have lost.
Billed as a persistent ‘always-on’ shooter, with elements of epic, mythological fantasy, Destiny is set in a far-flung science fiction future, but uses Earth and our solar system as the location for our adventures as players take on the roles of a small group of survivors – Guardians – while under the protection of a mysterious being known only as ‘The Traveller.’
A new descriptor has arisen from the reveal of Bungie’s Destiny, too – “shared-world shooter.” Destiny isn’t a massively multiplayer online game in the style of World of Warcraft or any similar epic MMOG, but is instead powered by an always on, connected world. There is no offline mode in Destiny and players will need to be connected to the internet to play.
It is through players’ interactions online that they will be able to uncover the mysteries of the world, visit distant planets and chart the course of mankind’s past, ultimate destruction. To what purpose? Who or what will we be fighting against to survive? No-one can say for sure at this point.
Additionally, Bungie has “absolutely no plans to charge a subscription fee for Destiny,” another important distinction between a traditional MMOG and Bungie’s next game. Anecdotes emerging from Destiny also point to an experience equivalent to something like Journey. As you explore the world around you and go on seemingly solo missions, you’re likely to meet up with other players online who can, at will, join you on your quest, or leave as they please.
The Seven Pillars of Destiny
What are the core tenets of Destiny? What has Bungie aimed to provide players with during their journey not only to make it immediately enjoyable, but continuously exciting and intriguing in the long-run? Here are Destiny’s seven pillars, as seen at Dan ‘One of Swords’ Amrich’s blog.
“Players ask, ‘Do I want to stay here?’” says Bungie co-founder Jason Jones. “We want them to say yes. They are not going to waste their time with something they don’t like.”
“We want to put players in situations where they can feel successful, because being successful feels awesome. Destiny will meet you with something fun, no matter what your mood is,” promises Jones.
“Everything you do in Destiny generates rewards,” promises Jones. Player rewards include weapons and gear, as well as customisation options, as well as more intrinsic gameplay rewards.
“I don’t mean new content every night,” explained Jones. “Every time a player sits down to play Destiny, they experience something different every time.” This pillar’s goal “led us to create this diversity of activities — an activity for every mood.”
“Everything that is fun to do is more fun to do with your friends and when people are around you,” states Jones. “Think about the gym or college, with nobody next to you — that would be creepy. But that’s the experience we’ve had for decades with games, and that’s not what we want. Destiny is more fun with more people. Every activity can be played cooperatively. Solo is a totally valid way to play Destiny, but you are constantly going to see other people in your game.”
“We want everybody who wants to play Destiny to be able to play Destiny,” says Jones. “All core activities can be enjoyed by novice players.”
“Players don’t want to read, and they don’t want to go to the internet to figure out our bulls**t,” Jones said. “They want to be heroes and feel things they don’t feel in their daily lives.”
There are still many more questions to be answered regarding the nature of Destiny – answers that we’re sure to discover in the weeks and months leading up to release, as well as at this year’s Game Developers Conference at the end of March in San Francisco, where Destiny will be discussed.
Destiny has officially been announced for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and because we so rarely hear from Bungie co-founder Jason Jones, we’ll give him the final word on the game:
“If you enjoy FPS games, Destiny is going to be the best shooter you’ve ever played. We’ve learned a bunch of lessons from MMOs and Facebook games, but it’s a shooter.”
What did you think of the reveal of Destiny?