When Bungie says something, we listen.
With the pedigree of Bungie and Activision behind it, Destiny is set to deliver one of the most ambitious sci-fi shooters to date. Over at E3, Angus managed to have a chat with ex-pat Chris Butcher - who after studying in New Zealand, now works for Bungie as an engineer / programmer.
Afternoon Chris, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Obviously with Bungie at the helm, everyone will be thinking ‘Halo’. What would be the main point of difference with Destiny?
Destiny will build on our history of satisfying, visceral games - it’s what we love to play here at Bungie. In a way, we’re very much making this game for ourselves as much as our audience. But what we’re also trying to do is turn the first-person shooter genre on its head, by adding new features to change the experience completely.
One of which is we’ve created a persistent living world, it’s a place that you can go to that is always there - but changes over time with different activities every visit. The people that you’ll meet there are never the same twice. And then, in addition to that, we also have a really deep customisation in Destiny where every player is going to create their own unique hero that will grow with them, over a long period of time. And you’ll be able to take this character across both a competitive and cooperative journey. Being able to interact with others makes Destiny feel like a whole new experience.
Everything’s better with friends. What we noticed in the demo we just saw was how seamless it was between singleplayer, and then suddenly coop where half a dozen mates join the fray.
Yes! That’s exactly right, this is one of the things that I’ve been passionate about right from the start of this project. We have a lot of really talented designers and engineers [here at Bungie] who love networked multiplayer gameplay. Ever since Halo 2, we have tried to put ourselves at the forefront of this. Together we’re trying to understand what this medium holds for us and we believe that Destiny is the next level of that and other games will start exploring the same thing later on.
So we have seamless integration of online multiplayer to your normal single-player experience. In the background, the [game] engine is constantly connected to other games that are near you geographically, but also within the game world you’re in. It reaches out to find other players who will then add to the experience, and helps you create a group of cooperative teammates in public areas in the map.
We did notice in the demo that the game indicated a ‘Public Event’ in which other fellow team-mates suddenly entered a fire-fight alongside you. But we noticed that one of the players was a Level 20, as opposed to everyone else who was around a Level 6; how does this affect the gameplay experience in Destiny?
Just as a side note - the demo you just saw, here at E3, had a particularly small public area, for demo purposes. Some of them are a lot larger, with plenty more taking place. You’ll have different players heading off and exploring new areas and triggering other smaller events as well.
And you’re right, it’s very important to us that your gameplay experience isn’t limited or ruined by others. We don’t want someone to join in and suddenly you can’t do the things that you wanted to do. So there are a couple of things that go into that, one is that any of these public events are always strictly optional. You can chose to engage in it if you think it might be fun or continue on your way, doing the activity you’re currently on. It’s also always cooperative gameplay in these areas, so you don’t have people griefing you or killing you or anything like that.
The other ingredient that’s very important is that we don’t want there to ever be any barriers to you playing alongside your friends. So if you’ve been playing for a long time, and you’re a Level 15 but your mate is just a Level 6, there are games out there that you might not want to play together due to the skill difference. It’s not fun. So something we’ve addressed right from the start in Destiny is to ensure that the combat always remains satisfying, no matter what stage a character in your fire-team is at.
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