December 29, 2013

Tyson Green spills on how you can make your Guardian awesome


Bungie’s long term player Tyson Green has had a chat with Game Informer about character development for the forthcoming Destiny. 

While reading what he had to say, the 2014 release date seems so far away – still it’s awesome to be getting some real in depth detail about how your Guardian character can collect their abilities, tune weapons and focus on being the best Warlock,Hunter or Titan they can be!

Flexible Character Tweaks

We want to have a well balanced upgrade experience for your gear but also for your abilities. And we want to give players the ability to actually commit to some of the decisions that they made so they can distinguish themselves from one another. 


But that sort of comes along with, “Well, what do you want to do when someone wants to change their mind about something? Do they have to throw their character away?” And that was really unappealing and as painful as always having to sanitse your beer equipment with sodium percarbonate.

We want to say “No, you are your character.” When you decide to roll an Exo Hunter that’s because both being an Exo and being a Hunter were things that were exciting and appealing to you. So when you want to change your mind about something, whether it’s a weapon or whether it’s what abilities you’re using, we let you change the stuff that your character is using and we let you upgrade the stuff that your character is using rather than having to reset your character or throw your character away.

Upgrade Categories

Three things that all characters can upgrade are their weapons, their armor, and their focus. Those all level up as you use them. So when you’re wearing your armor and earning experience your armor’s leveling up. When you’re using weapons to get kills, those specific weapons are leveling up. And your focus also levels up when you’re getting kills or completing activities.

Describing Focus

A focus is a thing that captures all of your abilities in one bundle – sort of a thematic bundle, but also a functional bundle. It carries your grenade abilities, your super attacks, it carries certain passive abilities that change the way your character plays. The focus is the thing that defines how your character is going to play at both the lowest and the highest level. It’s what your character is thematically about and it’s also functionally what abilities you have available to use.

You could call it a spec. You could call it a build. You could call it a lot of things. For a long time we called them builds, but your build is a bigger thing because it also brings into account which weapons you’re using and what modifiers are on your armor. I want people to be able to talk about playing a Void Warlock sniper build, which is something that encompasses more than just the focus item.

December 22, 2013

Tis the holidays, we're off to eat cake. Lots of cake. Take luck and care for it.

Bungie's Vex want to wish you a happy holidays


Have you noticed in this lovely piece of Community Theatre that's heavy on the Christmas references, Mery Christmas is not even mentioned rather than Happy Holidays? Is this half attempt at being PC so as to not offend persons who are offended by words? 

What is the Tower in Destiny?

The Tower concept art Destiny
The Tower's hangar bay. 
The Tower

Surely a name inspired by Steven King's Dark Tower series after all that was a selection of novels that featured a gunslinger traversing world where magic is real...

But what is Destiny's Tower? It's not a place where Steven King goes to have a cup of tea and a lie down is it?

No, Chris Barret tells us what it is:

It is "the place where the heroes of the world go back to after their adventures. It is trying to capture the feeling of Earth’s Camelot where the knights come back to. Not everybody is up there. It’s mostly for Guardians. This feels like something humanity built to protect Earth. A watchtower mixed with a home."

Your Guardian will also be able to do a bit of shopping:

"You’ll have different vendors where you can browse bits of gear or new weapons or turn in some of the things you found. There are different districts in there that you’ll be able to visit that have different themes. The plaza is the meeting grounds where everybody first lands. Then you have offshoots with areas for the different classes to go to. The ideal is every time you’re done adventuring you come back here and kick up your boots and sell your stuff and hang out."

So, The Tower is basically like the Normandy from Mass Effect - it's where you can have conversations with other players, get your upgrades, refuel your jet, and actually maybe get that cup of tea after all!

Want to know more about Destiny? Try these pages:

December 17, 2013

Can I play Destiny in solo mode? I don't want to team up with anybody because I hate everybody on XBL


While DeeJ already confirmed it sometime ago, future fans of Destiny will be pleased to know that they will be able to do the Destiny campaign solo as in by themselves. There's a small bit of ambiguity though - at some point in the series Jones, mused in this Game Informer article, that some parts of the game do require co-operation.

Here's the question:

Game Informer: You have a legacy of players who are already Bungie fans, and a segment of that fan base is people who play games by themselves. And I hear you talking a lot about the fun of that shared space, but I think that there’s people out there who either don’t believe that or they’re waiting to be convinced. Is there something in Destiny for those kinds of players? Or are you trying to guide them away from that experience to something that is more social?

What's this Thrall doing here?
Jason Jones: You absolutely are going to be able to play Destiny by yourself and have the same kind of fun shooter-experience that you could have in a single-player campaign, which is a word that we’ve weeded out of our vocabulary, but we’re going to give you this great player-progression on top of that, and we’re going to give you as many opportunities as we possibly can to expose you to other people, so that hopefully you’re drawn into some social experiences, because those are incredibly powerful and interesting, but we’re not going to force those on you.

We describe it in a lot of ways as sloping the floor towards socialization, without putting a requirement on it. I would say that there’s some sort of – if you wanted to talk about it in MMO terms, you’d say “end-game activities”, but some of the most intense non-competitive activities in the game do require cooperation. 

They require a group of players to tackle at once. I guess at some variable, distant endpoint we are going to say, “Yeah, if you show up at this door, and you don’t have five friends, you’re not going to be able to succeed,” but the core experience that solo players have enjoyed in shooters, they’re going to be able to get that, and we’re going to pull many of them into social experiences as well.


Here's what DeeJ had to say when asked about the question.

@jaydawg6958: I like to play games solo often. How much can I do alone?

DeeJ: Ah, the proverbial Lone Wolf. You can experience Destiny’s story as a party of one, assuming you’re that much of a badass. Destiny will never require you to team up with other people in campaign missions. You’ll see other players along the way, but you can choose to ignore them. That said, we think you’ll find that playing with other Guardians is quick, painless, and a ton of fun. It’s always your choice, though.

December 16, 2013

What are The Hive in Bungie's Destiny?


The Hive is an enemy species hostile to the remaining human population on Earth.


Very little is known about their origins or traits though Bungie have alluded that they have a deep mythos and back story which will hopefully be revealed in game. Bungie have nicknamed the Hive "Space Zombies".

Bungie's Chris Barret has said of the Hive "They’re the most fantasy-inspired race. We’ve imagined them as this ancient alien race that’s kept themselves alive by some magical means for millennia. They just float through the solar system on these big, sarcophagus-looking ships.

It’s really playing up the feeling of zombies and fantasy undead. It also plays with the feeling of royalty, like they might have kings or they might have knights.

Their main units are a mixture of organic and inorganic so they’re not clothed like a lot of units. You’re not sure if the armor is organic or if it’s ceremonial armor that they put on a million years ago and it’s sort of grown into their skin. An organic shell that’s sort of grown in a way that almost resembles knights’ armor. You’ll see their dry, mummy-like flesh exposed. And then when you shoot them they’ll burst into dust and embers

Given what has been revealed so far Hive appear to have some kind of supernatural abilities, including the ability to hover or float and manipulate energy and electricity

Hive have been spotted hiding out on the Earth’s Moon, dwelling with massive underground moon base which is nicknamed by the Guardians as The Hellmouth.

I'm enthralled. No really. I am. 
Classes of The Hive

There are various classes of the Hive. 2 have been made public:

Thrall

Thralls may be considered the basic class of Hive.  Brown in color and preferring melee attacks using their long fingers tipped with sharp claws. They have no visible eyes and, in some places, their skin has rotted away to expose their skeletons. Their basic armour appears infused with their bodies.


Knight

Knights may be considered a higher-ranked class of Hive an feature more lively armor-and-cloth adornment on their persons. They appear to wear helmets with optical qualities and seem to lack the long fingers and sharper claws of the Thrall class. They have been spotted wielding energy- or plasma-based weapons.

Barret also said "Imagine when you look at pictures of shipwrecks underwater and they’re just kind of covered with barnacles and they look like they’ve eroded because they’ve been there for a long time. We want to make their ships feel like that. Basically spaceships that feel like they’ve been covered in space barnacles or whatever and have been eroded because they’ve been moving like shipwrecks for millennia.

It’s much more darker, gothic inspired. But still alien and sci-fi at the same time. We’re trying to mix those two, but they’ll have what might typically feel like a dungeon or more ceremonial throne room-like spaces or dark corridors filled with webbing."

Here's an Ogre which will only be brought down by the most skilled Guardian Fireteams...

Destiny Cave Troll concept art

Here's another Thrall

Meet one of the Hive's Ogres

The Hive appears likely to be a formidable foe to vanquish in Destiny. They even have a Lorde of the Rings like cave troll, more accurately described as an Ogre:

hive orgre destiny

December 12, 2013

Jason Jones talks about the acronym MMO and Destiny


Jason Jones has done a massive interview with Game Informer about Destiny. He covers a lot of areas but here's some Q and A that relates to the acronym that's been bandied about quite a bit with Destiny, MMO.

Were you looking to MMO storytelling styles as opposed to what you see in shooter stories? Were you moving away from a straight, linear thing?

Yes. The game we want to make and we want to play is a shooter. Making a great shooter is not the thing I’m worried about now when I look out at the game, where it’s my job to be worried about whatever isn’t the farthest along. When we set out to build that shooter from the beginning, we really were aware that there’s a bunch of innovation, a bunch of cool stuff happening in other genres, certainly in MMOs. We wanted to learn from that. One of the things that was really important, just by building a story was that we wanted a world and not just a story. We wanted a world that we can tell a lot of stories in. I think there’s a way that you can learn that lesson from some MMOs. But they have a world that’s just fun to explore and to think about, look forward to the next story.

I would say the best, certainly the MMOs genre is about story but also about player progression as well. Just really fascinating, fun things that those games do. I would say having said that, at heart this game’s got to be a shooter. I believe that’s what people, and I don’t have any control in this, will label it and that people who come and look at this experience are going to like it because it’s a shooter, and it’s my hope, going to be surprised by the depth that they haven’t seen before like the single progression across all activities and that they’re going to stick with and enjoy it and stay with it because of that. 

destiny guardian

A lot of people have wondered whether this is an MMO or not. Obviously, based on what you were just saying, you see this more as a shooter. Are there other things that you would point to that set it apart from MMOs?

It’s kind of an apple and oranges thing, so I don’t want to draw too many comparisons, but I think that at its heart, what people are going to enjoy and engage with the game in Destiny is the action game. It’s ultimately this fantasy of being the super powerful change agent in the world, in a very analog, dexterity, skill-based way.

I think the MMOs have different fantasies. There are some action-y, shooter-y games in that space. But I think after 30 seconds or a minute playing them, the gamer came to have an action experience, they’re going to be disappointed. 

We want to be the opposite. People that sit down and pick up the controller in Destiny, the first 60 seconds, we want them to be hungry to see their first bad guy, to have that first interaction. The experience that’s most important to remember, that we are trying to create anyway, is that when players have that first hands-on interaction with the controller, they’re going to feel like they’re in a great shooter and that any of the story or progression lessons that we’ve learned from MMOs that we’ve brought from that space or from social games, that those are going to add on to that experience instead of coming first. I can talk about hotbars and red dots and stuff like that. I think those are just all aspects of that top-level action versus social progression game. We’re building one of those. I won’t be disappointed if nobody calls us an MMO.

-

And there you have it. Bungie are not calling Destiny and MMO but won't get mad at ya if you do. 

December 10, 2013

December 9, 2013

Chris Butcher talks about Destiny's matching making 'mesh of servers'

guardians

New Zealand is a damn awesome country. We have Peter Jackson and the Hobbits. We have Martin Crowe. And we have lent Chris Butcher to Bungie to help them make Halo. The trouble is the brilliant game engineer never came back and is still with Bungie making their new Destiny game. Here's an interview he did with Game Informer about the stuff that needs to go into makings sure players can find each other in the Destiny world. 

How did the big idea for Destiny’s multiplayer philosophy start?
You have all of these examples of people who are doing big server cluster things like World of Warcraft or something like that. But we didn’t really want to do that, because if you think about those kinds of games, you’ve got a centralized server that’s simulating everything in the world, but that can only scale up to some number of players. Maybe it’s 1,000. Maybe it’s 5,000. Maybe it’s 20,000. You compare that to the population of a console game and it’s tiny. 
So what that means is that you have to have dozens or hundreds of these separate servers. So we started out by thinking, “We want to have a single world that everybody can be in.” 
We took this mesh-based networking that we’ve been developing for years and years with Halo and adapted that networking to work in a seamless interconnected world full of other players and AIs. So when you’re playing a destination you’re moving from area to area and every one of those areas has got this mesh networking with a group of players that are in it at this one time. And then it has its own servers for that particular area so you’re continuously moving around between these groups of both consoles and also dedicated servers that are hosting it. 
That’s the thing that I’m really excited that we’ve been able to do because I think it’s been really hard for us. And I don’t really think anybody else is going to be able to pull it off in the timeframe we’re talking about on consoles. 

December 8, 2013

343 picks up some new talent - Tim Longo is now Creative Director

Game designer Tim Longo is taking over from Josh Holmes as Halo's Creative Director. If you are wondering what happened to Josh, he's know formally a producer for 343.

Tim was most recently contributed to the very successful relaunch of the Tomb Raider game franchise.

This all bodes very well for Halo 5!




December 6, 2013

I thought you'd be taller

I was watching Revenge of the Sith the other night and I noticed some thing amusing in the the scene where Anakin heckles Grievous:

General Grievous: Anakin Skywalker. I expected someone with your reputation to be a little... older.
Anakin: General Grievous... you're shorter than I expected.

Which made me wonder if there were a few Star Wars fans working at 343 Industries as they seemed to have done a riff on this in Halo 4. Anderson gives the Master Chief a bit similar heckling:


EDI from Mass Effect as a paper craft model

edi paper craft model

This guy is back new a paper craft version of a Mass Effect babe, this time he has crafted EDI, the the Normandy's A.I. that adopted a robot form in the third game. Here's an amusing video...