To call Destiny one of the most ambitious video games ever created is by no means overstating the case. It’s a multiplayer online shooter, a story-based campaign, and a cooperative role-playing game – all at once.
Interestingly, the initial idea behind the game transformed itself over time as the tastes of the development team evolved. “In many ways, Destiny is a mash-up of the gameplay passions of the people at Bungie now,” said Patrick O’Kelley, executive producer at Bungie. “Our company slogan is, ‘We make games we want to play,’ and that’s really true. We play shooters. But we also play a ton of role-playing games, massively multiplayer online games, casual games, and card games. We’ve grown up with the game industry, and our tastes have broadened. We want more from our games now.”
Ultimately, O’Kelley believes Bungie has built a game that will appeal to those gamers who enjoy the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield, those who play World of Warcraft, as well as those who play more casual games like Plants vs. Zombies 2. “That’s because we’ve tried to build the kind of game we’ve all been looking for – one that blends really polished shooter mechanics with the kinds of exploration and investment that comes from games like World of Warcraft … and with the casual ease and approachability of mobile games. We want shooter players to come to Destiny and evolve into Destiny players, just as we’ve evolved.”
“I know that almost all of us at Bungie are shooter players on some level,” O’Kelley continued. “And we’ve now all fallen in love with the shared world and RPG aspects of the game. To make sure we got it right, we’ve built expertise internally, by studying the best practices of MMOs and RPGs, and infusing Destiny with elements even from our favorite casual games.”
Bungie’s artists, for their part, looked backward in order to look forward: They studied sci-fi art from the 1970s to achieve a vintage look for the game. They wanted to give a visual nod toward the fantasy aspects of the experience they were creating. They call it “mythic science-fiction,” and were heavily influenced by the work of surrealist artists like Zdzisław Beksiński and Peter Gric, along with ‘70s and ‘80s manga.
One of Destiny’s earliest environmental concepts was the wreckage of an enormous Russian cosmodrome, where vast starships were built to take colonists across space; looking closely, it’s clear to see the influence of the films of Andrei Tarkovsky.
Indeed, none of this came easy – or quickly. There’s Destiny concept art dated back to 2008, and examples of code implementation going all the way back to 2002, when the team was poking at the edges of the concept, gauging its feasibility. What’s more: Bungie co-founder Jason Jones had been thinking about the roots and pieces of what would eventually become Destiny as far back as the ‘90s.
The game that launches tomorrow on Xbox One and Xbox 360, it seems, has been a long time coming.