Destiny: How 4.6 Million People Forged Bungie’s Sci-Fi Epic

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Destiny: How 4.6 Million People Forged Bungie’s Sci-Fi Epic

Back in July 2014, the doors were thrown open to Bungie’s sprawling universe – the Destiny beta had arrived. For just one week the developers invited players to journey to the last safe city on Earth, and venture out into Old Russia…and over 4.6 million people got involved.

PlayStation.Blog caught up with three key developers from Bungie to talk about the significance of the beta, and how it has ultimately made the final version of Destiny that you’ll play next month a better game.

“Let’s make one thing clear,” Jonty Barnes, creative director on Destiny tells us just four weeks before the game’s official launch, “From the very beginning, the Destiny beta was a very big test for us – we put a huge investment into our online infrastructure and we needed to make sure it worked.”

“We tested every part of the game, and each group at Bungie was able to analyze the data and take what they needed from it,” adds Derek Carroll, a senior designer working primarily on the multiplayer aspects of the game.

“On the gameplay design side we got heat maps from all the multiplayer maps to see where the kills were made, where people died and if they fell off the map for example. Also, if there was an area with particularly high traffic, or an area that we thought should have high traffic but didn’t – we could really dig into that data and see if we could make simple changes to help improve things.”


Lead concept artist, Jesse van Dijk, explains, “More than anything we wanted to test our infrastructure at scale and we were really excited to see how everything held up. During the beta we deliberately knocked over a number of systems to see how that would work and if we could handle it.”

This was an area of the trial run that was hugely important. The team outlined how a particular big event – a mission on the moon that was only available for a few hours – worked as the ultimate stress test.

“To have 850,000 people playing all at once on that Saturday on the moon was just amazing,” says Derek.

“In fact,” Jesse interjects, “The number of concurrent players during the moon mission was higher than any other Bungie game in history. Having that many people allowed us to test better, to kick over some of the systems so that we could get some meaningful data – we can ensure that certain problems, some of which we created on purpose – would not occur at launch.

Derek went on to add that from a gameplay perspective, knowing that they were able to make tweaks successfully on the fly was a huge advantage.

“In the past you would make a game and ship it, and only a catastrophic failure would be something that you’d patch. With Destiny we’re making a commitment to tune this and grow for a long time to come. It’s great to have those second chances where if we made that one tweak we’d be that much happier.”

Tiny changes to ensure the game is as robust, and more importantly as balanced as possible, have been made throughout the world of Destiny, but the team weren’t afraid to make larger optimisations where necessary.

“If the beta had gone really badly then we would have had to have some serious conversations,” explains Jonty. “There’s no world where we want to release the game and have a bad experience for our players. We make games for players and if we had something on our hands that was compromised, then we wouldn’t have been able to release it.”

More than testing though, a huge side effect of the beta has been the attention the game has received by the gaming community.

“We were humbled to see the player response, which has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Jesse. “People really seem to understand what kind of a game Destiny is. We’ve made an attempt at explaining that prior to the beta, but it was only once people got to play it that we felt like… this is the moment where it clicks, where people get it.”

And the most surprising thing for the team following the Destiny beta? For Derek there was one thing that stood out, “For me it was how sad we all were internally when the beta ended! We got to work analysing the massive amount of data we had captured, but at night you want to go home and play Destiny, and now we can’t wait until 9th September 2014!”

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  • Can’t wait! September can’t come soon enough.

  • Only 2 weeks left I hope my pre order comes on time. Even though I wasn’t really understanding the whole story concept the crucial mode was pretty fun at times. Hopefully this game will keep me busy until uncharted 4 arrives.

  • As part of those 4.6 million beta testers, I was and wasn’t that impressed. The visuals, the single-player portion of the game (or moreso the areas where I could solo), the looting, the action, and the lack of lag were all interesting to me. The Strikes, the PvP, the skills in PvP, the story, those things I did not much like at all. I had to redo the level 6 Strike 3 times over because I had poor random teammates. The PvP wasn’t that special to me really, I’ve had more fun playing Halo Combat Evolved (and I’m not even that big of fan of Halo). It also felt like it was far too easy to die in PvP, but I suppose that is meant to be that way (note here: I am a fairly good FPS player and have a 1.0+ KD on most every FPS I play). The story was also excessively boring to me, almost childish.

    TDLR; I wish Destiny was more of a single player game with a better story and optional coop mode.

    • Fair feedback, thanks for sharing! Of course it was a beta — we’ll have to see what the final version looks like.

  • I pre-ordered the white PS4 Destiny bundle, so very soon.

  • It wasn’t til the Alpha/Beta that I realized what Destiny is a play area with options to go alone, coop, or teamup paired with great controls, combat flow, and loot that customizes my Guardian for every mode. Sept.9 so close yet so far.

  • Why can it be 2 weeks later so I can get my PS3 limited edition copy already, and play it to death? I may also get the limited edition guide since I’m so hype for it.

  • I really can’t wait for this game! I’ve been following this game since the first trailer. I hope it’s a great game.

  • I know that this game looks great on the PS4 version. But the PS3 version also looks great and I can’t wait to pre-download it two days before launch!

  • I had this game on my radar. The Alpha got me further interested and the most important thing to me was the control scheme. Bungie is one of the very few companies that understands what a config really is. Swapping sticks from left to right is not a button config. None of the current games uses the legacy control scheme and that’s all i do. If you can’t be bothered to implement true configurable controls I can’t be bothered to give you my money.
    Thank you, Bungie, My pre-order for the digital version is in and my PS4 is slobbering at the mouth waiting to eat it up.

  • I have this game preordered and the White PS4 bundle with the game. Two copies of the game and two PS4s. Wonder if I can play both at once? Definitely gonna try!!

  • Has anyone heard if the game will have multiple languages? Living in Japan I am eyeing the Japanese Limited edition Destiny etched white bundle (amazed they didn’t offer the etched version in NA, don’t they all come from the same factory?), but would rather not have to play the game with Japanese menus.

  • Be cool if we can play digital copy 12am local.

  • Can’t wait for the PS4 Destiny bundle!!!

  • I can’t believe Destiny turned out as a damn good game….will buy it eventually.No doubt about it.

  • this game with that pretty pretty white ps4. so much joy!

  • It comes out on my birthday :,)

    This game is truly next gen. A true MMO. I can’t wait for release!

  • On September 9th on the Glacier White PS4 I’ll be Thuggin’ And Buggin’.

  • I was one of those 4.6 Million. I was also part of the 850,000 on the Moon. I had a blast playing this game! And will be broadcasting it AT LAUNCH! Surprisingly, I found very few bugs (mainly just random resets that put me back in orbit). There was once when the Devil Walker glitched on us, and only one of the 3 of us could damage it, or even see it move, but that’s really good for a beta. I know of at least one major game that was fully launched with more bugs than the Destiny BETA.

    The story, I don’t really understand yet, hopefully the storytelling will be better and fill in a lot of details when the game releases. The controls, the gameplay, the visuals..all wonderful! Everything was fluid and felt..right. I got pulled into the game, and THAT is the important part.

    I know someone else mentioned it already, the PvP seemed..meh. It seemed really easy to die, and bullets hurt more than the characters special powers. A Fist of Havoc within 1 foot of someone should obliterate them, not tap them and take 10 hit points off. But, I’m not much of a PvP kind of person anyways, I’ll stick to Co-Op.

  • Coop Rules All, Newest DESTINY video


  • I, for one, loved the PvP. I think it’s great that it’s much better to play with a team instead of going guns-blazing by yourself and be able to get away with it. TLOU and Destiny both have this down right. MP should always encourage team-based play.

  • @20 Exactly, thats how I play games, Competitive=Team and Team=Coop :)

  • Less than 2 weeks and I get my nice white ps4 with destiny. Can’t wait! The beta was great.

  • Thanks for the reply Sid Shuman! Replies like that show me that you’re listening to your players. I mostly play FPSes to have fun and not for competitive reasons normally anymore even though I used to. I didn’t want to gripe too much as I believe that Bungie has done a great job with the entire game so I just wanted to give some constructive ideas.

    Destiny fits the general gamer profile Bungie intended for it well. Destiny crams in a lot of things and it has yet to sell me that so many different ideas can work together well. It just felt odd to me that for a number of hours I was playing pretty much solo, then had to get a team together to keep going story-wise, then tried to play multi-player and didn’t much enjoy it. Some people will like A) the most, some will like B) the most, and some will like C) the most, or maybe D) they like them all equally. It will require a lot of focus on Bungie’s part to keep the first 3 happy all at once and make them into the D option.

    TBH the thing that impressed me the most about the game is that the loot isn’t shared. So if anything you do Bungie, keep that non-shared loot ;D

  • it’s funny cause I lost power the last day of the beta for like 2 hours from high winds. but it was like the unknown time when we didn’t know when it was going to end so I think it was after the last tourney. i got back on and it was over lol

    can’t wait

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