If you thought massively multiplayer online (MMO) games such as World of Warcraft and its many similar clones (Aion, Rift, Tera etc.) were massive, the creators of the Halo series, Bungie, are throwing their hats into the MMO arena by creating the game Destiny. Destiny is a “persistent online multiplayer adventure, designed on a galactic scale, that wants to become your new life.” Although many details are not known about the game at the moment, we do know that it will be released for at least the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.
There is already a game that can also be considered as a persistent online multiplayer adventure—Second Life—but Bungie has teamed up with Activision to throw in a shooter element to the game, making this an FPS-MMO game like Borderlands and its sequel. Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg called Destiny a shared-world shooter. “We’re not doing this just because we have the tech,” Hirshberg said. “We have a great idea, and we’re letting the concept lead the tech.”
New development software was specifically created for Destiny. This new game is set in Earth’s solar system and takes place after a mysterious cataclysm wipes out most of humanity. The remaining survivors create a “safe zone” underneath a mysterious alien sphere called “The Traveler. The sphere imparts players with potent weapons, magic-like powers and defensive technology. Thanks to these gifts, people have begun reclaiming the solar system from alien invaders that moved in while humanity was down.
Bungie fired off a list of design principles that guide the game’s creation: “Create a world players want to be in. Make it enjoyable by players of all skill levels. Make it enjoyable by people who are ‘tired, impatient and distracted.’ In other words, you don’t have to be loaded for bear and pumped for the firefight of your life every time you log on.”
Bungie promised a lot of elements already available in MMOs—solo, cooperative and competitive content, otherwise known as questing, player vs. environment (PvE), and player vs. player (PvP) in the MMO world, but didn’t go into too much detail regarding that. Bungie also said that said that there would be a very specialized artificial intelligence (AI) working entirely behind the scenes to have players encounter other players based on their experience levels and other factors. This is already employed in a limited manner in some MMOs, where you use dungeon finders to match up of players of your level.
Bungie showed off three distinct character classes: the hunter, the titan and the warlock. Although no differences were outlined between them apart from the warlock being able to use a sort of techno-magic, Bungie did say that each character in Destiny would be highly customized and unique, and will grow with the player over an extended period of time.
Another major detail it revealed was its massive scale. Bungie has 350 developers working on the game. They also said that they would be able to craft environments and worlds at speeds once thought unreachable. Bungie’s malleable team system was also said to increase its output. With the ability to co-locate designers, artists, and engineers at any time, Bungie says it can go through exceptionally rapid on-the-spot iteration and improvement for each facet of the game, which could possibly mean that server maintenance, a necessary evil of current MMOs, might be done away with completely.
Another thing (and possibly the most important thing) that Bungie said was that there will be no monthly subscription fees to play Destiny. MMOs currently charge an average of between USD$10 to USD$15 a month to play, on top of the cost of the game. However, you will need a constant connection to the Internet. “Since the core concept of Destiny is exploring a world that exists outside of the player’s console and is populated by real people at all times, it will need to be connected in order for someone to play,” said Bungie chief operating officer Pete Parsons.