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LOS ANGELES — Bungie stepped out of the shadow of Halo this week and revealed its new game. The Bellevue, Wash.-based rockstar development studio is making Destiny for the PlayStation 4 and other platforms with publisher Activision Blizzard.
The studio finally showed off extended gameplay this week that demonstrated how the massively multiplayer online first-person shooter game will work. It involves not only breathtaking art but also some innovative thinking in allowing multiple players to participate in a shared, narrated experience, said Pete Parsons, the chief operating officer of Bungie, in an interview with GamesBeat.
The most interesting part of the demo Bungie showed was the “public space,” where a group of players entered an area and teamed up together to take down a fierce Spider Tank. That’s just one example where Bungie will innovate in its next-generation game, Parsons said.
Here’s our edited interview with Parsons.
Pete Parsons: You’ve seen it. We have more than 400 of the most talented people I’ve ever met, and we’ve been working on Destiny for years. The opportunity to bring it to [the Electronic Entertainment Expo] and show it off to the world, show it off to our community, it just couldn’t be more exciting for us. We’ve been working on this project, depending on how you count it, for five or six years. A lot of the ideas were around in 2002. It’s been a long time coming.
GamesBeat: How did you choose what to show first?
Parsons: Destiny is a massive, persistent, living world. We had to figure out, what are the things we want to show that will be interesting to people? In the end, what we wanted to show is that you come in and have your own really tight personal story that we feel good about delivering — whether you do it by yourself or with friends — but then when you proceed in that story, you come into a public space. That’s something that everyone will experience.
Parsons: Public space is where players converge. No matter what their activity, they converge from all across the game. Some players might be moving through their more narrative-driven story-like experiences. Some might be going off to raids. Some might be going off to more familiar multiplayer-type activities. But all of them have this crossroads.
At that crossroads, they can continue to move along in their journey, or something like a public event triggers. In the demo we’re showing, a big Fallen craft screams across the sky, drops off dropships and the Devil Walker, and I can choose to just jump in. It’s certainly high-intensity combat, but it’s low-intensity in the sense that nobody’s counting on me to be the only thing between success and failure. I can just jump in, have a great time, take down something like the Devil Walker we showed, and get a reward for it. Then I move on my way. That’s a lot of fun. That’ll happen throughout the game, whether you’re playing more story content or playing other types of activities.
GamesBeat: You also have a pretty heavy storyline.
Parsons: We do, and that was a huge challenge. We faced a number of challenges with Destiny. One is, how do you combine great story and narrative with these more public living spaces and worlds? How do you break down the barriers between what it means to be doing player-versus-player multiplayer or cooperative play or narrative play? How do you break down those walls so that when I’m investing in building and growing my Guardian over time, I can move from the story with that exact same build and exact same skills right into a multiplayer experience? What’s our new 30 seconds of fun, where we’re combining space magic and deep investment in your armor or weapons? Ultimately, what does it mean when we go back to the Tower, which is a purely social space? What do I do there, and who am I meeting, and how does it send me off on new adventures?
We spent tons of time trying to solve all of these things, let alone what happens on the back end, where all that seamless matchmaking happens. What are the tools we need to develop to build so much content over time? How does it continue to grow so you feel like you’re a part of something and not just another piece of content that’s being dropped in?
GamesBeat: Sony came to you a long time ago to get this relationship going.
Parsons: Yeah. Certainly our relationship with Xbox remains strong and long-lasting, but it was interesting. Sony came to us years ago and wanted our feedback about what they were doing — not just on what’s next for PlayStation 4 but what we thought of the PlayStation Network and what our needs were. They definitely listened to us. It was great to begin building a relationship with them. We haven’t been on a Sony platform since 2001, with [the game] Oni.
Parsons: Yeah, there’s more to come. Right now, we think they have definitely lent an ear to understanding what our needs are for the future, both for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. It’s a great opportunity for us. We’re welcoming more people to the Bungie family. And they’re a bunch of great guys.
GamesBeat: And you got Jason Jones to go up on the stage.
Parsons: It was the first time since Gamestock in 2001, with Halo: Combat Evolved. I remember that moment, when we said, “What better than to have Jason get back up on stage with Joe and show off the thing we’ve been working on for so long?”
Honestly, across the studio, this is the game that we’ve always wanted to play. We had to expand quite a bit. We’ve almost doubled our size. We were bringing in some of the most talented people in the world, and we couldn’t actually tell them what they’d be working on. They had to make that leap of faith. It was really gratifying to have them come on and say, “Oh, man, if we can even pull half of that off, we’re going to have a game that I’ve always wanted to play.” I feel like we’re well on our way.