Halo is the kind of juggernaut that every design team both hopes for and fears - a series so successful and well-known that it can easily overshadow anything else you ever do. Bungie had successful games before Halo of course, but the adventures of Master Chief are what they're known for, and if all they did with their next project was make another super-polished shooter - a new Halo in everything but name - it's a virtual certainty that it would also be a huge success. That would've been the safe thing to do, the expected thing. "Safe" and "expected" aren't words that Destiny's creators use when talking about Bungie's next big project, though. They use words like "ambitious" and "innovative." The word "crazy" also tends to come up rather a lot.
Relax, Bungie isn't completely nuts. The team is very much aware of where its strengths lie, and Destiny is, at its heart, a first person shooter. Specifically, it's a console shooter for the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Even more specifically, according to Project Director Jason Jones, "Destiny's gonna be the best shooter you've ever played." But Bungie is also looking to step out of the shadow cast by their creation and shake up the very genre they helped define.
"Crazy" is just one of the words Bungie uses when describing Destiny's development ethos. After getting our first glimpse at the new world the company is creating, we learned some of the others.
This might be the word that comes up most when Bungie talks about its next big shooter. Destiny isn't just a game, says Bungie. It's a world. It's "mythic science fiction," says art director Christopher Barrett, "a futuristic world with a lot of history, a place where the most fantastic things can happen."
Once upon a time, our civilization spanned the solar system, but "something hit us, knocked us down and tried to stamp us out." Fortunately for humanity, a mysterious sphere known as The Traveler sacrificed itself on our behalf. It still hangs low over the Earth, where it made its last stand, and we have come together to build a city beneath it. We've started to venture back out into the solar system, only to discover that we're not alone. And our neighbors aren't friendly.
That's where you come in. You're a Guardian of the city, able to wield some of The Traveler's power (you can go ahead and call it magic if you like). If you can find a way to save the city from the strange and deadly creatures that are bent on killing us, you'll become a legend. If you fail, "the last light of civilization will go out." So, you know. No pressure.
Says Staten, "We think of Destiny's story like a series of books. Each one has got a strong narrative spine. They're adventure tales with real weight and depth. They each have a common setting, and that setting of Destiny is our solar system, places we know, Earth, the Moon, Mars." But unlike Halo and its dashing Master Chief, the hero of Destiny's stories is you. Your experience in Destiny is meant to feel utterly distinct from everyone else's as you grow your character over time, customizing your gear, your abilities and weapons.