One Other Thing... (Destiny)

by Claude Errera @, Saturday, January 07, 2017, 18:40 (959 days ago) @ Kahzgul

Here's the distinction I want to draw. Let's throw out Halo 2 or Halo 3 or ODST. Look back at Halo 1. That's a game that is completely NOT the game that was originally promised. Do you guys remember this game?

Halo was originally going to be a 3rd person shooter in a Tribes-esque style where you spawned in as a generic dude and - through the gear or vehicles you took and your own personal skill, became a class. I'm a warthog driver. I'm a sniper. I'm a front line assault trooper. There's a video showing one halo spartan running up to a covenant elite, and that elite drops his gun and raises his hands in surrender.

Early rumors about the server structure were that the game was going to be a "ringworld" of servers, where each server was a different map to fight on, and the two factions would wage war back and forth on two fronts. Win one map, and you could press though the far side of it to fight on the next map. Lose that one and you've been pushed back to the first. Meanwhile, since it's a ringworld, you would be fighting a simultaneous war fifty maps over, doing the same thing.

And Bungie came out and said that those things had changed. It was an FPS now. The server structure was all rumor. The focus was on single player and story now. They walked back the early design, disavowed the false rumors, and steered our expectations toward the path of truth.

Then Microsoft bought them and turned the PC game Halo into a console exclusive. It was a disaster, we all shouted! A travesty! A betrayal! And Bungie came back and said that yes, MS had bought them. Yes, the game would be a console shooter now. That it might be smaller than they had planned. But that it was still *their* game. They had creative control and they were still going to be telling the story they wanted to. In fact, they said, it's coming along great and looks really good. It's really fun. Their mantra was now "30 seconds of fun." Every 30 seconds, by itself, had to be fun. And they were doing just that.

Again, they responded to the playerbase with honesty and realistic expectations.

If this is your memory of the development of Halo 1, it's no wonder you're unhappy with the current communication level.

Unfortunately, very little of this actually happened (this way).

Your 'early rumors about the server structure'? I have NEVER heard those rumors in my life. And I spent a LOT of time paying attention to Bungie and Bungie marketing in those days - I even scanned almost every article written about Halo in any gaming press! Not only would I challenge you to point out a reference to those rumors in anything other than a forum somewhere... I'd challenge you to point out ANY mention of those rumors by ANY Bungie employee, official or unofficial, where they disavowed them.

The 3rd person Tribes-esque version? Yep, definitely existed. Were we PROMISED that Halo would be that game? Not by any stretch of any reasonable imagination. They described the game they were developing. Then they changed that development, and when it happened, they explained that they'd shifted. (The explanation for why they shifted came much, much later - years later. All we got at the time was "Halo is now a first-person shooter.") This idea that the announcement trailer was somehow a 'promise' of what we would be able to play is laughable - and would have been considered laughable by any 2000-era gamer. The fact that you can look back on that and call it a promise now (and not have anyone but me call you on it) says more about the shift in gamer attitudes than in game development.

And the 30 seconds of fun mantra? Jaime enunciated that idea for the first time in 2004 - more than 5 years after the time you're talking about. It was NOT the mantra of Bungie in 1999, or 2000, or 2001. That's your brain, mixing up cool things.

Here's what I believe. Bungie has nailed 'fun' enough times in a row that we get mad when there's a misfire. Marathon rocked. Myth rocked. (Oni rocked, but lots of people didn't notice. And anyone who played on a PS2 would call me a liar, and be right.) Halo rocked. So when Destiny came along, and Bungie said "we think this is going to be the best thing we've ever done", we took that as a contract. We had expectations for Destiny that were out of line with 'a new IP', if that IP had come from ANYONE ELSE - and Bungie didn't disabuse us of our excitement, because they were excited too. Then things went wrong (stuff like what Chris talked about in this presentation), and the game we got wasn't the game they expected to give us. And we were (justifiably) let down.

I just don't look at it as 'lying to us'. I look at it as "we're going to do our best to get back to where we thought we'd be" - something I think they really tried to do. I think they were under contract to Activision, which limited what they were allowed to say to us in any case. And I think they've been working super-hard for the past couple of years, trying to build the game they'd originally envisioned, within the confines of the situation they were in. Whether this is enough for you, or for any other fan, is a personal decision, and whatever you choose to take away is valid. Anyone who says "I no longer trust Bungie because of Destiny" is expressing a fair personal opinion - I just want to make sure it's based on facts, and not misremembered timelines.

I think we'll see a number of talks that come out of this, down the road, like Chris' talk, that explain some of the things that went wrong. (I think there are things that went wrong that will NEVER be shared with the fans, because they're internal issues and none of our business... but the actual technical mistakes that can be learned from? Those we'll get, eventually.)

I guess, in short, I see Bungie as a group of fundamentally good people, trying their hardest to make games we want to buy from them... as opposed to money-grubbing opportunists trying to capitalize on past success. (I also think those are both endpoints on a spectrum, and you can easily be somewhere in the middle. I'm not saying you think they're scum.)


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