GDC 2013: Bungie Talks Destiny’s Races & Classes, Says It Once Had Giant Frogs & Tiger Men
Written Thursday, March 28, 2013 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Talking at their GDC panel, titled “Brave New World: New Bungie IP,” Bungie’s Art Director, Chris Barrett, and Joe Staten, Bungie's Design Director, the pair talked about the origins of Destiny’s game world, mentioning that previously the title used to be a fantasy game, had giant frogs and tiger men.
Obviously a lot has changed since then.
“So, many years ago, one of the first versions of Destiny we explored was a fantasy world,” said Barrett. “What was appealing about that was the mystery, the myths and the legends, and it was a really nice change of pace after Halo. Fantasy gives you opportunity for all types of evocative imagery, things like castles in the clouds in the distance, tents, horses and all that kind of stuff. Things like beasts, artifacts, ancient swords with cool names, you know, stuff that’s really fun to create. As well as monsters and heroes… and giant frogs!”
“We just couldn’t shake the lure of sci-fi, we love sci-fi as well,” continued Barrett. “It has the possibility of this hopeful future, spaceships, different worlds, and of course, shooting aliens which everyone loves. Like I said, ancient ruins are cool, but so are derelict spaceships. Both are powerful mysteries begging you to explore them.”
“So then we asked ourselves, why can’t we have both?" said Barrett. "Mixing the ancient history and texture of fantasy with the hard hitting punch of sci-fi. So then we started exploring this genre we call mythic sci-fi,” which eventually led to the Destiny today. A world full of “mythical horses,” a la spaceships, a place of wonder and one chock full of diversity.
The creation of Bungie’s game world fell down to 4 main pillars, according to Staten: 1. To create “a hopeful and inviting world;” 2. It needed to have an “idealised reality,” a world that was grounded in the familiar but “is also flexible enough to accommodate any crazy genre-bending ideas” that Bungie came up with; 3. It needed to have “mystery and adventure,” pulling people back into it night after night; and 4. It needed to become a place where you could become a legend, a world where you could leave a mark. After all, it is a world that Bungie want to last for the “next 10 years and more.”
“Pretty lofty goal,” remarked Barrett.
Bungie’s design of Destiny’s iconic world was inspired by various different mediums across the board, including anime (like Kow Yokoyama’s works); Westerns (like The Good, The Bad & The Ugly); Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits; Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker; 70s sci-fi painter, John Harris; and the works of Zdzislaw Beksinski and Peter Gric. All this research and planning resulted in more concept art "than all of the other Bungie games combined,” noted Barrett.
The talk also gave onlookers an insight to the game’s races and the player’s character classes and such.
Populating the world are races like the Fallen, a four-armed warrior race; the Cabal, huge hulking armoured beasts; the Vex, Mass Effect-Geth style sentient beings with a glowing red eye; and the Hive, who are almost like hybrid alien-zombie fiends.
Players will have the chance to choose from three races: the Humans, who are meant to be relatable and will be akin to sports stars, soldiers and action heroes; the Awoken, who are exotic, beautiful and mysterious beings, inspired by elves, vampires and the like; and finally, the Exo, who are sinister, powerful and tireless war machines, a la Spartans, Terminator and the undead.
Yes, that means you can be a robot space wizard.
“And then we investigated one more choice,” said Staten “… the Tiger Man. Tiger Man was awesome. Tiger Man was noble. Tiger Man was bestial. Tiger Man was wise."
“So, luckily, some things in world building don’t make the cut,” noted Staten. “So, another lesson, right, when you’re building a big world, a giant world… some things don’t actually belong in that world. Some things you have to leave on the cutting room floor, and we’ve learnt that as important as a thing as flexibility is, equally important is a strong sense of editorial. Deciding what to leave behind, and Tiger Man, we loved his tie, but we had to leave him behind.”
“That was our last effort to get a tiger in, by the way,” pointed out Staten.
“It still may appear someday,” joked Barrett.