"The priority was, ‘Hey, we have to take a bunch of content that we’ve spent millions of dollars on, we need to cobble it together in a way that is not going to break continuity, and we’ve gotta do it quickly.’"
- An anonymous source speaking to Kotaku about the last-minute overhaul of Destiny's narrative design.
Breaking down your game's narrative and jamming the pieces back together in a way that accommodates the team's design goals is a common task in game development, and a new report from Kotaku suggests that the folks at Bungie may have done so on a remarkable scale during development of Destiny.
It's worth reading, if only for the potential glimpse it offers into the way Destiny's surreal plot and characters were conceived, integrated into the game's mission-based design structure and then seemingly ripped apart and stitched back together late in production.
The report is based off of a handful of anonymous sources vetted by Kotaku as being familiar with the game's development, and they claim that Destiny's original, relatively straightforward plot was completely redesigned, roughly a year before the game shipped, to afford players more freedom in what they did and when they did it by (in part) adding in a whole new "Director" interface that allowed players to pick from multiple missions.
"[The design team] would have to cobble together and cut and restitch and reuse a bunch of stuff that was already built for a different thread, but now tie it together in some way that fit this amorphous, ‘You pick which way you’re going in the director’ story," one source told Kotaku. "It was literally like making Franken-story," said another.
Sources also complain about how Destiny's complicated engine architecture became a timesink during development, rendering this last-minute overhaul even more maddening and reinforcing comments made by Destiny developers at GDC this year.
"Our layered codebase structure ended up messier than we intended," noted Bungie engineer Chris Butcher in his presentation on the core engine architecture of Destiny. "It compiles very slowly and ends up being a time sink on our engineering team."
The Kotaku report also sheds light on why Destiny writer and design director Joseph Staten abruptly left Bungie in 2013 after 15 years with the company -- it was reportedly his version of the game's plot that was scrapped in 2013 and pieced back together into the game that launched (after delays) in 2014.
Check out the full story, which includes lots of arcane details about the ins and outs of Destiny's lore, over on Kotaku.