Destiny Writer Quits Bungie

Veteran industry writer Joshua Rubin leaves ahead of the game’s release next month, to work on Game of Thrones at TellTale. Read the full article here. [divider]

Joshua Rubin, who spent two years at Bungie writing the story for the upcoming shooter Destiny, has quit the studio to take a job at Telltale Games where he will work on the developer’s Game of Thrones episodic series. Rubin announced the news on Twitter, saying he’s excited by the challenge of writing a Game of Thrones story that is on par–or better–than what fans found in the HBO TV show.

“It’s a privilege to be working on Telltale’s Game of Thrones,” he added. “I am such a massive fan of the HBO show!”

Prior to joining Bungie in March 2012 to work on Destiny, Rubin spent one year each at Visceral Games and Capcom where he wrote for unannounced projects. Rubin is not the first high-profile creative designer to leave Bungie this year. Joseph Staten, who co-created the entire Destiny universe, left Bungie in September 2013, and has since joined Microsoft for an unannounced project.

Rubin leaves Bungie less than a month before Destiny’s release date, September 9, but it’s not likely a major concern for the project, as writing work is handled early in the development process. Plus, it sounds like Bungie already has story details locked down for Destiny’s DLC.

[divider] In other news, Jonty Barnes has an interview which you can read below.


Destiny’s premise – archaeologists with magical powers roam solar system in search of thousand-year old grenade launchers, long story short – isn’t just an excuse to dress the cast of Space Odyssey up like characters from the original Batman TV show. It’s an opportunity for lots and lots and lots of DLC, from free tweaks to full-blown paid expansions.

Think about it: there are several entire planets’ worth of abandoned temples, shipyards and what have you out there, awaiting “discovery” for a small fee. To say nothing of a hostile entity, the “Darkness”, whose lack of a coherent identity seems germane to the introduction of new enemy factions. Speaking to OXM at Gamescom, director of production Jonty Barnes acknowledged that “it’s a great fabric and landscape that we can draw upon going forward”.

“We’ve been thinking about this game to last for a long time,” he told me. “What can we learn from the past Bungie games? If we had known that they were going to have such a great legacy, we would have been much more forward-thinking about, you know, some character arcs and the sort of opportunities to take advantage of that.

“So yeah, with Destiny, we’ve got no constraints leading into the first release of course, we haven’t written ourselves into a corner and we’ve definitely created as much mystery as we can and questions to answer further down the track.”

The game is also built for background online updates, allowing Bungie to make changes with far less disruption than was the case with the Halo series. “From a very practical standpoint, we’ve had to create new technology,” said Barnes. “We did some things in the beta – I don’t know if you noticed but at one point we kicked everybody into orbit, no matter where they were playing, so we could do updates and all the balancing and things.

“So we can do small changes seamlessly, and then we can do larger changes – let’s say, we were going down for a very small window to do an update. And then of course, we have expansions which have their own contained story and all of the activity types that you would expect to have from Destiny, so they’re a much broader offering than normal DLC from Bungie. So yeah, we’re going to grow the universe.”

Destiny’s first official DLC pack is The Dark Below, which adds new story missions, Strike missions, competitive multiplayer features, gear, armour and weapons. It’s out in December, and will take you through unfamiliar parts of areas that are included with the main game, which means that you’ll still rub shoulders occasionally with players who don’t own the DLC.

“Even some of those expansions are going to cross over with people who aren’t in the expansion, so they’re going to have those collisions too, so they’re not in separate environments, with some familiarities and some new places,” Barnes explained. It’s hoped that this will serve as an enticement to buy the DLC, but this remains strictly optional. “Really it’s not necessary, it’s not required and it doesn’t mean that [DLC buyers] have an advantage, but it does mean that they will see some cool stuff that maybe they’ll want to participate in.”

Bungie’s post-release strategy will to significant extent depend on how players take to the main game – thanks to those new online systems, it can speedily respond to feedback. “It’s a huge game already, so I think starting to talk about the details of the future is at the cost of not realising all of the things that we haven’t talked about the game already, so I think we’re going to be very careful about that,” observed Barnes.

“We also have – while we have plans going forward… when we opened up the beta to all players, the players are now a strong voice in our prioritisation; we look at what they’re enjoying the most, we look at the kind of things they’re asking for compared to what we assume they’re asking for and what we know we can deliver, so… it’s going to be interesting to see how that effects our forward plans, but yeah – we have some elaborate plans ahead.”