bungie sound visual updates

Weekly Update 3.19.15 (Sound/Visual)

Published on: Mar 19, 2015 @ 15:25

This week at Bungie, we’re seeing (and hearing) things a little differently.

During the weeks to come, we’ll be talking about the next update for Destiny. Before the House of Wolves is revealed, we’re investing some more loving care into the game you’re playing now. As a very wise man recently said, “It’s a labor of love.”

Previously, we teased this as part of 1.1.2:

Audio and Visual – Not everyone wants to see or hear a game the same way, which is why we’re looking at providing more options.

Do you want to know more? We’re ready to introduce you to the artists, designers, and engineers who are working toward delivering on that promise.


Sound Logic (or “Turn down for what?”)

While you’ve been listening to the audio mix in Destiny, we’ve been listening to you. Along with the other features we’re bundling into 1.1.2, we’re delivering some new Settings you need in order to isolate the frequency of the people in your Fireteam – or pump up your own jams.

Jay Weinland is our Head of Audio at Bungie. He’s been at the controls as we’ve mixed Bungie games in years past. Now, he’s talking about how the audio team is changing the way you hear our game.

We’ve put a lot of thought into the best way to answer player feedback when it comes to audio. It’s been clear that there are times when you want to elevate the voices of your friends above the mix. Chat Volume is a setting that will let you adjust the players on your team in a range from 50% up to +125%.

Game Volume adjusts all in-game dialogue, sounds effects, and music as one cohesive unit in a range from 0% to 100%. Keep in mind that Chat Volume adjusts the chat volume out of your speakers but not out of your chat headset (you should have your own volume for that).


There’s also the matter of the award-winning musical score. According to Jay, if you really want to, you can substitute the anthems in the game with your own personal theme songs.

Some players have asked us for the ability to listen to their own music while they play. If you want to do that, we’ll try not to take it personally! If you select Muted, the music will be excluded from the mix altogether.


The audio team isn’t just handling the controls over to the players. In this final preview from Jay, they’re also putting you on the hunt.

To prove again that Destiny music can also enhance the time you spend with your friends, we’ve added a fun little audio Easter egg to the game. It’ll be in there, somewhere. Once the update is live, see if you can find it…

To understand the scope of work that was done to make this happen, we also need to hear from Daniel Hanson. Without our User Interface Engineer, none of this would have been possible.

I spend a lot of time reading player feedback, especially when it comes to the User Interface. Audio settings were something that people would ask for pretty frequently, so I approached the audio team to see what tools we could use to give some control to our players.

With some fresh engineering, it became possible to expose their existing controls as new game settings. I feel very strongly about improving our player experience, and I was glad to have the opportunity to provide something extra to our community.

Is this all coming through loud and clear? Keep listening to us right here for more details on when this update will be prepped and ready for deployment.


Color Commentary

We don’t all see the world the same way. This isn’t some existential statement. Some of our eyes literally see color differently. In Update 1.1.2, we’ll be making the visual feedback that guides you through the world of Destiny relevant to more players.

Brad Fish championed this cause. As our User Interface Engineering Lead, he led the effort to make Destiny colorblind-friendly.

Destiny relies on color to communicate some pretty important information to the player, particularly in the user interface. You may not have trouble distinguishing the red blips on the motion tracker from the red surface of Mars, for example, but chances are you know someone who does. Our solution for this subset of our community is a proper “Colorblind Mode” for Destiny.

Adapting the existing user interface to support various color blind modes turned out to be a fairly complex challenge, but we managed to build a flexible toolkit for our designers that helped them do just that with minimally-invasive surgery and no negative impact to existing functionality. I’m extremely excited for players to get their hands on this!


Nate Hawbaker is a Technical Artist who merges form with function. He’s created a solution that could mean the difference between life and death for your Guardian.

One of the largest challenges we faced in extending colorblind support to the third dimension of our game was getting the gameplay cues right. At any moment, there are many colors that can influence your decisions. This is no good when someone can only see two of them. Does that enemy have Arc or Void shields? Who knows!

To provide a better solution, we increased the contrast between the colors we do have in the perceived palette. We hope the new modes enable more players to make quick decisions about the elements in the game that are most important. Since there is no such thing as a blue ammo drop, prioritizing the difference in shades was easier.

Bonus Points: After struggling to find my loot drop from the remains of Sepiks, we’ve increased the size and brightness of the loot bauble to match the Grey engram. Hurray for readability!


Standard Mode: This is how most Destiny gamers see our world. Differences between loot and enemy shields are apparent to anyone with an eye for detail.


Simulated Dueteranopic View: This most-common colorblind spectrum is how some players see the world of Destiny. The lack of color variance means less feedback as to which loot to grab or which weapons to wield.


Dueteranopia Mode: Once Update 1.1.2 is applied, colorblind gamers will see higher contrast to provide better cues to detect the differences.

Shield energy isn’t the only datapoint you need to put down your enemies. Knowing their location is also important.

David Candland is the same User Interface Design Lead who spoke to us recently about the effort to provide you with rapid access to your reputation statistics. More recently, he tackled the challenge of upgrading this transparent interface for use by players equipped with different visual spectrums.

We took a lot of care to make sure our game shipped colorblind-friendly, but these settings will make things even easier for our colorblind friends. While the colorblind options may make the HUD look wonderfully colorful to many of us, colorblind players will gain a more distinct clarity, helping their environmental awareness – as well as helping them avoid that unintentional exotic dismantle.


From left to right, you can see Standard Mode, a simulated Dueteranopic View, and Dueteranopia Mode.

It’s all coming soon. If you’ve been craving a different perspective, hang in there. The fix is almost in.

“What about Vault space,” you say. Maybe we’ll throw that door open next week. Keep track of our progress right here on the Bungie Blog.