Bungie’s Destiny – The Persistent Sandbox Shooter We’ve All Been Waiting For

Destiny_Tsr_Keyart-noscale

Destiny is set to be a game unlike any other before it.  Bungie claims promises that this is a game that only their studio can pull off.  Destiny is going to be a first-person shooter set in a persistent open-world sandbox;  Bungie calls it a “shared-world shooter” and it sounds amazing.

Destiny takes place in the distant future after humanity has long since colonized the far reaches of space.  Humankind is all but extinct at this point due to an attack by an unknown source.  The only reason there were any survivors at all was due to an entity called the Traveler, an enormous sphere (think small moon) that now hangs directly above the Earth where it sacrificed itself to save humanity.  The humans rebuild under its protection and eventually venture out to reclaim their homes only to discover they are not alone.  Many different species of aliens now reside where the humans once called home and they want to eliminate humans for good.

Bungie has stated that there has been a huge emphasis on social and cooperative play since day one.  Destiny is set up to be constantly matchmaking you with other players in the background so you’ll consistently run into other people during play.  A good comparison was made by Destructoid in their preview write-up.  They mentioned that the cooperative play seems to be a lot like Journey in that you’ll constantly come across players during your travels that can potentially aid you in ways you’ll be eternally thankful for.  The design director for the game recalled a mission he experienced with another player where the two of them were getting their collective behinds handed to them; out of nowhere, another random player came along on a hoverbike and saved them from utter destruction.  That’s pretty awesome!

pike-noscale

Six-player co-op play will be in at the very least, but Bungie won’t state how many more players you can group with or how many can be seen on-screen at once.  Also, like it was previously stated, social online play is a big factor.  Bungie will also be releasing an iOS App for Destiny that will allow you to see stats, connect with other players, and receive notifications of things to do within the game.

Bungie/Activision flat-out said that Destiny is not an MMO, but the one draw back for some people is going to be the fact that it will be an always-online game.  That means that even if you choose to play by yourself, you will be required to have an internet connection, and possibly XBL Gold for the 360, just to play.  For most people, that won’t be an issue since a lot of players are online anyways; I do imagine that it will still alienate a good amount of potential players though.

Destiny has apparently been in development since 2009 and one thing Bungie has focused on is “creating a connected and cooperative world that players want to be in” according to Destructoid.  They have designed the game to be appealing to all sorts of player types and skill levels.

In terms of development technology, Bungie has worked tirelessly to redesign and improve upon their networking tech.  With matchmaking happening behind the scenes at all times, it’s pertinent that it be fluid and seamless to give the best experience possible.  One thing that will be interesting to see though will be how Bungie handles servers.  Will players have to choose from multiple servers upon game startup or will players all be based on a single server a la EVE Online?  Hopefully they’ll have an option to turn off the matchmaking to appease players with an “other-players-screw-up-my-game-by-being-stupid” mindset.

They were initially hoping for a 2013 release and now it looks like it won’t come out until 2014.  I believe that if anyone can pull off a game like Destiny it’ll definitely be the fine folks at Bungie.  They made huge innovations with Halo and I think they’re fully capable of redefining the genre once more.  This is definitely a game to keep an eye on!

Source and pictures: Destructoid

The author of this article was Justin Champion.

Advertisements

Further Next-Gen Xbox Details Leaked!

A source in contact with Kotaku has revealed even more information regarding the specs and features of the Durango (next-gen Xbox) project from Microsoft.  This source is the same individual that leaked over 90 pages of PlayStation 4 development kit documentation.  It was also noted by Kotaku that the specs they were given weren’t just for the dev kits, they were also for the retail consoles.

According to their source and a previous report they made, the new console will come with a mandatory and upgraded Kinect sensor.  It must be plugged in and calibrated for the console to work.  This will allow developers to include the feature in all game development since it will be included with every console sold.  Another thing of note though is the fact that it will also have the ability to constantly “watch you”.  The new mandatory Kinect will have the ability to track six people in the room at all times.

The idea that the new Durango Kinect can track you at all times is a quite frightening one.  They could in theory charge customers for content based on a “how-many-people-are-watching” basis.

Kinect specs via Kotaku:

durango kinectkinect-specs

This time around, as opposed to the Xbox 360, all Durango consoles will ship with a hard drive and the base size will be 500GB; don’t get too excited though, that storage will mostly be used for the required install of games upon the first disc insertion.  Good news, though?  That installation can occur while you’re playing the game; you won’t have to wait for it to first install.  Sadly, these installs are mandatory as the Durango games can’t access data directly from the disc.

Another nifty feature will be the consoles ability to multitask and run more than one game or app at a time.  The 360 can’t even do anything remotely close; if you want to use Twitter or Facebook on the console, you have to close everything and open it separately.  (It’s about time we’ll have that functionality with a console!.)

The Xbox 360 will not work with the Durango unit according to Kotaku’s source, citing the reason that Microsoft is using a “new wireless technology” in the Durango controllers.

There’s also talk of Microsoft trying to increase support for its Xbox Companion App by possibly using it in tangent with a phone or tablet; they would then possibly give it functionality akin to how the Wii U controller has both motion and touch capability.

Finally, according to the Kotaku’s source, the following are the final retail console specs and not the dev kit specs that have been reported in the past.  Enjoy!

durango specs

All of the information and picture content in this post was respectfully borrowed from the wonderful folks over at Kotaku.

Next-Gen Xbox (Durango) to Require Internet Connection, No Used Game Functionality

A source held by EDGE Magazine has confirmed that the next-gen Xbox’s rumored specs are accurate.  These specs include “an AMD eight-core x64 1.6 GHz CPU, a D3D11.x 800MHz graphics solution and 8GB of DDR3 RAM.”  The hard drive capacity is unknown for now, but it’s speculated that “Microsoft’s extended commitment to online delivery suggests that it will be the largest unit it has put inside a console to date.”

EDGE is claiming that their inside source is saying that the next-gen Xbox games will be on 50GB Blu-ray discs; it’s also believed that these discs will ship with a one-use activation code that will have no use past the first redemption.  What would this mean for the average consumer?  No more used games would be functional on such a console!

We have already begun to see a similar model when it comes to the online component of console games.  Quite a few big budget games are packaged with an online multiplayer activation code these days.

Development sources have told EDGE that Sony’s console unit architecture is more preferable.  Apparently, development studios working with the next-gen Xbox are being forced to work with a more oppressive operating system compared to Sony.  If Sony doesn’t follow suit with game activation codes, they are going to have numerous advantages going in to the next-gen market.

Hopefully, the one-use activation codes are just speculation and never come to fruition.  Something like that would be devastating to stores like GameStop and services such as Gamefly (both of which rely heavily on the used game market.)

EDIT:  Forbes has reported that, because of the article published by EDGE, GameStop shares took a 6.8% dive at a loss of $1.81 per share.  They also stated that used game sales account for 28% of GameStop’s overall sales and 48% of their gross profits.

For more information, please visit the good guys over at Kotaku and EDGE!

Microsft to End Support of XNA Platform

On Friday, an internal email at Microsoft declared plans to phase out XNA (the development framework used by indie developers to publish their games on Xbox).  Microsoft plans to “retire” XNA and DirectX from its “MVP Award Program” and cites the reasons as being the fact that “the XNA Game Studio is not in active development and DirectX is no longer evolving as a technology.”

There’s speculation that it could be that Microsoft is phasing out XNA to prepare for a replacement.  However, it could also mean that Xbox is going to remove the Xbox Live Indie Games service completely.  This would be crushing to many indie developers if that were the case.  To illustrate what this means, both Bastion and Fez were developed using XNA.

The full Microsoft email below:

Our goal is to provide you the best experience during your award year and when engaging with our product groups. The purpose of the communication is to share information regarding the retirement of XNA/DirectX as a Technical Expertise.

The XNA/DirectX expertise was created to recognize community leaders who focused on XNA Game Studio and/or DirectX development. Presently the XNA Game Studio is not in active development and DirectX is no longer evolving as a technology. Given the status within each technology, further value and engagement cannot be offered to the MVP community. As a result, effective April 1, 2014 XNA/DirectX will be fully retired from the MVP Award Program.

Because we continue to value the high level of technical contributions you continue to make to your technical community, we want to work with you to try to find a more alternate expertise area. You may remain in this award expertise until your award end date or request to change your expertise to the most appropriate alternative providing current contributions match to the desired expertise criteria. Please let me know what other products or technologies you feel your contributions align to and I will review those contributions for consideration in that new expertise area prior to the XNA/DirectX retirement date.

Please note: If an expertise change is made prior to your award end date, review for renewal of the MVP Award will be based on contributions in your new expertise.

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding this change.

Source: CVG

Possible Leaked Specs for the Next-Gen Xbox

The website VGleaks.com is claiming that they have the full specs of the next-gen Xbox, codenamed Durango.  If these specs are correct (and they seem very plausible), the Durango machine is going to be like nothing the gaming world has seen before.

The full specs released by VGleaks below:

CPU:

– x64 Architecture

– 8 CPU cores running at 1.6 gigahertz (GHz)

– each CPU thread has its own 32 KB L1 instruction cache and 32 KB L1 data cache

– each module of four CPU cores has a 2 MB L2 cache resulting in a total of 4 MB of L2 cache

– each core has one fully independent hardware thread with no shared execution resources

– each hardware thread can issue two instructions per clock

GPU:

– custom D3D11.1 class 800-MHz graphics processor

– 12 shader cores providing a total of 768 threads

– each thread can perform one scalar multiplication and addition operation (MADD) per clock cycle

– at peak performance, the GPU can effectively issue 1.2 trillion floating-point operations per second

High-fidelity Natural User Interface (NUI) sensor is always present

Storage and Memory:

– 8 gigabyte (GB) of RAM DDR3 (68 GB/s)

– 32 MB of fast embedded SRAM (ESRAM) (102 GB/s)

– from the GPU’s perspective the bandwidths of system memory and ESRAM are parallel providing combined peak bandwidth of 170 GB/sec.

– Hard drive is always present

– 50 GB 6x Blu-ray Disc drive

Networking:

– Gigabit Ethernet

– Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct

Hardware Accelerators:

– Move engines

– Image, video, and audio codecs

– Kinect multichannel echo cancellation (MEC) hardware

– Cryptography engines for encryption and decryption, and hashing

Source: VGleaks.com

Source: VGleaks.com

An eight core processor, eight gigabytes of RAM, and a GPU that can handle over a trillion floating-point operations a second? Count me in, Microsoft!