Designing Destiny’s UI

Published on: Oct 27, 2014 @ 5:03

A game as nuanced as Destiny requires a user interface that can present everything in a way that comes naturally and is easy to digest. 

UI Design Process

The presentation below was intended for designers and artists, but if you’d like to learn about the challenges Bungie faced and ultimately what led them to the decisions they made to create the game UI, check out this presentation:

We can thank David Candland, UI Design Lead at Bungie, for much of Destiny’s awesome UI design.

There will be a video accompanying this slideshow, and we’ll add that to the article when we have access to it!

Destiny’s Hair

In other BTS news, Destiny’s hair looks great, but are you curious about the process of making it? the design philosophies behind it? This PDF is a sort of BTS of the process that went into making the hair styles.

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LATEST POSTS BY AUTHOR

  • Ivan Calijuri

    Slide 25, 26, 28 are very interesting. Maybe they’re pre-changes…

  • Interesting, slide 28 refers to the stuff in the release as “Book 1”.

    • It is seeming like there is going to be a total of 4 books/games in Destiny’s lifespan.

  • Sanctified NSeven

    This game was meant to be very different from what we’ve got 🙂 The UI is intended for 12 year olds. No offence. :>

    • echelon

      How do you figure? Are you an employee at Bungie so you know for certain that the released product is very different from what started out as a concept in peoples’ brains?

      Or are you basing your comments on the conspiracies, which are in turn based on footage from Vidocs and interviews that showed pre-alpha areas and cut scenes?

      You do realize that in game development things go through iterations and much, if not most of the time, the end product ends up being one thing compared too early designs which may or may not have worked well, etc.

      • Jason David Anderson

        You’d better hope that what was provided is very different from what was intended – because there are only two options here.

        Option 1 – The game was stripped down from what they wanted it to be due to deadlines (as is rumored, and as makes more sense than the next option).

        Option 2 – Bungie had 9 years to hash out a game, and this is what they came up with. Bugs galore, next to no story, backstory on a webpage, recycled content, broken PvP, and an intentionally random RNG system that artifically stretches out the length of the game itself.

        So – essentially you’re saying you’d rather believe that Bungie are incompetent, when you say that the game is as intended.

        They lie to us, they give us shit, and some of us still hold out desperate hope that it will be fixed – because we want Destiny to be what it should have been.

        • I’m sure there are some things that made it through as intended (UI for example), but the rest I think…not so much.

        • echelon

          Methinks that you miss the point of the game. This is not a Halo game where you play the campaign a couple of times and are finished. Or you play some deathmatch and then they release a few new maps every few months.

          This is a game that was DESIGNED to be stretched out over a long period of time. It was designed to be played over and over and to grind for loot. It was designed with an intentionally random loot system. Nothing is artificial about it, it was designed that way.

          Again I ask, how do you know what Bungie intended? Did you play a pre-alpha build and can confirm that it was something radically different? From the beginning Bungie stated it was going to be open world. Check. It was going to be persistently online. Check. It was going to have seamless single and multiplayer qualities. Check. It was going to be a first person shooter with RPG elements. Check.

          Seems to me they delivered everything they spoke about. They never talked about “length”, they never talked about content.

          Everyone is screaming because there’s footage in a Vidoc that’s not in the game at this point. What if’s in the DLC? What if it was ALWAYS intended for the DLC?

          And, oh no, there’s areas on the disc that aren’t playable yet because they’re DLC area! The nerve of Bungie! How dare they design their game to be future proof! Just because some of the level design is on the disc does not mean they cut or otherwise locked away content. This is normal practice when building open world levels. Skyrim had all sorts of unfinished lands outside it’s “borders” and none of that area ever became playable in a future update or DLC…so why was it there? Was Skyrim a much more massive game and Bethesda cut everything at the last minute? Highly doubtful. And unlike WoW or other MMOs/persistent games, Bungie/Activision is not charging a monthly subscription so paid DLC along with some free DLC is going to be the way forward until any major sequel releases. That’s way better than monthly sub IMO…

          If you don’t like the game, fine, don’t play it. But this whole “they lie, they cheated us, they give us crap” line of reasoning is just ludicrous.

          “We want Destiny to be what it should have been”. Pray tell, what is that? What is this grand thing that doesn’t exist? Where did Bungie paint a picture other than what we have?

          If you don’t like it go build your own “destiny” and release your dream game. Stop relying on other people for wish fulfillment. I can guarantee you you’ll never be satisfied…

          • Jason David Anderson

            “This is a game that was DESIGNED to be stretched out over a long period of time. It was designed to be played over and over and to grind for loot. It was designed with an intentionally random loot system. Nothing is artificial about it, it was designed that way.”

            So why were we given so little, recycled content? This game should have released with 3 raids and 20 strikes to keep people interested at the level you’re speaking of.

            Am I wrong in complaining about a game that I’ve paid for, and put close to 15 days total play time into? As a consumer am I not entitled to my opinion on what Bungie have done wrong?

            “Again I ask, how do you know what Bungie intended? Did you play a pre-alpha build and can confirm that it was something radically different?”

            Me, personally, no. There are plenty of people who have come forward on the Reddit forums that have stated exactly what you just did. Activision held strict to their deadline a year prior to Destiny’s release – Bungie had to scrap nearly everything they’d done, employee’s directly involved with the developement of the game quit because they realized their vision would not come to fruition, and we got what those who remained could throw together with the engines they had developed in about a years time.

            It’s very stripped down – there’s no denying that – this game feels like it’s about 30% of what a full title release should be. Whether Activision or Bungie are at fault for this is debatable, but as a consumer I have a right to be miffed over it.

            “Seems to me they delivered everything they spoke about. They never talked about “length”, they never talked about content.”

            I’ll quote them “If you can see it, you can go there.” – their exact words.

            “Everyone is screaming because there’s footage in a Vidoc that’s not in the game at this point. What if’s in the DLC? What if it was ALWAYS intended for the DLC?”

            If it’s in the DLC then that means they intentionally held back release day content to charge people money in the long run – that’s a disturbing trend in gaming that needs to stop. Unless you want to pay $100 to get the experience you were getting for $50 – $65 last generation.

            That aside, I’m not speaking towards the future – I’m discussing the game as it exists right now. I’ve already stated that I’m coming back for the DLC to play through that content, and that I WANT Destiny to succeed.

            I am critical of it because I LIKE it. I see it’s potential, and I see Bungie doing things that in my opinion are mishandling of the game.

            Again, am I not entitled to my opinion and voice as a consumer?

            “And, oh no, there’s areas on the disc that aren’t playable yet because they’re DLC area! The nerve of Bungie! How dare they design their game to be future proof! Just because some of the level design is on the disc does not mean they cut or otherwise locked away content. This is normal practice when building open world levels. Skyrim had all sorts of unfinished lands outside it’s “borders” and none of that area ever became playable in a future update or DLC…so why was it there? Was Skyrim a much more massive game and Bethesda cut everything at the last minute? Highly doubtful. And unlike WoW or other MMOs/persistent games, Bungie/Activision is not charging a monthly subscription so paid DLC along with some free DLC is going to be the way forward until any major sequel releases. That’s way better than monthly sub IMO…”

            I just skipped over this – it has nothing to do with my original comments. If there is content locked away for DLC – like level design, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s standard practice in MMO design – even though it seems like the people who play tested Destiny before us weren’t very adept in how to QA a game and discover bugs.

            “If you don’t like the game, fine, don’t play it. But this whole “they lie, they cheated us, they give us crap” line of reasoning is just ludicrous.”

            It’s not ludicrous, I like the game – I’ve stopped playing it because I’ve literally attained almost everything you can get in the game, short of two exotic armor pieces.

            “”We want Destiny to be what it should have been”. Pray tell, what is that? What is this grand thing that doesn’t exist? Where did Bungie paint a picture other than what we have?”

            See vidoc’s all over YouTube that describe the game, then see the game itself – it’s obvious that at some point, somewhere, things changed and the game we are being given is nowhere near the game that was being presented a year ago.

            There are timelines that go over all of this in depth all over the internet.

            That aside – I never really went into a tangent about what we should have gotten, you seem to be lumping me into the majority of people who wrote Destiny off as shit.

            I’m not one of those people – I see Bungie making CHANGES to the game that ARE NOT NEEDED and IGNORING changes that ARE NEEDED.

            It’s easy to warp some one’s words into whatever you want when you go off on a fucking 1000 word tangent – and lump up the complaints of every average troll you’ve seen.

            That’s not what I stated, and if you took the time to quote from my original statement instead of just getting yourself more and more worked up as you go into your own tangent you might be able to stick to the points I originally made.

          • echelon

            “So why were we given so little, recycled content? This game should have
            released with 3 raids and 20 strikes to keep people interested at the
            level you’re speaking of.”

            No offense, but you sound like a toddler who didn’t get his way. Just because you want 3 raids and 20 strikes at launch does not mean that Bungie is required nor ever intended to have that kind of content at release. It also completely misses the fact that they made this game on a back end that runs on four wildly different operating systems simultaneously and is constantly connected. People apparently think this is easy or meaningless. It’s not.

            “Am I wrong in complaining about a game that I’ve paid for, and put close
            to 15 days total play time into? As a consumer am I not entitled to my
            opinion on what Bungie have done wrong?”

            Sure you’re entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to ignore it as well. You pay $60 bucks and dump 15 days of your life into it and then complain that it wasn’t worth your time…what other form of entertainment to you get that kind of return on your investment? People spend hundreds of dollars on tickets to go see sporting events and concerts that last a few hours tops. $60 can be dropped on one night out at a movie theatre…yet Bungie is just terrible for giving people a stripped down, incomplete game that people can play for days on end before finally coming to a point where they feel they’ve done and seen and accomplished everything the game has to offer. How terrible.

            ‘Me, personally, no. There are plenty of people who have come forward
            on the Reddit forums that have stated exactly what you just did.
            Activision held strict to their deadline a year prior to Destiny’s
            release – Bungie had to scrap nearly everything they’d done, employee’s
            directly involved with the developement of the game quit because they
            realized their vision would not come to fruition, and we got what those
            who remained could throw together with the engines they had developed in
            about a years time.

            It’s very stripped down – there’s no denying
            that – this game feels like it’s about 30% of what a full title release
            should be. Whether Activision or Bungie are at fault for this is
            debatable, but as a consumer I have a right to be miffed over it.”

            So you’re basing your opinion off some Reddit heresay, which may or may not be true? And yes, there are things in the development world called deadlines…and budgets. And often creative people have no regards to those types of things. I’m not saying Bungie is that way but again, Activision is putting up $500,000,000 of their dollars towards this thing and that does represent risk. So yeah, they probably get to call some shots on things. Unfortunately that’s life.

            But to say that it feels like “30%” or something is just nonsense. Even big openworld games like Skyrim and GTA seem much bigger than they really are. When you look at the sum of their parts they’re really not that big. It all comes down to rinse and repeat. You either like the story and gameplay hooks or you don’t. But to say it’s stripped down is pretty baseless.

            “I’ll quote them “If you can see it, you can go there.” – their exact words.”

            That’s called HYPERBOLE. If anyone really thought they’d just be able to go on for miles and miles and miles in game and there’d be exciting stuff to do…well I have a bridge I can sell them too…

            I do agree that that statement was probably not a very wise thing to say and their ambition probably did get the better of them but again, it’s not a huge deal in the long run.

            “If it’s in the DLC then that means they intentionally held back release
            day content to charge people money in the long run – that’s a disturbing
            trend in gaming that needs to stop. Unless you want to pay $100 to get
            the experience you were getting for $50 – $65 last generation.”

            What are you basing this on? Once again, what are your sources for the allegations that all of the DLC content was or could be on the disc? Look at what they’ve said. Some of the architecture designs were made so that people didn’t have to download a ton of things on their hard drive. The Master Chief Collection has a freaking 20gb download on day one because the actual game doesn’t fit on the disc and M$ didn’t want to use multiple discs.

            And besides that, Bungie just stated that the Dark Below content just got finished. Just because they showed a cutscene or an area in an old vidoc does not entail that an entire level or storyline was complete, nor does it mean that it was meant for the retail disc.

            Games, movies and most forms of entertainment go through iterations. Some things work, some things don’t, so they get cut or modified. Rather than complaining I think we should all be hopeful that maybe Bungie can find use for it in the future and all that hard work doesn’t go to waste.

            “I just skipped over this – it has nothing to do with my original
            comments. If there is content locked away for DLC – like level design,
            there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s standard practice in MMO design –
            even though it seems like the people who play tested Destiny before us
            weren’t very adept in how to QA a game and discover bugs.”

            It has everything to do with your allegations that they’re soaking us for cash and abusing us as consumers because Destiny just “isn’t what it was supposed to be or what was promised us”. Bungie already stated that they don’t care that people can get into these EMPTY areas. They said go have fun and discover. So I don’t think they really cared about hiding it too much. Seems lame to somehow criticize a QA tester on something that you know nothing about the inner workings or details of.

            “It’s not ludicrous, I like the game – I’ve stopped playing it because
            I’ve literally attained almost everything you can get in the game, short
            of two exotic armor pieces.”

            Fine, then move on. Seems like you’ll never be satisfied to me. Bungie could’ve delivered you the world and you’d still find something to complain about because it didn’t suit you. I’m glad you like the game and criticism is fine – if it’s constructive or has merit. But baseless accusations and internet group think does not count as that. Whining because you didn’t get as much content as you think you were Entitled to and was your Right is just…well…I’ll let everyone draw their own conclusions.

            “See vidoc’s all over YouTube that describe the game, then see the game
            itself – it’s obvious that at some point, somewhere, things changed and
            the game we are being given is nowhere near the game that was being
            presented a year ago.”

            I didn’t watch the vidocs prior because I wanted the game to be a surprise for me, but I’ve since gone back and watched them and I just don’t see what the hoopla is all about. Does the UI look different? Yes. Obviously that was early stuff that got iterated and changed. Are there some cutscenes that aren’t in the final game? Yep. Maybe that was a scene that they mocked up and it ended up not working or it was just something that got cut for any myriad reasons. If you were to look at any other game ever you’d find similar things that never got released. The difference here is that Bungie was kind enough to give us an early look and instead of it being a cool thing, their “fans” came back and bit them in the ass for it like rabid dogs. Bet they learned their lesson there. From now on they’ll probably lock up everything like Fort Knox.

            “I’m not one of those people – I see Bungie making CHANGES to the game that ARE NOT NEEDED and IGNORING changes that ARE NEEDED.

            It’s
            easy to warp some one’s words into whatever you want when you go off on
            a fucking 1000 word tangent – and lump up the complaints of every
            average troll you’ve seen.

            That’s not what I stated, and if you
            took the time to quote from my original statement instead of just
            getting yourself more and more worked up as you go into your own tangent
            you might be able to stick to the points I originally made.”

            You’re not one of those people? I made a 1000 word tangent? We can both agree that Bungie has done some things that we don’t agree with since the game released. Personally I think the random teleport “fix” was asinine. But again, even they know that there were missteps and that some things were less than perfect. Nobody is perfect. So give them the benefit of the doubt. The raid team is an entirely different team so they are able to do things that are specific to the raid faster than things that are being done in the main game as a whole.

            I work for a software company. The “80/20 principle” seems to never fail. Whenever you do something 80% of the people will like it and 20% will hate it.

            I did lump some gripes in my response because I can and because your comments were still indicative of that sentiment. And now, to make you happy, I’ve quoted each part of your response for reference.

            Good day.

          • Jason David Anderson

            Master of the obvious, stating that which is common sense, lol. You literally spent how long doing nothing but lecturing some one like you’re their father on the internet?

          • echelon

            I was just trolling you in kind…

            I just think people like you are funny. I think this world would be much more interesting if all of the great artists, minds and producers suddenly went “John Galt” on everyone and went into seclusion. Then watch as the world falls apart as all the consumers wail and gnash their teeth.

          • Jason David Anderson

            In turn I think people like you are funny, who are content to work with subpar products and get bent over by developers as they devolve into lazier and lazier people due to producer’s owning them and wanting profit over content.

            Sorry, but I don’t sit back and just shut my mouth when I see something I know is wrong.

            If all the artists, and producers went into seclusion I really couldn’t be bothered – gaming is a big part of my life right now, but it’s not my only hobby. I’m entirely self sufficient in areas that don’t require art.

            If great minds shut up, they wouldn’t be so great.

            What a negative and smug way to look at the world, “I don’t agree with you, so I’d love to see you suffer.”

  • Jason David Anderson

    The UI sucks – the decision to have the vault in the Tower sucks. There is so much lacking and half assed in this game that it is disheartening.

    I wish the team that left a year prior it’s to release, didn’t, because I can only speculate that the guys who took over had nothing to do with core design in the game before that and threw together what they could as fast as they could.

    I love Destiny – I hate that we were given about 1/3 of what Destiny was supposed to be.

    This game is not fixable – hopefully Destiny II has a lot more going for it – but with Bungie’s tendency to not make deadlines and Activision’s strict deadline contracts I doubt it.

    It’s a shit relationship, and in the end the gamer’s suffer.

    There are way too many things that are completely counter intuitive in this games UI – and the game itself.

  • delta 6655

    i wish the vault was bigger, i ran out of space for my shaders. i dont wanna carry more on me then i need to. come on bungie, if your gonna make us find armor shaders, let us store all of them so we always can change our colors.

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