Destiny’s story has been one of the most contentious topics in video games ever since the game launched in September 2014. While early promises hinted at a Star Wars style universe, the end product was lacking in the most basic elements of a cohesive story. “I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain” and other terrible lines became overnight internet sensations, with fans wondering just what went wrong.
Now, thanks to a fantastically detailed report from Kotaku, we have an idea. In the report, which is built around anonymous sources supposedly from within Bungie itself, we see the tumultuous behind-the-scenes drama that formed just a year before Destiny shipped. All of it leading up to a near complete reboot of the story, along with a restructuring of the missions, and a host of removed content.
According to the report, the entire game’s story had been written by long-time Bungie writer Joe Staten and his team. The final step before implementing the whole thing was to show a “supercut” of the story to Bungie execs, essentially cobbling together the various cutscenes to give an idea of what the final product will look like. This presentation apparently failed to impress, with the execs deciding to scrap the entire story and start from scratch.
This happened in the summer of 2013, which was less than a year from the proposed March 2014 launch date. An extension was acquired, but the entire Bungie team had to formulate a new story for the game that they’d spent the last few years piecing together. Entire sections were cut, moved, or changed to make room for the new story, with one anonymous source saying “so if you were going from point A to point Z in the course of [the original, pre-reboot story], they would take out section H-J because it was really tight encounter design and they’d put it off to the side and say, ‘How do we get H-J in this other storyline?’ It was literally like making Franken-story.”
The chaos continued after the release of Destiny, which received a much harsher response than Bungie thought it would. They felt that the work they’d done in refining the combat would make up for the lack of story, but fans and critics disagreed. Continuing to work on content, Bungie ended up doing a similar reboot to the first DLC pack, Destiny: The Dark Below. According to one of the anonymous sources The Dark Below was thrown together by a single team in just nine weeks.
The Taken King was the full culmination of the new Destiny, taking an entirely new writing team and reshaping the narrative in different ways. However, even a year later there is content from the original plan that hasn’t made its way to the final game. These include a European area on Earth and a Raid on Mars. This content could be shifting though, as Bungie is supposedly changing to an annual release schedule.
The original plan was to release Destiny, then two DLC packs, followed by The Taken King, and then two more DLC expansions. This has since been changed, according to the sources. Destiny will now release a new main game every two years, with a Taken King style DLC fitting in between. The DLC will now be funded by the recently launched micro-transaction market, with content possibly being released for free throughout the year.
There’s so much more to this story though, including how the Diablo III development team helped fix the randomness of Destiny’s loot, so head over to the Kotaku report to get the full details.