O Brave New ViDoc!

“O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!”
– Miranda

from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, Act 5 Scene 1

On August 4th, Bungie released a wonderful new ViDoc, “O Brave New World.” The hour-long video celebrates 20 years of Bungie’s trials and tribulations with all sorts of clips, from vintage footage to new interviews. It also had a bunch of subtle and not-so-subtle hints at the studio’s next big project.

Shirts and Posters

First, we finally have some clear shots of what I call the “Osiris”, “Dead Orbit”, and “Future War Cult” shirts.

The ViDoc also features the “Seven Seraphs” and “New Monarchy” shirts, but we already had sufficiently clear photos of those designs.

Early in the video we get a shot of the studio interior with a Destiny poster on the wall at the top of the staircase.

Note that this is the first time we have seen the name “Destiny” as a logo in any official Bungie publication. Previous releases have only shown the Destiny symbol. At one point in the ViDoc a Bungie employee refers to “Tiger”, which seems to confirm it as the code name for Destiny.


The video eventually shows some kind of terrain editor being used to stamp mountains. This tool is labeled as “Grognok”, a name Bungie obtained the trademark for on 5/4/2010. A whois search also shows that Bungie owns Grognok.com, .net, and .org.

Down at the bottom left of the window the text “tiger_sun_light_shadowing false” appears, which supports the obvious implication that Grognok is used to develop assets for Tiger/Destiny. Grognok seems to be more than just a terrain editor, as in addition to “Terrain” the top menu has tabs for “Objects”, “Map Management”, “Lighting”, and “Audio”. The scale of the terrain being edited seems like it would accommodate a wide range of gameplay, from on-foot travel to elevated flight. The existence of “Road Tools” on the terrain menu implies consideration for land-based vehicles.

The interface looks very user-friendly, especially with the inclusion of a “Help!” tab and what appears to be a friendly guide of sorts – a Bungie Septagon wearing a mortarboard which could indicate a tutorial. It seems likely that Bungie will license out Grognok to other developers, which would explain the trademark for the name. There is even the remote possibility that Grognok could serve as a full level editor for Destiny to be used by the fans – a notion that seems to fit with this quote from Joe Staten:

“You feel responsible for not just telling an isolated story, but for building a universe that at some point is gonna become more the fan’s than ours; it’s going to take a life of its own.”

One last thing: at one point we see what appears to be non-terrain geometry being edited. While it’s impossible to make out the object being created, there does seem to be a button labeled “Drop In Grognok”.

Real Time Lighting

Towards the end of the ViDoc, a beautifully lit landscape is shown. Windmills dot a mountainous environment as the sun sets.

The camera leaves the atmosphere in a brilliant transition to a weathered version of the Destiny logo, but this is not the first time Bungie has shown these vistas. A quick look at the Bungie Publications page reveals the “Lighting Research at Bungie” presentation given by Hao Chen and Natalya Tatarchuk at Siggraph ’09 and posted on the Bungie website on October 2nd, 2009:

“Their presentation focuses on high-quality real time lighting with advanced atmospheric rendering and continuous time of day, as well as efficient prefilterable soft shadows.”

The attached powerpoint gives us some more shots of the mountain sunset; in the picture below you can see the same round structure from the lower left corner of the ViDoc screen, and in the middle shot you can even see shadows of the windmills.

Note the pattern of the cosmic dust in the third shot; some people were finding an odd shape in the atmospheric view from the ViDoc just prior to the appearance of the Destiny logo. By adjusting a similar shot from the Lighting powerpoint we can see that it is nothing more than a celestial cloud with the same hook design (although it is impressive that the transition from the planet’s surface to space retains this detail).

The powerpoint has a few more pictures of sunbathed mountains, as well as a render of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” house design. It is used to demonstrate some of the shadowing techniques discussed in the presentation. (Thanks go to Boon for pointing out the building’s name in the comments below.)

Motion Capture

One short segment of the ViDoc shows Jen Taylor and a few others recording some motion capture data. While Jen is the voice of Cortana and Dr. Halsey in Reach, this scene does not appear to be from any of the cinematics involving those characters. It seems that advanced facial animation techniques will be used in Destiny, as the two people in the shot are clearly having their expressions recorded. Perhaps one of the characters in Destiny will resemble Jen Taylor in the same way that Sgt. Buck from ODST resembled Nathan Fillion.

The layout of the set makes me think that Jen is sitting on a throne at the top of a staircase. She is handed some large object of interest from one man while another man, perhaps a throne room guard, stands at the foot of the staircase holding a large staff (although this third actor could just be standing off set with an unrelated prop).

Theater Mode

Throughout the video, photographs are shown from several presentations at Bungie HQ. Most of the time the screen is too blurry to be useful, although this shot below has enough color variation to possibly add credence to some future screenshot or concept art leak.

In this next shot we can make out “Gameplay Between Landmarks” as well as a simple drawing of two paths through a mountainous map.

This final shot shows Jason Jones standing in front of the Destiny Star Map with what I think are the words “of home” at the bottom of the slide. Nothing shocking here, but it certainly is a comforting image to fans of the studio.

The Star Map

Speaking of Star Maps, the ViDoc ends with a section of the drawing I’ve pieced together before and a new weathered look for the Destiny logo.

A second shot shows us more of the drawing.

Diving back into the Bungie Publications page, we can find another version of this same design from the background of David Aldridge’s powerpoint for “I Shot You First! – Gameplay Networking in Halo: Reach” posted on 3/28/2011.

This is the only current example of the Destiny Star Map to have text annotations – it looks like two of the peaks are labeled as “Village Range” and “Triple Try Ridge” or something similar. Note also the “Scale 40000” text in the bottom right, which corresponds to the map theme of the design. The map grid appears to be labeled, perhaps with latitudes and longitudes.
So there you have it, a ton of new hints wrapped in an hour of wonderful studio history. Unfortunately, this ViDoc will likely be the last batch of teases Bungie releases for a while. The next phase will probably only begin once the studio is ready to make a formal press release and actually announce the game’s title; it could be months before we get any more deliberate clues. Be brave, my fellow fans.

See you starside,
– ncsuDuncan

All of this information has been added to my Waiting for Destiny article, which now spans two pages for optimal viewing. As always, if any of the information above is incorrect or missing anything be sure to email me at ncsuDuncan@gmail.com.

4 thoughts on “O Brave New ViDoc!

  1. In the i_shot_u_first2.png there are other letters and maybe symbols. They appear as they would if erased or their unique colour was removed. I.E. blank areas.

    The style of lettering is similar to acient styles. Something similar would be Academy Engraved and Wedding Text from MS WORD.

    Found this while seaching the web. This has to be a total co-incidence. Has to be. Look at the letter style pictures. “destiny” “believe” “we shape” “dreams’

    • Wow, you’re absolutely right. Can’t believe I didn’t recognize that, I guess I’m not used to seeing it from that specific angle.

      Good catch! Updating the article now. :)

  2. Really great stuff guys, always enjoy reading your observations.

    The Grognok app looks a lot like an Autodesk UI. Vertical docking layer pallets on the edges as well as a command bar at the bottom. Maybe they used some Autodesk technology when they developed it or just borrowed from the UI design.

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