Picturing Destiny


Have you ever tried to photograph the stars at night? You probably discovered that nighttime photography works best when you slow down your camera’s shutter speed; the longer exposure allows more light to be absorbed and produces a brighter, clearer picture. I try to use the same approach when gathering Destiny news – Bungie has gone dark, but occasionally a few rays of light escape. I had finally gathered enough for another article when a sudden flash, courtesy of an IGN informant, lit up the landscape with the biggest Destiny leak to date. It’s an exciting reveal, but first let’s recap the last six months of news:

Fatigues of Their Own
Back in June, DeeJ posted a mailsack with a picture of the Bungie softball team jersey:

Not terribly exciting, but I do enjoy seeing the Destiny logo pop up in unique places. I doubt the team name “Strikers” is linked to Bungie’s new game, but you never know; perhaps “Per audacia ad Astros” was already taken.


The Seventh Beatle
On Bungie Day, Marty made a very surprising announcement via Twitter:


This was later confirmed by Macca himself:


Over on NeoGAF, Urk clarified a few details for a few unreasonably worried fans:

NeoGAF Poster: “I don’t really dig much of Paul’s latest stuff, but the things he did with the Beatles were phenomenal. let’s hope he’s forced to collaborate as it’s when he writes his best.”
Urk: “I wouldnt worry about it. They’re not working on an album of singles. The game’s score will be orchestral.

NeoGAF Poster: “This is disheartening only in the fact that it seems like, ‘Hey, let’s get the biggest name we can afford even if it doesn’t make sense! And we can afford…anyone now!'”
Urk: “We didn’t hire Paul. Paul contacted Marty because he heard his work and wanted to collaborate with him.

NeoGAF Poster: “Spend all the development money on unnecessary crap, whine about budgets and then say that f2p is the future.”
Urk: “This wasn’t handled through our publisher, or with development resources. Paul is adding his talent to the mix, and taking the opportunity to work with Marty and Mike. Marty and Mike are excited about the music they’re making together, and when they get excited, so do we. It’s really no more complicated than that.”

Perhaps we’ll get to hear some of this music soon, as it seems Marty recently made a mysterious trip across the pond:


I just hope old-school gamers don’t get confused when they hear Bungie has been working with one of the founders of Apple.


Bungie Day
On July 7th, the Bungie.net frontpage was updated with a short article containing exciting promises for the future of the Bungie community. A new image graced the home page, which at the time seemed to just represent the Seventh Column’s well-known mission of World Domination…


New forum avatars and profile backgrounds were added to the Bungie.net settings page:



The Bungie Store was updated with a Bungie Day 2012 collection, including some apparel, a few accessories, and three Destiny-related shirts: Red, White, and Blue. (I imagine these colors were picked to follow a July 4th theme.)


What’s really interesting is that the descriptions for each shirt seem to confirm their speculated names:


Bungie Day Red: “For Bungie Day, we are giving you the shirts off our backs. Adorn yourself with a mysterious icon fit for a king.” (New Monarchy)


Bungie Day White: “You can be a dead ringer for a Bungie employee. Decorate your chest with this mysterious crest and watch the questions fly.” (Dead Orbit)


Bungie Day Blue: “Have you seen us wearing shirts like these? Drape yourself in an enigma from our future release.” (Future War Cult)


The Bungie Day article also included a mysterious set of seven symbols at the bottom under the filename “particles.png”:


Each symbol was also made available for use as a forum avatar on Bungie.net; one of the symbols appears inside the collar of the three Destiny shirts sold in the Bungie store:


These symbols are most likely Geomantic figures. There are sixteen total used in Geomancy, which is an ancient Arabic method of divination. I find it interesting that “in Renaissance magic, geomancy was classified as one of the seven “forbidden arts,” along with necromancy, hydromancy, aeromancy, pyromancy, chiromancy (palmistry), and spatulamancy (scapulimancy).


Bungie.net forum members feverish tried to interpret the seven Bungie Day symbols, scouring the internet for Geomancy tutorials. Some tried to translate the symbols into binary, but the garbled results seemed to be a dead end. One user thought the symbols could be translated into a phone number, resulting in some poor soul being harassed by dozens of misguided callers trying to solve a puzzle. DeeJ quickly put an end to that wrong turn and later called off the search in the July 13th mail sack:

xNiGhThAwKx19: What can you tell us about the enigmatic symbols on both the shirts and in the Bungie Day announcement article?
DeeJ: I can tell you nothing about them that you don’t already know, tenacious investigator: They exist. You will learn more about their role in our new universe Soon™.
And, I intend to tease you with them whenever they come up in conversation. Look! There they are again…
And if you start dialing your phone while looking at that, I will kick your ass.

It seems the trail has gone cold. For now.


One of Seven
On Bungie day, the One of Seven page was updated to allow the seven golden ticket holders (randomly selected through Bungie Day 2011’s Bag O’ Swag sale) to enter their unique code and claim their prize. The following images appeared on the redemption page:


(As a side note, I have been told that each golden ticket had one of the seven geomantic symbols behind the text, presumably with a unique symbol for each winner.) Successfully entering a code treated the user to a Marty-filled video complete with cliffhanger ending, which Bungie posted to YouTube after clever forum members figured out you could access the link without entering a code:

That’s right, the prize for the One of Seven contest was a tour of Bungie studios. Very cool. Most visitors only get to see the lobby, which is very impressive and full of Bungie memorabilia but is also a very controlled environment and completely devoid of hints at the new game. Going beyond those inner doors is a very special prize.


The seven winners in the Bungie lobby. Picture blurred to protect the innocent (and Master Chief).

I’ve been informed that the One of Seven tour has already taken place – the winners spent a weekend together touring the Bellevue studio and seeing all kinds of things that they cannot talk about. Let me briefly adopt a serious tone, dear reader: Do NOT bother the seven winners – they’re under strict non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and pestering them for Destiny secrets will get you nowhere. I’ve been assured from the highest source that they cannot talk about anything beyond the front lobby and there’s already plenty of coverage for that space.


There are a few small tidbits I’ve heard through the grapevine though: it seems the seven got to play around in the motion capture room and audio booth, though I’m not sure if they recorded assets for the game. The seven were sent home with some nice swag, including the very special “One of Seven” hoodie pictured above. If you see someone wearing this, just give ’em a high-five and quietly contain your jealousy.


Bungie Day @ Bungie
On August 1st, DeeJ posted a writeup of the studio’s internal Bungie Day celebrations, providing us with a few pictures of the proceedings. While DeeJ was careful not to let any Destiny secrets slip, that didn’t stop me from meticulously combing through each image and letting my imagination run wild.

The schedule, complete with Destiny symbol.

The schedule, complete with Destiny symbol.

Another rare Jones spotting, standing in front of the Destiny Map.

A rare Jones spotting, before yet another Destiny Map.

Bungie noobs with their new wooden swords. Is that a Tiger on the projector?  I can make out a few sevens and something that almost resembels the Destiny logo...

Bungie noobs with their new wooden swords. Is that a Tiger cub on the projector screen? I can make out a few sevens and something that almost resembles the Destiny logo…


Puerto Princesa
Back in September, Bungie.net user “Motarius1” posted his discovery: Puerto Princesa in the Philippines is the real-world location of the “Destiny Map” Bungie has been using so frequently. The artwork is lifted directly from a U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey nautical chart first published in 1904. (The map is in the public domain, which allows Bungie to use it free of charge.)


The full-resolution map (14.1 MB) can be downloaded here from the NOAA’s Historical Map and Chart Collection.

Will the city of Puerto Princesa appear in Destiny, or is it just stock art used as inspiration? It’s hard to say, but Bungie.net user “x Foman123 x” brought up a good point about the possible link between Bungie and Puerto Princesa: Lorraine McLees (the talented Bungie artist behind last year’s Holiday Card) is from the Philippines.


Demonware Indiscretion
On November 6th, Superannuation over at Kotaku broke a story: Demonware, a software and services provider for all of Activision’s online games, slipped up and let an internal blog be publicly accessed (and cached) by Google. This revealed a post describing Demonware’s involvement in Destiny and how a few Demonware employees were invited to the Bungie Day presentations and game testing sessions.


Here are a few choice quotes (with bolding and links added by yours truly):

Demonware have been involved from early on and [Demonware employees] have been working on features, but there has been a lot of secrecy around the game and concept, few people have seen anything more than a box level.

[New Bungie employees were] asked to kneel in front of Harold Ryan (President) while he read a pseudo oath, culminating in “be brave“, a term they have trademarked for the game.

[We saw] a few hours of presentations covering everything from game story, factions, art engineering, tool chain, graphics, audio, player investment mechanisms, player progression, UI, and web and mobile apps.

[…]the most impressive was a live scene walk through demonstrating lots of atmospherics, huge amounts of trees and foliage (SpeedTree), particle effects, dynamic lighting and dynamic time of day ending in a sunset.

This is not a dedicated server game, but there is some simulation and coordination running in their server infrastructure. The game was up and down a lot, playing in a team of 3 we did manage to experience entering a zone to find other players already taking on the bad guys, it’s cooperative so we helped out […] before both groups went their separate ways. Which is a pretty cool experience, making you feel you are part of a much larger populated world. It’s also worth mentioning the game client was remarkably stable and robust in the face of servers disappearing and reappearing.

I like the feel of being in a large world with different destinations and interactions along the way. It actually brought back a sense of exploration I recall from playing Elite many years ago, although there was no opportunity to shoot aliens in the face in Elite. I’m not fully sold on the appeal of being able to change the colour of a weapon, but I guess it works in China, and customization and individual identity is a big theme for the game.

General comments from others: It’s still quite like Halo, there is a lot of work still to be done.

Finally, Tiger is now called Destiny.

Very interesting stuff. I’m inclined to believe Kotaku’s source, as it matches what we already know about the game (and what we know about the Bungie Day events).


IGN’s Game Spy
On November 27th, IGN published an article revealing a wealth of new Destiny info and concept art. A reader provided them with a document prepared by an advertising agency working with Bungie that contained “an outside look at Destiny’s plot, key values and more.” Kotaku later put out a story claiming they also received the document, but had received some slightly different images.

What is Destiny?
One of the most ambitious games ever created, Destiny features a rich universe populated with colorful characters and fantastic worlds that are grounded in our Solar System. Destiny aspires to be defined not just as a ground-breaking video game, but as an epic entertainment property. The ambition is to create a universe as deep, tangible and relatable as that of the Star Wars franchise. Centered around adventure and fun, the game is designed to be highly social while also allowing for open exploration.

What is the story?
Our story begins seven hundred years from now in the Last City on Earth, in a Solar System littered with the ruins of man’s Golden Age. A massive, mysterious alien ship hangs overhead like a second Moon. No one knows where it came from or what it’s here for, but only that it’s our protector. Meanwhile, strange, alien monsters creep in from the edge of the universe, determined to take Earth and the Last City. We are young ‘knights’ tasked with defending the remains of humanity, discovering the source of these monsters and – eventually – overcoming it.

What are the values?
Adventure – An exciting trek through the universe, filled with mystery and action.
Camaraderie – Social at its core, Destiny offers a world to explore with friends, both old and new.
Hope – Evil looms and dangers are everywhere, but you fundamentally believe that good will prevail.
Fun – It’s fun and accessible to all, and always filled with friends.
Discovery – Your journey is grounded in our world, but full of amazing things to do and discover.

“Destiny is designed for your inner seven year old. We want to make it feel like a mythic adventure.” – Jason Jones

Remember, the Activision contract specified Destiny’s target ESRB rating as “T for Teen” (but keep in mind Halo was always on the tame side of the M rating).

Don't assume that is the final set of consoles/platforms.

Don’t assume that is the final set of consoles/platforms. I’ve seen another version of this image with “Destiny.com” on it, but currently Destiny.com is an abandoned dating website URL and is not owned by Bungie.

IGN stated that this alien ship was referred to as "The Traveler" in the leaked document. Note the faint Puerto Princesa map overlay.

IGN stated that this alien ship was referred to as “The Traveler” in the leaked document. Note the faint Puerto Princesa map overlay.

The Traveler.

Another image of The Traveler.

The Last City on Earth.

The Last City on Earth. Notice the mountains and harbor/river in the background. This geography would align with that seen in the Puerto Princesa map, making it seem likely that the Destiny Map is a map of the Last City (although it may not be located in the Philippines.) The city looks huge in this concept art and seems to be encircled by a giant wall and eight gigantic towers.


This looks to be another concept for the massive towers that dot the wall surrounding the Last City. There seem to be a lot of aircraft flying around (many of which are duplicated in the previous image).


Another image containing aircraft, which lends credence to the idea that players will be able to fly between locations. The character in the foreground has an interesting medieval feel to his design; the image on his cape reminds me of Bungie’s cancelled Breach/Phoenix project from the Halo 2 days.


These ruins could be leftovers from humanity’s Golden Age. The small character at the bottom looks vaguely resembles a Spartan, carrying two weapons (with one on the back, just like Halo).


More ruins, possibly located near the previous image.

These next four images are NOT Bungie concept art but were assembled by the advertising agency to represent possible styles for Destiny's promotional art.

The next four images are NOT Bungie concept art but were assembled by the advertising agency to represent possible styles for Destiny’s promotional art.

More art from the advertising agency. Note that the central character's helmet is also seen in the previous image.

More art from the advertising agency. Note that the central character’s helmet is also seen in the previous image.

The soldier in this mock-up from the advertising agency was lifted from Tiberium concept art seen on the cover of Gamer Informer's January 2008 issue.

The character in this test image from the advertising agency was lifted from concept art seen on the cover of Gamer Informer’s January 2008 issue.

This test image is actually "sci-fi2" by "~0800" at DeviantArt.

This test image is actually “sci-fi2” by “~0800” at DeviantArt.

Bungie community manager DeeJ responded to the leak with a front page post and a new piece of concept art:


“Go ahead. Take a peek. It’s alright. We weren’t quite ready, but we will be soon, and we can’t wait to finally show you what we’ve really been up to.

Stick around, we haven’t even started yet.”



Retroactive Teasing
Looking back at the image posted to Bungie.net on Bungie Day, it’s clear we were being teased without realizing it:


The reveal of The Traveler also brings a new interpretation to the “Destiny Awaits” poster from ODST, first found by NsU Soldier back in May 2011 (and not last week as some gaming sites would lead you to believe).



So, there you have it. It’s a little disappointing to see leaked info covered in watermarks (especially when Bungie isn’t at fault) but still very exciting to get an early glimpse at the new game. If you’re in the mood to hype yourself up for the actual reveal, just watch a slideshow of the new concept art while listening to Joseph Staten’s game musings at the Critical Path project (first released back in July). It’s inspiring stuff and can set the imagination ablaze.

I’ll try to write Destiny updates more frequently from now on, dear readers, but there’s a chance they’ll be released at a more relevant website…


7 thoughts on “Picturing Destiny

  1. I hadn’t seen those Joe Staten mini interviews before. That’s pretty damn exciting, because it’s leaning more and more to the games that I’ve been loving more and more recently. Games like Xcom and FTL where you really come out with these crazy stories you just want to tell.

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