The PlayStation-exclusive alpha test for Destiny has just wrapped up, with thousands of players getting an early taste of what awaits when Bungie’s sci-fi shooter launches later this year. At the tail-end of E3 last week, we caught up with Jason Sussman, Senior Environment Artist on the game, to find out why Bungie run tests like the alpha, and how it will be used to ensure the best possible player experience when Destiny launches in September 2014.
“We actually had one of our multiplayer designers here at E3 all day yesterday watching people play and taking notes.”
“The Destiny alpha was a small taste of all the things to come,” Sussman explains. “You got the open world, Explore Mode, a little bit of the campaign mission, the strike as well as the Crucible – which is our multiplayer mode”.
“And on top of that you have the player customisation so you could kit out your character and the Tower, which is the social space… I’m remembering everything as we go because it’s a lot of content!”
Allowing players access to a game so far in advance of official release is a bold move, but these tests are important tools in creating the best possible experience for when we finally get our hands on the end product in September.
“We actually had one of our multiplayer designers here at E3 all day yesterday watching people play and taking notes. We’re actively watching people and seeing what they do with our game so that we can make adjustments for the beta (coming later this year) and eventually roll these improvements out to the real game. We want to make sure that everyone is getting the best possible experience.”
Even though the alpha has run for just one weekend, the data being collected by Bungie is crucial for the development of the game, Sussman told us. “We’re already making adjustments now – in a lot of ways visually but we’re also balancing things out a little bit. It’s a great way for us to interpret all of the data that goes into our systems.”
But these tests don’t just help Bungie to work out how their systems will cope under the strain of millions of people playing simultaneously, they also give the studio important insights into player behaviour.
“By getting the alpha out there we get to show people the game early as well as testing all of our systems so that when the game is finally out there, we’re putting our best foot forward.”
“We’re not only monitoring our networking systems to see how we can handle so many players in the game but we’re also monitoring what players use, where they like to go and what people like to do in the crucible.
“We need to think about how we can explain this game to players because it’s really big – how do we do it?” Sussman continues. “Well, by getting the alpha out there we get to show people the game early as well as testing all of our systems so that when the game is finally out there, we’re putting our best foot forward.”
Whilst the alpha was the first opportunity for a lot of players to get into Destiny early, it won’t be your only chance before launch, “The beta test later in the year will contain different content – there will be a difference but what’s key is that every bit of information we’re gathering and the tweaks and adjustments we’re making will carry through to the Beta test”.
As for how the wider development of Destiny is going, it seems to be an exciting time over at Bungie. “What’s really cool for me personally as an environment artist is that the game is already looking better than what people are playing in the alpha, which is really cool. It’s like, hey guess what? This is only going to get better.”
If you got into the alpha over the weekend, do let us know below how you got on, and for the latest news on Destiny, make sure you keep your browser locked to PlayStation.Blog.