Making concept art a virtual reality: Bungie on next-gen Destiny

"There's absolutely a graphical upgrade."

With Destiny not out until 2014, developer Bungie is yet to settle on a final frame-rate and resolution for the cross-generation console shooter.

But with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One nearing launch, much about the next-generation of consoles is clear, and Bungie is now able to test its new game engine within the confines of Microsoft and Sony's consoles - both current-gen and next.

While the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Destiny will, obviously, look significantly better than their current-gen cousins, as Eric Osborne, senior writer and head of community, told Eurogamer today, Bungie's goal with its "shared world shooter" is to deliver what it considers to be a "next-gen experience" across all platforms.

To do this, Bungie ramped up its engineering team as soon as it decided to leave Halo and Xbox exclusivity behind for multiplatform development.

"It requires a lot of new thinking and a lot of new tools," Osborne explained. "And even before that it requires an understanding that we're going to do that. Once you make the decision to move from a single platform studio to a multiplatform studio, you immediately have to get your tech guys involved, you have to think about the vision of the game, the design pillars and what that means."

Osborne said much of Bungie's work on the next-gen versions of Destiny had to be done in the dark, to a degree.

"Our guys were building this game in 2009 before next-gen had been defined," Osborne said.

"When we announced in February, we couldn't say PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. We were ahead of that, so we had to think about, how do we define what it means to be a next-generation title and, can we and how do we permeate that throughout all the generations we ship on? How do we give somebody on the PS3 an amazing, what we would consider a next-gen experience that has parity with the PS4 experience?"

"There will be differences, right?" Osborne qualified. "It's pretty clear. Most people understand when you take eight-year-old hardware and replace it with new stuff, you're going to see some differences. But our goal absolutely is and has been from the very beginning to make sure our core vision for the game lives on every single platform, no matter where you choose to buy. That's how we identify which platforms we're going to ship on. Can we preserve that experience there and deliver a day one experience for the player that meets our bar?

"It's a huge challenge. We built teams specifically to tackle it. Our president, Harold Ryan, thinks about it every single day. We built systems that make sure artists don't have to think about it, while our engineering guys are doing nothing but sweating bullets over, how do we make all this stuff work?"

"Most people understand when you take eight-year-old hardware and replace it with new stuff, you're going to see some differences."

Osborne said Bungie's engineering team is making good progress in this regard, and has managed to incorporate graphical effects such as real-time lighting and real-time reflections in water in all versions.

"In fact, at times I'm challenged when I look at something on a big screen and I think, 'was that current or next-gen?'" Osborne added.

"It sounds like bullshit... but you get surprised quite often."

Osborne mentioned "differences" between the current and next-gen versions of Destiny, but what, exactly, are they?

"There's absolutely a graphical upgrade," Osborne said, unable to go into great detail. "The immersion factor on next-gen is off the charts. We can realise the artists' vision more thoroughly and directly. A lot of teams, including us, have said in the past, yeah it looks exactly like the concept art! It usually doesn't, but your brain filters that out. You see the concept art and a week later you see it in the game and you're like, wow, it looks just like the concept art.

"But now, I can actually do a fade in from the concept art to the game engine and the game engine looks better. This is awesome. The atmosphere in it is incredible."

"I can actually do a fade in from the concept art to the game engine and the game engine looks better."

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