Destiny 2 developer Bungie has acknowledged that their working procedures are taking a toll on staff members, and will adjust their practices for development of the third year of content for their massively-multiplayer game. Bungie is putting specific focus on breaking out of what they consider to be an “unsustainable development cycle.”
Destiny 2 Game Director Luke Smith shared the first part of his thoughts on the game’s development to Destiny 2‘s official website this week in the “Director’s Cut, Part I,” and he made the development team’s experience a matter of extreme importance. While Bungie and Luke Smith are overall happy with the Annual Pass, Bungie’s package for the second year of Destiny 2: Forsaken content, Smith does something relatively rare and reflects with honesty and frankness about the things he wishes were done better.
“The scope of what we delivered, the pace that we delivered it, and the overall throughput for Annual Pass takes a toll on the Bungie team,” Smith shared in his Director’s Cut post. “I — and many others — had conversations throughout the year with team members — who had jumped from release to release — about the grind of working on Destiny. Working on the game was starting to wear people down.”
Smith referred specifically to Destiny’s “new, bespoke” rewards systems that were added to the game throughout the year’s last three content seasons as an example of a change that while healthy for the game, “put the team into an unsustainable development cycle.”
In order to help correct the issue of taxing development practices, Smith says he knows Bungie “needed to develop a more systemic, standardized set of mechanics for progression to keep our teams healthier,” and will begin implementing these changes in time for them to positively affect Destiny’s third year. In June, Bungie announced that it would delay patching an overpowered weapon because it could not ask the development team to work on a solution without forcing “crunch,” where developers are pressured to meet difficult deadlines and work far in excess of forty hours a week.
Bungie will have to incorporate these new development practices as it launches a free-to-play version of Destiny 2 in October, as well as the new expansion Shadowkeep for its premium players. Both Shadowkeep and the base game version New Light have seen their release window pushed back by a month, likely also to avoid undue stress to the team at Bungie. A lot of the pressure on the development team surely is the result of the nature of operating and maintaining a massively popular live game, with the constant demand from players to not only address issues quickly, but also to provide a steady stream of engaging and well-crafted content.
In the post, Smith also emphasizes the importance of microtransactions (MTX, as Smith calls them) to the health and financial stability of Destiny 2, which is sure to only become more true as the game moves towards free-to-play options. “I’m not going to say ‘MTX funds the studio’ or ‘pays for projects like Shadowkeep‘ — it doesn’t wholly fund either of those things,” Smith said. “But it does help fund ongoing development of Destiny 2, and allows us to fund creative efforts we otherwise couldn’t afford.”