Bungie art director Christopher Barrett tells us about why Destiny is going to be an unforgettable experience.
Can you tell us about the creative direction of Destiny?
The goal of Destiny's art direction was to combine fantastic elements – environments and life forms you might find in a far off galaxy or a medieval fantasy world – with elements that are familiar to us.
It’s a style that we’ve come to call “mythic science fiction.” In order to make that work, everything that is beyond our solar system, our time, or our understanding, needs to be brought to earth to give that context and make them relatable.
We also want this world to matter to the player. Not only are you fighting to save earth and humanity, you are also exploring the mysteries of its past. You are embarking on a new frontier, one that has been overcome by nature and time.
This gives us as artists an incredible visual sandbox to play in. What once was a skyscraper, now buried in sand to the 20th floor, now becomes a dark dungeon when the player crawls through a window. Ecosystems can change.
Earth and our solar system are mysteries now. Anything could be around the next corner. That is very exciting. Anything is possible, and only our imaginations and ambitions are the limit.
With all that said, it is very important for Destiny to be set in a hopeful universe. We want the world we create to be a place players want to visit, explore and spend time in. Many games focus on dreary landscapes, harsh warzones, or monochromatic colour palettes.
For us, it was an integral part of the art direction to have nature, beautiful skies, landscapes, colour, light, and lots of visual variety. The world still contains dark scary caverns, and derelict ships, but our approach is to make those things inviting at the same time. We want them to be places you can't wait to jump into and explore.
We got our inspiration from westerns, Time Bandits, John Harris, and Tarkovsky, along with great sci-fi and fantasy epics. We wanted to combine all of our diverse influences together and create something new that no one has seen before but still somehow feels familiar.
Graphic Design, Fashion, and Fine Art are also extremely important influences to the art direction and something many games don't focus on.
If we could combine an ancient tattered map with a futuristic world – a world that was at the same time exotic, full of possibility, had rich history, and also relatable – I knew that was not only the universe I wanted to make, but the game I wanted to play.