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Destiny: Bungie talks character load-outs, the Grognok engine and mapping the solar system

"A lot of the fun of talking to your community at an early stage is leaving it open-ended."

Compulsory online connections, frighteningly customisable character options and wistful sci-fi vistas may comprise Destiny's bones and arteries, but the game's lifeblood - if you'll forgive the fruity phrasing - is mystery. The premise sees human Guardians journeying through the remnants of Earth's interplanetary empire, searching for clues as to their civilization's fall - and developer Bungie is accordingly keeping a lid on many of the features, fearful of exposing that meticulously constructed universe ahead of release.

It's a dangerous trick, given the importance of pre-orders - but one that appears to be paying off, as fans extrapolate brilliantly from what little they're told, and a community coheres around unanswered questions. Having laid eyes on the project for the first time, we spoke to Bungie's writer and cinematic director Joe Staten about how one creates a game people want to live, rather than merely play.

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It must be a challenge to engage players while keeping so much of the game under wraps. How do you walk the line between tantalising people and frustrating them?

Well, at this point I think that's definitely the way we're handling it. We definitely want to tantalize them. But we want to give them some real meat to chew as well, if you're asking just about this stage, absolutely, and we want to give them a few details that really help them get purchase on the universe, get them excited about it. One thing that we've talked about a lot in developing the game is, you came out and saw a number of concept images.

Really we tried to pick the concept images that really say "that's a world I want to live in, all day. I don't know what that is, I'm not even sure what I'm looking at, but all I know is that's a thing, a place that I want to be, something I want to spend time with". So really at this point we want to sell people on the feeling of the world, the big ideas of the world, give them some real texture too so they can get some hold on it.

Does it draw on any particular sci-fi novels?

Absolutely. Certainly artistically Chris Barrett, our art director, has been very passionate about giving it that texture and feel you get with classic sci-fi covers. Or just really sort of bold cinematography from that same era. A big thing we're trying to create with this story and this world is to create a history, a believable history to explore. So the colours, the texture, absolutely that sort of style, just brings with it a patina of history, that's what we're going for.

So artistically, and I would say as far as the fiction goes we've drawn from sci-fi across all eras. I mean, I couldn't even start to list all the authors that we've pulled influences from. But artistically, absolutely.

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It lends itself really nicely to delineating settings.

For us, one fundamental question early on, it took us years to answer, frankly, was the setting. We knew we wanted it to be science fiction, we knew we wanted it to have a mixe of fantasy in there as well. I mean Chris called it "mythic science fiction" and I think that's a great way to think about it. So for us it was the question of, do we want to be in our solar system or do we want to be in a galaxy far, far away, do we want to visit a new planet every week like Star Trek or do we spend more time with these places and so what really drew us to our solar system was the familiarity like you talked about it.

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