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Bikes, Armour & Shaders – The Style of Destiny

Story and gameplay are two of the major factors that decide whether you like a game or not. Where does that leave the visuals? It’s safe to say that games like Minecraft or Borderlands wouldn’t have left quite the impact they did, or any at all, if they hadn’t been so visually stylized and unique.

When it comes to Destiny, that includes the way they chose to portray a sci-fi setting, what clothing people would wear and the degree of realism in their depiction. We’re taking a look at some of the design choices in Destiny, how they make sense and how they come together to create such a stylish game.

Game Design as Storytelling

We all heard of environmental storytelling. It is when a game, or any media really, leaves hints to what has happened in the background and set design. Zombie games usually leave newspapers lying around that talk about the rise of a mysterious illness. In Fallout, you will find skeletons in bathtubs, telling you about how they died.

  • The environmental storytelling is literally the environment telling a story by making you look at the surroundings rather than hearing or reading it in the dialogue and collectibles.

The same concept can be applied to the entire game design. When it comes to creating a game, concept artists and other creators work hard on finding a coherent art style that aligns with the core theme of the game. If you think of Destiny’s storyline, it would be a bad fit to tell the story with the Super Mario art style. Even within the same genre, the old-school 80s movie kind of run-down plastic look for the tech in the newest Alien game would not have has the same impact as the slick futuristic look of Destiny’s tech.

  • Consider there being an in-universe reason for every design choice that was made. From the lighting to the colours and the architecture.

Ever wondered why the Hunter armour looks more like motorcycle clothing than those of the other classes? It suits the devil may care attitude we get to see in prominent Hunter characters such as Cayde-6. By using these simple design choices, the concept art and art style alone tell us facts about the story and characters.

Slick Style as a Selling Point

The devs at Bungie aren’t dumb. They know the multiplayer game traditions that keep players interested, and they found smart ways to include them: cool looking gear, guns, and bikes and the potential to get even cooler looking rare stuff the more time you spend playing. It might sound superficial, but the shaders that let you personalize armour colours and your vehicle are a big reason many people get attached to their character and in turn the game.

  • If you want to turn your Hunter into an actual biker, try hunting for the Icarus Drifter Vest and apply the Chitin Slate Shader for the perfect leathery look.

Now you can hop on your Sparrow and life the dream. If that got your fingers itching, check out the chromeburner.com motorcycle clothing for customizing your real-life wardrobe instead.

Fleshing out the Universe

You could leave it at the description we get for the hunter and the vibes we can gleam from their visuals, but the creators of Destiny decided to flesh it out even more. Take another look at Cayde-6. He’s got that sarcastic rogue charm we know from characters like Indiana Jones and the like.

Adventure loving, witty dry humour, a quick shooter… there are plenty of things we can assume about him just by looking at his character design and popular character tropes from media. They exist for a reason, to establish a character without having to explain much.

Even choosing Nathan Fillion as Cayde’s voice actor was no coincidence. He and his voice are known for similar characters, like Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly. Who better to portray an adventurous space cowboy than someone who is already established as an adventurous space cowboy?

You can find more lore supporting this characterization in the item descriptions. The mentioned Icarus Drifter Vest is accompanied by a quote of the Hunter NPC Blue Boaz: “You wouldn’t believe the solar flare I caught the other day. Rode it halfway to Venus.” There we have it again, the adventure and risk loving Hunter with their sci-fi motorcycle, living in the moment, having fun, being undeniably cool.

You could ask yourself whether they had decided on the Hunter details before they picked a motorcycle-like vehicle like the Sparrow for their transportation devices. Or did they already know about the bikes and decided to make one of the player classes motorbike lovers afterwards?

Conclusion

Looking at a game and what it is trying to tell you via its design is a fun exercise. Picture Destiny with different colours, a less realistic style or different music choices, and it might become an entirely different game.

Much of whether a game allows us to suspend our disbelieve comes from a collection of design choices that fit together and emphasize each other. One reason for Destiny’s success is its style and design choices. Every little bit, from the item descriptions to the choice of a motorcycle-like vehicle, works together to tell a cohesive story that fits its visuals and vice versa. This way, the game world becomes much more believable and enjoyable.

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