It's always amazing, the power of hindsight.
Halo 3: ODST, though it didn't elicit the mass migration of Halo 3 fans Reach would prove more efficacious a year later), has been combed over by millions of players during its three-year lifespan; Desinty, the developer's ostensible MMO/Halo break-up game, has been speculated upon by just as many since its outing last year. And yet it was only this week, following a deluge of leaked Destiny details, that a watchful ODST player discovered a Destiny reference hidden -- well... it's not really hidden at all, actually -- posted in plain sight on one of the game world's signs. How could we have been so blind?!
This week gave us a lot new insight on Destiny -- story details; concept art; more evidence suggesting a socially attuned, MMO approach to gameplay -- and the golden text, as always, is your ticket to our full coverage. In establishing the game's setting, most notably, a leaked marketing document described a near-extinct Earth, clinging to the last vestiges of its former glory, overshadowed by a massive, mysterious alien ship that hovers in orbit like a second Moon.
It was this spherical ship -- known by citizens of Earth's Last City as a guardian against encroaching "alien monsters" -- that Twitter user Ryan Butler discovered plainly rendered in Halo 3: ODST on a sign installation reading: "DESTINY AWAITS." Butler, suspicion aroused, snapped a screenshot, tweeted it to ODST environmental artist Vic Deleon, and received a response confirming that it was, indeed, a long-lost tease of Bungie's future franchise:
Outside of lesson on, you know, keeping our eyes open, the tease reveals just how far back Destiny's current concept -- the idea an alien vessel orbiting above Earth -- might date. The game has been semi-confirmed and unofficially announced and casually teased by Bungie since a trademark first outed it last year. But if significant work on the project was begun in, say, 2008, maybe 2007, it lends every bit of credence to the Destiny series' projected release schedule: full games in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019, with interluding "expansions" arriving between each.
And while 2013 isn't far off for a game we're just now unearthing story details, gameplay concepts and visual motifs for, Bungie appears ready to reveal more at any minute. Responding to the leaks on Bungie's official website, community manager David Dague says we're only scratching the surface with our knowledge right now:
"Go ahead. Take a peek. It’s alright. We weren't quite ready, but we will be soon, and we can’t wait to finally show you what we've really been up to."
Ideally, a denser Destiny presentation would arrive at the Spike VGA's, airing for the 10th year in a row on December 7th. If so, don't expect a mere tease; Bungie may well have a two-minute trailer or gameplay preview on-hand -- and we'll keep you updated as it happens.
Destiny is currently forecasted for a Fall 2013 release on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.