A recently posted clip from the official Game Developers Conference YouTube page now reveals a highlight from Bungie’s own John Hopson, who ran a panel about user research in Destiny back in 2015. Hopson – who now works at Blizzard – detailed how Bungie had broken the cardinal rule of user research design, and had invited user groups to play the action-RPG multiple times in order to get a grasp on how experienced players would tackle tasks. This was especially important when looking at the Vault of Glass raid, an extremely difficult challenge which spurred lots of record-breaking competitions as players tested their mettle against it.
Bungie elected to test out the extremely difficult Vault of Glass raid by flying in members of the Gunslingers Clan, and Hopson himself acknowledged that the traveling clan members were very good sports about playing through not only an extremely difficult scenario, but one that was still broken in many spots as well. The group of gamers didn’t manage to beat the Vault of Glass’ final boss, Atheon, but they did manage to whittle him down to about 30% health – a very impressive feat when one considers that there were no real “veterans” of Destiny yet.
Interested gamers can check out Hopson’s panel on user research in Destiny below:
Whatever the Bungie team did with the data collected from the Vault of Glass tests resulted in the finalized raid being beaten by over half a million players in its first few weeks, although it’s not known how many players did this on a difficulty higher than Normal. The intense raid is still fondly remembered by Destiny fans, and it will be interesting to see if the upcoming Destiny 2 will have a raid of similar difficulty ready to go shortly after the game launches this September.
Hopson also discovered plenty of other valuable data through his research, including the fact that players were evenly divided between which game modes they played, something Bungie had put plenty of effort into find the right balance for. He then mentions that some unexpected developments did occur with player behavior, referring to the infamous Loot Cave in which players would spend massive amounts of time farming loot with little risk of reprisal the cave’s distantly-spawning enemies. It turns out this actually brought a lower drop rate than just playing the game, but many players evidently liked the risk-free approach.
What did you think about Hopson’s Destiny research, Ranters?
Destiny is available now for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.