Bungie Explains The Matchmaking Tech Behind Destiny

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Renown video game development studio Bungie has got their work cut out for them when it comes to the massive amount of players they will be connecting together in their shared-world shooter, Destiny, set to launch later this year.

Speaking to Bungie technical director Chris Butcher, GameInformer learned exactly how the studio plans to seamlessly bring gamers together in a single world.

Butcher explained that using a system similar to what MMOs use, “a centralized server that’s simulating everything in the world”, simply wouldn’t work for Destiny and the “population of a console game.”

“So what that means is that you have to have dozens or hundreds of these separate servers. So we started out by thinking, ‘We want to have a single world that everybody can be in.'”

“We took this mesh-based networking that we’ve been developing for years and years with Halo and adapted that networking to work in a seamless interconnected world full of other players and AIs. So when you’re playing a destination you’re moving from area to area and every one of those areas has got this mesh networking with a group of players that are in it at this one time. And then it has its own servers for that particular area so you’re continuously moving around between these groups of both consoles and also dedicated servers that are hosting it.”

Butcher went on to explain how this translates in game.

“What happens is everybody in the world can play together. There aren’t these barriers that are in place. You’re all playing in one connected online world. When you’re moving from location to location you’re always going to have people to play with because there’s this huge population. You never have to go to an area of the world that’s deserted because there happens to be no one here on the server at this time.”

He added that, “there are millions of people playing all at once so that might mean that you have a couple dozen or maybe a hundred instances of one particular area of the world. But the players don’t see that because in all of our game design we’ve made sure that the way that the gameplay and missions are structured is invisible to players. They’re able to just traverse the world in this seamless fashion. They don’t ever need to see any details about where they’re switching from one game world to another, like how we’re handing off the network entities.”

Using the power of Microsoft and Sony’s new consoles, Bungie is able to “work with millions of players online at once,” says Butcher. But what about previous-gen hardware?

According to him, “they have a lot of headroom still for us. We have the most optimized game engine we’ve ever produced for these consoles. We’re getting at the point now where we are wringing pretty much every ounce of juice out of the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. We’re running higher character counts and higher player counts than we thought would even be possible on these things because we’re using every ounce of the CPUs and the SPUs and we’re offloading stuff to the graphics processor. You’re basically eating the whole buffalo at this point in the current generation. And that’s been our target right from the start is to make sure that we can provide that game experience that is consistent for everybody.”

When it comes to competitive matchmaking, Butcher assures that the studio uses “a lot of best-of-class practices to make sure that the matches are as fair as possible. The other thing that we do is make sure that when you are playing and you are experiencing the competitive multiplayer in Destiny you’re always improving and upgrading and receiving rewards. Obviously you want to win the game, but if there’s no way you can win this particular game, we’ve all had that experience in different games, you don’t come away from it with nothing. You come away with ‘I was really happy there because I managed to get kills on that guy even though he’s got this exotic weapon.’ It’s really satisfying. So we reinforce that as well.”

And that’s the magic behind Destiny’s cooperative and competitive online matchmaking, though we’re still itching to learn more about the game’s adversarial multiplayer modes. Be sure to read the full report over at GameInformer for even more details.

Destiny Launches September 9 on current- and previous-gen consoles.

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