PVE 38: Bungie Weapon Design Team Interview with Vivian Becks and Chris Proctor – Destiny Massive Breakdowns (2023)

It's a Bungie takeover! Join the usual suspects as they quiz two members of Bungie's weapons team about all things PVE. Court, Saint_Kabr, and Impetus have plenty of questions, and luckily Bungie's Chris Proctor and Vivan Becks have joined them to answer as many as possible. Listen to the full context, and to keep the details clear, check out our official show notes and timestamps here.

00:00-4:15show introduction
4:34-5:24Introducing Vivian Becks and Game Development Experience

5:32-6:07Vivian's responsibilities as a Weapons Designer at Bungie: Exotic/Legendary weapons, weapon perks, balance changes, weapon systems.

6:08-8:16Q: The 3.0 system changed the way weapons and abilities interact for the better. How are Elemental Sandbox Perks created? Are they functionally the same as the verbs in the subclass, or are they unique things co-developed with the Sandbox team?

Vivian: For the most part, perks for weapons that use 3.0 verbs are "one and the same," except when a verb's duration can be changed for balance purposes. The skill team designs verbs as they form the basis of 3.0 abilities, the weapon team uses verbs as soon as they get their hands on them, but collaboration is a big part of Elemental Sandbox's perk design. Elemental perks aren't strictly power buffs like traditional damage perks might be, and require "additional playtesting, iterations, and team-wide discussions in the sandbox." The Weapons team likes elemental perks because "they help characterize a weapon's damage type, in addition to the modifiers and shields that that [weapon] is really good at." XP helps define a weapon's "character."

8:17-10:08 Q: It's interesting to see this shift towards sandbox perks, which most games (pre-Witchqueen) didn't have outside of Dragonfly, Firefly, Chain Reaction, etc. Has there been a change in the overall philosophy to take advantage of Elemental Sandbox, particularly in conjunction with Light 3.0 redesigns or even engine updates to enable those benefits?

Vivian: "We always wanted weapons and abilities to come together as a cohesive whole." The Stasis and Ability 3.0 system was the turning point towards that goal, with Verbs 3.0 serving as a "game grammar" that "works the same throughout gameplay." . Verbs allow the weapon team to bestow "deeper identities" on damage types and "facilitate deeper learning" because once a player learns what a verb does in their abilities, they can expect the same behavior from their corresponding weapon perk. Abilities 3.0 allows the weapons team to "do things that seem more complicated without necessarily having a lot of special cases".

10h19-10h30Introduction by Chris Proctor

10:30-11:46Q: What is the Weapons team's take on the introduction of ancestry traits so far?

Chris: "Origin Traits have been more successful than we initially thought." The team at IE Weapons wanted players to care about a weapon's origin AND hunt for new weapons as soon as they were released.

11:47-13:48 Q: Has your overall philosophy changed when creating these origin traits? Are there concerns that I might submit new source traits that are too strong or weak compared to existing ones?

Chris: The philosophy has changed over time, initially the Weapons team didn't have a solid idea of ​​how strong ancestry traits should be or "how closely they should be tied to an activity we wanted". Origin traits should be "Half the strength of a normal buff". WQ came with a number of OTs to mix and match different sources, but also to test different styles of OTs "to see what players would touch". He cites Gambit Origin Trait Invader Tracker as an OT that was designed to be activity specific but was too specific at launch so it was reworked for Gun and Run. "Hyperspecific" OTs are analyzed and revised accordingly. While many OTs are popular, the Weapons team is busy analyzing and modifying underperforming OTs as needed.

2:15-4:30 p.mQ: Can we expect more casting features in the future? Fans mention Black Armory, Cassoid, Crux/Lomar, Daito, Tex Mechanica as weaponsmiths for world and playlist drop weapons.

Chris: Origin Traits were originally called Foundry Traits because they only appeared in the four main Foundry weapon categories: Hakke, Omolon, Suros, and Veist. The weapons team realized later in development that this system could be expanded to include more activities. Melting OTs is still a priority for the team as they can add them to weapons that already have an activity OT to give players more options.16:13 "Over the next few seasons, we'll see some new Foundry traits appear."

4.30pm-6.56pmQ: You reset existing weapon groups to give them native traits. Any comments on this process and philosophy?

Chris: Re: Retrieving Gun Games draws on stories with a specific character;17:33 "Until there's a Black Armory story beat or Ada story beat, you can expect the Black Armory guns to come back, or if there's a really strong Saint beat...or Rasputin " ;He goes on to mention DSC weapons returning with Origin trait and a whole host of new perks (and crafting items).18:11 "Let's start doing this type of content every season or two... old raid weapons, maybe dungeon weapons, maybe other sources";DSC tops the list because it has a raid vendor and makes it easy to buy red-rimmed weapons.

18:57-23:07Q: We recently heard about the Weapons team's desire to improve special weapons; Recently, the desire to increase its profitability was announced. If possible, can you talk about more of these changes?

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Chris: The main problem is the tension between craftable (raid) weapons and adept versions of the same weapons. "A crafted version with enhanced perks is simply better than the Adept version as is." Starting with the Lightfall raid, you can acquire Adept weapons with enhanced perks. These weapons cannot be crafted; There will be a hunt for them, more details to come. As for Adept weapons from Trials or Nightfalls, the goal is to make those weapons "extra sharp" - Court Comment on Kingsfall Weapon Spice - GM, Trials and Assault weapons break the rules of the stats and buff column, the weapons KF have double damage. Perks, but perks have different triggers to prevent guns from completely dominating the competition - Court jokes about Kindled Orchid - Kindled Orchid would stick with Rampage/Kill Clip if it came back as it's an "iconic" role. KF guns are "a bit spicier than intended"

23:23-25:32Q: If I could go back in time, would it be possible to remove the ability to enhance traits from crafted weapons so that specialized weapons are the only weapons that gain enhanced traits, giving them more room to breathe?

Chris: Improved traits are central to the crafting system, which encourages the use of the system. "The crafting system definitely has a performance boost...5-10% of outliers which we're definitely happy with." Ultimately, it's not that different from Adept weapons, which are "2-5%" stronger than regular versions. The community is "much more attached to Adept weapons than we anticipated". Originally, adepts were meant to be cosmetic variants of the base weapon, but the weapon team decided to make small changes as they figured they wouldn't make much of a difference, the community cares a lot. much about these settings.

25:32-26:39Q: What else could you do without introducing powerups to make specialized weapons much more viable compared to select craftable weapons? Bigger stat boosts? More unique specialized mods?

Chris: The long-term goal (after LF) is to overhaul the weapon mod system, it will likely include the "small amount of performance boost that specialized weapons with enhanced perks are".

Community Questions

27:16-30:00Q: How do you do an exotic weapon debuff? Are there other teams/departments involved in making this type of weapon? Are there specific use cases in advance? Does an exotic debuff have a different playtesting process?

Vivian: Depending on the type of debuff, these weapons have specific playtesting processes that require a lot of collaboration to gather the necessary feedback and data. The raid and dungeon team gets involved almost immediately, there's usually a specific use case early on, but most of the testing and iteration happens when extensive playtesting is done (i.e. full teams optimized to max out the exotic debuff to use). . measure up); Additional work is done with the fighter and boss team to ensure the debuff weapon "helps them significantly...but doesn't completely overcome your obstacles".

Chris: Once per season, a team group gets together to listen to what the Weapons team posts (new weapons, perks, buffs, nerfs) and provide their concerns and feedback so the Weapons team can stay ahead of the curve. Other teams have playtests where a weapons team representative collects feedback to share with the rest of the department. Set up “one point of contact” to forward questions.

30:00-31:17Q: When did you start making debuff weapons?

Chris: We don't have people involved in the development of the Tractor Cannon. When creating Divinity, the Weapons team worked closely with the Fighters team to ensure it worked properly, and they continued to work with Fighters to tweak Divinity.30:57 "Much of the game's content is created under the assumption that players have easy access to a 30 percent debuff/weakness."and while this is still the case, the Activities team is very interested in seeing how the Divinity changes affect player loadouts.

31:17-32:47Q: Divinity debuff effect reduced from 30% to 15%. Will it still be possible to apply Divinity's Precision Cage alongside a larger active debuff effect (e.g. Tether)? Will Divinity negate or nullify all other debuff effects (as it has in the past) or is it safe and intended to combine the two effects?

Kris:31:47 "Yes (Precision Cage of the Divinity stacks with higher active debuffs)"

32:47-36:40Q: Can you talk about other changes to Divinity cards as well? Some suggestions from the whole community:

  • Divinity applied a 0% debuff effect that negated other debuff effects but still maintained his precision cage; any

  • Alternate Shot Mode: One mode applies the 30% debuff but not the Precision Cage; another mode applies a precision cage but no debuff; any

  • Reduced magazine/ammo count

Chris: A lot of changes were discussed within the team, but the strength they wanted to retain was Divinity's ability to "constantly deal damage." The team decided to address its "full capability," with div always being the option for most activities, GM usage at certain nightfall was "40%," which is "worrying." A test change was a small debuff applied only to bow damage, but stacked with other sources... "it turned out to be too complicated." The current change addresses "the core problem and is much simpler" - the court refers to the original Tractor Cannon functionality. The Weapons team discussed changing the div role from "weaken" to a verb more arc-focused, but decided to keep the original design intact. The Divinity toggle also fixed some bugs with Rewind Rounds and Cloudstrike. An alternate fire mode in Divinity is an interesting idea, but "more fertile ground for a new exotic."

36:40-38:52Q: If possible, in addition to the above, although this could be more of an issue with sandbox perks, can you talk about Bungie's damage stacking philosophy (re: buffs like light weapons and global debuffs like tether stack). Was there a desire to go for diminishing return stacking, or plans to reconsider stacking damage in general? This issue can also be used to anchor the point: Exotic runaways like Gyrfalcon cause some headaches, more so in Crucible than in PvE.

Kris:Multiplying damage stacks is "a big headache...a big and very complex problem"He cites the old meta where all buffs and debuffs would stack and need to be grouped into categories of buffs that no longer stack. Several ideas are thrown around like a damage multiplier cap, Chris' personal favorite switches from multiplicative to additive to allow players to tweak to their heart's content without putting as much pressure on the endgame difficulty curve. He reiterates that damage accumulation is a big problem, and that in the short term38:42 "Some of the larger multipliers... need to go down a bit"

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39:11-42:40Q: Unfortunately, this change left some exotics behind due to a lack of interaction with these new elemental verbs. What is your philosophy for going back to the exotic and adding elemental verbal interaction? Are there any concerns about communicating fire vs. fire damage to new players?

Vivian: "Elemental verbs are a great way to tie weapon damage...to your subclass, any [exotic weapon] that leans heavily towards these themes is a great candidate to be incorporated into the system in the future", but not all exotic weapons we should be. added to the system. Realize that burning and burning are confusing, but burning is more powerful than burning

Chris: Not all exotics need to be tied to their damage type, they want to allow for different builds.

42:41-44:24Q: Are burn and scorch functionally different?

Vivian: "Yes and no"; The damage application is identical, but the Scorch has additional properties.

Chris: There are extreme cases like overshield. Turnabout applies a vanilla overshield, while Repulsor Brace gives you a void overshield with all the properties associated with that verb. He agrees that scorch and burn need to be standardized.

44:24-46:13Q: What happened to the updated bulbs?

Vivian: The switch to advantage was a "confluence of factors", the improved brightness was better than normal brightness in some circumstances, but worse and causing errors in others. Perk is now more consistent and is a small buff that changes the number of enemies defeated required to trigger a detonate.

46:17-49:32Q: Kinetics are being overshadowed by their elemental counterparts - what is the ultimate purpose of Kinetics as a damage type? Can you mention anything related to your upcoming post Lightfall changes and is Quicksilver Storm a litmus test for Exotic Kinetic Primarys which is a unique Power Fantasy compared to Elemental (along with other things like Osteo Striga, Outbreak Perfected, Witherhoard ) to have? exotics?

Vivian: The goal is for Kinetic to be a "valid damage type appropriate for weapons...something that can have its own place in the sandbox", it will adjust the damage type for all weapons when Lightfall arrives. - Quicksilver Storm court references - Chris confirms the Arc rocket is a bug.

49:32-51:25Q: When it comes to creating perks with subclass synergies, what is the design philosophy behind each perk that maintains its respective subclass identity in terms of subclass specific verbs? Is there a balance between trying to build utility/support buffs and damage buffs (i.e. glow/volt shot vs. repulsive support/cold clip)?

Vivian: We started by getting the subclass verb effect [“I want to burn”] and then we built the utility around it. The team is trying to create buffs that "perform a variety of functions within a single item," plus elemental buffs coming in Lightfall that "round out this list."

51:25-54:19Q: Both Incandescent and Voltshot have been incredibly well received by the community, while the Repulsor Brace has been a lot more reticent (I think). Are you happy with where it ended up, or do you think its release timing and the more specific Void synergy it requires is holding it back? And does it matter in the grand scheme of things?

Vivian: Repulsor Brace requires a "higher base build level" than Incandescent and Voltshot. Very few PvE activities require an overshield instead of better damage. As more Void perks appear, more synergies will emerge. The main factor is ease of use versus performance.

54:19-55:28Q: Are all verbs on the table possible weapon buffs?

Vivian: A lot of verbs tend to be powerful, which leads to hesitation, but if there's a cool and interesting way to weaponize a verb, then the team will try it. "I wouldn't rule anything out."

Chris: Some verbs would need "very strict restrictions", a glowing perk that suppresses opponents would be "very toxic in PvP".

55:28-57:33Q: With a lot of PVE content (i.e. outside of Master/GM NFs, Raid/Dungeon Bosses) it seems more effective to spend extended periods of time without firing a weapon, particularly a primary weapon, and instead focus solely on ability crafting to leave . 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 Given the experience of bridging the gap between weapons and abilities with perks like Voltshot and Incandescent, is this something that's on the radar? Any plans to make certain weapons or perks more important when building?

Vivian: "Subclass builds can be very, very powerful", skills, weapons and moves should be part of your game from moment to moment. Elemental perks give you plenty of space and avenues to make firefighting a more viable option.

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57:33-58:26Q: Are there any plans to create synergistic weapon perks that work on some sort of non-direct subclass? For example, Voltshot has a more beneficial effect, like spreading burns or glowing burns count toward the repulsor booster shield, etc. Or just mutual perks of weapon subclasses with even greater impact?

Chris: Focuses on buff effects staying within damage type, partly for clarity. The interactions between damage types are interesting, but not something the team is currently investigating.

58:26-59:42Q: Are there any plans for more specific interactions between exotic weapons and armor like Lumina and Boots of the Assembler/Weapons of Sorrow and Necrotic Grips?

Chris: No plans, but "beware of opportunities". For example, an armor designer wanted to incorporate Lumina Noble bullets into an exotic armor piece, so the weapons team helped him configure it. Opposite story with Osteo Striga; The weapons team wanted to bind the weapon with Necrotic Grips functionality. Both teams are on board, but no one is trying to force an interaction early on.

59:42-1:00:37Q: Lumina is unique because it allows you to help your teammates with your healing and buffs without having to rely on skills. Does the team see more potential for supportable weapons and perks since most perks are damage, weapon detection, and auto-apply only?

Chris: I'm very excited about the support weapon slot and will be devoting resources and time to researching this in the future, particularly with subclass verbs and strand.

1:01:00-1:03:37Q: Previously, the question of what could be done to make the candy business more dynamic was met with a desire to develop what is already a gun craze. What could be done to further emphasize the profitability of a gun that can fire forever?

Vivian: He wants the exotics to remain unique as the sandbox evolves. The old favorites will not lose their identity.

1:03:37-1:05:16Q: As someone who has really enjoyed chasing spins in Hawkmoon/DMT but also building Osteo/Glaives, how does the Weapons team feel about each lane getting random/chosen spins to Exotics? Both felt a bit experimental and I'm sure they can be a bit difficult to balance, but they definitely filmed and set up someone's Exotic Hunt for me.

Chris: For Beyond Light, the team wanted players to invest in their weapons through a chase and/or customize an exotic for their playstyle. Hawkmoon was a test of random rotations. The crafting system puts customization entirely in the hands of the players. "I doubt we'll be making more randomly rolled exotics, but we're definitely going to be making more handcrafted exotics."

1:05:16-1:08:01Q: What was the thought process behind a D1 exotic like Hawkmoon or reworking a current exotic like Lord of Wolves instead of just creating a new one for those ideas?

Chris: We prefer to make new exotics as it costs the same to remake an exotic as it does to make a new one. An artist redesigned the Hawkmoon model in D2 and Chris decided to bring it back for fun. In the case of a D1 Exotic, the new version must look like the D1 version and be strong and cool enough to be a D2 Exotic. Hawkmoon had an additional issue with its random damage identity no longer consistent with D2 weapon methodology. As for Lord of Wolves, the team took the opportunity to tweak the weapon to better suit the costume it was designed for, while restoring its strength after a series of major nerfs.

1:08:01-1:10:24Q: What do you think of niche perks like under over, turnabout, and other "shield" perks? Did they hit the mark in terms of profitability?

Chris: For the most part yes. The team has been conservative about the placement of some of these perks and plans to change that.

1:10:34-1:13:52Q: What technical limitations are there when crafting a weapon or balancing an existing weapon when splitting weapon modifications between PvE and PvP sandboxes to preserve a weapon's identity in a sandbox while still fitting into the sandbox?

Vivian: Both the design and the technical challenges in that sense. The team aims to maintain the same identity and feel across most game modes to help new players learn and cement the playing habits of veteran players.1:12:41 "Most weapon configurations depend on the target you are trying to hit, not the activity you are in."Consistency is key. –Impetus mentions the difficulty of touch assist when aiming – Chris says they don't want weapons to look worse in PvE because it creates problems in PvP, he cites the Gjallarhorn changes as an example of what they're doing in the weapon setup Sandbox want to achieve .

1:13:52-1:17:48Q: When working on a weapon, how many different runs do you give it and how many teams are involved before it's finished?

Vivian: At least three, sometimes a lot more. The first pass is to "figure out what [the weapon] is all about," a second pass to "make tweaks and tweaks," and a final pass to "really polish it." Each round can last several weeks. A lot of playtesting happens during this time, with people from different teams providing feedback to the weapon designers. There is no right formula for designing a weapon. Some logical comments, some emotional comments. When an Exotic ships, it is edited by the Concept Art, Design, 3D Hard Surface, Audio, Animation, and VFX teams, as well as other teams across the studio affected by the weapon. Audio, in particular, "recontextualizes" a weapon in important ways.

Kris:1:17:20 "Exotic weapons are the most expensive pieces that content designers create";Crafting an exotic weapon takes half a season (1.5 months), a legendary perk can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week.

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1:17:48-1:21:02Q: Can you walk us through the balancing process for exotic weapons like Delicate Tomb? Delicate Tomb feels extremely strong when powered up (especially in casual content), while in harder and PVP content it seems really hard to keep up.

Vivian: It's a goal for an exotic to be good at most activities, but sometimes an activity-based exotic needs to feel really good at their specific activity. “What is the use case in different scenarios?” Delicate Tomb excels in content where there is a constant stream of targets being damaged and ion trails being created. Because of this, but also because of its unique spread pattern, you can understandably fight in PvP. Ultimately, the TD's performance on a given activity is tracked by the team and can be changed accordingly.

1:22:36-1:24:29Q: Seasonal Event Unique Origins feels like a difficult balancing act to manage its power and uniqueness alongside a limited weapon pool. How different is your process when creating it?

Chris: Seasonal OTs have a big theme around enemy types and seasonal activities. Event OTs are so unique that it's difficult to create a super strong OT. A small selection of weapons is very beneficial to creating a solid customizable origin trait.

1:24:29-1:26:44Q: How does weapon skin and storytelling work together on new Exotic weapons? Have you already designed an on-shelf weapon concept with archetype, stats, etc., and then add cosmetic features and exotic perks while the storytelling team develops the story? I'm thinking of examples like Delicate Tomb, DMT, Agre's Scepter.

Vivian: Depending on the exotic weapon, the narrative can come from the beginning to form the identity, or the weapons team can develop a strong theme themselves and collaborate and refine it as needed. Art and storytelling have a great talent for creating themes that the weapons team loves to respond to in-game. Delicate Tomb was not originally designed for Season 19's narrative, but was gradually incorporated into the Nezerac theme.

1:26:44-1:28:21Q: One of my favorite weapons, both thematically and in action, is the Thousand Voices. Everything about him feels like one grand exotic excursion into fate, but his overall strength and power has been pretty trampled by all of today's strong and heavy options. Any plans to give One Thousand Voices an edge, either through a catalyst, solar keyword interactions, or reservations in the future?

Chris: The team is currently working on the interactions of 1K Voices and Solar 3.0 but are not releasing any details. The team tracks underutilized Exotics and aims to bring back underperforming cases when inspiration strikes. 27 exotic weapons will be changed in future versions.

1:28:21-1:30:05Q: If you create a new exotic perk or weapon, I'm sure you test it in all forms of play, endgame patrolling, Gambit and PvP. But are there certain areas of the game that you want to emphasize and then try to balance the rest of the modes?

Vivian: Making weapons glow in certain activities is a good place to start.

Chris: Sometimes a weapon designer will come to Bungie with something exotic they want to design, and the team is happy to help.

1:30:05-1:31:08 Q: What is your overall design approach when creating new exotic weapons? Do archetypal/elemental/ammo-type slots play a role in this process?

Vivian: Seats are a good starting point, the team wants to give players options. After that, the design approaches are very different. Two examples: 1) top-down design: start with mechanical taste and imagination first, then build from there; 2) Design from the bottom up: Start with a problem and fix it, an issue emerges along the way.

1:31:08close and close

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