The whole thing started with a small project built by five people in a week during Bungie’s first Carnival (a week dedicated to self-directed projects that we aim to have annually) in January 2017, just to show what was possible. Here’s how I got roped into that:
It was a remarkably complicated problem to solve. Summarizing it was easy: we want to give players a way to play using one set of characters on all the platforms they use. Naively, it seems like we should give players a dropdown box with a platform list, and a button to make that their primary and cross-platform account. Here’s what that looked like in the Carnival version:
But there were many more things to account for—what are the side effects of cross saving? What happens to existing characters on the accounts that I can’t access anymore? What if I bought Silver on those accounts? What if I have purchased different expansions on different platforms? What if I haven’t migrated my Blizzard account to Steam yet? Can this system be exploited? Are there any features that are exclusive to certain platforms?
We wanted to build something that felt simple to use but also accounted for all of these concerns players might have, which is a monstrous task, and one that took many iterations of designs between dozens of small teams and hundreds of playtest person-hours to get right. We were doing something with few-to-no reference examples (at the time we were designing it), and it had to work smoothly on day-one, particularly because to solve for some of our requirements, players who mistakenly chose the wrong primary account would be unable to fix it for 90 days.
After the project was over, we met to do a postmortem with everyone involved, to record the successes and failures and what we’d like to keep doing or change in the future. We talked about a lot of things, but I think the main reason that group worked so well together was that we were all so invested in the idea that we were building something fundamentally nascent, a new spark of originality in our corner of the universe. There was some kind of magic that kept us all on the same page, with the same goals, working as a unit to make this thing that was truly new, that would actually put a dent in the universe, and I think we succeeded.”
Jake Lauer, 2013-