We met up with Bungie’s Scott Taylor at the PlayStation Experience 2016 where he was giving players a first look at The Dawning. In between Sparrow Racing and Strikes he gave us some inside information to share with you. The Dawning is live right now, so take a look and grab some gifts in the game!
For people who may not know, what’s your role at Bungie?
I was the executive producer on Rise of Iron and I’m a member of the Live Team at Bungie, which means I’m working on The Dawning.
What does the Live Team at Bungie do?
The Live Team is the team at Bungie that keeps the game updated, and we run the events. We've done the DLCs and expansions like Rise of Iron. We're the ones that keep watch over the game.
Can you tell us about your background and what brought you to Bungie?
Sure. I was in television before I came to Bungie.
Where did you study?
I studied film at a liberal arts school called Evergreen State College. It's mostly known for the fact that Matt Groening, who created the Simpsons, went there. It's a very arty kind of little school in the woods, but it's a great place. It's not very expensive, and there's a lot of equipment there. You're kind of free to do your own thing.
From there, I went out and got into TV. I ended up in New York, working at channels like Oxygen and BBC America cutting commercials, working on reality shows. Then, I started really getting into working on stuff that people were watching and having opinions about, and almost having a dialogue between this process of making something creative which people were consuming and enjoying.
I was really trying to look forward and decide, well ‘What do I love?’ So, I started getting into games. I got a job at a place called Screenlife which made these games called Scene It. They were trivia game that were very popular at the time.
The board games?
They were board games at first and then the thing that helped me is that they released a game for the Xbox 360, which is what helped get me into console games. The game had these big-button controllers, and I came right after that when they started going multi-platform.
When that company went under I was lucky enough to join Bungie. That was a nice, natural progression, where I was doing television and media and studied film, while working on the game. It was really a gift where I learned all the stuff on the job at Screenlife, and then was able to take that and come to a bigger developer. It's been great, and I've been very happy.
How are you involved with The Dawning?
For The Dawning, I was involved more on the high-level conceptual side and watching over the team. I manage all the producers on the team, and we work with them on the creative high-level goals for the release. Then we try to let them go do their thing and give them feedback as they go.
Let’s dive into the content for The Dawning. Sparrow Racing is back, so what can players expect this time around?
We have new daily bounties from Amanda Holliday, who is the Tower vendor that handles your ships and your Sparrows. We have two new tracks: a track on Mercury and a track on Earth in the Cosmodrome, as well as the two tracks that were in last year. So, you’ll have those four tracks in rotation.
The other big news is that we've definitely heard people have been wanting to race their Sparrows all the time. So, once The Dawning ends, the Sparrow Racing tracks are going to go into private matches, which is a feature we introduced when Rise of Iron launched.
That’s very cool. There’s a lot of new loot coming in The Dawning as well. What can you tell us about it?
Well, I am a huge fan of our new Exotics because we've had this theme, I would say, ever since I say we launched the game. We started pivoting towards trying to figure out how to make it so that players can play the way they want.
In Rise of Iron we did some things. For instance, we enhanced the Artifacts slot. By having the different damage types on the machine gun, it really is another way of customizing how you want to play. Like if you have the Thunderlord, but you really want to be able to switch between Void or Solar damage instead of Arc. I like that anything that reinforces that kind of story.
Also, there's a cool, fun quest that spawns out of the new record book we introduced in The Dawning, and that's a lot of fun.
Sometimes a winter event just means “We put snow on the ground.” What did the team do to make this unique?
We love the idea of asking questions like, “If there was a holiday in the Tower, what would it be and what would it be like?” We started from that, and we knew we had things like Sparrow Racing from last year, and we wanted to bring that back, and to make it bigger.
We got together and we thought, “Let's create a holiday that is unique to this universe and to the characters of this world.” That's how we came up with this idea for the Dawning, which is that it's a combination of all the various people that have come to this last safe city. It's obviously very far in the future, the holidays have all combined into this new tradition here.
We wanted to establish that, and we also had this idea of competition, so that combined with the Strike scoring and the Sparrow racing. They play well together. Our big idea was to not have it just be Sparrow Racing by itself, but to make it feel like it's a part of The Last City and the Tower.
We’re also bringing an Exotic back, the Ice Breaker. Just hearing the word Ice Breaker feels wintery, so things like that helped reinforced the theme as well.
Strike scoring is a big new thing. What can you tell us about that?
The big news on Strike scoring is that Zavala, the Titan Vanguard in the Tower, is going to be holding bounties that encourage you to gain rep with him, and there's also a gear set associated with it.
Strike scoring itself builds on what we did in April, when we introduced scoring into the Prison of Elders Arena. Now you are going to work with your team to build up your score and get medals. If you're familiar with the Crucible, you're familiar with earning medals by killing Guardians in different ways. The same philosophy applies here. You're going to build your team score by chaining kills and earning medals together.
It really is all about cooperating with your team to complete those bounties, to gain that rep, and to get that cool gear. That gear also is going to be leveraging the Chroma, which we introduced in April, so you can have those different colors, which again goes back to reinforcing the customization. We try to make all those things play nicely together.
Will the team score also reflect your individual score?
Yes. You can see your individual score, but your main goal is to support your team and work together.
But that means you’ll be able to identify the weakest link.
[laughter] Or who knows, maybe they were supporting other players. There’s all sorts of ways to determine the score.
Players can get a gift every day during The Dawning with ‘Gifts of the Tower.’ What kind of gifts can we expect to see?
There are all sorts of materials and all sorts of things that will help enhance your experience. There's also some larger gifts that you're going to earn the right to open by completing items in the Record Book. In addition to getting rewards from the Record Book, you're also going to be able to trigger the ability to open these very large gifts that sit behind the Bounty Vendor. By doing that you can get the Quest to go and get an Exotic.
What can you tell us about the new Quests?
The big one that is the most interesting and meaty one, and I think players are really going to enjoy this, is the one that sets you on the path to getting the new heavy machine guns, with the different elemental damage. That's the one I thing people are going to be excited about.
We love it when you have Quest to earn Exotics. Exotics are something that are so coveted, and it's nice when people have a clear path to them. It's really fun to go through that process of earning them. That's probably the most exciting.
There's also some fun quests that Eva Levante has to give some gifts to the Vanguard and there are quests around the Sparrows as well and the Strikes. We're bringing back three Strikes, and let’s just say that if played Rise of Iron and you played, say the Sepiks reprise strike, you're going to have a sense of what you're going to be getting into here.
Ornaments are such a natural fit for a winter event. What can you tell us about them?
We have Thorn, which came back in Rise of Iron, it now has some really cool Ornaments. We have the Ice Breaker as well, and that has some new Ornaments. One of the things that we heard is that people wanted to be able to make a much more direct choice about which Ornament they wanted. So, we added a kiosk for the Tower where people can directly choose which Ornament they want, to enhance the Exotic that they have and that they love.
A ton of planning must go into these events, so what’s the feeling like when they come to an end? Is it just like, one guy sweeping up the decorations?
We really try to enjoy the time while the events are going on. I think one of things that's interesting is the fact that you're going to be able to make progress in the Record Book, after the event ending. You're going to be able to race Sparrows after the event ends, and Strike scoring is going to stay. The Tower will look different, but you're still going to have access those new weapons. We’re introducing a bunch of stuff to Destiny this time and celebrating it, so the Tower might get cleaned up and sweeper bots will tidy up the snow. But a lot of the elements that we’re introducing here are going to remain.
Thank you very much for your time, Scott.
The Dawning is happening right now in Destiny: Rise of Iron, so join your fellow Guardians, set out on your quests and grab some gifts!