Destiny 2

Vaulting content, and how it affects the development cycle in a positive way

destiny2 1 - Vaulting content, and how it affects the development cycle in a positive way

Almost every single day, I've been seeing posts about how various pieces of content should not be sunset and just need improvements. I just wrote out some thoughts in a comment on a post, but honestly, it deserves a post of it's own and to be seen by more people.

Please bare in mind; I have no affiliation with Bungie, and I am just someone who's been involved in development cycles for nigh on a decade and have seen stuff like this happen before. I'm also not saying that Bungie is going to do what I say, or even pretending that I know their exact plans – I'm just simply stating that vaulting is not necessarily the BIG BAD that people are making it out to be.

With all that said, let's get to the meat of this.

The current development of Destiny, as we all know, is a little troubled. The engine is what it is, and every time a new version is released for testing, it has to recompile. From the most recent ViDoc, a quick paraphrase – it takes days to compile the new build before it can even be tested.

Now that's bad – everyone knows that. But from a developer perspective, recompiling is actually something that's far more common that you might think. It's not just a recompile once everything is done (I wish!). Usually, as a developer, you'd recompile your code several times throughout building a piece of code to make sure that it's doing what you want it to do, and you haven't made a spelling mistake or misused something in some way – it's better to catch it early, because then you know where the problem is and you can fix it before it gets lost. That's not an option with Destiny as it takes days to recompile everything.

In regards to what this means in terms of vaulting locations, the obvious benefit is this: it will take hours to recompile, not days. This means that they can work on it for a day, let it recompile overnight and find the bugs in the morning. This is huge.

However, that still begs the question that people are asking: "Why remove locations when we can just update them?"

There's a second benefit which is far more removed from the users (you and I) that's not being discussed simply because it's a dev thing.

The most recent post I read was how Titan is beautiful and it's just in need of a facelift; that people don't go there because there's nothing to do. I agree with this. But here's where I agree with the Bungie approach, and what the Vault gives that isn't being talked about.

Let's imagine September; everything that was going to be removed has been. Luke Smith gives one of his teams a task: go away and rebuild Titan from the ground up – add more activities, change up the location a bit, add some new enemies, resource nodes, whatever else. Make it a good place to play.


Now, because Titan is not in the game any more, here's what can happen: said team spins up a new virtual machine and gets the Destiny game engine running on it. They bring Titan – and only Titan – in to the engine. No other locations or modes, just Titan and it's associated activities with whatever overhead that incurs. Now, if we think about how the game is going to look in terms of load in September, and take Bungie's "recompiles in hours" as truth, we can imagine that Titan might take an hour tops to recompile each time it's needed. There's nothing else to recompile, so they can make changes and recompile it several times a day to test their changes. All of this because there's only Titan on the engine.

Now, of course, you'd be remiss not to think "But they could do that now, right?". Sort of, but not really. Right now, they're bound by the currently running version of the game; the changes they make will make it in to the build so if they break something severely, they have to fix it before the next patch because it's a part of the game. Not only this, but the engine is being updated constantly: weapon balancing, reward structuring, vendor actions/activities, economies, strikes, exotic quests, UI, everything. So every change that's made to the engine has to be considered and fixed whilst they're updating Titan live. This brings its own problems and severely slows down the dev process.

With the new way of doing things, here's what would happen instead.

The team that's building doesn't touch the engine whatsoever. They leave it on whatever version it's running when they built the engine in their new environment and don't care what the team is building out – they build out the activities and the location and so on. When it's in a good place, they review all the engine changes that have happened since – fix what they can and then do a bulk import of troubleshooting the issues with every change all at once – not one troubleshooting every week when the engine has changed and caused an issue. In addition – most of these engine issues will already be fixed in the engine, or the fix will be known as it'll have been made for the other, still existing locations, so it's a much faster process. What you get is a bulk import of a location, and one or two bulk fix passes and the location is like brand new.

Essentially, if this is how everything operates, the vaulted planets will be treated like DLC locations, and this means very good things for the locations that are going to disappear. They're not necessarily gone forever, and if and when they return, they'll be much, much better.

This got longer than I thought, so I'll can it there, but I wanted to give the other side of this.

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