Case study:

Destiny UX Improvement

Making this game better


Almost nine months after the launch of Destiny, and after several and useless updates, I've noticed some points that impact directly in the gameplay. As a gamer and a professional of web design and UX, I decided give my opinion.


A game loved and hated by many.

Unstable servers, bugs and the same Vanguard bounties as 9 months before.

Since the launch date, Bungie denies making the user interface more interesting, fun and advanced to use. The updates are not so good as expected and do not bring many new features, only minor adjustments and bugs corrections. Even the DLCs failed in deliver something interesting for the player in terms of user interface improvement.

Destiny is repetitive and required to play a LOT. Also has very simple menus and dumb mechanics. The player is constant facing dozens of frustration because of the use of interface where nothing is connected to anything.

Average Destiny session is 3 hours, 4 on weekends.” — IGN

In the 3 or 4 hours spent playing, it’s normal the player losing 30–40 minutes on menu screens. Thinking about this problem, I thought about some solutions to reduce it.


Better Interplanetary Navigation System

Some basic shortcuts on the menus, improvements on the gameplay and a new interplanetary navigation system will make time spent playing Destiny a lot better and improve player’s life. Starting by reducing the amount of loading screens. Here is a simple change to the navigation system:

Shortcut

One shortcut in the ghost menu screen will grant access to the interplanetary navigation system. The shortcut is located in the lower right corner, using button A. See it below:

Once accessed the navigation menu via shortcut, the only interface change is an addition of one screen menu to choose level difficulty and launch the mission. More simple and objective, my suggestion is to use some of the games arts to compose the menu as a good visual alternative. No heavy changes here.

Tower and FPS Camera Navigation System


My core improvements

• Ability to switch beyond of basics three equipped weapons. The objective here is: improve the fight against enemies with different types of shields.

• Messy and long road to access the recharging system in battles. The solution here is: design a in game system to recharge your shiny precious purple ammos.

• Bounty master. Objective: reduce trips to tower and reduce amounts of loadings screens.

“Why not improve, instead of frustrating the player?”

But first!

The dance command and other social communication controls will be located on different screen, using a incredible wheel of commands, as seen it in the image bellow.

Press and hold (back or select) button for social communications.”

Based concept

The interface solution here is similar used in Battlefield franchise.

Battlefield 4 is not a good example of great design, but the user interface and the controls are good.

Solution

The select/back button now needs to be held down to activate the wheel menu. I’ve made a basic list of commands (and I’m accepting some suggestions on what add to it).

The idea is to let the D-Pad free to be used by the new system that will be presented here in this article. Under-utilize the D-pad to social commands like sit (why it has a command to sit in the game?), it’s a waste of resources. Some of the basic commands as ammo synthesis reload or change the weapon arsenal will be better used if they put it on the D-Pad.


INTRODUCING

Reference is everything

Working with design and UX, I’ve learned that research for good examples it's fundamental for a great results. Some old school games has the perfect menu examples. Reference is not copy. It's just respect to what really works.

After a research and a good talk with a friend, we realized the Metal Gear from PSX was a good reference, and the idea came trough.

Idea

The idea is not to bring all weapons arsenal for this functionality. The basic functionality is a system provide a set of custom weapons pre-defined by the player in the equipment menu. It contains: three primary weapons, three special weapons and three heavy weapons, being possible to quickly switch between them in the first person camera without the need to open the inventory screen.

Concept

This is an example how the system will work. The player could choose 3 weapons of each kind. Each weapon has its individual amount of ammunition and individual refills in the first person camera. Ammo use still have the cooldown time.

Exotic weapons don’t get affected by the menu, you can still use one at a time.

Alternates the weapons in left and right D-pad. See it below:

Suros Regime! Vision of Confluence and Gheleon's Demise reforged with firefly and explosive ammunition. Lol.
I wish that was true! With this change, it would be much easier to customize the arsenal for certain types of raids, missions and situations.
"The time lost in arsenal menu would be reduced."

If the player already has fitted an exotic weapon, the gun is not available in fast switch menu, forcing manually unequip exotic weapons.


New Reload System

Finally and very important, to reload your ammos synthesis, use D-pad up, simple as that, and the time penalty will be displayed next to the weapon board.


Bounty Master

Tower, Tower and Tower. You always have to go there!

If the loading was short, it would not be a problem. But tower’s loading takes almost 1 minute. It makes me yawn! The constant trips to the tower would be basically to socialize with others players, but this rarely happens, because there is no advanced communication system or chat area in interface.

With social tools settled in the wheel command menu, a trip to the tower would be only to SOCIALIZE, things like: look for fireteam, raid e other party stuff will be more punctual.

Bounty tracker will have a inventory shortcut. Xander 99–40 will be a Bounty Master and bring all bounties available in the tower.

Concept

"Xander 99–40! Do your job!"

Conclusion

Destiny needs to be improved and small changes can be fundamental to the future of the game, making the Destiny universe more friendly and easy to play. I researched a lot before, devoting myself to this article.

I found a lot things and many UX improvements proposals of other players (Reddit), who are also dissatisfied with the current state of experience in the game.

I could keep writing forever about improvements, but my intention is only to propose a system to switch weapons fast. What bothers me most in the game is have more than 30 weapons in the arsenal, and many of them needs experience points and use them at certain times.

Some interface enhancements presented in the concepts were also described and exemplified by the users: Rasputin1942, in this post and anrock1, in this other post.

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