Rethinking the Destiny Companion App
Bungie created one of my favorite companion apps to a video game with Destiny Companion. Since I love it so much, I decided to give it a rethink based off the way I personally use it. Here are the three most common ways I use the app.
Guardian Show and Tell
I want to show someone in real life some of my gear or some of my game stats. This usually involves me opening the app, opening the side menu, choosing ‘Legend’, then paging over to my gear and hunting for the piece I’m talking about. This could be faster.
I want to manage my inventory while I am playing Destiny. This is somewhat tedious to do in-game, the phone interface could be leveraged for additional commands. What if I could perform custom actions on my phone instead of jumping out of the action and into the in-game menu system?
Build a Fireteam
I sometimes check the app to see if anyone is online to play. Raids work best when 6 guardians play simultaneously. A fireteam works a lot better when you know and trust the other guardians. Is there anyway to use your social connections to create quality fireteams when you don’t have enough friends online?
I saw some room for improvement in each of those use cases. Here are the guiding principles in which I wanted to redesign the app.
I understand why Bungie launches the app with Bungie news as the initial view but I believe this isn’t the most appropriate time to display this content. I decided to go guardian first with the landing view to allow you to take action on your guardian as fast as possible.
This was a hard one for me, since I usually aim to design views that are as simple as possible. The Destiny Companion app gives you tons of information about your guardian and allows you to take a multitude of actions on your inventory. I wanted to be able to see more data at once and allow more action pivots from every view to increase my speed and productivity when using the app. One could argue this is the wrong direction since it’s initially more visually confusing, but I think it actually works really well for this app since it’s an interface system you learn over time.
I think players in the community have shown a lot of desire for a solution to this. I belong to a Facebook group that mainly consists of people finding fireteams for raids. I wanted to create a fireteam builder based on the loose associations of your friends. I believe those peers-based social ties could help create reasonable teams when you just didn’t have enough people online to create one totally on your own.
I reworked the navigation of the app to a hierarchical system. The app currently has a side-drawer with 12 choices. I arranged those choices into three categories: Guardian, Social and Bungie.
Guardian is everything that pertains to your characters. The sub-navigational items are gear, inventory, stats and actions.
Social pertains to your social interactions in the game. The fireteam builder, groups and forums reside in this category.
Bungie is all things meta. From Bungie news, to the Bungie store, to the help section — this is where you interact with the developer.
The Navigation change required the addition of badging for when content was awaiting you in a category. For example, if there is an announcement of a new DLC, you would see a badge over the Bungie category.
The master category navigation is positioned at the bottom of the view to allow easy reach. You can navigate with swipes anywhere in the view through the sub-categories so you never have to reach to the top of the screen.
Now, when you enter the app, the first thing you see is your guardian. You can equip gear, show off your stats or manage your inventory. This will be especially useful when you pick up the app in game and need to change something.
Loose associations could be relied on to help you build useful fireteams. Let’s say you have three friends ready to play Crota’s End. No one else you know is online. Use the Fireteam Builder, and it will try to match you with people your friends have played with or similiar players. You can set a minimum guardian level so as to help your fireteam achieve the best possible outcome.
Here you can create a custom action sheet for things you routinely do in the game. You could create custom gear and subclass loadouts for certain Prison of Elders scenerios and equip them with a single tap. Imagine having a timer visible for your heavy ammo synthesis and being able to use it as soon as it’s ready. This could be an incredible resource for efficiency.
There are lots of caveats here. The action sheet could change the dynamics of the game and give players using it an unfair advantage. The fireteam builder is simple in principle but would be quite an undertaking to get right. To increase the density of the app, your character is shown in silhouette instead of being proudly displayed in the foreground.
This was a fun exercise and I hope you enjoyed the results. If you ever want to play Destiny on PS4, my name is gargarbot.