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How Bungie chose the level and the loot to introduce Destiny's gameplay to the world

Bungie, the developer behind the Halo series and the upcoming Destiny, unveiled the first gameplay for its upcoming sci-fi first-person shooter at Sony's E3 2013 press conference. During the demo, a group of players teamed up in what we'd know as Russia, but what the game knows as Old Russia, to defend the Earth against an alien invasion.

The demo showcased Destiny's connected nature. It began with a single player, and a second dropped in. As the duo made their way through the earth's rusted out remains, more players joined. It ended in a crescendo of seven players taking on a Fallen Devil Walker, a dangerously powerful animalistic machine.

How does a well-known company choose the level to show the game to the world? According to Bungie's president Harold Ryan, the initial answer was practicality.

"For this demo, we ended up picking the space we see partially because, as we're playing through the whole game, this was the first space we decided to make the type of public event we showed in the demo last night," Ryan said. "This was the first space that we built one of those in. What you saw as the public event is the prototypical public event of that type and that kind of public event could happen in public spaces all over the game, but that one just happens to be the first one we put together."

In Destiny, you'll be able to play by yourself, with a party of your choosing or in Public Spaces, where other teams matchmake into your game. Ryan also provided more detail about what was happening behind the scenes as the characters fought their way through the rusty wasteland.

'It's always fun to get an immediate response.'

The demo begins with a single player, who is then joined by another. Those two characters passed a literal in-game wall behind which the game's Public Space began. The battles that took place behind the walls are entirely optional. Players can always chose to turn around and leave the Public Area.

Ryan also said that the game's loot system, which appeared in the demo, grew out of Halo.

"It's always fun to get an immediate response," he said. "You look at what you can get — you know, experience, and in Halo, a Grunt would drop an occasional grenade. So it was that instant, positive feedback of 'You performed the right action, you get a good thing back.

"The main thing about loot was [that] it really came from us as gamers looking at, 'As I'm playing, what am I getting?' What makes playing for 30 minutes meaningful? You know, experience is something, but we modeled 1,000 experience levels or 100, and you say, 'Oh, it's too big, it's too small.' And the thing you can really pop out there is a big, beautiful weapon or a beautiful piece of gear.

"That's really what drove us to loot, was the ability to reward the player with something that they would see and want and then covet and hold."

Destiny is scheduled for release on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One in 2014.