The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many of us around the country to work from home, forcing companies to adapt in new and creative ways. For Bungie, the developers of Destiny 2, Google Stadia was one of the key ways their teams were able to get back to working and playtesting effectively.

Today, the folks at Bungie published a blog post discussing the extensive level of work done in and by their in-studio playtesting lab, and the challenge presented by COVID-19 in ensuring that the development of Destiny 2 didn’t come to a halt, while also keeping Bungie employees safe.

For a typical studio, this would involve provisioning a significant amount of expensive hardware into their employees’ home offices. Even if all of that hardware was already on hand, there’s still the matter of distributing the correct development build of Destiny 2 to each playtester, which would involve frequently reinstalling the 100GB game. Where this was already a somewhat difficult task for an in-studio lab, most home internet plans were entirely unprepared for this workload.

Instead, Bungie’s playtesting team turned their attention to the studio’s recent experience with bringing Destiny 2 to Google Stadia.

Using Stadia in the ‘work from home’ transfer seemed like the easiest thing we could have done, and the fact that we already had our game stood up on that platform made it kind of a no-brainer to start looking into that.

With Google Stadia, Bungie employees could essentially use whatever computer they had available, with Stadia’s cloud hardware providing both computational might and uniformity. In fact, Stadia made it easy to rapidly distribute test builds of Destiny 2.

On Stadia we can publish a build in a way that all of the instances we use automatically get the build distributed to them at the same time […] We’re able to very easily get a pool of up to 300 instances or so with the game ready to play at a click of a button, which is fantastic. You can’t do that any other way when we’re running a big studio playtest like that.

Two weeks ago, Bungie shared a video that also details some of the challenges with developing new content for Destiny 2 while the teams are working from home. At around the 1:48 mark, you can see a blurry webpage that seems to pretty clearly say “Stadia Test Client.”

From this sneak peek, we can gather that developers of games for Google Stadia are able to play games without entering full screen and have access to a variety of settings to adjust the experience. Watching the snippet a few times, we’re roughly able to make out options for things like “Player Portal,” “Network emulation,” and “Test client configuration.”

Destiny 2’s next major expansion, Beyond Light, is still scheduled to release on September 22, thanks in no small part to Google Stadia.

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