Frontier – Act01 Chapter03 – Vatyr

Chapter 3: Vatyr

Ruins of Old Toronto

The sun was just cresting over the horizon, but the Awoken hunter Vatyr S’Jet was always hours into his schedule. His ghost Glitch displayed holographic representations of various traps going through their final automated checks and syncs. Hunter S’Jet was just finishing the reconstruction of his sniper rifle. It was a ritual for him. The pattern of it soothed him.

Harassment, others called it. Control an area through guerrilla tactics and make operations in that area undesirable. Vatyr just thought it was wicked fun.

The Fallen House of Exile had recently moved what few earthbound forces it had to this continent and were currently seeking a place to build a stronghold. Exile was always in dire straits when it came to supplies and infrastructure, and this half-flooded city seemed like a perfect spot to put down some roots and build. Plenty of materials to salvage and old skyscrapers to dock their ketch against for much-needed repair.

Vatyr’s keen hunter instincts warned him of movement at street level before his sensors did, even from his perch over 50 stories up in a half-destroyed office tower. Settling into sniping position, he peered down his long-range scope and ramped up the zoom. Yep, 9 dregs and a vandal were weaving their way through the street, filtering around the husks of old vehicles. While the main force was busy setting up under the broken spire in the city centre a few kilometers away, this group seemed to be a simple scouting party.

A sly grin formed on Hunter S’Jet’s face as his crosshairs settled on the vandal leader. He took an almost cruel enjoyment from seeing dregs panic after their commander either died, or ran away in a futile effort to save his own life.

A blinking indicator popped up on his heads-up display. Glitch silently overlaid his analysis along with video from a remote camera feed, showing another scouting party to the north and another to the west. All three were in Vatyr’s actionable zone, and therefore existed from this point on solely for his amusement.

Through the armour’s neural interface, Vatyr and Glitch concocted a plan: herd all three groups into the same killbox using planted explosives, and pick them off one by one. Each one wondered who was more evil for liking the plan.

The staccato pops of distant explosions echoed through the urban ruins. The party Vatyr had at the end of his rifle barrel looked agitated as their vandal commander attempted to keep composure. Soon the other two squads came running into the intersection that the first was holding in. Vandals and dregs screeched, squawked and growled at each other. Vatyr kept telling himself he should learn the Fallen language, but for now he let Glitch do the translating.

“They’re pretty rattled, boss. They have no idea what’s going on.” mused Glitch, sharing in her guardian’s smug amusement. She set off a few other distant charges just to keep them on edge as Vatyr lined up his shots.

Pop, followed by the screaming hiss of a Fallen’s essence violently vacating its body through the space where its head used to be. One vandal down. Pop. Hiss. Another vandal down with only one left. The dregs were in a full craze now. Some fired wildly into the surrounding towers while others simply ran. Glitch set off another two charges close to the intersection, one of which vaporized a fleeing dreg. There was to be no escape from this hidden and wrathful god.

A background beeping caught the hunter’s attention as he felled another dreg that attempted to bug out. “Recall order from the Tower. Priority… Gemini? Must be a mistake.”

Vatyr prized himself on having a keen sense of things, and something about this message seemed to be more than what it seemed. With lightning reflexes, he quickly mopped up the last 14 dregs while letting the last vandal run back to spread cheery tales of what it was like to be a fish in a barrel. Glitch set the remaining charges on proximity protocol while Vatyr broke down his rifle in the same ritualistic fashion he always did. They’d be back at the Tower before lunch.


Frontier – Act01 Chapter02 – Telemica

Chapter 2: Telemica


Elysium Planitia

West of the Elysium Mons volcano

The sinister powder brought to bare by a Martian sandstorm could be considered far more dangerous than any Cabal rocket round. Fine enough to get into everything and coarse enough to do a lot of damage once it’s there. When whipped about by super-high winds, the sand overloads barriers and clogs up almost every armour system. A guardian often has an easier time acclimatizing to the hard vacuum and null-gravitational conditions on the Moon. Surviving on Mars is a hard-earned skill.

The storm had passed hours ago, depositing a thick and pristine layer of powder across the plain. As the last vestiges of the tempest bucked against the distant visage of Elysium Mons, a new roar filled the landscape, which heralded the approaching Cabal convoy.

Moving southeast, the convoy stretched as far as the naked eye could see. Thousands of Sand Eaters and hundreds of Harvester transports and Goliath tanks kept a slow, steady pace across the terrain. Intel suggested they were interested in setting up several logistical holdings in the area.

The Cabal column was slowly moving into the engagement zone, but all Telemica Magna could think about was the sand that was slowly working its way into crevasses that she didn’t have names for. Her titan armour had saved her from more assaults, both seen and unseen, than she’d be able to count over the years, but this sand would best her, given time. Her fortress-like form, and the dozens of other guardians she was currently in command of, were all suffering the same silent discomfort, since the only way to conceal the trap from Cabal scouts was the let the storm bury them. It was Telemica’s idea. “Creative camouflage”, she had called it, and regretted the concept almost instantly.

By charting the course the Cabal would take and forming up guardians on either side of that path, Telemica’s plan was coming together perfectly. The full length of the Cabal formation would be assaulted at once and from all directions. Telemica had to use every iota of influence she’d gained from decades of service and storied victories in the Crucible, but eventually Commander Zavala saw the possible gains outweighed the risks. The Sand Eaters were low on supplies and needed energy and materials to bolster their forces. Operations in Freehold had taken their toll over the years and cracks in their effectiveness were showing more readily.

At her word, the guardian formation would rise from the dust and fire a united salvo of rockets at the heavy assets, while buried charges would break any Cabal will to respond too quickly. Telemica’s heart began to swell with the glory she was about to bring to these guardians and her titan order. Perhaps she’d find the Cabal commander. Perhaps she’d make it scream her name over Cabal comms before jamming a shock grenade down its throat. While others spoke of much-needed salvage for the City, Titan Magna only cared to send waves of fear through the Cabal ranks.

“Incoming commands from the Tower, Lady Magna.” spoke the meek voice of Squire, her ghost. Telemica’s mind didn’t register it. The time for battle had come.

Two Snipers Duel, One Sniper Dances

Everyone enjoys a good sniper dual. The rest of the match just seems to melt away and for a while it’s just you and the other. margins of split-seconds and fractions of a degrees. Even if you lose, it’s exhilarating.

And then there’s this Guardian.

Dances as bullets wiz past. Gets the headshot. Saunters off. BALLER.

I mean, we’ve all done a quick jig during a Control match, but this is next level!


Frontier – Act01 Chapter01 – Solas

Chapter 1: Solas

Aphrodite Terra, Ovda Regio

The sound of distant active volcanoes seemed almost artificially muted so deep in the vast Venusian rainforest. The boom and rumble bounced and distorted off the thick trunks of the local flora so much so that to the uninitiated, it was as if the canopy itself was voicing its displeasure at the foreign presence of a guardian. However, Solas-3 was anything but uninitiated in the ways of this world.

The Exo walked carefully through the dense growth, taking care to disturb as little as possible. The warlock knew through research and harrowing experience that while there were far more dangerous things on Venus, even the Fallen scouts learned to fear what naturally lived here. Predatory beasts, as well as violent plants knew the balance of this place, and were quick to attack what seemed out of place.

While the tense peace of this place always intrigued Solas-3, this incursion was for a different purpose. Two days earlier, orbital scans revealed the specific non-baryonic signature of a new Vex conflux being formed. While the majority of Vex activities have focused more on the planet’s other continent, their actions have been less predictable since the Black Garden was cleansed of the evil heart and returned to the normal spacetime flow of our universe. While researchers and talking heads back at the City would consider the ramifications of these scans for days, Solas was far more of a hands-on intellectual.

“Wisp,” Solas whispered as he placed every step with care on the moss-covered ground. His ghost materialized a few inches from his shoulder, hovering beside him. “How much further?”

“According to our ship’s latest low-orbit scans, the neutrino confluence is directly ahead.” informed Wisp calmly. Solas-3 slowly dropped to his stomach and began to crawl. In a few feet, he found himself at the lip of a large and deep depression in the land, perhaps created from an ancient celestial impact. A clearing in the canopy let some sunlight in, but the Vex synth-stone structure as it riled and folded into our 3-dimensional brane did far more to light up the space, casting its cold glow not just on the local wildlife but on the several dozen Vex units as well. Solas-3 chose to engage, numerous harpies would lock him down long enough for the goblins and minotaurs to destroy him. The enemy was most certainly attempting to gain a foothold in this new area and was ready to repel any small scouting party, thought Solas-3.

At this point in the reconnaissance mission, Wisp would be keying up the armour’s sensor suite, being sure to keep all scans passive while Solas-3 would drop into a trance and seek what the universe was only willing to reveal to one who walks in the light. However, a ping caught both their attention before this could happen.

“Priority Gemini recall order from The Tower.” said Wisp, “No further information, but it looks like it’s just for us.” Solas-3 sighed slightly. It was a low-level fireteam recall, usually used to lure guardians into non-critical operations. Newer fireteams would usually scoop up these jobs off the general relays to rack up favour with command and others influentials. For this type of recall to be sent specifically to a veteran fireteam was odd.

Wisp grabbed what data it could before Solas-3 cautiously vacated the area. An hour later, his ship auto-extracted him from a bare cliff to deliver him to those who beckoned him.


Fiction Update #2 – Here We… Go.

I’ve mulled over as many details as I can. It’s time to start putting this thing out there.

Destiny: Frontier will premiere tomorrow.

Set after the events of Destiny, Frontier follows three Guardians of the last city on Earth as they fight for the future of our civilization. In their travels they’ll encounter deadly alien threats, ghosts of their pasts, and much more.

I’ll be dropping the occasional behind-the-scenes update between volumes. I’ve got 14 “acts” (stories or episodes) planned out thus far, each ranging from one to several chapters (episodes) in length, and acts will form their own “volumes” (overarching stories or seasons).

I look forward to feedback, and I’ll be responding to all of it to the best of my ability. If you’ve got a piece of constructive criticism (or a grammar error I’ve overlooked) I will endeavor to take it to heart. A little encouragement is also nice to receive.

I hope you enjoy.


Meritocracies Regarding The Melting Of Faces

As we approach the launch of Destiny‘s first expansion and the allure of a new raid draws us in, it might be prudent to examine the reward systems in place.

There has been a lot of hullabaloo about how actual performance in strikes, raids and the crucible has no effect on the kinds of rewards players are given. The simplistic argument of “it’s RNGs, stupid!” hold little water, as almost every game of a certain complexity uses RNGs. The issue isn’t the existence of RNGs in the equation, but how the equations are weighted. A random number generator is rarely purely random in an RPG, and such RNG-weighting is incredibly important when you’re trying to reward players for hard-won victories.

The only thing is hard to understand is why Bungie has failed so spectacularly in this regard. Surely the creators of Halo could understand how killstreaks and other medal-worthy accomplishments in the crucible should be rewarded more heavily than someone who simply participated. Surely the big brains in Bellvue could understand how galling it is to have the player who hides in the hall while the other two guardians kill Phogoth rewarded with a legendary weapon while the others get a shader if they’re lucky. Bungie has shined a bright light on all the stats and numbers they’ve been collecting, yet none of that brilliance is brought to bare for the benefit of those who applied boot to butt.

This is very much fixable, but at this point it’ll take a lot of determination on Bungie’s part. There is some indication that they’ll attempting new weighted RNG algorithms with Crota’s End, but time will tell.

Without being alarmist, this oversight could very well spell an early end to any interest in Destiny as it pushes forward with its 10-year plan. If players are not rewarded well and fairly, they’ll simply move on to a game that will.


Issues With The Other Vault

While much ado has been said and spent on the games only raid (for now), it is not the only vault in Destiny that is in much need of some attention. What about the one you store your loot in? Destiny is (in theory) a game about awesome loot. Collecting exotic weapons, armour and other goodies to use or just show off. We can’t carry them all on us so we store them at the Tower’s handy-dandy vault. However, if you play Destiny with any regularity, you’ll find that it’s far too small to contain all the awesome things you have collected in your travels and still wish to hang on to. I’ve played with people who have every weapon and armour slot in their vault filled with an exotic, and as we’re just days away from the game’s first expansion, what are we to do with the new exotics we’ll collect? There’s also the issue that the vault is supposed to be the only way to transfer items between your toons, and if it’s full you are more or less out of luck.

Bungie has just recently made the dismantling of exotics potentially worth it, but time will tell if it works in execution.

The solution is really quite simple, and that is to make the vault bigger. Big enough to scale to the kind of exotic-hoarding that the player that logs in every night is going to do. Expanding the storage volume for each of the three item categories to fill the interface, and have it so the player could tab between the three categories would be the most simple and elegant solution available. Currently, 20 weapon slots, 20 armor slots, and 20 item slots are available, but 100 each would be more in line with the needs of gamers. You could also have a page up/down control beside each catagory in the current configuration and have as many pages as you want.

If Destiny is about using weapons and armour to signify your accomplishments, the game’s mechanical shortcomings shouldn’t force us to trash these items when there are simple fixes that could be implemented right away.