Sparrow Racing: Options and Challenges

Sparrow racing. How Bungie didn’t think we’d want to race vehicles as cool as sparrows competitively is truly a wonder. While the concept is simple enough, proper execution requires quite a bit of work.

Let’s start with the sparrows themselves. In their most simple form, racing games require vehicles that differ in a variety of performance factors. Speed, handling, acceleration, etc. Sparrows have only one variable and beyond that, they all perform exactly alike. For a competitive race to occur, sparrows would need the ability to overtake each other based on driver style and ability. Sparrows in their current form just don’t work.

For sparrow racing to ever happen, sparrows would have to be completely rebuilt from the ground up. Different models could have different stats, but I think it would  be much better to have upgradeable and customizable models. A guardian would have a base model which would have slots to plug in stat-altering items, not unlike the guardian itself. This would have the added bonuses of introducing new items and new currency-sinks. Next, while sparrows have two (or in the case of Timebreaker, three) speeds, they’ll need to a different kind of “boost” function in racing, which I think should be a standard depleteable boost meter that charges through tricks and the like.

Let’s talk courses. I’m sure Bungie would love for racing courses to be made out of existing maps, but that’s just not possible for a variety of reasons. Courses should be modeled after existing locales like the Crucible maps are, but like the Crucible maps they’ll need to be dedicated creations.

This also adds a bonus of what I’ll call “speed limiters”. Sparrows won’t have the option of performing all that different on open maps for a variety of technical reasons, but if they’re given two sets of stats, one for open world and one for competition, modifying existing maps and really tweaking their performance for racing becomes possible. This also keeps their open-world boosting and race-boosting separate. In lore, sparrows could be outfitted with “limiters”. Simple. Bungie has already done this with friendly fire differences between PvE and PvP.

A question I’ve seen a few times is whether racing would have a combat aspect. For a game like Destiny it’s a fair question. Players sometimes envision their guardian handling their sparrow with one hand and firing a Gjallarhorn with the other. Epic, but no. If combat were to ever be an element, it would most-likely be modeled after the pickup system one would find in Mario Kart.

In the end, I don’t think combat should be involved. Have ramps, tricks, and boost pads and maybe an option to kick to the side, but no pew-pew. My biggest problem with it is that is would detract from the racing, which should be focused on alternative routes and tricks. That doesn’t mean taking out rival vehicles isn’t possible.

Finally, pacing. Different driving games have pacing. Simulators like Gran Turismo is long and slow while arcade-y games like Bunrout Revenge are manic and explosive. I see sparrow racing as a fast, furious and violent affair not unlike a Burnout.

Will we get any of this? Probably not. Destiny has a lot of problems to solve and a lot of avenues to grow into. I don’t see this being a priority unless some major headway is made. If at all, it won’t be until the third incarnation of Destiny. In my opinion, it will take that long for Bungie to catch up with themselves and their dreams… if ever.

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My Best Crucible Performance Ever

This may not wow too many of you hardened Iron Banner types, but as you’ve seen in previous videos I am not all that good at PvP… so this is something I just have to share.

4.43 K/d ratio. 31 kills (highest in the match), 7 deaths (lowest in the match), 4 assists.

You’ll note that I completed a part of the exotic bounty in order to get the Invective shotgun (fun little boomstick, by the way) which required me to have a 25 K/d spread. I achieved that in just this match.

Some things that I’ve learned as I play in the Crucible more often:

Be Calm – Running around is fun and may get you a kill or two if you’re lucky, but it will certainly get you killed in the process. Sprinting also keeps you from using your weapon the moment you really need it.

Disengage – You’ll see I pull back a few times from an engagement, which probably saved me from getting my head blown off and nothing gained. Pick your fights and don’t seek the kill to the detriment of your survival. There is always the next engagement.

Control Range – An old EVE Online rule. Make them fight at the range that works for you. Know how your primary wants to play and stick with that. Chasing the rabbit down the hole will get you downed more often than not. Having a special weapon to cover alternate ranges is great, but you’ll want something to compliment your primary’s style and not the polar opposite because it temps you into taking unnecessary risks. In this match, I knew Thorn (and most hand cannons) doesn’t brawl well, so I kept targets at medium range where I could optimize hits through my slow rate of fire. My HMG Against All Odds and my fusion rifle Murmur (set for arc to get the fastest spin-up rate possible) had similar impact/RoF tradeoffs which means I didn’t have to adjust my flow too much.

Know Your Surroundings – If you’re familiar with a map, you’ll know where your weapon will be most effective. Be there. Own that space. Don’t camp because that makes you a target, but take control of the area you are currently in. Know the ins and outs. Annex off areas in your mind for a few minutes at a time and let your shots tell the tale. Know where you don’t want to be as well because that’s where your opponents will come at you from and try to lure you into.

Be Happy With Assists – Your team is your lifeline. Stick with them and anticipate their movements. Don’t leave them out in the cold and you’ll find at some point you’ll start moving together and tearing the other team apart.

I hope some of this helps. I’m going to give Iron Banner some play next time it hits and see how I stack up.

Frontier – Act03 Chapter12 – Spoils of War

Chapter 12: Spoils of War

Earth
The City
Office of Vanguard Commander Zavala Tzu

It was weeks since the ketch ship of the Fallen House of Winter appeared in a violet flash mere kilometers from the outermost defense posts of the City. Alarms were sounded and alert responses initiated as they should, but before intercept fighters could make it to the target, their mission had changed from destroy to protect and escort. Vanguard Command managed to pull a few strings with the Consensus Council and arranged for the ship to anchor itself safely behind the defensive walls. Work quickly began to convert the “Exodus Blue” Crucible site into a drydock for the massive vessel, causing Lord Shaxx to moan and grumble for some time after.

Commander Tzu sat behind a large display in his office. The space was deep within the bowels of the Tower and some distance underground. It was a large but spartan place, with everything having a place and function. Telemica wondered if his quarters were similarly utilitarian as she quickly went over the latest reports from the crews.

“We’re still downloading and decrypting the main computer systems for analysis, but just the hardware and materials alone make this one of the biggest enemy asset acquisitions in recent memory. There’s enough raw materials here to do a lot of good for the City’s growth, enough weapons and vehicles to keep many guardians well-equipped, and enough sensitive tech and data to keep the Cryptarchs intrigued. Fine work.” noted Zavala as he reviewed the same reports. He never actually looked at Telemica, but knew she was incredibly pleased with the results of her insane mission.

“Thank you, sir.” She said in as formal and calm a tone as she could manage. There were a few twinges of pain still left in her body from being crushed under the weight of the massive Fallen Kell, but they only reminded her of the glory.

“We should go.” noted the Commander as his ghost whispered directly into his mind. He stood from behind his desk in full formal uniform and motioned for the formal-clad Telemica to follow him. They left the office and routed their way through corridors and up lifts to arrive on a secure open-air landing pad several stories below the tower plaza. The area was used to receive dignitaries and other VIPs. It was cleaner and more decorative than the pads used by the normal traffic, showing off the scale of the Tower and the majesty of the Traveler.

By the time Zavala and Telemica arrived on the pad, the other Vanguard leaders and the rest of Fireteam Warden were already there and in similar garb. While the two titans displayed their military history through their strict and formal uniforms, the others did not. Solas and Ikora wore ornate robes covered in intricate holographics that changed and morphed based on a variety of inputs and sensora. Meanwhile, the only difference in what Cayde and Vatyr wore was the ceremonial dirks and sheaths that hung at their sides. The two titans joined their comrades and also passed a number of armed guards who were sticking close to a secure container several meters in size.

Minutes passed before the guest’s ship came into view, along with two full squadrons of escort. It was obviously designed to be an armoured personnel carrier, but its violet and gold trappings showed that it was modified for royal use. While some of the escorts took up holding patterns alongside Tower security forces, others hovered near the pad as the AVIPC landed and revealed its passengers.

The Vanguard leaders approached as the Awoken queen, her brother and a pair of guards waited at the bottom of the ship’s steps. The fireteam couldn’t hear anything that was being said so far away. Telemica was rigid at full attention and Solas seemed to have his mind elsewhere, but Vatyr was good enough at reading lips to catch some stuff and put the discussion together himself.

Pleasantries. Formal greetings. Blah.

What gift?

They’ve mentioned us. He’s not interested at all but she… she loves a good and bloody story. She always did.

I wonder what this is all about…

Cayde motioned to the guards at the rear, who slowly escorted the container towards the ship on an anti-grav platform. The two Awoken guards met them halfway and scanned the container vigorously for what seemed like ages.

Vatyr wondered what could be within as his eyes went back to the visitors and found while the vaunted Master of Crows was intent on the container alone, the queen’s gaze was focused entirely on Vatyr.

No.

The slightest of grins appeared on her face.

I’m not that anymore.

Her eyes penetrating him. Ever the predator on her hunt.

I can’t be that anymore. I…

The Awoken guards had finished scanning the container at some point and relieved the Tower guards of their burden, escorting the container passed the dignitaries and on to the ship. The queen’s gaze left Vatyr with satisfaction and almost ignored the gift, as if she’d already accomplished what she set out to do. No further talk was apparently necessary as the royals boarded the carrier right behind the container and departed with their escort, no doubt headed back to the Reef.

“Vatyr, you are sweating.” mentioned Solas without looking directly at him, not that he ever had to.

“It’s hot. I’m hot. Isn’t it hot?” said Vatyr in an obvious excuse, almost stammering in defense. “So what was in the container?”

“The Winter ketch’s jump drive core. Such intricate Golden Age marvels are nearly impossible for us to recreate and are priceless to the Awoken. No doubt it was gifted in the hopes of strengthening diplomatic ties.” said the Exo in a slightly bored tone before wandering off.

Zavala and Ikora were debriefing the guards as Telemica hung around, no doubt expecting the guards would immediately want to hear of her latest adventure and she was all too eager to spin the embellished tale.

“You doing alright?” asked Cayde as he wandered towards Vatyr.

“Yeah. I wish you had warned me that they would be here.”

“Sorry. Operational security. Did she-”

“Yeah…” Vatyr said, defeated as he slowly wandered back into the Tower, melting into the normal hustle of the place like a sound that unearths a dark memory.

Frontier – Act03 Chapter11 – Dead of Winter

Chapter 11: Dead of Winter

Venus

House of Winter Ketch Simiks-Fel

Engineering section

As Telemica charged through the ship’s corridors, she didn’t stop to engage the Fallen crew she encountered. The titan simply ran through them, letting them break upon her like calm waves on a beach, forgotten a moment later. When she found her path intersecting the engineering section across a high-up gantry and spotted the ritual far below, she didn’t think that the other members of Fireteam Warden were nearby. She only thought how truly epic a story she would tell when she annihilated a Kell, a Servitor Prime and an Archon Priest in one meteoric strike. Without a moment’s hesitation she vaulted from the walkway and fell to her glory.

It was five minutes after impact, and she was still surprised that her daring maneuver had barely injured the enemy. She grappled with the kell named Plasis, whirling with him in a violent cyclone of close-quarters combat. Her advanced knowledge of strikes, locks and holds was surely being tested by the four-armed giant.

Immediately after the titan’s drop, Mehsor and Suviks-2 attempted to get to a more secure location. Already perched in a perfect sniping position, Vatyr fired a few shots at them in an effort to block the escape and separate them. Suviks-2 began to blink-teleport rapidly away, hoping the Archon would follow but knowing its first concern was its own safety. Unfortunately, as Mehsor began to hunt for the hidden sniper, the Servitor Prime found itself face-to-face with Solas.

Telemica and Plasis traded blows and evaded each other’s attempts at takedowns. The fight was too close and too fast to make use of any weapons other than those of their own forms. Plasis had tried to use his long blade, but Telemica had caught the edge between her palms and snapped it in half. Both knew Plasis had the advantage with two more arms and at least twice the weight of the guardian. The titan had already taken some serious blows and her armour was telling her of broken bones and internal bleeding while it tried to keep her moving.

The Kell grabbed his opponent and lifted the titan over his head with the intent of either throwing her across the room or breaking her spine across his knee, but a massive hammer-fist to the back of the head disoriented him enough for Telemica to drop down on his back, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his upper torso. Plasis vaulted stories high into the air, coming down on his back and crushing Telemica thunderously underneath, but limbs augmented with field drivers and myofiber muscles continued to tighten around the Fallen. Armour began to crack and ether began to escape, causing the last thoughts of the Kell to be of panic before his head popped off and his lifeforce fled his body. A few minutes later, a hearty laugh came from under the dead armor of the Kell, still heavy enough to pin the injured titan.

Solas and the servitor blinked in and out of existence so rapidly, one could be excused for considering them tricks of light. Blasts of void light fired from the synthetic lifeform’s eye at Solas but never came close to finding a target. Solas was smaller and much faster. He knew the Servitor Prime was still weak from the evolution that just took place and would want to escape in order to recuperate. Solas cut off escape paths that Suviks tried to use, while also herding it into a boxed-in section of engineering and keeping it on edge with flashy but random attacks.

As soon as the Servitor Prime found itself caged not just by walls but with its own terror, it lashed out with a mechanical scream as its body opened. Ten metal spears, each almost as long as Solas was tall, launched from its inner workings and flew into the cavernous room, quickly sweeping thin rays of arc light from their tips and attempting to slice Solas into small pieces. The Exo moved as fast as he could, creating dozens of afterimages in his wake. These spears were almost as fast as the warlock was but only just. In minutes the room began to fall apart after getting shredded by the servitor’s arc beams and the shockwaves that Solas left in his wake.

Suddenly Solas vanished entirely. Minutes passed. Suviks couldn’t figure out if it had sliced the guardians into bits, buried him under rubble or scared him away. The spears returned to the main body just as Solas blinked into existence a step away from its huge eye. His hand charged with light and shaped like an arrowhead, he impaled the huge construct, driving himself into it up to his shoulder. The servitor wailed and thrashed as its internal balances of energy were sent wild, tearing itself apart from the inside out. The warlock drew out what energy he could in order to keep the Prime from recovering, but they both knew it was too late. Violent torrents of ether and light tore Suviks’ body apart, ending in an explosion that obliterated what was left of that section of engineering.

Solas appeared on a nearby platform, having blinked away at the last moment. The warlock had absorbed what he could of the Prime’s own ether, and with it, some of its knowledge. It was officially a forbidden technique among the arcane orders, but the more praxic guardians were known to bend the rules as often as they bent the universe. The encounter had left him disoriented, however. His body surrounded by a mote of ether as his mind dove into new resources, Solas simply didn’t have the capability to notice Mehsor behind him.

The Archon was in a blind rage after seeing the Servitor Prime destroyed, ready to bring the pandemonium of energy he held up in his hands down on the Exo. Vatyr had evaded the Archon a while ago and was watching Solas’ back from afar when the saw the Archon appear. Never taking his eyes from his scope, he formed a void shell of a bullet in his hand and filled it with as much solar light as he could before placing it in the breach of his sniper rifle. The hunter closed the breach and fired the light-bullet at the back of Mehsor’s head. The shot echoed through the entire ship and off the walls of the cavern it sat in.

When the star-bright bullet encountered the helmet of the House of Winter Archon Priest, the energy within expanded and encapsulated the entire target in a huge ball of blue-white plasma that resembled a chaotic star several meters in radius. The event was so explosive that it sent Solas flying, tumbling to another platform. If one could listen past the deafening roar of the plasma ball, one would have experienced the last screams of the priest as the matter that made up his body was turned into fuel for nuclear fusion, sustaining the mini-sun and melting anything nearby for a few seconds before vanishing like an extinguished candle.

Vatyr made his way over to help the dazed Solas, then the pair freed an injured but still giddy Telemica from under the remains of her foe.

“Now what, fearless one?” asked Vatyr, aiming the question at Telemica. “We’ve accomplished the near-impossible.”

“Now? Now we collect our prize. Squire?” Telemica called her ghost into being.

“Yes, my goddess?”

“You and the other ghosts take control of the main engineering controls. Lock out all other control access on the ship and lock down every compartment. Give me control of this ship. I’m taking it.” commanded the titan.

Glitch was already in the process of dominating the ship’s systems. Wisp materialized and followed Squire to Glitch’s location.

“I hope they can pull this off.” murmured Vatyr.

“A little faith goes a long way.” offered Solas, who sat on the ground to rest. “Our little lights will come through for us.”

All over the ship, screens went dark and doors slammed sealed. Amazingly the battles that the guardians had initiated had not damaged the ship enough to keep it from flight. Engines roared to life as anti-grav generators came online. The ship tore itself from the moorings anchoring it to the cavern and lifted into the sky.

“Set course for the city. Send word that we’re on route.” commanded Telemica with arms crossed and head held high.

“My lady, we have ships incoming. Fallen. Skiff-class. They’re locking weapons on us.” said Squire. A nearby screen offered the view of several dozen of the small ships coming in as quickly as their engines could manage.

“Word must be out. The Fallen on the ground are firing everything they’ve got at us, but it’s nothing that will damage the hull. Those skiffs on the other hand…” mused Glitch.

“Remove them from my sky!” she commanded with a wave of her hand.

“Love to. Problem is we’re already occupied hacking and controlling a few other major systems. As it’s only the three of us doing all the work, adding one more high-priority system to break into and use probably isn’t the best idea.” suggested Glitch. While the ghost’s tone annoyed the titan, the advice was sound.

“Spinning up FTL. We can jump to just outside the City’s defense lines.” said Wisp, bringing up hyperspace telemetry readings in order to solve the equations that make it possible to move matter without moving it. Squire took over the other systems while Glitch assisted Wisp in controlling the technology that would rip a hole in spacetime. Generators came to life and engines whined as the universe swallowed the ketch up here and spit it out there.

Cap’s Destiny Tips

Cap, my good friend and occasional contributor to this blog, has been playing more Destiny since getting some help from me. He’s offering up tips and for the most part I think it’s good advice. Feel free to comment below or on Youtube if you’ve got something to say to him.

He’s also making himself look really good so feel free to send him a friend request on PSN. He also plays CoD on XBone.