Frontier Update #12: 2015/2016

Happy whatever you do! Do it well and with people who love you. Here we are at the end of 2015. Few things to go over.

Firstly, I bought TTK. Yeah, I said I wouldn’t. A good friend of mine got a PS4 as an early Christmas gift from his awesome wife, and he asked me to explain Destiny to him. That convo went something like:

“Yeah sure. You just… Um… I should come over. It’s complicated.”

So I did, and saw that I was the only person on his friends list. After hooking him up with a few clan contacts (big thanks to Knight of The Dawn to taking him in) I decided that I should get TTK to play with him.

It has been almost a month. Have we played? No. We’re busy people, which is part of the reason I didn’t want to buy TTK to begin with. Oh well.

Did I ever post my PSNID? It’s PsycheDiver. Friend me.

Moving on.

SRL. That was… interesting. Designing tracks and boosts specifically to keep everyone in a crazy pack and give everyone a chance of pulling out crazy wins made for an interesting beta. I’m going to call it a beta as much as the first few Iron Banners were betas. Live-testing ideas via the grinder of the Destiny community is really one of the best ways for Bungie to work stuff out.

Besides there being only two maps, I’d say it was fun. I played until I ranked up to 3 and completed the main quest, and by that time I had a almost-320 helm and almost-320 class items. Good enough for me. I also got a Lumos sparrow though to be perfectly honest I was hoping for a Sol Scout. I’m not complaining. The Lumos is cute.

What would I do to make it better? Obviously more maps is at the top of everyone’s list. Earth, Mercury and Saturn (on the outside of the Dreadnaught, please) are my hopes. I don’t care about The Moon because it’s just too grey for me, and I’m not sure how The Reef would have a map that wasn’t Rainbow Road from Mario Kart (or maybe you want that. Maybe I want that…).

Another thing I’d change would be a higher chance of sparrow drops, and new sparrows that include factions as well as sparrows that are not just trick-enabled but boostable ala Timebreaker. Some ship drops would be cool as, since this is Amanda Holliday’s thing. The horns are silly and can be done away with because nobody cares about them. I understand that SRL was deeply connected to micro-transactions, so I’m not sure if increased drop rates would be smiled upon by Bungie bean-counters.

Is there a way to make sparrows more interesting in the core game? If you have ideas, feel free to discuss them in the comments.

I’m excited for Iron Banner. My sub-300 light level may be an issue, but I am determined to get my loot. I’m expecting Mida to do well by me and I’m proficient in Control playlists.

TTK in general is enjoyable, though I have yet to go through the raid. The questing system and new focus on story is most definitely a step in the right direction, and I feel that things have been streamlined well.

As for Frontier, I’m still writing this thing. I have two chapters in the pipe for next week, and others in varied levels of drafting. I’m planning on getting a lot of it done over the next few weeks if I can tear myself away from Iron Banner. I estimate that I have less than 10 chapters to go in order to wrap this thing up, after which I’d post some final thoughts. After that, I don’t expect I’ll have much to do with this blog and I don’t expect that I’ll get a sudden surge of interest after it’s completed. I’ll leave the blog online indefinitely and if I decide to dedicate myself another story, I’ll let you know.

I am considering how I can let people know that the project is completed, or exists in the first place. There’s the usual Twitter contacts and Facebook groups, but Bungie’s attention is elusive at best. I can only imagine how things would change if I got a bump from them. I hesitate to cross into spamming territory. I don’t want to be that guy. On the other hand, it’s nearly impossible to get noticed by Deej or his kin. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

WordPress usually gives each blog a cool infographical breakdown of a blog’s performance at the end of the year, so I’ll share that. It’s usually quite interesting.

One last thing. If you’re reading this, I want you to know that you are loved. People don’t hear that nearly often enough. It may not feel like it every day but we all have a unique ability to spread love through our actions, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Please remember that.

Until next time.

Reign of Terror!!! 10.5 K/d!!!

Wow! Both firsts for me. I just had to share it. I tried to record a commentary with ShareFactory but the stock PlayStation headphones didn’t pick up enough for it to work.

This time you see me rock a Suros Regime. Perhaps my favorite weapon in the game.

How did I pull this off? Check out my tips HERE!

Frontier Update #4 – Trials and Tribulations

First update of 2015! Today I turn the ripe old age of 32 and I’ve gotta say we’re chugging along nicely. I figured it’s as good as time as any to connect to my readers and share.

First and foremost, THANK YOU!!!

Thank you for the reads, clicks and subscriptions. I put a few hours of my life into this blog every week and while the process is its own reward, I can’t be more thankful for your readership and dedication.

Blogs like this are kind of a bygone medium in gaming culture since everyone famous in the Destiny fanbase is on Youtube and Twitch. I’d consider doing the same but my rig died on me a few months back and I have not had the change to rebuild so video editing isn’t possible at the moment.

That all said it’s been a challenge getting the word out about this thing. I’ve found what groups I can on facebook and I’m bugging who I can over Twitter (even going so far as to use Hootsuite to schedule tweets). I’ve also been copying Frontier chapters over to for those who read stuff there (dug up my old account and found a Naruto fanfic I once worked on. Nostalgic…).

Let’s talk about the fiction! We’ve got acts 03 and 04 out in the wild and the response has been generally positive.

In a fashion, these two acts are meant to play off each other and push at the boundaries of the world. Act 03 was engineered to show fireteam Warden in a win scenario while 04 has them defeated. While I’m sure Bungie wants you to believe that your personal character in the game is capable of saving the world all on his/her own, that’s just not reasonable or feasible from a storytelling perspective like mine. You’ll find that I’ll be taking great care to balance virtue with flaw, ability with limitation.

Act 03 was born out of perhaps the hundredth time I ran the Winter’s Run strike. It’s one that I enjoy more than others. As my friends and I were chatting and we came around that corner to see Winter’s ketch just sitting there it just dawned on me that after we kill this Archon Priest that Cayde-6 seems so concerned about, maybe we should swing back and take the ship! I mean, we did kill off a sizable chunk of the crew as well as their Kell in a story mission, right? The story just snowballed from there.

I wanted to expand not on the guardian powersets, but on their use and implementation. It’s beholden on me to see what limitations the story imposes versus what limitations the game mechanics do. I think that’s very important to differentiate going forward, and play a bit with concepts. My understanding of the lore, science and fantasy/superhero storytelling lets me do this easily.

There was also a Vault of Glass run where everyone in the party screamed “GUARDIANS MAKE THEIR OWN FATE!” during Time’s Vengeance, which is an in-game message you get telling you basically to hit Atheon with everything you got. That inspired chapter 08, which was purely a lead-in to the rest of the act but needed to be interesting on its own. Lastly, some creative feedback I got from some friends let me know that it may have been difficult to get a grasp on Telemica’s character, so during this act I let her sensibilities shine through as much as possible.

Act 04 was definitely the hardest act to write thus far. Writing action scenes is certainly not something I feel proficient in yet and I surprise myself when things actually come out somewhat coherent. Small scenes I can handle, but I needed this scene to feel big and chaotic. Supplying enough detail without it getting verbose was a delicate balancing act that required me to reference some other works. Chapter 14 took a lot longer than usual to draft and even longer before I felt comfortable posting. Oddly enough, I’ve gotten some feedback that it was my best chapter yet, so perhaps all that fretting counted for something.

At this point we’re fast-approaching a multi-act story arc that I have planned which will compose the core story I want to tell. I have three more acts to get out there and then you may not see anything for a while. Consider it a sabbatical of sorts. I assure you that I will be working on stuff, but for my own sanity I need to take the time to make it right. I hit the ground running when this blog launched but I feel that if I rush through this next phase of the story chapter to chapter, it’ll suffer for it. I’ll do my best to post other stuff along with updates and I hope you’ll understand.

Speaking of the other stuff, we started two new segments on the blog! Exotic Concepts and (soon to launch) Lore Breakdown (title may need some work).

Exotic Concepts is a fun little exercise where we come up with new exotic weapons and armour. I say “we” because after I posted the first one, I got great responses from readers who had their own ideas for exotics and wanted me to give those ideas a full and proper treatment. I have quite a few of them being drafted and they’ll be coming out soon.

Lore Breakdown will involve me basically decoding grimoire cards into lore that can be easily digested. Is Crota really the “son” of Oryx? What makes the Vex so much more dangerous than the other aliens? I have not quite figured out exactly how I want to present these, but while I do, please let me know what parts of the lore you’d like explained. The segment will be that much better if I’m answering questions you have, rather than questions I think you may have.

There are also the random other posts I throw up. Some are actually about the game and what’s going on with that. Others are videos of Cap and I playing in the Crucible. I try and present a variety of content if possible. If there’s anything you’d like to see, let me know and hopefully I can make it happen. I try not to do the same news as everyone else (supposed leaks, patch news and such) because I get the feeling you don’t need or want yet another source of that stuff. Still, if you’re looking for my personal take on such things, I can be easily compelled to start covering news.

There’s also Twitch gameplay. I’m curious if any of my readers would be interested in playing and engaging with me live. I can put out notifications over Twitter and maybe record and post the sessions if I can figure out how to get the voice to capture. Let me know if you’d like this to be a thing.

PAX East is coming up at the beginning of March. I don’t expect anything Destiny-related to be there but I’m hoping there will be. I may just go completely off the rails and become a general gaming blog for that weekend.

Oh yeah, I still play the game from time to time. I try and complete all the weekly content and I’m still seeking a Hawkmoon, Vex Mythoclast and a MIDA Multi-tool. I’ve mostly focused on my lv31 warlock due to time constraints and I’ve just bought a FWC bond for him.

I don’t get a lot of links from search engines and such, which means this blog’s humble popularity is mostly thanks to word of mouth. If this was Youtube I’d ask you to like and subscribe for free stuff, but that’s not really possible for me in this format. Still, I’d really appreciate it if you spread the word about this thing that I do. Hopefully someday I can figure out how to give back in a more tangible way. I may not always openly ask for feedback, but it’s always more than welcome. Each and every comment fills my heart with joy and gets my utmost attention, so please feel free to engage me.

That should be pretty much it. Fingers on triggers, keep moving.

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.

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.