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.

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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 FanFiction.net 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.

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.