Frontier Update #8: The Beginning Of The End

After months of note-jotting and hand-wringing, I’ve decided to get this thing back on the rails. I have three more acts planned that must and will be done, and one or two that may or may not materialize.

I’m at the point where if I don’t do this, it won’t be done. I probably won’t be picking up The Taken King as I feel myself pulled to other points of interest. I found an old Reddit post about all the stuff that was cut from the game and I was appalled. I was happy that I was able to get this ball rolling to begin with, and I’ll be damned if I don’t finish it.

New chapter or chapters landing this weekend. I have one pretty done and I’m just going to keep writing through the day. I’ll try to focus and keep the pace of publishing brisk.

Lastly, before today I had not checked the view stats since I last posted. To say I was touched that people have kept checking in would be an understatement. Thank you so much. I hope the coming story is everything you were hoping for.

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Frontier Update #5: Big Changes

Things have been a little quieter than usual around here, and I should apologize for that. Rest assured, my desire to write has not been sated just yet. In fact, it’s that desire to write that I need to discuss with you, my wonderful readers.

Years ago, I co-produced a podcast and website devoted to nerd culture with a friend of mine. It lasted for about three years. The only remnants of it still floating out there is our Youtube channel, but it was doing alright for a time. It ultimately fell apart for various reasons, not the least of which was difficulty in finding contributors.

Recently, I had someone contact me via Twitter and offer me a writing job on his new website. Normally I would not be interested, but I gave him a chance to make his case and it turned out to be compelling. I ended up signing on with his crew as a contributor. I’ll be covering gaming, tech, science, movies, TV, comics, anime and plenty of other nerdy stuff. I’m also hoping to tackle Twitch and other multimedia. The site’s called Nardmode.com (nerd+hardmode) and I hope you’ll give it your patronage.

It’s a bit of an amusing turn-around. I’ve been writing for a long time, and it’s only the second time in my life that I’ve been asked to write.

So what does this mean for Frontier? A few things.

Firstly, I will continue to write Destiny-related creative works and post them here. They don’t fit in on a news site. I hope you’ll still come by and enjoy the story, Exotic Concepts and the upcoming Lore Breakdown posts.

The biggest change will be that some of the non-creative posts will disappear from this blog. I’ll be taking them down and reworking/updating them for the new site. I have to take them down for ad reasons. I’ll post a list tomrrow of what will be vanishing, and I’ll leave them up for a while so that everyone can get some last-minute peepers on them. I’d like to thank you for reading them, and I hope you’ll check out the new and improved versions once they post.

That’s it for now. Posting frequency might be a little wanting in the near future while I get all my ducks in a row. I’m also adjusting my story plans a bit to get to the good stuff sooner, and considering how to attack the first batch of Lore Breakdowns. Good stuff is coming, I promise.

Stay tuned!

Exotic Concepts #4: Double Dragon

Here’s another exotic weapon picture that comes from the bowels of the interwebz:

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Ah, yes. Dual-wielding. I still remember the crowd’s reaction when Bungie showed the Master Chief holding two SMGs in Halo 2. It was a palpable excitement over really nothing at all when you break it down. People love it. Dual lightsabers in Star Wars, dual pistols in Hard Boiled… it’s just cool. Why not have a dual-wield exotic?

Firstly, I love the idea that the dual-wielding option is not something you get right out of the box. Then I started thinking about all the steps people had to go through to get Necrochasm, and regardless of how panned the final weapon has been, people were eager to work hard towards that goal. Not wanting to delve into how RNG fails at Bungie’s intent that armour and weapons would show off achievements, how could we make the procurement of the Double Dragon unique?

Double Dragon would always be found as either one of two legendary hand cannons: Ball Lightning (arc) or Flare Thrower (solar). You’d get them as randomly as you would any other legendary and would have normal but solid legendary stats. Ball lightning’s static perk would be Hip Fire while Flare Thrower’s would be Firefly. Again, they’d be very good legendaries (the kind that make top 5 lists) but just that.

Things would get interesting once you’ve leveled one hand cannon completely up. Oh, look. Something is waiting at the postmaster for you. What’s this? An exotic bounty? Seems this awesome gun I just finished upgrading has an equally awesome counterpart out there, and this bounty will lead me on some grand quest to reunite them!

You’d go on this quest, acquire the other hand cannon at some point during it, fully upgrade that weapon and then complete the bounty in some grand fashion that involves using them both in an up-leveled Dust Palace strike to kill the light-corresponding Mind Flayer.

Suddenly, you get a new exotic. Double Dragon. You’d retain the individual weapons as legendaries because it would be silly to keep you from using them individually if you wanted to. A good legendary weapon is by no means something to just throw aside, especially after you went through all the trouble to upgrade them.

So you’ve got Double Dragon. What does it do? First and foremost, it would be the only weapon to do two kinds of damage in alternating shots. As two guns, one still shoots arc and the other still shoots solar. I think it would have a pretty fast rate of fire since it’s really two hand cannons for the price of one. In fact, the stats would obviously get a general boost to line it up with other exotics.

There’s also the reload. Why would this be of interest? Well, your guardian uses his/her free hand to reload a hand cannon, so what do we do when there’s another gun in that hand that also needs fresh ammo? Games in the past have just dropped the guns from view, but that’s pretty lazy. I think Double Dragon’s revolver mags should snap out as they do now, but the left hand gun would snap in the opposite direction, so both mags would be towards the chest. Then, instead of a physical mag being swapped out, the mag could vent out energy before being snapped back home.

Perks. The primary perk would be “Third Eye” as homage to Inspector Tequila and other great scenes where the hero spins around with pistols in each hand. I’d also like to see the “Lightweight” and “Field Scout” perks make appearances to keep with the theme. The unique perk, “Double Dragon” would combine the two static perks from the formative hand cannons (“hip fire” and “firefly”) which I think would be pretty potent but not overly so for an exotic.

Thoughts? I got a lot of people poking at the last Exotic Concept I posted over various social media and I loved all the interaction (though if it were centralized in this blog’s comments you guys could interact with each other as well)! Keep it up!

Next concept? Armour!

Exotic Concepts #3: Phobos Buster

Here’s an exotic rifle concept image I found:

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I’m actually looking forward to a Cabal-themed raid, and this has all the markings of a big raid exotic ala Vex Mythoclast. Scout rifles are pretty popular and they’re my favourite primary weapon type.

My concept for this weapon is something you’d find in the middle of a venn diagram between scout rifles, sniper rifles and fusion rifles. It would spin-up the same way as a fusion rifle, fire a single hard-hitting shot like a sniper but be classified as a scout due to primary status and usefullness at closer ranges. Firing rate would be akin to a very fast fusion rifle (a hair faster than FWC’s The Calming). This would all add up to a unique weapon that would be built to melt bullet-sponges right out of the box.

That’s about all I’m going to get from the pic. Frankly the Surplus perk is fairly useless at the best of times. “Psion Buster” is obviously the artist’s idea of a raid-specific perk, but you wouldn’t find those on exotics. Armour-piercing rounds would be great if the weapon we were dealing with fired faster. Void damage makes no sense for a Cabal weapon. We’re outside the box already, let’s stay outside.

My favourite strike mission is The Dust Palace, as it has the most exciting final encounter, a lack of big singular bullet-sponges and the main targets use all three types of polarized shields. That last point requires some unique loadout thinking for a strike. In honour of that strike, I’d like this very unique weapon to be able to put out all three damage types. That alone will make it a must-have.

Beyond optics and secondary perks which I don’t really like to specify, we’re left with the primary and unique perk. The pic calls the unique perk “Bust A Move” which sounds like a movement perk and the icon tells nothing. We’re not going in that direction.

For the primary perk, I’d like to add another circle to the aforementioned venn diagram. Rocket Launcher. “Quantum Munitions” will act much like an enhanced firefly or Ice Breaker, as well as explosive rounds. Hits with this weapon cause a 3-meter kinetic explosion around the target, while kills will trigger a 7-meter explosion dependent on the damage type in use.

With the unique perk, it’s best to look at why this weapon is called the Phobos Buster. Phobos is the Martian moon that the Cabal have wrangled much closer to the planet. The warlocks believe it’s being held there by the Psion Flayers who intend to use it as a weapon. In the strike mission where you encounter them, the three Flayers each had a different polarized shield, so why not give Guardians the same option? The perk “Quantum barrier” would apply an overshield after each kill, polarized to the damage type in use.

The usefulness in PvE situations can’t be understated, but its effectiveness in the Crucible requires a lot of skill and observation, specifically observing what weapons one’s opponents are using and tracking any common damage types. If you notice that your foes are using more arc light than anything else, switching to arc light and getting a barrier up will give you a sizable defensive advantage.

What do you think? Would you use this weapon? Does it balance out?

Always looking for more exotics ideas from readers. I’d specifically like to get some armour items suggested!

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.