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.

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Exotic Concepts #1: The Rose

Time for something new. I’m going to come up with my own exotics, both weapons and armours. The idea is for me to put out an idea and to discuss what the specifics of such an item might and should be, taking into account game balance and such. It would be awesome to also find someone to sketch these out. Also, if you have ideas for new exotics, let me know and I’ll feature them.

I’ve been eyeballing hand cannons this week with a renewed desire to own Thorn and Hawkmoon. I reread the Thorn grimoire fragments and something jumped out at me. The entry starts:

The noble man stood. And the people looked to him. For he was a beacon – hope given form, yet still only a man. And within that truth there was great promise. If one man could stand against the night, then so too could anyone – everyone.

In his strong hand the man held a Rose. And his aura burned bright.

Basically there was once a very powerful Guardian and he had a weapon named Rose.

At the end of the entry is this:

In his first moments as a new being, he looked down at his Rose and realized for the first time that it held no petals: only the jagged purpose of angry thorns.

Rose becomes Thorn.

At this point we can assume with some certainty that Rose was a hand cannon and that Thorn is an evil and twisted version of it. So, what would Rose be like if it was an in-game exotic hand cannon?

Thorn’s big perk is called Mark of the Devourer, which mainly is a DoT (Damage over Time) ability. My concept for Rose is basically the opposite of a DoT, a HoT (Heal over Time) effect. Much like Suros Regime has a chance of healing you, Rose would heal you at about the same rate that Thorn would damage enemies. Given that the names Rose and Thorn have tightly-interwoven imagery, I’d like to stick to the idea of a thorn-pricked victim and call Rose’s perk “Rose’s Thorn“.

I’m a VERY big fan of non-linear upgrades on weapons so instead of this being the only unique perk, I’d like to add another that would share this healing effect among nearby allies and call it “Flowing Blood“. This perk would split healing between all allies within a certain radius. Another perk could be called “Beacon” which could reduce cooldown times at the same radius using the same “HoT” mechanic and similar numbers (not unlike the SoLock’s “Song of Flame” super, but obviously not that strong).

Having the ability to choose one and swap between these these perks makes Rose extremely fun to play around with an personalize, not just level up. It’s a trait I think all exotics should share. “Rose’s Thorn” would be great for solo work. “Flowing Blood” would work best I think in nightfalls where you’re up against burn effects. “Beacon” would be really helpful in raids.

One could also add a solar damage option but I think it should come with a small damage penalty. Giving Thorn the same but with void I think would really improve the enjoyment of that weapon as well. Arguments could certainly be made against this one.

So, this is where we debate things. Does this weapon’s perks balance out? Does the use of lore make sense? What would you change? Would you want to use this weapon?

I hope you’ll respond in the comments section below or reply to this post on social media.

Fiction Update #1

In my first post, I mentioned that I’ll be using this blog to publish a work of fiction set in the Destiny universe that I am/will be writing. I just wanted to give a quick update on how that is shaping up and what you can expect. I’ll be dropping these updates every so often.

Firstly, I just finished getting all the dead ghosts in-game, so I’m now as up on the lore as one could possibly be. I spent some time last night reviewing cards and trying to draw lines between them as best I could. I’d absolutely hate to get a detail wrong if it can be at all avoided.

The story will centre around a fireteam of three unique guardians: A male Exo warlock, a female Human titan and a male Awoken hunter. I’ve almost got these characters fleshed out to the point where I can start playing with them in public and not just in my own head. There will be other characters as well, some new and some recognizable from the game.

I’m refocusing my efforts on mapping out a larger story arc. At present each story will inhabit its own volume consisting of several chapters or one-shot stories, but crafting the larger journey is challenging. There’s also the question of a major nemesis to coincide, which is giving me quite a bit of pause.

I’m not quite ready to promise when the first chapter will be out, nor can I promise a steady stream of content once I’ve started. I’m writing this for myself first and foremost and while I’m eager to have you along for the ride, I need to be happy with it above all else. There’s also the fact that this is being done on my spare time, of which there is precious little. At present I’m managing almost one post a day, but who knows if that will continue.

I look forward to letting you into this thing I’m creating. Destiny: Frontier will debut soon!