“Bungie misunderstood from the onset what it thought players wanted.”
April 7, 2018 4:48 PM   Subscribe

The never-ending Destiny 2 controversy is a teachable moment for the game industry [The Verge] “But what if the game maker, at the highest possible level, misunderstands what players actually want, and doesn’t listen to or trust those players when they verbalize those demands? No amount of nimble iteration or cool new features can bridge a gap of trust. And that’s what Bungie appears to suffer from today, with a player base that almost refuses to believe the company has the best interests of the game at heart and wants accordingly to act in good faith. We don’t know how much money Destiny 2 is making, or how many people play it every day or month. Bungie won’t say, and it could be that the game is healthy and revenue is flowing in from its in-game Eververse store. But from even just a cursory community snapshot, players are unhappy and the game feels as if it’s on a path toward an unsalvageable state.”

• Is Destiny 2 dead? [Polygon]
“Have you noticed that you don’t hear much about Destiny 2 anymore? Destiny 2 seems to have fallen off the map, after launching to considerable sales and excitement just six months ago. It promised a bigger world to explore and more stuff to do than its predecessor did. The game launched to rapturous acclaim, from this outlet and from pretty much all the others. So why does it seem like no one is playing anymore? [...] Continuity encourages commitment. Players feel invested in their collections, in their characters and in the community, and that keeps them playing. When Destiny became Destiny 2, it severed that link. Bungie blew up everything the community had built, and took away everything players had earned and purchased. They came into Destiny 2 without the stuff that had tied them to Destiny, and that made it easier for a lot of players who had previously been heavily committed to the game to leave. If you want your players to stick with a franchise over the long term, you can’t periodically take away all their shit. Why invest as much in Destiny 2 when you have good reason to believe it’s all going to be taken away?”
• Destiny 2 Is Headed Towards a Fate Worse Than Death: Irrelevance [Twinfinite]
“Right off the bat, let’s say this: Destiny 2 isn’t going to ever “die.” Even Battleborn isn’t dead, especially on Xbox One, and that game is the poster child for recent “dead” games. StarCraft 2 has been declared dead so many times it’s a meme at this point; but despite being released in 2010, it is still one of the most viewed esports outside of the obvious juggernauts and has a $2 million prize pool across its events this year. Point being: fans and observers will be dramatic when it comes declaring games dead. PC populations can be fleeting, but, on consoles at least, even the biggest busts can hang on to a small but dedicated population for quite some time after their “time of death.” However, like you’ve probably summarized from the title, Destiny 2 is heading towards irrelevance at a pace that, at this point, might be irreversible.”
• Destiny 2, Six Months Later [Kotaku]
“Destiny 2 has had a rough half-year, but the steady drip of changes and improvements indicates an upward trajectory. It feels as though the game won’t hit a comfortable new path until the big fall expansion at the earliest, assuming that is indeed the Taken King-style overhaul most of us assume it’ll be. In the interim, the next big change to look forward to will be the weapon balance update at the end of March, which coincides with the return of Rumble and 6v6 Iron Banner. Are you still playing Destiny 2? Have you taken a break, or maybe uninstalled the game and traded in your copy in disgust? Did you switch to Monster Hunter: World and never look back? I played for a few hours over the weekend, which was my first extended foray into Destiny 2 in more than a month. I had fun and appreciated the small improvements Bungie has made so far, though the game still feels a few substantial spritzes shy of fully freshened up.”
• Destiny 2 keeps on failing to bring me back [Ars Technica]
“It’s the second week of January and I’m playing Suikoden II, which turns 20 this year. That’s not completely absurd in the lull between the holiday season and the next glut of big new releases that demand my immediate attention. If there was ever a time for me to play a game from 1998, it’s now. But then I remember that Destiny 2 came out last September—and its first expansion just a few weeks ago. And then some old, familiar jaws are chewing at the back of my mind, reminding me that, by all rights, I should be filling my temporarily free hours by tooling around Mercury and The Leviathan. I want to give myself over to the same satisfying, mechanical repetition that Destiny gave me for hundreds of hours over two years—more time than just about any other game I’ve played. But I can’t.”
• The Weirdest Part Of 'Destiny 2' Is That Bungie Recognized Its Current Problems Before Release [Forbes] [AdBlock Wall]
“There was also the idea that Bungie was going to upgrade their engine in order to be able to make changes faster. Behind-the-scenes reporting of Destiny 1’s development often cited the game’s engine and tools as a reason that changing anything in the game took forever. But while Destiny 2 certainly looks better and has larger areas (well, some) than Destiny 1, everyone is wondering if these engine upgrades happened at all, and if they did, why is the speed of changes still such a big issue? I just don’t understand how Bungie foresaw all these problems with loot diversity, balance, update speed and so on, and didn’t…actually end up fixing the issues they knew were a problem. I think Destiny 2 players would have been a lot more accepting of certain changes if there was actual gold at the end of the rainbow, a quickly updated, well-balanced game. But that hasn’t been the case, and I’m still trying to figure out what exactly went wrong here. I am looking forward to playing the new patch of Destiny 2 where hopefully I’ll be faster and stronger. But I still don’t understand why I was weakened in the first place, nor why so many of these other changes were made for seemingly no concrete or useful end result.”
• Destiny 2's incredibly slow patch cycle is an anomaly in a swiftly moving landscape [Destructoid]
“The standard that Bungie needs to be held to is the current landscape, and right now, it's failing to actually address major issues and releasing responses slower than basically every other comparable project right now. It needs to change if the game is going to survive. For the past six months or so Destiny 2 has been a punching bag. Whether the discussion revolved around poor rewards, the removal of basic quality of life features in the sequel that were present in the original, the decision to release a bare-bones premium expansion and gate content behind it, the insistence on valuing PVP so heavily that it hurts PVE, or the (still) poor level of communication, Bungie has been in the hot seat, and rightfully so. We've talked at length before about Destiny 2's shortcomings, but it's high-time we recognize other outfits that are doing it better. Let's take a look at Fortnite first, one of the leading examples of how to communicate with your fanbase in 2018. Back in February, before the game was ready to absolutely explode on Twitch (but still had more concurrent players than Destiny 2 with 3.4 million), a major issue happened. An "extreme [server] load" caused six different outages over their biggest weekend yet, causing all sorts of technical problems for the game right as it was growing.”
posted by Fizz (51 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I put Bootcamp on my 5k iMac so I could play Overwatch with my 14-year-old. He showed me Destiny 2 so I put it on, too.

I'm one of the most casual of casual players, and I usually enjoyed Destiny 2 whenever I was playing it. Unfortunately, a big part of the game experience seemed to involve updates, reaaaaaaaalllllly long load screens (felt like minutes and minutes to get from selecting a mission to playing the mission), and the occasional super annoying "run in circles forever and ever because what looks like an open-ended world actually stops right where the terrain sort of morphs 3d to 2d in mid-leap over what ought to be a boulder you can leap over to get somewhere" thing coupled with periodic "that arrow on the map is pointing to something you simply cannot see with your casual eyes" confusion.

Mainly I guess I like being able to leap around and stave off death by hiding for a few seconds, and I like that there are other players but that I don't seem to need to interact with them that much.

But the long updates and load times and glitchy topography of an open-ended-til-its-not environment ended up turning me off: I don't have a ton of time to play games and I can scratch my FPS itch with something like Counterstrike and its bite-sized, time-bound melees, which don't involve as much loading/updating/etc. Destiny 2 wouldn't let me sit down and "just play." If someone told me I'd be allowed to retain games only one device in my home, it'd be my Nintendo 3DS, regretfully. It lets me just play.

Is Destiny 2 what it's like to play a lot of games on the PC? The constant uploads and load screens?
posted by mph at 5:13 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


I will say this: if I hear one more person say something along the lines of "this game is a horrible cancer upon my entire life and I might actually not survive it, but the gunplay is SO GOOD" I will vomit my own organs out.
posted by selfnoise at 5:15 PM on April 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


Is Destiny 2 what it's like to play a lot of games on the PC? The constant uploads and load screens?

From my own experience, not at all. Sounds more like a console flaw ported to PC
posted by Philipschall at 5:19 PM on April 7, 2018 [9 favorites]


The biggest problem for Bungie with Destiny 2 is simply that someone is doing what they're trying to do, but the right way, where they're respecting their playerbase - Digital Extremes with their surprise hit Warframe. Players may have stuck around if they only had the one option. But they have a choice, and the other one is a LOT more attractive.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:19 PM on April 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


I thought Oni was their forgotten, irrelevant game?
posted by smallerdemon at 5:20 PM on April 7, 2018 [10 favorites]


The FPP article gets at this a bit, but I feel like this is a necessary result of moving games from singular products to services. You're essentially acting as a renter to players, who pay you monthly for access to a space where they do things. If Game Devs used to be like realtors, selling a space once and then moving on, then they're currently like landlords, and are held to an expectation of upkeep.

The FPP article also cites a few games that do this well: Fortnight and Overwatch. But I remember when that was TF2 and PUBG. It's sort of depressing to see so much time and effort go into games that are, essentially, disposable. I guess as long as players spend money on them then it doesn't matter, but the games as service grind is a cul-de-sac that I wish the industry would back out of.
posted by codacorolla at 5:44 PM on April 7, 2018 [9 favorites]


When you've been making the same shooter (Marathon/Halo/Destiny) for long enough, even turning it into a quasi-MMO is only going to entertain people for so long.

It's not like Bungie doesn't have other franchises on ice. Oni was a good game and is worth reviving. Even moreso, Myth.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:02 PM on April 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


It's not like Bungie doesn't have other franchises on ice. Oni was a good game and is worth reviving. Even moreso, Myth.

Last I heard, Take Two Interactive still owns both those IPs. Bungie divested themselves of them when they were acquired by Microsoft to make Halo.
posted by rodlymight at 6:21 PM on April 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I wonder how the same company that produced the Halo trilogy could have fallen so far with this project. Then I remember that it essentially isn't.

If you're a fan, go back and watch the old behind-the-scenes documentary on Halo 2 sometime. Virtually all the key creative and community figures -- story lead Joseph Staten, community manager Frank O'Connor, Jaime "30 seconds of fun" Greisemer, composer Marty O'Donnell, designer Marcus Lehto -- are now gone from the company. Hell, even a lot of the Destiny 1 team has moved on.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:23 PM on April 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


Take Two Interactive still owns both those IPs.

News to me. I hope TTI realizes what they have!
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:23 PM on April 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've said it before in the Mefight thread, but I'll say it again here, that Destiny 2 delivers a truly amazing raid experience, and this coming from someone who was a raider for years in MMORPGs.

I recorded a video of my friends and I playing the Argos raid lair. My own mic wasn't recorded so you miss the bit at the start where I'm giving color instructions. To put it plainly: the loot system sucked, so there was no real reason to run the raids except that the raid was so damn fun... and how many MMORPG raids can you name where players will go, eh, I'm so excited to learn and play this difficult raid, even though there is no loot in it that interests me?

The Argos Raid Lair tests players on multiple axes. It checks raw combat potential since it's a DPS race within a limited number of phases and you need to control adds throughout. It checks communication since there's lots of critical information that only some players can see, for example the shield barrier colors are only visible to 2 out of 6 players at any given time. It checks strategy - there multiple strategies you can use - 4 phase, 6 phase or 8 phase cycles, how you assign runners / shooters / callouts. And it checks flexibility, because due to the random nature of the color barrier and crystal weapon spawns, you need to assign job roles on the fly, and it's easy to lose track of who is doing what.

People are saying Destiny 2 is "dead" because players aren't grinding thousand of hours in the game in a dopamine loop loot treadmill, but if it delivers the best raiding gameplay I've experienced in the last 13 years without the need for thousands of hours of grinding I think it's a good thing.
posted by xdvesper at 6:39 PM on April 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


> NoxAeternum:
"The biggest problem for Bungie with Destiny 2 is simply that someone is doing what they're trying to do, but the right way, where they're respecting their playerbase - Digital Extremes with their surprise hit Warframe. Players may have stuck around if they only had the one option. But they have a choice, and the other one is a LOT more attractive."

I walked on Warframe. Hard. I spent hours on hours grinding for my Kubrow (a pet useful in combat), getting upgrades and skills and levels for it. Then I had connectivity issues for a few days, and, since I didn't know I was going to have issues and I didn't put the Kurbrow in stasis (which takes hours to do and more hours getting it out), it died due to genetic destabiliztion while I was offline. I could have fixed it with a transaction on the credit card I don't have, but then I remembered all those wallet warriors I saw with the latest frames and no clue how to use them, and noped right out of the game at warp speed.
posted by Samizdata at 6:48 PM on April 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


I think the reason why Destiny 2 has aroused such an intensely negative reaction is this:

The basic gameplay is really fun. And for the first 20 or so hours you spend playing it, Destiny 2 relentlessly panders to you. You're the great hero single-handedly saving the solar system from evil; enemies melt away in front of you; your allies turn into slot machines feeding you a constant stream of rewards and praise; your power levels climb ever upwards. Everything has been carefully tuned to activate just the right pathways of the human mental reward system (by, I assume, a whole team of behavioural psychologists). Yes, most games do this to some extent, but the way Destiny 2 does it is spectacular.

Then you hit a wall made out of things that make no sense. The game seems to be about collecting things, but you run out of space to store it very quickly. The game looks like it's supposed to be an RPG, but there's no meaningful way to customise or develop your character and most of the abilities you learn turn out to be strangely weak. The game keeps showering you with rewards, but after a short time they become worthless and annoying to clean up. You can play dress-ups, but then you run out of "shaders" and equipment mods.

You need to play the end-game in a group, but (at least on PS4) there's no effective way to find one or even to communicate with other players, so you're locked out unless you go onto reddit or something to find other people to play with ("guided games" really don't work; maybe they kind of do if you play at peak times in North America, but not otherwise). The game does have automated matchmaking, but you can't turn it off for things that you could reasonably play solo and you can't turn it on for things that you really need it for. Then there's the terrible writing and the months it takes Bungie to fix anything that goes wrong. Unless it's a bug that might affect their microtransaction income, which gets patched immediately.

And it's the contrast between these two sides to the game's personality that gets people so agitated.

Now, I really like the quickplay PvP mode, which sidesteps some of the game's problems and focusses on the things that it does well. Actually I'm kind of addicted to it. It's really fun! But I've never played another game that put so much effort into treating its players with contempt. Truly bizarre.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:02 PM on April 7, 2018 [19 favorites]


Agree with everything you say A Thousand Baited Hooks, it's those first 20+ hours that are the most entertaining, you truly feel like a badass gunslinging space wizard marine! The end game did exactly that for me, it confused the fuck out of me, I never really know if I'm playing the right way and a game shouldn't make you feel like that. I'm hoping they turn it around because Destiny 1 wasn't entirely perfect when it was released either, it took a few expansions and DLC for it to figure itself out.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Only time will tell. That being said, I'm starting a new build, playing as a Warlock, I've not played this class, I always go with either Hunter or Titan, so let's see what happens.
posted by Fizz at 7:16 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


Ctrl-F Daikatana Ctrl-F John Romero ... well... we aren't yet willing to consider learning from the past, that is clear.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:23 PM on April 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


All hot-shit studios shit the bed at some point.
posted by rhizome at 7:40 PM on April 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


The basic gameplay is really fun. And for the first 20 or so hours you spend playing it, Destiny 2 relentlessly panders to you. You're the great hero single-handedly saving the solar system from evil; enemies melt away in front of you; your allies turn into slot machines feeding you a constant stream of rewards and praise; your power levels climb ever upwards. Everything has been carefully tuned to activate just the right pathways of the human mental reward system (by, I assume, a whole team of behavioural psychologists). Yes, most games do this to some extent, but the way Destiny 2 does it is spectacular.

Wait, you can have this experience for [checks Amazon] less than $30 and the game is a failure?!? Then what word do we use for all the tedious 10-hour Duke Nukem Forever type games that cost just as much or more for an experience that is tolerable at best? Why don't you log out when you stop having fun and say, "dang that was $50 well spent" (or whatever it was) and move on to something else?

This is like the people on Steam who have 100 hours logged in a game and give it a negative review because they started getting tired of it after 80 hours or so.
posted by straight at 7:50 PM on April 7, 2018 [6 favorites]


Wait, you can have this experience for [checks Amazon] less than $30 and the game is a failure?!? Then what word do we use for all the tedious 10-hour Duke Nukem Forever type games that cost just much or more for an experience that is tolerable at best?

Well, it cost a lot more when it came out, and it still costs more if you want the whole game; $30 will just get you the base. There isn't really a market for tedious 10-hour Duke Nukem Forever type games anymore - the only similar thing (i.e. a high-budget linear-single-player-focused FPS game) I can think of in recent times is the Wolfenstein games (there are probably a few others), which are supposed to be quite good and have things which Destiny 2 doesn't, like difficulty levels, a way to replay the game without erasing all of your progress and a non-terrible story.

But one of the things which pulls people through the first part of Destiny 2 is the promise that when you get to the end it will open up and you'll be able to explore a whole lot of things that were hinted at throughout the campaign and in all of the game's marketing. That doesn't really happen.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 8:07 PM on April 7, 2018 [6 favorites]


This is like the people on Steam who have 100 hours logged in a game and give it a negative review because they started getting tired of it after 80 hours or so.
This is the issue of all issues. They can't. move. on. The original Destiny had a couple of long grinds that awarded the person who could drop 100s of hours in the game. After a while Destiny 2 basically tells you to stop playing the game. Maybe come back next week. And for some people, that will not stand.

I don't play the game anymore, because of some of the reasons elucidated in the articles. But I got my money's worth, and am not bitter. Maybe it's because I've played WoW. A lot of the comments I see about Destiny 2 make it sound like it is babby's first MMO for some people. Gamers calling the developers arrogant, arrogant meaning that they don't implement their brilliant plans for spite's sake. Calling them lazy, which is ridiculous because if they were lazy, they would be computer programmers in any other sector of the industry besides the one that glorifies crunch. Screaming at them, then wondering why they don't interact with the community.

I just don't see the need for vitriol. I have books to read, TV series to Netflix binge, and a Steam backlog like you've never seen. The time I could spend complaining I could be enjoying the surfeit of time wasters at my disposal.
posted by zabuni at 8:16 PM on April 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


This isn't so much of an issue for me, as I can always go and play Titanfall 2.



HELLO? hello? hello?


ECHO echo echo
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:52 PM on April 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


I appreciate this Mefi discussion way more than the original article, which I can't quite put together as a coherent essay.
posted by muddgirl at 8:54 PM on April 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


My personal theory for how the game turned out the way it did is this:

Bungie has a ton of data from Destiny 1 about how people played the game and the circumstances in which they were likely to spend money on microtransactions.

They worked out that the spendiest players were the ones who logged in occasionally, but not too often, and played for a while, but not too long. People who barely played the game obviously weren't going to put much money into it, and the truly obsessive would just grind for what they wanted and would be alienated by anything that was microtransaction-only. Moderate players would play enough to see other players using cool stuff and want it for themselves, and some of them would be sufficiently invested in the game to pay for it. (In fact, Activision, Destiny 2's publisher, has a patent on manipulating multiplayer matchmaking to encourage exactly this, although they claimed last year that they hadn't implemented it in any games.)

So Bungie designed the game very carefully for the players who they thought would be most profitable. Even the limited complexity that Destiny 1 offered through randomised equipment or skill selection was filed off. Playing regularly for a short time is rewarded (by things available only for a limited time, Xur, faction rallies, overt and hidden progression throttles etc.) but try to play for too long and things get unrewarding, then frustrating.

Unfortunately, it turned out that even though the really serious hardcore players were a minority, and weren't making Bungie much money directly, they were driving the game's popularity - by making and watching youtube videos, streaming on twitch, keeping threads on gaming forums active (this, I'm pretty sure, is one of the reasons why D2 has such limited matchmaking - so that players go online to talk about the game), all that stuff. And when they left to play PUBG and Fortnite, everyone else followed them.

This is all speculation, of course, but it would explain a lot of things about the game that otherwise don't seem to make any sense.

(To be clear, I'm not angry at the game and I've definitely got my money's worth in the Crucible alone. But it's interesting to think about why the game has aroused so much bitterness and why people are so willing to ascribe its problems to malice.)
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 9:40 PM on April 7, 2018 [19 favorites]


Wait, you can have this experience for [checks Amazon] less than $30 and the game is a failure?!? Then what word do we use for all the tedious 10-hour Duke Nukem Forever type games that cost just as much or more for an experience that is tolerable at best? Why don't you log out when you stop having fun and say, "dang that was $50 well spent" (or whatever it was) and move on to something else?

So, in MMO land, there's a saying - the game begins at max level. What this means is that everything prior to cap is, in essence, a longform tutorial meant to teach you how to play the game and your specific role, and that the game doesn't really open up until to get there. This is for a few reasons - you usually don't have your full kit until max level, the devs can now expect a certain baseline of skill, etc. And the result is that the content at this level is more interesting, and more demanding.

A lot of the problem with Destiny 2 is that it's failing to deliver at this level, and these players (who are your core in an MMO) are jumping ship, which is not good for the game.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:45 PM on April 7, 2018 [13 favorites]


I figure Destiny is more like Diablo than any given MMO.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:59 PM on April 7, 2018


I followed Diablo 3 on FB, and every month they highlight a new character build and an occasional content patch. Geez I enjoyed that game, but people are still grinding endgame content in Diablo 3? WoW I understand, as it gets regular large expansions that actually extend the story in massive ways. Anyway.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:06 PM on April 7, 2018


It’s been a bit sad to watch the three-way echo chamber form between gaming press, Reddit, and streamers. They’re all focused on critiquing the game design, but they all miss two simple things.

Players got addicted to the loot drop loop in Destiny 1, which paid out jackpots in the form of overpowered, unbalanceable guns.

When Destiny 2 broke the mindless farming loops, it took away the pleasing sensation of a slot machine and replaced it with “effort required”. And when Destiny 2 took away unbalanced (random) rolls, it took away the possibility of being rewarded for your time with an OP gun roll that makes you more of a winner.

I watched my entire clan crash and burn as a result of that pair of changes, and I wouldn’t give up those changes for all the clans in the world. It’s been months and I’m still learning how to use different types successfully - and enjoying the skill improvement work. But my clan mates quit after the first season when they found out that the raid and banner and trials weapons aren’t OP - they’re just weapons, with strengths and weaknesses.

I’ve found this divide hiding under the guise of “meta” most frequently. D1 players who knew what the “meta” weapons were in any given cycle were the most likely to quit D2. I think it’s not that D2 lacks a meta, but it is (by design) that D2’s meta specifies that any gun skillfully wielded can overcome any other gun less skillfully wielded. Without OP weapons to open up the mindless grind for collecting everything, D2 forces players to be fully engaged, a state that can’t be sustained for hours on end.

This showed up in my cluster of friends as “I get better loot per session from other game X” and “what’s the point of a raid if the gun is balanced” and people flaking out after a season with vague complaints about loot. I shrugged and kept trying out weird weapons in Quickplay, and after two seasons I’ve ended up relatively rockstar at the game compared to my old clan mates. They figured out how to wash-rinse-repeat the raid and did so until they got all the loot in just a few weeks. I can’t imagine how exhausted that must have made them of Destiny in general, but I’m glad I didn’t join them, because I have so much left to learn and try still, and I don’t want to sail east yet.
posted by crysflame at 11:30 PM on April 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


Absolver, another game, has tens or hundreds of moves to master and build move sets out of for your sparring pleasure in-game. You can sync up with someone on Reddit and have them teach your character all the moves in the game very rapidly, but you’ll miss out on the pleasure of earning the moves through hard-fought victories, and if you’re just looking to collect all the moves, you’ve beaten the game.

I treat Destiny 2 like Absolver: just because I have a move/gun is no indication that I’m competent with it. It’s taken me months to even understand at all why I like some and not others, and I really enjoy playing the game because I spend all my time either being swell or being forced to get better to survive. That’s what makes the game happy for me.

But I would never recommend either game to people seeking to “collect”. It’s impossible to do three characters and three subclasses. It can take days or weeks to decide if you like a single gun. There are two hundred to learn, and we’re only at dlc 1 of 3. If you’re looking for a game where a “learning curve” is part of your blissful experience, then Destiny 2 and Absolver are both that in spades. Neither is particularly great at plot, and neither offers any sort of joy to collect-them-all folks. But I love getting better more than I miss words - Absolver is wordless! - and so it works out for me that I like them both.
posted by crysflame at 11:41 PM on April 7, 2018


Geez I enjoyed that game, but people are still grinding endgame content in Diablo 3?
posted by Brocktoon


The Diablo 3 Seasons model really injected new life into the game - each Season lasts 3 months, and everyone has to start with brand new characters with nothing carried over. Naturally there is competition for greater rift progression as people vie for the top spots, using their knowledge of optimal farming / progression techniques. Each season generally adds / reworks items with the aim of refreshing the gameplay. There are 7 classes, and each class has something like 5-6 viable builds using different sets, and assuming you pick one class each Season, you could go a 2 years before repeating a single class. I've even played the same class in consecutive seasons because I wanted to try a different build, which can play completely differently.

What also helps is that the skill cap in the game is incredibly high - you're gated much more by your skill than by your gear. You can get "good enough" gear within a few days of playing it, but using it well takes months of practice. Playing a Lightning Wizard for example, (some gamplay I captured doing GR70, which is the one of the thresholds you need to reach in the season) it's fairly obvious that the build can do so much more in the hands of a good player, that I'm only playing it to a fraction of its potential.

It starts slow but ramps up midway through... it's a glass cannon build that uses energy armor - makes it so the biggest "hit" I take is capped at 35% of my HP, which means I die in 3 hits instead of being one-shotted, and combined with one of the arcane weapon runes which gives me a shield for 4% of my HP when I do damage, it only needs to trigger once while I'm taking damage to give me two instances of 4% hp shield to leave me at 3% HP after 4 hits.... you will frequently see me at 3% HP through the game by being hit by various projectiles / melee attacks / environmental hazards.
posted by xdvesper at 1:08 AM on April 8, 2018 [9 favorites]


Bungie has a ton of data from Destiny 1 about how people played the game and the circumstances in which they were likely to spend money on microtransactions.

Data-driven microtransaction design is truly the answer to almost every "why is X happening?" question in AAA gaming these days.
posted by tobascodagama at 3:48 AM on April 8, 2018 [11 favorites]


Data-driven microtransaction design is truly the answer to almost every "why is X happening?" question in AAA gaming these days.

Note that per the article, Bungie doesn't talk about the profitability of the game. Maybe it isn't doing well, or maybe the cash coming in suits them fine.

The truly insidious aspect of microtransaction-driven design is that making a game that critics or even vocal fans like is no longer the only path to profitability. The underlying assumption from the gaming press that Destiny 2 has a problem (because they're not happy with it) may be completely unfounded.
posted by tocts at 5:36 AM on April 8, 2018 [11 favorites]


I didn’t mind micro transactions in Destiny 1 - it was (especially in the last year or so) nearly perfect for me.

I did mind that destiny 2 threw away everything I worked or paid for in destiny 1. For a company that wants me to spend real money for in-game items, that seems like a strange way to encourage future spending.
posted by goddess_eris at 9:40 AM on April 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


Data-driven microtransaction design is truly the answer to almost every "why is X happening?" question in AAA gaming these days.

Note that per the article, Bungie doesn't talk about the profitability of the game. Maybe it isn't doing well, or maybe the cash coming in suits them fine.

The truly insidious aspect of microtransaction-driven design is that making a game that critics or even vocal fans like is no longer the only path to profitability. The underlying assumption from the gaming press that Destiny 2 has a problem (because they're not happy with it) may be completely unfounded.


My inevitable Mass Effect comparison: it's pretty well accepted by most Mass Effect fans (with the exception of people still in denial about Andromeda's problems, or those who hope against hope that there will ever be DLC or a sequel, despite Bioware Montreal being shut down) that the single-player game of Mass Effect: Andromeda ultimately served as a gateway drug to the multiplayer game, which is still receiving content updates, and a lot of the original trilogy's developers were bled off to produce Anthem, which by all accounts is meant to be their version of Destiny 2 (and which Bioware is apparently betting the farm on).
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:07 AM on April 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


Also, still not happy I never got to play a Titanfall before the communities flames out.
posted by Samizdata at 10:16 AM on April 8, 2018


@crysflame - I understand what you are saying, but here’s the rub: Even in destiny 1 you could choose to use a sub-optimal weapon. People did it all the time - either because they wanted the challenge or because they just liked a particular gun. Flattening the power curve for loot in a loot-based game seems like an odd solution.
posted by goddess_eris at 10:19 AM on April 8, 2018


Man, it sure sounds like they made an MMO and didn't hire a community team from the MMO space.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:39 AM on April 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


Data-driven microtransaction design is truly the answer to almost every "why is X happening?" question in AAA gaming these days.

Which is why I’m refusing to pay full price for AAA games now and only picking them up years after they come out. I refuse to pay for micro transactions and will in fact get an antagonistic feel towards games who try aggressively to promote them. The games are expensive enough to start with - if I pay 60$ for a game, I expect that will be the game, not that that will be the shitty subpar game and I need to spend another 30$ for the rest of the game. It’s why I’ve given up on new Assassins Creed games, even though I used to be hardcore into the franchise.
posted by corb at 11:13 AM on April 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also, still not happy I never got to play a Titanfall before the communities flames out.

(Actually, Titanfall 2 still has a pretty decent population going, especially on console. And the PvE Frontier Defence mode both fills up fast -- since you need only three other players to get started -- and nicely sidesteps the problem with getting literally curbstomped by superninjas who have had two years to learn the maps and mechanics.)
posted by tobascodagama at 11:17 AM on April 8, 2018


Man, it sure sounds like they made an MMO and didn't hire a community team from the MMO space.

Or gameplay designers or economists or anybody else who might actually understand the thing they're building. "Live services" games in a nutshell really: reinventing the MMO from first principles, badly.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:28 AM on April 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


Man, it sure sounds like they made an MMO and didn't hire a community team from the MMO space.

The thing about these articles is that (from the little I know of MMOs) the original Destiny was an MMO, and a bunch of the changes they made in Destiny 2 were intended and specifically well-received by the media as moves to get away from that and make the game less of a grind and more attractive to less-dedicated players.

Personally, I prefer Destiny 2 to the original, but I almost exclusively play PvE (the story in The Taken King was hilariously incoherent) and I really don't give a shit about maximizing my loadout. (I'd be perfectly happy to never use a hand cannon ever again.) I'm also not interested in spending 40 hours a week in-game to be able to compete with a kid with way more free time than me.
posted by asterix at 12:48 PM on April 8, 2018 [4 favorites]


@goddess_eris I’m autistic and can’t read between the lines of your comment to piece together (with sufficient likelihood to pretend like normal humans anyways!) whatever impact you feel that flattening the power curve has here - I’d like to understand more if you’re open to sharing more about what you feel about it. (If not, no worries.)
posted by crysflame at 1:53 PM on April 8, 2018


@crysflame - My personal opinion is that for a game like destiny to be appealing, there has to be a long tail of rewards to reach for - that the bulk of gear should be available for most people, but there should be better gear for people with skill or time. In addition, there should be a strict tradeoff - if I have the time that should compensate for some amount of skill. The flattening of the power curve in Destiny 2 removed this long-tail aspect almost entirely - but not for any particular reason. If you want to spend time on a non-meta weapon - either because it appeals to you personally or because you want a challenge - you could do that in Destiny 1 as well. In fact, one argument against Destiny 2 is that since it doesn't have random rolls or a large number of named weapons, it's difficult to find a particular weapon that feels "right". Finally, the long-tail provides incentive for people to play "up" and engage with the community.
posted by goddess_eris at 5:33 PM on April 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


Destiny was sort of promised as this generational game, where you could have a record of your journey with your friends, and you carried it all with you. Then the second game was announced, and it seemed to be a fairly cynical sequel that kept asking, 'are you hyped?!?' when what they wanted players to be hyped about was them blowing up everything that the players put into the first game. I played the first game, and stopped playing after the pretty nifty Hive ship expansion. Nothing past that appealed to me.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 7:18 PM on April 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


In fact, one argument against Destiny 2 is that since it doesn't have random rolls or a large number of named weapons, it's difficult to find a particular weapon that feels "right".

Man, I don't get this argument at all. I could load the Mida Multi-Tool/Mida Mini-Tool combo forever and be completely happy with it. (Actually, that's one thing I really like about Destiny 2: the complementary weapons combos are a nice addition.)
posted by asterix at 7:29 PM on April 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


In fact, one argument against Destiny 2 is that since it doesn't have random rolls or a large number of named weapons, it's difficult to find a particular weapon that feels "right".

I've read this argument in a lot of the "Destiny 2 is dying" thinkpieces from the last few months, and it always give me pause when I read it. This Gamespot video made a strong argument that the original Destiny was the apex of a disturbing form of game design that bore more than a superficial resemblance to a slot machine, utilizing techniques that wouldn't be out of place at a literal casino. And now people are making the argument that Destiny 2's big loot problem is that it's not ENOUGH like a slot machine, that there's no reason to keep grinding for the same weapon because its affixes aren't randomized and the rewards not sufficiently variable.

To me, this leads down a very dark road. After all the hand-wringing about whether gacha mechanics and randomized loot drops were turning video games into something more akin to gambling, the final verdict appears to be yes it absolutely is gambling, and we want more of it. And I can't even say I'm immune to it; I play Pokemon Go, which has its fair share of randomized outcomes. It's a little frightening if you think about it too much.
posted by chrominance at 8:02 PM on April 8, 2018 [4 favorites]


@asterix - I don't like Scout rifles or SMGs. My favorite gun archetype in all of Destiny 1 was a handcannon with explosive rounds and firefly (I have a bunch of them). This gun type doesn't even exist anymore in Destiny 2.

@chrominance - I misspoke. It's not the random rolls specifically, it's the large variance allowed by weapon perks. There are other ways to solve the issue you are concerned about - but the fact that I continued to play (and still play) Destiny 1 after getting all the guns and armor that I want almost a year ago suggests that it's not entirely about the gambling carrot.
posted by goddess_eris at 10:14 PM on April 8, 2018


Is Destiny 2 what it's like to play a lot of games on the PC? The constant uploads and load screens?

I can assure you load times in D1 on console were still worse. The cycle of finishing an activity, going to a social area to switch weapon loadout and then starting a new activity was generally 5 minutes, and using their (at first, awful) mobile app, this was cut down to *maybe* 2.5 minutes?

My favorite gun archetype in all of Destiny 1 was a handcannon with explosive rounds and firefly

It took me quite a while, but it was worth it when I finally got Fatebringer.

I have spent a lot of time on D1. (More than "hundreds of hours") What D2 fails to have is the right concoction of elements, which starts at weapons worth having. Because Bungie have proven to be crap at balancing weapons across PvE and PvP, and generally crap at balance period, they have made everything mediocre in response. That said, there's nothing to motivate the hardcore players to grind. D1, I can list a bunch of weapons which were *completely worth it* to grind hard for every week, and some were just Legendary raid weapons!

Gjallarhorn
Vex Mythoclast
Black Hammer
Fatebringer
Thorn
Hawkmoon
Icebreaker
The Last Word
Universal Remote
Vision of Confluence
Found Verdict
Quillim's Terminus
Sleeper Simulant
Raze-Lighter
Dark-Drinker
Outbreak Prime

I realize, D2 has had one expansion, but the majority of that list is Year 1 D1. I can think of maybe 4 exotics on par in D2, and no legendaries at all. And one exotic, as soon as it became clear it was OP in PvP was nerfed into irrelevance *immediately*.

D1 was a game of mystery (some of it very Meta, wondering what might have been), and of rewards worth grinding for. There's very little mystery left, and very little loot worth grinding for. I think it really comes down to these two things.
posted by habeebtc at 10:54 PM on April 8, 2018


More mulling it over:

The best thing Bungie can do for D2 is by releasing a new secret chest, and perhaps secret OP weapon into D1. Naturally, VoG.

That'd pique people's interest that there may be hidden stuff in everything after, if something new was found in the very first raid.

Of course, they'd have to make good on it going forward.
posted by habeebtc at 11:20 PM on April 8, 2018


Thanks for the reply. I don’t feel the same — I’ve only just started learning submachine guns and still haven’t worked out snipers or hand cannons yet — but I respect running out of game-provided pressures to play.
posted by crysflame at 9:04 AM on April 9, 2018


Man, I don't get this argument at all. I could load the Mida Multi-Tool/Mida Mini-Tool combo forever and be completely happy with it. (Actually, that's one thing I really like about Destiny 2: the complementary weapons combos are a nice addition.)

True - I just worked my way through the mini/multitool quests, and, although the SMG is not my favourite close-up weapon, they are fun to switch between - as are Sturm and Drang.

I'm definitely in the place with Destiny 2 that I landed up in in Destiny - I'll drop in, run around a bit, maybe do a strike. I don't feel cheated, but some better matchmaking would have been nice. I haven't felt any need to use the Eververse store, but maybe I haven't played long enough.

Whereas I will, predictably, buy loot boxes for the upcoming Overwatch event, because Overwatch characters are kind of dress-up dolls.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:02 PM on April 9, 2018


What I think that Bungie has missed is how Destiny's success was in large part an aberration. And any attempt to recreate that magic was bound to fall short.

Destiny launched after they gutted the plot line and most cut scenes, threw out a huge pile of orchestra scoring (Music of the Spheres is amazing now that it's leaked), and moved most of the lore out of the game itself and into the Grimoire cards. Everyone complained and/or mocked them about this - but after having become quickly bored with D2, I'm convinced this original sparseness was critical to keeping people engaged.

Alongside that, I agree that hard-resetting everything but your character appearance was definitely a huge negative. And now why would you bother rebuilding your various collections up if you know they'll throw it away on you again?

If it's meant as an MMO, they should not have been surprised when people grew attached to their virtual stuff. For me, as much as I know its silly to be invested in a handful of bits in a database back at Bungie - you'd have to pry my year 1 and year 2 MIDAs from my cold dead hands.

I do wish they'd find a way to get that spark back - Destiny was a great way to sink countless hours into the raids with some college friends, and while we're still sporadically running the original raids, I fear we've lost a unique social outlet that won't be easily replaced.
posted by k9mach3 at 3:22 PM on April 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


@k9mach3 - while it's surprising to me that they were willing to reset everything (the more you cared about the Destiny 1, the more Destiny 2 hurt), I suppose that it was just a very aggressive gamble - that they would gain more new players than they would lose in existing players.
posted by goddess_eris at 4:42 PM on April 9, 2018


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