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4 February 2016
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4 Feb 2016 14:51

This Week At Bungie - Feb 4 at 10:51:35 PM

by DeeJ

"Whoa, wait!" you say. "Is this the Bungie Weekly Update?"

It was, for many years. Today, we're giving it a new name so it would no longer be confused with Patch Notes. Bungie has long enjoyed taking a moment out of each week to share something from our studio with the players of our games. We may have outgrown the name in the complex era of Destiny, but we have not outgrown the weekly ritual of friendship.

Other potential names that were thrown at us on Twitter included:

  • Quarter-Monthly Hugstravaganza
  • Coffee Talk with DeeJ
  • Traveler's Tales
  • Dear Diary
  • The Salt Block
  • Show And Tell
  • Blog With Benefits
  • Destiny Demonstrative Divulge

From now on, we'll just lead off the way we have been:

This week at Bungie we're on final approach with the February Update.

Crimson Days begins February 9th when we deploy 2.1.1. A Tower strewn with floral arrangements isn't all you'll find in the download. We've got a fresh round of revisions to the player experience. There's plenty to talk about - something for almost every type of Guardian. We've assembled a squad of eager developers to shine a spotlight on their recent efforts.

Let's begin.

Special Ammo Inbound

Perhaps this has happened to you before:

You're about to begin what you hope will be an epic fight in the Crucible. Your Fireteam materializes on the surface of your favorite map in a haze of luminous energy. The leader of your Fireteam plants a flag in the opening pose-down (maybe it's even you), while you contemplate your favorite choke-point to set up shop. The match begins, and you're on the run. You sprint down a lane that leads to that sweet spot where you always teach a clinic on how to kick some ass.

[BOOM - Headshot]

Looks like someone knew where you were headed and treated themselves to an easy first strike at your expense. And you rage... Oh, do you rage!

Have you ever wondered how the opening sprint might play out if that clever Sniper didn't have bullets right at the outset? We've asked ourselves that question. Senior Designer Derek Carroll has the answer.

How will the February Update change the Special Ammo economy in the Crucible?

Derek: After the update, players will start certain matches without Special Ammo. Once the match has begun, those green Special crates will behave in the same ways you're used to (although you may be looking for them a bit more).

What motivated the new ammo economy?

Derek: The PvP team wanted to increase the use of Primary weapons, especially at match-start. Sniper rifles and shotguns, in particular, inspire great happiness or sadness depending on which end of the weapon you find yourself. We wanted to somewhat delay that gratification (and sadification).

In which playlists will these changes be part of the new Meta?

Derek: Please don't say "Meta."

Meta, meta, meta (deal with it). Where will Snipers be shopping more urgently for their cans of whoop-ass?

Derek: All 3v3 playlists will feature the new Special Ammo behavior. Skirmish, Salvage, Elimination, Trials, and any rotating 3v3 playlists are covered. I will take special care to say that Rumble is not a 3v3 mode, and is safe from this change.

Why not 6v6? People get sniped there too you know!

Derek: There's no proof of that. No, seriously, there are several reasons to limit this change to the 3v3 modes. First, the larger gametypes are generally less sensitive to initial conditions, which gives us more freedom to have Special Weapons going from the beginning. Also, smaller gametypes like Skirmish are a bit more hardcore, with more weight applied to each player in the match, so we felt we could try pushing Primary weapons for those initial engagements. Conversely, Control is the friendliest place to enter the Crucible, so we wanted to make sure that we don't present new players with a fundamentally different game than what they're used to.

Change is always met with debate - especially when it results in fewer kills for some of you. We welcome your voice in the conversation that is sure to ensue. If you're one of those Snipers who is used to firing the first shot, don't lose heart. You'll still have many chances to ventilate some helmets.

Stand Alone - Together

When Rift was the game in Iron Banner, we heard from a lot from solo players who felt sidelined by the team activity. It's true that a squad of lone wolves who meet for the first time in orbit will almost always find themselves at a disadvantage in a match-up against a Clan that always flies together. That's why scrubs like me join them! Skill is valuable, but so is a trusted teammate who knows the sound of your voice.

We've heard plenty of chatter from players who want to let matchmaking choose their teammates for them, but wish their opponents would do the same. If you're one of them, you have a new champion. His name is Designer Jeremiah Pieschl. We lovingly call him "Jerpie."

What are Freelance playlists?

Jerpie: Freelance 6v6 and Freelance 3v3 are mixed-mode playlists that are only accessible by solo players - no Fireteams allowed. Freelance playlists will be available sporadically on the weekly rotators in your Director.

What was the goal here?

Jerpie: The design goal of Freelance playlists was to facilitate an even playing field. Both teams will be on equal ground, though an advantage can be gained by opening a voice channel to Team Chat. A secondary goal was to provide playlists with a wider variety of engagements. Featuring mixed-modes with all of their associated maps means players will have a much more diverse experience and see less repetition in the combinations selected by matchmaking.

What gametypes will we find in those playlists?

Jerpie: Freelance 6v6 features a mix of Clash, Control, and Rift. Freelance 3v3 features a mix of Elimination, Salvage, and Skirmish.

Look for them next week. If you want to fight alone (but with teammates), and you want everyone else to do the same thing, you're a Freelancer. Band together and revel in your independence.

If you're in a Clan, I'll see you in Rift.

Evaluating Guardians

Matchmaking has been under the microscope lately at Bungie. During Iron Banner, we introduced some new settings intended to reduce lag. Earlier this week, we applied those same settings to Skirmish. Yesterday, we brought Rumble and Control up to speed.

Tomorrow, Trials of Osiris joins the new-and-improved club.

Crimson Doubles and Clash are also on our short list of playlists to update with better algorithms to sort you with a good, clean fight. We'll update you when we update the Crucible.

Our ability to wield instant, server-side magic is limited to five playlists at a time. In a future game update (beyond February), we're planning to apply these new matchmaking settings to all Crucible playlists. This conversation will continue, and we thank you for being a part of it.

Stay tuned.

Out of Bounds

The Internet is a dangerous place for data. With the February Update, we're installing a Damage Referee to keep more of us safe from bad connections. Recently, I had the chance to learn how it works. That conversation quickly turned into one of those moments when I smile and nod and pretend to understand what the Very Smart Person is saying to me. Fortunately, Networking Engineer Paul Lewellen was kind enough to go on the record about the newest addition to our netcode.

Explain it to me like I'm five: What is Damage Referee?

Paul: "Damage Referee" is our code-name for upcoming changes to the way Destiny handles things that can go wrong when you're playing games online. Our goal is to give you a better experience in the Crucible when there are Internet problems outside of your control.

What's the essential problem we're trying to solve?

Paul: In short, we're trying to fix the Internet. Streaming movies, wireless connections, the speed of light, and a host of other things are all conspiring to harm your online experience. Normal network latency is bad enough, but even simple problems become extremely complex when the information your console is sending and receiving can be unexpectedly delayed, dropped, duplicated, folded, spindled, or mutilated. It's impossible to solve completely, but Damage Referee is our latest attempt to improve things for the vast majority of you.

So, what will happen (in theory) if my connection is good?

Paul: If your connection is good, a typical Destiny PvP match should feel like your best ones do now. Obviously things won't always be perfect, but we think you'll notice a positive difference pretty quickly. Your weapons will feel a bit more reliable, your kills will feel a bit snappier, and players with poor connections should be less frustrating to fight.

What will happen (again, in theory), if my connection is bad?

Paul: If your connection is bad, we'll be giving you even more reasons to improve it. Expect to lose fights a lot more often, even if you think you shot first or escaped behind cover in time. Things will get much better once you fix your connection, but at least you'll receive fewer angry messages in the meantime.

How will I know this is working? Will I see fewer Red Bars?

Paul: Not necessarily. The connection bars we show in-game are designed to give you a moment-to-moment idea of how good or bad each player's connection is to all other players in the game (not to our servers). There are many factors that go into determining your color on the coded scale. Even if your own connection is the best it can be, terrible performance elsewhere on the Internet can still compromise your experience.  When you see a red or yellow bar next to somebody's name, it indicates problems with their average connection to other players (and usually to you, too).  If it's your own bar that's stuck on red, our Network Troubleshooting Guide has some tips to help you improve it.

We'll be looking at the data, as always, but we'll be listening to you as well. This is brand new tech, so let us know if you can feel the difference when it goes live next week.

Meanwhile, on the Dreadnaught...

With all this talk about Crucible updates, the Raiders among us are wondering if their reports of issues aboard Oryx's fortress have been heard. Lead Designer Gavin Irby has been listening. Our team has been crossing some items off his list.

When we download the update, how will King's Fall be different?

Gavin: If you've ever been the "runner" in the Daughters of Oryx encounter, you've probably encountered an incredibly annoying issue where your camera would snap back to a default position. We've fixed that, which should make the runner's job more enjoyable.

And the Ogres?

Gavin: We thought teleporting ogres in the Oryx encounter were totally OP, so we nerfed them into the ground! Actually, there was an unfortunate issue where the bombs were capable of blocking the Ogre's pathfinding. That resulted in them occasionally making a very frustrating teleport to get past the blocked path. Oryx Challenge Mode should be a little more forgiving now.

And that's the first time that Oryx has ever been described as "forgiving."

When an Update is Actually an Update

As the February Update descends upon your hard drive, the first-responders of Destiny Player Support will be at the ready to make sure all the bits land in the right place.

DPS: Thursday, Feb. 4, Destiny servers underwent maintenance in preparation for Update 2.1.1.

With each update, we encounter reports of players being required to re-download all update content in order to play Destiny once again, or general issues installing the most recent update. We're aware that some consoles attempt to verify previously installed patches to ensure there are no issues with previously downloaded content. Do not cancel out of this verification, or you will be required to re-download all previous updates.

Please ensure that you have enough memory present on your console to accept the most recent patch. Additional information can be found within this Help Article. Additionally, if your download stalls for an extended amount of time, you may need to cancel your download and update manually

If you experience any console specific error codes when attempting to download Update 2.1.1, troubleshooting can be provided by PlayStation Support, or Xbox Support.

Finally, Crimson Days will begin February 9th when Update 2.1.1 is deployed. Look to for the Crimson Days Guided Support and FAQ, which will become available when the event goes live.

Trend Setters

Time to coronate the new kings and queens of media in our community.

Cozmo: Thank for joining us for another Movie of the Week. We have selected several exciting films for you that were created by members of the Community. The winner and honorable mentions will all be awarded a special emblem to commemorate their accomplishment. Would you like to see your video featured as a future MOTW? Submit it the Creations page and we will give it watch.

Enjoy this week's batch.

Movie of the Week: Death from above.

Honorable Mention: The little Bladedancer that could. 

Honorable Mention: Ready for Sunday.

Honorable Mention: Glimmernaire. 

"Hey, wait a minute," you say. "Why is the Vienna Singer featured in the header graphic for this... article?"

We fixed that too, Starfire Brotocol. After you download the February Update, when 'Lost to Light' is the Daily Heroic story mission, you'll have a better chance to score the coveted ship. If you want to be the first Guardian on your block to download the new bits, be at the ready on February 9th at about 10AM PST.

We'll be back next week with something else to share. 

DeeJ, out.