=I.The Story of a Witch Queen= (Fan Creations)

by INSANEdrive, ಥ_ಥ | f(ಠ‿↼)z | ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ| ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, Sunday, April 03, 2022, 15:16 (749 days ago) @ INSANEdrive

Tenet insanabile multos scribendi cacoethes.

~ The incurable desire (or itch) for writing affects many.

(Approx. 2892 Words | +/- 25 min. read | About: Writing.)

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Experience. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell® Blacklist™, Red Dead Redemption 2, STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order™, Mass Effect™ Legendary Edition, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Game of the Year Edition, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, BioShock Infinite, Dishonored 2, Shadow Warrior 2, Titanfall® 2, BioShock Remastered, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, Pray 2...

According to my achievement list, I've so far played a total of 174 video games on Xbox. That's a lot of games. There are a lot of renditions in telling a story in this interactive medium. And... strangely, at first it makes assigning some level of story quality to Destiny 2: The Witch Queen harder to do. The question suddenly becomes not what my thoughts are, but what is it I am willing to forgive? Per style, per medium, and indeed, the needs of the story to justify it being there in the game at all. 

As I've mentioned in the introduction, the "Witch Queen" expansion is, by and large, REALLY GOOD. And in the same light, the story has its moments of being REALLY GOOD. But, well... I have this criticism, see. And once I get going, I have no idea where this is going to go. 

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In short, are "moments" of being really good, enough? Is that Bungie grade? Is that Bungie "Owned-and-Partnered-with Sony" grade? Is "good enough" good enough? And if it is, even if it isn't (which is not a declarence), can it stay that way without effecting quality?

For that answer, you're going to need to hold on tight folks. I'm going to try and answer this question by starting STRAIGHT ON with an example of my ire: Ikora is a spymaster. Really? Yet neither she, nor anyone else could see the MASSIVE Cabal fleet on any sensor, nor the "big chungus" gun they were building basically right ACROSS THE FLIPP'N EYELINE?!? Having her say "The Cabal are mobilizing" seconds before the "Cabal Dick-Wave" doesn't help either. Folks, that stuff ain't exactly stealth technology! If it was any boxier, the Titans would try to use them as shoulder pauldrons!

What's been presented is beyond incompetent; it's insalubrious. Was... was sunsetting Ikoras idea? Really though, something is wrong, and it is not working at full performance. No one else saw this, or even heard a sound and called it in to the SPYMASTER?!?! Get the fuck out of here.

OH OH! "It's to show the doubt of Ikora"—or maybe you go with—"Magic! Witch Queen Smokescreen Magic-song" blah blah. OR! Or maybe some flipping third thing, but who gives a shit, really? I don't care how it's going to be eventually justified, what matters is WHAT YOU SHOW ME! You could have gone full "Edgar Wright" with this, as I'll demonstrate in a few paragraphs from now with some simple, simple concepts that make it all work. But instead, because the team missed that memo, it looks like nothing more but... and I hate this phrase, "lazy writing," and it looks like this in an intro no less. Not even 30 seconds or so in, we're not even in playtime, and I'm already rolling my eyes. 

It's dumb, and I expect better from Bungie.

...heh heh heh, and yet, with all this and more, many of us can forgive. Or... is it apathy? Whatever the reason, it's probably the same as the reason for such noise being made at all; It-moves the-story along. It's just enough to justify the game play we're about to confront, and we don't care enough. "I just want to blow things up" and the like. Which is odd, right? In the past, in the long past, we'd be all, "Oh shit! There is actually a story, with game-play. There is something to do that is more (work with me here) than just something to do. Go Figure!" Do we fear biting the hand that is able to feed us now, which brings us "something", even though it's the same one that was bitten when it brought famine before? Do we not seek quality? Here too, I may bring an odd question, I admit, seeing as this fan base will happily peck at whatever, like some lightly abused virtual chicken. *Cluck cluck cluck*, all sorts of noise and ruckus about any sort of thing. And so, as a result, with a sea of far more flashy things to peck at, sometimes these less flashy "oversights" of seemingly minor impact can be silently accepted without any requirement of obfucation in "what if" or some kind of "we're listening."

(Shit, it really is a meme.)

My reply? Well, per style, per medium, and indeed, the needs of the story... *SIGH!* "Fine". Sure, I guess. Considering the last year or so, I can forgive this TOO, as I have with this sort of thing a number of times before.

 For now

But, Bungie, you're seemingly running out of rope to test against what it appears you want to do. Do you want this to be a multi-disciplined series? Not just video games, but movies, TV, and books, perhaps? You're going to need to up your game and up your game. Get it? Oh yes, even more than you already have. If you want to go "BIG LEAGUE", and not just be a studio, but a media powerhouse, you're going to have to "get it." Get it? I know you do in there somewhere! But y'all, if this is what you have to give, you ain't got it. Why are we still seeing bad habits when we should be past that point by now?



Look, I'm not on Bungies' payroll (yet?), so it doesn't matter what I say. They are going to do what they need to do. I'm nothing more than a long-time Bungie fan, and I'm rootin' y'all. It's why I'm being a touch particular, and a touch hard. Yes, even on something as debatably insignificant as an establishing cinematic. "Not Careing" is a muscle too, and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Careing about the BIG stuff is (debatably) easy, as that stuff you see a mile away coming. But the small things that MAKE the big things... well, that's ridiculously important stuff too! It really is a shame that it's so easy to toss aside sometimes. It rarely looks like it's going to be a big deal on its own. Bungie, rules need to matter. If Ikora is supposed to be a Spymaster, I WANT YOU TO PROVE IT! And you don't get to STOP proving it because it's convenient at the time. This is true both in the world and in the best of writing. Don't be sloppy. The "Best" are darn well better than that.

I really don't want Bungie to "Game of Thrones" it up because it just became so easy to keep fan momentum despite some logical or character incongruity that was apparently small enough to "get away with it". That can creep up on you in a real hurry. 

LOL... "Oh Ikora forgot that there were Cabal." ROFL ...OH man, I triggered myself... ROFL... UGH!

...what a shitshow. Holy Heaven.


Unfortunately, the story of Destiny makes this "proof" both easier and more difficult, as this story is paracausal in nature. There is a reason why the future stories of Destiny are going to probably risk leaning even more on time travel, much like how other franchises are leaning even more into the "Multi-Verse". It's a built-in story mechanic that helps with the patchwork and generates some interesting story opportunities in the process. It makes the writers' jobs easier without it, necessarily, being purely "lazy". It's writer's caulk. A potent in-universe built excuse of "this is magic, so we don't need to explain a darn thing." All you need to know is that it is. The problem is, and I say this to be potentially AHEAD of the curve here, if Bungie depends on that too much, it may come back to bite 'em in the ass and they'll find themselves sitting in shit.

Things can get complicated in a REAL hurry. No longer easy. Right now in "Multi-Verse" land, things are getting complicated. There is SO MUCH stuff to track. Can you imagine trying to keep a cannon running with all of that? It's a good thing "cannon" is also a loose term in that Universe. Yet back here in Traveler-land, be it all paracausal or not, there needs to be a simple level of causality for our simpleton brains to march along to. SO WHEN I SEE, the first 30 seconds as I did, I wonder how far it goes. That's also WHY I felt the need to write all this here, about something that seems SO inconspicuous. The last thing you want to do is fatigue your audience with the story and its elements. And YEAH, Bungie probably knows that already, but you know what? SHOW DON'T TELL. 

In my case though? All I have access to (with this example) is tell, SO HERE I GO! 

Here is my quick-from-the hip example. Straight off the top of my noggen:

Last season, all you needed to do was shoot, "30 seconds" or so of content here and there. In the last week, we have "intercepted transmissions," see? Oh, Mars is suddenly back! You put it on the map, but no one can click it, YOU-TEASE! It's just there. Folks get to chatter about "What's the glowing green stuff on Mars?" Then Friday reset comes along, and suddenly there are Cabal ships around Mars. I don't know how long it takes you to do this, but it feels like to-me an evening's work to flesh out the doing of it. NOT TO IMPLEMENT, just to congeal the ideas needed to move forward in a way that makes sense. Not only would it have added to the hype, but it would have helped move from one season to another, much like other parts of the Witch Queen campaign do with the story at large.

As for the first cutscene we see this season? It's basically the same thing, with slight differences. From space, we see Mars, with Ikoras ship zooming past the camera. "Mars really has returned". Ikora is first eyes on. Smash cut and we see the Cabal in the distance, who are obviously building something. Turn pan to Ikoras ship landing at our home base. Smash cut to Ikora seen talking to Hidden(?) with binoculars, "doesn't yet know what it is across the way." "Keep me updated." Then the rest happens to what we see of Eris and Ikora approaching her, as we see in the trailer that was published. Gun goes over head, a Savathûn ship pops on by, and suddenly ALL THE THINGS make sense... time to go check it out!

Stupid, simple minor shit, but now Ikora's not foolish, and neither is the writing.

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...YA SEE! I told you that once I got going, I had no idea where this was going to go! All OF THIS, just to yammer about a drop or two of unused sweat! Meanwhile, you might as well be saying to me, "Blah blah blah." That's all fine and dandy advice there, INSANEdrive, but I'm not Bungie nor do I work there. What did you think of the Witch Queen story and campaign?

It's funny how both those things are so intertwined, eh? That's why in the literal next part, called "The Stories (and Videos) of My Gameplay", I give some more granular thoughts about the campaign, with videos! Large ones are more important (or interesting) than small ones, and... 

...this is your CELL PHONE PLAN warning...

 After this, things get all "multimedia" in a hurry. 

Ok? Get it? Alright... What did I think of the Witch Queen story and campaign?

I played the whole campaign on Legendary three times, so my game play experience was potentially more rewarding. Not just in "loot" but in the satisfaction of solving a challenge. And the first thing I'll say is... it's ok! Yes, it is the best Destiny campaign we've possibly ever received, but overall? Well, that's why I have those games listed at the very top, dear reader. It's not just the STORY that is told, but how it's been told. And so... Eh. 7 out of 10. I guess. It's... good? Honestly, of all the things in the campaign that brought forward a mood, the best thing was that darn bell. MAN did that create a mood. And...that's where the praise ends. The problem I'm finding more and more to be unforgivable, is that there is so much "and we're only getting started", where the ending is only the start and there is never a "conclusion," that it's a wonder we still care. I swear, these "live-game" shenanigans feel like a Kickstarter "update". Oh, it's coming! Look at that progress, and hey, if you throw more money at it now, we'll hit that stretch goal and add an extra inch! I "knew" the Witch Queen was going to die and also not die, and even after seeing the outcome, I felt nothing. Just... ok, I did that. Now go do something else. I mean, duh! WHAT GOOD is attempting a PERFECT 10 if you don't STICK. THE. LANDING! It really is a strange sensation of apathetic enjoyment, where I had my fun and when it was good, IT WAS GOOD! But I find I don't care either. It's like... eating a candy bar. It was good while it was there, but I'm going to forget it in due time. 

I refer to you what I asked at the start; are "moments" of being really good, enough? Or, let me put it another way for ya; Paydirt. Knowledge which comes together to provide an answer at the end of a mystery. An emotional punch to bring "in a mood" (Mass Effect was FANTASTIC about this). An artistic vibe, where through simple framing you find in silence the reward at the end of wonder. Paydirt. The return of your self-investment into the media you consume.

I've been VERY forgiving with Bungie as they've worked on figuring out how to tell a story in this live-game format. In fact, debatably their best in-game story work has been the Seasonal stories! I commend Bungie and its writers for figuring out how to make the seasons feel like "something" is happening in this live game, and that it's interesting enough to keep jumping on in to at least give it a peek to the progress.

Good job! If you can keep it.

But, when it comes to the Destiny "Campaign" work, I'm done. It used to be a crown jewel. And now we're pandering over how it's good "for a destiny game". Fuck.-That.

(If I start ranting about "the old days", do I get Pepperidge Farm cookies in the process? Is that how this works?)

I WANT BUNGIE GRADE Campaign STORIES again. The like ones which helped them start their quest for WORLD DOMINATION in the first place. The Bungie games which, after a certain point in its history, always had amazing game play that stacked on to an even more amazing story, which fed into the amazing game play of an even more amazing world. "A detailed, complex plot that is fundamental to gameplay and player advancement". ENOUGH with this "action-only" story. ENOUGH with the go here and go there "goose chase" story plots, which while better in this expansion, still mean, still feel like, nothing in the end. ENOUGH with good enough.

Enough with "and we're only getting started". 

This is why I gave ALL THIS PREFIX above! Destines' biggest and longest-standing campaign issue, which has been true for TOO long; is how now we're here and, by and large, things still feel the same. Where EVEN the BIG things feel like they don't matter. Part of our consumption of a Story, I'd say, IN ANY MEDIA, is the (un)expected exploration of ourselves or our character from whom we play as. The BRINGING of our emotions to some form of fiction, or otherwise, suddenly made true in a moment. Character used to mean something! And I'm not getting ANY of that. Everything is just cheap thrills and explosions. Bad guy in-between bad guy in-between... .

"oh it didn't feel that way to me."

Fantastic! Enjoy the game! If you managed to get what you wanted out of it, power to ya! Even I can admit there were a moments where I sat up and went "OH! I get it! ", such as a realization involving certain past "void light" experiments, and that was cool. But unless you DIG into the lore, what changed in the game?

 Everything is just one huge stalemate.


[Meme] Always has been [/meme].

As a result, I didn't feel an "accomplishment" in finishing the campaign. Frankly, it felt very anticlimactic. Here I am at this big moment, and I would have had my character shrug if I could have. It felt like a check box. We know more, and yet progress feels far less. That's the alternate title for this whole thing, by the way. More, and yet less

"And we're only getting started."... UGH!

The Witch Queen campaign was fun to play, and deserves all the praise it gets. Yet, you have to remember, this is the Witch Queen telling us a story. And thus, should you have some perception of all-around quality

Well...THAT, is its greatest trick of all.

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