Great post. Not sure if I should reply to the whole thing.. (Fan Creations)

by Kahzgul, Monday, September 07, 2015, 15:19 (3183 days ago) @ INSANEdrive

So I'm just replying to the last bit. For me, the entire issue that you're scratching at can be summed up right here at the end of your addendum:

Mn: how did this happen? We played it internally, thought it was good. You get on your couch and go hey this is way too hard. This is not as intended. The community is going to write us up because of this. I think that is responsible for that.

I worked in test for 13 years. This complete and total failure to understand how the game translates into actual gameplay is the fundamental flaw in Destiny. At every step, some element of the game "felt good in the lab" and "sucks balls in actual gameplay." For me, I am flabbergasted that these issues were not noticed during the initial whiteboard design meetings. I'm shocked that no one, while implementing them, thought, "this isn't right." I'm appalled that the test team completely failed to point out the issues here. And I'm really, really disappointed that management, at no point in the process, listened to all of those other people when they raised concerns, pulled the ripcord, and redesigned things.

To be honest, I have no idea if the failure was the people who made the game failing to recognize the issues, the management in charge of those people failing to listen to them if they did recognize the issues, or an even deeper failure of the design and test teams' organizations such that the possibility of design feedback did not even exist. But one of those things absolutely was the case.

With regards to Activision, I worked there for many years. There are good people there, and some of those people, whom I personally worked with, certainly worked on Destiny. They would not intentionally crap up a game. I can see them intentionally demanding that work be focused on certain activities (PvP being the most likely culprit, with a "satisfying" story being the number 2). Unfortunately, neither of the activities I'd suspect Activision to ask for were focused on in the final game in any way that at all resembles what I'd expect from Activision (or Bungie, but that's the whole issue, isn't it). It's certainly possible that the entire game was a shambles 1 year out, and Activision did demand that at least something resembling PvP make it into the final game, and something resembling a conclusion to at least one storyline make it into the final game. Totally possible. But, again, if that's the case than the issue is really how bad the game was 1 year out, and that falls pretty squarely on Bungie's shoulders. By the way, test teams at ATVI back when I was there would not be working on the game until about 8 months out; they're relying on Bungie's internal testers up to that point. Would these same people not really care if there was a huge backstory or a

Which, unfortunately, comes back to Bungie as the responsible party. INSANEdrive nailed it on the difference between having enemies and having enemies with character. The personality of a fallen dreg is virtually indistinguishable from the personality of a hive acolyte. The art is just about all that is different about them. That's the worst offender, but there are other enemies who behave in similar ways or with only minor differences, as I'm sure you all know. So the game feels stale immediately. Making matters worse, simple design choices such as having level 2 be, in part, level 1 backwards, make me, as a player, feel like Bungie didn't make a big enough world to support distinct level design. And I was given that feeling at the earliest possible moment for that feeling to be given to me, at level 2!

So for me, the feeling, from a design and user experience standpoint, is that Destiny plays like a precursor to Halo rather than the genesis of it. Features of Halo: Interesting characters, reverse levels happening later in the game so they feel like nostalgia, dynamic multiplayer with custom features, intricate storyline; these things don't exist in Destiny. If I ignore graphics and simply played Destiny first, and then played Halo, I would fully have believed someone if they told me Destiny was made first, and Halo was the sequel. Destiny marks a huge regression in game design quality from Halo 1. Let alone Halo 2 or 3 or Reach.

And, with regards to TTK, I'm fully in agreement with you. Everything being said by Bungie sounds good to me. Too good. I remember how hyped I was for Destiny before in launched, and how disappointing the final game is, and I just keep tempering my expectations. Kinda like how Bungie said, months ago, that Thorn was a problem in PvP, but inexplicably decided not to patch it until 2.0 comes out, leaving the game in a state of admitted brokenness this whole time. It's one thing to ignore the problems, as they did for much of 1.0. It's another to admit to them and announce changes as they're doing for 2.0. But to actually implement these fixes, well, the only fixes I can think of that Bungie implemented quickly, ever, were all exploits. Which is frustrating, because there have been no fixes to the raid bosses glitching out and ruining an otherwise flawless run. Or fixes to raid loot simply never dropping. Or any of the other bugs that made exploiting the bosses a thing I would even consider doing (because, frankly, after the third time I've killed the boss, I don't want to ever have to do that again, so I'm going to look for the fastest and easiest route to the loot that you've decided I must have in order to try the hard mode). So when 2.0 says "all these things will be fixed" I can only think "I will believe it when I see it." Hopefully, tomorrow, we start to see some of it.

Very well written, and I agree with almost all of your points.

My one quibble: I don't think Bungie hates PvE. Or even solo PvE though I admit that HoW is incredibly frustrating to play solo. Rather, it seems to me that the focus of the game's initial design was to create compulsive gameplay rather than compelling gameplay. Experience bars, RNG loot, repetitive strike modes, daily reset timers, weekly reset timers, timed events, events with social obligations... they all fall into the category of addiction-building activities. I'm not saying that these things are all bad, but I am saying that they appear to have been more important in the design space than, say, a coherent plot or interesting characters. I hope TTK's change to "story based everything" (allegedly) marks a sea-change in the design focus of the game. The core elements of art, movement, and backstory for Destiny are phenomenal. Amazing. Unbelievably good. The server architecture for patrol mode matching is ground-breaking technology (though, to be honest, it is also so underutilized as to be unnecessary). The game engine, then, is a thing of true beauty, but the game itself lacks. Maybe Bungie will sell the engine rights to some other company with vision to put a true game into that shell. Or maybe Bungie will do it themselves. But, again, I don't think it's a hatred of PvE that led us here so much as a focus on the non-game elements and the addictive elements over the gameplay and plot. For me, personally, gameplay and plot are the most important parts of every game.

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