Categories
Games High Fives

Downtime Is Bad. Handling It Well Is Good.

As a career support person, I wanted to take a few minutes out of my lunch break today to mention that the support posts on the @BungieHelp Twitter account yesterday were really good and an example of How I Would Have Done It that sadly, I don’t see very often.

For the unaware, Destiny 2 has a “weekly reset” cadence, where every Tuesday at a specific time, certain cycles in the game reset intentionally and events tend to come and go. (There is also a smaller daily reset.) Patches always coincide with this reset time, and yesterday’s reset included the 2.7.1 update.

There was a bit of a problem with the update.

The problem was discovered within 30 minutes of the patch distribution and service availability, and 35 minutes after that, Bungie took the entire game down to prevent further problems from happening.

The very next tweet was one hour later, and contained the following information:

Let’s talk about why this tweet is good stuff from a support standpoint. It runs what is essentially the Support Playbook in my opinion. It:

  • States the current status or progress of the issue (“we think we’ve found it; give us a bit”),
  • Gives a general forecast for what to expect (“game’s going to be down for a while as we figure out how to fix it”), and
  • Provides a timeline for follow-up information (“we’ll talk to you again in about an hour”).

True to their word, Bungie continued to update players on a regular cadence:

Each one of these tweets follows the same pattern, which is IMO essential to a good support interaction, whether over Twitter or another medium such as email or ticketing systems:

  • State the problem
  • Give an update on progress if possible
  • Tell the client/customer when they will hear from you next
  • Execute on what you have promised

This is actually quite difficult to do on Twitter effectively due to the character limit.

The full solution for the problem was detailed in the next update:

And then this update doesn’t promise a further update, as the problem is identified and the fix is underway, with an ETA for service resumption—and presumably, everyone is heads-down planning for the eventual response that will be needed when everything is back up:

There was a follow-up tweet when the service was brought back online, which ended up being less than 20 minutes later than their initial estimate. Pretty good. :)

The icing on the cake, though, is this tweet, which is pretty fantastic:

It’s a super-concise list of exactly how the rollback affects players and what they can expect when they log back in. (“Silver” is the paid microtransaction currency in Destiny 2.)

If you work in support, take a look at your own interactions and look for these patterns. Are you informing clients or customers in a timely fashion, giving them information as available and verified, and providing estimates for when they will hear from you next? If not, consider updating your handbook or processes for support interactions in an emergency response or disaster recovery situation.

Kudos to the Bungie player support team for this series of interactions; I was quite impressed to see them throughout the afternoon and evening, and remarked as such to friends as the situation was going on. I can only imagine what the disaster recovery process was like behind-the-scenes, but it appears to have been very effective, as at least in my estimation, the speed of this issue ID and data recovery operation was impressive for what I can only assume is a very large database.

Categories
Critical Discussion Games

Thoughts on Destiny 2 Season 8

Tomorrow, Destiny 2’s Season 8 concludes, and Season 9 begins. 8 served as the opening season of Year Three, and marked a transition for the game from a “traditional” update method of small DLC packs spaced out within the year to one large DLC pack and small-purchase seasons to fill in content droughts.

I thought I’d jot down some thoughts on it from the last ten weeks, divided into some of the major aspects of the season. I’ll try to keep this about things particular to this season and not to things that were big sea changes from Shadowkeep.

What I’ll touch on:

  • Vex Offensive
  • Iron Banner
  • Eriana’s Vow
  • Eververse and the Season Pass
  • Ritual Weapons
  • Undying

Vex Offensive

The big “seasonal activity” going away tomorrow is Vex Offensive, and it’s an amazingly mixed bag. For the most part, the activity itself isn’t bad. It’s a progressive arena shooting bit, with a timer that doesn’t impact a whole bunch other than whether you get good drops or not? (I’m not really even sure about this because it’s very not obvious what it does. It’s not a fail state.)

Things warp in, shoot shoot, bang bang, run bounties, get a weekly challenge out of it or two, get a bunch of weapon drops, rinse, repeat.

Normally, a fairly inoffensive horde-style mode, which at this point is generally what we are getting out of seasonal stuff (cf. Menagerie, Forges, probably Sundial). It gives a rather generous number of random roll drops, which is good and gives you a chance to find a roll you like from grinding out the weeklies for drops. The mechanics of the encounters are fairly easy to grasp.

I think Vex Offensive is a very good start for the type of seasonal activities we’ll be seeing that come and then go after each block of time.

There are some problems here, and they are more issues with the current design philosophy of Destiny rather than the activity itself:

Almost every bounty and triumph connected to the mode requires you to be an active jerk to your teammates.

This is now a rather frequent problem Destiny as a whole. It forces you into matchmade team activities, and then gives you objectives to complete that push you into doing things that take away from your teammates’ ability to accomplish exactly those same things. Bounties and triumphs requiring “final blows” instead of participating in defeats of enemies with assists mean you’re competing with others in what’s ostensibly a cooperative mode.

The only real way to progress on these goals is to go Peak Titan and charge ahead of all of your teammates, grabbing the glory for yourself. It’s enormously frustrating, and for more friendly players who might otherwise enjoy the game and the cooperative nature of these activities, is a huge drain on enjoyment.

Because of Champions, a team can drop into Vex Offensive that doesn’t have a realistic chance of completing it well.

The Champion mechanic is a new one introduced with Shadowkeep. In Vex Offensive, the two enemy types requiring specific weapons or mods to defeat efficiently are Barrier and Overload “Champions.” You can outdamage or stagger these enemies and circumvent the weapon mechanic, but for a team of random players to have a reasonable chance at a good run, the team should have a distribution of both anti-Barrier and anti-Overload weapons equipped.

The simple problem is that many players just don’t pay attention to this. Whether it’s because they are trying to complete triumphs that require specific weapons, some classes of which can’t even equip the necessary mods, or because they are ignorant or unbothered by the mechanic itself, I know of many runs where only one or two of us were doing all of the work against the champions, which then slows down the activity entirely. The game doesn’t prevent you from loading in without equipping the tools necessary to have the best chance at a good completion.

The annoying thing here is that I believe Champions are an overall positive addition to the game, especially in things like the raid and the Nightfall strikes. They add a layer of tactical complication that makes previously rote sections of content more interesting in terms of the weapons you choose and how you construct a team, but they appear to be mystifying matchmade teammates in many activities.

Destiny 2 needs more prescriptive instructions to players that teach them how to play the game “properly.” Especially with the entrance fee to Destiny now being free-to-play, I believe there are many players in the game today that don’t understand many of its basic mechanics. More tutorial content—or better yet, less inscrutable information in-game—would go a long way to making activities less annoying to run.

Iron Banner

I mostly had fun in Iron Banner this season, but then again, I usually have fun in Iron Banner. Power Level matters, but it’s not insurmountable, grouping is advantageous so I enjoy running it with my friends and clanmates, and it provides an excuse to run around with dumb weapons in PvP and escape the PvE grinds for a while.

If I’m going to PvP, I generally prefer that PvP to be Iron Banner.

The armor was a new set that rolled pretty high stat packages most of the time, and reputation packages from Saladin had a decent chance at dropping Enhanced versions of armor mods, which gives a greater number of players access to these without having to play competitive PvP or high-level non-matchmade activities. This was good.

The weapons were the same ones we’ve been using for over a year, so not super-exciting. They could definitely use a refresh.

Even the bounties for pinnacle gear were halfway decent. One required final blows, one required assists, one required zone captures, and one required ability kills (more on this one in a second). Most players are capable of completing two of these given a decent amount of time in the mode, and a decent number of others probably capable of nabbing three each Iron Banner. Two to four pieces of 950-960 gear three times in 10 weeks is pretty great.

The ability kills bounty should have been rotated out early in the season.

This was even a known problem! It was admitted that they were aware the bounty was causing trouble because the number of kills was very high (200), and the bounty was quite difficult to complete, especially for some classes that have poor supers, poor neutral game, or both.

The API indicates there are three more bounties available to be rotated in, none of which made an appearance in any of the Iron Banner weeks of Season 8. It would have been a great solution to rotate those bounties in once the problem was known and admitted. (Perhaps this is actually quite difficult to change without a risk of breaking things, in which case, OK.)

The “kickoff quest” for Iron Banner was too much.

For the first time, there was a quest that had steps necessary both to earn the Iron Banner armor for the first time for the season, and even to unlock the ability to turn in tokens for reputation drops. If you hadn’t completed the quest, you could do nothing with the Iron Banner Tokens you’d had drop from either wins or losses.

This was unfortunate, and I think a mistake. Here were the steps:

  • 10 zones capped, 30 opponents defeated, 3 Super final blows
  • 6 matches completed, 20 zones captured, 25 pulse rifle final blows
  • 20 fusion rifle final blows, 30 zones captured, 100 opponents defeated
  • 15 SMG final blows, 15 Super final blows, 40 zones captured
  • 50 zones captured, 15 matches completed, 10 grenade launcher final blows

(The fifth step was altered after the first Iron Banner of the season to remove the grenade launcher step due to a bug.)

Here again, we see the ugly monster of “final blows” rearing its head. Bungie, I love you, and I love Iron Banner, but please stop with this. There are many players who will gladly hop into Iron Banner for a chance at some drops and to chip away at some progress in things like assists bounties or capping points, but if they weren’t able to nab final blows, and in some cases with fairly technical weapons like fusion rifles, they were unable to claim even a single drop from the vendor.

If you want players to be in PvP and be cannon fodder for other players, or—better yet!—to learn how to PvP over time and maybe begin enjoying the mode, you have to give them something for their time. Making this multi-step quest the barrier to entry, and making it character-bound on top of it, is too much to ask of infrequent PvP players.

It will not move them to improve. It will instead drive them away from the mode and potentially the game.

Eriana’s Vow

This gun is amazing. It steps outside the weapon class and archetype, has one of the new anti-Champion aspects baked in, and hits like a truck. Has a great risk/reward profile for bringing it with you. More like this, please.

The quest for the catalyst was not amazing. It required ludicrous numbers of “ritual” event completions to complete the quest to even get the catalyst to drop, and then required you to get a bunch of kills with it to finally slot the catalyst.

I played hundreds of hours of Destiny over the last ten weeks, and I still don’t have this done.

Eververse and the Season Pass

I could write several thousand words on how Eververse is missing the boat, but I’ll save that for another time. I’m sure many of you are aware of its problems.

The season pass track was actually mostly well-done.

This is also very much a part of Shadowkeep and not the individual season, but I think they hit this one at about 80%. The ranks felt like they moved along quite a bit, it rewarded me for engaging with various kinds of content and especially bounties, and it was very doable to get it to 100 within the season. (I hit 150-ish.)

There are some things I’d definitely change about it:

Season pass engrams were rarely rewarding. They should have a very high chance or maybe even a guarantee of rolling with high stats or even specific high stats, to make them aspirational. Exotic engrams should never drop as a weapon, due to the new important of armor random rolls.

The mid-levels felt like they didn’t give me anything of note. There was a stretch from the mid-50s through around level 70 where the rewards were pretty much a wasteland. I wouldn’t take anything away from other levels, but if I’ve paid for the $10 season, I’d like to feel there are significant rewards along the way.

The seasonal armor drops were pointless. I was receiving drop after drop of these in the wild, usually with much better stats. Other than being a guarantee that I could check them off in my collections badge, dropping them from the season pass was not interesting.

The amount of Bright Dust given on the track was a complete joke, as were the BOYO 2 bright engrams. C’mon, Bungie. If you are going to reward me with in-game currency, the value should be at least what I have paid you for the season, to encourage me to grind at it and get my value back out of it. A few hundred Bright Dust is insulting. The Best of Year 2 engrams every five levels were probably much better for players new to the game, but I already owned everything in them, so there were very wasted on my account. I’m interested to see what next season’s bright engram is.

A bunch of this gets down to core problems with Eververse as it stands right now. Some brief thoughts on that for now:

The amount of design work going into Eververse while in-game sources of gear go untouched or “reprised” is a really bad look. I get that Bungie needs microtransaction income to pay their employees and grow at this point, and I don’t really have a problem with some cosmetic things being pay-only, but the disparity and the level of detail going into one versus the other is really bad.

The Bright Dust economy is now pathetic. In previous seasons, if we worked fairly hard, we could nab just about anything from the in-game store we wanted, whether with Bright Dust or with bright engrams. Now, you’d never be able to earn even a quarter of what’s available cosmetically in a given season, even if you did nothing but grind out bounties that provide the currency. Weekly bounties provide 200 each, and repeatable mini-bounties provide 10. Even bumping this to 500 and 50, or raising the chances of receiving Bright Dust in a bright engram, would go a long way.

Bungie touched on this in this past week’s blog update, and now more of the Eververse inventory will be making it out as Bright Dust purchases: 80% or so rather than 50%.

What if they took that extra 30% and channeled it into in-game accomplishments, rewarding you for doing grindy or challenging things with a cosmetic thing? I’d much rather see that.

Ritual Weapons

Bungie got tired of Pinnacle Weapons ruling pretty much every mode, which was absolutely happening due to the unique traits of those weapons, so now, we have Ritual Weapons instead. Each is still a unique weapon you can only get from a specific quest, but they’re no longer creating special perks that can only roll on those guns.

What I didn’t expect is that these weapons were—in at least one case—even harder to acquire than the Pinnacle Weapons they replaced.

I think it’s still kind of amazing that even with ditching the overpowered Pinnacle weapon system, the Crucible gun and quest were still the most ridiculous of them all, though this time, I don’t think the Crucible one was the best PvE weapon for a change, as that honor probably goes to Exit Strategy from Gambit.

All three weapons are pretty decent. Edgewise is another high ROF machine gun in an element we didn’t have for add clear, and Exit Strategy has a pretty great perk selection for any SMG not named “The Recluse.”

Holy cow, though, y’all – Randy’s Throwing Knife had a steep quest. And it’s one of the best weapons in its class. Again.

Randy’s Throwing Knife—if you can hit your critical hits with it—is a beast of a weapon that has no peer in its archetype. It also has one of the better flavor text selections of the past year.

BUT the Randy’s quest was just beyond what it needed to be or should have been. 450 final blows with a scout is something that we essentially needed Momentum Control as a game mode to complete in a lot of cases, and the medals/kills requirement was yet another “percentage-based” one where medals counted, but not all medals, and not all medals that did counted for the same amount

Exit Strategy had a lot of the same problems. I ground that one out this past week, and some post-match medals didn’t count at all. I had more than once match where I was certain I was done, but yet another match waited for me to complete it.

In the future, when quests have “percentage” completion bars, it’d be really nice to have a guide somewhere that tells us what counts for how much progress.

The guesswork necessary to complete these things efficiently is a huge part of the frustration with them.

Undying

Look: I ground out Undying this season, but I would not recommend it for most people. On the surface, the first time I looked at it early in the season, my reaction was “this isn’t that bad, and I think most people should be able to complete it.”

I am less than happy to admit that I was very wrong concerning this point.

The Vex Offensive portions of it weren’t horrible. I thought they’d be the worst, but other than what I mentioned above regarding having to step in front of teammates (and that’s a big “other than”), those bits were very doable with enough time spent in the mode.

The same thing applies to the Moon-related ones for just doing stuff using specific element-based classes. Grenade kills? Melee kills? Super kills? Can do.

In the end, the unreasonable bits for Undying came down to a single triumph:

The Collections badge.

To complete the Collections badge for the season, you needed:

  • the ship that drops from completing a 980-difficulty Ordeal Nightfall,
  • all three steps from all three ritual activity seasonal quests (Strikes, Crucible, and Gambit),
  • the exotic quest for the season,
  • all three ritual weapon quests completed (see above), and
  • every weapon and armor piece that can drop from Vex Offensive.

This was a lot of work, and worse yet, not completable as a solo player. (The 980 Nightfall and some aspects of the Strikes seasonal quest spoil it.)

I just looked up the badge on BrayTech, and was astounded to find that the lowest completion rate in their records is actually for the Strikes seasonal quest, which I can agree was a horrible slog. You can only receive strike scoring for Nightfalls, and the only way to get those done without having to get a group together—for most players—is to run the Ordeal version of the Nightfall, so this past week, my son and I ran Savathun’s Song something like seven or eight times in a row.

It was mind-numbing and the second worst part of getting the title. (The worst was getting the medals in Gambit for Exit Strategy, which took about double the time I wanted.)

This was the first “seasonal” title that required players to engage with all three “ritual” activities in large amounts.

I’m not sure what I think about this, especially given that each of those grinds required a certain amount of proficiency to complete. Personally, I prefer seals and accomplishments that are grinds proficient people can complete somewhat quickly, but determined or dedicated people can complete with a lot of effort.

In this case, Undying was only really completable by proficient people who also had a lot of time to grind at things, and that strikes me as the wrong way to go about it.

I’d like to see future seasonal seals focus more on that season’s unique activity, rather than forcing us into ritual activities that we may not wish to engage with.

That way, if the seasonal thing isn’t my bag, I can just nope out of it early and not bother with the seal. If I really enjoy it, or it’s significant to me, it gives me something long-tail to strive for before the season is over.

As it stands, this season, I spent more time in ritual activities grinding away at the same strikes, the same Crucible maps, and the same Gambit matches I’ve been running for over a year, instead of engaging with anything new or unique to the season.

This doesn’t feel like an effective use of the concept.

Closing Thoughts

I’m mostly looking forward to seeing what Season 9 has in store for us starting tomorrow. Season 8 was a decent first attempt: some solid core ideas, with portions of execution I found wanting.

I didn’t think it was a home run of a content slice, but I also didn’t think it was a complete disaster. It’s weird to have an activity in-game that’s completely ending forever, and not taking up space in the Director for the rest of the life of the game. There’s a lot of potential here if Bungie can change course rapidly enough to respond to feedback.

It’s notable that Season 9 is scheduled to be three weeks longer than Season 8. It’s my hope that spacing things out a bit more will give the activities room to breathe, and not that we’ll be looking at even steeper grinds for the next quarter.

I’m hoping to get back into the practice of writing some guides for Season 9, and I’ll likely focus first on some suggestions for grinding the seasonal title. I’ll know more tomorrow when I get a look, and plan on publishing a guide to the patch notes sometime tomorrow afternoon as well.

As always, thanks for reading. See you out there.

Categories
Games

Thoughts on the Destiny 2 Gambit Preview

From the daily reset yesterday through the daily reset today, Bungie made a special preview of Gambit available for all Destiny 2 owners to play and experience. I won’t spend a bunch of time explaining the mode, but in very brief terms, this is how it works:

  • Two teams of four compete to defeat enemies, “bank” resources those enemies drop, and then defeat a boss that appears after enough of those resources have been collected and banked.
  • The teams play in maps that don’t physically connect to each other—your team of four has its own PvE space during the activity.
  • As you bank resources in specific amounts, this sends enemies to your enemy’s side to temporarily prevent them from banking their resources.
  • If you die without banking those resources (called “motes”), your team loses those resources completely.
  • At various points throughout the mode, each team can send over a single player from their team to the other side to engage in PvP and attempt to frustrate the other team and cause them to lose resources or progress.
  • The game is played to best-two-of-three rounds.

The mode is a public matchmaking playlist, so if you don’t enter with a pre-made team of four players, the game will add players to your team in the same way that Strikes or Crucible matches are queued. Gambit has its own playlist slot next to those activities in the Director:

I’ll work on a guide for playing Gambit later, but in the meantime, while there are still a couple of days left before Forsaken launches and the mode is available to all, I’d like to talk about what I enjoyed and what I didn’t.

Categories
Games

Understanding the Destiny 2 2.0 Weapon Slot System

With patch 2.0 to Destiny 2 this past Tuesday, the way weapons and ammo are organized within the game has fundamentally changed. It’s been confusing for some people, so I thought I’d try to explain it, if possible.

To start, here’s the easiest way to look at it:

  • The slot a weapon is in and the type of ammo it uses are no longer the exact same thing
  • The top two slots determine what ammo a gun uses based on the type of weapon, not based on the slot itself (white or green ammo)
  • All weapons in the third slot take the same type of ammo (purple ammo)
  • Ammo bricks now drop differently, with white ammo being most common, green being less common, and purple being the rarest

If pushed to write this in one sentence, it would be: weapon slots and ammo types have been decoupled.

Trust me: that’s the easiest way to phrase it I can come up with right now. If you want to learn more about the system, keep reading, and let’s talk about Destiny 1 and 2 and their weapon and ammo systems and how they have evolved.

Categories
Games

Talkin’ TWAB: Multiplayer Progression, Longer-term Matchmaking, Solstice Armor Deadlines

As we roll into the last week prior to the release of Forsaken, the information being revealed is increasing both in frequency and importance. I was out of town for this TWAB, but it’s worth it to catch up and let you know what it was all about.

Categories
Games Markel!

Destiny 2: Forsaken Launch Party

Hey, friends!

A couple of things I love are going to join forces in a Twitch stream this upcoming Tuesday, starting around noon Central time and extending until Whenever I Feel Like Stopping:

  • With Extra Life weekend coming up in a few months, I thought it a good idea to do some early fundraising and get the ball rolling
  • Destiny 2: Forsaken launches around that time and I’ve taken some time off to play through it right away with my son, live on stream

I would love it if you would stop by and support the stream! Load it up, hang out, chat a bit, and if you feel generous, donate to my Extra Life campaign for this year. All proceeds donated via my Extra Life page go directly to local children’s hospitals and are tax-deductible.

Watch us run through the story of Destiny 2: Forsaken, experience the new Gambit game mode new to the franchise, or just stop by and chat neat-o Destiny stuff with us while we explore!

If you can’t attend directly, if you would tell your friends and families we’re doing such a thing, it would be greatly appreciated. More eyes on what we are doing means more possible donations to help sick kids in the St. Louis area.

Here are the important links for the event:

Thank you so much for your consideration!

Categories
Games

Talkin’ TWAB: Weapon Changes, Economy Updates, Eververse…

If you were looking for a Season Four info dump, this week’s update from Bungie has you covered. As always, you can find their original post here, and I’ll do my best to re-summarize the information for you and provide some commentary.

It’s a lot. Let’s get started.

Categories
Games How-To

Solstice of Heroes Engrams

Solstice of Heroes is now a week old, and three weeks of earning special seasonal event drops, upgrading armor sets, and completing Moments of Triumph remain before we start transitioning to Season Four and Year Two of Destiny 2.

If you haven’t participated in a seasonal event in Destiny 2, or if the last seasonal event you participated in was The Dawning around the turn of the year, it might be unclear how the limited-time Solstice Engrams function. Let’s talk about what they are, how you get them, and how they work, so you can spend the rest of the event either optimizing for obtaining the stuff you want or ignoring that this grind exists.

Categories
Games

On Patch Notes

Video game nerdery ahead.

It's pretty safe to say the 1.1.4 update coming to Destiny 2 tomorrow is a big deal. It's an attempt to respond to criticisms of the game's shortcomings when it comes to the gameplay tuning, pretty much across the board—and it took Bungie over six months from launch to get to.

Lots of people are looking to this patch to reinvigorate some of the game and bring some excitement back to both PvE and PvP modes. It's been termed the "Go Fast" update, because it has tweaks to player movement, ability recharge rates, and some gunplay bits.

The notes won't drop until tomorrow, but I want to take a few to talk about patch notes and what makes for good game patch notes. At least so far, Bungie hasn't provided good patch notes for a game that a lot of hardcore players study down to specific numbers. In fact, just today, one day before the update, the main subreddit for the game has been publishing or republishing a lot of numbers, like these:

These posts have very specific numbers that are based on measurements being taken by players that have no access to the underlying math of the game—they are all based on observation. There's a post like this probably every week somewhere, detailing something and including numbers to show the work.

They shouldn't have to do this all over again; post-patch, the patch notes should give them all the information they need. I'll explain. Bungie's patch notes have previously looked like this (and yes, this is a bit cherry-picked, but it's representative and is from this update):

  • Increased the base damage and reduced the precision modifier of Precision Auto Rifles
  • Slightly reduced the aim deflection of High-Caliber Rounds on Auto Rifles and Scout Rifles
  • Reduced the effectiveness of Aim Assist at higher ranges on Scout Rifles
  • Reduced severity of recoil on Hakke High-Impact Auto Rifles
  • Hand Cannon accuracy recovery now scales with rate of fire
  • Improved base Aim Assist on aggressive Hand Cannons
  • Slightly increased the rate of fire time between bursts on all Omolon Sidearms
  • Slightly increased impact damage on lightweight single-shot Grenade Launchers

These aren't good patch notes. They leave me with tons of unanswered questions.

How much more damage will my Precision Auto Rifle do now? Why are you making it less precise, and how? High-Caliber rounds deflected aim before? What do you mean, and how is that changing? How much is "slightly," and does that mean roughly the same across the various notes, or does it stand for a range of values?

Almost everything in these notes is pretty vague.

Good patch notes should:

  • Tell you what changed.
  • Tell you how much and in what direction.

Great patch notes will also:

  • Tell you why something was changed.

The best example of this is almost certainly Killer Instinct. KI had the best patch notes of any game I have ever seen, followed pretty closely by Diablo III. Here's a great example of KI patch notes that accomplish this:

Fulgore:

  • [Fulgore has been pretty difficult to balance. We’ve adjusted his rushdown, his zoning, and his instinct during Season 3 and he is still an extremely powerful character, which shows how tricky it is to find the sweet spot for him. Now that the dust has settled a bit, the team feels confident that Fulgore now has the weaknesses we intended him to have, but on the journey to this spot, we went a little far in a few areas. These buffs will not send Fulgore over the top again, but should help with some small quality of life aspects of his game.]
  • Raised Energy Bolt damage by 42% (from 7 to 10) [This gives him more zoning damage and more damage on his Energy Bolt into Teleport mixups]
  • Raised Light Cyber Uppercut damage 33% (from 15 to 20)
  • Raised Medium Cyber Uppercut damage 16% (from 12 to 14) [Usually, you’d expect the heavy version of a move to do the most damage, but in this case we wanted the reverse. The benefit of the light uppercut is the highest damage and most invulnerability, while the benefit of the heavy version is more potential damage left behind and multiple hits.]
  • Light and Medium Eye Lasers can now be Pip Cancelled into Energy Bolts. Heavy Eye Beam still cannot be. [This is a big buff to pip cancels and these versions of Eye Lasers, and as a result, his instinct mode as well.]
  • The minimum reactor spin speed has been increased slightly. It now takes about 10 seconds at the lowest speed to build one pip, instead of 12.5 seconds. [Fulgore’s weakness should be the odd way in which he gains meter. The old instinct mode gave him so much free meter per game that this weakness didn’t matter. Now that we have things functioning the way we want, we feel his default ‘slow’ meter gain is just a hair too low. Over the course of an average match, this should result in 3 to 5 more pips than you used to get.]

For real: these notes are amazing. Fulgore was a special case in that specific update, but these notes accomplish everything they should:

  • They tell you exactly what changed, and don't leave anything out.
  • They give you exact numbers for the changes, so there's no guesswork as to the extent of the changes.
  • They tell you why things were changed and what the intentions of the development team were when they made the change.

Look through the rest of that patch's notes, and you'll see more of the same. Specific, well-documented patch notes that indicate not only the exact changes made to the game, but the thought process behind them.

And look: I know these are two different game genres. One is a 2D fighting game with a limited amount of movement on a plane, and the other is a 3D first-person shooter with lots of complicated environmental and player-vs-player interactions to keep in mind.

But when you get down to it, it's still adjusting math and systems. This information is available to someone, somewhere. (If it's not available internally, there are other problems afoot.) And this goes not just for Destiny 2, but all games: please don't use vague terminology when you patch your games. (Capcom with SFV is another notable offender here.) Tell your players what you are changing, whether it was a bug you fixed or is a new adjustment, and why you are making the change and what you hope to accomplish with it.

They'll most likely appreciate it.

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Destiny Discussion Stream: Bungie’s December Roadmap Post

Bungie dropped a pretty big blog post today regarding where they are with updates and changes to Destiny 2, which seems to be in a spot with some hardcore players.

My son and I hopped in-game tonight and had a chat about the changes while we were playing. We keep things positive and talk about the changes and a bit about the things others seem to want but aren’t yet getting (and may not get).