Monday, September 29, 2014

Your Destiny Is You Should Be Writing

Hello again, puggerinos. This week's blog talks about, in such a SHOCKING twist, Destiny.

I know. You have more than likely seen lots of posts about this game in your feed. Considered already one of the most successful new IPs to launch this year, it has thousands of players and has been all the rage around gaming sites for the past three weeks.

For those of you who don't know what it's about, Destiny is a first person shooter where you take on the role of a Guardian trying to save the Last City from the Darkness and its minions who are trying to steal away the Light from the mysterious Traveler.

....yes, that's the story. But all of that aside, it's a surprising amount of fun, despite how frustrating its been for me. This is in spite of all the proper nouns it throws at you while you play.

I do love the game, and despite getting irritated with it constantly I always dream of playing it. I always want to do just one more Strike  (a leveled mission you can do with friends) or I want to play a few more rounds in the Crucible (their PvP arena.) I am addicted to buying ships, and I routinely take bounties that are as stimulating as SHOOT 200 FALLEN IN THEIR HEADZ BECAUSE SCIENCE.

Random gripe: Why can I only access the lore of the game by killing hundreds of thousands of dudes? Are my bullets really tiny anthropologists who report back to me "Hey! In this guy's spleen we found out why the Fallen breathe Ether Drops!"

Here's the thing; Destiny is not a friendly game towards the casual gamer. It can still be a lot of fun, but I've encountered a wall in the game that can only be overcome if I can devote massive amounts of time to it and that's something I just cannot do.

In Destiny, you needed to constantly get cooler and more powerful gear not just to kill bad guys in the game but to increase your level. Your level maxes out at 20, and only by getting more powerful pieces of gear could you improve your rating up to level 30. You could try to buy cooler gear in game, but to do so you had to get your reputation with a faction up to an insanely high amount so you could buy cooler gear or you had to hope you were lucky enough that legendary and exotic gear dropped for you on a whim.

Here's where the problem comes in for me. To quote Chuck Wendig, author and giver of amazing writing advice over at, if a writer ever finds himself with free time all to himself he really should be writing. Books are not going to write themself and if you have a deadline you have to meet, the deadline needs to come first. I can't convince my boss that I'll have my redlines in "After we kill Xyor the Unwed once and for all!" I can't tell my freelancers I'll edit their work "Just as soon as I get 23 Strange Coins." I'm starting up a whole new business venture but that will go nowhere if instead of filing paperwork and writing out the game I'm on Mars  looking for Relic Iron.

I like to consider myself pretty successful, with many shipped titles under my belt and with a really cool new project coming up soon that I hope to share with you. The thing is, I wouldn't be that successful if I gave in to my inner video gamer and never wrote a thing. Sometimes, my most boring nights have been spent editing with a Netflix on in the background instead of playing.

That is the other thing about why I should be writing. You see, I am in a business where I can get paid for my writing. Sure, if I write up "The Adventures of Karlyle Dracofist", my old Gemstone 3 character from the days of MUDs and MUCKs, I probably wouldn't make any money. But if I accept a contract from someone under the auspices of "If you write well, we will not only publish this but give you money for it," I am losing money to not be writing. I like eating. I like to travel. I like to not worry about not having enough money.

With Destiny, you have to devote yourself to grinding. And don't fool yourself by saying "You can wear all Rare gear and still do well in Crucible." I used to do really well in PvP in the game until each opponent I had to deal  with was armed with Exotic weapons capable of firing multiple  rounds a second, extremely accurate  shotguns, or fusion rifles whose charge time was almost zero. Soon I'm forced to rely upon all of my skill to hope to survive and even then, I watched my ratings slowly slip in the game.

The way I had around this wall was to participate in the legendary Loot Cave exploit that players had discovered in the first week of the game. It consisted of Guardians standing in a firing line firing shot after shot into a cave in the Cosmodrome where Hive soldiers were spawning every 6 seconds. The reward for this was that there was a 10% chance they would drop an Ingram, which would turn into a random piece of equipment that you could either dissasemble for parts and money or equip your character with.

The whole  thing reached almost ludicrous proportions. I once took part in a 30 man firing line into the cave, only taking breaks when a Daily Event took place. Since ammo and Ingram drops only appear in your version of the game there was no competition between players to scoop up all the Ingrams before someone else could. In no time at all you were swimming in money and Ingrams which you needed to improve other pieces of equipment.

It was stupid, but for the casual gamer, it was a godsend.

It allowed people like me to have a decent chance of getting the Legendary and Exotic pieces of equipment we needed in order to compete with others. Right now, I have two pieces of Legendary armor,  a piece of Exotic armor, and everything else is Blue. I don't have the time to run around and hope I get lucky and get one of those pieces of equipment, nor can I hope to get lucky and get my faction ranks up high enough to hope I have the ultra rare currency to buy cooler equipment.

Seriously. To go up in rank I need 3000 points in this faction just to reach Rank 2 and I get maybe 200 if I can sit down and play it for 40 minutes.

Bungie, I love your game. But I'm looking at Battlefield 4 as a way to scratch my itch until the next Battlefield comes out.

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