Not So Massively: Destiny’s development woes (October 26, 2015)

    
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Online gaming and e-sports are getting bigger by the day, and there are literally hundreds of popular online games out there that don’t really fit into the MMO category. Join me each week for Not So Massively, where I gather together the top stories from the biggest MOBAs, competitive card games, first person shooters, and other popular online games in one place.

A damning investigative report on the development of Destiny was released this week, claiming that the story was completely scrapped and rewritten from scratch toward the end of development. We also heard about the crazy lengths South Korean soldiers have gone to in order to stave off Hearthstone withdrawal, and how Star Citizen players have created tube system maps of the game universe. Heroes of Newerth has released a fun new Devo Wars game mode, and League of Legends is preparing for this Saturday’s world championship grand final. We also have development updates from Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile, Overwatch, Firefall and more.

If there’s a game or story you’d like to see covered in next week’s Not So Massively, please drop us a tip and let us know.

destinyIt’s been a big week for Destiny news, starting with the bizarre story of two players who managed to take down the game’s final raid boss Oryx on their own even though the encounter is designed to be fought by teams of six. The feat was achieved by the pair circumventing most of the fight mechanics normally required and simply resurrecting themselves after each instant kill mechanic triggered.

Last month we heard the story of Activision and Bungie’s illegal attempt to strip ex-composer Martin O’Donnell of his shares in the company and O’Donnell’s subsequent victory in court over the matter. Now we have learned that the game may have faced further critical problems during development as a direct result of executive decisions. Jason Schreier over at Kotaku cites 13 anonymous sources within Bungie who reportedly paint a picture of a studio overwhelmed by having to completely reboot its story late in development. The project leads reportedly didn’t like the final cut of the story and opted to axe the entire thing and rewrite it from scratch after much of the content for that story had already been made.

Players have always speculated that Destiny‘s hapazard dialogue and often incoherent missions were the result of a last-minute overhaul to the story, and that this is the primary reason the game was delayed. Schreier contends that this is exactly what happened, leaving dev teams to hastily cobble together the content they had already spent millions of dollars developing into the campaign we finally got on launch. The article is a fascinating look behind the scenes of Destiny‘s development, its rocky launch, and the eventual improvement to the version we have today.

elitedangerousIf you’re looking forward to planetary landing in Elite: Dangerous, this week’s newsletter will be of particular interest to you. In it, Executive Producer Michael Brookes explains the process of flying close to a planet and how that will affect your ship. Players without the expansion will continue to drop out of supercruise when they get too close to a planet as usual, but those with the expansion will get a special module that automatically switches to an Orbital Cruise mode instead. This mode enables rapid flight around the planet, and once you get close enough you’ll automatically switch again to a surface flight model that includes gravity and other factors.

hearthstone

If you’ve ever wondered how far gamers will go to play their favourite games, check out the crazy lengths that a couple of South Korean Hearthstone fans have gone to in order to keep playing while on military service. South Korea has a mandatory period of military service for all men between 18 and 35, and needless to say computer games aren’t exactly part of the soldier’s routine. To keep playing, several soldiers physically drew out hundreds of Hearthstone cards on paper and came up with a system of dice rolls to handle the random number generation.

heroesofthestormActivision Blizzard made the headlines this week when it hired former ESPN and NFL Network CEO Steve Bornstein to head up its new e-sports division. He’ll be joined by Vice President Mike Sepso, who co-founded the Major League Gaming e-sports network. This follows several indicators that e-sports are becoming bigger than some traditional sports, with ESPN and BBC Three both showing high-profile tournaments and e-sports prize pools now regularly falling into the millions of dollars range. Blizzard also kicked off a new Halloween event in Heroes of The Storm this week and published the spotlight video below on recently released hero Artanis.

hon-titlenewHeroes of Newerth turned an old joke game mode into an official game mode this week with the announcement of Devo Wars. Players used to launch games that asked everyone to pick hero Devourer and head straight for the mid lane, which quickly turned into a frenzy of players throwing out hooks to drag players across to their side of the river. The new Devo Wars mode will take place on a new map with a single lane and a few unique features.

The centre of the map contains a pillar that will deflect incoming hooks and the edges have grapple spots that let you pull yourself across the river with your hook. As if that weren’t interesting enough, each level will grant you a point to put into abilities that improve your hook, and all the store items have been revamped to provide bonuses to the hook.

leagueoflegends

The grand final of the League of Legends world championship is just days away, with the match scheduled to take place on October 31st. As expected, tournament veterans and 2013 world champions SK Telecom T1 stormed their way to their place in the final in straight wins. They will face off against relative newcomers and fellow South Korean team KOO Tigers, who have equally demolished their competition throughout the tournament. The two teams previously clashed in the finals of the SBENU Champions Spring 2015 tournament, in which SK Telecon T1 took first place with a decisive 3-0 victory. It will be interesting to see if they can turn the tables on SK Telecon T1 this time around.

pathofexile

This week, Path of Exile released patch 2.04c, which contained mostly bandwidth usage and performance improvements, plus a bugfix for the stuttering that sometimes happened to players using deterministic lockstep mode. The Rampage mod is also being removed from the Flashback leagues as it was causing performance problems, and developers are working on a way to give everyone who takes part in the Flashback league events the Rampage challenge for free.

With Flashback ending on November 2nd and the next major league not due until December 7th, Lead Programmer Jonathan Rogers has been given the go-ahead to single-handedly put together a fun month-long event for the interrim period. Drawing on an event from the game’s distant past, Rogers is kicking off the Darkshrine league event on November 2nd. This league will add mysterious Dark Shrines throughout the game that you can sacrifice rare items to for unpredictable effects. Monsters may spawn in the zone or start attacking each other, the player might get a buff within the zone, or items in the player’s backpack may be modified in some way.

starcitizenIf you were impressed by the recently released Star Citizen map but want something more functional to help guide you around the universe when the game finally releases, it looks like the community has got you covered. Several players have begun developing tube system style maps of the Star Citizen universe showing how each of the systems links together with others and identifying features such as the different sizes of jump points.

This is similar to EVE Online‘s player-developed strategic maps, which started out as charts showing how each system in a given region linked together but have since evolved into powerful tools like the Dotlan map explorer. By the time Star Citizen releases, there’s a good chance that we’ll already have similarly powerful third party tools to help with exploration and travel.

inothernews

Every week, Brendan Drain scours the net to bring you all the latest news from from the world of MOBAs, lobby-based games, and other online multiplayer games that aren’t quite MMOs in Not So Massively. If there’s anything you want to see covered here, post a comment or send mail to brendan@massivelyop.com to let him know!
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Nyphur
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Nyphur

SallyBowls1 I strive primarily for accuracy in my articles, so I will not print something unless I’m sure of it. As annoyedbadger pointed out, in this case there has been a ruling on this in court and it was deemed illegal. The full story of what Activision and Bungie did to O’Donnell was made public, and they did no less than attempt to strip him of his shares and prevent him from using them. If this reads as harsh against Bungie or Activison, that’s a reflection on the actual facts in the case and not on any particular bias in the article.

Damonvile
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Damonvile

breetoplay Tethyss SallyBowls1 You have very nice hand writing then :)

Armsbend
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Armsbend

breetoplay Could you guys hire one computer for the laffs?  You could run a contest to name the new writer-computer.  

I suggest HAL0.9 to get the ball rolling.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Tethyss SallyBowls1 Er… no. Though a computer might be cheaper than Brendan, we hand-write everything, and there’s nothing off about either of these.

annoyedbadger
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annoyedbadger

SallyBowls1 well there has been a judgement in this case, which ruled it illegal, so what massively said was accurate.

Tethyss
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Tethyss

SallyBowls1 I’ve read a lot of articles are now written by computers, even in the larger news feed organizations.  Perhaps massivelyop.com employs the same technology.  I agree the reporting of that story seems exaggerated.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

cursedseishi IDK. I never played or even been tempted to play Destiny. 

16 million users, half billion dollar revenue, etc. etc.  I just can’t see how the shareholders and managers are that upset at Destiny’s performance. My usual pondering: do the fansites not like Destiny because it was successful?  Or was it successful because they made a game fansiters, but not the public, would not like?

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

“illegal attempt to strip ex-composer”? Aren’t there employees stock disputes every day?  I don’t recall  – was this particularly egregious.  It seemed memorable more tor the magnitude.

The Destiny comments just seemed less neutral than I would expect/hope. In the Internet vernacular, “show us on the doll where Destiny touched you” :-)

cursedseishi
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cursedseishi

@SallyBowls1
Likely ‘damning’ because it is so obvious in the final product. I mean… Heck, Tabula Rasa had more time I think after it was scrapped and restarted before release than Destiny did and look what happened! And if not…? The time tables still were rather close together… And that game still feels more cohesive and together than Destiny did A YEAR after release with two paid DLCs released.

cursedseishi
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cursedseishi

I remember trying Newerth way back when… Didn’t do much for me, and the genre in general still hasn’t gotten it’s claws in me. But it’s always nice to see developers embrace these kind of oddball community modes… They really want to get all these kind of unique hooks in you it seems!