Notes from Week One of Destiny 2

The Destiny 2 experience is at once familiar to Destiny veterans. The rough edges have been polished through myriad quality of life improvements: gone are the frequent pitstops to the Tower.

I am very fond of the generously-sized vault! I tend to hoard items that I collect in-game, and the new vault means that I can go longer between purges of my inventory.

Developers within the community took advantage of the Destiny API to create a suite of tools that served as a bandage for some of Bungie’s oversights in their original design of Destiny. One tool stands out in particular: Destiny Item Manager (destinyitemmanager.com). DIM’s developers beat out Bungie’s Destiny 2 Companion App to openly allowing players to move their gear, resulting in some curious observations. Take, for instance, the ability to preserve the power level 100 armor that you are equipped with at the start of the game’s first mission, Homecoming (reddit). While it was buggy at first, forcing me to resort to Bungie’s Destiny 2 Companion App for the first few days, the DIM team is adept at quashing bugs, and Destiny Item Manager will continue to be a staple in my toolkit.

The addition of a world map, complete with public event timers, renders sites like DestinyPublicEvents.com to a bygone era. This, coupled with fast travel, means that players will find themselves in good company as they engage in public events. No more idling in Skywatch as you wait to catch Urzok, the Hated.

One of the chief complaints that stuck with me through Destiny was Bungie’s lack of respect for player’s time. Until update 1.0.2, vanilla Destiny’s Cryptarch would sometimes decrypt legendary engrams into lower-quality rares, much to the chagrin of players. This is still evident in the mechanics causing luminous engrams to decrypt at lower than expected power levels for players who have created multiple characters of the same class.

Questions

Is it worth spending glimmer on power level upgrades before reaching the level cap?

I noticed I was having a hard time dismantling items – something was stopping the action from completing. It may be linked to NPCs talking. Is anyone else experiencing this?

Using a Keyboard and Mouse in Console Gaming Isn’t Cheating

… and if you play first-person shooters on console, you should seriously consider picking up a keyboard + mouse adapter of your own.

The use of keyboard mouse adapters in console gaming invites heavy discussion on forums. I’ve seen my fair share of posts on reddit about this issue. Without fail, the first person to comment that the use of keyboard + mouse (KBM) adapters in console gaming is equivalent to cheating reaps positive comment karma in proportion with the number of people who view the thread. Comments perceived as arguments in favor of KBM adapters get down-voted to oblivion, in spite of their being both constructive and cogent. Even inflammatory comments like, “OMG dude get good with a controller or go to PC” get more positive traction than legitimate arguments. The issue of proper voting reddiquette aside, I want to get my thoughts out on the matter, with hope that even the most closed-minded may come to see things differently.

I write from the perspective of a gamer reared on first-person shooters. My first console-based FPS was Fur Fighters for the Sega Dreamcast, and my first PC FPS was Doom. While I am no stranger to the arcane mechanics of the modern gamepad, I would take a keyboard and mouse over two analog sticks any day of the week, and there’s good reason why: the mouse is the reigning king for precision. Even a fool knows that.

Those who decry KBM console gamers as cheaters are delusional. What they’re really getting at is this notion that the world of consoles is somehow different from PC: fairer. In their minds, everyone should compete on a level playing field. I’ll prove that the field was never level to begin with, and that only a naive definition of cheating would see KBM adapters fall within it.

Fairness in Console Gaming

Consoles have always been computers. They are designed to run code that has been digitally signed, and typically do so at a lower cost of entry than a contemporary gaming PC. The “PC Master Race” crew knows this is possible because an entire generation of console will have the same performance envelope from its launch to its eventual exit from the marketplace. Console manufacturers are thus able to reap economies of scale in production and gain leverage over suppliers by producing a large volume of standardized equipment.

Once this standardized console has left the store, however, its environment will vary wildly based on the end-user. Consumers have a dazzling array of complementary components to choose from – everything from the display to the sound system can be selected for a specific purpose, and every serious gamer makes these choices with the intention of gaining a competitive advantage, in turn making console gaming no fairer than any other sport.

Defining Cheating in PvP Gaming

Let us define “cheating” in the context of PvP gaming, and then evaluate whether the use of a KBM adapter falls within our proposed definition.

What type of activities or behavior can we universally declare to be cheating?

Memory injection. Lag switching. DDoS. Aimbotting. Wallhacking.

Thus we define cheating in video games as any modification of runtime game data, including network data.

We may be tempted to employ a vague definition such as: “Doing something to give an unfair advantage over another player,” or “any activity that modifies the game experience to give one player an advantage over another,” but these definitions are fundamentally flawed, because they center around a notion of fairness that does not exist in the real world. These definitions are so loose that deliberate practice might even slip into them.

Let’s be realistic about what a KBM adapter is: it is a device whose primary function is to provide the player with an alternative input method. They accomplish this by emulating controller input: the console is incapable of distinguishing between KBM input and controller input.

KBM adapters aren’t aimbots. They don’t give the ability to see through walls, like wallhacks or ESP. Some support functions like rapid-fire and scripting, which falls into a grey area, but the primary function of the KBM adapter remains the same: provide the player with an alternative input method.

As KBM adapters don’t alter runtime game data, they do not fall into the accepted definition of cheating.

Rainbow Six: Siege

/u/NcKvenomous shared this article to the /r/Rainbow6 community, inviting some interesting comments about the use of keyboard and mouse in console Rainbow Six: Siege.

While Rainbow Six: Siege community developer Its_Epi may urge Rainbow Six: Siege players on console to report those using keyboard mouse adapters to Microsoft or Sony (/r/Rainbow6, Ubisoft Forums), it’s an empty platitude designed to let people feel better after losing their gunfights.

Try as I might to locate the Rainbow Six: Siege EULA for console, the closest thing I found was the Rainbow Six: Siege Code of Conduct (Ubisoft):

Cheating / Modding / Hacking: Player is running a modified or otherwise unauthorized version of the game client or a third party software which provides any sort of unfair advantage (wallhacks, aimhacks…) or causing detriment to other players’ experience: Maximum penalty is permanent ban.

It would appear that the authors behind the Code of Conduct use a very similar definition of cheating to the one that I suggested above. Noticeably absent is any mention of alternative input methods. I take this to mean that they would not object to my using a KBM adapter any more than they would to my bringing a set of Rock Band drums to a match.

The Competitive Gamer

The goal of any competitive player is to overcome the competition using whatever means necessary, short of cheating or breaking the rules of the game. David Sirlin’s Playing to Win (sirlin.net/ptw) does a fantastic job discussing the stratagems employed by the competitive gamer in pursuit of victory. Early in the book, Sirlin defines “scrubs,” comparing them to competitive players:

A scrub is a player who is handicapped by self-imposed rules that the game knows nothing about. A scrub does not play to win.

Both in-game and in the real world, the competitive gamer seeks to gain an advantage over the competition. Within the scope of the game, one player may have greater map awareness than the other. Outside of the game world, the choices that you make in building your battlestation have consequences that will impact your experience of the game world. You can bet that a THX sound system will give a better game experience than a pair of iPhone earbuds, though most competitive gamers tend towards headphones. There are even sound cards that boost the sound of in-game footsteps.

Would competitive players of fighting games call the use of an arcade stick cheating? A flight stick in an air combat game? A racing wheel in a racing game? Only a scrub would take the handicap and use the general-purpose controller when a dominant option can be employed.

Controller vs. Keyboard and Mouse

Imagine a FPS game that has no aim assistance, one that was built around the keyboard and mouse as the default input method. Then, a forward-thinking player brings a controller to the table. Does the new player gain a competitive advantage by using the controller? Would the keyboard + mouse players switch to a controller?

In reality, one is hard-pressed to make the case for the game controller being more competitive than the keyboard and mouse. Situationally, a controller may be better than a keyboard and mouse — for instance, while watching a very narrow opening with a sniper rifle, it takes very little effort for a controller user to pull the trigger without influencing their look direction. Faced with the same scenario, the mouse user must exercise great caution to actuate the mouse button without simultaneously moving the mouse.

If you make the argument that keyboard and mouse have greater precision and accuracy, effectively dominating controllers, then why aren’t you making the investment into a keyboard mouse adapter? It’s incongruous to state that:

– I play to win,
– keyboard and mouse are better than controller,
– and I use a controller because keyboard and mouse users are scrubs

If you take the game seriously, why not take the plunge and get a keyboard mouse adapter for yourself? Treat yourself, bruh. If you’re a competitive gamer whose gaming setup could support a keyboard + mouse, you owe it to yourself to try it out. I guarantee that it will change your gameplay experience.

Otherwise, if you’re determined to stick to your console controller, at least do yourself the favor of getting an accessory like KontrolFreek. Extending your analog sticks will provide you with more precise aim, which you can probably leverage to run a higher in-game sensitivity.

I’d also like to address the point of most keyboard and mouse vs. controller arguments focusing only on mechanics. While important, mechanics alone won’t determine the outcome of a fight: a KBM player with poor game sense will lose to a competent controller player the majority of the time.

In a discussion about mechanics, one cannot ignore the command-side of the interaction.

What console gamers should be worried about is the use of scripting and macros. Modded controllers for consoles have existed for a long time, enabling the user to perform actions at game-breaking speed, or with inhuman consistency. We’re talking frame-perfect actions: something that normally takes countless repetitions of deliberate practice to pull off. In the right situation, you have a literal win button, just waiting to be pressed.

Here’s the thing: if you bought one of these devices and began using it tomorrow, no one could ban you for it. Console-based multiplayer matchmaking can’t check for the presence of such devices. Someone watching your killcam might spot it out, but what are they going to do about it? The only time that you’d reasonably expect to get in trouble for using such a device would be at a sanctioned tournament whose rules restrict players to a specific input method.

Adapters like the XIM4 don’t do this whatsoever.

You have the freedom to choose which input method you use. You are the one investing currency into your setup: you get to play how you want. Don’t let anyone scare you into thinking otherwise.

Consider that Microsoft and Sony both have licensed HORI’s Tactical Assault Commander Pro (TAC Pro, TAC Pro One) for use with their respective consoles.

The winds of change are blowing. Microsoft and Sony are both opening up their systems bit by bit, and native support for mice and keyboards is on the horizon.

More
My Battlestation
How to Design a Dedicated Gaming Setup
My Destiny XIM4 Setup

Edits
Ported content from its original location, added a new section on scripting and macros

Account Recoveries Should Be Put to Rest

Somebody once asked if I would perform an account recovery, and I politely declined, responding that I ought to draft an opinion on the matter…

Background

The first time that I heard of an account “recov,” I had no idea what it meant. I guessed that people were gaining unauthorized access to Xbox Live accounts, and using those accounts to play PvP to get around skill-based matchmaking.

In practice, account recovery is a term used to describe the practice of allowing another (usually stronger) player to assume control of your account for an activity.

My Opinion

Bungie, if not Microsoft and Sony, should put a stop to this practice, not just for the sake of Destiny, but for all games. It is well within their ability to track account logins and to swing the banhammer.

Account Recoveries Ruin the PvP Spirit

The path to git gud is long and littered with many a fallen scrub. If you take the game seriously, you are well aware that there is a high skill ceiling.

As a Trials of Osiris player, there are few things more annoying than running into a stacked team running account recoveries. It’s glaringly obvious when pulling a fireteam’s stats.

Closing Remarks

You can find countless individuals offering free and paid account recoveries in an attempt to boost their profile, but you will never catch me playing on anyone else’s account: life is short, and I would be fortunate if I can build my own handle to achieve some name recognition.

RNG Rolls Can Suck It

Somebody once asked why I use set roll weapons when I play Destiny

Destiny is heavy on random number generation (RNG). In a game full of RNG, I want to avoid relying on it to the greatest extent possible.

First and foremost, I detest farming: I find it boring.

Secondly, Bungie has the habit of committing sweeping changes to the game-world in its weapon balance updates. Consider:
Armor Piercing Rounds
Shoot to Loot
Shot Package shotguns
Rangefinder shotguns
Braced Frame Clever Dragon
… and many more!

Finally, I want viewers of my stream to know that they can achieve my level of performance.

There may come a time where I will be forced to lean on the various god-roll weapons that I keep stashed away in my vault to remain competitive. However, I will not deviate from my policy as long as possible.

Just because I limit myself to vendor rolls and set drops doesn’t mean that you have to. At the end of the day, you play the game how you want to – don’t let me force your hand.

Good luck out there, guardians.

Carries are Cool, but at What Cost?

When I reflected on the state of my stream and gaming identity at the close of 2016, I listed the reasons why a viewer might find their way to me, and why they might choose to remain engaged over time.

I identified two dimensions:

  1. Entertainment value
  2. Pursuit of knowledge

I value the time of my teammates, especially those stronger players that are in high demand. I am immensely grateful to have the opportunity to game with them on stream, and hope to continue developing those relationships over time. Playing against opponents stronger than oneself is imperative to improving one’s individual competence. After the dust settles, you can bet we’ll have a good time no matter what titles we pick up in the future. Come Destiny 2 (or more! Who is to say?), we’ll still be kicking ass and taking names.

In spite of my best efforts to discourage the behavior, there are people who come to my stream when I’m running close to the end of a passage, and ask if I might help them along. This message is for you. Be forewarned, it comes straight from the hip, and I still love you…

I have all the respect in the world for everyone who attempts carries. When the Trials of Osiris first went live, PullRequest and I would carry AnarchistBee to the Lighthouse every week. From time to time, I pick up a viewer from my stream to join me in a fight for glory.

I’ve known for a long time that my own time here is limited. As I grow through the years, my ability to prioritize improves. If I wanted to, I could play the game from the time that I woke up until the time that I passed out from sheer exhaustion. My eyes would suffer, my dog would probably shit the bed, my gameplay would suffer… and for what? Playing games, by itself, doesn’t pay the bills. I know this because I’ve been gaming since the SNES days, and it’s done nothing but require continued reinvestment of my time, energy, and money.

I recognize that the Destiny streaming community goes hard when Trials of Osiris is in session, and that many of the community’s top streamers made their rise to partnership by the strength of their Trials of Osiris game. The early movers offered free Lighthouse runs and Trials of Osiris help. To this day, there are countless individuals offering free Lighthouse runs, yet there is a market for Trials of Osiris carries, and it’s glaringly transparent. One can find listings on eBay, of all places. There’s also SherpasofDestiny.com, whose banner ads served through Google AdSense can be found on a variety of Destiny-related websites. At the time of writing, Sherpas of Destiny charges $55 for a guaranteed flawless run (account recovery). For an additional $10, Sherpas of Destiny will let you play along.

Let’s face it – good players are in tight supply, yet money talks, and people listen. With that in mind, I’m instituting a tiered paid carry system. The harder that my carry partner and I have to struggle on your behalf, the more that you pay. On the bright side, you’ll get more time on air in exchange for your coin, the better to reward our efforts.

Someone reading this might think, “OMG, this yetieater guy is a real prick. He thinks he’s too good to play with me?!”

I tell you what – it’s not you, it’s me. I’m a good guy, but I’m also aware that not everyone plays the way that I do. I still consider it an honor whenever I have the opportunity to run with a high-level player. In many ways, I’m like you, guy who thinks I’m a prick! If I had things my way, I would occasionally bag a kill (or two, or three) while the other two members of my fireteam did the heavy lifting.

What if I have no money to put towards a carry, you ask?

I offer nothing but tough love and the truth: either 1) git gud, or 2) hustle harder.

There’s always the third option: get lucky. Thank you for reading, and I wish you all the best ♥

Rumble is the Best Game Type to Learn On

Whenever I solo-queue, I run Rumble.

Why?

Rumble allows you to encounter a larger number of firefights against real opponents in a shorter time-frame than anywhere else.

Through Rumble matches, you’ll quickly gain map knowledge, and pick up tricks in the process.

Rumble places you under frequent pressure to perform to the best of your ability. It challenges you to win your 1v1 engagements, and control your fights so as to guard against being killed by a third party.

In Rumble, you can find other competitive players and build your network. Personal anecdote: Rumble is how I found Sinon Sawashiro. I messaged Sinon post-game, asking if Sinon had a regular Trials of Osiris team, and we soon became Trials partners.

A word on skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) in Rumble: it’ll both build your confidence and crush your ego. SBMM will pit you up against opponents who are ahead of the class in skill, as well as opponents who are struggling to keep a foothold. Every interaction in Rumble is an opportunity to prove to yourself whether you’ve learned from your previous Destiny experience.

Rumble is not without its shortcomings. Its scoring mechanics make it such that the top fragger might not take first place.

Joining a match in progress can be frustrating, because it means you’ll likely suffer multiple deaths to supers, but with the right moves, you might come out on top.

To earn the maximum Grimoire score possible from Rumble, you must win 100 Rumble matches. At my winrate, this takes just over 300 Rumble matches played.

To become good at Destiny, simply play 1000 Rumble matches.

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