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This Week At Bungie – 4/23/2020

This week at Bungie, the Guardian Games have begun.

Hunters, Titans, and that floaty class are facing off against each other in a friendly competition. We kicked off the event with a dev insight showing some of us at Bungie sharing our thoughts on who is going to win. 



Sure, there’s some light-hearted ribbing going on, but at the end of the day we’re all Guardians. Still though, the winners get to flex their class item in everyone’s faces, so get out there and represent your team.

Hunters won the first day, but Titans rose to the occasion to claim day two. It’s still far from over. One thing we haven’t told you yet is that during the final week of the event, every day’s victory will count for double points. So if any class is holding a fairly significant lead and thinks they can sit back and relax, they better keep on pushing or another class could pull off a comeback.

Before we move on to the rest of the TWAB, Production Director Justin Truman would like to speak on the current state of the game and our plans going forward. 

Justin Truman: Hey everyone,

If you’re like me, you’re playing a lot more video games now than you did last month. In these uncertain times, we want Destiny to be a satisfying escape rather than a frustrating grind.

There’s been a growing list of concerns with the game lately: Trials, the rise in cheaters, our new Seasonal model, the balance between rewards you earn vs. items you buy. We’ve been closely watching and discussing each of these topics as we read your feedback. When our community managers relay that everyone at Bungie is listening, I assure you, we are. 

We’re also working hard from our homes, trying to address and improve each of these areas for future releases. Nothing in Destiny is as easy as flipping a switch, and everything’s gotten trickier while working remotely. But as Destiny players ourselves, we struggle with the same issues you do, and we want to fix them as quickly as we can.

But fixing these issues isn’t good enough if we keep you in the dark the whole time, so we’re going to try something a little different. Every week for the rest of this Season, we’ll have updates from different members on the dev team covering the most important topics in Destiny right now, and what we’re planning to do about them.

Today we’re going to discuss Trials and our war against cheaters.

Next week we’ll be diving deep on our Seasonal model, and how we plan to improve it in the future as well as some info on bounties and our plans involving their evolution.

We have plans for future editions of the TWAB, but we also want to hear from you. What are other topics you want to make sure we discuss in the coming weeks?

Like you, we love Destiny and the community that makes it as special as it is. For a bunch of us, Destiny represents more than a decade of our lives, and we’re never going to stop trying to make it better – even if we have to do that from our beds and couches in this unprecedented time. I’m looking forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks.

Stay safe out there, Guardians.


Trials and Tribulations

A few TWABs ago, we talked about some of the issues with how the Trials of Osiris rewards are currently set up. We have an update on how we’ll start addressing some of your feedback.

Our goal for Trials is to encourage players to chase seven win tickets. Resetting tickets should not be the most effective way to earn Trials gear. Rewards should show players that the further you progress, the better the payout. Players that have already gone flawless once over a weekend should be encouraged to repeat the experience on passages other than Mercy – to strive to earn more rewards and not sit at the bottom of cards picking on fireteams struggling to hit three wins or even just win a single match. 

Trials has always had a problem of being approachable for players who aren’t highly skilled PvP gods. We believe that players should be encouraged to make an attempt every week, regardless of skill. You should feel some value in dipping your toe in each week to see if you can get a little further than last week, to push yourself to improve and get better. While every single player won’t make it to the Lighthouse, you should feel like you can get meaningful rewards by pushing yourself and still get some rewards for spending time in the activity.

So what are we doing about it?
  • Problem: Token Rewards incentivizes players to farm to three wins and reset their card.
    • Solution: In Season 11 we’re planning on creating token payout milestones at 3/5/7 wins that give successively larger chunks of tokens. Bonus Tokens Passage should increase these payouts, and on a flawless run it will generate a significant token payout. 
  • Problem: Trials is unrewarding for players stuck at 1-2 wins.
    • Solution: Create a weekly bounty that encourages participation each weekend and does not require match wins. When redeemed, the bounty will reward the same item that comes from the three-win passage unlocking the engram for purchase that week.
  • Problem: Trials feels unrewarding compared to other endgame activities.
    • Solution: Inject more chances to earn Masterworking materials from Trials. Masterworking/infusion materials will come from 3/5/7 win payouts in Season 11. We’re also looking into possibly adding a new material-focused farming card in Season 12.  

These are our current plans for changes we want to make in the short term. We’re also still investigating improvements we can make in the long term. For example, you may be asking “What about Adept weapons?” We’re currently investigating a new form of Flawless award weapons for a future Season. They might not have the same name, but these weapons would have some differences in order to set them apart. Right now we are currently looking at giving these weapons the ability to replaces the weapon mod slot with an adept mod slot(name may change) that can accept custom-built mods in addition to the normal list of weapon mods. All of this is subject to change as we continue to develop but wanted to give you an early look. We’ll share more details in the future. 

We know many of you are far more concerned about cheaters ruining your trips to the Lighthouse, and rightfully so. It’s a punch in the gut to lose on your final game to someone with a fully automatic Whisper of the Worm. Let’s now take some time to update you on the cheater war effort.


No Quarter



When winning every match is more important than ever, it’s no surprise that there are some who are willing to cheat or pay others to cheat for them. We asked Destiny Engineering Director David Aldridge to give an update on the fight for a fair fight.

David Aldridge: Let’s talk about cheating.

Cheating in Destiny 2 is up roughly 50 percent since January, and significantly more in the highest skill echelons. We expected a significant bump with the return of Trials, and we made a number of careful preparations, most notably partnering with Valve to integrate Steam Datagram Relay into our PC build to mitigate DDOS attacks. While many of those preparations were successful (e.g. DDOSing on PC is nearly extinct), we’re still not happy with the amount of cheating happening today, especially in Trials. When your pinnacle achievements are denied by encountering a cheater on a high Trials ticket, or devalued by seeing someone else with ill-gotten goods, that’s frustrating. Those frustrations are happening too often right now, and the vengeance of the Banhammer is often too far behind.  

That said, the Banhammer has not been idle. Before Season of the Worthy launched, we were averaging 656 bans or restrictions per week. In the first four weeks after launch, that rate more than tripled to 2133 punishments per week.

When it comes to tracking and punishing cheaters, we have to keep some of our plans and knowledge secret for obvious reasons, but we still wanted to give you a brief overview of the worst types of cheating we’re actively combatting: 
  • On PC (where most cheating occurs, unsurprisingly):
      • Memory-poking attacks to gain gameplay advantage (e.g. infinite ammo, infinite ability energy, infinite respawns, teleports) 
          • To acknowledge a valid point that we often see come up in community discussion, some of these attacks leverage Destiny’s unique hosting model, discussed here and at much more length here. We designed Destiny’s model to optimize for the feel and consistency of high-complexity, high-action, high-fidelity PvE experiences, while allowing the seamless blending of PvE and PvP. Unfortunately, that model comes with some unique challenges in providing PvP security guarantees. That said, we continue to invest in preventions and detections in this space, leveraging the servers that host and monitor every match. This is a subtle point we’ve struggled to convey over the years: we do have servers hosting every match, but in our hosting model, those servers don’t have complete authority over the game simulation to prevent all of these sorts of attacks naturally. This makes it more difficult (but not impossible) to mitigate these attacks. 
  • Aimbots 
      • <We have plans to address this problem, but will keep the details close to our vest to prevent further hacks and workarounds.> 
  • Wallhacks 
      • <Same as above> 
  • Lag switching 
      • We have detection and banning systems in this area, and we’ll continue to hone those. We want to be cautious here because some players suffer with unreliable internet through no fault of their own and aren’t using it to gain advantage. 
  • On consoles:
      • DDOS in Trials 
          • We have detection and banning systems around this (we’ve been evolving them since the original Destiny) but they’re imperfect because DDOS occurs entirely outside of the machine running the game. One long-term mitigation to this is adopting SDR on consoles as well, which we hope to do at some point in the future. 
      • Lag switching 
          • See above.

But you didn’t come here just to hear us describe the types of cheating in Destiny. The more pressing question is: What do we plan to do about it? 

  • We’re shifting more people to help work on this space. More eyes analyzing cheater reports, more developments in our anti-cheat systems, more people developing and testing new ban rules, and more fuel for the hammer. There are many details about new detections and preventions, but sharing those would give the bad actors a head start. The one thing I can say is that a big focus is rapid response – we want to get cheaters out of the pool more quickly. This is key to reducing the value of cheating, especially in selling access to cheats.
  • We’re changing a key policy – fireteammates of cheaters are no longer innocent. We now reserve the right to restrict or ban any player who has benefitted from cheating, even if they didn’t cheat themselves. This includes scenarios where players group up with or provide account information to a guide or carry service, which then cheats on their behalf. We want you to find new friends out there, but be sure they have your trust before you go. If you LFG your way into a fireteam with a cheater, get out and report them. If you ride them to a flawless, the Banhammer will come for you as well.
  • We’re considering requiring a much higher player time investment to play Trials. We’re interested in your thoughts on this. What if you had to have ~100 hours of play on an account to participate in any Trials match where a ticket with more than four wins was at stake on either side? Increasing the time it takes for a new account to become Trials-ready increases the power of our Banhammer (since cheaters can always create new dummy accounts), but it also adds barriers to honest, law-abiding PvPers that want to check out Trials. Would the reduction in cheaters be worth the increased barrier to getting your T-1000-aimskill buddy who’s running behind on Light to join your fireteam?
  • [REDACTED]. Because this is a cheating discussion, know that we have additional initiatives we do not intend to share publicly, in order to stay one step ahead of attackers. 

There are a couple of common misconceptions about Destiny security that are worth discussing here as well:
  • “Destiny does not have an anti-cheat”
      • Destiny does have anti-cheat that consists of custom security code and a third-party security product used by many other AAA games. We have a team of senior security engineers working on anti-cheat.
      • Anti-cheat isn’t a yes-or-no thing, it’s a constellation of possible mitigations. We’re always looking to add new stars to our constellation, and to strengthen existing ones.
  • “Destiny relies on player reports or humans to identify cheaters”
      • The vast majority of punishments issued come from automated detections. We use player reports to help us identify emerging threats. All automated detections are reviewed and verified by a human before punishment to minimize the risk of false positives.
  • •“Destiny should use Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC)”
      • Destiny does utilize some of VAC’s security features, and we have plans to utilize more. Bungie’s security team and Valve’s security team meet regularly to discuss the latest attacks and mitigations.
 
We’re also re-evaluating some of our decisions along the way – for example, we may have made a mistake in not having Trials behind the Season Pass paywall, which would have created more friction against free-account-recycling cheaters. We won’t change this for Season of the Worthy, but we’ll re-evaluate access requirements in future Seasons. At its best, Trials is a fountain of nail-biting space combat crescendos, and it’s something you can’t find anywhere else. We want that experience to be available to as many people as possible. But if we’re forced to choose, we will choose for Trials to be a sacred space, even if that means fewer people can play.

Our overall goal with Destiny security is to provide a competitive, fair ecosystem where cheaters are rarely seen and are rapidly ejected from the game. We’re not there right now, and we’re increasing the priority. We’ll keep you posted.


Guardian’s Heart

Last week, we unveiled the Guardian’s Heart charity initiative. Our mission is to combine the forces of this amazing community in support of the frontline healthcare workers who are risking their personal safety to battle COVID-19. If you missed our announcement stream, you can read all the details here.
 
One week later, we’re already in sight of our total goal. To date, you have collectively raised well over $600,000! While we never doubted you, we never take you for granted. Thanks to each and every one of you for your support. 
 
This initiative was designed to last for a full month and we intend to keep rolling. Some truly awesome people have hosted their own Bungie Bounties to raise awareness for the cause. Those will continue. Here’s who you can look forward to hunting in the wilds of matchmaking this week. All times are PDT. 
 

As cool as the Guardian’s Heart emblem is, you can’t take it with you once you’re done playing. If you’re looking for a way to show your support in real life for the heroes of this global health crisis, the Bungie Store is getting in on the action. Now through April 30, all profits from the Bungie Foundation Pin benefit Direct Relief charity for COVID-19 efforts.

With your purchase, you’ll also get the free exclusive “Bending Borealis” emblem.
 

 
All Bungie Store orders over $50 will receive the Bungie Foundation Pin for free (while supplies last), and we’ll make a donation of $14.99 to Direct Relief.



Ghost Ship


On our Season of Worthy page we had an error that stated that there would be a Ghost available on the bottom Seasonal reward track for Season Pass owners. It was meant to inform players about the ship that is currently being offered. Since it was our mistake and we did promise a Ghost we will be delivering a Ghost that you will be able to claim next Season if you have purchased Season of Worthy.

Here is a quick look at the concept art for the Ghost and what perks it will have.



Perks:
  • Guiding Light
  • Omni-Telemetry
  • Random Destination Perk
Sorry for any confusion. We’ll have more details on how to pick up your Ghost before the next Season goes live. 


Twitch Prime Rewards

Any player with an active Prime subscription can visit this page to link your Bungie.net account and claim your rewards. Amanda Holliday will then have your rewards waiting for you in the Tower. Here’s a look at what this month’s offering includes:

  • S'mores - Exotic Emote
  • Death to Kells - Exotic Ship
  • Star Map Shell - Exotic Ghost
  • The Whipcrack - Legendary Sparrow



Emerging Issues


 
The Player Support team is hard at work tracking down issues as players discover them in the wild.

This is their report.

ERROR CODES

Destiny Player Support is continuing to collect reports of players hitting WATERCRESS and NEWT errors. Our teams are still working on finding a fix for this issue.

We are also continuing to investigate increases in connection-based error codes such as ANTEATER, BEAVER, and RABBIT.

CURRENT KNOWN ISSUES

  • While we continue investigating various known issues, here is a list of the latest issues that were reported to us in our #Help Forum:
  • Players must complete the introduction quest, The Guardian Games, before bounties and medals can be obtained.
  • The On Your Laurels Guardian Games quest sometimes doesn't go into player inventories, or Eva Levante keeps offering the quest to players.
  • The Void Feast Guardian Games bounty does not count kills while Devour is active.
  • Warlocks have to get 10 charged melee kills using the bottom tree of their Voidwalker subclass.
  • The Lethal Buddy Guardian Games bounty does not gain progress from Arc Soul kills from the Getaway Artist exotic.
  • Warlocks have to use the Attunement of the Elements Stormcaller subclass even if they're wearing Getaway Artist exotic gauntlets.
  • The Show Your Colors Guardian Games triumph shows as account-based, but must be completed on a single character.
  • The Daily Seraph weapons acquired from Rasputin bunkers can no longer be claimed even if players reach rank 92 on their Season Pass. 
For a full list of emergent issues in Destiny 2, players can review our Known Issues article. Players who observe other issues should report them to our #Help forum.



Talkies



It’s Movie of the Week time. If you are new here, here’s how it works: We go on a hunt across the community to find some of our favorite videos and then we highlight them here. Here are this week's winners. 

Movie of the Week: Crayola Crew 

Honorable Mention: Dance Dance Evolution


As Justin mentioned at the top of the TWAB, we covered the first two topics in a series of write-ups about some of the biggest current challenges with Destiny. We plan to unpack new topics each week and give regular updates on how our efforts are going.

Next week, we plan on talking about our Seasonal model and bounties. We know there’s been a lot of feedback on bounties, especially since Guardian Games utilizes them for scoring. We’ll share some of the ways we’ll be changing up bounties and how they’re implemented in the future.

Bear with us as we work to steadily improve the game. Much like you, we love Destiny and we want it to be the best that it can be.

<3 Cozmo

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