This week at Bungie, we welcomed Lord Saladin back to the Tower. He brought his Iron Banner with him.
Like you, I had put a lot of effort into gearing up for his triumphant return. During the Beta, the promise of his battle royale between exotic warlords was intriguing, but the level cap left some of the carnage to the imagination. I was eager to see how real Guardians would clash in the arena to gain his favor.
Prior to Iron Banner, my Warlock had a real case of the Blues. There wasn’t a single Legendary in my inventory. Before the arrival of the Iron Lord, I stepped up my game. For two weeks, I wasn’t willing to leave the Tower without a fistful of bounties to reap. Last weekend, with a lofty reputation and a pocket full of currency, I finally stood before Arach Jalaal of Dead Orbit.
“The Cryptarch never loved me,” I mourned. “You have no choice. I’ve lost track of how many enemies I’ve killed for you. It’s your turn to make good on a promise you made when you sold me your bond.”
After cashing in the spoils of a hundred wars, I emerged in the sunshine of the Tower draped in respectable gear. Sheathed in an ominous shade of black from head to toe, I strode the plaza like a priest sworn to battle. My legend was on the rise, and I knew my favorite weapon (my void-infused fists) had received some upgrades that would serve me well.
This sudden flash-evolution even readied me for a Raid. Alongside five apocalyptic horsemen from my friends list, I plundered my first Legendary weapon from the Vault of Glass. It was a Scout Rifle (never my first choice) but it would have to do. Time was short, and my newfound power was about to make my investments pay off in the form of blood and glory.
On the first night of Iron Banner, my Level 26 Warlock looked dashing, but I was still apprehensive. Was I powerful enough? Would I be able to hang in the most challenging arena of the Crucible? After all, power matters in Iron Banner.
I compensated for my fears with the nastiest killers I could muster from my clan. They had become well acquainted with Atheon’s timeless rage, and bristled with the rewards to prove it. One of them was even a Level 30. Perhaps, as a team, we would be able to achieve victory.
Then, a funny thing happened. One of us got killed by a Level 6 Hunter.
“That’s impossible!” gasped a member of my team. “DeeJ, you said power mattered!”
The next day, some of the same questions were being whispered in our studio. One glance at our forum was enough to confirm that our concerns were being shared far and wide. The return of Lord Saladin delivered a hard spike in Crucible traffic. With it, a rush hour of confusion and downright anger had congested the Internet. Through the fumes and the tears, the basic consensus was obvious: Warriors didn’t feel as if they wielded the advantages that had been clearly advertised.
If you’re feeling that, we’re feeling it too. You’d probably love to talk to a designer who can shed some light on the subject. Since that’s a perk of my gig, I’ll share with you a conversation I had with Senior Designer Derek Carroll.
Please tell us about how Iron Banner works. There are a lot of Level 30 Guardians out there who thought they had a shot at immortality against everyone but each other.
Derek: If you were expecting to vaporize a crowd of noobs with a single burst from your SUROS Regime, I can see how you’d be disappointed. Imagine going into the Iron Banner as a mid-20s player totally unable to participate in the fun. We didn’t want players to have to complete the Vault of Glass in order to compete
But we told them that “Power Matters!” We even put a gaudy flaming banner on our website. Fire is hard to animate, you know.
Derek: The way we pitched Iron Banner did make it sound like a “no-holds-barred” playlist. In reality, we delivered what we felt would be a competitive experience for everyone, not just players at the level cap. The reaction from players seems to be: “No, we want it to be bad for lower-level players. That’s the point!”
We’re listening to that feedback, but this first Iron Banner is fairly conservative.
So power doesn’t matter?
Derek: Power certainly matters, but so does skill. Our solution to add power back into the mix and keep the Crucible from turning into a ghost town is to scale it down to a reasonable level, and clamp damage on the “overkill” end.A decked-out endgame Guardian can’t defeat a low-level guardian with one shot from an Auto-Rifle. In fact, “time-to-kill” is the same when you’re using higher-level gear against lower-level gear. The opposite is not true, so an enemy with average weapons is going to have a harder time taking you out.If you want to test this, go back to your vault and grab some of the guns you outgrew on Venus and feel the difference in your engagements. If you really want to feel the burn, start a new Guardian and jump right into the fray.
Some people have done just that, though. Can you explain how a Level 5 Guardian can use a starter gun to take down a Raid veteran?
Derek: Your skill will take you 80% of the way to victory, but that last 20% will be a much harder climb without the gear you’ve been relying on.
Then what is the exact advantage that I gain from powerful weapons and gear?
Derek: Having a lot of Defense reduces the damage you take from lower level players. Conversely, having a lot of Attack on your Weapons or high character level for your Abilities neutralizes the advantage higher level players might have against you.
To keep competition close and avoid unwinnable fights, the largest advantage you can have is around 7 levels. So, if you attacked a target 20 levels above you, you’d have a fair shot at winning that fight.
If this was not supposed to be a Raider’s paradise, what was the overall goal?
Derek: The Crucible is intended to be a fun, competitive experience for players of all skill levels. The Iron Banner playlist skews toward the “hardcore” end of the spectrum. We still find matches based on skill, not character level, so if you find yourself in a game with players with much better gear than you, you should feel good about that. Lord Saladin thinks you can take them.
Sadly, but predictably, not everyone is so confident in themselves. What are you gonna do about all the quitters?
Derek: Please remind players that, win or lose, they get Crucible Marks, XP, and Gear rewards for completing the match. As with all things Destiny, we’re looking at the data and we’ll come up with a plan to address it in future events.
Allow me to assure you that data is not the only thing we’re looking at. I know for a fact that a lot of my Bungie friends will read the comments for this (and every) Bungie Weekly Update. So, tell us what you think. The Iron Banner is a different way to reap new rewards. Is it different enough to serve its purpose?
Lord Saladin will very likely play by different rules the next time we clear a landing zone for him in the Tower.
09/09/2014 – 10/09/2014
Yesterday marked the one month anniversary of the launch of Destiny. Hard to believe. It feels like so much more time has passed, given the battles that have raged and the adventures that have ensued. Check out the achievements you've logged as a community:
- Destiny averages 3.2 million players each and every day!
- Average playtime is still right around 3 hours a day, even on weekdays, one month after launch.
- The average player plays Destiny 1.8 times a day.
- The average player has played Destiny 20.9 times.
- Over the past three weeks, we’ve had more players online in Destiny than we did during the same span for Halo 3 and Halo: Reach, combined.
We thank you for playing. And, we thank you for the passion and enthusiasm that has made the Destiny community so strong already. It's been amazing to watch your Guardians become legends. Your reactions and your opinions have helped us to make Destiny better over this past month.
Pioneering something new is never easy. When we see the raw numbers, it’s easy for us to say that the destination was worth the journey. Stay tuned for the next evolution of our shared adventure.
The Bungie Bounty for this week was placed on the heads of a team of UK All Stars. We lined them up in the Tower and sent them screaming into the Crucible to defend their honor.
Did they carry the day and secure their promised treasure? That’s a tricky question. For the first four rounds, they dominated the competition with ease. Tactical chatter spiced the comm channel with the most charming accents you’ve ever heard in a firefight. Opponents were dispatched with such deadly accuracy, we played more rounds than anticipated. Then, hearts of gold were smashed into a million pieces.
Here’s the problem. That match ended after the appointed hour of official combat. If you score the winning point after the clock runs out, do you really win? Yet, if your enemy is able to rise up and claim your bounty, should they not be rewarded?
Given the relevant conundrum, we let democracy decide. The spectators on Twitch were invited to vote on the fare of our warriors. They decided to award the prize to all combatants. When the people speak, everyone wins!
Hanging in the balance was a player emblem that would go to them, or whomever could defeat them. Your emblems will arrive next week, gents. See Tess for your coveted knighthood. Wear those crowns with pride.
As for the next Bungie Bounty? We liked making an example of leaders from the community so much, we’re doing it again soon. Watch this blog for details. You may be the hunters or the hunted.
Like NORAD, but with more War Games
We call it the DOC. That stands for Destiny Operations Center. It’s the central nervous system of the backbone that brings Guardians together in the Tower and beyond. It’s also one of the sexiest rooms in our studio. One wall is tiled with screens that enable us to monitor your activities. The opposing wall is tiled with the guts of the machines we used to make the very first Halo game.
The leader of the DOC Team is known on Bungie.net as Master. He’s a handsome devil who offsets his rugged good-looks with the most ridiculous t-shirts you’ve ever seen. From time to time, we’re going to break off a piece of the Weekly Update and let him tell you what’s happening behind closed doors in support of Destiny. Here’s their first special message to you.
The team that provides Destiny player support had a busy week working with engineers on patching, error codes, and resolving account issues. We’ve confirmed that the most recent update effectively resolved numerous account issues causing CENTIPEDE errors during log-in. We’ll continue working to unblock other players. After the patch, users have reported an increase in ZEBRA error codes. We are compiling data on ZEBRA to understand what caused the potential increase, and are continuing to investigate and resolve issues with other major error codes. Lastly, players on University networks experienced temporary connection issues after this week’s patch. We have made a change that has resolved this issue for the majority of impacted players. Continued CENTIPEDE errors on University networks are still a focus of our investigations. These issues are of huge importance to us and we have no plans of letting up anytime soon.
Supporting the Destiny Community is a job that’s never done. The DOC is always watching the HELP forum and the chatter that hits @BungieHelp. When they learn something new about how our game works, they also update the information resources hosted on Help.Bungie.Net.
Keep your eyes on them, and let us know how we can help keep you online. You’ll hear from them again soon.
In the Zone
You like Control? Meet a Hunter who puts us all to shame.
Xo_RISA_oX has captured more Zones than you. We have the data to prove it. There so many things you Bungie.net Legend can teach you about yourself. For the rest, I can hassle Bungie User Research.
This week, I asked them, "Who is the master of Control?"
For now, it’s this Guardian, with 5010 Zones Captured. We know there are more legends out there, and we’ll share another one next week.
How about you? What do you think you do better than anyone else in Destiny?
Mail serves many purposes. The parcels we receive are everything from wish lists to queries. There are love letters filled with embarrassing praise and admonishments of blinding scorn. Some are answered. All are read. To complete the weekly ritual, let’s open the Sack.
Emo Joe89 Are you going to fix #Gaming and the other forums overrun by people trying to find people to play Destiny with?
Mind you, I love it when people use their time on our forum to make connections with people to share a game. That’s far from a problem in my mind. That’s awesome.
We just need better lightning rods for different types of energy. The #Community forum is overrun, too. I had a good conversation with the Bungie.net team this week about that very topic. They have a new User Experience designer who really knows his stuff. I’m looking forward to the progress we’ll make in creating more logical spaces to talk about more specific things. In the meantime, it’s nice to see people reaching out to find quality teammates.
Dmoney12321 Is Destiny going to keep evolving?
I’m pretty excited about the next game update. I think you will be, too. We’re working up an explanation of what we’ll be changing. You’ll know what I know real soon. Some of you will laugh. Some of you will cry. Some of you will howl at the moon. Some of you will rejoice. We'll always look to strike a balance.
Ryokuji What does the future look like for audio options?
I’ve sat in on the discussions. We take your wish lists and we sort them based on what we can accomplish. I hear chatter about voice options. I even hear rumors about matchmade teammates being able to talk to each other. Some day.
Some day, we’ll have this conversation again. That day will come next week, even. Between now and then, have a nice weekend. Play some Destiny. We’re sure you’ll tell us all about it, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.