It doesn’t feel like all that long ago when Paul McCartney sang ‘We will build bridges, Up to the sky, Heavenly lights surrounding, You and I.’ and looking back, they’re actually very touching lyrics, so well done Paul.
It’s fair to say that I’ve played a lot of Destiny, when Sony was sending out those e-mails with stats on achievements tailored to their players I was informed that I had put over 240 hours into Bungie’s MMOFPS.In that 240 hours I had finished almost all of the story content and strikes. I had put a decent shift into the Crucible despite being bad at it, some Trials, and I had faced down the Vault of Glass and Crota’s End on many an occasion.
Now, last night Bungie gave the world what they wanted to see, Destiny 2, and it’s coming this September. Now, it basically looks like more Destiny, the way the worlds are put together, the architecture, the guns, the Cabal, it’s all very Destiny-y. But, the big changes were always going to be underneath that space wizard veneer, and it seems to have come courtesy of Bungie’s proximity to Blizzard with them being under Activision.
All those years ago when World of Warcraft was first launched, you could potentially do the odd dungeon with a group of friends, or spend hours shouting in general chat to get a pick up group, it was a nightmare unless you were in a guild. Fast forward to the present day, now dungeons and even raids aren’t beyond the solo player with the new Looking for Group and Looking for Raid functions ensuring anyone can get into the end-game content and have access to the better loot as a result. It’s not foolproof, and there’s a considerable amount of toxicity within it, but this is rather easily dealt with in large groups.
It’s this that Bungie is trying to tap into with their new Guided Gaming system. Most of us have been there, we’re in a raid, it’s going well, but life happens and one or two people have to duck out, that’s it, raid over. Now though, we have a lifeline. Solo players can make themselves available to guilds in the middle of raids, so, now it’s possible for that group to finish the raid without either abandoning it or trying for hours to get a replacement person in. Not only that, but someone who had never been able to experience this content before will finally be able to see what all the fuss is about and have a chance to get some good loot. What I worry about is the toxicity.
The Online FPS Scene is a notoriously bad environment, granted not everyone is a bad egg, but there’s no shortage of stories from people explaining why they no longer use voice comms when they play online. Hell, I have to tell my son to mute the chat on Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 because of the amount of swearing that goes on. So, how is this all going to work in a situation where voice comms are essential like a Destiny raid? Communication is key to make sure everyone understands their role in taking down a boss, it’s not about just standing still and shooting.
Bungie made a big song and dance about how much they love their community, and they’re right to, there are loads of stories about the good the Destiny community has achieved, such as the streamer who helped a guy dying of cancer get to The Lighthouse before he died, but this doesn’t mean that everyone within that community is a good guy. People who haven’t done raids before may find it hard to adjust, some people may have done the raid before but used different tactics; it’s possible that arguments will occur and abuse will likely happen as a result.
What I hope happens here is that Bungie incorporate some sort of reporting system, something that will reward good clans who participate well within Guided Gaming, but also a system that will punish clans that make the environment intolerable for others. It should be similar to Microsoft’s reputation system that they built into the Live network for the Xbox One release, but they’ve got to make sure it’s not misused. Any new system is going to be tried and tested to see just what it takes to make it break, a reputation system will be trolled and good people reported for no real reason other than some idiot thinking it’s good for ‘lols’. It all adds up to an uncomfortable and generally unpleasant atmosphere in gaming communities that people can and will do these things.
I do hope that this is something that Bungie has thought about in regards to bringing in Guided Gaming, any company that hosts any sort of online gaming should be aware of the risks involved in creating these systems, and if anyone knows a thing or two about online gaming it’s the trifecta of Bungie, Activision and Blizzard, with their experience with Halo, Call of Duty and World of Warcraft between them. It may not be implemented right away, but I hope that they do it right, and if they do, then maybe we can build bridges up to the sky, with heavenly lights surrounding you and I.