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Gaming Archive

Destiny Launches into the Stratosphere

Monday, September 8th

It’s the eve of the Destiny release. I’m sitting at work. It’s almost time for me to go home.  I’m debating whether or not to call in sick tomorrow.

Should I, or shouldn’t I?

There is a large pile of work on my desk that I know will still be here in the morning. It will be larger still if I disappear for a day. The question is, do I really even care? I mean, I have plenty of sick time saved up. I’ve been working hard. I deserve to reward myself, right?

I drive home and am met at the door by two hungry children, looking to see what food I may have brought home for them. I realize that if I call in sick tomorrow, I can’t tell my wife. If she finds out I’m staying home from work, I already know how the conversation will go.

It’s happened before.

“Oh, you’re staying home today? Good, then you can take your daughter to school. And you don’t have to take your son to the babysitter. You can keep him home with you.”

Suddenly, a quiet day at home playing video games in silence becomes a day of chores and entertaining a two year old.

N9otqwH

If I go through with this, my wife can’t know.

Well, this complicates things.

I wonder if this is how a cold war spy would have felt trying to arrange for some government documents to be smuggled out of Russia.

Should I, or shouldn’t I?

I still can’t decide.

9:00 PM rolls around. Destiny has now been released on the east coast. I take a look at Twitter and Facebook to see what is happening with the release. I find pictures of massive lines outside of game stores.

I knew there would be a lot of people, but I wasn’t expecting this.

I am struck with a random thought.

Destiny is a game that is solely multiplayer. Everything I do, once it is released, will depend on whether or not the servers at Bungie can handle the demands of millions of players trying to log on for the first time.

This makes me worry.

Lesser servers have practically melted because of release day problems. In March of 2013, SimCity was released to an angry mob that was not able to log on a play the game consistently. It was nearly a week before the issues were smoothed over enough to let anyone play the game without being worried about being disconnected.

I started to think that maybe things would be different. After all, Destiny is being released by Bungie, a company very familiar with online gaming. They were the makers of five Halo games which are known for their online component. Bungie also has a distribution deal with Activision, another company that is no stranger to online gaming. Activision routinely releases Call of Duty games to large numbers of gamers who only play the online portions of the game. Activision also owns Blizzard, the makers of World of Warcraft and the Diablo games.

They know what they’re doing. Maybe the servers will stand up to the pounding they’re about to receive. I hope.

Then I have another thought.

In November 2004, World of Warcraft was first released. It was a pioneer in online gaming, but it too had its share of problems. Server connection issues plagued that release well into 2005. It was so bad that it’s Game of the Year award was revoked by Penny Arcade.

That was a long time ago. Ten years, actually. I’m sure things would be different now.

In May 2012, Diablo III was released to more problems. Millions of gamers trying to play were greeted by Error 37, and then bounced back to the launch screen.

diablo-3-error-37

Ok, maybe I should just go to work.

 

Tuesday, September 9th

Release day arrives and I find myself sitting at work, reading the news and looking for any sign of a catastrophic server meltdown.

Nothing.

It looks like they actually pulled it off. The servers held up. No gamers are rioting in the streets. Twitter is exploding with tweets of how awesome the game is.

Now, I’m just watching the clock waiting for the exact second I can get up and bolt for the door.

I want to go home! NOW!

A few hours later, I’ve picked up the game and I’m at home, controller in hand.

 

Time to play!

Full disclosure, I have already played through both the alpha release and the beta release of Destiny so I’m quite familiar with the first couple of hours of the game. You can find my thoughts of the alpha release here.

Right off the bat, I can see that a couple of the issues I had with the game have been addressed.

Ammo is not as much of an issue. Enemies seem to drop just a little bit more so I don’t feel like I’m always about to run out of bullets.

The loot crates are also more plentiful. During my entire play-through of the beta, I was only able to find one crate. In the final release, I have already come across several of them.

Gameplay is much more balanced. There are no major difficulty spikes anywhere, even for someone playing alone.

The game is just as beautiful as ever. The vistas in the earth level alone are jawdropping.

There have been many people who have claimed that Destiny is too repetitive. I sincerely disagree. I feel that the story is enough to keep you going through any patches that may seem a bit repetitive. Although, Bungie is not officially calling Destiny an MMO, it definitely feels like one. MMO’s are known for being a bit on the repetitive side due to too many missions that require you to find, I don’t know, 50 mushrooms and bring them back without actually advancing the plot.

I don’t think that is the case here. So far all of the missions have pushed the story along and felt like they belonged in the game. I haven’t run across any filler yet.

Earlier, I had also criticized the voice acting of Peter Dinklage as feeling a bit underwhelming, stiff, robotic. I owe him an apology. He is, afterall, playing your robot guide through the game. Also the small bit of him that we were exposed to in the alpha and the beta, really didn’t showcase his deep well of talent. Now that I’m seeing more of the game, I see that it was an acting choice. He does offer more range as you play through the game.

I’ll take my plate of crow with a little extra salt, please.

All in all, I love the game. I can see myself playing for quite a while in the foreseeable future.

 

The App

destiny-mobile-app

Bungie didn’t just release a game, they also released a companion to Destiny. You have your choice of ways to access it. You can either go through the website, or through the app, if you have an Android or iOS device. I have yet to see anything for the Windows Phone. I’m not really sure if that’s an intentional jab at Microsoft or not.

The app comes in quite handy. You are able to access your character, your stats, a Tower map, the Bungie forums, and something called Grimoire cards. They look like trading cards but give you more information on different items throughout the game. They’re basically a version of the codex from Mass Effect.

Before Destiny was released, Bungie mentioned the possibility of the game contacting you through your phone when you are not even on your console. I have yet to see something like that actually happen, but I can definitely see the possibility of that very thing happening through the app.

 

The Bigger Picture.

So how is Destiny doing?

As of posting this article, it has already become the largest launch of a new game franchise.

Now, when you first read that sentence, you may not realize how big a deal that is. But trust me, it is.

As of yet, Bungie has not released details of how much it cost to make Destiny. There are reports that it cost $500 million to make. However this is not the case.

Destiny can easily be classified as a AAA game. This means that it has the highest level of development and promotional budgets. Think of it in the terms of an independent movie vs. a summer tentpole blockbuster.

Destiny is the video game equivalent of Avengers, or Titanic, or Avatar.

Most AAA games can easily cost anywhere north of $100 million.

So where did this $500 million figure come from? Well, that was the marketing budget. Yes, marketing.

That puts the final cost of Destiny somewhere in the neighborhood of $600 million dollars! That is an astounding investment by anyone’s standards.

Even scarier, Destiny will probably become profitable before the weekend is over.

Within 24 hours of, it’s release, news reports began to surface that Destiny had already made $500 million. So the marketing is paid for.

So once the money is made, what comes next for Destiny?

Well, Bungie has very publicly stated that they plan for Destiny to be around for 10 years. They are not joking either. There are already plans for two expansions to be released soon. One will be coming as soon as December.

So what does the future hold for Destiny?

I’m not completely sure yet, but the future does look bright.

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