All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.
-T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom
I actually have a copy of Seven Pillars of Wisdom on my bookshelf, a 1938 US post-death edition of the 1926 version of the book. It came from my grandfather, who picked it up somewhere along the way. I took a couple shots at reading it when I was much younger, and now I am hesitant to even pick it up due to its age.
All of which is really an aside to explain the reference in the title, but which will make a bit more sense shortly. Maybe.
Destiny launched last week.
And while I wasn’t caught off guard like some, I would have to say that its impact on me has been minor.
I have fond memories of some past Bungie games. Pathways into Darkness was good and many hours were spent playing Marathon and then Myth at the office. But once Bungie got bought up by Microsoft and became just the Halo studio of the XBox division at the company, they faded from my consciousness. It was to the point that when somebody would actually connect Bungie and Halo for me, I would get that squint on my face and say something like, “The same Bungie that made Marathon? They are still a thing?”
Anyway, through some machinations Bungie is still a thing and is free of Microsoft and the need to do things exclusively for the XBox. That they managed to do this… though Microsoft got custody of Halo in the divorce… only to jump into bed with Activision might make your head hurt. But, let’s face it, Bungie is a AAA developer so they need to go out and
get screwed by hook up with a publisher that has the ability to move AAA titles.
So Destiny came to be. It is a shooter of some sort… which given Bungie’s history is no big surprise… with MMORPG elements to it. And while it is available on a platform I actually own… I still have a PlayStation 3… I doubt I will end up playing it. Due to a variety of factors, our PS3 is used primarily for video streaming, to the point that I cannot remember when we last played a game on it.
Let’s see, so far I have a T. E. Lawrence quote and some chatter about a game company that used to be important to me but whose games I haven’t played this century, a trend that looks to continue into the foreseeable future.
Such deep insight. Are you still awake?
Okay, time to wrap this up by reaching for the bit I could have probably pasted in at the top and let sit on its own.
As part of reading about Destiny, I came across a couple of references to Bungie’s “Seven Pillars of Design” and how the company uses this as the foundation for creating its games. Naturally, I had to go look up those pillars, which were enumerated as such:
- A World Players Want to Be In
- A Bunch of Fun Things to Do
- Rewards Players Care About
- A New Experience Every Night
- Shared With Other People
- Enjoyable By All Skill Levels
- Enjoyable by the Impatient and Distracted
Not a bad list, the distillation of their own gaming wisdom, garnered through more than twenty years in the industry. I especially like that last entry, though I might have tacked on something like, “but not in a way that annoys the rest of the audience.” Or am I the only one who has been in a Dungeon Finder group with “that guy” whose sole phrase during the whole run was, “Go go go go go?”
It sure beats that fourth pillar hype, the most interesting aspect of which, more than four years down the road was it being plagiarized by another game.
It almost makes me want to play it at some point, just to see how they did on the list… though that gets us back to the list of reasons why we don’t actually play games on the PS3 at our house again.
The game itself seems to be doing well, with sell through for the first week reported by Activision at some insane number… $325 million in five days? That is… well… insane. They certainly won’t be in a hurry to port to the PC.
With that number, I guess we can say that Activision did their job for Bungie. Pity about the bonuses after all that green was raked in. Metacritic puts the game in what we might call the “mediocre” range of the review spectrum. A lot of the reviews are heavy on complaints. My current favorite piece on the game is over at Forbes with the title “Destiny Is A Bad Game, But I Can’t Stop Playing It.” Meanwhile VG24/7 has attempted to compile every complaint about the game and call it a review. (You have to have your satire sensors engaged though.)
And so it goes. I guess the real test will be if people are still talking/complaining about Destiny six months or a year down the road. Bungie has created a sizable installed base on little more than its reputation, now to see if they can do something with it. Did they meet their design goals? Is this the dawn of another Halo-like epic franchise? Is the team at Bungie made up of dreamers of the day?