Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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:

  1. A World Players Want to Be In
  2. A Bunch of Fun Things to Do
  3. Rewards Players Care About
  4. A New Experience Every Night
  5. Shared With Other People
  6. Enjoyable By All Skill Levels
  7. 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?

11 thoughts on “Seven Pillars of Wisdom

  1. Jenks

    Yeah, I have moderate interest in it. I would only play this co-op, which would cost me $120~ for two copies… but my xbox live lapsed long ago. I’m not even close to willing to spend $220 to play it, and that’s before factoring in the several full dlc/expansions they have scheduled to release soon.

    I had forgotten about that Derek Smart/fourth pillar controversy. Great stuff :)


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jenks – Yeah, the fourth pillar thing was good times. The comment thread on that post has a few gems as well. I like that, even four and a half years ago, people were playing the mock surprise card when Ethic actually wrote a post.

    There is even a ping back from this site list from a post here about me returning to LOTRO yet again. Those were the days.


  3. carson63000

    The only impact Bungie made on my consciousness was chuckling at the irony that the people who developed Marathon – the game that all the Mac owners used to huffily insist was better than any PC shooter – got bought by Microsoft. :-)


  4. carson63000

    p.s. Syncaine, you’re talking about the Alganon press release thread on KTR? I can’t believe I missed that at the time! What a gem! Although I disagree that it was a “PR blunder” to plagiarize a press release. I think it was a completely appropriate thing to do when doing PR for a game which was itself entirely plagiarized.


  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Carson63000 “…Mac owners used to huffily insist was better than any PC shooter…”

    Nobody ever had to be huffy, because it was self-evident to anybody who played Marathon at the time. Ask SynCaine.

    The irony was that, in order to get a decent shooter on the XBox, Microsoft had to go buy out a Mac shop.


  6. Random Poster

    I picked it up (My sister in law bought me an Xbone and I needed a game other than Watch Dogs) It’s interesting because I can agree with the sentiment of the Forbes title. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad game but its not great either, BUT I can’t stop playing. The story is not fleshed out, it’s short, the side missions are repetitive…but I can’t stop playing. The PVP is nothing you haven’t seen before, it’s fast paced I die a lot it’s frustrating…but I can’t stop playing.

    If you come from PC Gaming and MMO launches and view Destiny launch as such it makes a bit more sense/is more forgivable. The hooks are there for a good story and the gunplay is really tight. But right now way too much of the story is bound up in the grimoire (basically a n encyclopedia system outside the actual game) so, much like original WoW, too much of the damn story and backstory is bound up in reading text only more annoying because its not IN THE DAMN GAME.

    The next couple months is what will make or break it, they just released their first “raid” but you have to have 6 people you know who will play it (no matchmaking) which sucks. I have friends who play but only 4 of us total so no raid for us. They have announced further story missions in October plus two expansions. Now having come from PC gaming for the most part expansion means a bit more ot me than I think they will deliver so this is probably going to be DLC (love how they are essentially the same thing…new content for an existing game but the terms definitely represent different expectations in my mind).


  7. SynCaine

    The only people who believe there was a better shooter than Marathon and Marathon 2 during that time were people who hadn’t played Marathon. Fact not opinion.

    Now who knows how many of the core devs that made those gems, and then later Myth and Myth 2, are still at Bungie and making such generic and forgettable titles like Destiny, but oh how far the mighty have fallen. Almost Blizzard-like really (Bungie was always the better version of Blizzard back then. Also fact not opinion).


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  9. betty barfield

    i’m feeling destiny hit the first 6 pillars of design pretty solid. certainly there’s room for more but i think these guys know what they’re doing. i’ve had great fun from the minute it was live. but then i’m simple when it comes to games. custom avatar? yep. cool armor? yep. big gun? got it. mmo? love em. am i a badass? oh yesss. can i dance, swim or run around in my underwear? cool. do i have a pet or mount, my own ship or house? rock on. is it sandbox? now we are talking. i love to play games. a bunch of them. and i think bungie just might get the rpg/fps/pve/pvp/mmo combo right. i hope so. anyway, in my top 10 list of games (pc & ps4) destiny just replaced warframe.


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