Destiny’s Dynasty


After years of leaks, months of rumors, weeks of waiting after the beta tests, Destiny 2 becomes real in less than two hours. This is the moment that either elevates the franchise above the original’s successes and failures, or dooms it to r repeat them.

Oh sure, you could say “what you saw in the beta is what you’re getting” but that’s not true is it? The beta is a tiny portion of the final game, revealed before the final polish has been put into place. It’s a vague pirate treasure map without any landmarks: a general inkling without the details that playing the final product fills in.

What will we find tonight? Treasure or fool’s gold? Only 1 hour 25 minutes until we find out…

For the record, all the things that made me angry about Destiny over the years… They angered me not because I saw the game as a failure or a piece of shit, but because I saw the beauty it could be. I’m hoping, honest to God, that that beauty is revealed tonight.

Stream of Change


Since I got my PS4 about 3 years ago, I’ve spent a lot of time streaming the games I play to the internet. For the most part, I do it to entertain my friends more so than as a career choice or a side gig. That hasn’t stopped me from wanting ad revenue or donations; who couldn’t use a little extra money, right? Well, Maxx — my troublemaking, artist best friend — has started pushing me towards being more professional.

So, there’s changes coming. The first of which is that I joined Restream.io which lets me stream not to just one service, but to as many as I setup and choose. In my case, I stream to Twitch and YouTube, but from the PlayStation, I can only choose one or the other. While Restream isn’t [yet] available as a target to stream to from the PlayStation, it is from PC. So, likely in a few weeks when/if my job situation changes, I will be getting a game capture device, to stream through PC. As I’ve been testing the waters with streaming from PC from time to time, I’ve already found a favorite broadcasting software (XSplit Broadcaster) and have found that I like and appreciate Restream.

To that end, and because this is in effect a sales pitch for something that is free, if you stream, go use Restream.io and use my referral link to get there:

restream_promo_banner_300_300_03_logo_table2x

https://restream.io/?ref=J6DzP

They’re having an affiliate contest right now and I would appreciate your help in getting some loot. One of the prizes, in fact, is an Elgato game capture device that would allow me to start doing the enhanced broadcasting sooner. In theory at least. Any help would be appreciated, though if you would rather just make a donation, you can do that as well by clicking here.

My broadcasts can be watched at Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and, soon, Ustream.

Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality


Cult of Personality (Wikipedia):

cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods to create an idealized, heroic, and at times worshipful image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.

With less than 30 days to go in the United States’ 2016 presidential elections, it finally occurred to me what’s really going on. While one candidate is a legitimate but flawed politician, the other has seriously and continuously appeared to be a lunatic that needs mental help and yet has some how managed to make it to the final round of the greatest and most grave stage.
For months, I’ve attributed Trump’s successes to the fringe of society that blindly support their favorite celebrities. These are the people that made Paris Hilton and the entire Kardashian family famous and keep them stuck in the headlines. Most people, I’d wager, don’t give a damn about these celebrities that are famous for nothing, yet none of us can fully escape hearing about them on a regular basis without seeming like lunatics ourselves.

But then along comes Donald Trump, who was given a platform to reinvigorate his celebrity status with The Apprentice. Because he’s been a businessman — successful or not depends on the eye of the beholder — this same fringe celebrity worshipping group takes him seriously and ignores what a terrible human being he is.

That is the textbook definition of a cult of personality. This is why so many Republican politicians got eliminated from the 2016 campaign for president. It had absolutely nothing to do with their qualifications, their platform, or outlook but had everything to do with essentially mass hysteria and the strengthening of the Trump Reality Distortion Field as the numbers in the cult swelled.

And you know what? That’s not even the worst part. In some tiny, unloved dark part of my soul, I actually kind of feel bad for Trump. He doesn’t see that he’s surrounded himself with Yes Men that tell him everything and only that he wants to hear. A Yes Man, as you might guess, only gives positive answers to their employers, they’re enablers in the worst sense of the word. A Yes Man would willingly lie to their boss or champion despite overwhelming facts because it’s their job on the line. As an example, Trump’s senior campaign staff refused to tell him that he lost the first debate for days afterwards, kept feeding him unscientific poll results that told him he won overwhelmingly, and then slowly started informing him otherwise as the week went on. Similarly, one of Trump’s own sons tweeted an electoral count map from Five Thirty Eight today showing him leading Clinton nation wide, when the truth of the map was that it was with a specific set of male only voters. (The map with all voters represented showed that Trump was losing by more than 100 electoral votes.)

The bottom line is that because Trump has been the rich boss literally for decades, he doesn’t have a soul around him to tell him the truth. That’s how he can go out and make bold statements that are completely false, or outright lie… He has no one to set him straight and make it mean something to him. If he doesn’t like what he hears, he fires the person and moves on. There’s no one that can hold him accountable so he has lost the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction. He has lost the ability to be ethical and to make moral decisions.

That’s why that tiny bit of my soul feels sorry for Donald Trump.

While I am a Democrat, I’m not voting for Hilary because I think she’s the perfect candidate. (My candidate was Bernie.) I’m voting for her because I don’t want to see what a country lead by a delusional, detached madman would look like. Hilary was not the best candidate for president, in my opinion, but she’s the best of what’s left. She and her husband have actively helped the black community of which I’m a part, and appreciatively the city of Detroit, which gave birth to me. I respect her ability and determination to do what’s right, and more importantly, she knows what it’s like to work hard for something and to watch as it falls apart due to no fault of her own. Donald Trump, on the other hand, only looks for advantages for himself, and when he fails, his Yes Men make everything alright for him so he doesn’t have to deal with the outcome of his failure.

I wonder how he’ll deal with his failure to become president. How will those Yes Men clean this up?

Destiny: Rise of Iron and Me


Hi guys, it’s been a while since I’ve posted and longer still since I said “fuck Destiny.” That doesn’t mean that I’ve moved on from Destiny as my go to game to relax, nor does it mean that Bungie has solved all my complaints. In fact, in some ways, Bungie seems to be trolling me… Any way, the newest, and probably last, expansion to the original game was released a few weeks ago, and I thought about “reviewing” — I guess that’s what I technically do here with my rants— it on release day, but I was busy playing and stressing about a the latest in a series of job interviews for a big company. (Incidentally, I’m still stressing out over it as I wait to find out whether they’re going to hire me or not.) So I’m only now getting around to talking about the latest changes.

First of all, the most cursed thing about Destiny is still there: the random number based loot tables. As always, no matter how well you do in the Crucible, strikes, daily missions and [probably] raids*, you have no idea what the hell your reward, if you even get any, will be. (*I added an asterisk because I’ve been in the unfortunate position of having never done a raid, so I don’t know the loot outcome. I just suspect it’s the same as everywhere else in Destiny. If you want to carry me in a raid, let me know!) This means you might have to grind away at an activity that you’re pretty sure will drop your desired loot until you actually get it. That’s just wrong if you ask me. I’m not going to bitch about it today, I’ve bitched enough about it here already. (1 2 3 4 5)

As I mentioned in parenthesis above, I’ve never done a raid. Why? No one to do them with. My best friend stopped playing Destiny for several reasons, not the least of which is the random loot issue. I have a few other friends that play Destiny occasionally, but honestly I’m probably the best player of my actual acquaintances. So that leaves me with three options: matchmaking in game, which Destiny does not support for raids; use the PlayStation 4’s Community feature to find a group; or cobble together a group through Bungie’s forums or somewhere else. Since the first of these is apparently a non-issue and will not be resolved by Bungie, I’ll address the latter two. For the moment at least.

The problem I have with both of these two options is pretty much the same: sure I could get in touch with hundreds of people, but these are all players that value their time enough that they want a perfect or near perfect run. I’m good, but when it comes to a raid or strike I’m not good enough to feel that I’m carrying my weight in the game. I would much rather play with people I know personally and/or have played with regularly and are playing casually— despite the time a raid may take — rather than demanding perfection from me or them. After that, I’d rather play with completely random strangers that have just as much — or little — faith in my abilities and once the raid is over, we never have to see, hear, or play with each other again. Matchmaking makes that possible, but Bungie is extraordinarily confused on the issue despite their stance that they will not add matchmaking to raids. Why, then, do they have a matchmaking system for strikes? Why not just do the same thing there? The Nightfall strikes once used the matchmaking system, but has since stopped. So why not either implement it for raids or kill it for all PvE? (PvP is different since you have to have enemies after all.) I don’t get it, Bungie. You have it both ways but it shows you’re seriously confused about what your vision is.

Ultimately, Rise of Iron really adds very little that’s truly new, not counting story. Gameplay mechanics haven’t changed really, though you get a few new patrol types in the Plaguelands. Yes you can use a flaming axe at various points and places, but it behaves almost exactly like the Sword of Crota with the exception that it has an ammo counter that counts down even when you’re not swinging it and you can extend the allotted time by finding a fire pit from which to pull flames to recharge it. Beyond that, there’s the Archon’s Forge which I’m sure you’ve heard all about, and it operates very similarly to the Court of Oryx, though even the initiator can get locked of the event. Don’t ask me how I know. Any way, Archon’s Forge is fun enough if you can find players to join you AND one or more of you have offerings to allow you to actually trigger it. There have been a number of times that my fun in the Forge has come to a halt when all of us collectively just ran out of offerings. So, needless to say, the drop rate for the offerings is low enough that you can easily run out of things to do and you can only carry one at a time. To be perfectly honest, I wish they made that change to the Court of Oryx — or better yet, put it somewhere in-between — because I’m running around with more than a hundred Stolen Runes, Reciprocal Runes, and Antiquated Runes right now.

As for everything else in Rise of Iron… Well, the new Fallen are interesting, but they’re still basically the same. The new social area is nice looking, though it may have a few bugs that still need to be worked out. What I mean by that is that one of the bounties/missions requires you to climb up on the mountain in which the Temple of Iron  is built, and apparently there’s nothing to stop you from going beyond what you’re supposed to do. Similarly, the Iron Banner opened this week and opened a section you couldn’t go into before (though you technically came from there in the mission to liberate the area), and you can just keep on going very far away from the Temple. I don’t know if these “bugs” are to enable some future event(s) that might take place there, or just left open for the sake of leaving them open, but it definitely reminds me of the alpha and early release days of Destiny when you could go into the upper court at the back of the Tower and poke around the edges.

I think the biggest single change in Destiny actually launched just before Rise of Iron: private Crucible matches. I think they’re probably a great way to train as part of a clan or fireteam for the public Crucible, but I haven’t actually had anyone to train with… Oddly, you can still launch a private match solo, and run around doing… whatever… At the very least, it’s a good way to get yourself familiarized with the various maps.

So, in the end, I can’t say that Destiny has really improved or captured my imagination and attention this time around, but it’s sufficient to keep me going for now. Destiny 2 is rumored for release next year, and while I may buy into it, I’m probably not going to pine away for it the way I initially did with Destiny. Bungie kinda killed that level of interest for me with the random number loot and the lack of universal matchmaking. If raiding requires more than one person (or you to be a superstar with the game), then you need to have matchmaking. Even World of Warcraft has matchmaking for their raids and instances. Unless Bungie changes their stance on the issue and the random loot, Destiny 2 will have to wait for me to get around to buying it. Sadly, I don’t think that Bungie will miss me.

Water Issues at Detroit Central High School


In the name of improving my health, I’ve spent a fair number of mornings walking to the nearby track at Central High School, here in Detroit. Last week, I noticed that the school had been closed a number of days and only discovered over the weekend that it was due to water pressure issues at the school, as documented in this WDIV news story. The story also documents the disagreements between the high school/Michigan Education Achievement Authority, Great Lakes Water Authority, and the Detroit Department of Water and Sewage over where the problem lies, though it doesn’t seem to take into account a major part of the history of the site. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for over 30 of my 44 years, so I’m very familiar with the history, I hope that I can properly enlighten you about what I suspect is going on.

Central High School opened at its current location in 1926, along with Durfee Middle School and Roosevelt Elementary School (which was torn down a few decades ago and integrated into Durfee). At the time of the construction, and until sometime around 2004, the school complex had a steam plant that provided steam (and I believe electricity) to the three schools on the campus. The steam plant (and its long shadow) can be seen on the left side of this satellite photo from December 30, 2002 (courtesy of Google Earth):Central-Durfee Complex 30Dec2002

For documentation’s sake, Central High School is the large building at the top of the image, Durfee Elementary and Middle School is the large building at the bottom. During the improvements to the complex approximately 11-13 years ago, the plant was torn down and replaced with a plant integrated into Central High School. (Among other changes, the track and football field were relocated slightly, and one of the drive ways at the rear of the complex was removed.) The current complex can be seen in this satellite photo from April 11, 2015 (again courtesy of Google Earth):

Central-Durfee Complex 11April2015

What you can also see in this second photo, is evidence supporting my suspicion that the problem with water pressure at the schools has nothing to do with the water supplied to the complex by the Detroit Department of Water and Sewage, but water leaking into the old steam pipes from the steam plant.

Although I have only been walking at the track for a short time, I noticed on my very first visit and every visit since these standing pools of water:

In addition to these, there’s another pool I didn’t photograph next to the stands at the track. The photo below is the merged satellite photos with the locations marked in red.

Central-Durfee-Past-Present-Overlay

If you look at the April 2015 satellite photo, you can actually make out two of the pools in the access road from Linwood, which is an indicator that these pools of water have been present for at least a year. Given they haven’t changed much in size during the month or so that I’ve been walking at the complex, these pools must be getting fed by an underground water source that has saturated the land. I’m not an engineer, but I think it’s a short jump in logic to connect the water pressure issues at Central High School with these pools of water.

What I suspect is that the old steam pipes from the steam plant are still present underground, and are still connected to both Central and Durfee, and may even still run to the old location of Roosevelt which sat between the two schools. Durfee, on November 12-13, 2014, had heating issues as documented by another local television station, WXYZ in their news story. At that time, there was a small pit emitting steam near the northwest corner of the school; while that was probably a connecting pipe from the new steam/heating plant at Central, it still could be a sign that the old pipes are still in place and water might be leaking into them.

My final bit of supporting evidence is personal testimony; on several occasions while walking on the track, I saw the new steam plant venting large amounts of steam. I believe the date was Saturday April 30, 2016 when I witnessed it belching steam every 1-2 minutes while I walked around the track. Again, I’m no engineer or expert on steam boilers, but from experience with the boiler in my home,  they tend to build up a lot of pressure when the water level in the boiler is low. Releasing/venting steam might have been done automatically to prevent catastrophic failure of the system. (In other words, an explosion.)

Given the large amounts of water at and next to the track, I don’t believe that the Detroit Department of Water and Sewage is responsible for the low water pressure that Central experienced; I believe that the construction to build the new heating plant failed to secure the old pipes and is currently leaking water into the surrounding land. Given that Central is run by the Michigan Education Achievement Authority, which took it over from the Detroit Public Schools, I don’t believe there’s anyone employed at Central that would even be aware of the old steam plant, let alone suspect that there might be leaks to the old pipes.

Finally, given the sinkhole that opened up down the street at Linwood and Monterey on March 29, 2014, I would be surprised that there isn’t a very large sinkhole developing beneath this complex, and would recommend that the immediate area be given a thorough stability study in the near future.

Castle: A Questionable End


(I wrote this a while back, when it was timely but never posted it. I felt I needed more time to digest the series finale before publishing it, but in the end, I still feel the same. So, here it is at long last.)

Last night, the final episode of one of my all time favorite shows aired, and I came away disappointed. I understand that there were cast problems, or at least rumors of such, in the last weeks of filming, but the whole episode was something of a mess.
The thing that bothered me most about the episode is that both Castle and Beckett not only looked a bit odd but behaved that way too. There was just something about their individual appearances that just didn’t look right, and I suppose it could be traced back to the rumors, whether true or not, of the fights Fillion and Katic had been having. Or maybe it was a deliberate action on the parts of the makeup department in an attempt to show the stress the two characters were experiencing. I can’t say. Hell, I can’t even say what it is about their appearances that didn’t look right. But the characters’ appearances were wrong and there was something about both the script and performances that didn’t gel well either.
The whole episode felt forced, which I suppose it was. The ending was especially bad; while they triumphed over yet another bad guy, both were shot and, in my opinion, appeared to be mortally wounded. Yet, seconds after they clasped hands while bleeding out on the floor, we got an ellipsis, passage of seven years, and little children running about the happy couple’s home.
I don’t know whether to consider that trite, a stab at a choose your own ending storytelling, or an indication that the narrator is unreliable. In any case, the explanations fall short for me.
Though I would have loved to have Castle and Beckett live out their lives with children, everything after them bleeding on the floor rang even more hollow than the rest of the episode.
Frankly, this was not the ending I expected or feel the fans of the show deserved, whether or not the couple lived or died. This was a very u n-Castle episode, and I can only be happy there will be no follow-up to explain what really happened there. Like a novel, the book of Castle is closed for me and I’ll remember the many chapters with great fondness, though I’ll forevermore wish I’d never read the ending.

I’m not the only one…


Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in the world that feels a particular way about a particular thing. Sometimes I can’t even tell you why I feel like i do. I just do.
But with regards to Star Wars, I am most certainly not alone. It has meant the world to me since I was a kid, from the first time I saw it until now. While I have suffered many disappointments in life, it was almost never in relation to the Star Wars universe.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve read in excess of 50 Star Wars books (probably closer to 100 or more) over the years, and I credit the existence of the Expanded Universe with keeping Star Wars alive between the original trilogy and the prequels.
While I don’t like that Disney effectively killed the Expanded Universe, as a writer I can understand why they did it: they have the opportunity to tell new stories without having to lug around the history and baggage of literally decades worth of history and attempting to build something consistent with it.
That said, there was so much history in the EU that Disney didn’t even have to bat an eye to have dozens of waiting films if they literally made each book or story into its own film. I didn’t expect The Force Awakens to be The New Jedi Order or Legacy of the Force, but as I’ve said before, there’s no reason it couldn’t have lived aside then.
In this, I’ve felt alone. Only a couple friends of mine have felt the same way. But,  today I’ve discovered that I’m not alone.
Give Us Legends” isn’t asking Disney to ignore the new direction of the franchise, but asking that they allow the old direction to live on. There were many storylines that began before the Disney purchase of LucasFilm that have simply died and gone unresolved since the purchase because no new Legends/EU books are being produced, only official canon material in the new direction.
I think it would be an absolute shame to never find out what happens to the Skywalker-Solo clan after Fate of the Jedi, and I’m now sure many others think the same.

Dying Light: The Following First Thoughts


A while back I wrote a review of Dying Light raving about how much I enjoyed the game. To be perfectly honest, I still love the game though I haven’t played it regularly for months. So, as you might expect, I was really eagerly awaiting the release of The Following!

The official release was about 2 hours ago, and here are my first thoughts:

Why the hell would you have a 8 gigabyte update that did not include the DLC or some link or video on the main menu to tell you to go download it? I waited 30+ minutes for the update to install, launched the game, started streaming only to be left in the dark about what I needed to do to get to the new content. If it wasn’t for my buddy reading Reddit posts, I wouldn’t have discovered that you have to download an additional 2 gigabytes for The Following DLC.

I complained about that kind of glaring oversight with Bungie’s launch of the Taken King with Destiny, and it’s just as annoying now with TechLand’s launch of The Following.  I get and understand that there’s undoubtedly been a lot of systemic changes in the game that the new DLC requires. Fine. If there’s a required separate download, don’t you think you need to specify that somewhere obvious like on the main menu? TechLand: you’ve used the main menu repeatedly to notify us with videos of upcoming stuff, hell, even now there’s information about catching a preview of The Following at the top of the menu. Why not REPLACE that and just say “if you purchased the season pass or The Following DLC, go to the PlayStation store to download and install The Following”?

So my first reactions and thoughts on the new content are “disappointment”. It’s late here right now; I got a late start on trying to get this up and running because I was out visiting an old friend, so I’m not sticking around to wait for the actual DLC to download and install tonight. I’ll have to get my first real experience with The Following some time tomorrow.

So, I Didn’t Hate It…


Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was not a part of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens record breaking opening though I did see the film today. I liked it. Like, in fact, isn’t a strong enough word; I was impressed with it. Enough, in fact to see it twice today. This is the first time ever that I’ve paid to see the same movie twice in theaters on the same day. (Albeit, once was in IMAX and the other wasn’t, though both were in 3D.)
My summary is that it was a very enjoyable film and I found no major issues with it. A friend nitpicked a particular point where the Resistance didn’t attack some First Order ships, to which I countered the First Order was kind enough to not attack the Millennium Falcon despite the precedence they set earlier in the film. Nonetheless, that was the only item I think is really worth considering a possible flaw.
There is the presumed death of a major character that I think is worth discussing. Contrary to my normal spoiler laden attitude, I’m going to avoid specifics, but this particular character dies in a fashion that leaves room for debate as to whether he or she is actually dead. The thing is, even though we see the attack that leads to the presumption of death, we don’t see the final disposition of the body and there are two objects at the location that could be escape vehicles. In film, the presumption of death is but actual death; usually the body has to be seen laying dead with on screen to be actual death. Given the actor’s health and age, I think that the character may have actually died despite what I’m saying here, but there’s a chance, however slight the odds, that he or she might have lived. To quote Han Solo, “never tell me the odds”, usually because they can be beaten.
Now to the heart of this post… As much as I enjoyed the film, as good as I thought it was, there was no need it necessity to invalidate all of the expanded universe comics and novels. No need at all. With some relatively minor changes to the movie we got, the film could’ve been consistent with the novels leading up to and including the Fate of the Jedi series of novels without destroying the plot. You could make the argument that FotJ is built on 20+ actual years covering 30+ book years and thus too much baggage to carry into the new trilogy, but then The Force Awakens and its new trilogy is reinventing those fictional 30 years from scratch, and still has to explain what happened. It could be argued that it was too much work to research and properly place all that lore in context in order to write the script, but for the bulk of the Star Wars fans, that lore has been Star Wars since the original run of Jedi ended decades ago, and the effort to include and build on it would have been appreciated so much more than simply giving us a good film. Instead, there are a lot of rabid fans like myself that enjoyed this film, but are sitting on 30+ books that are now completely meaningless. I saw some Force Awakens books at Barnes and Noble, after the second time through, and I couldn’t even bear to read the synopsis because the new LucasFilm, the Disney LucasFilm, is willing to trample all over the memories, dreams and wallets of those that have helped this franchise not only live when there was no hope for new films, but thrive! I can’t abide that by purchasing books or merchandise that would give the impression that I find that forgivable. I just can’t.
Many, many years ago, I accepted that there would be no films beyond the original trilogy. Then Timothy Zahn wrote the Thrawn trilogy (as I call it; Heir to the Empire and its sequels) and I had hope that one day there would be more books and maybe a new film. Lucas then promised the prequels and made them; they weren’t perfect, but I mostly enjoyed them. The books were still there and the films were working in concert with the books; virtually nothing contradicted anything else in the films or the books. The books advanced over 30 years while expanding the events and scale of the characters and conflicts. They delighted and amazed, bringing joy and sorrow and we were thankful for them. Then in one fell swoop, it was all rendered obsolete in favor of the new regime. How can I support that?
I don’t blame J.J. Abrams for it; it probably wasn’t his call or even within the scope of his power or influence though he did build upon the new ground that paved over the Expanded Universe, its creators and writers, and its fans. But I sincerely feel that someone owes those creators, writers, and fans a sincere apology for the loss of both time and money by this abandonment. I think until there is such an apology, there will always be a rift between those of us that supported the Star Wars franchise in the years between the original trilogy and the prequels, between the prequels and the new era, and the new direction of the mythos. There’ll be an open wound that just won’t heal with time.

Destiny Has a Few New Tricks (Updated, Again)


I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised, but I’ll confess I was and still am. Most of the time [in this modern era of gaming] when a developer releases a new update, or a new game, there’s little that’s really new to game. Sure, games have done a lot to distinguish themselves from other game franchises, but it’s rare to see something really new in that franchise. Look at Call of Duty, not counting the different versions of the game (standard, Black Ops, Advanced Warfare) it’s virtually the same game with each new release. The enemies change, but the basic game play stays the exact same. Though honestly, that could be said for most first person shooters. Doom is fundamentally the same now as it was when it was originally released twenty years ago; sure it has new creatures and updated graphics but fundamentally, just go and kill everything.

I’m not trying to say that’s a bad thing, it’s just that it gets ridiculous sometimes. I respected and loved Insomniac’s Resistance series because they changed things from release to release. The first one had some unique weapons, particularly in multiplayer. The second one introduced co-op with unique classes such as the medic which was responsible for keeping the team going. (Yeah, I know classes like that were introduced in some version of Quake, but Resistance 2‘s implementation was beautiful.) And Resistance 3 changed again. I respect that a lot, and I really, really, REALLY wish Insomniac would do a Resistance 4 (and more) for the PS4.

What I expected out of Destiny, based on The Dark Below and the House of Wolves was more of the same. Not “it’s the same as all other FPS games”, but more of the same that we’ve already seen in Destiny. Over the last 36 hours or so, I’ve noticed that there are some new, unmentioned things in Destiny. The new subclasses, weapons, armor, strikes, and raids are getting all the attention, but as far as I know, no one’s mentioned anything about the new details in things that we’ll probably find ourselves doing far more often. (Aside from play the Crucible for those who get off on that.) While what I’ve seen has only been in the Patrol missions, I’m sure that we’ll see new touches in the other modes as well.

So what am I talking about? For starters, what I’ve encountered twice so far while doing Patrol missions is a new type of mission; basically the goal is to collect energy samples for analysis. Unlike all the other collection or analysis missions in Patrol, you simply have to go and stand in various spots for a few seconds. Easy right? The catch is that you have to be fast about it; each spot gives you about 10% of the amount of energy you need, but it decays very quickly. If you stand still for a little too long, the energy that you’ve collected disappears. So you have to be quick to get the percentage up and finish the mission; that means riding your sparrow, which is really not suited for the job given it’s sluggish acceleration, terrible braking, and imprecise handling. And then there’s also the various enemies in the area shooting at you and obstacles to making maneuvering even more difficult. It can be done, and fairly easily, actually, but it can be a little frustrating as you try to do everything perfectly and as fast as possible.

The other mission caught me off guard. I was actually between missions at the time when suddenly Nolanbot said there was an incoming transmission from an unknown source. Initially I didn’t really think anything about it, I think I was slightly confusing the mode with the story mission when the Stranger first contacts you. When it finally did register that this was different, I started recording the video I’ll add below. (Long story, but I currently have the worst internet connection of my life, and that includes dial-up.) The gist of it is, that the Ghost can’t make any sense of the transmission, and works on decoding it. Initially, the mission description is nothing but question marks on the screen, and it remains on your screen unlike with other Patrol missions. As you’ll see in the video, I’m left running around trying to randomly discover what I’m supposed to do until enough of the message has been decoded to give me enough letters to guess what my objectives are. It then led to another two quest objectives . Ultimately, all three objectives were very easy to complete once you knew what they were, and I think it’s an excellent new addition to the game and hope there are many more similar missions and surprises in The Taken King.

Update 9/21/2015:

Alright, now that I’ve had about a week of playing The Taken King under my belt, I’ve encountered the mystery transmission mission several more times. While the list below isn’t necessarily the complete list of mission objectives for these missions, they’re what I’ve encountered most often. By cycling through these actions, you can frequently figure out which of the objectives you’re supposed to accomplish before the decoding process has even begun. I’m doing these from memory, so if I miss one, I’ll update the list again later.

  • Head shots (Heads Blown Off)
  • Dance emote (Dance Floors Mastered)
  • Kill enemies (Enemy Creatures Slain)
  • Find chests (Treasures Reclaimed)
  • Sit emote (I think…)
  • Dropped items from enemies (Bodies Looted)
  • Generate Orbs of Light (Orbs Generated)