I read Bhagpuss’ excellent post, Alone Together Or this morning. I don’t know Bhagpuss beyond brushing shoulders in the odd comment thread now and again, but man did this post resonate with me. The basic premise is that multiplayer gaming has changed since the days when it was something new and fresh. That’s the thinnest scratch of the surface of the post because you should really go read the whole thing. But the point is it got me thinking about multiplayer and social and how I never reach out to other players any more.
Read on and I may be able to tie this all together.
So I played a lot of Destiny when it first came out then one day I stopped in that way I do. On Tuesday a game is consuming my every waking thought then Wednesday I find myself totally uninterested in playing it. Lately I’ve gone back to Destiny for a variety of reasons that are of no consequence.
What is of consequence is that I’m really enjoying myself again. There are a LOT of Destiny haters out there and y’know, many of their points are totally valid. It is grindy and repetitive and what lore there is tends to be found on the bungie.net website instead of in the game. My biggest beef was the leveling structure past 20 where instead of gaining experience you had to level via loot, which involved (at the time anyway) typical loot slot machine dances with the RNG.
Anyway what does Destiny have to do with Bhagpuss’s post? The post made me think of playing together alone. One thing I like about Destiny is that it has ‘grouping’ (not in a game mechanics sense, though it has that too, but today I’m talking about grouping via circumstances) with basically no communication possibilities. A lot of people HATE it for that, but y’know I’m a grouchy old fuck who generally doesn’t like talking to people. In Destiny I can’t talk to them (at least not without jumping through some hoops), but I can and do work with them.
Last night I was puttering around in the Cosmodrome. I was on a level 15 character. There were a few single-digit level guys running around, and 1 or 2 level 30+ types. At times this felt a little frustrating because it was hard to get kills, but then (via happy coincidence or the game’s “Director” system kicking in) we were swarmed with bad guys. Suddenly we were all working together to cut down these invaders. The single digit guys got overwhelmed and died, and I did my part to swoop in and revive them. The level 30’s were kind enough to make themselves targets and they soaked up a lot of incoming damage. We all worked together (apart) and got the job done and it was so much damned fun. One of those ‘magic moments’ we all chase.
In my mind, these 4 or 5 people were my temporary friends. They were all reasonable, decent people who were having as much fun as I was. But in truth? Who knows? One of them might’ve been hurling insults at the rest of us. He or she might’ve been a racist or a homophobe or just a huge epeen cursing everytime someone else did something that was wrong in his or her eyes. In fact my experience suggests that in any group of 5 or 6 random people at least one of them is a complete dick.
But not last night. Last night, in my game of Destiny, there were all awesome human beings and I had a ton of fun playing with them.
And that’s why I love Destiny. This week.