After last night’s blog post on the state of Destiny 2, which detailed improvements due over the next month and touched upon last weekend’s storm of XP controversy, Bungie has now published a podcast with further information on several hot-button topics.
Most interesting, I thought, is a discussion of how long it takes to fix something in Destiny 2 – the process which Bungie has to go through, and how this was applied to the recent problem of the game’s Monty Python emote which let you glitch through walls.
“What does it take to update the game?” project lead Mark Noseworthy began. “Something I’ve seen online is ‘how is it you guys can you fix this one thing but not this other element?’ Any time a bug in the live game comes up we have to evaluate it. There are three questions we ask – ‘how severe is this thing?’, ‘how quickly can we fix it?’ and ‘when can we test and deploy it?’
“‘How severe is something?’ [means] – how bad is the bug? Does the game crash all over the place? Does it ruin the economy? It can be totally subjective. Have people noticed it yet? Does it really screw us or not? Can it wait for the next expansion or do we need to get it on the next boat?”
“And is there even a boat coming?” marketing manager Eric “Urk” Osborne interjected.
“Some things can be fixed really easily,” Noseworthy continued. “Sometimes they are server-side – like matchmaking things, and the XP issue from last week. We can just change one number, and that’s it. Something like the host migration issue in the [raid boss] Calus fight doesn’t work that way – it’s on the client. Then even if it is just data, if it’s something like ‘how much damage does this weapon do?’ it still requires a patch because that data is on your Xbox.
“And just because it’s easy to fix it does not mean it’s easy to deploy. One precise example is the Bureaucratic Walk. It was totally f***ing up PVP. Trials was about to come out. And you could just sit in a wall and shoot people. So, severity is pretty high. A top tier activity is boned. How easy is it to fix? It’s pretty easy, we think. Medium difficulty to fix – it’s not hard code, although we couldn’t just pull the emote from the game as it’s not server-side.
“But even if we checked all those boxes – when do we deploy that thing? Well, it was a window in development where we were just about ready to ship on PC, so we were trying not to change anything. When you’re about to ship a game for millions of people, you want it to work. So we were entering into a blackout period, for maybe a couple of weeks, maybe seven to 10 days, where we couldn’t – we didn’t – want to patch the game unless it was just tragic, just horrible.
“All of this has taken me four or five minutes to explain – it’s not something you can just put out in a tweet. [The result was] we decided to punt Trials for a couple of weeks.”
On last weekend’s XP debacle, there’s more information on the hows and whens of it happening but – just as in last night’s blog update – little of the why. Again, there’s no mention of the system’s tie into microtransactions – although Osborne is frank about how bad it all looked.
“In PR terms you could classify this as ‘breaking into jail’,” he explained, “meaning that if we address it we will get coverage and people will make headlines out of it, people will try and stoke the conversation which may be antithetical to a business strategy [laughs] – but it’s probably valuable to talk about because in the absence of information people will move themselves to believe we implemented this system to f*** them. To be s***y, greedy jerks.
“So we got into the war room and said ‘this doesn’t look great, this is not the intent of the system’ [and then] ‘we understand no one is going to believe us but can we turn this off?’ We got people in the room who could look at it, and they said ‘yep, it’s just a flag [on the server], we can’. We asked what would happen when we turned it off, and they said ‘well, we’ve never done that – so if we do it, we’ll find out’.”
“I know a lot of players are going to say ‘you’re full of rich creamy s***, you’re only acting because your hand got caught in the cookie jar’,” Noseworthy concluded. “I’m okay with that. Our actions speak louder than words and in the long-term it’s on us to make sure those who play the game feel rewarded, that their time is well spent. We’re going to deliver on that but I don’t think people need to take us at our words – the proof is in the pudding.”
The podcast is available to listen to in full via your phone’s Podcast app, or directly as an mp3 via this link.