Bungie Explains Why Destiny 2 Keeps Breaking

Destiny 2 used to have very little downtime. Now, the sci-fi MMO goes offline at least once a week, sometimes more, as error codes and unplanned outages prevent players from logging on and completing their weekly quests, challenges, and loot drops. Now Bungie has finally provided some answers, and they’re about as technical, complex, and nuanced as you’d expect.

Originally released in 2017, Destiny 2 has grown a lot over the years. Annual expansions added new missions, locations, and gameplay mechanics, while cross-play and cross-save integration connected players from opposing platforms. A “next-gen” upgrade for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S radically improved the look and feel of the game on console, and a seasonal roadmap means new content is getting added to the game almost every week.

The stability of Destiny 2 has always ebbed and flowed, but recently things have taken a clear turn for the worse. Prior to Lightfall, the game felt like it was being held together by duct tape, and after the expansion launched in February players became accustomed to checking the Bungie Help Twitter account on a regular basis to see the status of the game’s servers and find out if the always-online game had randomly been shut down for maintenance or not.

In response to a growing number of player concerns and questions, Bungie provided a mini-technical deep-dive into one of the systems that’s paramount to running a massive live-service game and one of the reasons things have felt so rough lately. “When gameplay messages from Destiny 2 are received, they are sent to a key service called ‘Claims,’ which then routes them onto the server that is responsible for your player data,” the studio wrote. “This is an essential service for keeping the client and server in sync during every moment of gameplay.”

A screenshot shows a list of popular server discussion posts on Reddit.

Screenshot: Reddit / Kotaku

With the launch of Lightfall, Bungie apparently tried to update this system to make it more resilient, especially at higher concurrent player numbers. It was clearly a good move, too, since Destiny 2 hit its highest-ever concurrent player numbers on Steam when the expansion arrived. But the improvements also introduced other issues that have ultimately led to an increase in error messages received by players, and thus the need to take the whole game offline at times.

Bungie writes,

Normally, if Claims has its communication channels disrupted to other services, it is designed to automatically restore these connections. These disruptions can happen for a wide variety of reasons, including hardware failures, network hitches, or problems with other services. However, despite rigorous testing, the updated system is not always recovering as expected in our live game environment. If these channels are permanently disrupted, this can be one of the causes behind Weasel, Baboon, or other error codes for a large subset of the player base. In these cases, even a rolling restart of our Claims service is not always enough to restore the service. Instead, a full restart of our Destiny 2 services must be performed to restore the Claims system, which we are rapidly working to correct.

The studio goes on to point out that while addressing the issues with Claims is a high priority, messing it up will make things a whole lot worse, so it will take a bit. In the meantime, Bungie outlined the improvements to stability players can expect in the current and upcoming seasons. A mid-season 21 update will stop stability from getting any worse, while a season 22 launch update will bring a “self-healing” ability to Destiny 2‘s Claims system that will make outages less frequent. A season 23 update should bring even more improvements.

Long story short: things should start getting better soon, beginning with the season 22 update on August 22. Bungie cautions that any change to these systems can temporarily make things worse before they get better, but the main takeaway is that the studio is aware of the issues and working on a long-term plan to deal with them, hopefully before season 24 launches alongside next year’s long-awaited The Final Shape expansion.


Baldur’s Gate 3 Director Explains Why Every NPC Was Mo-Capped

Larian Studios’ Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game Baldur’s Gate 3 wouldn’t be what it is without nearly hundreds of actors’ diligent motion capture performances, mo-cap director Aliona Baranova explained in an August 25 Twitter thread.

“For almost ALL the dialogue we recorded, we ALSO captured the actors’ mo-cap data,” she explained. “That means all 248 actors,” including Baranova’s girlfriend Jennifer English, who voices Shadowheart, “ALL the NPCs […] put on a mo-cap suit, and their movements, gestures, and physical choices were recorded and sent along with the audio files for the animators to use in game.”

That’s the heart of why “the performances [feel] so alive,” Baranova continued. Everything you see a character do in-game is a decision a live actor made for them, except for in cases “when the actors voiced animals, [when they recorded] additional dialogue, cinematic cutscenes, and, occasionally, if an actor was injured or unavailable to record.”

So, you have real people to thank for your favorite battlefield moments, quips, and all the interspecies romance you’ve been watching unfold across hundreds of hours.

Read More: The Baldur’s Gate 3 Sex Scenes, Ranked From Worst To Best

“The iconic head wiggles Jen did as Shadowheat WERE Jen’s actual head wiggles,” Baranova said. “The militaristic and alien-like movements of [Lae’zel] were [Devora Wilde’s] physical choices for the character.”

“But […] the magic really happened […] when [we performance directors] helped the actor connect to the text on a deeper, more physical level—when you could see what they were saying affect their bodies,” Baranova continued. “By working with the voice director, as a team, we aimed to get the best possible performances from the actors.”

The end results, which have made BG3 players feel anything from vengeful to super horny, are effecting and authentic. It almost makes you want to pay creatives well, or something.


Bethesda Explains Starfield’s Complete Lack Of Ground Vehicles

Starfield, the latest and largest open-world RPG from Bethesda, is out now. The game contains all manner of spaceships, even letting you create your own custom vessel to explore the stars. But when you land on a planet, you don’t get any kind of ground-based vehicle to help you travel faster on the surface. Why? Well, Bethesda’s game director Todd Howard says it’s all about making planet exploration an “experience.”

Following a five-day paid early access period, Starfield is finally out for everyone and quickly became one of the biggest games of the year. According to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, the game is already Microsoft’s “most played, next-gen exclusive.” So a lot of people are hopping into Starfield’s digital galaxy to explore its hundreds of quests and planets. However, when they go exploring on the surface of these worlds they’ll have to do so on foot, as the game contains no speedy jet cars or hover bikes to aid exploration. Players online keep asking about it, with some wishing they were included in the massive space adventure.


In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, Todd Howard was asked about the lack of ground vehicles and said that while Bethesda did at one point consider including them in Starfield, they ultimately decided it would “change the gameplay” too much.

“Once you land in your ship, [and now] you’re on foot, it lets us really, for the players, make it an experience where we know how fast they’re seeing things,” said Howard.

Todd Howard reminds players they do have jetpacks, too

The famous game director behind Starfield and past Bethesda hits also pointed out that players do have access to a jetpack, which—once unlocked—they can use to move around planets at a quicker pace.

“In one sense, you do have a vehicle, you obviously have your spaceship so you can go around space, but then on the surface, you do have a jetpack which you can upgrade. Which is super fun—new experience for us. And obviously, planets have different levels of gravity, which makes that unique for many planets,” explained Howard.

While I can understand some player’s frustration over the lack of ground vehicles in Starfield, I’ve not been too bothered by it in my time with the game.

So much of Bethesda’s latest RPG feels disconnected thanks to all the fast traveling you do to get around. When I’m on a planet, exploring its caves and outposts, I feel like it’s one of the few times when the game feels expansive and reminds me of wandering the wasteland in Fallout 3. Being able to speedily zip across the planets and their various levels of gravity in a jet car might be cool, and modders might add that one day, but for now, I like the slower experience of exploration while on foot. Though I might change my tune in a few months and after 200 or so hours of playing Starfield. So, perhaps Bethesda can add some sick hoverboards or something eventually in any future DLC.


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