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Destiny 2 Misrepresented XP Gains To Its Players Until the Developers Got Caught (arstechnica.com) 112

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Destiny 2, like its predecessor, depends largely on an open-ended "end game" system. Once you beat the game's primary "quest" content, you can return to previously covered ground to find remixed and upgraded battles, meant to be played ad nauseam alone or with friends. To encourage such replay, Bungie dangles a carrot of XP gain, which works more slowly than during the campaign stages. Players are awarded a "bright engram" every time they "level up" past the level cap; the engrams are essentially loot boxes that contain a random assortment of cosmetics and weapon mods. Everything you do in the game, from killing a weak bad guy to completing a major raid-related milestone, is supposed to reward you a fixed XP amount. As series fans gear up for the game's first expansion, slated to launch December 5 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, its eagle-eyed fans at r/DestinyTheGame began questioning whether those rewards were really as fixed as claimed. Some players began to suspect that they were actually getting less XP than advertised each time they repeated certain in-game missions and tasks, such as the game's "Public Events."

With stopwatch in hand, a user named EnergiserX tracked the modes he played, keeping an eye on any shifts in XP gain over time. He put enough data together to confirm those suspicions: the XP gained in certain modes would shrink with each repetition. Worse, the game gave no indication of these diminishing returns. The XP-gain numbers that popped up above the game's XP bar didn't reflect the game's hidden scaling system. Thus, there was no way for a player to accurately calculate how their XP gain had been affected or scaled without going through EnergiserX's exhaustive process. With findings in hand, the tester posted on Reddit with calls to the developers for a response, which the community received on Saturday. Bungie confirmed its use of an "XP scaler" and added that it was "not performing the way we'd like it to," which meant the developer would remove that XP-scaling system upon the game's next patch. However, Bungie didn't clarify how the developers actually would have liked for this XP-scaling system to work, nor what factored into it announcing any changes beyond the system simply being discovered.
Bungie issued a patch on Sunday that removed the XP-scaling systems, but it introduced another unannounced change to the XP system. "Bungie decided to tune the speed of XP gain by doubling the required XP needed to 'level up,' from 80,000 points to 160,000," reports Ars Technica. "Patch notes didn't mention this change; Bungie, once again, had to be questioned by its fanbase before confirming the exact amount of this XP-related change."

Destiny 2 Misrepresented XP Gains To Its Players Until the Developers Got Caught

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  • by Harold Halloway ( 1047486 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @08:03AM (#55635739)

    We never had this problem with Manic Miner.

  • by ChoGGi ( 522069 ) <slashdot@choggi.org> on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @08:04AM (#55635741) Homepage

    Sorry for lying to your customers?

    That said; it isn't like other MMOs don't have the diminishing returns system in place as well, wonder why they intentionally hid it?

    • by rhazz ( 2853871 )
      I suspect the actual post-levelling XP gains being scaled are a non-issue for almost all of the player base. The post-levelling rewards are not a "grind", it is just an added hand-out for cosmetic items and also some random gear mods which are non-cosmetic but can be bought from in-game vendors anyway. I'd like to hear some stories of how this actually affected a player's experience.

      The actual levelling system (prior to reaching 20) is a joke. On my second character I ran through most of the content and
    • by rhazz ( 2853871 )

      it isn't like other MMOs don't have the diminishing returns system in place as well, wonder why they intentionally hid it?

      The funny thing is, I heard some folks complaining the other day that Destiny 2 was too fast to hand out all the gear and weapons compared to Destiny 1. As per usual, people who have spent 5-10 hours per day playing the game for a month have achieved everything and are whining that there's nothing left for them to do.

      • I started playing Destiny 2 when it released for the PC (I had pre-ordered it), and within a week or two, playing casually, I had hit the level cap, finished the main story arc, and had started gearing up. I think my light level (overall measure of how well geared you are) is in the 280s.

        But I haven't played in several days. Because.... I don't know. It's not that there's nothing to do. I've got missions and strikes, and so forth that I could do. But... eh..... it just doesn't seem to be that fun.

        • by rhazz ( 2853871 )

          But... eh..... it just doesn't seem to be that fun.

          I only enjoy the game on a continuing basis because I primarily play PVP, which makes most progression mechanics irrelevant. Do you play with friends? When I play PVE it's generally with friends for gear progression, and without the friends I can see it becoming dull very fast.

          • I only have a couple friends who play. Frankly, the lack of certain features, like in-game chat, even if it's only active at the Tower, really don't help with things.

            I mean, normally, I don't care for shooter games to begin with. With the fact that I don't have to be super accurate (I typically equip rapid-fire weapons with large magazines), it was fun for a bit. And the story was compelling.... but it was way too short.

            • by rhazz ( 2853871 )

              And the story was compelling.... but it was way too short.

              Yep that's a pretty standard complaint for both Destiny games, including all the expansions from the first one. Other than providing context for the world you play in, I don't see the story as much more than a progression mechanic.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Back in the day game devs generally did not provide any transparency into how the system worked. People had to figure out these sorts of things on their own. So yea. I don't play destiny... but I don't really care about this as represented.

    • , wonder why they intentionally hid it?

      because at max level you continue to gain xp, and every time you hit another level they give you a cosmetics box, the same boxes you can buy with real money...

    • by Daetrin ( 576516 )

      That said; it isn't like other MMOs don't have the diminishing returns system in place as well, wonder why they intentionally hid it?

      I'm only familiar with one other MMO, Final Fantasy 14, but that one does not have diminishing returns. You can (if you do the research) know very precisely how much XP any given activity will grant you.

      Because of this FF14 actually has the inverse problem. People have calculated the most efficient ways to level. This varies over time based on new content being released and changes in patches, but at various times over the past year the most efficient way to level has been "Palace of the Dead", "Squadron

  • We knew this months ago just after the game came out.
  • by pots ( 5047349 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @08:11AM (#55635775)
    This kind of system is common, usually meant to break up the grind - keep players doing different things, playing with other people, etc., instead of just running the same mission over and over again for maximum efficiency.

    This works best, of course, if you actually tell people that's what's going on. So that part's kinda funny, but this doesn't seem like a big deal.
    • You know I thought the point of games were for relaxation, recreation, and escapism. When you get to a point where you are just grinding to get the next thing so you can grind more. Is a point where where I decide the game is no longer fun and I stop playing it.

      While I know that their are professional gamers out there, who will grind and do all the stuff needed for their craft, but for most people, it just becomes an unhealthy obsession. Where quitting is probably the better option.

      I am not sure why the ga

      • by pots ( 5047349 )
        The game maker needed to tell people how it was calculating XP, so that they would know that running the same mission over and over again was not the most efficient way to get XP. With the result that they wouldn't do it, and more importantly wouldn't feel that they were missing out or falling behind for not doing it, and would go do fun things instead.

        The point is that the player shouldn't have to choose between what is most efficient for advancement and what is most fun.
      • I stopped playing much multiplayer before these schemes got popular, but I think it is to incentivize more of the loot boxes and so on. Like if you could pay real money to avoid grinding in Diablo II back in the day.
        • The problem with in game payments, is the fact they will purposely break good game design so it can be monetized.
          The purpose of XP is to allow an open play environment, however have areas just too dangerous to be in until your character is strong enough to be there. So while you may be able to b-line it straight to the main boss, you will be so under powered that you would be dead instantly. So the XP is so you explore the world and prep for the final game boss. Its drawback, is if the game isn't well de

    • by Glarimore ( 1795666 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @01:59PM (#55637703)
      You're all missing the point.

      The purpose of diminishing returns isn't to "break up the grind" -- it's to reduce the number of Bright Engrams produced. Bright Engrams, unlike other loot, which aren't rewarded on level up but instead drop from enemies, can be purchased with cold hard cash. Fewer bright engrams generated naturally = more people purchasing bright engrams for money. Aside from new game sales and expansion purchases, it's the only way Bungie/Activision make additional money on the game.

      When in doubt, follow the money!
      • THIS is the real reason they set it up like that. I just refuse to play all the new games that feature crappy game mechanics that are intentionally "broken" so as to increase grind if you don't wish to spend oodles of extra cash on gambling or just outright purchasing powers/boosts/items etc. Looking forward to Monster Hunter World with 0 lootboxes and all free DLC.

  • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @08:14AM (#55635787) Homepage

    I thought the point of having a game was to play it. Now you're bitching because you have to play it more than you thought. There's no pleasing anyone these days...

    • There's a difference between playing a game and grinding a game. If there's a diminishing returns system that would seem like something that you should point out up front.

      • Actually there is no difference. The game is exactly the same whether you perceive it as grinding or not.

        • Of course there's a difference. You said it yourself just now, it's entirely in the perception of the player. If the player perceives the game as a grind you've either failed to create an interesting game, or screwed it up on purpose to milk money out of the player in the hope he'll pay not to play.

    • I thought the point of having a game was to play it. Now you're bitching because you have to play it more than you thought. There's no pleasing anyone these days...

      The problem is when there's more game to be had, but it's "too hard" to get it.

      With loot-boxes, you can have played most of a game, used most of the characters/classes/weapons, and be mostly bored of it. Still, there's one or two guns or guys or maps or mods that you would like to try out, but you can't because they're still locked behind a random number generator grind. It's quite reasonable to complain about how grindy that is.

  • Skinner box (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @08:14AM (#55635791) Homepage Journal

    It's amazing how people will pay for the privilege of running on a meaningless treadmill, and also pay for the privilege of not running on the meaningless treadmill, seemingly unaware that they don't have to run on the meaningless treadmill in the first place.

    • Running on the treadmill, is a way to keep in shape, and stay healthy. What you are paying for is the value add of the Treadmill. Uniform running conditions, accurate tracking of your activity, ability to avoid the elements and workout in a climate controlled room.

    • Re:Skinner box (Score:4, Insightful)

      by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @09:11AM (#55635983)

      It's amazing how people will pay for the privilege of running on a meaningless treadmill, and also pay for the privilege of not running on the meaningless treadmill, seemingly unaware that they don't have to run on the meaningless treadmill in the first place.

      No it isn't, the whole plan since forever was to remove control of PC games from gamers. The problem is the market can't defend itself in a post internet age. You need physical proximity to the business to hold these companies accountable.

      The big plan was to rebrand games as "mmo's/online" and push drm since the informed members of the public are 100's of miles away, what are they going to do? Then all the corporate world had to do was wait for a new generation of gamers to grow up who don't know any better and are ignorant. The vast majority of the public is tech ignorant. If not for the internet these scam practices wouldn't be possible. The wall between the stupid half of mankind and the corporate world came down post mass internet penetration, allowing the corporate world to steal PC game software by cutting the software into two chunks and defrauding the public.

      Most of the public is too ignorant and uninformed to participate an a high tech capitalist society, the human brain didn't evolve to deal with it and we see the irrational dystopian outcome.

    • This does not apply to, for example, gym memberships?

    • Its been interesting, the game has its roots in Halo, it was a great franchise. Rather well balanced game play. Go online with a team or alone, it would pair you up and you play. People played for the same reason they played soccer or basketball (minus the health benefits of said games).

      Then came destiny, what they did was create weapons and armor with random mods, as these artifacts dropped, you had a chance to get a god role, same weapon as other but say with extra stability and head seeker (slight beter

      • by Anonymous Coward

        head seeker (slight beter aim assist to head)

        This is the problem with games today. There should be no aim assist at all; especially in pvp.

    • You know that people pay money to a gym to literally run on a actual treadmill right, because they find the act itself enjoyable[1].
      You know that people pay for cosmetic surgery to make it look like they ran on a treadmill when they didn't, because they want the outcome.

      If you can't square those actions as eminently human things people might do, then you have a need to expand your mental model of other people.

      [1] Possibly for biological reasons [mentalfloss.com].

    • This reminded me of a tower defense game I played once. There was a little pet you could find if you made it through enough waves on a high enough difficulty. The graphic for the pet was a giraffe running on a treadmill, which I thought was a hilariously self aware touch.

  • yields progressively less experience for each repetition. Shocker. Anyone who didn't realize that lives in a fantasy world.
    • They are living in a fantasy world, that's exactly the point...
    • The way you say it makes sense but their opacity about it seems pretty weird. I don't understand why it doesn't just display the correct adjusted value in the first place.

      • There should definitely be full transparency about the returns on invested time. Arbitrary changes to the reward system are unacceptable, especially if there was no mention of the changes in patch notes.
  • Did the company advertise that players would get the same amount of XP?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The game shows you how much XP you earn as you earn it and it's lying as soon as the scaling kicks in.

      They are of course also happy to sell the item you get for that XP for real money.

  • by Headw1nd ( 829599 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @08:30AM (#55635833)
    Next you will be telling me that dealers routinely short junkies when selling drugs.
  • Destiny 2 was released Sept 6. They are releasing an expansion on Dec 6. 3 months after the game first released (and only 2 months since it came out on PC). I actually considered buying it this weekend on sale until I saw it already had expansions coming out because I knew it had just been released. Don't charge full price for a game and then charge half that again for an expansion a few months later. I'll stick to a reasonably priced and fun game like RS2:Vietnam that came out in May and is getting a
  • by RedK ( 112790 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @09:20AM (#55636005)

    Who cares about Bright Engrams. Seriously.

    How about the lack of a chat system with your Clan or just the general populace ? Lack of a match-making system, even just a manual one, to create Fireteams for Trial of the Nine, the Leviathan raid or even just Nightfall Strikes. Heck, there's a Exotic weapon quest, that you get at the end of a solo campaign quest, that requires doing Patrols, a solo activity, in a Fireteam. How about a Group Finder tool ?

    But yeah, please keep talking about XP, which is barely visible in game (not like you can even tell how much you need) and only rewards Shaders and other cosmetics and doesn't affect gameplay at all.

    I'm going back to World of Warcraft. (I kid of course, I never left World of Warcraft to begin with -_-).

    • by rhazz ( 2853871 )

      How about the lack of a chat system with your Clan

      Use Discord [discordapp.com]? Skype? One of the other free chat services? Unless you're playing on console in which case you knew exactly the environment you were living in already.

      or just the general populace ?

      Trust me, you don't want that.

      Lack of a match-making system, even just a manual one, to create Fireteams for Trial of the Nine, the Leviathan raid or even just Nightfall Strikes. Heck, there's a Exotic weapon quest, that you get at the end of a solo campaign quest, that requires doing Patrols, a solo activity, in a Fireteam. How about a Group Finder tool ?

      There are several very useful LFG web sites [destinytracker.com] out there that probably do better than Bungie could have come up with in-game. Seriously, it takes less than a minute to get a group usually. Probably longer on console because the console GUIs are awful for managing contacts.

      • by RedK ( 112790 )

        Use Discord [discordapp.com]? Skype? One of the other free chat services? Unless you're playing on console in which case you knew exactly the environment you were living in already.

        And... that's the problem with Destiny 2 in a nutshell. That also only works with your Clan, not for trying to find people to do an activity at 4:00 a.m. if none of your Clan is on. See people running around ? Can't actual talk to them.

        Trust me, you don't want that.

        I'm not a thin skin PC snowflake. If I can pug Heroic raids in WoW and do LFR without blinking, I can suffer 2 other guys for a Nightfall Strike.

        Heck, I can probably do the Leviathan with a squeaker on voice chat with no issue. If you hang out around the Mythic raiding c

    • Actually the most useful LFG site for Destiny is https://www.the100.io/?r=24312... [the100.io]

      When you join, it will automatically try to group you with up to 100 people of similar playstyles (based on a small list of questions about playtime and style).

      It then lets you set up LFG events both within your group, or open to the population at large (or you can keep them private until right before the event so your group can join, then throw them open at the end if you still need one or two people).

      I've only used it a coup

  • Including video games that used to be about just having fun. Now if you don't dangle a carrot in front of them they won't even play something that is for their own enjoyment.

  • ... that don't respect your:

    * time
    * space
    * money

  • There was no "misrepresentation". Misrepresentation would imply that some oversight caused the reduction in EXP and that this was not intended.

    This was a deceptive and deliberate mechanic that was absolutely intended specifically to make more money for Bungie. I.e. It was implemented specifically to drive sales of their in-game micro-transaction "loot box" product: Bright Engrams.
  • This is "news"? XP gains in video games was buggy? Is this the Onion?

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.

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