Tuesday, September 08, 2015

My So-Called Destiny Life: Year One

(Destiny hinted at in Halo 3: ODST in 2009)

Destiny was released 364 days ago.

But, things started even before then.  I remember in February of 2013, when the first video was released for Destiny  (https://youtu.be/EwOUi4JDC4o).  It would take nineteen months before the game was actually released.  Every ViDoc and "Law of the Jungle" trailer that was released, just made me yearn more and more for this epic looking game.

Finally, in July of 2014 I got a spark of awesomeness when I downloaded and played the Beta of Destiny.  I was instantly hooked.  Based on the stealth-like ninja description of the Hunter, that's how I started the first day of Beta and within a few hours, I had already completed everything in the Cosmodrome, and was headed to the moon...  More correctly, headed towards the tease of the moon.  After a few days of patrolling the Cosmodrome for hours, I decided to give another class a shot - and this was when I feel in love with the Warlock.  Five minutes into the first mission with my Voidwalker and I  knew this was my Main Master Class for the future.  It felt so Jedi-Like, with it's melee and nova bomb.  I never wanted to do anything else!

At one point, it had been rumored that Destiny would only be released on Next-Gen consoles, and this caused me to make the decision that it was going to be time to upgrade to a One.  However, once it was revealed that it was going to be released on the Xbox 360, I made the financial decision to stay on the 360 and play with the few friends I still had left over from my Halo days who had not yet migrated over.  Durant, being the turncoat, actually bought the Destiny PS4 - so I lost out on ever playing the game with him.  But I did have a few other friends who all got the game around launch, and we quickly began running missions together.

Midnight, I was at Best Buy.  I got the T-Shirt.  I got the wristband.  I got the game.  I went home, stocked up on Mountain Dew Gamerfuel and Combos - and started into the game.  Because of all of the updates taking longer for some people, we all just kind of played solo on that launch night.  Getting through whatever content we could.  I think I finally got logged in around 1am, and created my Warlock.  Having played the Beta, I quickly made my way through Earth, and got to the moon. I played until 6am, and then decided it was time for a nap.  Four hours later, I was back up and online. 

I had taken a Personal Day at work, so I had the entire day to play.  In those first five hours, I had leveled up my Warlock to Level 7, and while I chugged down my Red Bull, I put on the "Firefly" TV series, and attempted to use the Destiny App for whatever content it had at the time.  In those first 24 hours, I blew through the game and the story and made it to Level 20 before I even got to the final mission.  By Tuesday night, I had joined up with some of the guys to finish the game and start looking into the end game content.

Days after Launch, we formed our Xbox 360 Clan.  There were four of us who founded the original clan - Myself, Steve, Adam, and Josh.  And we were all very passionate about that clan.  After some deliberation over a name - we settled on Hayabusa Corps.  It was an homage to our Halo days.  Adam and I had been playing Halo PvP for many years together.  Josh had played with Adam, and I had played with Steve in the past.  Over the first few weeks, we added some more casual friends, and then Adam and Josh begin using LFG a lot to do larger activities - which resulted in them recruiting many new people into the clan.  I was happy to see their desire to grow the clan, but I also found myself playing with a large number of people I didn't mesh well with.  People whose attitudes I couldn't stand - and I found myself quitting out of activities because I couldn't stand the way people talked to each other.  It just wasn't fun all the time.

In the weeks following, while I still only had my Warlock - I spent a large amount of time shooting aimlessly into the abyss of the now infamous Loot Cave.  Once the game launched, I immediately became aware of the Destiny Reddit, and I don't think I'm missed checking the site since launch.  Each day I go to see what new things people were posting about, and once the Loot Cave became known, I rushed there everyday.  I wanted the Engrams.  I wanted ALL the engrams.  I wanted the Purple Engrams - only to be mostly disappointed when they decrypted into blue gear.  It was a huge waste of time, and aside from raising my Cryptach Level quickly, it didn't really serve much of a purpose - other than the fact that I can say, "I was there.  I shot into that cave for hours each day".  Until it got shut down.

I can vividly remember Xur, Week Two.  Who would use an exotic Rocket Launcher???  Please allow me to buy these Sunbreaker gauntlets!!!  Now, in my defense, I really loved the look of the Sunbreakers.  As I was still getting accustomed to Shooter/MMO hybrid, I cared a lot about how I looked, and not as much about how functional the perks were.  Second, I think I only had 13 Strange Coins at the time - I don't even think I could have afforded Gjallarhorn that week.  In the two years before Destiny, I had been a hardcore player of Star Wars: The Old Republic.  It was my first ever MMO, but it allowed me to be a Jedi and to murder things with lightsabers.  So, I was hooked.  And I spent a lot of my time playing that game.  I am very thankful for that time, because it helped me to better understand MMO game play, including perks and cool downs.  Things that Destiny added to the shooter genre, which could have been confusing without my time spent in a legit MMO.  It didn't take me long to realize that my Sunbreakers were pretty pointless when I was running Voidwalker the majority of the time.

Our Clan wasn't one of the first to enter Vault of Glass.  It was small and slow forming, and only a couple of us were online regularly and Adam and Josh were just so good at PvP that much of their time was spent there.  They did complete Vault of Glass with an LFG group, then eventually took the rest of us through with them.  And on October 14th, after ninety minutes of learning - I got my first Raid completion in the game.

Now, this Raid Completion was not 100% legit.  This was at a point when you could jump out to one of the Hobgoblin Sniper areas, and cleanse everyone without shooting at Oracles, then bomb down on the Templar from high above.  We did legitimately kill Atheon this run - it wasn't until later that we would learn how to push him off with Solar Grenades.  Later VoG HM runs consisted of pushing off the Templar with grenades - and causing the No Teleport Chest to Appear - and then pushing Atheon off the map with Solar grenades.  It got to the point where Adam, Steve, and I would take turns as the Warlock and rotate characters to kill Atheon three times a week - once Adam got the Atheon HM checkpoint from someone else online.  This is how I got my first Vex Mythlocast.

While in the beginning, I cared very much about just getting as much gear as I possibly could, I later came to really enjoy running the raids exactly how they were originally meant to be run.  I was stuck in the "Forever 29" Club for the majority of playing time before the Dark Below.  I actually didn't even get the Raid Helmet until the week before The Dark Below was released.

At the beginning of November 2014, Best Buy ended up having an early Thanksgiving sale, which included a substantial discount on the Xbox One, two Assassin's Creed games, and a free game of your choice.  I decided to take advantage of this, and pick up a new copy of Destiny - which didn't cost me anything extra.  For the months of November and December, I would dual play the game.  Mostly solo on the One, but then jump back to the 360 anytime the clan had a raid set up, or when Steve or Jason were playing - because I wanted to play with my friends.  It didn't take long (in one case only days) before some of my friends were also converting over to the One.

Once I made my way to the One, something happened.  I started playing with some friends I had lost touch with.  Joe - who is a very close friend of Jason's  was telling him how he liked the game, but didn't really enjoy doing everything by himself.  He suggested to Joe to hit me up, and we started playing together regularly.  I also remember the day that my cousin Brock randomly joined up with me, we started to talk and started to play all the time.  Brock and I had never been super close, until this game.  The hours and hours of playing together, we got to talk about all kinds of things in life that went far beyond the killing of minions of darkness.  As of the time I am writing this, I consider Brock to be one of my closest friends in the real world - as we text daily and just spent an entire weekend at Wizard World Chicago together - more on that later.  Moving over onto the One opened up even more friendship doors.  One of my good friends from California - Sergio - has a younger brother Albert who I would see playing.  He had a few friends of his own, but randomly he would ask if I wanted to do stuff with them.  And after a lot of harassing text messages, we got Sergio to finally give Destiny another chance - one that he very much embraced once he had more people to do things with.  We starting building a really good group of guys on the One.

I still found myself spending some random time back on the Xbox 360 - specifically the day The Dark Below dropped.  I remember being online at midnight when we downloaded the patch and Josh, Adam, and myself blasted through the entire story mission together, then killed Omnigul for the first time together.  It felt like that Strike took hours to complete.   We were up until 7am together to knock out all of the new content, and I knew that I had to do it two more times the next day when I jumped on the One with Steve and Brock (and others, I believe) and over the next two days we got everything completed with our alternate characters.

I finally played my last minutes of Destiny on the Xbox 360 on December 26th, 2014.  I honestly can't remember what I did that day - but I seem to remember that was right around the time of the famous hackers taking down the PSN and Xbox Live over and over again.  For whatever reason, I never again played on the Xbox 360, eventually unplugging it for good and even giving away my Destiny Disc.  Looking at stats, I spent 409.5 hours playing Destiny on my 360.

Around the beginning of 2015 I really started paying attention to a YouTuber that I had watched a lot of his videos - Professor Broman - and finally started to learn what this Twitch thing was all about. I watched a number of his videos on YouTube and found them all very informative, as well as humorous.  Every time I was curious about something in Destiny, it always seemed like this Broman had a video for me to watch.  Then, I started just watching them all, and loved some of his reaction videos, like when he got the SUROS Regime in the Vault of Glass chest.  He seemed to truly represent someone like me, with my child-like love and excitement for the game.  I can think of numerous times that I actually jumped up off my couch because of getting a gun or armor drop I had really wanted.  Broman seemed to have this same love for the game, and that drew me back to his YouTube channel - and eventually to start watching him on Twitch.  I remember his first stream I ever watched: January 21st, 1pm EST.  Crota Hard Mode.  I had run Crota NM numerous times - many of them using the Lamp Cheese for the Abyss and the Warlock Self-Rez for the Bridge.  Again, if there are exploits to get gear quicker and easier - I often go for them in the beginning before I actually begin to enjoy the legit execution of the mechanics.  Watching Broman and his Fireteam learn the differences in Hard Mode - as lame as they turned out to be - was a very fun experience and one that got me addicted to watching him on Twitch - and through this raid and watching Broman, I had the pleasure of learning about other streamers like Gothalion, TeaWrex, and Leahloveschief (that British accent is SO much fun to listen to while she plays!).  If I was not able to be playing Destiny, I wanted to watch other people playing.  If I was at home and playing Solo, I might as well watch him and be entertained by him.  Watching his channel was also a good source of information for the game.  People would give tips or tricks in chat and even if Broman didn't attempt them himself, I would always take note so that I could attempt what the poster was suggesting in various situations.  It became a good and educational tool for me in my own game play.

It was also at this time in my life that I started a relationship with a long-time friend, and luckily she knew what she was getting into with me and Destiny.  We had been spending one night a week together for the previous two years, and since the release of Destiny, she had heard a lot about it - and even knew the nights that I didn't make it to hang out were due to the Clan having Raid re-scheduled for that night.  So, once we started spending more and more time together, she saw first hand how much I played Destiny - and something amazing happened: She supported it.  This was a new concept to me, as my ex-wife hated and loathed Halo and often yelled and screamed at me for even turning the game on.  Now, I have found someone who fully supports my love of escapism into this world of Guardians fighting the Darkness.  She supports it so much, to the extent that she has discussions with me about aspects of the game that she witnesses, she knows the raids, she knows I play PvP when Iron Banner comes around, and I typically do Raids on Friday Nights.  She knows the Nightfall strikes and understands the three different burns in the game.  She has been so supportive with the game, and makes me beyond happy.  The highlight for me came when I went out of town for a few days and came home to a large reproduction of the Praedyth's Revenge sniper rifle skill tree waiting for me on my bed.  Why that specific gun?  Because it had the Firefly perk, which went perfectly with my other gift that night.

I am afraid that in the near future, her knowledge may surpass my own.  She has shown interest in reading all of the Grimoire cards to gain a better knowledge of the game.  This came during a Vault of Glass run one night when I told my Fireteam the Story of Kabr while we were on a break.  She said that she didn't realize there was so much depth to the story - and neither did some of the fireteam that night!  So, I should probably get reading more of the Grimoire myself, as it would be quite embarassing if she knew more about this game than I do!

Not too far into 2015, our group of Xbox One friends who had been recruited into Hayabusa Corps. began to vent some frustrations to Steve and myself.  In the Destiny App, the chat for that clan was very active, as more and more people joined - the problem was the majority of them were on the Xbox 360, so all of their talk had no affect on our group and ended up becoming more of a hindrance to them with their phone constantly going off.  So, Steve and I made the decision to form our own Xbox One Clan - a decision that didn't go over the best with our former clanmates, and we were quickly removed as Admins in that clan we had originally helped start.  It was bittersweet, but has probably turned out for the best.

We first went with the name Light of MJOLNIR.  Blending the concept of "Light" from Destiny with the MJOLNIR armor from Halo.  At this point, I was still dead set on paying homage to the game that I felt was what brought us all into this world.  After a few months and the release of "Avengers: Age of Ultron" - I was afraid that our clan name would be seen as Marvel Fanboys, and wanted to change that.  Still obsessed with Halo Lore, we changed our names to Pillar of Autumn Survivors.  A nice nod to the first Halo game, and where we met the Master Chief.  And the "survivors" moniker was an attempt to play on the fact that members of our clan escaped the fate of the ship at the end of game.  That name lasted a few more months until recently.  I finally had an eye-opening moment: The majority of the people I now played Destiny with, never played Halo with me at all.  Destiny was what brought us together and how we all became friends.  Thus, our current clan name has been changed to Golden Age Templars.  Sadly, "Golden Age Templar Knights" was one letter too long, and that was disappointing.  The logic behind my rebranding was that The Golden Age being humanity's last great time period - the guardians of our clan are descendants of those who survived and fought against the Darkness, passing down their knowledge to other Templar Guardians.  A secret society who live in shadows and do the job they need to do.  I am very proud of the Clan we have assembled, and really enjoy playing with all of these guys every single day.

In March of 2015, there was still one weapon in the game that eluded me, much to my chagrin.  Then, I did something kind of extreme.  I remember sitting in the office at work, and went through my friends list, writing down the names of everyone who had a Gjallarhorn.  When I looked over their names I noticed two things. 
One, none of them had any spaces in their name.
Two, every single one of their names were divisible by the number three.  Six letters, no spaces.  Nine letters, no spaces.  Twelve letters, no spaces.

For years before Destiny, my gamertag was Weisser Junge - literally White Boy in German.  This name got butchered all the time by Americans playing Halo.  I didn't want the same thing to happen in Destiny, so the week before the game launched, I changed my name to Jedi Browncoat (my original Gamertag for years was Jedi Whiteboy, yeah super-nerd status).  I loved the name, and I actually got a lot of messages from other Destiny players telling me that they too liked my name.  During LFG raids, it was often talked about.  So, I was happy.  Until that "No Spaces and Divisible By Three" Law came to my attention. So, in Mid-March I spent days attempting to come up with a new moniker to use as my gamertag.  Eventually settling on MegaShanetastic.  "Shanetastic" had been a nickname given to my by friend Heather, and this was at the height of megaman.exe and his Xur revelations on the Destiny Reddit.  So, when Shanetastic only added up to eleven letter, adding the "mega" gave me what I needed to make name that fit into the limitations I believed I needed.  This all sounds crazy, I know.  What was even more crazy was two weeks later, when it worked.  Crota.  Hard Mode.  Ir Yut, the Deathsinger.  Gjallarhorn.  I was speechless.  I was quiet.  I jumped off the couch - where Caitlin was sitting next to me - and shook my fist into the sky out of sheer joy.  Inside my head was screaming and yelling at the top of my lungs - but in the game, I played it cool as I could, while everyone else reacted to it.  I immediately texted Steve a screenshot - as he was not in the raid that night.  It was a rather interesting night.

When I made my Facebook, I neglected to realize that 822 hours were Xbox One alone.  Add in the 410 from the Xbox 360, and it actually took me 1232 hours of playing until I received my first Gjallarhorn.  The funny part, on May 19th, when I started decrypting a massive amount of engrams with Master Ives - I received my second Gjallarhorn and due to his generosity, I always go to him to decrpyt my engrams as I hold a bitter grudge against Master Rahool for the many times he screwed me over.  Finally, on August 14th, I bought my third Gjallarhorn along with millions of other people - when Xur finally sold it for the first time since the second week of gameplay.

This week was Destiny Week #52.
I was not smart enough to do the Nightfall during Week One, so I have only run 51 different Nightfalls with my Warlock.  My Titan and Hunter didn't come along until weeks later, and only saw limited use in the beginning - while I was still spending the majority of my time on my Warlock.  Final Nightfall numbers for me in Year One:
Warlock: 125 runs.
Titan: 70 runs.
Hunter: 52 runs.

Some other numbers that I look at:
2160-ish hours logged between the two systems.
That's roughly 90 days, or roughly 25% of my last year was spent in the world of Destiny.
Vault of Glass: 46 times, 19 of them Hard Mode.
Crota's End: 99 times, 28 of them Hard Mode.
Skolas: 12 times, 7 of them with my Warlock including helping Jason and Sergio kill him in Week 51 to complete their Triumphs.

I have reached Rank 5 in EVERY Iron Banner with my Warlock.
At one point I was able to get my Warlock ranked #99 out of ALL Warlocks in Zones Neutralized - and #991 out of ALL players on the Xbox One.  That was a nice thing to notice.

In the picture, you can also see that my Warlock is in the Top 2% of Suicides.  A stat that I am not proud of.  In an very odd twist, PvP was not my thing in Destiny for the longest time.  I played some in the beginning, and due to my Halo PvP background, I assumed that would be where I would spend the majority of my time.  On the Xbox 360 I did play some with Adam and Josh whose talents carried over, while it felt like mine did not.  Perhaps my two years of SWTOR and almost no Halo had me "rusty"?  No matter what, I was pathetic at PvP and it made me turn to PvE and patrolling on a regular basis.  I would make sure to always play Iron Banner - and I remember the very first ever IB, when I grinded and grinded with no buffs, only to reach Max Rank two hours before the reset. (If I remember correctly, it was Rank 3 for the first event?)  Nonetheless, I purchased the gauntlets very late in the night/early in the morning and have held onto them since then on my Warlock.  As I further progressed in the game and found that the majority of my PvE Grimoire was maxed out I needed to start playing lots of PvP to earn those grimoire.  There would be nights that I found myself playing solo, and then I decided that these would be good times to finally start playing PvP again, mostly Control, and in recent weeks finally branching out into the other categories.  I even spent one terrible night playing hours of Salvage until I got my 20 Relics for the achievement.  I'm not the best at PvP, but over the summer and fall I have slowly been climbing up on K/D.  From a pathetic 0.65 up to a not-as-pathetic 0.82 K/D.  It's a start, and looking on Destiny Tracker, it's basically only been going up and up every time I play.  I'm starting to get the hang of this Destiny PvP, and wish I had made more time to play in Year One.  I look forward to the 2.0 Weapon balancing and seeing how I can hold up in Crucible in the future.

Finally, on August 27th 2015, I accomplished the last thing I needed for my goal of 100% in Destiny.  I still had never done Flawless Raider.  Only two of our clanmates had accomplished it - and Albert helped Sergio, Brock, and myself to get this achievement on our third attempt.  We ran Crota Normal Mode and finally accomplished the last thing I needed, so that I could complete 100% in Year One.

It's been a helluva year, Guardians.
We've seen a lot.  We've dealt with a lot.  We've grown a lot.
I have a lot of memories from Year One...
  • I shot endlessly into the Loot Cave and cashed in hundreds of engrams for days.
  • I used solar grenades on both Atheon and The Templar to beat them.
  • My first fight with Crota involved the LAN cable being pulled.  (This was the only time I was a part of this.  Every other kill was legit.)
  • I checked Destiny Reddit every single day for an entire year - even when on vacations and not playing the game.
  • I ran numerous raids with some really chill and cool people from DestinyLFG, who even accepted me before I had Gjallarhorn.
  • I participated in the First Queen's Wrath Event and still have my Chestpiece and Bond from that event.
  • I reached Max Level in every Iron Banner.
  • I remember when Rep was a Circle, not a Diamond.
  • I remember only having room for Five Bounties.
  • I remember selling Mats for Rep, then being pissed off when I couldn't upgrade my gear/guns.
  • I remember hours and hours of doing circles on patrols to farm Mats.
  • I remember being a "Forever 29.75" for a long time.
  • I remember getting super hyped up for Necrochasm, after watching DrCrispy93 talk about it.
  • I remember buying three Dragon's Breaths the first time Xur sold them, because it was obviously going to replace Gjallarhorn.
  • I remember my first decent into Crota's end, and how scary the Abyss was at first.
  • I remember being taught how to use the exploding lamp to cheese the Abyss and solo it.
  • I remember the Solar Burn weeks of Skolas and murdering him in seconds.
  • I remember my fireteam all dancing together in the tower wearing Glowhoo after we beat Crota HM together, then our mass suicide as we jumped off the edge together.
  • I remember every single last time that I got and dismantled No Land Beyond...  Ugh...
  • I remember buying a fourth Gjallarhorn from Xur, just so that I could make a video of myself dismantling it.
  • I remember being 2,000 miles away from home and finding a Video Game Arcade where I could rent an Xbox One and Destiny so that I could run Crota's End and Prison of Elders with my clanmates.
  • I also remember getting the Bittersteel shader three times, while still never getting Revenant.

Most importantly, I remember the memories I have of doing all of these things with my friends.  With people I now text and talk to on a daily basis.  In August 2015, a few of us all went to Wizard World Chicago together, and the night before we headed up to Chi-town, we had a gathering in Indianapolis.  My cousin was in town from Kansas, Steve had just moved back from Alabama, and we got four other teammates all together for an night of IRL hanging out since many of the guys had never met each other face-to-face.  It was such a good time, to just sit around, drink some beers and laugh and make jokes just like we do online.  The massive Destiny Community has been so much fun to be a part of, and reading what others have done in their Year One caused this lengthy post to be written.  From the massive online community, to the streamers, to the YouTubers, to the friends in my fireteam, it's been an amazing year.

In the final hours of Year One, I made my way to Skywatch, and shot bullets into the former Loot Cave.  I disturbed the remains a few times.  I did a few Pack of Wolves - probably my last in the game.  I did two public events.  Then I ran some PoE 28s with Jae, as I continued to attempt to get a Hopscotch Pilgrim.  We talked about Year One.  We talked about our hopes for Year Two.  We speculated about how different things are going to be tomorrow.  What will be a part of 2.0 and what will have to wait until the 15th?  Almost one year ago, Jae and I were both standing at Best Buy at midnight.  He had his beautiful new Destiny PS4 in his hands, while I held onto a copy of the game for the 360.  Luckily for myself and my clan, he made the change and bought an Xbox One in July.  It was a lot of fun helping him level up and accomplish everything in his Triumph in time for him to still earn the Laurea Prima that he deserves.

I did a lot in Year One.  But, I did miss out on a couple of things.  We never successfully played Trials of Osiris.  The only thing I really wanted was the five wins to get the Hood of the Exile, and those were the only weeks I made sure I at least tried to get people to play.  I did try a few other random times, but without any luck, and never more than three wins.  Needless to say, I have never been to the Lighthouse on Mercury, nor will I be going anytime soon.  It appears that's just a  piece of my Grimoire that is unobtainable for the time being.  I've come to terms with it, and I'm not even upset.  I've still loved everything I've done in the game, and I have a lot to proud of.

Queen's Robe and Bond of the Queen's Guard from the first Queen's Wrath Event in September of 2014 - with Rosegold shader.  With other random armor.

 Full Set of First Iron Banner Gear.  With Goldspiral shader.

 Vault of Glass Gear, with Chatterwhite Shader.
(at the time this was taken, it appears I had dismantled all my gauntlets.  
I have since gotten them back.)

 Crota's End Gear, with Glowhoo shader.

Prison of Elders Gear with The Queen's Web shader. 

Now it's just a waiting game until the Patch drops!

Cheers to Year One, eagerly awaiting Year Two to begin.

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