Special Ammo Changes, Freelance Playlists, & “Damage Referee”

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Special Ammo Inbound

Have you ever wondered how the opening sprint might play out if that clever Sniper didn’t have bullets right at the outset?

We’ve asked ourselves that question. Senior Designer Derek Carroll has the answer.

How will the February Update change the Special Ammo economy in the Crucible?

Derek: After the update, players will start certain matches without Special Ammo. Once the match has begun, those green Special crates will behave in the same ways you’re used to (although you may be looking for them a bit more).

What motivated the new ammo economy?

The PvP team wanted to increase the use of Primary weapons, especially at match-start. Sniper rifles and shotguns, in particular, inspire great happiness or sadness depending on which end of the weapon you find yourself. We wanted to somewhat delay that gratification (and sadification).

In which playlists will these changes be part of the new Meta?

All 3v3 playlists will feature the new Special Ammo behavior. Skirmish, Salvage, Elimination, Trials, and any rotating 3v3 playlists are covered. I will take special care to say that Rumble is not a 3v3 mode, and is safe from this change.

Why not 6v6? People get sniped there too you know!

There’s no proof of that. No, seriously, there are several reasons to limit this change to the 3v3 modes. First, the larger gametypes are generally less sensitive to initial conditions, which gives us more freedom to have Special Weapons going from the beginning.

Also, smaller gametypes like Skirmish are a bit more hardcore, with more weight applied to each player in the match, so we felt we could try pushing Primary weapons for those initial engagements.

Conversely, Control is the friendliest place to enter the Crucible, so we wanted to make sure that we don’t present new players with a fundamentally different game than what they’re used to.

Stand Alone – Together

We’ve heard plenty of chatter from players who want to let matchmaking choose their teammates for them, but wish their opponents would do the same. If you’re one of them, you have a new champion.

His name is Designer Jeremiah Pieschl. We lovingly call him “Jerpie.”

What are Freelance playlists?

Jerpie: Freelance 6v6 and Freelance 3v3 are mixed-mode playlists that are only accessible by solo players – no Fireteams allowed. Freelance playlists will be available sporadically on the weekly rotators in your Director.

What was the goal here?

The design goal of Freelance playlists was to facilitate an even playing field. Both teams will be on equal ground, though an advantage can be gained by opening a voice channel to Team Chat.

A secondary goal was to provide playlists with a wider variety of engagements. Featuring mixed-modes with all of their associated maps means players will have a much more diverse experience and see less repetition in the combinations selected by matchmaking.

What gametypes will we find in those playlists?

Freelance 6v6 features a mix of Clash, Control, and Rift. Freelance 3v3 features a mix of Elimination, Salvage, and Skirmish.

Look for them next week.

Evaluating Guardians

Matchmaking has been under the microscope lately at Bungie.

During Iron Banner, we introduced some new settings intended to reduce lag. Earlier this week, we applied those same settings to Skirmish. Yesterday, we brought Rumble and Control up to speed.

Tomorrow, Trials of Osiris joins the new-and-improved club.

Crimson Doubles and Clash are also on our short list of playlists to update with better algorithms to sort you with a good, clean fight. We’ll update you when we update the Crucible.

In a future game update (beyond February), we’re planning to apply these new matchmaking settings to all Crucible playlists. This conversation will continue, and we thank you for being a part of it.

Out of Bounds

The Internet is a dangerous place for data. With the February Update, we’re installing a Damage Referee to keep more of us safe from bad connections.

Networking Engineer Paul Lewellen was kind enough to go on the record about the newest addition to our netcode.

Explain it to me like I’m five: What is Damage Referee?

Paul: “Damage Referee” is our code-name for upcoming changes to the way Destiny handles things that can go wrong when you’re playing games online.

Our goal is to give you a better experience in the Crucible when there are Internet problems outside of your control.

What’s the essential problem we’re trying to solve?

Paul: In short, we’re trying to fix the Internet. Streaming movies, wireless connections, the speed of light, and a host of other things are all conspiring to harm your online experience.

Normal network latency is bad enough, but even simple problems become extremely complex when the information your console is sending and receiving can be unexpectedly delayed, dropped, duplicated, folded, spindled, or mutilated.

It’s impossible to solve completely, but Damage Referee is our latest attempt to improve things for the vast majority of you.

So, what will happen (in theory) if my connection is good?

Paul: If your connection is good, a typical Destiny PvP match should feel like your best ones do now. Obviously things won’t always be perfect, but we think you’ll notice a positive difference pretty quickly.

Your weapons will feel a bit more reliable, your kills will feel a bit snappier, and players with poor connections should be less frustrating to fight.

What will happen (again, in theory), if my connection is bad?

Paul: If your connection is bad, we’ll be giving you even more reasons to improve it. Expect to lose fights a lot more often, even if you think you shot first or escaped behind cover in time.

Things will get much better once you fix your connection, but at least you’ll receive fewer angry messages in the meantime.

How will I know this is working? Will I see fewer Red Bars?

Paul: Not necessarily. The connection bars we show in-game are designed to give you a moment-to-moment idea of how good or bad each player’s connection is to all other players in the game (not to our servers).

There are many factors that go into determining your color on the coded scale. Even if your own connection is the best it can be, terrible performance elsewhere on the Internet can still compromise your experience.  When you see a red or yellow bar next to somebody’s name, it indicates problems with their average connection to other players (and usually to you, too). 

If it’s your own bar that’s stuck on red, our Network Troubleshooting Guide has some tips to help you improve it.

This is brand new tech, so let us know if you can feel the difference when it goes live next week.

Meanwhile, on the Dreadnaught…

With all this talk about Crucible updates, the Raiders among us are wondering if their reports of issues aboard Oryx’s fortress have been heard.

Lead Designer Gavin Irby has been listening. Our team has been crossing some items off his list.

When we download the update, how will King’s Fall be different?

Gavin: If you’ve ever been the “runner” in the Daughters of Oryx encounter, you’ve probably encountered an incredibly annoying issue where your camera would snap back to a default position.

We’ve fixed that, which should make the runner’s job more enjoyable.

And the Ogres?

Gavin: We thought teleporting ogres in the Oryx encounter were totally OP, so we nerfed them into the ground! Actually, there was an unfortunate issue where the bombs were capable of blocking the Ogre’s pathfinding. That resulted in them occasionally making a very frustrating teleport to get past the blocked path.

Oryx Challenge Mode should be a little more forgiving now.

And that’s the first time that Oryx has ever been described as “forgiving.”

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