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Destiny & /dance, posted by Derek

I’m returning from a long hiatus, to post this vastly important message.

I am extremely excited about Destiny, the upcoming persistent world shooter from Bungie.  It’s a post-apocalyptic, dudes in future-tech with guns fighting aliens movie.  The classes are things like “Warlock” and “Titan” and “Hunter.”  That’s about what I need in a game.  So I’ve been following it since the E3 reveal, and I’m excited.  Except for one thing.


They released a picture of the Xbox control layout.  Here it is, for reference.

I love that they’re going to the standard FPS layout – left trigger aims, right trigger fires, etc.

And they’re using the d-Pad for communication, which is good – that shows a commitment to allowing communication in the game, and fostering it.  Way to go.

Except that one of the four directions is dedicated to /dance.

Which, at first, seems like no big deal.  But on reflection, I’ve come to despise that choice, what it represents and, by extension, the entire /dance command.

Lemme ‘splain – I’m not crazy.

I understand that /dance is a fun command.  And in some games, there’s an entire system built around /dance.  City of Heroes had a club, and something like 15 different /dances.  Matrix Online had a club, and 6-10 styles.  Star Wars Galaxies had an entire profession built around dancing.  It was an integral part of the game, in fact.  Dancers and musicians were, at one point, the only source for certain types of healing.  And it was great.  These were RP heavy games, and it worked.  It worked great.  People made radio stations and dance clubs and bonded.

Destiny, I presume, is not that sort of game.  Destiny is a game about getting together, blowing up bad ass aliens, and being active.  /dance, in Destiny, is something that’s there because MMOs have /dance.  Each group has a different one, and they’re silly fun.  You /dance in the first 10-15 minutes after character creation, and laugh.  And then you move on.  The only time /dance comes up after that is when you’re sitting around in a group with nothing else to do.  Waiting for a dungeon? /dance party.  Trying to find a healer? /dance.  Logged in with no idea what to do? Go to a public place and /dance.

/dance is sort of synonymous with “sitting around” in some ways.  It’s a thing you do to fill time.  And the fact that Destiny put it *on the d-pad* implies that it is one of the four most important social interactions you’ll have.  I assume there will be an emote menu for other things, but /dance is right there, a single button push away.  And that makes me nervous.  A game like Destiny shouldn’t be interested in that.  Destiny should want you to say things like “Hello” and “Join my group, we’re on our way to go kill shit” and “OMG Did you see that giant six headed alien monster beast thing” and “Lookit my gun, ain’t it purty?”

I understand why /dance is on there.  As a clanmate said – “It’s an MMO.  Why not /dance?”  Because I’m coming to realize that /dance is an abomination.  It’s a thing you put in because you want to distract people from the fact that they’re just sitting around doing nothing.  It’s an indication that, in some ways, the game is going to waste your time.  And the biggest thing I want from Destiny is for it to be AWESOME.  AWESOME things don’t waste my time.  They may create lulls to drive excitement, they may give me resting spots to recover, but they don’t just say “Hey, spend 10 minutes driving to this place to wait for 20 minutes until you can do something AWESOME.”  Defiance is a good example of this.  Defiance is a persistent(ish) open world shooter.  And it has travel.  But in any particular instance of travel, even if you’re going to have to drive 5 minutes to get to the next hub, 1. the driving is reasonably fun and 2. In that 5 minute drive, you’ll pass 6 challenges, 4 public missions, 2 arkfalls and a side quest.  You can easily spend 3 hours getting from one hub to another, and enjoy 90% of that time.  And on top of that, you have fast travel for people who have already been there, and “go to group member” if one person gets there first.  It’s a game that takes pains not to waste your time in a number of ways.  I want that for Destiny too.

In many ways, I think /dance is why people (myself included lately) are more likely to play something like Call of Duty: Black Opsier or a single player game than an MMO – those games keep you busy.  They don’t enforce wait times where you feel the need to /dance.  Which is a shame, because there’s some fantastic stuff that happens in MMO-type games.