How Destiny Players Fixed One Of The Game's Biggest Problems

How Destiny Players Fixed One Of The Game's Biggest Problems

As much as I love it, Destiny is riddled with flaws, many of which Bungie doesn't seem all that interested in addressing. Most of them — like how you still lose ammo when you die — are things players can't do anything about. But the game's lack of matchmaking for its most challenging missions — one of its most glaring problems, depending who you ask — has proved to be something players can address and, by working together, fix.

Destiny's "raids", the Vault of Glass and Crota's End, can take hours and require teams of six players to complete. On top of that, the game will not team you up with other players automatically for them like it does for most co-op missions. You have to group up first outside of the game, the idea being that you'll have more fun if everyone is on the same page. And it's not a bad idea, but it does leave a lot of players — like those who don't have large groups of Destiny-playing friends — in the lurch.

Bungie's position is staunch: they will not add matchmaking for the raids. The end. Thankfully, this is one problem that the community had the power to fix, and fix it they did. There are plenty of places for Destiny players to meet up online, from Bungie's official forums to Reddit. But those looking to team up for a Vault or Crota run generally turn to either DestinyLFG-dot-com or DestinyLFG-dot-net — rival sites that were built and launched at almost the exact same time.

"LFG" stands for "Looking for Group." The sites let you enter your platform, language and character information, plus the activity you want to do and how many additional players you're seeking, then browse through others' listings. There are small differences between the two sites: One updates in real time, the other remains static until you hit refresh. One has a chat feature, the other doesn't. But at their core, they're essentially the same.


I told The Duke we needed someone to volunteer to hold the relic during the Templar fight. He didn't hesitate.


I've encountered all types of players on the two sites, but most of my experiences have been positive. If one loudmouth starts talking trash, someone else usually shuts them up, and the groups of randoms I've played with were quick to boot someone who's being abusive or not cooperating with the team. There are always players who drop the "F" bomb (not "fuck") and use other slurs, but they aren't as common as you might think.

One day recently, after failing over and over again and with several different groups to beat the Vault of Glass's Templar boss on hard mode, I finally hooked up with some players who knew what they were doing. One of them, who I've come to call "The Duke," was level 32, the highest you can be — a rare enough sight that I assumed he would be an elitist douche. I couldn't have been more wrong.

I told The Duke we needed someone to volunteer to hold the relic during the Templar fight; it's an important and challenging role, and the problem with my other groups that day had been that no one had wanted to do it. He didn't hesitate. "That's me," he said. "Then I think we're going to be friends," I replied. We vaporized the Templar in two tries.


DestinyLFG.com creator Brock Busby and DestinyLFG.net creator Dave — who doesn't want his full name out on the internet — both began building their sites over the summer before Destiny came out. They recognised during the game's public beta, when players were getting their hands on it for the first time, that the need for their sites would arise once people really got into it.

Busby said he "totally respected and completely agree[s] with [Bungie's] decision" to leave out matchmaking for the raids, and not just because it means DestinyLFG.com gets to flourish; he believes it's the right call for this type of game and that type of mission. And to be sure, grouping up with randoms to take on challenges that require constant communication and teamwork does not sound like a fun time.

How Destiny Players Fixed One Of The Game's Biggest Problems

"But I was like, 'Oh, this is going to be tough for some of the audience,'" he said, including himself. He's in his thirties, and a lot of his friends have kids and busy lives. "I'm lucky if I have more than three friends online at the same time," he said.

On a Tuesday, the day Destiny's internal timer ticks down and its in-game activities reset so players can try them again for new rewards, dot com gets around 50,000 unique visitors and dot net gets about 60,000, their creators told me. Clearly a lot of people have the same problem.

Busby is a marketing VP and executive producer in his day job, and he said he hadn't programmed anything in ten years when he decided to build his site. But he built it over the month of August and started promoting it once Destiny came out in September, and to his surprise it took off really quickly.

DestinyLFG.net's journey was a bit different. Dave is a web developer by trade, and unlike Busby, he was already an avid Reddit user when he started building a prototype of the site in August. He used Reddit's Destiny community — bustling long before the game launched — to promote it and solicit valuable feedback. Busby has since become active on Reddit as well, but as either of them will tell you, Dave got there first. And yet Busby's site has something Dave's doesn't, something important: the ".com" domain name.

How Destiny Players Fixed One Of The Game's Biggest Problems

I personally have primarily used DestinyLFG.dot com simply because I didn't know until recently that the dot net site existed. I heard on Reddit about a site called DestinyLFG, typed DestinyLFG.com into my address bar, and assumed that was it. That's the perk of having the .com domain, an advantage of which both sites' creators are acutely aware.

"By the time I actually kind of committed to getting the domain for it and really committed to actually launching it, Brock had already gotten dot com," Dave said. "And people on Reddit specifically took a side when they really didn't need to."

Busby was demonised. The Reddit community assumed he'd ripped off Dave's idea and stole the dot com domain out from under him. They didn't like the fact that he has an ad. He was accused of creating spam accounts to flood the Destiny subreddit with posts about his site. Things got nasty, and through a lot of it Busby, not being a Redditor himself, didn't even know it was happening.


"I mean honestly, I would be totally happy if Bungie made in-game functionality to make my site obsolete."


Eventually the moderators had to get involved, with a post essentially telling users to chill out and be nice (isn't it amazing how often people on the internet need to be reminded of that?). There's no reason to take sides or "hold a grudge" against either site, the post said. Having been contacted by the mods, Busby and Dave both participated in the comments, which for the most part were appropriately apologetic.

Dave was already in with this crowd, but the incident taught Busby an important lesson about self-promotion on Reddit. "The best analogy I've heard is Reddit's like the water cooler," he said. "Like, if you see a group of people talking around the water cooler or a group of people at a party, you don't just walk up to them and say 'Hey, look at me!'"


"Looking for Group" sites are not a new idea. Both Busby and Dave looked for inspiration to a site called GuildWars2LFG — a site that, ominously, was made obsolete when Guild War 2 developer ArenaNet implemented a similar feature within the game. When I brought up the possibility of this happening with Destiny — even though Bungie has made it pretty clear that it won't — Busby and Dave responded differently.

"I mean honestly, I would be totally happy if Bungie made in-game functionality to make my site obsolete," Dave said. "There's no ads on the site, so it's not like I'm making money off it. I take donations for server costs and stuff like that, but if I could shut down my site — I mean, I would leave it up just in case people wanted to use it, but if I could shut down my site because Bungie covered it, you know, in a future update, I would be happy. I wouldn't mind that at all."

How Destiny Players Fixed One Of The Game's Biggest Problems

Busby is more worried about what Bungie's implementation of the feature would look like — an LFG feature and automatic matchmaking are very different things, after all — and what it would mean for his site. He's "not making millions" from the site, though he said he's surprised how much revenue its single advertisement generates. It's enough for him to have hired a freelancer to improve the site's performance, and to make him think about ways he might expand.

"I don't think matchmaking is the solution. I think a 'looking for group' tool would be the solution in-game," Busby said. "Now obviously I know that goes against what I have right now, and any sort of baroque model, but ultimately that's why I'm looking at other long-term revenue streams and capabilities and features."

He imagines adding more social features and expanding to cover other games — for example, imagine hopping onto a similar site to find someone with an afternoon to kill who will help you build something in Minecraft, or to organise an Evolve or Grand Theft Auto tournament. Those are just a few of the games he's looking at.

But Busby and Dave aren't the only community members who'd lose out if Bungie changed its position. Their sites may have massive fan bases — largely comprised of Reddit users, it seems — but they're hardly the only options for Guardians seeking groups to play with.

The Fireteams subreddit lets players form up more loosely, around specific topics. As Kotaku reported in September, there are clans like Dads of Destiny, which centres around fathers with busy schedules. A site called thatwizardcamefromthemoon.com serves much the same purpose as the DestinyLFG sites, though unlike those it requires users to register. One called The 100, which launched this very week, puts users into groups with 99 other like-minded players — essentially automatic clans.

Destiny's massive community of players has mobilized in countless ways, large and small, to get past this hurdle and get playing. That's pretty cool, and if you want to give Bungie the benefit of the doubt you might assume that this is what they intended all along. Or maybe they just didn't have time to implement a proper system in the game itself and decided as a studio to pretend they don't think the game needs any actual social features instead of admitting their mistake. I did try to get their take on the DestinyLFG sites for this story, but I never heard back. Oh well; this is a story about Destiny players coming together in spite of Bungie, and it sort of makes sense that the studio wouldn't care to have a voice in it.


My biggest problem with Destiny is the fact the game begins with your character literally being resurrected after your corpse has laid decomposing on a broken highway for uncounted years, and then nobody ever mentions it again for the rest of the game. But that's me. For many more players, the biggest issue is the lack of matchmaking for the game's best missions. Or at least it would be without the LFG sites.

"They have created a social game, but there's no social aspect to it, and they have left the heavy lifting to external websites, and that's what I don't understand," Busby said. "Bungie is a great company, great developers, and I do respect their decision. I think that's one of the things, though, that they should have maybe reconsidered."

Busby's site, the dot com one, is subtitled "the Bungie featured, leading Destiny LFG site" (with a link to a Bungie "Community Focus" post about the site — so they support it theoretically, at least). On the other hand, Dave's dot net site reads — pointedly, it seems — "the original Destiny looking for group site." The messages feel like a wink and a nod between the creators, who are indeed friendly with one another.


Having played religiously for the last four months, I believe I've identified one of this community's defining characteristics: opportunism.


"He's a really good guy, and I actually do enjoy that he is my competitor," Busby said. "It's just important that people are finding great groups to play with, and quickly."

Dave admitted that the competition has spurred him to make dot net better. "If I had gotten the dot com site or if Brock hadn't pushed his site as much, I don't know if my site would be quite as good as it has been," he said. "Even though we're competitors, we're friendly competitors. There's nothing wrong with having two sites."

For my part, I'm happy that both sites have been successful. And it gives me a bit of hope for the future of Destiny as a franchise.

Having played religiously for the last four months, I believe I've identified one of this community's defining characteristics: opportunism. When they see an opportunity — say, to pull out their LAN cables and cheesily beat the hardest boss in the game — they don't hesitate to take it, to the benefit of the players. That's exactly what these web developers and Destiny fans did when they created DestinyLFG.com and DestinyLFG.net, and it excites me to know that however much Bungie may screw up in Destiny, the community will take every opportunity to make it better.


Comments

    It's funny, the one time I used either of these sites to find the last 3 players we needed, we got trolled hard. As a result I've never completed any raid. That was the last time I played Destiny too. Months ago. That experience just turned me off forever.

    Spend hours in-game msging and inviting people in the tower trying to find enough people to raid with, giving up and using one of those sites (I think it was the .com), then getting trolled inside the raid (they would give us false instructions, getting us to suicide etc, being absolutley useless when it comes to describing what and when we are supposed to do/kill/move, all very deliberately) and finally getting to the raid boss where they all quit leaving us 3 not knowing how to kill it and lacking the fire power to be effective.

    I don't really see how matchmaking could be worse than that.

    And now my friends are either trading their copies in or just never playing it again. I'm the idiot stuck with a digital license and the season pass. I'm just left with such a horrible taste in my mouth...

    Rant over.

    Last edited 11/01/15 10:04 am

      I usually find a group and complete a raid within 1 hour every time. I can't think of a time it took more than 10 minutes to get an invite

      Im in a xbox destiny Clan called xboxxy we are mainly mature age gamers from the west coast, we organize about 4-5 raids a week on our hidden facebook page. Never have any problems to find ppl playing destiny with.

      If your interested or anyone is interested in joining let me know, it makes the experience so much better with good ppl.

        Thanks for the heads up, but I doubt I'll ever boot up Destiny again, unless they put matchmaking in anyway. I don't appreciate having to go outside of a game to play the game. Just like the game lore, having to go outside of the game to learn/read the lore just turns me off. I think Destiny might be moving to my external hdd and not touched again.

        I would be interested in joining. My problem is that I am on the east coast. You are probably doing raids when I am sleeping.

    I bypassed the LFG sites altogether when my usual buddies stopped playing.

    I jumped into the clan section on Bungie.net, joined an Aussie clan and have made met some top blokes who are all just down for a good time playing Destiny.

    On the matchmaking topic, I don't think the raid should have match making, but there's no reason for the nightfall or the weekly to not have it. I think the reason the raid doesn't have it and shouldn't have it is because the Raid (VoG or CE) begins with a team banding together--that's when the actual journey starts.

    On the other hand, I can see the reason why some people would want it enabled.

    When I realised I wanted a group to do the raids I just Google'd Australian destiny clans, asked for a trial with one, and now I'm level 32 and constantly have about 10 to 20 people online to do activites with.

      360 or XB1? im hoping 360 and if so, hook a brother down under up!

    While these sites are a fantastic idea, simple fact is, bungie NEEDS to fix their half finished game. I love Destiny, but the fact is, you cant make an "MMO" as they call it with a half baked social system.

    They need an LFR system similar to what wow uses, allow a vote to kick system, and re enter queue should some troll cause issues, other wise they are simply going to end up with no one buying the last dlc except those who already shelled out for the season pass.

    I love destiny, but I simply without an LFR system people like me will NEVER progress beyond level 28 maybe 29 at best as we just can not get the good gear from raids. And running the same strikes and doing crucible simply isnt going to get the level progress that raids get you.

      You can get to 31 by buying vanguard gear.

        This is true, but the grind for ascendant mats I'd much much longer without raids.

          Yeah that's true, how could I forget that.

            Not saying impossible, im just thinking more for the prolonged enjoyment of the game, at the moment, without built in LFR unless you're seriously into it enough to using these third party sites, which do have hit and miss results, the chase for better gear is a very long and repetitive one and your chances of getting those really awesome items are sooooo much smaller. I pretty much dont hold any hope of getting those kick ass exotic weapons

              I can understand that, I probably would've stopped playing Destiny long ago if I hadn't found a clan to run with. Only so much you can do on your own until it's completely boring.

    Bungie's excuse for not implementing it is insulting. "If we put matchmaking in then you might end up with people who you don't gel with! Everyone has different play styles!". Sure, that's true, BUT IT'S ALSO TRUE IF YOU USE ONE OF THESE SITES. It's luck of the draw if you get a good or a bad group. Truly frustrating.

      Its almost like they've never seen an LFG system where people can say what kind of play style theyre currently doing or want from someone...

    I don't play anymore but would recommend the Destiny thread over on Whirlpool. Good people on there and they are constantly filling raids from it just by asking/saying when they will be starting the raid etc.

    They need to add an option in your game settings to say if you want matchmaking...then everybody would be happy...find a group on your own or tick the box and let them do it.

    Something stinks at Bungie, there are issues and missing functionality that points to them being incompetent or severely under resourced....either is not good for this game longer term.

    Exactly why I stopped playing. well, besides the repetitive boring gameplay.

    I remember hearing how amazing the first raid was and how it's the best part destiny has to offer. I was forced to use an lfg site just to find the right amount of people and 5 mins in half the team left.

    I was one of the few standing up for Destiny after release, but it didn't take long for me to understand why people were complaining. A. half finished game with so much potential yet so lacking in every aspect.

    Jumped back on the other day to check out the new DLC and turned it off 20mins later. Same old shit. Can't believe how many people are still playing the same shit over and over hoping for 1 of the 10 guns or 1 of the 15 pieces of armor in the game.

    The lack of match making in game for the weekly strike and raids is pretty much why I have stopped playing.

    Whilst I don't play all that much, I'm always up for a session. For anyone on the 360, username is NeVeTs VF 1S :)

    I exclusively use LFG.com for raids and weeklies as the group of people I originally played with no longer play.

    The groups have all been good, apart from the handful of those filled with people who just aren't very good at the game, or were high levels purely from cheesing raid gear and had no idea what they were actually supposed to do. Other than that I've beaten all weekly missions and raids every week for the past few months on multiple characters.

      I find I'll often solo the daily; if I start soloing weekly or nightfall someone in my friends list often notices and joins me, and there's normally someone on. I know the people who are willing to redo a strike to help me out and I'll happily run through a strike I've completed to help out a friend.

      Raids I'm still below par on - I'm high level not from cheesing but because I've got gear from strikes and drops. L31 Titan. I now know the Templar battle well and can run around the relic hunt but the Atheon battle screws me because I've only done it 3 or 4 times. And Crota I've been taken through once on a cheese run but can't find anyone to play properly and learn it - the few people I can get on a raid with want to finish quickly and so I'm in the way or just following orders to hold a spot or stay out of the way.

    I didn't know about these sites, I have two Lev 31 guardians atm and have only done vog and crotas end once. I don't tend to be able to organise myself to do them. I think matchmaking should be available. Gamers are capable of deciding if they are willing to take a more challenging matchmaking alternative. often when I use friends list I don't know the people really so not much difference. Players are at a level of experience now where they can slot into a random game and make it work. To me it's like the developers are dissing us by saying we wouldn't be capable, really why should they care, we should have the right to choose. Obviously playing with a team you know is preferred, but if you don't have a team of friends they're saying 'don't try, we'd rather you just didn't bother.'

    The quicker people come to the realisation that NOTHING will fix this game, the quicker they will move on to happier and more productive lives.

    I was once like you but have now moved on to other games and don't miss the repetitive, mind-numbingly boring, half-finished mess that is Destiny. It felt good to get that off my chest.

    I don't believe raid matchmaking would be as big a problem as they say. More often than not, there's going to be groups of 3 or 4 that just need an extra couple players. Likewise, individual players are usually gonna end up with a a group that knows each other already. Very rarely would you end up with a full team of randoms. Why not trial it, and ask community for feedback, they do plan on supporting this game for years to come after all.

    Nightfall and Heroic definitely need matchmaking though.

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