Destiny’s physics troubles

I have issues with Destiny.

As interesting as it might be to fall into a metaphysical discussion of destiny or fate here, I’m talking about the game Bungie released rather than predetermined outcomes.

And I could ramble about the game’s various issues — for example, I’ll be giving up once I’m happy with my progress in House of Wolves because way too much of the game changes with each “expansion” — but I won’t.

Instead, I’d like to focus on the game’s physics. Its broken physics, specifically.

Earth has a surface acceleration due to gravity of about 9.8 m/s2. On Venus, it’s about 8.9 m/s2. On Mars, it’s about 3.7 m/s2. On Earth’s moon, it’s about 1.6 m/s2. The gist of sharing all these numbers is that Earth’s gravity is the strongest, with Venus a close second and Mars and the moon lagging far behind both of them. These are the four places you can currently visit in Destiny (ignoring the Reef).

The kicker? On each of these planetary bodies in Destiny, gravity behaves exactly the same.

Why didn’t the dev team add a modifier to the physics engine depending on what planet we were on so that we’d jump a little higher or fall a little slower when we weren’t on Earth? I’ve read some stories of the Trenches of being in video game development, so I understand that this may be far from a simple problem. But Bungie, you’re breaking my ability to immerse myself in the universe you’ve created.

Let’s now add the fact that things burn the same way on each planet, which ignores the Moon’s lack of atmosphere and the dominantly carbon dioxide atmosphere on Mars. As cool as a Sunsinger or Gunslinger’s special moves are, they can’t actually set things on fire the way the game implies on all worlds.

Hundreds of thousands of gamers are enjoying the game despite these (and other) flaws. It’s just a little hard for a scientist like me to suspend enough belief to do the same.

(Full disclosure: this post was partially spurred by my bitterness over the next Destiny expansion unveiling the third Warlock subclass of Stormcaller. The weather nerd in me wants that subclass, but it’s not worth $40.)


a passion for science

I am one of the passionate scientists who will not be bullied.

So, we have a working environment where women earn less than men, where women are awarded proportionally fewer grants than men, where women are promoted less frequently than men and have fewer papers accepted for publication in the top ranking journals than men. Add to this the apparent acceptance of sexism, and it’s a wonder any females stay in the field at all… and yet some of us do stay. Why? Because we are passionate scientists who will not be bullied. We follow the trailblazers who succeeded in more extreme environments than we experience today, and who we should thank for breaking down those initial barriers to women working in science.

Dr. Ruth Massey, Department of Biology & Biochemistry, University of Bath