Another fac­tor in Bungie’s trou­bled re­la­tion­ship with its play­ers is the way the stu­dio has re­moved ex­ploits dis­cov­ered in some of the game’s tougher PVE chal­lenges, or ‘cheeses’, as the com­mu­nity terms them. A route be­neath a plat­form from which you could safely kill the Ar­chon Priest, end boss of a Strike mis­sion on Venus, was quickly closed off. The Strike is no prob­lem at nor­mal dif­fi­culty, but when it comes up in the weekly Night­fall ro­ta­tion – where the en­emy threat is ramped up hugely, and it’s game over if your en­tire team goes down at once – it’s a dif­fer­ent mat­ter.

“That spot you de­scribe in the Ar­chon Priest fight? If that ac­tiv­ity was na­tively fun, and the penalty [for fail­ure] wasn’t so high, I don’t think peo­ple would do it,” cre­ative di­rec­tor Luke Smith says. “When we think about the way we con­struct ac­tiv­i­ties, we’re now think­ing: ‘Is this chal­leng­ing you in the right way? A way that’s go­ing to lead you to the fun jour­ney we want you to have?’ I think that’s a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for us to im­prove go­ing for­ward. We’re not there yet.”

De­spite the 100-plus QA staff Bungie em­ploys in-house, Smith is sure that the com­mu­nity will find sim­i­lar ex­ploits in The Taken

King. In ad­di­tion to reg­u­lar testers, Bungie has now formed a crack unit of play­ers who not only test out high-level strate­gies sug­gested by the de­sign teams, but also go look­ing specif­i­cally for ex­ploits. “They’re some of the best thumb­skill guys we have, but also some of the best metagame play­ers,” Smith says. The team’s name? Velveeta, named af­ter Kraft’s pop­u­lar brand of pro­cessed cheese.

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