Destiny Music Videos

Sniper crosshairs over a charging Hunter’s head in Destiny 2

I’m part of the MTV generation. If you can immediately picture the videos for Hey Mickey, The Safety Dance, You Might Think, Money For Nothing, and Take On Me, you might be too. I was transfixed from day one, not just by the bands and the music, but by the format. Some videos told a story (of varying levels of coherence). Others were more of a vibe, as the kids say these days. But always, the combination of sound and images, intertwined, synchronizing and diverging, pressed all my buttons.

My affection for an equal partnership between music and video is reflected in many of the movies I love. Goodfellas, one of my all-time favorites, is arguably structured as a series of music videos separated by exposition. The best Star Wars movies are famous for their pervasive and dominating scores.

Even today, the alchemy of carefully combined music and video has not lost its power. Witness the outsized cultural impact of a certain scene in Stranger Things season 4.

In all these cases, it’s not just the fact that there’s music in addition to dialog and sound effects. It’s that the music steps forward—both technically (in the audio mix) and emotionally. The music is a main character in much of the media that I love.

When game consoles added the ability to easily record gameplay, I immediately knew what I wanted to do with that capability. I wanted to make music videos.

Enter Destiny

I’ve been playing Destiny since shortly after it was released in 2014. For complicated and mostly business-related reasons, the game I’m playing today is called Destiny 2, but it’s been a largely unbroken experience across the two games for the past eight years.

There’s a huge amount of Destiny-related video content on YouTube, and I’ve watched a lot of it. Two things are very clear about these kinds of videos. First, much like golf or tennis on TV, you’ll find it a lot more interesting if you’ve ever played the game yourself. Second, also like televised sports, the people playing Destiny in these videos are usually very good at the game.

I am not very good at Destiny. Even after literally thousands of hours1 of playing, I am just about average. And although Destiny is a popular game with millions of players, the chances of someone seeing one of my videos and also being a Destiny player is quite small.

This is not a formula for success. My lack of game-playing skill means I can’t produce the raw material (i.e., gameplay recordings) needed to make really great videos, and my existing audience of Apple tech nerds has only a small overlap with the world of Destiny.

But did I let this stop me? I did not. Six years ago, I started with a few tentative uploads of some awful (even by my standards) gameplay with minimal editing, no commentary, and no music. (I also snuck in a gag video based on my realization that the movie Moana and the first season of Westworld both have the same emotional climax. It’s true!)

My first Destiny music video shows me learning how to not be irredeemably awful at using a sniper rifle in Destiny. It’s a record of the moment when, after four years of playing the game, I finally understood how sniping is supposed to work. It shows me graduating from “truly awful” to “merely bad.” (This was back when a single sniper headshot wouldn’t kill a roaming super, whippersnappers!)

Next came the “quest” videos, each of which cataloged my journey to acquire some in-game item (e.g., a pinnacle weapon). This is where I started to develop a recognizable style and format.

Rather than retreating from the skill and audience problems described earlier, I embraced them. Since few people would ever see my videos, I could remain blissfuly unconcerned about enticing titles and custom thumbnails. As for the assumed knowledge necessary to get the most from these videos, I piled it on instead of trying to minimize it.

Take my Revoker Quest video as an example. To understand its premise, you’d have to know that “Revoker” is a sniper rifle and that the quest to obtain it requires a large number of sniper kills while playing against other people in Destiny.

On top of that, it would also help to know some things about me. You might know (perhaps from watching earlier videos) that I’m not very good at sniping in Destiny, and you might also know that my preferred weapon in PvP is a shotgun (or at least you might know that shotguns are widely considered “easier to use” than sniper rifles). If you were playing Destiny when the Revoker quest was active, you might be familiar with how quest progress is presented in the user interface, and you might further know that the Revoker quest had multiple components, not all of which required sniper kills.

You need all of this context to understand the orchestrated climax of the video (starting at around 5:12), in which I realize that I have completed the sniper-kills portion of the quest and can finally switch back to a loadout where I feel much more competent: a shotgun and a hand cannon. Oh, and that hand cannon? It’s Luna’s Howl, the arduous acquisition of which was documented in an earlier quest video.

Similarly, only someone who is average (or worse) at Destiny and has suffered through the pain of having to get 200 double-kills with a grenade launcher in PvP and 100 Calculated Trajectory medals in order to complete the (pre-nerf, dagnabbit!) Mountaintop quest can truly appreciate the pain and suffering documented in my video about it. Fighting for heavy ammo to get “easy” kills with a heavy GL; getting one kill and then immediately dying; learning how to use Fighting Lion, a weapon I’d ignored until its ability to use primary ammo made it uniquely suited to this quest—it’s all in there.

If this is all starting to sound like gibberish to you, I understand. It’s asking a lot of the audience to have so much background information and experience. The fact that I’m unable to communicate the prerequisite knowledge in the videos themselves is a condemnation of both my skills as an editor and as a game player. (I can only work with gameplay recordings that I generate myself, after all.)

And yet…I love these videos. I love the idea that a handful of people might watch them with all the context required to fully appreciate them. I love watching them myself from time to time, if only to see my own progress as a player and an editor.

I also love the moment during my normal life when inspiration strikes and I know what song I’m going to use for my next music video. Sometimes it’s months between the moment of inspiration and when I finally get around to making the video. This was the case with my most recent release, but I’m glad I waited long enough for it to be my first video made with 60-fps gameplay from my PlayStation 5.

It’s not a “quest” video (Bungie removed pinnacle weapons a few years ago), so the scant narrative scaffolding that used to exist is gone now. Instead, I’ve gone back to my roots. I’m just trying to make a good music video. Here’s hoping someone else out there enjoys them as much as I do.

If you don’t want to wade through everything on my channel, here’s a list of my Destiny music videos in reverse-chronological order.

  1. 4,124 hours as of February 5, 2023.