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A Most Quotable Mail Sack

Let us begin this weekly sacrament of sharing and caring between Developers and Community by getting a piece of quick housekeeping out of the way.

ODST VII  Will the community have any access to Bungie's GDC 2013 panel?

For the less-informed, this shock trooper is talking about the Game Developers Conference.  We’ve already announced Joe and Barry’s lecture, “Building a Brave New World.” You can grab the full session synopsis on the GDC website

If you want to be a fly on that wall, you’re in luck.  Gamespot will be streaming GDC events on their website. You may want to pay special attention to the “Intended Audience,” however.  The talk is not being built as a marketing asset, but rather an examination of world building pillars and challenges we’ve faced building a new universe from scratch. If you’re expecting a trailer, do yourself a favor and don’t tune in.

If you love the sound of Joe Staten’s seductive voice, and can’t help but get lost in Barry’s chestnut eyes as he unfurls his beloved art pillars, stay tuned to and our social channels for more specific tune-in details next week.

With that out of the way, let’s open the Sack.

Forcewielder  For the members of the writing team: What were your majors, degrees and early experiences in your field of writing? And what things learned from that time in your life most influenced the early writing process for Destiny?

I double-majored in Cinema/TV and English Creative Writing, then graduated and wrote my ass off (unpaid) while working my way up in the Industry.  I read as many scripts as I could, even the horrible ones, and tried to steal learn as much as possible along the way.  As for how that experience influences my work on Destiny, I’ll just say this: Early on, I learned that writing is 99% rewriting, and you can never get too precious about an idea.  Game development is no different.  It’s all about iteration.  Sometimes painful, but part of the process.
Dave Mongan, Senior Writer

Trentonimor  What's the best experience you've ever had while working at Bungie?

Working 17 hours straight, walking home at 3am, and wishing I could have stayed just a bit longer.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

Any day that they treat us with breakfast sandwiches ranks amongst the top days.  Nothing beats a sausage patty on an English muffin to start the day.
Kurt Nellis, Technical Cinematic Lead

The after-work LAN parties are pretty spectacular. Never had a job where I finish working and voluntarily decide to hang around for several hours after!
Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer

Crossbow. DeeJ’s Monitor.
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

The Pentathlon!  Seriously, I really cannot wait for next year already.
David Johnson, Engineer

Signing someone's shoe at the Halo 2 launch party at the EMP.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer*

CJ Cowan, Story Design Lead

During the run-up to Halo 3, Jonty Barnes and I went to the Tokyo Game Show.  The gaming magazine Famitsu challenged MS Japan to a live Capture the Flag match.  They asked one of us to participate with three members of the MS Japan team.  Jonty immediately threw me under the bus and made me go play in this very public match.  I was very nervous, not aided by the fact that it was 100 degrees in Tokyo and I was in a suit coat.  The controller threatened to slip right out of my hand.  Famitsu was so confident they would win, they agreed ahead of time they would shave their heads if they lost.  We played on High Ground, which I knew quite well.  As no one knew about the hatch, I quickly scored two flag captures and we won easily.  Poor Famitsu.
Jay Weinland, Senior Audio Lead

Meeting fans of the studio is always one of the rewarding aspects of working at Bungie.
James Tsai, Senior Designer

Seeing my FX in the PS4 reveal video.
Reed Shingledecker, Artist.

yo momy hafu  Will Destiny be an easy pick up for new gamers?
Well, yeah.  The average game disc weighs about a half an ounce, so no one should have too hard a time picking it up.

Was this a loaded question?  Like “Is Destiny for noobs?”  Or were you curious if our vision for this shared adventure would be too complex for a casual gamer to embrace?  One thing that we’ve always strived to do at Bungie is to take rich and elaborate (and sometimes complex) experiences that we love and help bring them to a wider audience without losing what makes them great in the first place.  We think we’ve done a good job of that in the past, but we’re looking forward to doing an even better job in the future.

yo momy hafu  How do you exercise after spending most of your time on Destiny?

I try to go to the gym (lifting, some cardio) in the mornings.  I’m usually too exhausted to do it at the end of the day.
Kurt Nellis, Technical Cinematic Lead

I’m one of those goobers who still plays In the Groove and Pump It Up. For you non-rhythm-dance-game aficionados out there, these are essentially “hipster” variants of Dance Dance Revolution. Still lots of fun, and a great way to exercise. I have a couple awesome friends who own their own arcade cabinets, so I don't have to keep fishing for quarters.
Daniel Hanson, Engineer

Developer League Soccer.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

Occasionally helping my wife with her horses is what passes for exercise for me usually. 
Tom Gioconda, Engineer

I’m pretty rigorous about running 3 times a week. I go early in the morning before work, so I don’t have an excuse for later in the day. Some days are harder than others, but I’m always happy I’ve done it.
Lars Bakken, Design Lead

Every day at 1pm. 5 day lifting schedule. What’s up?
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

I have a Doberman that needs a lot of exercise, so I take him out before work every morning. Unless it’s raining. Then he runs on the treadmill in the garage, and I sit next to it and play games or surf the web.
Tom Slattery, Localization Content Manager

Muay Thai, Cross Fit, Soccer, Math.
Drew Smith, Producer

EMJAYEL  Are the forums going to be incorporated into the Bungie Mobile App? That'd be nice.
That would be very nice, eh?

Malfar  My questions are for those at Bungie that utilize Standing Desks. Would you recommend a Standing Desk for a programmer or someone that spends most of their time at a desk? Does standing at a desk detract your focus from the work at hand?
The best authority on this subject is Pete Parsons who, among an entire galaxy of other crucial functions at Bungie, oversees the operations of our fully operation battle station.  According to Pete, the first thing people ask for after they crank their desk up to a standing altitude is a tall chair.  His theory is that standing desks are the SUV’s of the workplace.  Sure, they’re designed to suit an active lifestyle, but they just end up being a way to see over the crowd.  Here’s some evidence for and against that theory:

I tried a standing desk and now sit again. The sore knees were not worth it. The only ones who can maintain a standing desk lifestyle are those who are sitting in meetings all day.
Ben Litowitz, Engineer

I have a standing desk. After two weeks of having a standing desk, I got so lazy that I jacked my chair high enough so that I can now sit comfortably at my standing desk. Every once in a while I’ll get ambitious and get out of the chair and stand for two or three minutes, but that is a rarity.
James Tsai, Senior Designer

I love my standing desk and would recommend one, but it does have some side effects.  I find it really hard to hold still through meetings now, I’m just not used to sitting that long.
John Hopson, User Research Lead

I’ve been an upstanding citizen for about a year now, and I wouldn’t go back.  Assuming you have a squishy rubber mat to stand on, it’s only about a day or so to get used to standing all day, and then it’s totally natural.
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer

I find it very hard to get into the coding zone with a standing desk, but for art, email, and other work standing with a nice chair is ideal.
Cameron Pinard, Artist

I switch between my raised chair and standing throughout the day.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

Aj6627  Why is there still no news on bacon appearing in Destiny?
I can neither confirm nor deny if swine survived the collapse of the Golden Age.  Humanity’s luxury for consuming pork is a mystery that you will have to unlock as a player of the game.  Another mystery is whether or not Urk, a confirmed vegetarian, [gentlemen, scholar, mentor, and curator of one of the best beards I have ever laid eyes upon,] will let this question stand.  He doesn’t like it when I get cheeky with the fiction.

Editor’s note: I will allow it. – Urk

Beorn  What would you suggest as an activity for a Seattle tourist?

The Underground Tour is by far one of the coolest things you can do when visiting.  It’s very entertaining.  Do it first on your visit. You’ll view Seattle in an entirely different light.
Kurt Nellis, Technical Cinematic Lead

Riding the Ducks is surprisingly a lot of fun. I didn’t do it until after 8 years of living here but I was startled at how enjoyable it was.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

Go see the guys throw the fish at Pike Place Market downtown. This isn’t a very exciting thing to do. In fact, I’d probably rate it around the 374th most exciting thing to do in Seattle. The likelihood of you actually seeing guys throwing fish, as opposed to dozens of other tourists sitting around with cameras waiting for six guys to throw fish, is abysmally low. But if you go do this, you will forever be able to answer “Yes,” anytime someone who has never been to Seattle asks you, “Did you go to the place where they throw the fish?” This will spare you from having to answer the inevitable follow-up question of, “Why didn’t you go to the place where they throw the fish?” Because apparently the only thing that some people seem to know about Seattle is that there are guys who throw fish here.
James Tsai, Senior Designer

Leave the city and explore the mountains. They are all beautiful.
Thomas Wiley, Auto BVT Tester

Rescheduling your trip for July or August.
Tom Slattery, Localization Content Manager

Attend a trade protest.  Or start one, it's been a while.
Tim Burris, Engineer

Visit Fremont.  It has a troll under the bridge, two dinosaurs, a rocket ship, a larger than life sculpture of Lenin (not John), a historic Masonic Lodge, a chocolate factory and Distillery, both of which give tours.
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

Macharius  How difficult was it to keep Destiny secret?
Really difficult, but we did it. We really pulled it off. Hard to believe. Yeah.

SkilPhil  Fun facts are fun. Can you give us a fun fact about the development of Destiny?

The entire case of Junior Mints that was added to the snack cabinets yesterday night was gone by 2pm today.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

Here in Cinematics Land, we often hold entire conversations with one another by only quoting lines from our scenes. We’re like an organic Destiny soundboard.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

Current free space on my Dev Machine: 49.8GB / 698GB
Code files I’ve checked in so far today: 48
Dice on my desk: 23
Food orders for last night’s playtest: 68  Beer orders: 32
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

I played our last build for 64 hours.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer*

A Fly Lady  Last night I had a dream about you DeeJ, and the rest of the Bungie crew was there too. Have you ever had a dream about us?
Kinky!  What was I wearing?  And, why was the rest of the team there?  What were they doing?  I do dream about the Bungie Community sometimes.  I’m usually lost and alone in a corn field, and whispered questions start to echo through the rows.  Then come the screams, and I realize that they are my own voice.

ChorizoTapatio  This is for the multiplayer design team: What skills are required for your job? How did you learn what you needed to learn for your job?

If I had to point to a specific skill, it’s the ability to rip apart anything and analyze how it works. How do the maps, gametypes, sandbox, vehicles, spawning system interact to create the experience? Critically, can you take a top-down view and understand why things are working and why they aren’t? Even more importantly, can you describe to another human being why you passionately think something sucks and propose a solution to fix it?  I learned some of that skill set in college (critical thinking skills, writing, etc.).  I honed them by working at my previous job, and now at Bungie. Before coming here, I played a virtual crap-ton of Multiplayer games - and still do - which prepared me to talk about games in context to the current landscape.
Lars Bakken, Design Lead

In general, being a multiplayer designer requires good critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills on top of a love for games. I learned my trade first by playing, thinking about, and making games (…maps, mostly) as a devoted amateur, then making the jump to a professional game design gig when the opportunity arose.  The best way to learn to make games is to make games.
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer

I came up on the level design side, making maps and mods in my spare time. That experience helped me learn the concepts of layout design and flow, which is critical in multiplayer shooters. Get involved in making something, then finish it and make something else. Beyond that, a lot still comes down to "just" playing games, but paying extra attention to game rules, balance, systems, etc. and learning how those interact to create the player vs. player experience. Think about your favorite memories of specific multiplayer games and what came together to create them. Crack open strategy guides to study map layouts and game rules/tactics. Read or watch interviews discussing the design of these games. Be a sponge, then start thinking of ways you might expand on those experiences or create new ones.
Andrew Weldon, Designer

Crackerjack  Do these pants make my ass look big?
Yes.  Try covering it up with a cape.

Ser Jergen  "O Brave New World" and the Making of for limited editions of Halo 3 and 2 are some of my most cherished pieces of Bungie memorabilia, not to mention the countless ViDocs. That said has/is there an internal Bungie "Historian" who chronicles all the goings on behind the scenes at Bungie?

In addition to the official Bungie multimedia you’ve seen, we’ve filmed around sixty hours of footage just for Destiny. Primarily, it’s used to populate our internal website, “Tiger University,” with content that chronicles our team meetings, show and tells, and internal Bungie Day presentations going all the way back to 2009ish. It’s a great resource to help new employees get up to speed quickly, and a great way to keep the entire team up to date on everything that’s happening on the project.

It’s all put together by an in house crew, and yes, it’s the very same crew that helps make our ViDocs and in-engine trailers. They prefer to stay behind the camera, so we’re not going to out them individually. We will say, however, that they have a hand in just about every visual element you’ll lay eyes on, aside from the game itself. In fact, if you watch Act One of Bungie Community Theater, you’ll catch sight of one of their less metaphorical hands.

THORSGOD  What’s Bungie's opinion on Anita Sarkeesian?
Anita visited the studio in what feels like the distant past now. By all accounts she gave a great presentation in our theater, filled with similar topics to her Tropes vs. Women in Videogames series and was eager to share them. It doesn’t look like the past year has changed her. Her recent video has been making the rounds at Bungie, and helped generate some good, healthy discussion.

Mr Reloadshot  Many of us are Halo fans, so what are some things being brought from Halo to Destiny?
Many of us are Halo fans, too! Some of us even ran Halo clans. Some of us created Halo, and pretty much lived it for years. Pretty wild stuff, eh?

If you fancy yourself a Halo aficionado, we hope you’ll recognize the Bungie signature, but it should go without saying that Destiny is a completely new universe. Joe will touch on this a little bit more at GDC, and of course, there’s also this from an earlier mail sack:

“Destiny is an action game set in an amazing and mysterious new universe. If you love first person shooters – if you enjoy Bungie action games – then you’re going to love Destiny.”

That’s right.  We’re quoting ourselves now.  But it felt relevant.  The Mail Sack is now empty. With each week, the cycle repeats itself.  You fill it.  We spill it out all over the floor and decide which of you we want to quote with quotes all our own.  See you again on Monday, and (if you’re extra studious) on Thursday.

You can quote us on that.
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