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Still Mail Sacks Run Deep

Every week, a current of tweets, status updates, forum posts, interviews, smoke signals, signal flags, and private messages leap from this keyboard onto the Internet in the service of Bungie’s voice to the world.{{more}} These words you're reading right now can be the hardest to submit to that stream – the introduction to a Mail Sack. It takes enormous restraint to not recount the emails I receive all week about the delicious details that are being prepared for the delight of our community.

We’re gathering the next patch of rapids through which you'll paddle. You’re holding your breath to shoot them. We're holding our breath to release the floodgates. During this lull, the best we can do is to keep one another company, and enjoy the calmer waters as best we can.

To come up for air, we can only open the sack.

Reaganite  After E3, can we expect things to heat up a bit? More specifically, will the info roll out ever be as slow as it is now after E3?
Translation: Are we there yet?

Controlling this steady delivery of information is a delicate dance, indeed. We have a plan of attack, but there ain’t no way I’m making any public promises until we’re sure we can keep them. We can’t just hand you a programming guide and tell you to enjoy the show.

Besides, what would be the fun in that? We want to keep you on your toes - have you guessing where we might pop up next. This journey into the world of Destiny should have some element of suspense and surprise, like descending deeply into the dark caverns beneath an ancient buried city in search of treasure, adventure, and glory.

Starside Fei  Do the artists at Bungie work better on computers or with regular pencil and paper?
My best art appears on a white board, and most often receives comments like “What the hell is that supposed to be?” Fortunately, we can access a whole panel of artists, and mine them for details about their creative process.

I’m no artist either, but I am really good at staying inside the lines when I work with crayons.
Jay Thaler, Senior Engineer

I must admit I miss charcoal on paper the same way I miss nails on chalkboard.
Lorraine McLees, Senior Graphic Designer

Computers for sure! No messy fingers, you can’t run out of paint, puppet warp… ‘Nuff said.
Kevin Hart, Artist

To me, this question is really unanswerable. What is considered better is entirely objective. Luckily, we artists at Bungie can do art we’re passionate about and have had the good fortunes to have made careers out of it.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

pawncrackers  Will there be any female protagonists in Destiny, and if so, when will we be seeing concept art of them?
If you’d like, you can be the female protagonist, like that Hunter on the left. She’s equal parts beauty and beast, and you’ll have the chance to be her, someday.

Gender, just like Race and Class, is a choice that all of us will make in Destiny. If you were asking about characters that you'll encounter on your journey, just you wait until you meet [redacted].

[Editor’s Note: Not so fast, DeeJ!  -Urk]

See? I tried. Never let it be said that I don’t take shots on goal.

Dark Passenger  Who or what has been your biggest inspiration in life?
For me, it’s been Urk. In such a short time on Team Bungie, I have gleaned a lifetime of wisdom from his gingerly bearded example. He is the great redactor – the invisible hand that pulls the strings at the end of which we all dance. Every proudly announced belch washes over me like eternal secrets whispered on the wind. Do you think anyone else on the panel will shame themselves with a bid to suck up to their boss?

Abraham Lincoln + Santa Claus. Combined, they’d create the perfect human. With one svelte beard.
Jake Lauer, Web Developer

Who.  Definitely Who.  Although What is vastly underrated as a second baseman.
Mark Yocom, Release Engineer

Slightly embarrassing, but Dragon Ball got me started drawing when I was really young. Everything kinda snowballed from there.
Kevin Hart, Artist

Literally dying. Nothing has made my motivation for life take off like a rocket more than having survived a traumatic accident in my teens that found me flat-lining on an emergency room table. Ever since, I have tirelessly been pushing myself to make the most out of my life and not waste time or energy doing anything but chasing down what makes me happy and being the best at the things I am passionate about.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

My father. He was diagnosed with an incurable disease and chose to spend his last few years bettering the lives of those around him. That same drive is why I want to develop games. I get the chance to make someone’s life more enjoyable, to create opportunities for amazing social experiences, and to craft a game that is a springboard for new and exciting adventures.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

Gamer Whale  Some people say you have been blinded by your earlier accomplishments. Do you think that might be the case?
It’s important to take pride in one’s work, and we do, but I don’t see anyone here resting on their laurels. The ancients are hell-bent on outdoing themselves. The newbies are possessed with a hunger to prove that they truly deserve to keep the company into which they’ve been invited. And none of them can accept a compliment without explaining how much more work they intend to invest in their creations. The bar gets raised every time Bungie ships a game. It’s been said that the fall could kill you. You’ll be the judges of our vault.

Talex666  Bungie is a huge inspiration to the gaming community, but what's the single biggest inspiration you've received back from your fans?
My favorite moments occur when our community reaches beyond the game to touch the real world. This could be something as simple as a handshake on a convention floor, or as complex as a LAN party organized to raise money for charity. While the relationships we form make the games we play better, it’s fascinating when they make the world we live in better as well. That’s just me, though. There are so many of you that I’m sure you've inspired our panel in other ways.

Reading the forums and seeing some of the bug reports for the site is awesome to me, because it means we have fans that are so dedicated that they’ll take the time to help us make the product better for everyone else.
Jake Lauer, Web Developer

The people who create costumes and props that bring characters from the screen to life are amazing to me. I can’t wait to see the cosplay inspired by Destiny, especially the armored characters.
Josh Eash, Release Manager

I love getting refrigerator drawings from kids. Something about massive imagination and enthusiasm syphoned through a crayon is just awesome.
Kevin Hart, Artist

Right now it’s the phenomenal concept art for Destiny our fans are pouring out. I’m consistently blown away by the talent and passion our fans exude.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

DE4THINC4RN4TE  Hey DeeJ, are you capable of non-sarcastic responses?

As you can see, however, they are rarely as fun.

AccipiterCF105  What is it like being a game tester on Destiny?
Seems pretty easy. Every time I see someone like Leland, he’s just getting paid to play games. I’m just guessing, though. This question is best answered by the panel.

First of all, it’s NOT “getting paid to play games.” I’m a Matchmaking Tester; my typical day consists of endless repetitive test cases and upwards of 6-8 hours of reading debug logs. Is it difficult and sometimes tedious? Yes. Is it challenging and rewarding at the same time? Also yes.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

There’s so much going on in this game that you can’t possibly know it all so you have to focus on your area and those areas that are directly related. The focus makes it so that, when we have a team meeting where different groups show what they’ve been working on, I’m like, “Holy crap, this is OUR game?”
Joe Sifferman, Test Engineer

Xero009  I am a hardcore gamer, but work and two kids has made my gaming time slim. I'm worried that, with a shared world shooter, I will be missing lots of good things because I don't have the time anymore. Is there any hope for my demographic?
There is hope, old man. One of Destiny’s design pillars is that it’s “Compatible with Real Life.” That’s important to us at Bungie. We want to make a game that you can enjoy for as long as you’re able to play – even if it’s bite-sized gaming sessions, every now and then.

GrandmasterNinja  Can you guys give us hints as to what the purpose of private groups will be in Destiny?
That’s completely driven by you. We’re already beginning to see some Private Groups spring up on that are making the wait for Destiny all the sweeter. Artists are sharing art. Speculators are sharing speculation. Our (not so) patiently waiting community is even starting to organize into Factions.

The purpose of Private Groups will be the same in Destiny as they have always been on To unify gamers with common passions. To enhance the experience of playing a game. This will be even more important to Destiny since the experience we’re creating is being designed to be more fun with friends. Need friends? Join a group!

samurai1226  We always hear crazy things that Google or Pixar offers their employees. What do you think is the coolest thing you can say about the workplaces at Bungie?
There will be no wrong answer to this question. I will, however, lead with the panelist that describes what happens when someone drops something heavy on the floor (or when that one guy sneezes like an enraged elephant).

I love the Sarcastic Slow Clap.
Rahsaan Green, Sandbox Test Engineer

Crunch Barista.
Joe Sifferman, Test Engineer

I just had animal crackers and beer for dinner.
Jake Lauer, Web Developer

The view of the city as you’re leaving work when the sun is going down.
Kevin Hart, Artist

I most enjoy the roaring blaze in the fireplace on those dreary rainy days (and in the Seattle area, that’s pretty much all of the days).
Leland Dantzler, Tester

To get to the climbing wall, you get to walk past more than 300 insanely talented artists, writers, engineers, and one Marty.
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer

Spawn  Will and Destiny be brought even closer together compared to your Halo era?
Absolutely. was designed to provide the players of Halo with a bunch of ways to extend and share their experiences.  Those priorities won’t change with Destiny.  It’ll be a great place to maintain a relationship with the people who are making this game, with the other people who are playing this game, and even with yourself as a character in this game.  We even have some interesting plans for how you can take that experience with you, wherever you go. If armed with the right gadgets, no matter where life finds you, the world of Destiny will be very close – at your fingertips, even.

Dark Passenger  What is your favorite phase of game creation? concept/artwork, designing and implementing with software, now (nearing completion and trolling the community with succulent morsels of the game), release?
Personally, I like the part where we stop keeping secrets, and [stuff] gets real. For everything that goes into a game, there is a season. Here are some of the more popular turns:

Pre-production, because that’s when you get to dream and invent things that don’t exist. Whole stories can end up being written about unintended blemishes in a concept painting.
Kevin Hart, Artist

I’m an AI/Animation tester, so for me, it’s fun to watch as the engineers bring the systems online. I get to see the gradual march of going from a character who can only render a debug sphere when the player comes close, all the way to fully armed and operational Combatants who are trying to kill you while preserving themselves.
Joe Sifferman, Test Engineer

Each phase has its own flavor and virtues.  The best part of this job is that what I do changes every few months as the game moves along the production cycle.  I don’t have to go looking for variety, it comes to me.
John Hopson, User Research Lead

Implementation, for sure. As a service engineer, releasing is the terrifying part, as millions of players connect to our game simultaneously and stress our systems like we’ve never done before.
Jay Thaler, Senior Engineer

I like the race to the finish.  The end is in sight, but you know it will likely be a crazy grind to completion.  The anticipation of it being released to the world is awesome.  It’s quite a rush.
Rahsaan Green, Sandbox Test Engineer

I’m looking very forward to the release. Getting there is going to be a chaotic journey, but the reward will be finally jumping into the game with everyone at launch and starting a completely new journey together.
Josh Eash, Release Manager

It’s exciting to watch more and more artists begin to implement polished content. A new landscape can quite literally appear overnight, and you get to go set foot on it.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

In Cinematics, we’re always one of the last teams to close out due to having to depend on many other disciplines to be finished with their work before we can finish ours, so my favorite time of production is towards the end during what we internally call “closing time.” This is when the magic show happens in my department and nothing quite matches that first rush of sitting in Jay’s chair of audio perfection and getting that first glimpse of a final cut of one of our scenes with full animation, effects, Foley, and music score. Bliss…
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

Old Monarch  You're in a Destiny firefight, where's the first spot you aim?
At… the… bad guys?

The thing about the bad guys is that they’re all interesting to fight in their own ways. Each of them has their own motivations for wanting you dead, and they all have their own unique methods of pursuing the goal. Fortunately for you, and all of humanity, they’re not infallible. Firefights will be all about assessing the unique mixture of all these elements and applying your own force, before it’s too late.

You’ll learn more about that later, though. For now, those details shall remain hidden. And so shall we. Once a week, we’ll emerge to check for our shadow and to do the old dance and dodge that you’ve come to expect from this ritual.

Look to our forum again on Monday, when the door to the post office opens once again so that you can put us to the question.
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