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The Strength of the Sack is the Mail

Atop the loftiest heights of our tower at Bungie, there is a private war room.{{more}} The doors, emblazoned with our coat of arms, shield our most sacrosanct secrets – old and new – preserved forever on white-boarded walls. Within this hive we gather round a septagon conference table to plot our destiny.  

This week, I found myself a seat at the table. I listened as Joe Staten and Pete Parsons and Jason Jones brainstormed ideas. As a longtime fan of this studio, I found it impossible not to think back upon the ghosts of past E3 presentations, and then, to let my mind wander to what is yet to come.

It’s clear to me that the team believes that Bungie’s best days are ahead of all of us. The excitement, the enthusiasm, and the anxiousness are more than palpable. Bleary eyes are beginning to sparkle. This, it feels, is Destiny’s real introduction to the world. 

That has been a long time coming. We’ll see you at E3. We’ll come out from behind our shielded rooms, and give you a seat at this table. We’ll show you what we’ve really been up to. 

We are only days away now, but the best we can do today is open the Sack.



Desden  E3 needs to arrive sooner. I literally can't think of any questions to ask, because I've done all I can with the information available to me.

Are we there yet? I’m not mocking you. I’m joining the chorus. E3 needs to arrive sooner. It should be noted that you asked this question before you learned the Law of the Jungle.


How do you feel now?


GrandmasterNinja  Could you give us vague analogies about Destiny?

Okay. You asked for it. Every week, someone steps up and volunteers to absorb this variety of abuse. We’ll keep dishing it out for as long as you can take it.

Hey, panel. What’s it like to play Destiny?

Playing Destiny is like playing the original Super Mario Bros., except completely different.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Playing Destiny is like giving a vague analogy about Destiny.
Dan Miller, Senior Designer

Playing Destiny is like snowboarding with your friends, except you’re on another planet and the trees really want to kill you.
John Shaffstall, Engineer

Playing Destiny is like tasting bacon for the first time, and realizing you’ve been eating pork the wrong way.
Tom Gioconda, Engineer, Hectorphile

Playing Destiny is like viewing the daydreams of a madman that has gone sane.
Rahsaan Green, Sandbox Test Engineer

Playing Destiny is like…
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

It's like an umbrella. Figure that one out.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer*

Before one of you devotes a wall of text to accepting that last challenge, please note that source uses an annotation for his title that leads to nowhere.


M1Silencer  Have you guys ever communicated with each other by just throwing pieces of paper across the room?
You know you’ve successfully escaped corporate America when your expense report arrives safely back on your desk, signed by your boss, in the form of a paper airplane. This happened to me last week.  I apologized in person to our finance department. Old workflow standards die hard.


Adept Inversion  Are any Bungie developers working on little personal side projects? If so, got anything cool to share?
With as much as we talk about crunching code for long hours, you’d think that no one would have time for side projects. Surprisingly enough, they find the time. Personal projects are how a lot of our people stay sharp or embrace new skills. If you read the Breaking In interviews, you know that independent exploration of a craft is how many of them learned what they know in the first place. Here’s what they’re up to now.

I run http://alltheragefaces.com. I also started (but recently haven’t been able to keep up with) http://alltheproblems.com, which is a website where you submit First World Problems and the profits go to Third World countries. Lastly, I’m currently working on a new website for my Minecraft server, but that’s a secret (it’s only half-finished).
Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer

I have three kids who would qualify as “little personal side projects.” They’re totally cool.
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer

I make abstract art, called gravity paintings. All the proceeds go to charity. Several have already sold at auction. Because most of my time is spent on Destiny, they’re quite rare:
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

I have an ongoing project to see how much of Pete Parson’s ice cream I can eat without others judging me.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

I’m developing a small tabletop project on the side called The Chosen (working title). It’s a pen and paper tabletop roleplaying game that takes place in a high-fantasy primordial world. You might see it on Kickstarter later this year.
Joshua Jones, BVT Tester

Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead

After learning about the V Motion Project, I was inspired to see what I could do with it. I followed some of their helpful blog entries and was able to get an extremely crude mock-up running on my PC. After E3, I hope to find some more time to dive into this.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

I’m actually in the middle of building a bird house. In your soul.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Who watches over you, Owens?


burritosenior  When will Android users get to have forums on the app?

Someday. Our developers can only devour one line of code at a time, and it helps to finish our meal on one platform before we dive into another one. Fortunately, adoption was so strong among iPhone users that we can easily justify charging full-speed-ahead into Android territory.


Malfar  Can programmers get writers block? If so, what is the best method to restore the flow?

Programming is like any creative process. There are diverging tributaries of brilliance, and there are dead ends. When our panelists enter the clearing at the end of the path, this is how they backtrack.

If I’m stuck and can’t think of any good ideas, I usually peruse some websites (webcreme.com, webdev.reddit.com) that give cool examples of things other people are doing to see if anything inspires me. 
Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer

I find that the best way to maintain workflow is to immerse myself in whatever I’m currently working on. Too many distractions (Mailsack!) really disturb the work I’m doing and it’s hard to get back into it.
Thomas Wiley, Auto BVT Tester

Programming.com.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Nothing helps you write code like some filthy, filthy dubstep.
John Shaffstall, Wub Wub Engineer, 

Depending on the time of the day, coffee or beer restores the flow.
Wesley Olson, PS3 Tester

Step away from the computer and take a short walk.  You’d be amazed how effective this can be.
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

One thing that certainly does not help is to obsess over the fact that you can't seem to get anything done. 
Mat Noguchi, Programmer*


PVSpartanL36  I love the notification noise that the mobile app uses to alert us. Any chance we could get an MP3 to use as a text tone?

Which one do you mean? This one? Or that one? You're welcome to either, so long as you promise to mute your phone in a movie theater.


Krieger  What is your favorite part of launching a video game that you've worked on?

As someone who joined Bungie when our stewardship of the Halo Nation had already been passed along, I can only imagine the glory of releasing a game from our hands to yours. I will relish that day, since I believe that the most important ingredient in our game is you. Let’s see how many people on our panel agree with me. 

I’m egotistic and I love seeing my name in credits.
Thomas Wiley, Auto BVT Tester

My favorite part is hearing about what the fans hate about the project and how they would have made it better - preferably in ALL CAPS.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Signing stuff is fun. Like shoes and jackets. And Fame. That's pretty cool too.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer*

It’s not a game, but the best part about shipping the mobile apps is the feedback we get from you all on the forums.
John Shaffstall, Engineer

The best part of launching a game is letting people all over the world enjoy your creation. Seeing your work on store shelves is pretty cool, but hearing stories about their experiences with your game (even years later) is incredible.
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer

I like the anticipation of the release.  I tried to stay up three days straight once so that I didn’t miss the release on any platforms or regions.
Rahsaan Green, Sandbox Test Engineer

Listening to people talking about the game. Entertaining people is a huge motivator for us.
Jonty Barnes, Production Director

It’s those few minutes before the plunge - that anticipation and excitement and fear. You can’t get that anywhere else. Well, maybe squirrel-suit flyers can relate. But who does that regularly?
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

Drinking a nice glass of scotch.
Wesley Olson, PS3 Tester

My favorite part of releasing a product is always getting out there with the die-hards on launch night. One memorable event was being on the Xbox team when the 360 shipped, and we rented a bus to drive to different midnight lines around town. There were so many excited people at one stop that the police kindly suggested we move on.
Josh Eash, Release Manager


Mighty_Sandwich  You've stated in the past that Destiny is a "Bungie shooter", leading many to immediately assume that the gameplay will bear close resemblance to that of Halo. Would you say that Destiny bears closer resemblance to older Bungie shooters (Pathways Into Darkness, Marathon, etc.) or the Halo series, at least in terms of moment-to-moment gameplay?
See you at E3!


MastaSin  Will Bungie employees play a role inside Destiny not only as developing it but also as playing it?

I’ll see to it personally. When I daydream about playing Destiny, I imagine arranging opportunities for you to show the creators how the game is really played. That has always been your charge as our community.  Check out the cast of characters who want to play with you.

I will be playing the role of the person who snipes you in the head.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

I regularly played Halo with the Community, I hope to play Destiny with you guys too.  You’re good people.  Except for Achilles. He’s a jerk.
Tom Gioconda, Engineer, Hectorphile

Every time I participate in a studio playtest, I consider it practice for the battleground that awaits us all when this game launches.
Josh Eash, Release Manager

I fully intend to approach Guardians in the Tower to entice under-staffed squads to invite me along.
Robert Kehoe, BVT Tester

I’ll dance with you for a spell.
Lorraine McLees, Senior Graphic Designer

Of course!  I could use the superior skills of everyone out there to help me conquer it!
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

Absolutely! You think I’d let all my behind-the-scenes in-game training go to waste?
Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer

I pinky promise to destroy you as my Warlock.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

We’ll be there to make you envious of our blue flames. (We are getting blue flames again, right?)
John Shaffstall, Engineer

John, please report to the Community Desk.


Tosado  Do you have a plan for what to do with your hands this time?

That joke never gets old. Fortunately, we do have a plan for what to do with our hands at E3. We’re going to hold controllers.


CaptKrunch 96  Tell me you love me.

We love you. Now get lost.


Irishfreak  While not creating vast new universes, what places would you like to visit on this little blue marble we call earth? The only answer I'll accept is Ireland.

You're not giving us a lot of wiggle room here, so we're going to with Ireland.


KingInTheNorth  When all is said and done, who do you want to sit the throne?

This could get ugly. Lots of Bungie devs watch Game of Thrones. That show inspires a lot of passion. We will submit this question to the panel, and ascend the ramparts to watch the battle from a safe height.

Jaqen H’ghar
Thomas Wiley, Auto BVT Tester

Drogon, the humans have been mucking it up long enough, let’s see what a Dragon King can do!
Travis Pijut, Test Engineer

Poddrick.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer*

Elon Musk.
John Shaffstall, Engineer

Arya Stark.
John Hargrove, Player Investment Designer

Hodor.  Really, he can’t do much worse than the rest of them.
Kris Moreno, Senior User Researcher

The Queen.
Dan Miller, Senior Designer

Tigerman!
Wesley Olson, PS3 Tester

King Owens.  KNEEL BEFORE OWENS!!
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Your mom.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

John Stvan, Graphic Designer

That deteriorated quite rapidly. Looks like sarcasm will always defeat love of television at Bungie. Any chance we can end this Mail Sack on a sincere note?


Khirna  You guys are awesome. You guys are the best. I haven't seen another company this excited and this devoted to what they do. Not to say others don't exist, but you guys throw yourself into your community and get us involved to an extent that is unheard of. Thank you for all the dedication and heart you pour into everything you guys do, from the charity, to the games, and to our moms. I can't wait for the next step in your legacy and am super stoked to play Destiny in the future! Keep up the awesome work and keep kicking ass!

You didn’t ask a question, but your challenge is accepted – along with your kind words. It’s been a great week on Bungie.net. Whenever new details about Destiny come to light, the response from all of you only propels us to give you more to chew on. Keep those appetites ravenous, Bungie Community, because we’re preparing a tasty (dare we say, delicious?) E3 meal.

And you know we’ll have a good time then. As those weeks turn into days and hours, we’ll be working pretty hard to put on a good show. That doesn’t mean that we won’t take the time to read your mail. We’ll need that wind against our backs.

There's more to come.
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