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When is the next Mail Sack?

This week, we finally got around to celebrating Bungie Day at the studio. Like our annual Pentathlon, the opening ceremony features a shot of fresh talent. With swords in hand, on bended knee, they swear an oath to Bungie and we complete the indoctrination of new blood into our family.

Once whole and united in our march toward World Domination, we play Destiny. To level the playing field, our characters are reset for the occasion. For the next eight hours, we are all newbies.

Back at my desk, I fire up a new Guardian – a Male Awoken Warlock. I only spend a few moments in character creation. I’ve done this before, and I know what I like.

My Fireteam is ready as soon as I am. We descend from orbit as a trio of freshly-minted Guardians, ready to run wild through some cinematic story chapters. Before we know it, we’re laughing and cheering and building a story filled with epic moments of intense action and cooperative joy. We’re feeding on each other’s energy, both emotionally and literally, using a game mechanic we’re not quite ready to talk about yet. It’s still in its infancy, but it already begets a crackling layer of fun and energy I haven’t experienced in a shooter before. 

Lunch is unceremoniously announced when the support staff pulls the plug on the experience. A collective groan of disappointment ripples through the studio like a zombie plague reanimating the dead. The break in our fun is not welcomed enthusiastically.

But, we must eat.

After lunch, beers are out in force, and competitive multiplayer is served up for dessert. Multiple modes are scheduled by the hour, and my trio plunges in after recruiting more Guardians from the surrounding desks to bolster our ranks. Though my plan is to only play a handful of games to gauge the experience, and then dive back into some more fun cooperative stuff, the rest of my day is lost, now willingly, to intense, white-knuckle and often hilarious action. 

If only every day at Bungie were like this! Alas, after the games concluded, the team took the opportunity to wash themselves over with enough compliments, critiques, and certified bugs to keep everyone busy for the foreseeable future. All the core systems and activities are up and running in the pre-alpha state, displaying all of the rough edges, missing features, and necessary lack of polish you would expect. That said, Destiny is already a blast to play. In my humble and unbiased opinion, of course.

Looking for some other Bungie opinions on the day’s festivities? Let’s open the Sack.

Hatima  As a Bungie employee, what do you feel personally makes Destiny a great game to play?

The answer to this question will be as varied as the people who answer it. That’s a good thing. It means that every element of the game is someone’s favorite part.

There’s always something more to get, something more to do, that keeps pulling you back in for more and makes you lose track of time.
Andrea Fonger, Engineer

It lets you do the things you love to do, the way you love to do them.
Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer

Familiar feeling physics, varied styles of gameplay, bad-ass multiplayer.
Adam Williams, Artist

The campaign experience is feeling really good.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

I could stare at the skyboxes for hours.
Elizabeth Bergeron, Lead Combatant Tester

My fireteam! Beautiful world design! Badass gear! Moar exclamation marks!
Melanie Theisen, Localization Editor

When I throw a grenade on top of a gaggle of Fallen scrubs and they have just a moment to cower before the explosion ragdolls their poor forms up into the air (I might feel bad for them if they weren’t so intent on stabbing me). Destruction feels so good.
Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda, Designer

DHuntah  How will competitive multiplayer work in destiny? Will the most skilled player win?

The better player on my Fireteam for the day was the same distinguished ginger who brought me here in the first place. Like any fellow gentleman would, he’ll feign humility and tell you that he’s a casual gamer. I know better. Not only did he outrank me at the end of the day, he smoked me several times when we ended up on the wrong side of each other. He has a great story that will tease your appetite for details. Take it from here, Urk.

I am not what I would consider a very skilled or competitive player. I keep my K/D positive and respectable, but I’m streaky, and my clutch plays are often rhythmically paced by sloppy miscalculations and too many missed shots. Bearing that in mind, here is what I can tell you about our as-yet-revealed competitive multiplayer experience. 

Yesterday morning, I bumped into Cable near the coffee machine, and he congratulated me on the games we played against one another. It felt good, man. JonnyO is one of the studio’s consistently competitive players, one fourth of the famed Team Onyx from our Halo: Reach Humpday Challenges of yore. For him to pick up on my competitive play – and I was playing well, if I can drop the humility for a moment – is sweet music to my ears.

I had really enjoyed those matches, too. Lots of cat and mouse play at multiple ranges. Crafty escapes and even craftier flanking routes that had me smiling ear to ear over the imagined frustration I was dolling out to the opposing squad. Strategies developed on the fly, played out, and were discarded in favor of new tactics as the opposition adjusted. Teamwork led to victory.

I rode high on wings made of the Traveler’s light. And then something terrible happened, my friends. After the handful of matches where my skill soared and my enemies fell hard to earth to suffer enduring shame, my wings were clipped. I encountered a scourge – A Hunter whose fiery, unholy hand cannon dispensed rounds that invariable found their way to my face, wiping away my grin. This fiend became the bane of my multiplayer existence, and as soon as I had manifested a dream of Destiny multiplayer mastery, it was taken from me – radiant ash and crumbling soot carried away unceremoniously on the wind. 

Only the sound of his name remained – Hamrick – accompanied by a single tear.
Urk, a Miserable Little Pile of Secrets

Mental  What's it like to play a game while you make it?

Ever have that dream where you’re running toward something, but it keeps getting farther away the faster you run? It’s like that, only there are sharks that can walk and they’re chasing you, screaming “Are we there yet?” I’m just kidding. It’s not that bad. It’s actually wonderful. Allow our panel to reassure you that everything is going according to plan.

A map that was beautiful will become stunningly gorgeous, and you’ll say to yourself, “WOW!  Someone put a lot of love into this.”
Andrea Fonger, Engineer

I haven't gotten tired of it yet.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer*

It’s like watching a 3D movie without the special glasses.  You’re simultaneously seeing what’s there and what’s going to be there.
John Hopson, User Research Lead

Confusing and wonderful. Beloved features sometimes disappear as delightful new ones appear. Each build is fresh to me!
Leland Dantzler, Tester

A cocktail of frustrating, inspiring, insanely fun, and Space Magic.
Adam Williams, Artist

If the game is awesome then it is very awesome.  If the game is not awesome then it is less awesome.  It is not a fixed linear scale though.
Rahsaan Green, Sandbox Test Engineer

It’s really amazing to see the evolution of something so huge. When you work on a specialized thing all day, seeing all the other specialized things come together with yours to form something amazing is the greatest feeling ever.
Elizabeth Bergeron, Lead Combatant Tester

The game gets hard to put down sometimes and seeing some of the awesome collaborations from other departments only makes this harder.
Joshua Jones, Infrastructure Embedded Tester

It can be frustrating since things are always in progress. Once you come across a near completed section and it plays perfectly, that’s when the smiles and stories begin to form.
Reed Shingledecker, Artist

It’s like running towards a finish line while still training for the race, but the rules of the race keep changing to make the race more interesting – and then, suddenly, it starts snowing.  I’m not sure what any of that means.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Me neither. Don’t listen to Owens, kids. He trolls harder than this guy.

Chanchorade  Are you guys taking into account reaal fisics and science for the planets in the solar system?

Everything changed with the arrival of the traveler, including the spelling of the word physics.


STOP SCREAMING AT ME! The answer to any question that contains the word “When” is the same: “When it’s ready.”

Duncan What's the first part about a game that gets finished?

At Bungie, it’s the basic concept. We don’t start making a game until we have answers to the bigger questions. What sort of world would you want to visit again and again? Which mysteries will drive people to fling themselves into the howling darkness of space? How should heroes experience this story together? Once we can imagine those shimmering possibilities casting their inviting glow over the horizon, we start marching there as a team.

If you want to learn more about the early process, make sure you check out Joe Staten and Christopher Barrett’s GDC talk from earlier in the year. Not only did they open up and detail out their world building process, they put a lot of great art on display as well.

If you were asking about something more specific, the answer is: “The ___________.”

Mat Noguchi, Programmer*

Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda, Designer

Kyle Robinson, Web Tester

Tim Burris, Engineer

Josh Eash, Release Manager

moon wind
Roger Wolfson, Theoretical Physicist

your mom
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

Easter eggs
David Candland, Senior Artist

David Johnson, Engineer

crunch dinner
Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer

Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer
Kris Moreno, Senior User Researcher
Wesley Olson, Tester
Dawn Vu, Graphics Tester

As you can see, it depends on who you ask – unless you’re asking about beer.

Karl Swartz  Can I get a Doctor's Note for when the game comes out stating I have to play Destiny because I have an addiction, so I'll be missing work. A lot.

No can do, Sir. Keep your job. Stay in school. Get back together with your girlfriend (apologize and buy flowers). Call your mother. We have. She misses you.

You can play Destiny without setting up a basecamp in your game room, and you don’t need a prescription. We’ll make sure it’s compatible with your life. In fact, that’s one of our design pillars.

TPaz117  Talk about something awesome you've been working on, it does not have to be work related.

That’s more like it. Maintaining a good work/life balance when you’re working on a project this large can be as hard as maintaining a good game/life balance when you’re playing a game this big. We still get around to doing the other things we love.

Everything I do is awesome.
Dawn Vu, Graphics Tester

We have a Cascadian Dark Ale fermenting in our basement right now – just transferred it on Sunday!
Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda, Designer

I’ve been trying to get my new Warmachine models assembled and painted to I can look at least somewhat respectable on the table!
Elizabeth Bergeron, Lead Combatant Tester

From time to time I get a chance to volunteer as crew on one of the biggest tall-ships on the west coast.  Going out sailing can make for an amazing weekend.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

I made this website for my Minecraft server.
Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer

My body.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer*

Just started restoring a 66 Mustang.
Wesley Olson, Tester

Trying really hard not to buy everything in the steam sale. Compared to years before I’m doing pretty awesome.
Kevin Yanes, Production Engineer

Voltron Halloween costume.
Mark Flieg, Artist

A short film, a retro arcade using a $40 computer, and some LED lighting hacks for future film projects.  In other words, a little of everything and not getting very far very fast.
Kurt Nellis, Technical Cinematic Lead

Teaching my 2-year old humor. I recently had this exchange with her…
Me: Do you know what a joke is?
Daughter: Yes
Me: What is it?
Daughter: You
I think things are coming along nicely.
Joe Sifferman, Test Engineer

Lhuna  Does your cleaning crew see some of the stuff you guys have been working on?

Yep. They have full access to the development floor. I rode the bus with one of them once. He was on his way to eliminate all evidence of the amount of junk food we consume in a day. I was staggering home from happy hour in Seattle. When I saw him twirling his entry badge around his finger, we got to gossiping about our secure location.

“You all got a lot of weird-ass stuff on your desks,” was my favorite of his comments.

Decay66  What's the weirdest thing you have ever seen while working at Bungie?

Aside from the stuff on our desks? The people who appear during the day shift are even weirder.

Gonzo sitting inappropriately atop a teddy bear.
Andrea Fonger, Engineer

Halcylon dressed up like a cat. I can see the wig from here.
Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer

The sweaty handprints above the king-sized men’s urinal on Pentathlon day, shortly after the whiskey tasting. This won’t make the Mail Sack.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

There have been some unusual things drawn on the whiteboards.  That’s all I can say.
Adam Williams, Artist

Pat Jandro’s soccer outfits.
Elliott Gray, Graphic Designer

I’m pretty sure I saw someone walking around on all fours.  Not sure what’s up with that.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

Barney with knee high white boots.
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

Sexy Sax Man parading through the office, playing his sexy sax.
John Hopson, User Research Lead
Reed Shingledecker, Artist
Dawn Vu, Graphics Tester
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer
Kyle Robinson, Web Tester
Chris Owens, Test Engineer
Wesley Olson, Tester

Again, it depends on how you ask – unless you’re asking about the Sax.

Andreas17Chief  Will Destiny come with multiple languages to choose from?

Yessir! And, soon, so shall Have you met the guy in charge of that? He doesn’t speak all the languages in which you might experience our game, or our website, but he knows people who do.

That’s the Sack. We've come to the end, for now. There will likely be another one next week. And the week after. In the meantime, I’ve a suggestion to keep you all occupied. Add your worst nightmare to this image (help yourself to the high-resolution for maximum pixel justice).

Embed your finished product in a comment below. It needs to appear in your post. Ask for help if you don’t know how to do this. Two of our graphic designers have broken the ice with submissions that are disqualified from competition. Follow their lead. If your work is chosen, we’ll send you a t-shirt to keep you safe in cheerful places.
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