Choose the Mail Sack
The road that leads to the words below is paved with a thousand choices.
We choose to take your questions. You ask the ones that lead to your deepest curiosities. I choose the ones that lead to the things we can talk about. Our team chooses to devote a moment of their busy week to answering those questions, and they choose their words carefully. Every step of the way, the mix gets refined.
Not everything can make the cut. As much as we want to keep you entertained, we need to leave something for you to discover later. This mix of thoughts and opinions and revelations gets scrutinized and challenged by people who make sure we’re telling the right story about who we are, and what happened here this week. We even filter a draft of what you’re reading now to assure its quality.
In many ways, cultivating this weekly meeting of minds is a lot like making a Bungie game. We start with a basic intent to create something we think you’ll love. We build a team to make those ideas a reality, and every member of that team is chosen from a talent pool that spans every discipline we need to get that job done. Every single person on our team spends every day making choices about how they can best apply their gifts to making our game better. Choices upon choices upon choices lead to the final product.
Every day at Bungie, the choices we make shape the form Destiny will take once it lands in your console. Just like this article, there a many people contributing to the experience. Every choice that gets made has an impact on what you’ll see on your screen.
At this very moment, people working on our game are picking the aspects they love the most, and dedicating themselves to making sure they’re as good as they can make them. We’re far from done, but we spend a lot of time thinking about when you get to play with fresh eyes and eager trigger fingers. We’re looking forward to that day, and we know all too well that what we do right now will shape what happens then.
That moment when we ship this game into your eager hands will be a lot like this moment, when we open the Sack.
GRUNT 4500 What will make us want to come back to a certain area in Destiny?
Playing Destiny will provide you with more choices than any other game we’ve ever created for you to play. You’ll decide which corners of our lost civilization you like to visit the most, as well as how you like to spend your time there. What’s your favorite thing about playing an action game? As those things may change from day to day, you think you’ll find a lot of reasons to visit your favorite destinations again and again.
In Destiny, we believe we can provide a meaningful activity for every player, no matter their mood. That might mean taking in a great, cinematic story. That might mean exploring the world with friends. That could be a cooperative mission or a challenge or a competitive multiplayer match. It might even just mean socializing a little in the Tower while you upgrade your gear, trade in some hard-won artifacts, or just soak in a breathtaking sunset.
Destiny is an ambitious undertaking – bigger than anything we’ve ever built before. If you’d like to know more, plans are underway to give you what you want.
Spartan00307 What is your all-time favorite Space Battle?
Some choices are easier to make than others. There can’t be a single person on this team that doesn’t have an opinion about the best clash in the cold vacuum of space. As you’re about to see, not all of us chose the same battle, or even the same medium.
Justin Truman, Engineering LeadChris Butcher, Senior Engineering LeadDawn Vu, Graphics TesterMike Forrest, Senior EngineerMark Sachs, EngineerDaniel Auchenpaugh, Investment Test LeadRah Green, Sandbox Test EngineerTravis Pijut, Associate Test EngineerNathan Thorell, Performance TesterJake Lauer, Web Development EngineerAndy Howell, Matchmaking Test LeadElliott Gray, Graphic DesignerDavid Johnson, EngineerScott Taylor, Associate ProducerWesley Olson, PS3 TesterAndrew Weldon, DesignerThomas Wiley, Auto BVT TesterRoger Wolfson, Theoretical Physicist
DarkCenturian14 How long does it take a new initiate at Bungie to become fully acquainted with the company and people?
A game this big needs a team that’s matched to scale. To help us gear up to realize our wildest dreams, fresh faces join us in our clubhouse to bring fresh passion and energy to the cause. That keeps the achievement you’re describing equally out of reach for the greenest newbie and the most grizzled ancients. This is a good thing. Experiences that change over time tend to be the ones with the most staying power in our imaginations.
Dan de Board This is a question for the QA folks: How do you keep it fresh and not frustrating or boring when testing something for the tenth or hundredth time?
Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes it is frustrating and boring, but you’ve got to power through it. Sometimes you swear that if you hear another person say, “Well it works on my machine” that you’ll explode in a supernova of QA fury. Those are the times when you go get a cup of coffee and sigh heavily, but you keep going. You know that this is only the “sometimes” and the “most times” are far, far better.Daniel Auchenpaugh, Investment Test LeadEarlier on in development this isn’t really an issue since the game is usually growing and evolving and changing so much. Later in the development cycle I try to change up my play style from day to day or hour to hour. You find more interesting bugs if you try more interesting things.Rah Green, Sandbox Test EngineerOn my team, we try to keep it lighthearted, so we’ve got jokes and silly names for some of the combatants. I also try to multitask where I can.Elizabeth Bergeron, Lead Combatant TesterI try to give my guys a chance to do the “Deep dive” on a feature to keep it fresh. I also try to give them the chance to ad-hoc around a feature / test around an area after the test case work is done.Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test LeadPatience and determination. Plus caffeine. Lots. And. Lots. Of. Caffeine.Chris Owens, Associate Test EngineerLearning to entertain yourself while still paying full attention to what you are doing is a handy trick to learn.Travis Pijut, Associate Test EngineerMake up your own mini games. It might sound crazy but seeing if you can beat a level without touching a patch of snow is actually quite fun.Wesley Olson, PS3 TesterSlightly alter your testing pattern. That’s how you find the hidden bugs that most people don’t find while repeating the same path. Finding bugs that are hard to reproduce is exciting.Thomas Wiley, Auto BVT TesterThe key is to dabble in other areas of the game (like in studio playtests) to keep your viewpoint from becoming too myopic. Seeing what awesomeness another teammate is working on gives us renewed strength to plug away at our own test passes.Leland Dantzler, Matchmaking Embedded Tester
OPs mom What game inspired you to work in the gaming industry?
I could echo a lot of our newer hires and talk about Halo, but any of you would understand that. Instead, let’s see some of the less obvious sparks that ignited the passions of our team.
System Shock. The original and best!Mark Sachs, EngineerSimCity 2000. As a child, my parents (hi mom!) told me I couldn’t stay up late playing the game. So instead I set my Garfield alarm clock to wake me at 2am (after only four hours of sleep) and snuck downstairs to resume my city building madness. It was the first game that really took me from “liking” video games to “loving” video games. There have been many since, but that was the first.Daniel Auchenpaugh, Investment Test LeadAt age 6, I’d gotten my older brother sick with the chicken pox (well, not on purpose, but that would have been hilarious), so friends of the family lent us their Nintendo. Although he wouldn’t let me play it, from the first time my brother turned on Castlevania, I knew I wanted to make games.Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda, DesignerI spent (and honestly, still spend) hours poring over my Halo 3 stats in college. I made custom spreadsheets and invented new metrics to examine my play style and my strengths and weaknesses.Jake Lauer, Web Development EngineerThe Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I absolutely loved the game, and I began to fill notebook after notebook with dungeons and maps, and I even started to program some of it in QBASIC.David Johnson, EngineerBlack & White. I was studying Computer Science at the time, with a focus on AI, and it was the most exciting Artificial Intelligence I’d seen in any field, not just games. It made me realize that programming videogames wasn’t just “screwing around” – it was as legitimate and challenging as any other engineering career I could pursue.Justin Truman, Engineering LeadHalf-Life was the game changer.Andrew Weldon, Designer
Ibex1001 A huge spider appears on your desk. What do you do?
You may have heard that, before Destiny was officially known as Destiny, we called it Project Tiger. We were using codenames! During those early development cycles, a weekly tradition was “Tiger Friday!” At the end of every week, the email list that hosts our social ramblings erupted in a flurry of images of proud great cats. Like many traditions, Friday Tiger was perverted by time. These days, it’s Spider Friday. And it’s dreadful.
Dawn Vu, Graphics TesterMike Forrest, Senior EngineerElizabeth Bergeron, Lead Combatant TesterAlan Stuart, Senior EngineerDerek Carroll, Senior Designer
Why do we do this? Not everyone thinks it’s funny. That’s why the new craze has caught on like a brush fire.
This question is evil.Daniel Auchenpaugh, Investment Test LeadNathan Thorell, Performance Tester
CaptKrunch 96 What have you learned the hard way while working at Bungie?
Personally, I learned that you never complain about spiders unless you want to see lots and lots of spiders. Life at Bungie is full of lessons, and chances to stumble into the web of life’s bitter truths.
Keep an eye on your inbox around crunch dinner time.Mike Forrest, Senior EngineerJust because I can eat it, doesn’t mean I should eat it.Daniel Auchenpaugh, Investment Test LeadIf you can’t figure out who is pranking you, it’s probably Gasca.Kyle Robinson, Web TesterIf there’s a certain type of beer you want in the beer fridge, better get it at least fifteen minutes before the company meeting, or you’ll be fresh outta luck when it’s over.Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda, DesignerDeeJ doesn’t rule the night. He doesn’t rule it. Nobody does.Elliott Gray, Graphic DesignerI am not as smart as I thought I was, and others are smarter than I thought they were.Alan Stuart, Senior EngineerThe Ballmer Peak is real!Alex Loret de Mola, EngineerWhen an engineer says to a tester, “I need your help on something,” your best course of action is faking a sudden serious illness.Leland Dantzler, Matchmaking Embedded Tester
TITAN AJR How will players of Destiny be able to stand out in the Bungie community?
Destiny is an expressed invitation for you to become legend. We’ll all have stories to tell, and you’ll write them yourself. The reputation you build for yourself as a hero in this brave new world will depend on the choices you make. Where will you devote your efforts? Which game modes will you excel at playing? Which class will you choose? What will be your favorite weapon? In which ways will you customize your character? We think Bungie.net will be a great place to share those stories, and build a following to celebrate your achievements.
Before we bring this Mail Sack to a close, we have a promise to keep. Earlier in the week, we asked you choose your favorite piece of fan art. The votes (or in this case, the “likes”) have been counted. The winner of the Look Who’s Playing Destiny contest is D1mik.
We’ll be in touch to discuss your bounty.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could win a prize without being a master of digital illustration? Or a poet? Or a sculptor? Or someone who can rig a forum election?
We think so, too. Your homework assignment for this week will be simpler. More inclusive, even. For a chance to win a loot drop of your own, follow us on Twitter. Then, stay tuned. Next week, we’ll be serving up some conversation starters that will result in prizes for the bold and the brave.
And, we’ll reveal another Mail Sack – because we choose to.