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A Sound-Proof Mail Sack

It’s been an action-packed week at Bungie. We observed the completion of another important development milestone for Destiny. That celebration begins with a team meeting where we put some of our teammates on the spot. They put some of their finer contributions up on a huge projection screen, and endure the scrutiny of over 801 eyeballs. Then, we put a beverage and a controller in every hand, but never at the same time.

With a new build of our game ready to play, we say goodbye to the Guardians we had created as test-subjects for a previous version of this emerging world. With the click of a button and a single tear shed, they are committed to nothingness. New heroes emerge to take their place. They set out from the Tower to see how their world has evolved.

Every studio-wide in-game rally is a glimpse into what awaits us all. We’re not talking about the desperate era that follows the collapse of a golden age. The bright and hopeful future that we can envision during a playtest is that shining moment when our game will be filled with a thriving population that makes it complete. Playlists come to life. Public spaces bustle with activity. Arenas thunder with detonating ordnance and excited chatter.

The excited chatter that filled our space wasn’t isolated to our game. Last night, five people sat down in a nook nestled deep within our studio – a place few people ever go. They gathered there to keep a promise over two years in the making.

The Foley Lab is where we punctuate the sights of the world of Destiny with sound. If its concrete-reinforced, vacuum-sealed, padded walls could talk, they would say “Quiet down!” There, our audio team captures everything from boots on the ground, to whirring machinery, to spent shell casings that land on every surface imaginable. Last night, the sounds being captured were some guys talking about Destiny.

We talked about guns – lots and lots of guns. 

We’ll revisit that conversation soon. Some of what we talked about will be stricken from the record. Any good chat, after all, veers off course and into dangerous waters. The rest, however, will be bundled for broadcast to the pod of your choosing.

That will happen soon. Right now, we’ll keep a promise of a different sort and open the Sack.

Eskimo Luvs You  Will the Podcast be returning?

That’s a promise.

BBreezy819  (Without revealing any spoilers) what are some of the coolest moments Bungie has had while testing Destiny?

But all of the coolest moments of Destiny are spoilers. Don’t you see? Those moments will happen in Public Events where you’ll save your friends (and maybe even some total strangers – who won’t be strangers for long) from certain death. Or, they could happen in a moment of solitude that’s home to a revelation about what befell humanity’s lost golden age.

This game is about discovery. We’re crafting a ritual of fun and exploration in which you’ll figure things out for yourself. The more we tell you about that, the more we deprive you of what you’re waiting for. We know it’s hard to wait. We know you want details. I read your comments, Reddit, and I can take it. The game is the thing, and we won’t compromise that for the sake of the Sack. 

To honor our vision for what it will be like to play Destiny, we must be coy. We do this not to tease you, but to serve you. At the same time, it’s safe enough to let our panel enjoy memories of their finer clinical moments in testing the game.

Running through the Gamescom build without a single crash the whole show.
Leland Dantzler, Matchmaking Embedded Tester

Walking through a level and running into another player for the first time was amazing. I wasn't sure if it was an NPC or a player at first, and then he waved at me! I sent him an email just to double-check. Then we teamed up to kill some Fallen!
Chase Christian, Senior IT Engineer

In Test, we emulate the new gamer’s experience every day. We keep in mind what people will be expecting or what issues they might encounter. We target everything that we feel can be improved upon and provide feedback to the artists and engineers. We often find things by accident, or discover that a small issue has escalated, and it’s exciting to research and pinpoint those problems. It’s even more awesome to see your feedback be incorporated into the game and know that you had a hand in making that happen.
Jonathan Dobbs, Strikes Tester

I got to play a few matches with the people from outside the studio. Seeing the excited reactions of first-time players was very gratifying!
Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer

[Sourced from Facebook] Stephen T.  How has it been developing a game for multiple formats after sticking to just one format for so long?

We get to invite more people to explore those worlds! Our community can welcome new players who may have never experienced a Bungie game before. Developing a cross-platform game is hard, but the perks outweigh the pain.

Zh515  What are the panel's favorite board games?

You might think that we only favor games at Bungie that require electricity. You would be wrong. We love all sort of games. Any riddle wrapped in competition informs what we do. And, as always, our tastes run the gamut.

Chutes and Ladders, AKA what it’s like in the business world.
Leland Dantzler, Matchmaking Embedded Tester

Last Night on Earth.
Wesley Olson, PS3 Tester

7 Wonders, Jungle Speed, Power Grid, and Lords of Vegas.
Jen Ash, User Researcher

Candy Land!
Andy Xiao, Artist

Settlers of Catan is my favorite board game, because the rules are simple but every playthrough is complex and unique. And I love all of the bad puns associated with trading.
Chase Christian, Senior IT Engineer

Hero Quest. It was this really ancient Fantasy RPG-style board game involving the most badass monster miniatures and a sweet board. The GM can place traps, monsters and doors and so on, and the rest of the players need to survive and find treasure. Then my dog ate the gargoyle.
Jonathan Dobbs, Strikes Tester

Diplomacy.  Although I haven't played it in a long time.  There's some truth behind its unofficial motto: "Destroying friendships since 1959."
Mike Forrest, Senior Engineer

Last Night on Earth is my favorite.  It’s an awesome game and it introduced me to modern complex board games that include turn limit instead of being impossible to finish. (I am looking at you Monopoly and Risk.)
Rah Green, Sandbox Test Engineer

I like playing Go Fish in public with cards from Magic: The Gathering. People get angry.
Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer

[Sourced from Twitter] @TrevorWendt Is there a sort of matchmaking system?

Yes, there is. To populate a living, social world with heroes, you need a system to unite them. As you fight for survival on the battlegrounds of your favorite destinations, you’ll be aided by other brave Guardians who swoop in to be your wingman for as long as you want one. 

Of course, that’s only one element of Destiny’s multifaceted world. There are other systems, like Fireteam formation, for example, that we’re building to allow you to play what you want, with the people who matter to you the most.

Thanks for the question. Your Destiny trading cards are en route. Hope you can speak German.

ChorrizoTapatio  If there was one thing that could be invented to make your life easier, what would you want it be?

The panel was remarkably unified on this one. The response was not unanimous – it never is – but a glaring consensus emerged. Check it out.

Jen Ash, User Researcher
Andy Xiao, Artist
Jonathan Dobbs, Strikes Tester
David Johnson, Engineer
Mike Forrest, Senior Engineer
Josh Eash, Release Manager
Drew Smith, Producer
Daniel Auchenpaugh, Investment Test Lead

Seems like we might have a bit of a traffic problem in the greater Seattle metropolitan area. Either that, or some wanderlust, blended with impatience. What do you think?

SubZero007  Can you tell us the date of when you will tell us the release date?

Are we there yet?

Jimmy C  Do you, a Guardian of Bungie, ever have a new hire show their inner fan when they meet you? How do you handle that encounter?

It’s a common story. Who would choose this life of long hours, mind-numbing technical challenges, scathing sarcasm, and almost zero sunlight? Likely candidates are lovers of games. Even likelier candidates are lovers of Bungie games. I give a lot of onboarding tours to our new hires. When we encounter the statue of Spartan 117 (“John to his friends,” I always say), I ask them if they’ve played our games. That’s usually when the FNG composure melts and a big grin cracks their face. Then they get upstairs, and it happens over and over again.

Does it count if I was the new hire squealing like a schoolgirl?
Leland Dantzler, Matchmaking Embedded Tester

Yes, it happens. I take them out to a new hire lunch.
Wesley Olson, PS3 Tester

If they are old school, I would fanboy it up with them and talk some Myth, or Marathon.
Cameron Pinard, Artist

I was that new hire and I’ve blocked it from my memory. I imagine it was awkward.
Kevin Yanes, Production Engineer

LiamTLive23  We've heard that destiny will be at Eurogamer in London. What can we expect to find there?

If memory serves, there was a Fallen Captain who chewed through his leash and gave us the slip the last time we crossed the pond.

Only one way to find out.

DeltaPhoenix66  Who of the illustrious Bungie staff brags about their superior gaming prowess the most?

We are gamers. Thus, among us, there is bluster – perhaps even the talking of trash. Yesterday, during our playtest, you could hear people cursing each other for design decisions that had caused their deaths. That’s the thing about exploring a sandbox that's still being designed. New dangers scorch the dunes after every iteration.

In the midst of all this mayhem, one email rang out like a shot heard ‘round the studio. One of us had the temerity to issue this challenge: “Are there any brave volunteers out there to help me preserve my status at the top of the leaderboard?”

And out poured the scorn:

The best players only brag with their weapons. Speaking is redundant.
Leland Dantzler, Matchmaking Embedded Tester

Elliott Gray. “So, uhhh, who’s on Team Onyx?”
Drew Smith, Producer

Elliot likes to talk a big game but can’t seem to deliver.
Kevin Yanes, Production Engineer

egray. I hate you, egray.
Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer

I hope nobody picks me.
Elliott Gray, Graphic Designer

Of course they said your name, Elliott. It was you who solicited the volunteers.

Sarge 0117  Will there be drivable vehicles?


Ibex1001  Who would you nominate for employee of the month?

I nominate egray, for keeping the blog stocked with fresh graphics, and having the fortitude of character to endure a public shaming in the Mail Sack. Everyone has their favorite coworker, though.

Myself, because my beard is awesome!
Wesley Olson, PS3 Tester

Leland Dantzler, Matchmaking Embedded Tester extraordinaire. His tireless and cheerful support and depth of understanding have made countless problems easy to solve.
Damian Frank, Engineer

Justin Hayward. He’s a guru here. Every time I take a peek at his monitor, he’s always working on mind blowing visual effects. And, he has a historic soldier hat at his desk. Isn’t that the definition of awesome?
Andy Xiao, Artist

I don’t think there’s anyone here who doesn’t deserve to be Employee of the Month every month.
David Johnson, Engineer

Coward! You must choose one! But choose wisely. If we don’t assume control of this for ourselves, Pete will bring back the plaque that Noguchi has lorded over people for the past nine years.

WestCoastRonin  How are you building Destiny to appeal to people like me (who are busy with family and a full-time job) and only have a chance to play video games for a few hours per week?

Well, to begin with, we are people like you. You may have heard that we make games we want to play. That’s true, man. We don’t just say that because it rhymes.

Destiny will be a game that you can fit into your life. It won’t be a chore or a grind. We’re creating an adventure that will be fun. We’re building a world you can visit when it suits you. You won’t have to worry about being left behind if you don’t clock in on a daily basis. Every Guardian who answers the call to defend the last safe city will get out of their experience what they put into it.

The Mail Sack is also compatible with our busy lives, which is why it too has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We’ll revisit it again next week. With some luck, it won’t be your only opportunity to hear from us about what we’re working on. Stay tuned, and ready your preferred listening devices for action.
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