A Mail Sack Too Far
Happy Friday. We made it!
One more week is behind us. Thus, we’re one week closer to Destiny. We know how many weeks remain between you and your fate. For now, that’s just one more secret for us to keep. As these days and weeks and months drag on, though, you have to admit that more and more of those secrets are escaping out the door.
One hour ago, I asked Bungie what was the most important thing that happened this week. That’s like throwing a lit match into a fuel refinery. Everyone here has their own stake in this game. We all pour our own sweat into a very specific bucket. Ask us which one of those buckets is the heaviest, and watch the sparks fly.
Every week, we pack more flesh and muscle onto the bones of this experience. This week, we have some new guns to flex. We can now run the entire game from start to finish on dev kits. We saw a full feature set for the ways you’ll interact with Destiny when you’re on the go. The audio team got an order for sound effects that more than tripled your original arsenal of explosives. We passed out a whole raft of next-gen dev kits to the people who need them the most. One of our Raids (in an undisclosed location) turned a corner, and is now fully functional. We poured the foundation for a new wing on Bungie.net that we will use to extend token of our gratitude to the Vanguard. The Vex learned a few new tricks.
And Jay Spang got married.
Some of these things might mean nothing to you, but they define the journey for us. Other details in that mix might mean the world to you, once you learn more about them. To fill in the blanks between our understanding and yours, we always open the Sack.
thehunterkern How soon can we expect the podcast?
Tuesday! Spread the word. Tell your friends.
That’s the plan, anyway. We were hunting for that perfect moment to restore the Bungie Podcast to its former glory, and honor the flood of requests for its triumphant return. Then, we learned that Urk would be featured in the Sony Blogcast this week. Rather than expose you to the risk of overdose on the throaty wisdom that emanates from his ginger-bearded maw, we decided a slow drip would be more prudent.
You should listen to what Urk had to say about you, and us, and what you mean to us – and what we think you think we mean to you. Think of it as an appetizer. Check back with us after the weekend for the main course. For about an hour, we’ll be talking about the weapons you’ll grasp in Destiny.
blamite In the coming months, how often do you think we can expect to have sweet, sweet Bungie pods cast into our faces?
You make it sound kinda gross.
As much as we’d love to make you a promise, we’d hate to write a bad check. First and foremost, we’re making a game around here, and everything serves that end.
ChorrizoTapatio How many of you guys got your hands on GTA 5?
Disclaimer: Crime doesn’t pay, kids. Responsibility and lawful gains are the only worthy pursuit for your life.
With that out of the way, we’ve lost a lot of sleep to exploring Los Santos this week. It’s a great game. We’re especially looking forward to seeing how GTA Online works. After all, exploring an expansive world is always more fun when you do it with your friends. You know? Of course you do.
When those doors open, I’ll be looking to recruit the following as Muscle in my Crew.
Me! Me! Me!Scott Taylor, Associate ProducerI tried pretending that I was getting sick when I got the text message that my pre-order had arrived, but no one believed me…which means I’ve only gotten to spend a few hours in Los Santos so far.Josh Eash, Release ManagerI picked it up on release day, but am at an impasse because I still can’t put down The Last of Us.Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic DesignerI got two hands on GTA 5 and the other one is giving a high five.Josh Hamrick, “Three Weapon System” DesignerI can't wait to see GTA Online.Mike Forrest, Senior Engineer
Blrg When was the first time someone stole your loot from a huge boss that took you a few tries to kill?
If you are asking this question about Destiny, the answer is, “Never!” When we were making the rounds this past summer, we talked a lot about private loot streams. The rewards you’ll earn as you become legend in Destiny will belong to you. No one can take them from you.
Spawn Most awkward moment when taking the new guys out for lunch. GO!
Ever been the new kid at a school? You stumble through unfamiliar halls, lost in a sea of people who all know each other on a first name basis. The whole scenario is packed with awkward moments. Onboarding at Bungie can be like that, but there are always friends who step forward to extend a warm welcome. The new hire lunch thing at Bungie is designed to help us break the ice and form the bonds of solid teamwork. That doesn’t mean that things don’t get weird.
I was super distracted with part of the move out here (my wife was still in Austin and sticking our cats on a plane; I had to go pick them up from the airport that night). On the walk back from lunch, I ended up rambling to poor Sam Beliveau all about our cats and the one that died, and… it was really terrible. Sorry, Sam!Andrew Weldon, DesignerProbably when I ate out with James Tsai and when he said he was the lead designer on Saints Row 2, I blurted out “OMG I LOVE YOU.” The fangirl could not be contained. (Luckily James handled it in stride because he has such serious pro stylez.)Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda, DesignerI think it was pretty awkward that one time one of our new hires didn’t remember or recognize who their direct manager/the person who hired them/the guy who organized their new hire lunch in the first place was.Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic DesignerWhen we realized he wasn’t an employee.John Stvan, Graphic DesignerGoing on and on about which steakhouse is best and finding out the New Hire was a vegetarian.Leland Dantzler, Matchmaking Embedded TesterWhen we tell them that they ARE the lunch.Josh Hamrick, Senior DesignerThat moment when the joint conversation between the six of us became a highly technical, one-on-one conversation with four of us left out in the cold.David Johnson, EngineerLaughing and then realizing I was the new guy, and that it wasn’t me laughing, but everyone else. At me.Jonathon Dobbs, Strikes Tester
Link of Origin What is some aspect in the Video Game Development industry that isn't in any other industry (not necessarily something just at Bungie)?
It’s easy to lose sight of this in our safe, little world. We’re very fortunate to be doing what we do, where we do it, and with whom we do it. That’s the professional trifecta. There a lot of industries in which highly intelligent, highly passionate people blend art and science to create something amazing, but we count ourselves pretty lucky to be making games for these reasons (among others).
You can describe (merrily, in public, to friends) how you love to kill your coworkers.Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda, DesignerNobody will yell at you if you say you spent the whole night playing videogames.Alejandro Polo, Localization Editor (Spanish)The amount of beer and coffee that is consumed is astounding. I never would have expected it to beat the coffee intake in the military, but somehow we do.Daniel Auchenpaugh, Investment Test LeadThe industry is made up of professional big kids. Everyone is usually having fun and doing something that probably isn’t condoned elsewhere (i.e. riding around on scooters to a desk, throwing things at each other) but everyone works incredibly hard to ship something they’re proud of.Dawn Vu, Graphics TesterUhm, uh, being able to make video games…?David Johnson, Engineer
Lord Revan Keeping a myriad of employees on track can be difficult, and having them all adhere to one vision seems nigh impossible with egos and personal interests often butting heads. What phrase comes to mind first as the perfect embodiment of the Bungie mantra to pass on to a new hire to help them adhere to the team's vision?
You’re absolutely right. It is a challenge, but it’s a worthy one. We have a very big team making this very big game. A lot of effort gets thrown at keeping them focused on the same vision – everything from internal emails to the way we celebrate Bungie Day internally. It’s like leading a clan, and every strong clan needs a motto and a mission statement. If you were to ask my teammates, they would tell you what wisdom rings true for them.
Leland Dantzler, Matchmaking Embedded Tester
Everyone else is at least as smart as you are.Justin Truman, Engineering LeadKeep it simple. Keep it clean. Keep it elegant.John Stvan, Graphic DesignerAlways ask, “What is the best contribution I can make to our game today?”David Johnson, EngineerBe brave, be bold, be fearless.Andrea Fonger, Engineer“Don’t make us kick your ass,” spoken by Harold.Dawn Vu, Graphics Tester
Malfar If you could give one token of wisdom to the community, what wisdom would you impart upon us?
“Invest in railroads?” “Discontinue use if rash develops?” “Don’t cross the streams?” “This do not eat?” “Mind the gap?”
Are any of these helpful? If not, our panelists have their own pearls of wisdom for you to string around your neck.
Be excellent to each other. Seriously. Don’t be those other people on the internet.Andrew Weldon, DesignerYou really should give your parents a call.Justin Truman, Engineering LeadBelieve everything you read on the internet.Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic DesignerIf you’re coasting, you’re going downhill.John Stvan, Graphic DesignerWe cannot give you blue flames. I’m so, so sorry.Leland Dantzler, Matchmaking Embedded TesterThink before you speak.Josh Hamrick, Senior DesignerTie your shoes before going in a public restroom.Kurt Nellis, Technical Cinematic LeadEating raw bacon is a terrible idea.Jonathon Dobbs, Strikes Tester
xgeua What's the noise level like at Bungie?
During many moments of the day, a hush falls over this softly-lit womb of dangerous imaginings. It sounds a lot like a library might, if they built worlds in libraries. You can hear curious conspiracies in hushed tones, incessant clicking of many fingers on many keyboards, random burst of laughter, and the occasional sneeze. All of that changes when someone drops something on the floor, forever destroying that thing. That’s when the entire studio within earshot of that tragic event will erupt in applause.
Ibex1001 What do you do if you walk past someone who is possibly a fellow Bungie employee but you are not entirely sure?
One of my favorite pastimes is sneaking up on people wearing Bungie gear out in the wild, disguising my voice, and asking “OMG you werk for Bungie?” The reactions are always priceless. Since I have yet to ambush someone who was not a teammate, I yield the floor to our panel for best practices when in doubt.
Outside the office, look for the Destiny logo on their left shoulder. Inside the office, tackle first, introduce myself later.Andrew Weldon, DesignerThere’s a secret handshake that helps solve this problem every time.Josh Eash, Release ManagerI yell “Frog blast the vent core” and see if they shoot.Aubrey Pullman, ArtistWhen I first started I was overly excited about wearing my sweet new Bungie shirts. That first weekend I was at good ol’ Arcane Comics in Ballard, the best comic shop in the Universe, when I saw another guy with a Bungie shirt JUST LIKE MINE. I ran up to him with a giant grin on my face and asked, “Hey, do you work at Bungie?” He looked me up and down and replied in the negative. This caught me off guard. I don’t always think so fast on my feet so I said, “Well, I just started.” He did not reply to this and I was embarrassed. The moral of the story is that you should shop at Arcane Comics because they’re awesome.Scott Taylor, Associate ProducerJohn Stvan, Graphic Designer
Hylebos Seen any good Indie Games lately?
We’ve done a lot more than see them. We’ve played them. We love Indie games at Bungie. Great gaming experiences come in every shape and size. The Indie scene is a great place to discover unbridled creativity as lone wolves define the raw space. Most of the stories our team told after PAX came from the Indie Mega Booth. At this moment in time, these are the Indie games we want to play.
Teleglitch. Race The Sun. Papers, Please. Hundreds. I’m probably forgetting a bunch more.Andrew Weldon, DesignerGone Home. Just play it, don’t read any reviews or spoilers. Just play it.Alexis Haraux, Associate EngineerFoul Play! It’s a wonderful beat-em-up on Steam and XBLA and it came out on Sept 18!Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda, DesignerThe Neverending Nightmares, but it is still in kickstarter. So… contribute?Alejandro Polo, Localization Editor (Spanish)So many. Rogue Legacy is addictive nostalgia. Icarus Proudbottom Teaches Typing is hilarious. Outlast is oppressively terrifying.Justin Truman, Engineering LeadClockwork Empires or Starbound are my top two anticipated indie games.Daniel Auchenpaugh, Investment Test LeadAttention: You need to play Cargo Commander and Really Big Sky. You’ll thank me, don’t worry.Mark Sachs, EngineerEnemy Starfighter, Galak-Z, Luftrausers, Hotline Miami IIElliott Gray, Graphic DesignerFinally got around to playing Terraria – and that was a blast, but that’s not new… so I suppose that’s probably uninteresting.Alex Loret de Mola, EngineerWe had Jake Kazdal of 17 bit studios come by and demo Galak-Z in the theater!Dan Miller, Senior DesignerKnightmare Tower is currently getting a fair amount of play in my house.Kurt Nellis, Technical Cinematic LeadI played Octodad Dadliest Catch at PAX; that game was just amazingly silly fun.David Johnson, EngineerDoes Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons count? It’s XBLA/Steam/PSN so I assume so. Man I liked this game better than any game I have played I think since ICO which for those that know me is really saying something. Maybe it’s because I have two kids (brother and sister but whatever she sits and mans the Skyrim Bible and directs the missions for her older brother to play) but the game mechanics and storytelling in this game are fucking amazing. I have also heard great things about Gone Home and it is next up on my indie list.Jay Weinland, Senior Audio Lead
[Sourced from Facebook] Chris D. What's the design process for the gorgeous backdrops in the game?
That’s a great question that would lead to a great conversation. We’ve been exploring the creative process in our weapon foundry, through the stories and insights from people like Tom Doyle. The locations in our game deserve the same treatment. If you are curious in that way, you’re welcome to look forward to a new feature on the Bungie Blog.
Do you know the three most important rules for real estate? Location, location, location.
MiloOmega How is the day going?
Alejandro Polo, Localization Editor (Spanish)
I am available for meetings between 1:15-1:20 today if you need to see me.
Scott Taylor, Associate Producer
Well. Thank you for asking.
Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer
I fixed a bug this morning while still in bed, and now I’m working on another one so we can get a new, big feature turned on for everyone, which will be really exciting (for me at least!). I’ve also reviewed some code, answered some questions in email, and I had a really delicious cobb salad for lunch. We have free espresso here today, which always makes the day even better!
Andrea Fonger, Engineer
Valiant Outcast Why do you think the community loves cryptic and sarcastic answers to their questions as much as they do?
Not everyone does. We’ve seen the impatience. We’ve caught a whiff of that rage. “Tell us something!” they say. “Give us DETAILS!” they say. “No one cares about your rock wall!” they say.
The Mail Sack has served as a bridge – like a brightly lit path over a shadowy canyon. We have wanted to bring you along on this journey, even if we haven’t been able to talk about the destination. Our work might be shrouded in secrecy, but our love for our community is not.
If a relationship with the people who work at Bungie is something you’re interested in – if you crave details on our mood from week to week – the Mail Sack has been for you. If you’re only here for game details, that’s fine too. Stick around.
We've hosted these conversations for many, many months now. For us, that time has passed in the blink of an eye. Now, we find the other side of that canyon coming into focus. The Mail Sack may soon be forced to yield to more official (more traditional) weekly communiques from Bungie.
Not yet, but soon.
Next week, you can look forward to another Mail Sack. With the Podcast out in the open, we’ll have some new things to talk about. See you then.