Excited to see what's next.
Is that just the industry? Or are we just hearing about the worst cases?
Game development is generally complex and has some special challenges but given those constraints isn't always worse than many typical software projects.
I spent 17 years at EA among a number of teams and found the most challenging parts were the BigCo related issues; things like cultural mismatches between groups that have been ordered together, or politics. The working hours were standard for the most part, occasionally there would be a fire to put out but all the management I had was fair about compensating for any extra hours.
Coworkers I had from other parts(Nascar, NFS/EA Seattle, etc) all had similar stories and of course there's the infamous easpouse.
The publishers have a weaker hand to play today, since it's easy to go to market with minimal marketing and distribution spend, but that has the side effect of making it more common to see tiny studios that run a sweatshop churning out bad products.
Yep, it was the big company stuff that led me to leave EA on both occasions but I worked with many smart, competent people there (Max included) and learned a lot. I heard some horror stories and don't doubt that there was truth to them but I never personally experienced any of the really toxic games industry stuff that you hear about. To be honest I think I'd have just left if I had, there was never a time where finding another job was a major concern.
Why do you think you weren’t part of those other groups of people who did have to work unpaid overtime every week? Were you in an area with lots of people for whom finding another job wasn’t a major concern?
As I said in my original comment, a lot depends on your manager and your team. It probably also depends on your location (my experience was at the Vancouver studio) and when you were at the company.
While it does seem that some companies and industries might be worse than others depending on the culture, in general it looks to me like you're better off with the best manager / team in a 'bad' company than with the worst manager or team in a 'good' company and not everyone is going to have the same experience in the same company.
Being on a central technology team at EA I think meant less crunch than being on a game team with hard ship deadlines. Friends I know who worked on game teams at the same studio had more crunch periods but they also typically got more 'comp time' (an EA term for extra vacation time given after ship) and might also get bigger bonuses. I think they sometimes got more pressure to work overtime.
I can see crunch situations (ship deadline approaching, much work to be done) demanding a lot of communication skills between managers and developers for everyone to feel good.
If someone on either side drops the ball (being overly aggressive / under appreciating, failing to clearly communicate work-life limits and expectations), it ends very ugly.
I was responsible for rewriting the UI more or less from scratch for the most recent major version, and at the height of “crunch time” leading up to the release, I worked maybe 50 hours a week... and most of that was voluntary, because, though I had the option to cut features to make the deadline, I really wanted to get stuff in.
So you get a bit less pay for your trouble too :D
Unless you make your OWN game and it is a big hit, but that is VERY hard right now.
And when you have compensation terms without being empowered to influence them... burnout.
Capricious bonus terms with a large public company always felt slimy to me. It seems a pretty large conflict of interest. In contrast to: 'We agree on what my work is worth, if I don't do the work as expected then you fire me.'
Disregard the clickbait title. Cofounder Glen Schofield talks about how they resolved all bad bugs 2 weeks ahead of schedule and came out with one of the most innovative titles in the past 20 years.
I know we work for the same company and I generally agree that our company is one of the better ones. Which is not to say that there's no shit being flung around.
But our company is not known for being loved by gamers. I wonder if terrible working conditions is somehow related to creating better games. Horrible thought though.
I know what you mean....on one hand, it's great that the conditions here are pretty good(I pretty much never work more than 40 hours/week, overtime is extremely rare, at least for us programmers), but on the other hand.....I don't know. I don't want to say that working more would lead to better games - I honestly don't believe that the problems with our games could be solved if we suddenly started doing 80 hour weeks and work all weekends. I think at least some of them stem from how we approach building games in terms of design and production planning(at least for the AAA titles) instead of the fact that people here generally have good work-life balance.
And yes, of course there is some shit being flung around like you said, but (at least for me) nothing approaching the horror stories I hear from other places. Maybe we're just lucky - our company has loads of studios all over the globe, after all.
Which is unfortunate, given so much of the team gets staffed after those decisions are made (as I understand it).
Every story was about something interesting, but they were all pretty shallow. At the end, regardless of the actual outcome, they pretended it was a massive victory where the devs pulled off the impossible. In some cases it was accurate, in other cases the companies were financially successful, but didn't quite capture the magic of previous games.
Destiny actually has a rich backstory comparable to or greater than their previous titles like Marathon. I’ve got the first volume of printed lore they’ve done here and there’s lots more available through online sources.
As for what’s next - more Destiny. There’s a reason they’re holding onto the IP rather than selling it to Activision. The studio is hugely passionate about the game and about continuing it to the finish as far as I can tell.
That said, the backstory is a lot of fun although they've done a consistently horrible job of presenting it.
As for the lore, I had the legendary edition and the lore was incredible. I loved how the lore was delivered in bite sized chunks and little details all over the place and not thrown out to you in a digestible way like basically any other FPS game. To me it all went downhill after the first DLC, turning it into a quite generic, palatable game. Over the top cosmetic items and armor design felt out of place and broke suspension of disbelief for me, as I was not here to play some WoW-like game.
Destiny 1 sans DLC has a very special place in my heart.
Sorry. Flashbacks. Visit http://marathon.bungie.org/story/ for an unbelievable rabbit hole
I recall being so disappointed when Halo turned from a Mac-first game to an XBox exclusive...
I hope a more-independent Bungie can recapture some of their magic from those early days.
* The shooting is still as good as it was in the Halo days, but the need to constantly grind for gear to progress really kills the way you would acquire new weapons in Halo and learn how to use them in concert. There's so many more weapons in Destiny, but it doesn't feel like you have the same sort of choices you had in Halo.
This, coupled with the really engaging and welcoming community, are a few of the elements that have me excited about this announcement. Bungie is still responsible for getting involved in the initial mess of Destiny’s initial launch, but hopefully they have learned from their prior experiences.
I don't understand the logic here. Surely they could create smaller, self-contained units to work on projects like this? Even stick them in separate buildings for that "small company" feel.
But then Microsoft bought them, and they had to port the whole thing to XBox, and when it eventually came out for Mac years later, it was a port of a port.
Imagine if Halo had been a Mac-exclusive when it launched. True, it wouldn't have had the full force of Microsoft's marketing machine behind it, but it still could have made a world of difference for Mac gaming, for those of us who did care about such.
And then they were bought, and Mac gaming lost its chance to become remotely relevant for another decade or more.
Getting bought by Microsoft was the best thing that could have happened to bungie at the time.
But the Mac itself still seemed under threat at that time. Having such a cool-looking game that was going to be Mac-first, if not Mac-only was a PR/morale booster. And its then being absorbed by MS, who was very much The Enemy in those days, was an equally large bummer.
And not just the game: Bungie was really a darling of the Mac community. They had created and published a string of awesome games over the course of the 90s, all Mac-first. Pathways, three Marathons, Myth I and II, Oni... "Losing" them was a blow.
Award winning, real time tactical multi and single player game with a map maker and a mod system. So diffeeent from their other titles.
Fond memories of the “recon” WW2 mod that transformed the game of 1 on 1 managing an army of dwarves and warlocks to team vs team each individual controlling 1 army man.
(Edit) If you want to play it, the game is still supported (with a release in Nov 2018!) here http://projectmagma.net
Many games since (including Destiny) have tried to recreate that feeling of an oppressive enemy that you can't defeat, only push back or cut a temporary swathe through. But no one comes close to Halo.
That's why it was the perfect MLG game. Every shooter these days is more and more complex.
OTOH there is Counter-Strike which turns 20 this year and is the third most popular game on Steam right now. Most of the changes to the core game since ~2001 have been about balance as opposed to adding new mechanics.
Someone who played the game over a decade ago could pick it up today and still play on mostly the same game on mostly the same maps:
for some reason valve doesn't release new versions of the game but instead chooses to radically change all aspects of the game and call it counterstrike(increment code+1)
i like the model, much better than call of duty randomly naming things differently even though the games are fundamentally the same with a fresh coat of graphics on top
I know you probably don't care about things like movement accel curves or hitbox sizes (which have changed drastically over the years) but just look at the deagle, possibly the most iconic weapon of the franchise. the weapon went largely unchanged between 1.6 and source, but is almost unrecognizable in csgo. you simply can't use it the same way you could in the older games; it has a completely different role.
The fight for asymmetry is what makes the game fun.
Graphics were arguably better on the PC; higher resolution and better frame rate, but it was not well optimized.
So the PC version was definetly a port of a console FPS and it showed. Mouse aiming was awful (too slow without acceleration, and inaccurate with it). Weapon switching was very akward as well (tab? and only 2 guns?!?).
If you had just played Half-Life shooting headcrabs off the poor scientists, or let alone something like Deus Ex, it just felt very dumbed down
what do you mean by this? do they not let you adjust the mouse sensitivity or are you talking about input lag?
However there seems to be a third party hack that fixes the issue: https://github.com/AWilliams17/Halo-CE-Mouse-Tool/releases
I believe Rare's decline happened after an acquisition (Microsoft?) but I may be misremembering.
I’m not aware of a game that pivoted so much during development.
I'm glad for their independence and look forward to what the future brings, and I do hope that further investment in Destiny (3 or continuation of 2) is part of that picture.
I ignored Destiny 2 when it first came out, then picked it up on Black Friday last year with all the expansions. I basically treat it as a single player game and absolutely love it. The combat is so sharp and tight, the missions are enjoyable.
I know it has a lot to offer with raids and fireteams and all of that, but I just want a few hours of escapism and for that, it truly delivers.
You vote for this kind of nonsense with your money and people keep buying it then this will never stop.
The sheer amount of art assets that have gone into these expansions can't be produced for free.
Leaving aside arguments about the gameplay provided (some liked it, some didn't), there has to be a funding model for this.
Maybe the model doesn't give you what you're looking for out of this game, and that's fair - you can just move on to a game you do enjoy.
But for some of us, the additional zones, weapons, gear, raids, encounters, enemies, vehicles, quests, mechanics, maps and modes that come with the paid DLC are worth the money.
I don't think it's "nonsense", I think it's fair value for the time I spend, and the enjoyment I get, out of the game.
If you compare it to how much content is added to each major expansion of World of Warcraft and the cost per year of always being up to date then Destiny falls very short.
Your comparison to WoW only seems to make the point that content is expensive and Destiny is much cheaper.
I feel bad for Destiny. They're asking $70-80 per year to stay caught up on content and people are complaining it is too expensive, yet WoW can ask for $220. The visual fidelity of their content is top tier, if not THE best, right next to God of War. That is incredibly expensive to produce and games at this level of visual fidelity are usually produced on a 4 to 5 year cycle, not actively maintained MMOs with seasonal content.
So they command about 1/3 the annual price of WoW, yet they are expected to deliver the content quantity of an MMO with the visual fidelity of God of War. This is the world's most expensive content treadmill.
Destiny feels like they are trying to take the content density of a single player campaign and turn it into an MMO.
Asking for real, because I played WoW, and if I compare the detail, complexity and variety of the content in Destiny to what you get in WoW, factoring in the price difference, I am not sure I agree that it's less..
As someone who is satisfied with the value I get out of Destiny, I am genuinely curious to hear what you feel is missing for your personal enjoyment of the game..
What would they have to provide for you to feel that the cost is worth it?
Comparing each expansion release individually to the cost I paid for it isn't working in their favor, and only makes it harder for me to justify "the next expansion" if the perceived $/content is too low for the last couple. As opposed to the aggregate model I might use with a subscription service where maybe I didn't get all of that year's cost value in any single month, but cumulatively it was great.
Anyway, part of the driver of the current business model was supposedly Activision's fault in trying to CoD-ify the franchise, so maybe Bungie can course correct here somehow. (I'm a bit doubtful, personally, but will be watching.)
Between the two, I actually prefer the continued development model. It also makes you feel like you can pick it up anytime and not be playing an obsolete game.
Paradox is another example of a company doing this well. A lot of people complain about the total cost of buying Crusader Kings II or EU4 with all DLC today (~$300), but these games have been in continuous development for half a decade or more. All that effort has to be paid for somehow.
Another alternative model is a monthly fee, like many MMO's use. Remember when bungie said they wanted to deliver a first person MMO experience with an ever expanding world? Most people didn't take that to mean paid DLC for every new raid and sequels which wipe your character's progress.
Most believe that "WoW is the only thing in the world that can command a monthly fee and it'd be hubris to think your new game could do it."
The general sentiment among friends (and the community) is that this is a good thing.
Oh my god this. It's almost impossible for you to rotate through all daily's and weekly's with three characters without resetting before you're done. It's great, it's still the same seemingly mundane stuff (just kill a bunch of shit, collect whatever bullshit) if I read it aloud to you, but it's so damn satisfying. The gunplay is a well oiled machine, and it feels amazing to just screw around.
* Marathon (video game) - Wikipedia || https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marathon_(video_game)
I remember running AppleTalk network cables (the ones with the phone line adapters) out of windows between dorm rooms in the winter. Risking life and limb to crawl out on ice-covered ledges just to build a network that allowed us to play Marathon.
Modding the game was really fun too, we'd build guns that were more powerful, or guns that shot out drones that could help you. I remember setting one of the enemies to create a clone of itself -- introduction to loops right there as my Macintosh Performa ran out of RAM.
I still feel like, even to date, the immersive story telling in this game was some of the best I've seen. Impressive given they were working on computers that had less power than today's phones -- like 1/1,000th of the power of today's phones. I remember running the game on a Color Classic with 33 MHZ and 4 MB of RAM.
I also remember the teaser to what would become halo. I think originally Halo was going to be a lot more like Destiny...Then the xbox came along and microsoft bought Bungie.
It's one of my favorite games of all time and I wish they would rerelease it or at least add modern OS support for it.
Glad to see them fully independent again, even if it took almost two decades.
The argument before Bungie was divested from Microsoft supposedly was that Microsoft was too conservative in their success chasing: they were supposedly only taking pitches for More Halo As We Know It from "The Halo Studio", and that lead to the strife of teams increasingly wanting to do something Not Halo. Part of the struggle too was that Microsoft definitely owned "Halo" and started to want more control of the IP from the top down (the movie attempt, the novels, the RTS game, the MMO attempt, not all of that was controlled by or even presented to Bungie for oversight, despite being "the Halo Studio").
You can see one of the "lessons learned" here in the deal with Activision: Bungie worked very hard to retain all rights to the Destiny IP regardless of what happened with the project. (It's possibly why it may have indeed been Activision severing the relationship early rather than Bungie, because publishers really do not like it when they don't own the IP, and they probably did have pretty high marginal sales quotas to continue feeling publishing was worth it.)
Hoping for the best for/from Bungie.
It's so hard to explain now but those games had a level of atmosphere and story that I still find almost uncomparable in gaming. I remember playing the Marathon 2 demo again and again because I loved it so much. Something about that feeling of being alone in a very mysterious world and getting sucked deeper into the story...
The open world tease bungie did prior to acquisition (so, around the time Steve Jobs presented Halo at Macworld) was not all that impressive, from a multiplayer perspective.
I suppose Blizzard could try to raise enough capital to buy themselves but I think its unlikely
I’ll see if I can dig it out.
EDIT: I would swore I saw the info in video interview with in, but in the brief time searching I couldn't find it (Though I haven't had any coffee yet, so i'm not on my game just yet) but I did find an text interview / - Under "Selling Overwatch to the Execs"
> It was an easy sell to Blizzard, but pitching it to Activision left the team nervous. After all, they were about to tell the makers of Call of Duty that they had a great idea for a brand new game: a shooter! (Something Kaplan says he only thought about after the fact.) Kaplan ran through the slides of Team 4’s Overwatch presentation to a silent audience, until Activision CEO Bobby Kotick stopped him and asked him to go back three slides.
> “I’m thinking ‘Oh no, what was back three slides?'” Kaplan said.
> It turned out to be the original hero lineup, which will look familiar to any Overwatch fan: a row of heroes on a white background. The heroes don’t look quite the same as they do today, but the style is already Overwatch. “This is going to be an amazing universe,” Kotick said, and the rest is history.
I mean Activision ovb didn't kick up much of a fuss as you know we actually have Overwatch :-P but it was just a point that Blizz's first new IP in years still had to go past the CEO of Activision before getting the green light to go into full dev.
It would seem that the biggest change here is that Bungie cut out the middleman.
How can you not be intrigued by an FPS adventure horror RPG text-based adventure?
Halo was most people's introduction, but there are amazing ideas all through their back catalog.
I do wish Bungie the best here. I also suspect that the next installment will be more of a “$x/month for everything” instead of the “$x for the game and $x for the expansions” they’ve been doing.
- Independence has always been a priority for Bungie, the leaked contract and the relationships with Activision/Blizzard/HalfMoon were always "at most we are peers". Bungie got what they wanted out of this deal, a bit of a mentor relationship with Blizzard and some knowhow on large scale publishing and marketing from Activision. I dont think the endgame was anything less of getting out after Destiny 4+
- Leaving might have to do more with sunsetting and moving on from the Destiny franchise than creative freedom for it. I still have a few friends (Hey guys!) there and there has been a bit of burnout. The community will either reward you with riches and praise for something as simple as a cool looking weapon or dump hate and death threats for what should be a needed stats nerf. So people's eyes started to wander on other things. After the departure of the long time studio head onto his garage game experiment, you saw a lot of exits and shuffling.
- Destiny was slated for 4 milestone releases, each with point releases. This was laid out on a conference whiteboard at one point, where every two years you saw a new Destiny release with a core gameplay mechanic added (dogfighting spaceships in the expanses past Pluto?) and point releases that seem to dance from one race story to another. Something about having your future lined up and being contractually obligated to draw out an already gutted story over 8-10 years can be a bit draining, especially when revenue takes a significant hit after Fortnite and you are still expected to maintain the same AAA dev costs.
- Some of the old timers hate being known as the "Halo" company and departing means that they don't have to just be the "Destiny" company. These designers, from Jason, down to the tester who makes sure you dont get nausea from an ingame fall, care more about the art and experience than the microtransaction potential. They would rather build new IP that sold itself than something that keeps you on the treadmill.
- The culture there was easily the best in the industry for a studio of its size. They put a serious effort to bring everyone to the table, from the Pentathlon and playing some random Wii game with a Senior Executive and getting a bit tipsy, to having lunch and probing questions with Jason as he mowed down a bowl of frozen peaches and quinoa. Bungie did what it could to make you feel like you were a part of the family, even if you didnt work on HaloX or if you were just a Tester, or if you were just a tester. When I was there, I never felt like I was a part of Activision, and from what I gathered in the years since, that hasn't changed much. Artists, designers, and engineers always came before the marketing and profiters.
I know they are building something new, and given the frustrations they had with Activision and the lessons learned on Destiny2, its going to be a piece of fun art.
I'm tempted to say the same, but they're taking Destiny with them, so someone must have ideas for it. When they left Microsoft, they left Halo. I'm inclined to say that was intentional rather than a mistake (Bungie hasn't been hurting for lack of Halo).
Bungie making sure they always retain ownership of Destiny seems a "lessons learned" adjustment from losing Halo as much as anything. I'm not sure yet if it means they plan to continue Destiny though. The comment above may be correct that Bungie may just want to move on to the next IP.
Did you ever check out the Anniversary Edition mod? It's a massive community-made enhancement to the base game that adds a ton of fixes alongside a really dope mod framework. The reason I bring this up is because it allows for stuff like Oni Team Arena, a fake multiplayer mode that lets you basically play team deathmatch with bots. It's super fun and when I first played it, it breathed a whole new life into the game for me.
I've recently read some of Glen Cook's "Chronicles of the Black Company" and I think that was very much in line with the story in Myth in some ways. It was kind of like reading a novelisation of the game, only to find out the novel was written 15+ years ahead of the game!
Hopefully without the pressure of Activision to just get shit out, they'll be able to craft some more memorable games.
Thats a pretty great and detailed page about the parallels. Reading into TBC gave a lot of us a lot of fun when playing Myth and endlessly debating the story canon back in the day.
There isn't anybody in the US government who was there for the 1970s, but the US is still fundamentally the same entity that does the same things the same way
Not all publishers are created equal and even a "good" publisher might not be the best fit for your team or project. However, I don't see the idea of publishers as some anachronism or necessary evil, and I hope to work with them long into the future.
And then in terms of what's published they always chase whatever's trending obsessively and generally singularly. Minecraft is the most profitable game ever made in in terms of revenue / costs. But it's something that likely would have never been picked up by a mainstream publisher. No story, no graphics, no dlc, free updates, and you just kind of play with blocks..? Notch would have been laughed out of any publisher's office. It's now the best selling game of all time, behind only tetris. Apparently we like blocks. Then he gets bought up by a big publisher and they start marketing Minecraft 4k, as in 4k resolution... I seriously thought that was a meme or a joke the first time I saw it. Just emphasizes how irredeemably out of touch these publishers tend to be.
And then there is what publishers do to the studios they acquire. When EA buys a studio it's as good as signing its death certificate. I have absolutely no understanding of why this is. It makes no economic sense at all to spend substantial sums of money to buy a studio only to completely kill it off, but it happens over and over and over. And it's no acquihires, they tend to lose most of the premium talent. But the list of studios killed off by EA alone is just completely tragic: Maxis, Mythic, Bullfrog, Origin, Westwood, Phenomic, Pandemic, etc..
I don't understand what the problem is, many people enjoy those games, no one forces you to buy them and the indie scene is very active.
I can do without FIFA COD and AC, personally. They're probably burning up the time of developers with good ideas rather than producing anything actually interesting (though of course everyone needs a day job).
Their other tentpole franchises are mostly developed in-house (Zelda, Splatoon, Mario Kart), via subsidiaries (Retro Studios) 2nd-party developers (GameFreak - Pokemon, Intelligent Systems - Fire Emblem), or 3rd parties (Bandai Namco & Sora - Super Smash Bros).
I disagree. It's also harming the games - Assassin's Creed Odyssey is more grindy just to sell IAP - in a full priced game!
I'm sad that gaming seems to be preying on addictions (IAP are definitely addicting) rather than innovating.
A decent number still at bungie, a lot have moved on to other places of course.
Destiny & Activision just showed me to that the creative forces behind the Myth/Halo series were well and truly gone.
This is an exciting new dawn. Can't wait for what's next.
Traffic cone ownage
Jump start? I thought Bungie was one of the most wildly successful video game studios out there, at the time? Did they need a jump start?
Activision/Blizzard operates World of Warcraft, the largest and most successful game of it's type. And they had the resources to allow Bungie to build something much larger than anything they had ever built before.
The only way they can bring me back is by announcing a rename of Destiny 2 to Destiny, and confirm there will be no stand-alone sequels.
The Destiny universe is my favorite in-game universe. I could go on for hours! Did Rasputin cripple the Traveller because he was going to abandon us like he did the Fallen? Is Rasputin benevolent or indifferent?
I hope dearly they try to bring me back. I miss it.
But the constant, repeated trashing of earned stuff (and recently, the massive spike in grind-wasting-time required) turned me off. Warmind + Forsaken was peak Destiny 2, but with Black Armory they're already sliding away from that again.
I don't blame Bungie for it. I get that everyone on Reddit complained there wasn't enough time wasting, so Bungie added a bunch of time wasting, to make Reddit happy. But it's just too much. I can't imagine what Destiny will look like in 6 months if they keep on this path. "Do 100 hours of homework first, and then we'll let you play with the cool thing you just bought".
The D1 weapons felt great. It's a shame Bungie keeps leaving gear they designed so far behind every iteration.
I wish they at least added something like transmog. I remember going to D1 panel during PAX West one year and Luke mentioning that there were many WoW players that worked at Bungie.
I really wonder WTF is going on over there lately.
It absolutely was not clear that multiplayer alone could make that difference, and I was furious. I know they released more content to improve the ending, but I could never go back, because the story was finished. A story I'd been invested in for years, and they pulled the rug out at the last second.
My problem with Andromeda was that it was essentially exactly the same setup as the first trilogy but copy-pasted into a new setting, which forced them to scrap all the lore except as it pertained to what the crew brought with them. Why not a prequel, instead? That, or tell a new story.
(which I submitted hours ago but didn't get any upvotes due to a bad title)