I can't believe how far they've fallen. Take a look at the brilliance of the first Halo to the clusterfuck that is Destiny - I have such vivid memories of the pacing, art style, music that is Halo. All abandoned for a game completely lacking any story (or backstory!) designed as a MMO money grab grind.
While I can't comment on the conditions under which the original Halo trilogy was developed in, reading Blood, Sweat and Pixels  really gave a great glimpse into the shit-show that was happening behind the scenes during Destiny's development and why the end result was so ... disappointing. Matter of fact that entire book was a greatest hits collection of dysfunctional work environments, it really gave me perspective on what life is like as a dev in other domains (game industry).
You tend to hear the worst cases. For all the bad rep EA gets, like any big company a lot depends on your team and manager. I worked two separate 3-4 year stints on central tech teams and never had forced overtime (although there was some pressure / expectation at times) and things were reasonably sane. My time at Relic was also fairly positive with some long hours but mostly self imposed.
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.
Working under a studio published by EA was very much the opposite experience. It was crunch till you drop, don't dare put the studio logo in the game or you'll be fired, shit-show rodeo from beginning to end.
Coworkers I had from other parts(Nascar, NFS/EA Seattle, etc) all had similar stories and of course there's the infamous easpouse.
My direct experience is that the third parties doing work-for-hire gigs tend to get the worst of it, because they're disposable. When the publisher owns the studio there's some fiefdom management that takes place that allows the bosses to protect their employees in a sort of empire-building strategy. When it's a contract, oftentimes the studio management is suckered into taking a deal they can't deliver on. The publisher subsequently squeezes them dry, then buys up the remains of the dead husk to ship something for cheap and perhaps scoop up the best employees. A successful third-party more or less has to play hardball from the get-go and find a way to block this strategy.
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.
So weird that there are such huge differences in experience between comments.
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?
I don't think it's that weird, I've heard horror stories about working at many big companies - Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Netflix... Typically there will be other people responding to the stories saying that they didn't have the same experience at those companies.
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.
Hey, Max! We worked together across oceans a little bit when you were here. Just wanted to agree with your assessment. In the various teams/roles I've been in here over the last 6 years, from game team to core tech, I've gone through periods of a lot of overtime and no overtime. Even when I was doing some long hours (especially on my first title), I always felt fairly compensated and never felt forced to crunch. Having said that it really does depend on the team/manager/specific area of work - in the very same studio I knew others who were going through some serious crunch and subsequent burnout.
I work on the very small team that develops the X-Plane flight simulator. We’re kind of on the periphery of game dev, but I can assure you, work is not crazy for us.
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.
Been reading through the full book of this guy who designed alot of the dungeons in World of Warcraft. He's realistic about alot of the challenges they faced but overall had a good experience with the project.
His description of Blizzard makes it sound like a nightmarish hellhole to me. I get being so passionate about what you're working on that you love your job in spite of all the problems, but he seems to view the problems as being somehow necessary for the parts he loves.
I worked for EA many years ago (on a game, not tech/tools) and while I wouldn't call it a shit show (I liked the people for the most part, for example), that experience is definitely the reason why I have never even considered working for another game company. Absolutely ridiculous hours, every year. Everyone else just seemed to act like it was normal, even people who had young kids. At the time it seemed crazy. With many years of hindsight, it still seems crazy.
Yes, that was my experience as well. In my case I think it was a minor pay increase compared to my previous job, but a significant portion of that total compensation came in the form of an annual bonus (so from my perspective it was as though they were basically withholding a big chunk of my income each year).
That does seem to be a feature in the game industry -- a lot riding on bonuses (and often the contract terms defining their payout).
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.'
I'm working in the industry at one of the largest publishers on AAA title and I have pretty much just positive things to say. Both about the working environment and the projects we work on. I think it's definitely the case that the worst cases are the most publicised and not many people write about the good ones.
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.
I just finished this book. It wasn't a bad book, but after Masters of Doom it seemed pretty mediocre.
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.
> All abandoned for a game completely lacking any story (or backstory!)
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.
The English dub was bad, but the French one was awesome. Lots of tension and good delivery. e.g "little light" was dull AF yet "petite lumière" was thrown in with a delicious amount of mockery. "That wizard came from the moon"'s French version comes with a hint of panic. Lots of implicit tension when meeting the Awoken queen. Same, item descriptions are incredibly fun, and full of irony and puns in French yet just fall flat in English.
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.
>>>I can't believe how far they've fallen. Take a look at the brilliance of the first Marathon to the clusterfuck that is Halo - I have such vivid memories of the pacing, art style, music that is Marathon.
I doubt it. I'm sure Bungie had reasons for wanting to leave Activision, but Destiny was the project they pitched to Activision, not the other way around, and a lot of the problems I still have with Destiny after all the work they've sunk into it are still inherent in the concept.* I think as the size of teams keeps getting bigger, you keep getting forced to chase the lowest common denominator in the market -- it's a shooter, it's RPG, it's multiplayer, it's open world. A Bungie that was looking to recapture the early days would have to lay off almost everybody and start doing indie games, and I don't see that route earning back the money it must have cost to buy out Activision.
* 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.
Re: choices offered in Halo vs Destiny, I’d offer Destiny has all of the complexity you seek, only it doesn’t present itself in a way that’s very obvious. I’ve only recently started playing (PS Plus free download) and initially arrived at the same conclusion, but as I started acquiring exotics, and tinkering around with different character subclasses, the depth of the game design started to reveal itself. There’s a real lack of clarity in getting you into the games feedback loops, but once you hit them, it can get really addictive.
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.
Why would any game company be Mac first? Mac is a small slice of the pie of computers. Mac gamers would be a crumb. It's not exactly a surprise they would target a platform that has actual market share.
I'm not suggesting they be Mac-first today. I'm saying that's where they got their start (when it was a much, much smaller slice!), and the first real demo of Halo was at MacWorld Expo 1999. It was running on a Mac then.
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.
If Halo had remained a Mac game, then like Marathon before it, the game would have passed silently in the night unnoticed by most of the gaming world, to be read about years later. And bungie would have gone bankrupt.
Getting bought by Microsoft was the best thing that could have happened to bungie at the time.
Pretty much. My understanding is that they sold to Microsoft precisely because it was that or fold up shop.
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.
I absolutely loved all the games in the Halo Series and had been a fan of the series right from Halo 1. While I have purchased both Destiny 1 and 2, they are no match for the brilliant story that Halo had. Destiny just feels like grinding for long periods of time where your weapons become shinier and the colors change in the worlds around you. It lacks the awe factor that Halo had. Facing the flood in Halo 1 is one of the most memorable moments that I have ever had in a video game.
Halo 2 was peak halo. Its simplicity was why it was so good. Its like pickup game of basketball, just get a few guys together and be the first team to 50 kills. No special equipment, no special abilities, very little complexity.
That's why it was the perfect MLG game. Every shooter these days is more and more complex.
> 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:
it's not the same game though, movement,gun recoil,gun damage, spray patterns,economy etc have changed WILDLY since the inception of the game. maps may LOOK the same but on closer inspection, the models change rapidly - eyelines, clipping, the way objects bounce off surfaces etc etc
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
While I am sure for high level play every little change is a huge deal, for me as a casual CS seems much the same as it ever did. Most of the changes you list would only seem like "big changes" if you are a high level player who knows the whole thing back to front and have memorised recoil patterns and whatnot.
when you start with a game that basically revolves around the delicate balance between five weapons, even subtle changes to the mechanics can make a very big difference to the way the game is played at all levels.
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.
tbh those maps look heavily dofferent now: while the basic layout is the same, there are huge amount of small changes and visual enhancements to the point where it would need large time to adjust for someone coming from the original. Same for movement, ui, physics.
For anyone who was disappointed by the initial reviews for Destiny 2 (sans expansions), I would recommend taking another look at it. There's a bundle for sale now which is destiny 2 + expansion 1 + expansion 2 + Forsaken, for around $35 USD. The "Forsaken" expansion is a significant overhaul of the entire game, is at least as long as the original campaign, and introduced a great deal of story detail.
While I agree that Halo had great music and graphics, and was overall a good game, the controls on the PC were actually somewhat sluggish compared to other FPS titles. Bungie was originally developing it for Macintosh but they sold out to Microsoft and Halo became the main launch title for the Xbox, so the PC version was sadly dumbed down and released later.
What do you mean by "dumbed down"? I played Halo CE mostly on PC and don't remember it being dumbed down graphically speaking(if you had the graphics card for it), though there were a few minor differences like all the jackal shields being teal. In fact, Halo PC had more and bigger multiplayer maps than on Xbox.
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
Anytime there's an acquisition you have to assume that someone, perhaps much of the main talent that made the company what it was wants to cash out and move on. People always blame EA for killing a bunch of companies with previous stellar reputations but I tend to think those companies were probably about to die anyway because key people wanted out.
For me, it's not so much that they kill the studio, but that they kill the IPs as well. It's one thing for an IP to just die off, but to see C&C stumble along in various forms, then get turned into a mobile game, is disheartening.
How old were you when you first played Halo? I have vivid memories of Halo's music, art and story, probably because I played it all the time when I was 11 years old. I'm sure there's a hint of truth to what you're saying, but I can't help but think there's a tiny bit of bias here.
Just one opinion here, but I've played a /ton/ of Destiny in a fairly casual but consistent way (e.g. no raids or Mic) since launch, and I think it is fairy underrated at this point. There were definitely droughts along the way, but at this point it is a solid game, which when played on Xbox One X is IMHO the finest looking game on consoles. The semi-multiplayer modes are great fun and they've tuned the weekly reset cycle to a point where pretty much every play session is rewarding in some way or another.
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 share this opinion. I was so excited for Destiny (fun fact: it came out the same day Apple announced the Apple Watch - I remember playing Destiny then taking a break to tune into the keynote) but it was pretty unpolished on Day 1. I dived back in with The Taken King, which I really enjoyed.
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.
I do enjoy the game, but I can't agree with this insane pricing model. Just on principle I refuse to pay $60 for a game and $40 for DLC and then $20 for more DLC then $40 for an expansion and then $40 for DLC to the expansion. I'd play it if there was just a single cost that was reasonable. Until the game stops getting paid DLC and there is just a flat cost to play the rest of the games I am not going to get back into it.
You vote for this kind of nonsense with your money and people keep buying it then this will never stop.
The ratio of cost per amount of content seems very low to me in comparison to other large scale games. Maybe that is just what it takes to create a game as polished as this. If that is the case then it doesn't seem economical to develop.
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.
World of Warcraft costs $180 per year (a required $15/month). It's also 14 years old, so you're playing all the onion layers of content added by expansions which were funded over the years by people paying a $60 initial purchase (the initial purchase was finally removed last year) and again on each expansion.
Your comparison to WoW only seems to make the point that content is expensive and Destiny is much cheaper.
On top of the subscription, you also have to buy the WoW expansion for $40 to stay on the cutting edgr with the content. Essentially WoW is having their cake and eating it too.
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.
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?
I think that's one of the arguments here. Destiny has a subscription model in all but name, and pretends they don't. They want to have their cake and eat it too as a business model. I feel like had they explicitly called it a subscription model I for one would have been happier with some of my spending on the games.
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.)
It's explicitly not a subscription because you can still play the game without purchasing the additional expansions. I have played Destiny 2 consistently since it was released for PC, but I play it almost exclusively for PvP (Crucible). I can continue to play PvP without purchasing the new expansions. The main difference is that I won't always be able to unlock some of the new guns (which is fine by me).
I'm not saying there aren't perceivable advantages to the current business model, just that it isn't a business model that seems to be working for me personally. I stopped playing both D1 and D2 at about the same point where an expansion came out that I wasn't interested in, and I couldn't ignore the paywall. Partly because yes more of the lore and PvE is paywalled than the PvP is.
The alternative model is what franchises like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed do: spend $60 every year on a brand new game while the previous year's game is unsupported. And $60 is without any of the extras...you can pay $80 for a deluxe edition, buy some lootboxes, etc.
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.
>The alternative model is what franchises like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed do
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.
Since 2014 I've been playing with mostly one solid group of real-life friends. We've had times where we weren't playing as much, but Destiny would eventually draw us back. Forsaken has been amazing, and we are having a blast at the moment. This is the best Destiny has ever been.
The general sentiment among friends (and the community) is that this is a good thing.
>they've tuned the weekly reset cycle to a point where pretty much every play session is rewarding in some way or another.
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.
It's fine that you enjoy it casually, but the end game is what most people who are hard on the game care about. That's where they've had a lot of issues and it's the single most important aspect of a game like this. If your diehards don't enjoy end game then you have a problem.
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.
My first Bungie game was Myth. I absolutely loved the series. First time I was drawn into the story and characters. I loved being able give names to the characters and keep them alive. It was slow paced but surprising suspenseful. Online multiplayer in later titles was hilarious.
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.
Myth is criminally underrated both in terms of gameplay and technological ambition. Real time reflections, Physics based projectiles, wide variety of multiplayer options and customization, hand animated cutscenes, a post apocalyptic medieval fantasy setting it is certainly one of the most unique games I have played.
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.
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.)
Marathon was amazing too. It was the first game I played where I glimpsed the possibilities of what video games could eventually become. The feeling I experienced being not-quite-alone on that ship is still quite vivid. I loved Halo and tried to - but couldn't - get into Destiny.
I loved, loved, loved the feeling I got from playing Marathon.
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...
Halo CE saved the Xbox and Halo 2 online pretty much solidified modern online FPS gaming. COD BLOPs and others are all built around the innovative party system, voice chat (I miss proximity voice...), etc.
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 remember Jeff Kaplin saying in an interview they had to go to activision and get the go ahead to make Overwatch and it been nerve wrecking. iirc this was after the mmo had been cancelled internally and the team had given them selfs 3 weeks or so to come up with something or move onto other things.
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.
I'd think that the NetEase investment gave them the confidence boost they needed to try out on their own and self-publish in most of the world. As with every non-Chinese game company the question is how they can get a piece of the Chinese market, and now Bungie has their answer.
I see a tonne of people making statements along the lines of "That's great, now Bungie can back to being the company that makes games like Halo". But can someone explain to me why they think that could ever happen? The Microsoft acquisition was a key part of what made Halo, Bungie was a way smaller company back then and a huge amount of the talent will have moved on. How many companies churn out great series decades apart? I just think people are setting themselves up for a HL3 situation again- huge expectations that never get delivered on.
You should check out Halo SPv3 -- Halo 1 campaign, but Halo 2 & 3 weapons/vehicles/enemies, massively expanded Pillar of Autumn & Assault On The Control Room levels, and a whole new reimagined The Silent Cartographer.
I worked there for a bit and as its been a few years since I last swiped my badge in Bellevue, but I think there are a few tidbits I can add.
- 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.
> Leaving might have to do more with sunsetting and moving on from the Destiny franchise than creative freedom for it.
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).
Supposedly, Microsoft would never have let Bungie go if they wanted Halo, too. Microsoft would probably have been more likely to see Bungie shut down entirely than lose the Halo IP.
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.
I love seeing Oni mentioned in discussions about Bungie. It's always held a special place in my heart.
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 don't know if they could do much more with it, but that was a darn enjoyable video game.
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!
So how does this benefit Activision? It seems everyone is focusing on Bungie but not asking how in the world Activision allowed this to pass. Did bungie just give them a bunch of cash? Giving up destiny is still a huge cash cow with the franchise bringing in well over $500 million since it was released in 2014.
Bungie wasn’t acquired by activision, they were an independent developer that had a publishing contract for the Destiny franchise with activision. Seems like the contract was renegotiated at the request of one side or the other.
I'm curious why. As a developer who has worked for a big publisher at an internal studio and worked with publishers as an independent developer, publishers still have an important role to play. On the smaller scale, publishers are one, and often the best, way to service tasks that a small team would not be able to fulfill themselves (marketing, pr, QA, localization, etc). As you scale up the size of project, it becomes harder to find the level of investment required outside of a publisher relationship.
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.
One major issue I have is that I think the way you 'ought' make money is to make a product that you believe to be good, and put it out there. And for many years, this was the model with video games. But in the last decade or two publishers have MBA'd games. It's design by focus group, selling games piecemeal through DLC that would previously have been a part of the core experience, annoying or otherwise coercing players into buying DLC instead of creating stuff people want to buy, stripping out all but the most bare essentials of a game, rushing products out the door prematurely, etc.
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..
Do publishers have influence over monetization strategies? Are they typically the ones asking for gimmicks like loot boxes? I have heard mixed things on this, but had the impression that the development studio generally dislikes these mechanics, and publishers generally force them to include them.
Like the sibling comment, it’s about how people ought to make money. I completely understand why we have publishers. But I think it’s easy enough to proliferate content now that I really really hope more studios can be successful self-distributing. It keep prices low and quality high.
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).
Nintendo is the publisher, yes. They also publish games from other developers (e.g. Bayonetta 2, Xenoblade Chronicles).
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).
Just think about what could exist if those titles weren't refreshed every year or two. It takes time to build a marginally nicer sequel and all the in all purchases to go along with it, but that doesn't add substantially to the selection of high production quality titles.
I'm sad that gaming seems to be preying on addictions (IAP are definitely addicting) rather than innovating.
I remember listening to the Bungie podcast many many years ago right as they sold to MS. For me, the saddest part was the bastardisation of the Halo series. 343i have just never quite had the same spark.
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.
Blizzard and Bungie have a completely different relationship to Activision. Bungie was a game developer with Activision as the publisher; Blizzard was bought by Activision, and merged to become 'Activision Blizzard studios'. We're not going to see anything of the same from Blizzard.
Being a self published studio isn't just about having a lot of money (though that's often a prerequisite, at least for AAA games). There's also experience with marketing, relationships with console manufacturers, market research, negotiating platform pricing. Publishers' knowledge of these things make it useful for a studio to still team up with a publisher even if the studio is swimming in cash.
As a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft from whom they had just been spun out. I doubt they had anywhere near the capital to staff a AAA production, and even if they did why not mitigate your downside by working with a publisher? This is standard practice for most large independent developers and for many of the same reasons that people take on investment in the broader business community.
Bungie had only marginal experience supporting online persistence in the style of an MMO. Building the new systems from nothing and building them in such a way that they could scale required tremendous investment.
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.
I'm still annoyed that there even was a Destiny 2, when the first one was announced I was promised a shooter in a persistent world with mmo progression that would be supported for years, not a series of sequels I had to buy again and make a new character.
It's the reason I quit playing about 7 months ago. I have a _lot_ of raids under my belt. I used to speedrun them with randos for fun. I have yet to attempt the latest raid because I thought to myself: "When Destiny 3 comes out, this won't matter."
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.
I would be happy if they rename Destiny 3 to "Destiny United" or similar, and just allow us to import our old D1 and D2 characters (weapons, armor, etc) into it all at once.
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".
(imo) Bungie seems to really get what makes shooters fun, but has no idea why people like MMO's. Both 1 and 2 had to be released with the MMO aspects severely lacking and the community to criticize them before they got fixed. I wouldn't be surprised if it happens again.
Mass Effect Andromeda was no more a multiplayer shooter than Mass Effect 3 was. The multiplayer was optional. Andromeda had other problems, but it wasn't quite as bad a game as the Internet made it out to be. It just wasn't nearly as good as the opening game of the original series.
Not quite optional... I only found after finishing the story of ME3 that since I had not played any multiplayer I'd been denied the best ending, even though I was meticulous in securing the best outcomes in the single player quests, storylines, etc.
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.