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Inside Bungie - Living The Spartan Life 58

Posted by Zonk
from the cat-hats-for-all dept.
Straight from the latest issue of Edge, a great feature all about the life inside Bungie studios. The article gets into a good bit of detail on the mindset of this insular part of Microsoft's development network. Interviewed developers discuss what it is like working for Microsoft, and how hard it is not to be hard on themselves. Specifically, the developers have some surprisingly harsh criticism of their own opus - Halo 2. From the article, comments by technical lead Chris Butcher: "One of the things that stuns me when I think about it, and I can't believe this is true - we had [no time to polish] for Halo 2. Take that polish period and completely get rid of it. We miscalculated, we screwed up, we came down to the wire and we just lost all of that. So Halo 2 is far less than it could and should be in many ways because of that. It kills me to think of it. Even the multiplayer experience for Halo 2 is a pale shadow of what it could and should have been if we had gotten the timing of our schedule right. It's astounding to me. I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it. And that's why I know Halo 3 is going to be so much better."
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Inside Bungie - Living The Spartan Life

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  • ObPA (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday January 19, 2007 @11:59AM (#17681724) Homepage Journal
    Do you like their hats? [penny-arcade.com]
  • Hopefully an update to the game will solve the multiplayer issues.
          Anyway, this isn't the first of the last game to come to market with issues, not enough tested, not polished. Too bad this happens, and PS3 wouldn't have been a real danger to XBox360 market share even without Halo2
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jfclavette (961511)
      You're confused. Halo 2 came out for the original XBox a good while ago. You're thinking Halo 3, which is still in development.
  • Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:09PM (#17681908)
    I liked the first half of Halo 1. The parts where you could jump on a jeep (whatever) and a guy would climb in and drive, or gun, or whatever you didn't do. It really felt like a war game where there was some tactics and such.

    The last half completely dropped that and was boring.

    Halo 2... I never bothered with it. My nephews played it, and I heard a little on the web about it, but not much. So I left it alone.

    I'm hoping Halo 3 really DOES have the 'polish time' they need to make it right and fun in single player. (I don't give a rat's ass about multi, despite liking the 'work together' stuff with the NPCs.) I'm not really holding my breath, though.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You can download Marathon Aleph One for free [bungie.org], the FPS predecessor of Halo.

    And you can still play Myth II online for free [playmyth.net] (serial number not needed if you forgot yours).
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:26PM (#17682116)
    Given the opportunity, a developer would keep "polishing" a game forever. It would never get released if you just gave them an "open-ended" development timeframe. But, set a hard deadline, and they end up complaining that there wasn't enough time to "polish" it; to add in every feature; to include x, y, and, z, and so on...

    Show me a developer that's ever completely happy with the finished game and I'll show you a director that's completely happy with the final theatrical cut of his film.

    -Eric

    • by andrewd18 (989408)
      I have a love/hate relationship with the developers I work with (I'm a tech writer). Without deadlines, the programs get revised and rewritten on a weekly basis, which means the manuals are always in need of being updated. Drives me crazy. I heart deadlines just for that reason. If I had mod points, you'd get +1 insightful. 3
    • Duke Nukem Forever.
    • by PresidentEnder (849024) <wyvernender.gmail@com> on Friday January 19, 2007 @01:03PM (#17682792) Journal
      Quentin Tarantino always claims to be happy with the theatrical cuts of his films.
      • by Noxx (74567)
        Didn't he change the Pulp Fiction - Special Edition so that Marvin shot at Vincent Vega first?

        Wait, maybe I'm thinking of something else...

        =P

        • by jackbird (721605)
          No, but his cut of True Romance had the Christian Slater character dying among the falling feathers, and no coda on the beach in Mexico...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nasch (598556)

      But, set a hard deadline, and they end up complaining that there wasn't enough time to "polish" it; to add in every feature; to include x, y, and, z, and so on...

      If you RTFA (a lot to ask I know) one of them said that for Halo everything came together perfectly in the end, and basically they had exactly the right amount of time. That is to say, I'm sure there was more they would have liked to do, but his message was more "we had the right amount of time" than "we needed more time".

      "We had about four to

    • by localman (111171)
      Simply not true. A creative person may not be completely satisfied with every aspect of what they've created (which is often the impetus for the next creative project), but despite this stuff gets completed all the time without being cut short. As a creative person (developing, music, and film) I've completed many things without someone else telling me when it had to be done. There are a percentage of people like you describe, and yes, they do need someone to just give them a hard deadline. But there ar
    • I remember when Bungie used to take pride in their "it's done when it's done" attitude towards game development. That's what they were famous for in the Mac community.

      Then they sold out to Microsoft, promised nothing would change. Look at them now.
      • by Khuffie (818093)
        Ya. They totally rushed out Halo 3 so it can be a launch title for Microsoft...wait...no...that didn't happen. I mean, they totally rushed out Halo 3 to counter the PS3's launch for Microsoft...

        Hey...waitagodarnfrigginminute...

  • Bull (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ObiWanStevobi (1030352) on Friday January 19, 2007 @12:29PM (#17682164) Journal
    Halo 2 is still one of the most played and most stable games. And one of the best looking for its generation. This is just marketing to try to hype up expectation for Halo 3. Halo 2 is not perfect, no game is. But to say there isn't any polish on it is just a flat out lie.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Freewill (538580)
      There's *planned* polish, and there's *accidental* polish. Halo 2 had plenty of the latter, a little of the former. Make no mistake, if you're known for above-average output, then even your less-then-perfect work is still a step above the rest. What Halo 2 missed on (as repeated in the article) is agreed on by the developers themselves. This is a *good* thing. This is not 'marketing trying to hype' Halo 3. If you knew how Bungie worked, you'd know they have an adverse reaction to typical corporate 'marketin
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Well, I would find it believable that they are perfectionists and hypercritical of their own work, however, when they all of a sudden now say that Halo 2 was not polished and Halo 3 is, doesn't that suggest a bit of a marketing job?
        • Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Halo fan myself. Based on the commercials made with the Halo 3 game engine, and the 2 other games that proved they know what gamers like in a shooter (dual weapons, balanced weapon selection, storyline, etc.) I'm quite sure Halo 3 is going to be a great game. However, all they need to do is say they improved on what the felt Halo 2 was lacking. To go and say its unplayable and unpolished is far too much of a stretch of the imagination. An game with no polish time does not
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Golias (176380)
      It's classic Microsoft speak.

      Bash your current product to show how "honest" and humble you are about your past errors, while creating demand for the much "better" the next one will be because you have learned from your horrific mistakes.

      Rinse, repeat.
    • You're fanboy arguing with the CREATOR of the game. That's funnnnyyyyy. You're a funny guy.
    • by Sibko (1036168)

      Halo 2 is still one of the most played and most stable games. And one of the best looking for its generation. This is just marketing to try to hype up expectation for Halo 3. Halo 2 is not perfect, no game is. But to say there isn't any polish on it is just a flat out lie.

      Maybe you didn't read the article, but its a Bungie developer who said they didn't have time to polish the game. Pretty sure he isn't lying.

      Besides which, I'm an avid Halo fan, and I can tell you straight up that the game has an overall unpolished feel. From some lame weapon sounds, to the lack of medals when you complete the game on various difficulties. I for one, am very happy that Bungie is admitting they've gotten some things wrong. Compared to other studios I've seen, Bungie aught to be commended.

  • But since they were bought by Microsoft, they aren't really relevant to the gaming community at large anymore (other than as a vehicle for the Roosterteeth guys). The problem is that Microsoft basically boxed them into the X-Box. (no pun intended) Those of us who are PC gamers (and we are legion) are essentially being shut out of the HALO franchise unless we meet certain Microsoft criterion. A) we must own an X-box or X-box 360, or B) we must own Vista.

    Now, that's all fine and good, Microsoft can do wha
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bunions (970377)
      > Those of us who are PC gamers (and we are legion)

      PC games are about 1/6th of the console market. It's still significant, but decreasingly so every day. Don't get me wrong, I'm a PC gamer too, but I don't have any illusions of it's importance in the grand scheme of things.

      > But make no mistake that this immediately relegates the HALO franchise to irrelevancy with HUGE sections of the gaming community.

      PC gamers are sort of notorious for upgrading at the drop of a hat. I think you're vastly underesti
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GeckoX (259575)
        PC gamers follow the games and the tech. They're traditionally on the (relative) bleeding edge of the industry.

        If the industry isn't going there, the gamers won't be either. It's that simple.

        Until the moment there's a must have DX10 game, and the must have hardware to match, there simply won't be mass upgrading. Actually, there's a heck of a lot of room at the top of the DX9 stack still. Most people that look into this stuff KNOW that the best cards right now are DX9. And for the foreseeable future those ca
      • by GeckoX (259575) on Friday January 19, 2007 @01:09PM (#17682872)
        Sorry, forgot to mention one more important thing. The PC gamer market may be small percentage wise, but that segment drives just about the entire market.

        Think of it this way: Most people don't drive expensive high-tech vehicles. Those vehicles are only a very small part of the vehicle market. However, just about ALL of the tech in the vehicle you DO drive started out on those vehicles.

        So we may be (relatively) small in numbers, but we created the market, and we're still the driving force behind it.

        Think of it another way: Why does the Halo franchise exist? Simply because the console market had had FPS envy for over a decade. It took that long for consoles to be able to do FPS's well enough to be viable.

        And last, just another point about the impact of PC Gamers on the industry. WoW is a juggernaut in the industry. And it's PC only. Not just a hiccup. Not just a blip on the radar. It's huge, it's massive, it's changed the gaming market across the board. All this from a _subset_ of 1/6th of the console market.

        We're a LOT more important than you give credit for.
        • by realmolo (574068)
          Not really.

          There is simply more money to be made on the consoles. Plus, they're easier to develop for.

          I like PC games, but they aren't mainstream, and they really aren't important to the "gaming" market-at-large.

          • by GeckoX (259575)
            Did you read at all? Or are you just looking for an argument just for it's own sake?

            What did I say? And all you can offer is 'Not Really'. No counter points whatsoever. Just a totally (obviously) biased opinion. Nothing more.

            Move along please, nothing to see here.
            • by bunions (970377)
              There wasn't really anything to your argument either. A lot of assertions and the obligatory car analogy. MMOGs are pc-only (mostly) because console keyboards aren't widely available. I also deny that pc games "created" the market. I'd say Atari or Nintendo did, and those games were modeled after arcade consoles.
              • by GeckoX (259575)
                Dude, you really _really_ don't know your video game history.
                • by bunions (970377)
                  your insightful arguments have totally won me over.
                • No, actually, he does. And if you put Japan into the equation, the role of the PC diminishes even more.

                  In a couple of genres - RTS, simulation, FPS - the PC is historically more important, although again the Japanese game industry has a large history of simulation on consoles. Halo is a 3rd person shooter, a genre which essentially skipped the PC. RTS and especially FPS have become somewhat moribund genres, as well.

                  What the PC drove, until recently, has been the quality of graphics. We're getting to an epoc
                  • by GeckoX (259575)
                    Think about _why_ 3rd person shooters skipped the PC. 3rd person shooters were adopted for consoles because FPS controls don't translate all that well to consoles.
                    • FPS are hardly the stem and core of videogame history. The original poster was correct: home systems came directly from the arcade, and were in widespread use while most people still did not have PCs. The Atari VCS (later called the 2600) was ubiquitous while home PCs (Altairs, Commodores, Apples, Tandys, etc) were still a rarity - and before the age of MS-DOS, the PC market was fractured. Not until the early/mid-90s did PC gaming really pick up, when one could actually upgrade the graphics card for a moder
                    • by GeckoX (259575)
                      Much better, thanks.

                      There's been some level of confusion in this entire thread. Mostly because people chose to make statements without backing them up in any way.

                      I certainly agree with your history on video games. It is definitely correct and accurate. However, I would have to suggest that it was the PC game market that revolutionized the industry. Pre-PC, the market was for kids for the most part. Video games were toys. They looked like toys, they played like toys. Once the PC entered the equation, that al
                    • by be-fan (61476)
                      Pre-PC, the market was for kids for the most part.

                      It was the original PlayStation that did that. Back in 1994, when it came out, the PC gaming market was not nearly big enough to have that kind of impact.

                      PC's brought 3D to the table.

                      It was arcades that brought 3D to the table, and even 3Dfx first became successful because of their involvement in making arcade hardware. The Voodoo 1 was the first popular 3D chipset for PCs, and it came out in October 1996, a full year and nine months after the PS1 brought ar
                  • What you say is true.

                    Truly, the "homefront" of gaming is in the Land of the Rising Sun. It's where most of the truly BIG names in gaming comes from, and where the biggest sellers are made. I know it's just anecdotal evidence, but let's take a look at my gaming library:
                    Wii: 6 games, 2 US made, 4 Japan
                    PS2: 35 games, 12 US, 23 Japan
                    GCN: 41 games, 12 US, 29 Japan
                    DS: 22 games, ALL Japanese

                    So, it looks to me that since the Japanese PC game market seems to consist mostly of porn games and little more, which hardly
        • Why does the Halo franchise exist? Simply because the console market had had FPS envy for over a decade. It took that long for consoles to be able to do FPS's well enough to be viable.

          Console first-person shooting was viable in 1997. See Goldeneye.

          • by GeckoX (259575)
            There's viable, and there's usable.

            Any PC FPSer will know exactly what I'm talking about. Any console FPS fanboys...we'll, you still don't know what you're missing ;)
            • by tepples (727027)

              Any PC FPSer will know exactly what I'm talking about.

              How much does it cost to build a home theater PC that can handle four-player first-person shooting? Or does it take a cluster?

        • by be-fan (61476)
          WoW is pretty big, but to put it into perspective, it wouldn't even break the top 10 of highest selling console games.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Caffeinate (1031648)
      Halo 2 did OK considering it's an X-Box only title.
      I think "OK" might be a bit of an understatement. Halo 2 had the best opening night in the history of the entertainment industry, earning $125M US in the first 24 hours of its release. [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by FinchWorld (845331)
      I've just been watching scrubs hence, For the of God, nooby. Halo, and soon to be Halo 2 would have been luckly to even hit the PC without M$, hell I can M$ hate with the best of them, when theres a good reason, so lets go down the bungie hall of memories. Marathon, whats that Mac games? OMFG did you not get that on your PC? Until recent open sourcing I believe there was only a very limited, LIMITED, run of Marathon 2 for PC, and that seemed more for the novelty. As for halo the orginal intention for it was
      • by scot4875 (542869)
        You conveniently forget Myth and its sequels.

        Bungie had been doing quite well on the PC platform, pre-MS buyout -- I can't imagine why Halo wouldn't have made it to the PC as well.

        --Jeremy
        • Halo, pre M$ was only ever shown at Mac Expos, as a Mac game. Its also worth noting that although the myth games were released on PC, it was after Mac release, I know Marathon 2 for PC came a year later than the Mac version. Given the impact Halo would have had on the Mac against the xbox (not as much, smaller customer base), a PC port would have been longer in the works.

          And if I recall Myth III may have come out on PC first, but Im sure M$ gave the rights to Take2 or similar and wasn't developed by Bungi

  • Can some one post the article on here? I am behind a content filter...
  • And that's why I know Halo 3 is going to be so much better

    As someone who worked in the video game industry for six years, the next time around the schedule will be caught in half. If they thought losing the polish time was time was bad, losing time to finish the game is even worse.
  • by tont0r (868535)
    Guy 1: This is insane! This is madness!!
    Guy 2: Madness? This is BUNGIE!!
    [Guy 1 kicked into a well]
  • This is not news to me, nor should it be to anyone who watched the Making of Documentary that came with the special edition Halo 2. Basically, Bungie sat around on their asses doing nothing until about a year/6 months before the release date, and then started working like crazy. It shows you that the New Mombasa E3 demo was not built on the existing game engine and had to be completely scrapped. I doubt this will happen again, as it sounds like they're far into production already, but if it should, I doubt
  • That's last month's story.

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