Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice
Hard to Be Humble: Bungie on Bungie

Russ Pitts | 25 Sep 2007 12:16
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But they did. Oh, did they, and the fans weren't the only ones who noticed. According to Wired's Lore Sjöberg, the game ends not with a bang, but with "a sad little squeak."

"And if you try to anticipate the most disappointing, anticlimactic ending possible," he writes, "there's at least a 50-50 chance it won't be as bad as you expect."

"That was a result of us as a team going through some growing pains and not really doing a fantastic job of producing and planning properly," Jarrard says. "And as a result we had to make some changes to the project mid-stream."

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Simply put, in spite of the fact both Myth and Marathon were wildly successful Mac games, they were still Mac games. And garnering accolades in an industry niche is as different from the blockbuster console game market as the local high school talent show is from Broadway. The difference for Bungie was night and day. Along with smashing success came a handful of problems for the once-tiny, once-independent game studio.

"We knew we could do better [on Halo 2]," says Jarrard. "The real reason that things went awry for us was a lack of really disciplined production. When Microsoft acquired Bungie, Halo 1 was sort of half-done, half-developed and at that point it was taking a really soft concept and applying it to the Xbox." Developing a sequel guaranteed to be as successful as the original was a completely different ballgame.

It's no secret Microsoft needed a boost from Bungie for their 2004 Holiday season (and they got it - with Halo 2's help, Microsoft sold over 6 million consoles in 2004), but an anxious publisher can often spell disaster for a creative studio, rushing a game into production before it's ready. Jarrard, however, doesn't blame Microsoft for Halo 2's flaws. Instead, he describes Bungie's working relationship with Microsoft as a "best of both worlds" situation.

"There is pressure that we feel coming out of Redmond, but in a lot of ways we're in a really good situation here," he says. "After Halo 2 shipped, Microsoft allowed us to move out of Redmond, and we moved into a custom building. ... We're basically inside a bubble. We have our own building, our own security, our own infrastructure. We're very much insulated from the day-to-day corporate structure of the massive Microsoft company.

"They had already come to the conclusion that [Halo 2] was going to be done when it was going to be done. Obviously, we can't [develop] forever, but they were definitely flexible and didn't force us to kick the game out. ... They didn't want to put a gun to our heads."

Instead, Jarrard says, the problem was one almost every game company faces and few survive: entropy. "For Halo 2, the ideas were huge, the stuff we wanted to do was huge," he says. "One of our initial pains was we set our sights too high for the technology. About a year and a half into the project we realized we were going to have to make some significant changes."

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