Halo Theme Song Composer is Suing Bungie Boss

Halo Theme Song Composer is Suing Bungie Boss

The creator of Halo's iconic theme tune is suing Bungie for not paying benefits he claims he is owed.

Say what you will about Halo, it has one kick-ass theme tune. Every time that main beat comes in over the sound of the choir, I get chills. It's a very iconic part of the series, and now, it's composer, Marty O'Donnell, has filed suit against Halo dev Bungie, claiming that the company has not payed him the benefits he claims he is owned for the song.

O'Donnell says that when he was let go from the company back in April, he had accrued vacation time, sabbatical time, and paid time off, which Bungie was supposed to pay out, but hasn't. Naming Bungie boss Harold Ryan as a defendant, O'Donnell's lawsuit claims that "Ryan has willfully and intentionally caused Bungie to deprive O'Donnell of accrued but unused vacation time, paid time off, sabbatical time, and other benefits."

O'Donnell had been with the company since 2000 - before the first Halo game was released - and has worked on the soundtracks for all the games Bungie produced in the series, as well as it's upcoming Destiny shooter. In the lawsuit, O'Donnell stresses again that he was fired "without cause."

In a response to the lawsuit, Bungie denied O'Donnell's allegations, asking that the case be dismissed with prejudice.

Source: Venture Beat

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I can't imagine after having this guy on board for 14 years, and him helping make all their games as iconic as they are. That they would then fire him "without cause".

But if that is the case that was a very poor choice on Bungie's part.

I really love O'Donnell's work. The soundtracks he has worked on have been excellent.

That said, I really doubt he was let go without a reason. Bungie KNOWS how talented he is, and they would not waste that kind of talent for no reason. Even if you don't believe they would act out of a sense of friendliness, it would be a bad business decision.

I'd bet something happened that we don't know about. At the very least you can rely on a business to not throw away assets freely.

Compatriot Block:
I'd bet something happened that we don't know about. At the very least you can rely on a business to not throw away assets freely.

It reeks of something personal between O'Donnell and Ryan, its odd that he names him as the root cause behind his accusation. I bet the two had a falling out of some kind.

Upbeat Zombie:
I can't imagine after having this guy on board for 14 years, and him helping make all their games as iconic as they are. That they would then fire him "without cause".

But if that is the case that was a very poor choice on Bungie's part.

"Without cause" means that Bungie was not legally obligated to give explanation for Marty's termination because he was employed at will. It's unlikely that he was terminated for the hell of it.

Upbeat Zombie:
I can't imagine after having this guy on board for 14 years, and him helping make all their games as iconic as they are. That they would then fire him "without cause".

But if that is the case that was a very poor choice on Bungie's part.

They had a cause. 14 years of accrued vacation and sick leave they were desperate to not pay out that they booted him out the door.

OT: what a boring case =p

Upbeat Zombie:
I can't imagine after having this guy on board for 14 years, and him helping make all their games as iconic as they are. That they would then fire him "without cause".

But if that is the case that was a very poor choice on Bungie's part.

Activision is paying Bungie's bills, Activision currently has an exclusive publishing deal with Bungie, even though they don't 'own' Bungie they're providing 100% of Bungie's income right now.

Look at Activision's history, there's your answer.

I'm gonna give Bungie the benefit of the doubt here and say there's more to this than it first seems. Bungie is one of those studios that is geniunly nice and keeps in touch with its fans and employees, I can't really see them doing this. Given Activision's track record with its studios (coughhackingandillegalydetainingtheheadsofinifinitywardbeforekillingthecompanyoutrightcough) I'm assuming these orders came down from some brain dead, penny pinching executive on high.

Upbeat Zombie:
I can't imagine after having this guy on board for 14 years, and him helping make all their games as iconic as they are. That they would then fire him "without cause".

But if that is the case that was a very poor choice on Bungie's part.

Without cause I think is the legal term meaning that he wasn't fired for poor performance or misconduct. Without cause is not the same as without a reason. Since he was fired "without cause" I imagine it means that he would be entitled to all his previous unpaid benefits which is why he would mention it.

Gearhead mk2:
I'm gonna give Bungie the benefit of the doubt here and say there's more to this than it first seems. Bungie is one of those studios that is geniunly nice and keeps in touch with its fans and employees, I can't really see them doing this. Given Activision's track record with its studios (coughhackingandillegalydetainingtheheadsofinifinitywardbeforekillingthecompanyoutrightcough) I'm assuming these orders came down from some brain dead, penny pinching executive on high.

Modern Bungie is a husk of its previous self. Marty leaving is the final nail in the coffin.

Gearhead mk2:
Bungie is one of those studios that is geniunly nice and keeps in touch with its fans and employees, I can't really see them doing this.

Bungie used to be like that, I'm not so sure these days. Firing Marty Friggin' O'Donnell isn't the kind of thing anybody could have seen them doing either, surely? As company figureheads go he was second only to Master Chief himself!

This kind of publicity is exactly what Bungie doesn't need in the run-up to the increasingly average-looking Destiny being launched. I suggest they pay the man his damn money and stay quiet.

I just have to say, the thumbnail on the front page is of Halo 4, a game neither Marty nor Bungie worked on.

Also, I really want to know the full story behind Marty's termination, but at this point I don't think we'll ever know who's to blame.

WTH is going on here? I bet there's something or somethings that they're not telling us. This could be because of so many reasons.

ArkhamHorror:
"Without cause" means that Bungie was not legally obligated to give explanation for Marty's termination because he was employed at will. It's unlikely that he was terminated for the hell of it.

That would make sense if the employer was saying it, but it's been Martin's statement since he was first fired.

They had to fire him cause he was getting close to working there long enough to retire there (20 years?). They didn't wanna pay for any retirement package.

Companies do this all the time. Fire all the older, more experienced employees (who have had years worth of raises) so that they can hire some new, younger guy at half the pay.

And then these companies are all surprised that their employees have low morale and little loyalty.

Now I'm not claiming to be an expert on employer-employee law...but when it comes to stuff like "paid vacations" and such, isn't the general practice "use it or lose it"? Regardless of the politics behind why Marty was shit-canned, the fact that he was removed from the company before he collected on his paid vacation days and such doesn't mean that he's still owed those things. Such things were a benefit of working for the company...which is no longer the case in his situation.

I mean what is he suing for? Does he want Bungie to send him on an all expenses paid trip to the Bahamas? Can I sue every company that I've ever worked for that I never had a chance to use my unused vacation days?

Scorpid:

Upbeat Zombie:
I can't imagine after having this guy on board for 14 years, and him helping make all their games as iconic as they are. That they would then fire him "without cause".

But if that is the case that was a very poor choice on Bungie's part.

They had a cause. 14 years of accrued vacation and sick leave they were desperate to not pay out that they booted him out the door.

OT: what a boring case =p

pretty much this. If they knew they weren't going to have need for a composer of his caliber in the future or they want to lower the cost of making the games in general by hiring someone who can demand less money they might very well try to fire him before they have to pay out for vacation time etc. Its something they teach you in business school right after they remove your soul.

The music was pretty much the only thing about the Halo series I thought was epic. Oh well.

Ok, so maybe 343 hires him now. I would really hope so. That was my main sticking point with Halo 4. I had zero interest in the soundtrack.

RJ 17:
Now I'm not claiming to be an expert on employer-employee law...but when it comes to stuff like "paid vacations" and such, isn't the general practice "use it or lose it"? Regardless of the politics behind why Marty was shit-canned, the fact that he was removed from the company before he collected on his paid vacation days and such doesn't mean that he's still owed those things. Such things were a benefit of working for the company...which is no longer the case in his situation.

I mean what is he suing for? Does he want Bungie to send him on an all expenses paid trip to the Bahamas? Can I sue every company that I've ever worked for that I never had a chance to use my unused vacation days?

Likewise, I'm no expert on company policy (it's going to vary between companies anyway after all) but in my place of work at least, we can carry over a max of 3 days holiday into the following year, anything above that disappears if you don't use it. I can't imagine things would be much different when it comes to leaving a company. Also, how far back do these unused holidays of his go? You wouldn't try and claim for some holidays you didn't use 10 years ago, surely?

RJ 17:
Now I'm not claiming to be an expert on employer-employee law...but when it comes to stuff like "paid vacations" and such, isn't the general practice "use it or lose it"? Regardless of the politics behind why Marty was shit-canned, the fact that he was removed from the company before he collected on his paid vacation days and such doesn't mean that he's still owed those things. Such things were a benefit of working for the company...which is no longer the case in his situation.

I mean what is he suing for? Does he want Bungie to send him on an all expenses paid trip to the Bahamas? Can I sue every company that I've ever worked for that I never had a chance to use my unused vacation days?

dont know about the local situation of Bungie, but here there is no use it or loose it. it accumulates and you can use it later as far as vacation goes. sick days do not accumulate obviuosly. Not sure what they mean by paid time off, sabbatical time, isnt paid time off case specific, as in you get it when something happens (like a dead relative) and can only use it at that time? and what the hell is sabattical time?

Strazdas:

RJ 17:
Now I'm not claiming to be an expert on employer-employee law...but when it comes to stuff like "paid vacations" and such, isn't the general practice "use it or lose it"? Regardless of the politics behind why Marty was shit-canned, the fact that he was removed from the company before he collected on his paid vacation days and such doesn't mean that he's still owed those things. Such things were a benefit of working for the company...which is no longer the case in his situation.

I mean what is he suing for? Does he want Bungie to send him on an all expenses paid trip to the Bahamas? Can I sue every company that I've ever worked for that I never had a chance to use my unused vacation days?

dont know about the local situation of Bungie, but here there is no use it or loose it. it accumulates and you can use it later as far as vacation goes. sick days do not accumulate obviuosly. Not sure what they mean by paid time off, sabbatical time, isnt paid time off case specific, as in you get it when something happens (like a dead relative) and can only use it at that time? and what the hell is sabattical time?

My guess is somewhere in the contract they have rules for "crunch time" attendance and that it could suspend all of your vacation time etc until a game is at a certain point. Perhaps this happened in Destiny, there were problems with him and or management and they fired him before the project was done, and don't want to honor his contract?

I really like O'Donnel, so I'ma give him the benefit of the doubt, but as of right now we don't know anything.

"benefits he claims he is owned for the song."

What part of that sentence doesn't work. Just a single letter mind you.

Upbeat Zombie:
I can't imagine after having this guy on board for 14 years, and him helping make all their games as iconic as they are. That they would then fire him "without cause".

But if that is the case that was a very poor choice on Bungie's part.

Quite typical for a corporation to fire someone without cause even if they were a valuable asset to the company, and the more valuable but lower the position the more it happens because those above them can fear losing a chance to advance because the fired employee could take that spot they want because they are good at what they do. Nevermind that the fired employee may not desire to take the next management position that opens and may have spent time in management for a former employer and despises management jobs. Politics as usual in the workplace.

Steven Bogos:

Say what you will about Halo, it has one kick-ass theme tune. Every time that main beat comes in over the sound of the choir, I get chills. It's a very iconic part of the series...

I absolutely agree. But why in the hell did you use the Mjolnir Mix version of the song? It's hands down the worst version.

It's essentially just the original song; as heard in Halo: CE; with superfluous, screechy guitars played way too loudly over top. There is almost nothing else changed from the original version. All of the original melodies, basses, and choral pieces are there, just all but drowned out by those awful-sounding guitars.

I generally adore O'Donnell's work. However, that edit of the theme was one of his low points.

RJ 17:
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MarsProbe:
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Strazdas:
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From the VentureBeat article:
O'Donnell said in the filing that Bungie and Ryan gave no explanation for the firing. The suit notes that Bungie has a policy to pay employees accrued but unused vacation, paid time off, sabbatical time, and other benefits. Ryan and Bungie reportedly promised to pay.

Separately, O'Donnell has other grievances against Bungie and Ryan, and those matters are being pursued in arbitration. But that dispute isn't described in the lawsuit. O'Donnell is asking for double damages in the lawsuit.

So it seems[1], regardless of the specific definitions of "sabbatical time", etc, that Bungie has a policy of honoring these accrued payments after letting someone go.

If that be the case, then O'Donnell is certainly owed - no matter the reason for his termination. And as such, I hope he wins his suit.

If that's not the case, then this is a very sleazy move on O'Donnell's part.

[1] If the claim is to be believed.

RJ 17:
Now I'm not claiming to be an expert on employer-employee law...but when it comes to stuff like "paid vacations" and such, isn't the general practice "use it or lose it"? Regardless of the politics behind why Marty was shit-canned, the fact that he was removed from the company before he collected on his paid vacation days and such doesn't mean that he's still owed those things. Such things were a benefit of working for the company...which is no longer the case in his situation.

I mean what is he suing for? Does he want Bungie to send him on an all expenses paid trip to the Bahamas? Can I sue every company that I've ever worked for that I never had a chance to use my unused vacation days?

It all depends on your contract and company policies. Some companies view vacation time as a benefit for working there, but most companies I've worked at view vacation time as earned. What that means is that for so many hours worked, you earn an additional number of hours paid, to be used when you aren't in office. Both of the jobs I've had that allowed accrued vacation paid me out when I left. The one had no limit on accrued vacation, meaning I was owed 7 weeks of vacation time. This particular organization couldn't afford to pay me out on the day I wanted to leave, so I made a deal where I stopped working in August, but remained an employee till October, using up my vacation and still getting my regular paycheck. The other had a limit to how much vacation you could save up, so when I left, my last paycheck included pay for an additional three weeks.

In both cases, my contract specified that I was owed vacation time. It is entirely possible you could have sued a former employer for not paying you out in the past.

RJ 17:
Now I'm not claiming to be an expert on employer-employee law...but when it comes to stuff like "paid vacations" and such, isn't the general practice "use it or lose it"? Regardless of the politics behind why Marty was shit-canned, the fact that he was removed from the company before he collected on his paid vacation days and such doesn't mean that he's still owed those things. Such things were a benefit of working for the company...which is no longer the case in his situation.

I mean what is he suing for? Does he want Bungie to send him on an all expenses paid trip to the Bahamas? Can I sue every company that I've ever worked for that I never had a chance to use my unused vacation days?

It could have been back pay for vacation time taken but not paid while working, or the contract could stipulate it's earned and owed or in the case where I live the law requires any unusued vacation time be paid out if terminated. Hard to tell in this case but some above me claim Bungie has it in their employment contract in which case they must pay up.

Vigormortis:

So it seems[1], regardless of the specific definitions of "sabbatical time", etc, that Bungie has a policy of honoring these accrued payments after letting someone go.

once again, laws could be different there than here, but here its actually enshrined in law that they must pay the vacation time when you leave as financial compensation for vacation not taken. the law requires only 85% of work pay during vacation time in such case, but its not up to company policy here. that being said, even if there is no such law where Bungie is, their policy if indeed what is claimed here is true, already makes them need to pay for it. So i too hope he will win if what he claims is true.

[1] If the claim is to be believed.

Strazdas:

once again, laws could be different there than here, but here its actually enshrined in law that they must pay the vacation time when you leave as financial compensation for vacation not taken. the law requires only 85% of work pay during vacation time in such case, but its not up to company policy here. that being said, even if there is no such law where Bungie is, their policy if indeed what is claimed here is true, already makes them need to pay for it. So i too hope he will win if what he claims is true.

Oh, I know the laws could be different. But even if there's no specific law requiring them to pay out, if he was signed on under a contract that included the claimed clauses he could still win his suit - if he can prove a breach of contract.

Either way, I'm still curious why he was terminated. My guess is some "falling out" with the new company head. Over what I couldn't venture a guess, beyond creative differences.

 

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