Halo Composer Wins Bungie Suit

Halo Composer Wins Bungie Suit

Bungie has to pay out a cool $95,019.13 in accrued benefits and damages.

Back in May Halo composer Marty O'Donnell sued his former employer, Bungie, for unpaid benefits. O'Donnell had been let go, claimed Bungie, on friendly terms, but O'Donnell alleged he'd been terminated without cause. Now Bungie has to pay a total of $95,019.13, including all legal fees, interest and $38,385 in double damages, for that 'friendly terms' termination.

O'Donnell misses his friends at Bungie, and promises to answer any question asked of him if you catch up with him at PAX Prime this year. Who knows? He might see some old workmates there too. Or perhaps you'll find him in a stairwell somewhere singing the classics.

O'Donnell was terminated back in April for reasons which have not yet been made public. The suit was filed in order to reclaim "accrued but unused vacation time, paid time off, sabbatical time and other benefits," according to the filing, and it named Bungie's Harold Ryan as a defendant. O'Donnell had been part of Bungie since before there was any such thing as Halo, and had worked on all the Halo titles as well as soon-to-be-released Destiny.

Source: Venture Beat

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Considering Destiny is not that interesting and Activision has essentially laid claim to them, I'm not surprised Bungie would terminate his employment without proper cause. Good to see he won, maybe he can help out on Halo 6 or so.

Martin O'Donnell's music essentially defined the Halo games, so if Bungie screwed him over then he damn well deserves compensation. Good on him.

Bungie without O'Donnell is just a weird thought. He has done the music for their games for more than 10 years and it just seems weird that they would just ditch him without cause, especially considering that the music in Halo is probably some of the most iconic music of the past couple of generations when it comes to gaming. Who knows, maybe he will sign on with 343 and produce the music for the future Halo games, but either way, im glad that he won the lawsuit, Bungie has been going a little weird ever since Destiny went public.

MercurySteam:
Martin O'Donnell's music essentially defined the Halo games, so if Bungie screwed him over then he damn well deserves compensation. Good on him.

Pretty much this. The music is the one thing that sticks in my head more than anything. The balance of the game was terrible (Super pistols anyone? In every game only one normal weapon is really viable), Story was derivative and only got worse, characters were fairly non-existent and the world was completely unoriginal as well.

I came here to find out what a 'bungie suit' would look like, and see it's (im)practical use. I am sorely disappoint.

You know, when someone says that they let someone go on, "friendly terms", that just seems to mean that they were smiling as they kicked that person out the door.

MercurySteam:
Martin O'Donnell's music essentially defined the Halo games, so if Bungie screwed him over then he damn well deserves compensation. Good on him.

This, Halo wouldn't have been the same without him. Glad he won and got awarded the wages he was due.

Wow, they fired him over $95k, that's impressively petty for Bungie and Activision.

I can't help but think that Destiny will be Bungie's last game one way or another. If it fails, Activision will pull the plug and skip into the distance, if it succeeds, Activision will attempt another Infity Ward style take over and all the major staff will leave (not that a whole bunch of them aren't already gone), whatever happens, I just don't see the name Bungie being attached to any credibility five years from now.

I'm a long time Bungie fan. But I honestly don't even know what "Bungie" is anymore. So many of the people who made them what they were have moved on or in this case been let go.

Between this and the deal with the devil (Activision) I just don't know if they are a company I want to support. Given that the Destiny beta has left me more worried about the game than before I played it, I'm going to take the "wait and see" approach with this game. Game sites seem to be far more enamored with Destiny than I am. And a company that would let one of the premier game musicians go after he essentially helped define them, well that just speaks volumes doesn't it?

MercurySteam:
Martin O'Donnell's music essentially defined the Halo games, so if Bungie screwed him over then he damn well deserves compensation. Good on him.

Halo:CE would not have felt nearly as impactful if not for the amazing score.

What makes me laugh at this lawsuit is that there's no way this could he couldn't have anything but a legit reason for it, because he won, but only took 100k. Depending on your field of work and location, in this case Washington state, that's only one year's paycheck. At the end all the guy really wanted was a severance package that he was probably promised when he originally took the job. Either that or an actual rational reason for being fired in the first place. "He left on COMPLETELY friendly terms, but we won't actually tell him why we kicked him out on his ass." - Bungie

95 grand is probably pocket change to Bungie, but good to see the little guy get his due for once.

And here I was, 100% sure that some smart aleck fan had sent him a full suit of bungee gear.

Real life is less awesome than what I want it to be.

...Oh yeah, and good for him. I guess.

fix-the-spade:
Wow, they fired him over $95k, that's impressively petty for Bungie and Activision.

No... they fired him for <LOL NOT TELLING YOU WHY> and then refused to pay him his severance package. Stack on "double damages" and legal fees and the total was about $95k. The original amount was probably in the $30ks.

When people listened to his music, they thought Halo. It seems like Bungie is losing a crucial part of itself by letting him go. Anyway, still good to see he's in the gaming loop and hitting PAX.

Hopefully 343i gets him for the next Halo projects. The Halo 4 soundtrack wasn't bad, but it lacked the "Halo feeling" you get from Marty's work. It didn't belong to a Halo game.
I especially like how Marty managed to keep this feeling while reinventing the soundtrack when it comes to Halo games that have a different tone than the main trilogy (Reach, ODST).

Though I think that Stephen Rippy (Ensemble Studios audio director since AoE) came pretty close to Marty-style with his score for Halo Wars. Someone hire this guy for a videogame damn it!

That was settled relatively fast. Makes me think Bungie just wants him gone and done with. There was an interview a while ago where it was revealed that the Bungie head was really miffed that Marty can win so many trophies and take so much credit while everything else was considered a team effort. Maybe that had something to do with it? You'd have to be awfully petty to fire someone over that, though. Especially someone who's been at the company for over a decade and who seems to have loved it.

Such a shame.

Only $95k? That dude composed almost half of the Halo experience.

Karloff:
O'Donnell had been let go, claimed Bungie, on friendly terms, but O'Donnell alleged he'd been terminated without cause.

This isn't a contradiction. "Without cause" doesn't mean "for no reason." It simply means the reason is unrelated to misconduct. They could've been unsatisfied with the quality of his work, his workflow could've been interfering with the productivity of the rest of the sound team, his salary could've been more than they wanted to keep paying, his contract could've included a rights or royalty clause they didn't want to keep, or they could've had someone else they wanted to hire who only accepted on the condition that O'Donnell left. All of these fall under "without cause". If his contract was an at-will employment contract, (which it likely was; the only music union in the US doesn't allow their people to compose for games), then legally they don't need cause or misconduct to end his employment.

P.S. Thanks

P.P.S. Edit: As far as I can tell, the lawsuit isn't even because he was terminated, but because he didn't receive his vacation/sabbatical pay. Most likely, the reason "without cause" even came up is because his contract stipulated that he can only lose those if he's terminated with cause, and that since this was without cause he's supposed to receive a payout for that.

It seems likely that Bungie decided their prize musician was getting too expensive (either because their budgets have shrunk or because he's asking for -more-).

It's still a shame, either way.

Well, that'll keep him afloat for around a year I say. Plenty of time for him to find new work. I mean He's freaking marty! Studios are going to be fighting over him. (At least they SHOULD!)

lacktheknack:
And here I was, 100% sure that some smart aleck fan had sent him a full suit of bungee gear.

Real life is less awesome than what I want it to be.

...Oh yeah, and good for him. I guess.

I really wish your version was the real version of events.

Samurai Silhouette:
Only $95k? That dude composed almost half of the Halo experience.

Plus an extra $19.13. Enough for a celebratory lunch!

Good to see him win, if it's only 100k then he obviously just wanted wanted what his contract stated, he never said anything bad about bungie for firing him. He just wanted what was legally his.

Whoever ends up employing him in the future I'll look out for, he does great work. His music is the best part about halo.

O'Donnell's music is one of the bigger reasons ODST stands as my favorite Halo game.

I'm glad he got what he was owed. Hopefully he'll move on to some new & exciting ventures.

lacktheknack:

No... they fired him for <LOL NOT TELLING YOU WHY> and then refused to pay him his severance package. Stack on "double damages" and legal fees and the total was about $95k. The original amount was probably in the $30ks.

Your avatar, I despise it to the core.

#ahem#

Anyway, I suppose you're right, although based on past form I assume that Activision is leaning on people to make sure that anyone with a favourable bonus agreement is out of Bungie before Destiny releases. That way even if they get sued they can claim that release milestone and sales bonuses aren't owed to anyone.

Huh, I'll have to keep this precedent in mind for the next time I get "let go on friendly terms" before I have a chance to use my vacation days and such. :P

Chairman Miaow:

MercurySteam:
Martin O'Donnell's music essentially defined the Halo games, so if Bungie screwed him over then he damn well deserves compensation. Good on him.

Pretty much this. The music is the one thing that sticks in my head more than anything. The balance of the game was terrible (Super pistols anyone? In every game only one normal weapon is really viable), Story was derivative and only got worse, characters were fairly non-existent and the world was completely unoriginal as well.

See here is my issue. You want to know why the story got worse? It is because Marty took more control over it. Halo 3 and Reach's story had to go through Marty. He wanted everyone to die. Want to know why the Master Chief has no character because Marty wouldn't let them add any. It would break the illusion that under the helmet was our face. He may have been a great composer but I am glade that he is gone.

TorchofThanatos:

Chairman Miaow:

MercurySteam:
Martin O'Donnell's music essentially defined the Halo games, so if Bungie screwed him over then he damn well deserves compensation. Good on him.

Pretty much this. The music is the one thing that sticks in my head more than anything. The balance of the game was terrible (Super pistols anyone? In every game only one normal weapon is really viable), Story was derivative and only got worse, characters were fairly non-existent and the world was completely unoriginal as well.

See here is my issue. You want to know why the story got worse? It is because Marty took more control over it. Halo 3 and Reach's story had to go through Marty. He wanted everyone to die. Want to know why the Master Chief has no character because Marty wouldn't let them add any. It would break the illusion that under the helmet was our face. He may have been a great composer but I am glade that he is gone.

Didn't realise he had any influence beyond the music.

TorchofThanatos:

See here is my issue. You want to know why the story got worse? It is because Marty took more control over it. Halo 3 and Reach's story had to go through Marty. He wanted everyone to die. Want to know why the Master Chief has no character because Marty wouldn't let them add any. It would break the illusion that under the helmet was our face. He may have been a great composer but I am glade that he is gone.

I would like to see a news story link or links from developers on those games proving this, because that seems very hard to believe honestly. And if it turns out to be true, then that means that the Executive Producers, and the Directors of those games had no balls to stand up to the Composer when it came to making a game, showing that they could be easily walked all over by their other workers.

Neronium:

TorchofThanatos:

See here is my issue. You want to know why the story got worse? It is because Marty took more control over it. Halo 3 and Reach's story had to go through Marty. He wanted everyone to die. Want to know why the Master Chief has no character because Marty wouldn't let them add any. It would break the illusion that under the helmet was our face. He may have been a great composer but I am glade that he is gone.

I would like to see a news story link or links from developers on those games proving this, because that seems very hard to believe honestly. And if it turns out to be true, then that means that the Executive Producers, and the Directors of those games had no balls to stand up to the Composer when it came to making a game, showing that they could be easily walked all over by their other workers.

You can find it when you watch the behind the scenes stuff on the special editions. He talks about how the game didn't have emotional weight behind it so he decide it would be better to kill off Johnson and the female captain (who I can't remember her name) at the end of Halo 3. He says something similar in Reach's behind the scene thing too. I am assuming that Marty tired to walk over someone again and that is why he got fired but that is pure guess work and some behind the scenes interviews isn't great evidence. I do have a friend who has talked to some bungie guys and they didn't like him but again that is most here-say. The Executive Producers and Directors should have grown a pair but them firing him and making him seem like the hero was not a good choice. Either was Marty was a great Composer but also someone that liked to over step his bounds. There is more to him being fired but no one is saying anything. The whole thing is very weird and overly secretive leading me just to guess the worse.

That's the first thing that hit me about the Destiny Beta, the nice orchestral score, and then to be reminded of the fact they laid this guy off and hang a depressing note over the rest of the experience. Games alright with buddies, but somebody at Bungie is a huge dick.

-Dragmire-:
You know, when someone says that they let someone go on, "friendly terms", that just seems to mean that they were smiling as they kicked that person out the door.

Its worst than that, he was never kicked, one day he came back to work and found he was fired, even the people who was supposed to kick him out were surprised.
It seems like the blame is totally on Harold Ryan, although nobody is quite sure, it was quite sad to visit the Bungie forums that day, everyone was like "its Bungie's fault", and Bungie people were like "We didnt even knew".
Oddest thing of it, LEGALLY HE STILL OWNS A PART OF BUNGIE STUDIOS.... Also the entire sound department was built by him, he hired all the workers. So wtf?

 

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