March 26th, 2005

Two week update

By now, I'm sure you have all heard about the new content we (Bungie) are releasing as both DLC on XBL and as a separate DVD. I'm not going to step much into the debate other than to point out the main reason for the DVD: get the update and new content into the hands of the other 80% or so of people who have bought Halo 2 without a subscription to Xbox Live. I think attempting to reach out to the other 5 million or so Halo 2 players isn't such a bad motivation for an add-on DVD.

Obviously I can't get into specifics, but be sure to watch bungie.net for updates on future content.

Anyway, enough on that.

Went to GDC two weeks ago and had the most fun I never expected to have. I had the opportunity to meet the sound designer for MGS3 and the audio guy (I was a little confused as to his official title, but it sounded like he did the sound programming and some content work as well) for RE4 and DMC3, all thanks to Dolby. I also got a cool Dolby bag.

(I also learned that if the last time you went on an all night bender was in college, you probably shouldn't attempt that again without a little bit of warming up 5 years later.)

Apparently my talk went well; I happened to be so incredibly nervous that I ran through the slides in 30 minutes, leaving the rest of the hour for Q/A. Fortunately, there were enough questions from the audience to fill the rest of the time. The slides will eventually be available to the public; as to when, I don't really know.

(I also went to Spain. But I'll talk about that at a later time.)

Not much mind-wrangling stuff. Maybe later.

"It's a ceremony!" "It's psychotic!"

One potentially fun aspect of GDC is how easy it can be to get into arguments between those who know what they are talking about and those who think they know what they're talking about. (That's a bit of an oversimplification; it's actually arguing between different levels of insight.) Actually, you can do that on the Internet anyway. It's just more fun in person.

I didn't get into any arguments, but I did come close after my presentation. It was something to do with why we're using C++ and our tag system vs. C# or something like that. The argument against the Bungie Way (TM) had to do with automatic language support for object persistence vs. rolling your own. I remarked that if I had to do it on my own, I'd probably use C#. But that isn't strictly true.

The main impetus for rolling your own over using an external package is flexibility; if there is software that can not only meet your current needs but your future needs as well (assuming you have the budget), it makes more sense to buy it than roll your own. If, however, nothing exists on the market that meets your future (most likely unknown) needs, then it behooves you to roll your own.

As far as I know, there is no commercial or MS friendly open source package out there that would provide the same level of functionality or flexibility that our tag system give us. And because what ultimately drives our games is content, i.e. stuff that we have to store on disk, a solution that does not scale to our needs is insufficient and cannot be used. In other words, it makes sense for us to roll our own.

Another notable aspect of GDC I discovered since I hung out with Marty and Jay a lot more was how much more fun the Audio track is vs. the rest of the conference. Maybe it's because Marty and Jay's marketing of me as an audio programming god has finally gotten to my head, or because the field of gaming audio is so much smaller in terms of people vs. the rest of the industry, but there is a very big sense of camraderie across all levels of gaming audio, from the one-man sound and music shops to the celebrities like Nobuo Uematsu and Marty. There is a distinct lack of one-upsmanship or arrogance that pervades the programming and design side of GDC. Then again, maybe people just don't do that as much around the Bungie sound guys.