Chronique:BWU 23/09/2005

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Posted by Frankie at 9/23/2005 5:21 PM PDT

Bungie Weekly Update, September 23, 2005

Welcome to this week's update, a look inside our new office, the technology within, the snack situation and a little bit about what that means to our new game.

So. Our new Office.

Moving to Kirkland was a big deal, although looking at a satellite map of it probably doesn’t fully demonstrate why.

You see, we love snacks. And Kirkland is the snack capital of Western Washington. If we rely solely on our ability to throw rocks as a measure of what’s nearby, we can literally smash the windows of the following establishments:

  • Cold Stone Creamery
  • Starbucks
  • Thai Restaurant
  • Fresh Fish Market
  • Big Chain Grocery
  • Fancy Lunch place
  • Riki Riki Sushi
  • Little Italian joint
  • Bagel place
  • Sandwich place
  • Pastry place
  • Movie Theater (hot dogs, popcorn)

There are more nearby, but I throw like a girl. Those are just the ones I have personally damaged.

The old office backed onto a stream, which was pretty, but fronted a quarry, which was not so pretty. The new one is a short walk from Lake Washington, and is otherwise surrounded by shops, stores and boutiques. Relatively speaking, we feel like we’re in the big city. Anyone who’s actually been to Kirkland will find that statement amusing.

The new space does a lot of practical things that are not pie-related. It gives us space to expand, it gives us room for new equipment and it gives us a fresh start. It also gives us a bizarre, modular floor with an enormous crawlspace underneath. If you want to put down new cabling, or roll cocktails on a skateboard under the office, just pop up a floor tile and go nuts.

Every now and then, Noguchi pops up from one of the tiles and yells “Boot to ass time!” at which point Bungie employees, if they’re fast enough, can whack him with a company-supplied rubber mallet.

The sub floor crawlspace is also home to our air conditioning, which blasts frigid air through every vent – and crack in the floor. The result is that I have to wear a coat in the new office. But it is a pimp coat, purple velour with leopardskin trim. So that is OK.

It’s also home to Marty’s death-dealing hypersonic megabass. As part of his new soundproofed studio complex (also home to Jay Weinland and C Paul Johnson) he has this personal audio rig. Now remember, this is for doing pretty normal stuff – playing levels, listening to audio, occasionally recording dialog with actors. Even, and I am not kidding, listening to his iPod.

Subwoofer: Genelec 7070A – a desk-sized 250W monstrosity. It takes two people to lift it. Speakers: Genelec 8050s X 5 for 5.1 sound. The speakers are humongous, yet Marty insists on putting them on his similarly enormous desk.

The studio is separated from vibration and noise from the rest of the studio by clever construction techniques, with no wall or door physically touching the rest of the building. It is also, not coincidentally, the best place for Marty to have tantrums.

For playing games though, we have an enormous 20 foot pulldown screen, onto which we can project Ms. Pac-Man sessions from our Christie LW40 projector. It’s the same kind they use at our local multiplex, and when we play multiplayer games, it helps to claim it by saying, “I call Godzilla.”

Everyone also has HDTV sets on their desk now, instead of the tiny $150 14 inch Panasonics we had before (all of which had been professionally calibrated at $300 per unit*). There’s not much point developing HD compatible games without using HDTVs to see what they look like, but we also are well aware that a lot of 360 users will be using regular TVs, and believe us when we say that our next game will look sweet on 480i TVs too. MS is testing ALL of its games on every conceivable display technology to make sure everything looks good on every possible setup.

Joe has nothing new to say about the movie right now, and as usual, says there will be something soon. He did point out that officially and absolutely, the Uwe Boll thing on IMDB was a mistake by them. IMDB is sort of like Wikipedia in that it is able to assemble all sorts of awesome information from all sorts of sources, but very occasionally gets things a mite wrong. Don’t worry IMDB, we love you dearly.

There’s a little elevator that goes up to the Mezzanine. It has a smoked glass door and a floor of wooden planks. When we came in on day two and found Parsons sitting in there with just a towel and a wry smile, he said, “This sauna sucks ass. I keep pressing the “2” button and it never gets any hotter. It just vibrates.” We backed away quietly, praying his towel would stay in place.

Upstairs on the Mezzanine is a bunch of meeting room and conference area stuff. The Bungie staff often breaks out into arranged and spontaneous meetings where we discuss future plans, storylines, graphics techniques, new animation ideas, audio problems…you name it. So meeting space is at a premium. That was one of the main problems with the old space and one of the biggest improvements in the new place.

We even have a half court out back so we can take it to the rim. Slamdunk our authoritay straight through the hoop. And by slamdunk, I mean of course weak lay-up.

The move was kind of chaotic, and we had to pause work for a couple of days to make it happen, but thanks to hard work by Parsons, Carney, Harold, Skinny Alta, and a cast of dozens, we’re all firmly ensconced in the new place and getting used to it daily. It already feels like home. And the move was staggered smartly, so that as many folks could keep working continuously as possible.

We also got the chance to build a plush “PR” area, where we can have our visitors enjoy comfortable surroundings without being interrupted by:

  • Sushi Fartz
  • Yelling
  • Nerf Bullets
  • Street Fighter
  • Coffee Fartz

The space in the past has been a Safeway, a Tru Value hardware store, a Batting Cage and most recently, a paintball war arena. Now it’s Bungie. And don’t worry, we’re going to leave our mark.

In short, this new building is actually going to contribute to us making a better game, in small but significant ways. Many of them are indeed snack-related, but we have a big supply of more powerful tools with which to attack the next game.

Next week, we’re thinking of doing a video walkthrough of the office. The trick is showing you parts that don’t give away any secrets from our next project. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, check out these panoramas of the office (click 'em to see the big versions) and a brand new Mister Chief.

BWU Kirkland entrance.jpg

BWU Mister etch a sketch.jpg

* Not really.