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Award cites 'long-term, invaluable and unique contributions'

Over at VentureBeat, Dean Takahashi has written what is probably the best article to date on the resolution of the dispute between former Bungie composer and Audio Director Marty O'Donnell and the developer that fired him last year before the release of their latest game, Destiny. It goes into the background of how the dispute arose and resulted in O'Donnell being fired from his position as Audio Director, and how Bungie also took action to attempt to strip O'Donnell of his then-unvested shares in the developer, even going so far as to reissue shares at a secret board meeting.

What the article mostly leaves out, though, are the grounds on which the arbitrator made the award-- those details are available in the full award document, available at Scribd.

There is a tendency to view the result as a complete victory and vindication for O'Donnell, and there is no doubt that the sequence of events reflects poorly on Bungie management, especially studio president Harold Ryan. However, it is worth looking at the award itself to see what O'Donnell asked for, what he actually got, and why.

What has also gone largely uncommented-upon since O'Donnell's firing is that it presumably also means the end of the creative partnership between O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori, who remains at Bungie and is working on Destiny, while O'Donnell is moving on to found his own game company, Highwire Games, with other ex-Bungie employees. That partnership spanned multiple decades and predated both composers involvement with Bungie, with began with Myth in the mid-90s.

O'Donnell submitted several claims to arbitration, and Bungie submitted its own counter-claims. Most of these either failed, or succeeded without significant consequence.

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Fans of previous Bungie franchises like Halo and Myth were surprised earlier this year by the termination of the employment of composer Martin O'Donnell as the studio's Audio Department director, and the subsequent lawsuit he brought against the studio's president, Harold Ryan, for unpaid vacation and penalties. That lawsuit was recently settled.

What remained unresolved was the musical future of Bungie's newest franchise, Destiny, the soundtrack for which was the product of O'Donnell and longtime collaborator Michael Salvatori. The two worked together at Bungie on the soundtrack for five Halo games, and before joining Bungie also did the soundtrack for Bungie's RTS series, Myth, as Total Audio.

No official statement came either from Bungie or from O'Donnell regarding Salvatori. Fans wondered whether he would remain at Bungie and continue working on Destiny, or would he also depart, perhaps to join O'Donnell on some new project.

Contacted through his official website, his representative Lisa Ramirez responded to our inquiry about Salvatori's plans:

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Most Bungiefen have been eagerly awaiting official news for the company's next game, referred to internally as Tiger and externally as Destiny, have so far been treated only to long-winded legal contracts and some leaked treatments and concept art. Bungie has started up their Community Theatre series of short videos on YouTube featuring Deej and Raspy (a stuffed tiger, get it?) and promising a reveal of the company's new game within a few weeks.

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Court proceedings involving Activision reveal what appears to be a legitimate copy of the contract between Activision and Bungie for their new intellectual property, Destiny, which is intended to have a series of cross-platform releases with DLC over the next decade.

[[nid:94216]]

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05/23/2012

Court proceedings involving Activision reveal what appears to be a legitimate copy of the contract between Activision and Bungie for their new intellectual property, Destiny, which is intended to have a series of cross-platform releases with DLC over the next decade.

[[nid:94216]]

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05/21/2012

A Joystiq story today appears to reveal rather more information about Bungie's upcoming projects than fans are used to hearing during a quiet period. Aside from a few seconds of music and video, the term "Destiny" was about all we knew.

According to Edge, Microsoft has settled with PalTalk holdings, the company that alleged that Halo infringed on patents they held that covered interactive gaming.

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Bloomberg News is reporting that PalTalk Holdings Inc. of New York has paid about $200K for patents belonging to Mpath, which reportedly had discussions with Microsoft once upon a time about technology for "ways to control interactive applications over multiple computers". PalTalk is now suing Microsoft for violating those patents; they say MS had discussions with them and found the technology "very valuable".

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Normally I avoid even commenting on the intersections between violent real-world crime and fantasy videogame violence. There's really little point. There's not much more than can be said on the matter than what is already out there.

However, the remarks of Judge James Burge following his conviction of Daniel Petric are simply so ridiculous that I can't let them pass. From story coverage at, of all places, a PS3 website:

The boy was finally convicted of the crime earlier today, but Judge James Burge wasn't happy with the sentencing. He told the press that he blamed the video game developers more than Daniel for the crime committed. Burge accused Halo 3 developer Bungie of creating a "delusional environment" where the normal rules of reality didn't apply. "[In Halo 3] you can shoot these aliens, and they're there again the next day. You have to shoot them again, and I firmly believe that Daniel Petric had no idea, at the time he hatched this plot, that if he killed his parents they would be dead forever," Burge explained.

It's really hard to take that seriously. It's also really hard to swallow the idea that this is a person who is a judge-- who is in a position of education and authority. That's frightening. What is surprising is that despite blaming the videogame more than the perpetrator, he still found the latter guilty, which I suppose is also encouraging.

However, let's play reductio ad absurdum a bit with this. It won't be hard; there's not to much reducting to do before things get pretty damn absurdum.

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Hey every1,

How do ya submit comments and posts, i wanna submit some cool shit but it wont let me, wen i click my subjects and then submit, it wont let me type anything, its gettin freakin annoying!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sup every1,

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In a deal naming almost no specifics, Bungie Studios, a wholly owned unit of Microsoft's Microsoft Games Division, becomes the privately held Bungie LLC, with minority Microsoft shareholding and a long-term Halo publishing deal.

http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=news&cid=12835

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10/01/2007

In a deal naming almost no specifics, Bungie Studios, a wholly owned unit of Microsoft's Microsoft Games Division, becomes the privately held Bungie LLC, with minority Microsoft shareholding and a long-term Halo publishing deal.

http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=news&cid=12835

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10/01/2007

This is the most definitive link I can find for what is so far a non-story story about Microsoft somehow letting Bungie become independent again.

The official Microsoft response to reports in Jacob Metcalf's blog that allege Bungie is leaving Microsoft was:

There's been no such announcement.

That's the kind of non-denial denial you'd expect from a company that is the subject of so many non-story stories.

Todd Bishop, on his Seattle Intelligencer blog, gets Robbie Bach at Microsoft to comment on that non-denial denial, and ends up getting an explanation of why the non-denial denial exists:

"The problem is, I can't comment one way or another on any of these rumors. Because then, every time you ask me a question about a rumor, I have to comment definitively, and there's times when I don't want to, and times when I do want to. I just don't. You should interpret it that way. You should interpret it as a neutral 'don't.' "

All in all, it seems very likely that people in Bungie might want to, you know, work on a game that isn't Halo, or isn't a shooter, or, God forbid, isn't a Halo shooter. Farming out Halo Wars to Ensemble and Halo Chronicles to Wingnut seemed to me like Microsoft setting up the Halo franchise to continue while Bungie moved on to other things; but perhaps it was just a move to try and maximize the revenue from the Halo property by developing ancillary products with a series of Halo shooters at the center, developed by Bungie.

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