Destiny's Eric Osborne Explains How Feedback Informs Development

[This article was archived by the Internet Archive following the dissolution of GameFront. ]

The Dark Below is the first expansion and 12th update for Destiny that aims to "expand the world of Destiny" with, among other changes, more gear, a new six-player raid, a fast-paced strike, and three new Crucible multiplayer maps.

As the first expansion for Destiny, The Dark Below, released on Dec. 9, represents the first step into the game's future. Yet, as a live experience, Destiny is constantly evolving. On a number of occasions, Bungie has responded either to player feedback or players' in-game actions to make big changes to how the game works.

Just how big of an effect does the Destiny community have on the further development of the game? GameFront contributor Morgan Ramsay turned to Eric Osborne, community and marketing relations manager at Bungie, for the answer.

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The Inside Story of How a Major MMO Went Wrong

In 1999, Brad McQuaid cofounded Verant Interactive alongside 56 other game developers who were forced out of 989 Studios, a Sony company, upon the arrival of the PlayStation 2. Verant Interactive was best known for EverQuest, the seminal 3D massively multiplayer online (MMO) role-playing game. The company was later acquired by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), which has continued to expand EverQuest into one of the largest video-game franchises in the world.

By the end of 2001, McQuaid, who had been working in executive management, became disillusioned with managing a large enterprise and sought a return to a hands-on design role. Together with Jeff Butler, he cofounded Sigil Games Online to develop Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Spurred by a promising publishing relationship with Microsoft, the new studio quickly grew to more than 100 employees who worked tirelessly on the next great fantasy MMO.

A regime change at the software giant in 2004, however, meant that Microsoft wanted Vanguard released immediately, sending McQuaid spiraling toward another partner. He found refuge with SOE, which rescued the publishing rights from Microsoft and gave the game a fighting chance. Today, Vanguard is remembered by a loyal fanbase who will see the world of Telon come to an end after a good seven-year run in July 2014.

With a renewed sense of purpose, McQuaid, with a core team of eight veteran game developers, cofounded Visionary Realms last year to develop Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, a high fantasy MMO that will incorporate the lessons he has learned over the past 25 years. Pantheon is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.

Read the full interview at IGN ›

Press Startup: Rubin, Spector and Others Talk Business in Gamers at Work

"In quieter times, both [Jason] Rubin and [Warren] Spector were interviewed by Morgan Ramsay for his book Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play, which was published last year. Ramsay's intent in collecting long-form interviews with 18 gaming luminaries, from Nolan Bushnell of Atari to the Sony rivals Rubin and Ted Price of Insomniac Games, was to paint a picture of the pitfalls and challenges of making a gaming business work."

Read the full article at Forbes ›

Gamers at Work reveals the risks and emotional complications in entrepreneurship

How Gamers at Work can benefit students

Ramsay: Gamers at Work is first and foremost a business book. The Entrepreneurial Management Center at San Diego State University has a copy in their library. Wagner College, one of the top private business schools in New York, has a copy in their library, too. I think the book would be perfect as a teaching tool for founders, a reference that bridges the gap between professional managers and founders, and a resource for game developers who should understand the how and why of the decisions that might one day affect their employment.

Read the full interview at VentureBeat ›

The Rise of Naughty Dog, Part 2

Ramsay: Why did you leave Crash for Jak and Daxter?

Rubin: Naughty Dog would have liked continuing with Crash beyond Crash Team Racing, but the relationship with Universal was untenable. Originally, we had signed a three-project deal; however, when Sony became enamored with the game and eventually negotiated to publish Crash, Universal cut a deal for a sizable yet much smaller cut of the game than they would have received as the publisher. Our contract with Universal never contemplated this occurrence. We were effectively crammed down into a cut of their cut. This made no sense. Our costs and recoup were the same. Our effort was the same, but we were getting a much smaller amount per copy sold. On the other hand, the arrangement meant that Universal had no more marketing costs, very little internal management costs, and eventually they even managed to push the financing costs back to Sony.

It is perfectly fair to say that they did next to nothing on the project and yet reaped a larger amount on the early games' profit than we did. The only reason I cannot say that Universal contributed nothing is that Mark Cerny, a Universal employee, was our producer. He was a massive force in the success of our games. His salary and work could be called Universal's contribution to the first few Crash titles. But Mark eventually left Universal, and we started contracting him directly. Sony effectively paid for his work. While Mark continued to be incredibly important to our titles, his contribution could no longer be attributable to Universal. From that point forward, they did literally nothing but collect royalties that should have been, at least in large part, ours.

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The Rise of Naughty Dog, Part 1

Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin cofounded Naughty Dog in 1986, becoming two of the youngest contractors to develop for Electronic Arts. During its rise from a scrappy startup to an industry powerhouse with three of the top-ten games for Sony PlayStation, Naughty Dog established a reputation as one of the most innovative developers of video games on the planet.

In 1994, the company created its first major franchise, Crash Bandicoot, of which the titular character became the de facto mascot of the Sony PlayStation. Now spanning at least 16 titles, the Crash Bandicoot series has since sold more than 50 million units worldwide, and the third title in the series was the top-selling foreign-made video game in Japan. After parting ways with its publisher, Universal Interactive, Naughty Dog followed Crash Bandicoot with another bestselling series, Jak and Daxter, but not before being acquired by Sony Computer Entertainment in 2001. Rubin and Gavin left the studio in 2004.

After Rubin and Gavin had left the company, Naughty Dog released Uncharted: Drake's Fortune for the PlayStation 3 in 2007, and then the sequel, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, in 2009. The sequel received critical acclaim and won more than 100 awards, including the coveted Game of the Year awards at both the Interactive Achievement Awards and the Game Developers Choice Awards.

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Book offers inside look at video games

How did you decide who to interview?

As the son of a former pro bowler, I learned that if you want to be a champion, don’t watch the people who are throwing gutter balls; watch the people who are throwing strikes. Gamers at Work would have to feature "the world's most successful entrepreneurs in the video game industry" because nobody reaches the top without at least a few scratches. These business leaders would have the necessary experiences, and the appropriate distance from which to reflect, to make insightful, entertaining and motivational stories.

What do you think people will get out of reading it?

I think most readers have learned that successful video-game developers and publishers require focus, discipline, and skill. When fear would cause you to waver, you need to be committed to one direction. When competitors appear more interested in opportunities that you're not pursuing, you need to stay the course. When your view of your goal becomes obstructed and the path begins to twist and turn, you need to adapt. Ultimately, Gamers at Work explores what happens when the right or wrong people are in charge.

Read the full interview at The San Diego Union-Tribune ›