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Building Your Plane While Flying Bungie Allen Murray.

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Presentation on theme: "Building Your Plane While Flying Bungie Allen Murray."— Presentation transcript:


2 Building Your Plane While Flying Production @ Bungie Allen Murray

3 What is the point of this talk? To show how we were able to evolve mature production practices in the middle of a very successful, creative and sometimes chaotic environment while maintaining the culture of the studio.

4 Production History Halo 1 and Halo 2 were created with minimal Production staff The role of Producer on Halo 1 and 2 was very different than it is today On Halo 1 and 2, project management was sometimes handled by discipline leads

5 Why Invest In Production? Halo 2 experience… Extremely long crunch –12-14 hour days, 7 days a week for over 8 months Personal sacrifice and pain The team was looking for a new solution

6 How did we do this? (Agenda) By focusing on Quality First By focusing on People First By being extremely Adaptable


8 Quality First Flexible approach to scheduling Non-negotiable Polish “Planned Crunch”

9 Flexible Approach to Scheduling We will rip apart the schedule *late* to: Accommodate ideas that make the game better Rigorously rework a feature if there is concern the quality isn’t high enough

10 Example: FORGE

11 First version of Forge did not come online until 6 months prior to ship The idea was intriguing enough that we were willing to risk other features to achieve it

12 Quality First: Other Modifiers How will this decision for quality affect: –Morale –Employee development –Schedules & Budgets –The people who play the game Example: Saved Films –Nearly cut if not for the passion of the designers and engineers who worked on it

13 Non-negotiable Polish It is a non-moving component of the schedule Approximately 2-4 weeks per person It is not a contingency plan It is all iteration time No new content!

14 Planned Crunch Crunch is a tool that can unite or divide the team How you communicate a crunch is vital to its success –Communicated in advance –Scope defined and understood –Definitive end

15 Negative Crunch Crunch is bad when: It is prolonged No goal No visible evidence of progress Bad Crunch = Producer’s fault

16 Positive Crunch Crunch is positive when: It is used sparingly to focus work effort Is preplanned and has an end that is understood Good crunch = Team Achievement


18 Bungie is Our People

19 Supporting Role As Producers at Bungie, our focus is on creating the conditions in which the team can do their best work Also, Producers at Bungie don’t design

20 Supporting Context There is natural tension in the creative process Production assists with this conflict resolution As we evolved our processes in Halo 3, it became apparent there was little accountability for cross-discipline issues

21 Supporting Methodology Listen First Gather the data Make the data honest and the process transparent Present recommendations

22 Soft Skills Soft Skills are as important as Hard Skills Understanding context is key Most people can be taught the Hard Skills of project management. It’s the innate ability to act smartly, not the rules you follow that is hard to teach


24 Adaptive Project Management Putting Quality and People First means: We invest in processes adapted to the people We adapt to unfolding views of the game experience We bring clarity with a range of different methodologies

25 Start with a Framework Concept Phase: What is the game? Inspiring others Preproduction: Prove the concepts, find the fun Production: Building the game, iteration, iteration Polish: This dial goes to 11 Release: Get it shipped Sustain Planning: –DLC, Expansions, Bungie.Net, Community outreach

26 Constantly Shifting Responsibilities As the project cycle shifts, so do our responsibilities We need to be able to jump in and work with any team We rely on our fellow Producers for context

27 A Pragmatic Approach Each team is approached differently Each person on the team is approached differently Producers adapt methods for the appropriate audience

28 Mission Design Environment Art vs. Mission Design Mass OutArchitectingFinishingPolish Environment Art Paper DesignPrototypeReviewPrototypeReview Iteration Review

29 3D Art Concept Art vs. 3D Art Concept Art Polish 1 Graybox 2Hi Res 2 Concept 2Concept 1Detail 1Detail 2Other Img Hi Res 1Graybox 1 … Other Img

30 Engineering Systems Design vs. Engineering Systems Design Tasks for 1 Design Doc 1Design Doc 2 Tasks for 2 Prototype 1 Tasks for 1 Prototype 2 Tasks for 2 Walkup Bug Fixing Prototype 1 Specific Tasks

31 Combining the Approaches Mass OutArchitectingFinishingPolish Environment Art Iteration Mission Design Iteration Concept Art Concept generation 3D Art Object Polish Systems Design Iteration Testing / Iteration Engineering Feature Work Bug fixingPolish Feature Work First Playable Milestone

32 Meaningful Milestones Milestones are feature driven, not date driven Milestones have a definition that is understood by the team doing the work

33 Everyone Has a Schedule We believe that all creative tasks can be quantified. Make this viewable to everyone on the team –Increases communication –Gives visibility –Increases accuracy –Increases accountability –Increases efficiency

34 Flexible Scheduling Technologies To be useful, the system must have: Multiple inputs Unified data source Single, target output and reporting

35 Current Underlying Tech MS Project to HTML output All tasks are eventually put into MS Project System converts Project files into HTML Paper Excel MS Projec t Data Script We b Pag e MS Projec t

36 Evolving Tech Future integration with our art and environment pipeline tools The core philosophy remains the same: –Put information in front of the people –They are responsible for saying when it is wrong and informing changes

37 Production Coverage (H3 preproduction) 3D Art Campaign Env Art MP Env Art Mission Design MP DesignEngineeringAnimationAudioEffectsUICinematics Concept Art Producers: 3 Team Size: 75 Production

38 Production Coverage (H3 Mid Production) 3D Art Campaign Env Art MP Env Art Mission Design MP DesignEngineeringAnimationAudioEffectsUICinematics Concept Art Producers: 6 Team Size: 110 Production

39 Production Coverage (H3 End Production to Today) 3D Art Campaign Env Art MP Env Art Mission Design MP DesignEngineeringAnimationAudioEffectsUICinematics Concept Art Production Producers: 11 + TBH Team Size: 150+


41 Campaign Environment Art Listen First… Some artists felt the schedule was ‘off’ –“I know I cannot make all of this in 9 months!” Some artists and designers felt they could just crunch through it –“We shipped Halo 2 – we can do anything!”

42 New Approach to Mission Audits A systematic walkthrough and evaluation of the art and design in each level All tasks are quantified and scheduled This information was used by Creative Leadership and Production to make decisions

43 After the Mission Audits We were overbooked Traditional levers to pull: –Add time? –Add staff? –Reduce scope?

44 What Was Cut? Entire Campaign Mission: Guardian Forest


46 Additional Mission Adjustments 2 Smaller missions merged into Cortana Large sections of Tsavo Highway were removed Small section added to Citadel to account for the loss of Guardian Forest

47 Sandbox cuts New Character & Weapon: Guardians

48 Lessons Learned Production added value by –Listening –Gathering data and applying rigor to the audit process –Presenting recommendations –And working with the team to make final decisions

49 Lessons Learned, cont. Cuts were made – but it was a positive result because: –Decisions were made much earlier when compared to Halo 1 and 2 –It gave us a realistic schedule that everyone believed in –Provided constraints that allowed us to focus the creative effort –Began an empirical process of project transparency that is now a part of our Studio culture


51 Core Production Philosophy As a team, our focus is on creating the conditions in which designers, artists, animators and engineers can do their best work How we achieve that is as varied as the people themselves

52 7 Principles of Production 1.We ensure that Bungie remains a creatively led studio but supporting the creative team 2.We put quality and people first 3.We make ourselves as flexible and adaptable as possible 4.We pride ourselves on applying any methodology as appropriate 5.The schedule is a means to an end, not the end itself 6.We empower and enable the team to take ownership of their schedule and their work 7.We still set dates and ship on time

53 Questions? These slides will be available online: We’re Hiring!


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