Rampancy Channel Update July 2016

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Rampancy Channel Update July 2016

A quick run-down of the series we're working on now, plus the new game we'll be adding next month!

Arbitrator Partially Restores Composer O'Donnell's Bungie Shares

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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ASE Ep. 49: Deimos Anomaly

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ASE Ep. 49: Deimos Anomaly

Blackstar and Narcogen's experimental teleporters have malfunctioned, stranding them in a strange world where the only constants are deadly green slime and being shot at by everything and everyone they encounter. Where have they gone, and how can they get back?

This podcast uses:

Aleph One, free and open source versions of Marathon for Windows, Mac and Linux at

Remixes of the Marathon soundtrack by Craig Hardgrove at

For recording Doom gameplay we relied on Chocolate Doom, which preserves the original game's ability to make demo recordings of multiplayer games, including co-op games.

For Doom demo playbacks, we used PrBoom+ for its OpenGL rendering and free camera feature.

Subscribe to the YouTube channel for Anger, Sadness and Envy video podcasts:

Subscribe to the iTunes channel or RSS feed for video and audio podcasts:

Music used in this episode:

"What About Bob?" by Alexander Seropian, remixed by Craig Hardgrove (intro music)
"Aliens Again" by Alexander Seropian, remixed by Craig Hardgrove (gameplay background music)
"New Pacific (Reprise)" by Alexander Seropian, remixed by Craig Hardgrove (outro music)

For more information on this Marathon level, visit the Marathon Spoiler Guide:

For complete Terminal texts, visit the excellent Marathon Story Page:

There you can read faithful and complete reproductions of all of terminals in Marathon and its sequels, plus Facts and Puzzling Things About all sorts of characters, places, and concepts in the Marathon universe, as well as a forum where stalwart fans continue to argue the finer points of interpreting Marathon's story nearly twenty years after the game's release!

Science, Not Shooting

Craig Hardgrove, who is a planetary scientist working for JPL and also a Bungie fan from quite aways back, has written an article for Guardians of Destiny, talking about why he loves Halo, why he hates Call of Duty, and what he hopes to see in Destiny. (Hardgrove is also a fan of Bungie's Marathon series and even did some remakes of the game's music.)

Request - Machines and might halo legends

will someone please do this song from the halo legends soundtrack!! it sounds epic i know the key is d major but thats it Sad if anyone needs help i have some rough parts the beginning tune is a d,b,d,b,c#,b,d,b,d,b,e,b for the right hand and in the left plays a b for the first hold then another b then a (b and d) into a (a & d) then g# and e into a g and e thats all the left hand up to the part where high strings come in please help someone!!!!!!!!!!

The Red Ring of Death Sucks

So, I was playing a videogame on my x-box about four weeks ago(I don't quite remember what it was, but I think it was either Halo 3:ODST or Fable 2) and my x-box got the red ring of death. With my brother recently out of the army, I jumped at the chance to get my X-box fixed. I asked him if he could get it fixed for me and he replied, "I'll fix it....IF I can have the TV in MY room." I reluctantly agreed. Well, three weeks later, my brother hadn't sent it in. The next week, he moved out, taking the TV, which he had already put in his room. So now, I'm left with a broken x-box and no tv. Basically, the Red Ring of Death sucks.

Welcome To The Desert Of The Real

At Edge Online, N'Gai Croal in his blog discusses some interesting issues relating to realism, verisimilitude, and detail, many of which echo some of my own experiences.

Because even those titles which are widely seen as exemplars of game realism, be they Crysis or Mass Effect or Grand Theft Auto, are themselves stylised in some way. So what is it that we mean when we say that a game is realistic? Are we talking about verisimilitude? Detail? Atmosphere?

I tend to think that of all these, "realism" is actually the least important, followed by detail, atmosphere, and verisimilitude. This is the opposite of the order they are usually discussed (perhaps it's a prejudice against long words).

Realism, especially in a combat game, is the last thing you want. You don't want things to be real, just to seem real, or real enough. The exploits most combat games require of their players in order to "win" are ridiculous by their very nature, even for the super-soldiers those games have as protagonists. The last thing they need on top of that are realistic treatments of weapons, damage, fatigue, and the like.

I think that's a big part of the reason that so many very successful franchises (Halo, Mass Effect) largely operate outside those parameters by operating in the future, where unrealistic situations and damage models can be explained away by advanced technologies-- better shields, better weapons, better vehicles.

It is where realism is misapplied, or rather selectively applied, in games like GTA, where I think there's the most dissonance. Things look and seem like they are happening in the real world, but the perception of verisimilitude recedes as more and more unrealistic things happen, or else the fun turns into frustration when the virtual reality restricts the player's actions.

Bioshock Fan Wants Bioshock 2 Cancelled

This article boils down to this paraphrase:

Everyone agrees sequels are bad. I mean, not all sequels are bad, but sequels in general are bad. And just like every game downloaded by a pirate is a lost sale, every dollar budgeted for a sequel is a dollar less for one of the kind of fun and original games they made when I was a kid and they just don't make anymore because the industry is full of beancounting sellouts who like sequels because they're safe. And that's why I don't want another Bioshock game.

This is almost complete and utter poppycock. It's so ridden with nostalgia masquerading as judgment, logical fallacies taken as common knowledge, and flawed premises that it's hard to know where to begin. But the beginning is as good a place as any.

"this is not a hate piece towards the Bioshock franchise. It is a deep look at one of the biggest problems in the video game industry right now, sequels and how they kill originality/creativity."

So we've got sequels kill originality/creativity. Let's separate those out.

Blow: Stories In Games Are Just Hot Air

Jonathan Blow, One man creator of the oh-so-pretty Braid platformer, as amazing for its interesting gameplay as its surreal visuals, says, essentially, that videogame stories are bad and probably wouldn't get much better with better writers since trying to tell a story in a game is a bad idea. One might wonder whether he's paraphrasing film director John Huston, who famously remarked, when asked about the "message" in one of his movies, that if one wanted to send a message, one should use Western Union.

One similarly might imagine that if you were to ask Blow about the story in his games, he'd say that if you want to tell a story, you should make a film. Or, perhaps, write a book. Seeing at what some triple-A titles have become-- long cutscenes with repetitive gameplay inserted instertitially-- one can't help but admit to at least some truth in the idea that there's something suboptimal about the way narration and gameplay are currently being combined. The flaws of the method get a pass when the separate elements are well executed in otherwise popular products. When either or both is weak, the combination itself makes the whole enterprise seem foul. In some games, one so dominates over the other that it is a wonder that anyone bothers; I tried the demos of a couple of JRPGs over the holiday break, the first ones I've ever played, and was amazed to find that the first hour or so of each of them consisted of scripted, in-engine cutscenes with no choices and player interaction limited to pressing the green button to advance to the next scene. Where's the game, I wondered.

Videogames Beat DVDs... Except, Not Really

The gaming and tech press are all aflutter with the news that videogames beat DVDs... except they don't, at least, not in all the areas that matter.

The data that lead to the "games beats movies" conclusion, much like the one-day comparisons of game blockbusters like Halo 3 to the one-day takes of top films like Dark Knight, are revenue, rather than unit sales figures. They've taken the 2008 revenue for "packaged media" that includes games and DVD movies (including HD on Blu-Ray) and divided it into "games" and "DVD/Blu-Ray".

While the total increased, the share of DVD/Blu-Ray declined and the figure for games increased.

The Great Divorce: Story And Gameplay

The divide between story and gameplay has been a regular topic of discussion around here, so this Moving Pixels blog entry seems like it might be of interest. Called The Great Divorce, it imagines Plot and Gameplay as a couple undergoing marital strife. Give it a read, great fun.

camerons blog

i got this so i could get sheet music for my cello. anyone know where i can get halo suite music for only cello?

These Shoes Will Give Your Game A Boost


Awhile back I took a post about a Halo themed shoe and spun it into a theory about why Bungie and Microsoft might have parted so amicably: because while Bungie gets the freedom to expand into a studio large enough to do more than one project and not just Halo games, Microsoft gets to retain the Halo intellectual property to capitalize on any way they can.

Of course, it turned out the shoe wasn't official-- it was just a one-off by a fan.

Now the other shoe has dropped.

Kotaku brings us the story of the Adidas Gil II Zero Halo Sneaker which is a design approved by NBA player Gilbert Arenas. Who cheats at Halo.

Adventure Games Spanked To Death


This is, of course, completely offtopic but I find it exciting enough to mention.

Ron "Grumpy Gamer" Gilbert of Monkey Island fame is going to publish a new adventure game. Last year he came into contact with Hothead through the Penny Arcade project, On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, and it turns out they want to produce his episodic adventure game, DeathSpank, a game with a title and a character so odd and yet strangely compelling that it seems every single other publisher in the gaming industry wanted to have nothing to do with it. Despite the fact that we are talking about Ron Freaking Gilbert here.

So this is, as I mentioned, far offtopic for Rampancy. Am I the only one excited about this? Anybody else want to hear more about DeathSpank as it moves towards release?

Brady To Moss

If you haven't already, subscribe to the Bungie Podcast via iTunes.

The latest edition features Paul Bertone talking about mission design, as well as a friendly wager between him and Luke Smith.

Bertone, a Patriots fan, predicted 90 catches, 1100 yards, and 20 TDs for wide receiver Randy Moss. Loser gets a fauxhawk.

Worth noting that Moss picked up 9 catches, 183 yards, and a TD in his first game after missing virtually the entire preseason.

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