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Halo


Oh? I didn't realize. He's your pal, is he? Your chum? Do you have any idea what that bastard almost made you do?!
343 revokes job offer due to past criticism of the company
Posted: Posted September 27th
Edited September 27th by Vandy

Posted Yesterday, 12:01 PM

Hey guys, I wanted to update you all on my situation with 343.

This is a little embarrassing and I've struggled back and forth about posting this publicly but I think it's best if I explain this once to everyone, and not a hundred times individually. As of yesterday 343 revoked their offer to me as a level designer. It seems that they weren't pleased with the way I've criticized them in the past between my posts on Forgehub and Beyond. So whoever made the anonymous account on r/halo and posted screenshots of old posts, well...congrats! You won. In fact you won to the extent so that I already quit my prior job, sold my place in California, placed a $2500 payment on an apartment in Bellevue Washington (among other expenses), and began transporting my belongings up there. Only to find out from the agency I was working under that my offer was withdrawn. Which puts me in a tricky position where I am both unemployed (no Treyarch or 343) and scrambling to find some place to live - as I had briefly moved my belongings to my parents during this weird transition phase. So life has definitely thrown me a curve ball here.

Now hear me, I'm not looking for pity. I believe I'm currently reaping what I've sowed; and it's not that I regret criticizing 343 publicly in the past because they are not above reproach - they know this as well. But rather the way I've gone about it could always have been more...professional. At least considering that my goal has always been to be in the industry I should've held myself to a higher standard (if that's not your goal then flame on). I suppose a little patience over the years could have gone a long way in this moment. I just wish communication would have been a bit clearer going either way to have avoided the pickle I'm currently in.

The expenses isn't the bad part; I can deal with that. I have no doubt I can find another level design job in the industry given time. The aspect of this that really drives home is that this was Halo. After all these years of forging, I thought what I wanted was 1: a proper editor without boundaries, 2:to be a professional. It wasn't until I was sitting at Treyarch working on the highest grossing video game franchise in the world with every ounce of dev power at my disposal did I realize that it wasn't about the editor, or the money, or the prestige. In fact after a 12 hour work day at Treyarch I would commute 3 hours home, sit down in front of my xbox, and start forging. And I think it was in that moment that everything really clicked - nothing really matters unless you're building for the game you love. And for as long as I can remember it's been Halo, it's always been Halo. All the dev tools in the world couldn't drive me away from clunking blocks together in forge just to have a single good 2v2 match before I knocked out for the night. People always ask me why I play so much Halo 5 (Level 142) if all I do is bitch about it. Well, I'd rather play a Halo game I hate than the greatest Battlefield game out there. Or the best Call of Duty. Or the best such and such. Even with all the frivolous mechanics that have entered the franchise in the past decade that I don't agree with, the simple ebb and flow of a good pistol battle is something that you're not going to find elsewhere.

I was excited to leave my cushy Southern California to go to rainy Washington, I was excited to take a ~$10,000 paycut. I was excited because I had finally made it to the place I felt like I was born to be in; Halo. And honestly that's all that mattered to me - working on the franchise that I loved. So to essentially already be in the door and then pushed back out is....difficult. And even more difficult knowing that this is essentially a forever no, a "you insulted our franchise and employees and will probably never get a chance to work here" no. It's disheartening to the point where I'm not even sure if I want to pursue another position in the game industry at this point. In the back of my head no matter where I worked I always knew I wanted to end at Halo. That's what I love, that's where my strongest talents lie, and that's what I know. So to have the reality spelled out for me where that position will likely never happen is a hard pill to swallow right now.

The few conversations I had with Tom French were delightful. The man was incredibly friendly, welcoming, understanding. I have no doubt that he would be a pleasure to work with and a great man to work under. But I just wanted to let you guys know that I'm sorry this didn't end up playing out. I was as excited as any of you were to contribute to the franchise and hopefully really design maps that would stand the test of time, I wanted to really make this franchise the juggernaut we all know it can be. So, sorry to let everyone down. This one was on me.

http://teambeyond.net/forum/topic/17413-hcs-pro-league-fall-2017-teams-seeds-and-discussion%E2%80%8F/page-289#entry986423

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There are 16 Replies

Apparently he had stated that no one at 343 deserved to have jobs. Among other things, but that's the only actual quote that I've seen. And someone on r/Halo screen-shotted a lot of his negative post history after it was announced that he had been hired by 343. I would assume that whoever brought up his post history did not realize the effect that it could actually have on someone's life, but man, that's terrible.

Also many are revving up the 343 hate train in response to this. But I don't think they did much wrong. I feel the same would happen for most companies. If I made a public statement at my work that no one here deserved their jobs, there's a good chance I would be fired or at least it would be difficult to be successful here following such a statement.

Posted September 27th by Vandy
Vandy

Vandy have you played Destiny 2? How do you think 343 compares to Bungie?

Posted September 27th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

I'd need to see what exactly he said about the company to really say if it was fair or not, he certainly seems to feel that his criticism wasn't done in the right way so I don't blame them?

Should be a lesson to people really. Don't post "whatever you want" on the Internet because there's always a chance it'll come back to bite you one day.

Posted September 27th by Moonray
Moonray
 

Vandy have you played Destiny 2? How do you think 343 compares to Bungie?


I have not played Destiny 2. From comments I've seen, it appears to be a more polished version of Destiny 1. That's not a bad thing - basically means if you liked Destiny 1 you will like Destiny 2. If you did not like Destiny 1, you probably won't like Destiny 2.

As far and 343 and Bungie go - I'm more familiar with 343 now then I am with Bungie. I don't think the Bungie that exists today is really the same Bungie that made Halo. I think it's weird to show such favoritism towards Sony after making their name on Xbox. To be fair, though, Bungie is largely responsible for Xbox's success. But I would say they both benefited greatly from each other. I don't like their business model of leaving members behind that don't keep buying their expansions. I don't like it now, and I didn't like it when they did it with Halo 3.

I think 343 get a lot of hate that they do not deserve. Sure, they have made mistakes, but taking over a franchise the size and significance of Halo would never be easy. It seems no matter what they do, the majority of the Halo community cries that 343 have killed Halo. It's unrealistic to expect Halo today to be the same as it was 10 years ago. Bungie even began making changes to the Halo standard formula with Reach before leaving the helm. 343 have shown a great amount of care with Halo 5, supporting it with free content a year past its release and still release updates (albeit less regularly) today, two years past its release. MCC was an obvious blunder, but it's the only area where I feel the criticism given is deserved. I think it was too big of a project to be completed in the window of time that they had, and now it's irreparable. Halo 4 was probably the weakest title in the series (for me), but it was also the first Halo game that 343 took on after Bungie left. Even then, its campaign is largely considered a success, I would say on par with Halo 1-3.

Posted September 27th by Vandy
Vandy

I thought Destiny was pretty good when I played the vanilla edition when it first released on PS3 (this was prior to the release of the PS4 and X1) The double jump feature seemed to become a gold standard in a lot of shooters and platformers after that. I wasn't pleased with timed recharge on grenades and only a single grenade in the inventory. One of my favorite things about Halo was that grenades are always quite plentiful and it seems to cheapen the experience now that they seem to be made of energy from your suit or something weird like that. For a company that literally has a sticky grenade in their logo, Bungie could have done better there.

I didn't like destiny enough that I would pay top value for it again. I just wonder if Destiny 2 is polished and evolved enough to warrant it. I will probably eventually get it, but I may wait for a price drop or until after they inevitably release a taken-king type bundle. I feel like I need to be more clever than Bungie this time. Wait until the 40 dollar expansions are already out and then buy it, because they will essentially be free once they bundle them with the game.

Halo 4 is one of the nicest looking games on Xbox 360. I would have much preferred a properly done HD remaster of it instead of MCC. 343 should leave Bungie's games alone and focus on making their own name. Halo 5 isn't perfect but it has a fuck tonne of options and game modes and I can appreciate the effort and commitment. I give it 4/5.

Halo 2 remaster should have been standalone. The BWC halo titles should have been a thing the moment MS announced the feature. I thought that was so stupid.

Edited September 27th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

343 should leave Bungie's games alone and focus on making their own name.


I disagree with this if you're trying to say they should never have done the MCC. The MCC was a very good idea. It was also a very ambitious idea and I think as Vandy said they just weren't given enough time to get it right.

At this point though there is little reason for them to go back and remaster Bungie's Halo games, but even still their sole reason for existing as a company is to continue Halo so they are always going to be working in the shadow of Bungie.

Posted September 27th by Moonray
Moonray
 

I guess what I am saying is, Remastering 3 or Reach is less important than releasing Halo 6 or Reach 2 or whatever is next.

Halo 6 will probably be the defining shooter on X1, and it needs to be a 95/100 kind of game. A true killer app. And it needs to be that from the get go.

Turn 10 has been pulling all the weight on AAA high rated games for Xbox One. Halo 5 is endearing but underwhelming, especially in the state it was in at launch. 343 needs to give us a defining Halo title. Their strongest entry yet. Only then will they shake off the hate. If they do it close enough to the end of X1's life cycle they can immediately remaster it for the following console and have a The Last Of US scenario. I think The Last Of Us Remastered is single-handedly responsible for PS4's early lead in the console sales race. And arguably all it took for Sony to take a stranglehold by gaining all the third party support. Sony saw their momentum gaining near the end of the PS3 life cycle and volleyed it into launch momentum for PS4.

Microsoft proved they know how to do a great console launch when they brought out the Xbox 360 out of nowhere. They forced Sony's hand and made them rush the PS3 and it took them years to play catch up. The successor to Xbox One needs to be that good because Playstation has way more brand power than Xbox.

Edited September 27th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

Ok yea I agree with that. They've done all the remastering they need to do, Halo 3 onwards all stand up on their own feet as still being decent visually.

Posted September 27th by Moonray
Moonray
 

And just a follow up. One of the things I really like about The Last of Us. I never feel I am missing out on anything when I play the PS3 version, even though I own both versions. This isn't a game that was brought adequately to PS3 but only for sales. The PS4 version is undeniably stunning, but the PS3 version already felt like next gen mechanics and story-telling. That's planning a remaster done right, and GTAV and Destiny did the same. Make the new one the best version but don't throw your current audience under the bus.

If 343 can put on their big boy pants, hire some grandmasters of design, and actually pull off a killer app that the critics love than they can reap the rewards for years on X1 and the follow up console. We are talking tens of millions in sales.

I think we only need to look to Turn 10 to see what I am talking about. Forza 6 would be fine as a flagship driving game for years to come. It is good enough. But they are releasing 7 anyway and it's absolutely breath-taking and bar-setting. It's like when Roger Federer comes along and gets another grand slam to break his own record.

Similarly, 343 could sit on Halo 5 for years, but the game doesn't push X1 to it's limit. Halo 6 will, and should.

Edited September 27th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

If 343 can put on their big boy pants, hire some grandmasters of design, and actually pull off a killer app that the critics love than they can reap the rewards for years on X1 and the follow up console. We are talking tens of millions in sales.


I don't know that Halo has that kind of pull anymore, unfortunately. Even if Halo 6 had amazing review scores, I don't think it could reach sales figures like that of Halo 3. What do you think 343 could do to really make Halo 6 much greater than Halo 5? Most gripes about Halo 5 come from misleading marketing campaign and the story going off the rails. The multiplayer is highly praised by most of the Halo community. You think if Halo 6 gets back on track with the story, and release with all essential multiplayer gametypes (BTB, Firefight) that it will massively improve sales? I don't.

(I don't know how well Halo 5 sold and neither does anyone unfortunately but I would assume it did not sell as well as Halo 3)

Posted September 27th by Vandy
Vandy

They need to hire more talented writers and spare no expense on all fronts. This is literally the future of Xbox, so it has to have that much pull. It isn't an option for their brand for Halo to just fade away.

Look how many iterations Nintendo has with Mario and Pokemon. A year and a half a go it looked like those franchises were dead in the water. Brand fatigue. Nintendo fell out of the top 100 brands in the world. Then Nintendo announced Pokemon Go, and the Switch with Mario Odyssey. They are flourishing arguably better than ever. We know Microsoft is a creative and innovative company. We know they have deep pockets, and can hire the best talent. We know Halo sells consoles.

What else do they need?

Edited September 27th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

I think Microsoft should offer Nintendo a freebie and let them put Master Chief and Halo Music in Smash, just to boost hype for the next Halo. Square did it with Cloud.

Edited September 27th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

The problem it has is what most long running franchises have, they had their "golden days" and now they're just considered the norm.

When was the last time anyone really "cared" about the new Call of Duty? They still pull good sales, just as Halo still does, but they're not really that exciting like they used to be because they are just considered the standard part of the industry now.

Look how many iterations Nintendo has with Mario and Pokemon. A year and a half a go it looked like those franchises were dead in the water. Brand fatigue. Nintendo fell out of the top 100 brands in the world. Then Nintendo announced Pokemon Go, and the Switch with Mario Odyssey. They are flourishing arguably better than ever. We know Microsoft is a creative and innovative company. We know they have deep pockets, and can hire the best talent. We know Halo sells consoles.


This is a difference between what Halo is and what Nintendo IPs typically are.

A lot of Nintendo's franchises are far more felixible than Halo can be. That's not to say Halo can't innovate, but it can't change to the extent that Mario can. Would people really be happy with Halo Kart? Halo Sports? Yea people mess around in Forge, would probably even be accepting of it as DLC gamemodes, but would they really accept a new Halo game if it was exclusively one of these things?

Halo does have to stick to a somewhat specific formal and try to innovate around that... Mario can do literally anything it wants.

Pokemon GO was a fad, a craze based entirely on nostalgia. It wasn't even that innovative either, and arguable not that good (general consensus seems to agree because popularity for it rapidly declined after the initial "omg pokemon on my phone" phase was over).

Mario Oddysse, as far as we've seen, isn't truly anything new. It has a new gimmick mechanic (the hat) which always works to keep the classic platformer feel fresh, but the game itself is just a continuation of the work that older 3D open-world Mario games started. The reason it's receiving so much attention is because that's what a lot of people wanted Nintendo to get back to, instead of the constant flow of side-scrolling Mario games.

They need to hire more talented writers and spare no expense on all fronts. This is literally the future of xbox, so it has to have that much pull. it isn't an option for their brand for Halo to fade away.


Halo won't fade away. It will always have a loyal following.

I also agree with Vandy that I don't think story truly affects the popularity of the franchise. It's pretty much the only thing I play it for (always have enjoyed co-op campaign) but I accept I am absolutely in a minority there. The main draw and selling point for Halo is it's multiplayer. That's where it gained it's stardom and as long as they get multiplayer right it doesn't really matter if they screw up the story (as much as it pains me to say that).

Posted September 27th by Moonray
Moonray
 

I think Halo could have a side scroller or or a racing game with warthogs and other vehicles with tighter racing physics than you see in the shooter games. They could at least do a mash up with Forza, but since MS has Forza to begin with a racer would be superfluous I agree. Maybe Halo's flying vehicles would make for a great game.

But controls can always become tighter and graphics can always become better and Halo isn't as unceremonious as COD. It has style and charm, and Microsoft needs to tap into it, and halo needs to be the best FPS and be the benchmark COD competes against if it wants to be relevant and have PS4 owners sad that they don't have an Xbox.



Edited September 27th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

I wonder if the Forza team would be interested in having Halo Land as an expansion in Forza Horizon 4. Driving around Warthogs, Ghosts, Tanks, and Banshees with more realistic physics. Maybe helicopters and planes.

Posted September 27th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

Moonray and Vandy are right, it's diminishing returns at this point. The peak of Halo is undeniably 3 with ODST and Reach being addendums bookmarking the period. It's a complicated mix of elements that makes a game a critical success, popular with the community and, the most difficult part, historically valuable (i.e. shaping the entire industry). What can Halo really offer now beyond modular development?

Don't get me wrong. Halo 4 and Halo 5 are polished enough games. I enjoyed 5 far more than 4, and they're good games (not mediocre games, good games) even if they have some very questionable design choices. And I remain enthralled by the lore and will eat up pretty much every piece of media for it. But we're fans, a demographic that will consistently return. 4 and 5 were not going to deliver that same sort of hype as 2 or 3, given the entropic forces of franchise fatigue. Besides, Halo can't reinvent the wheel, not least as it did it already, without undermining itself.

There are new killer apps in town, and have been for a while, and there's nothing wrong with this. Console exclusives and the like are arbitrary constraints for the benefit of corporate advantage of course, but I cannot deny there's a draw to a console than can sell itself on the inherent strength of its catalogue; experiences unavailable anywhere else. Microsoft and XB1s problem remain its reliance on the core veterans such as Halo with not much else to offer.

Destiny and 2017 Bungie are not Halo 3 and 2007 Bungie. They're two different beasts. I haven't played Destiny 2 extensively, but it always struck me beyond certain superficial similarities, there was more to distinguish them.

Another important point a lot of people have ignored or miss entirely - mainly from those who think Halo was best left in the hands of Bungie - is that Bungie themselves were getting tired of the Halo franchise effectively shackling them. They had spent over a decade concentrating on Halo and Halo only; Microsoft was not going to let them go easily, and as a result we had ODST and Reach (thankfully products that show almost zero signs in terms of quality loss of Bungie's tensions at the time). Hence Bungie leaving the arrangement; they jumped, they weren't pushed per se.

I'll keep playing Halo though. As mentioned in the OP article, there's an immutable ebb and flow of Halo which you can't get anywhere else.

Edited September 27th by Arch
Arch
 
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