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I think there's a credible argument there, yeah.
MZ: But beyond that, it feels good as a developer in the trenches when your producer, who doesn't actually have a deliverable for that milestone, is still there crunching with you or sitting right next to you.
Is it easier to get the "all hands on deck" feeling?
MZ: Yeah, definitely. It allows you to feel like it's okay to have conversations with people you might otherwise avoid. It's definitely a cultural thing.
The consensus seems to me, from talking to developers, that interdisciplinary working is so key to making quality products.
They're all difficult problems to solve, which is why we like to talk about how they're solved at Bungie.
MZ: The precedent was set a long time ago at Bungie. There's this desire to in some way preserve the "ten guys in their garage making Minotaur"... that feeling, even though we're a hundred people. We know it can't be exactly the same, but it's sure a hell of a lot closer than if we had our own corner offices.
BJ: A much bigger garage.
MZ: Yeah. Exactly. Closer to an airplane hangar.
What is the mood of going independent again? What is the mood like at Bungie now?
MZ: There's an enthusiasm, in a way. You really feel like you're controlling your own destiny. Being part of such a big organization such as Microsoft, where you're a part that plugs into this massive, massive organism that has revenue streams well beyond anything you're ever going to have visibility into... you're just...
The Indonesian version of Windows, or something...
MZ: Well yeah. When you're all sitting in one room and know you're all working on the next great thing, you get serious about what you do with your time. Not that we weren't serious before, but it definitely gives you a different voice in the back of your head. I feel more diligent and have a sense of ownership and pride. We only have ourselves to blame if we don't deliver the best we possibly can.
I've heard a little bit from different people who know what they're talking about. There was a sense Bungie could never fit properly into Microsoft. Did you ever feel that way? It's not necessarily a negative thing; it was just a reality.
MZ: Well, yeah. I don't know if that statement... it could be as true for any discipline, because Microsoft is a giant umbrella, like I said before, that has all these different quote-unquote "cost centers".
Microsoft is an engineering company, first and foremost, and games are entertainment and content-driven. So that was a new business that they're ramping up. But that doesn't necessarily mean that Microsoft is not capable of having an incredibly successful entertainment segment to their business.
BJ: To their credit, they did a really good job of getting Bungie our own building. Essentially, we were in a bubble. We were mostly independent the entire time, with all of the perks of having a partner. They respected what Bungie had culturally.
When they bought Bungie, they didn't try to assimilate us and break our will and make us all drink the punch. They let the team maintain what made Bungie, Bungie. I think that's one of the smartest things that they did.