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Bungie: We weren't ready for the success of Destiny

Bungie
Arcstrider fighting two enemies in Destiny 2
Destiny 2

Speaking in a panel at Reboot Develop 2019, Bungie engineering lead Luis Villegas discussed the studio and the changes they've had to make to ensure they can keep churning out quality content, without having to have Superman as coordinator.

Bungie has grown significantly since its Halo days, finishing the original game with 80 people. Fast forward to today and we're looking at a studio of 700 people, but the road to here wasn't as simple as adding more people.

In fact, Villegas pointed out, once the original Destiny came along, which is when Bungie grew to around 400 employees, the studio wasn't ready. Well, the studio may have been, but its traditionally compartmentalised structure wasn't.

What they ended up doing is a variation on Spotify's Scaled Agile model, where smaller, multi-disciplined teams, were tasked with development based on the input by "product owners", who oversaw individuals, roadmaps, coordination, etc.

Scrum masters were in charge of the practical side of things, testing and such, while the leadership team took care of the long term vision. Interestingly, they too ran as a leaner team, as part of Bungie's new strategy.

Additionally, Bungie adopted an interesting concept when it comes to leadership, which is based on Rober K. Greenleaf's Servant Leadership.

In a nutshell, the concept looks at leadership as a means of serving others, rather than ruling by authority and an iron fist, which apparently worked wonders for Bungie.

Once the studio came to the point where leaders could point at the exact things they were responsible for on-screen, it was smooth sailing and if anything, the company could use more Servant Leaders.

Nevertheless, there's no stigma attached to having a go at a leadership position and not succeeding, because you can always slot back into your old position, Villegas said.

ActivisionWarlock flexing his auto rifle ahead of a Rumble match on the EDZ.Destiny 2

We, on the other hand, can't help but wonder just how much Bungie's proponency of Servant Leadership was at odds with Activision's structure, which seems to be on the far end of the leadership spectrum.

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