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Marty O'Donnell No Longer With Bungie

The long term composer says he was "terminated without cause" from the developer.

Well, this was unexpected. Bungie's in-house composer, Marty O'Donnell, is no longer part of the studio.

The news broke last night on Twitter, and O'Donnell characterized the departure as not exactly amicable.

Bungie has not publicly commented on the nature of why O'Donnell has left, but the company did publish a brief blog post entitled "there are those who said this day would never come..." that wished him well.

Destiny will be released on nearly every platform under the sun later on this year.

"For more than a decade, Marty O’Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans," said the company in a statement. "Today, as friends, we say goodbye. We know that wherever his journey takes him, he will always have a bright and hopeful future. We wish him luck in all his future endeavors."

O'Donnell was responsible for composing the Halo games, a series with one of gaming's most memorable modern themes. He was also scoring the studio's upcoming Destiny, which included a collaboration with Paul McCartney. Destiny isn't scheduled to be released until September 9.

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151 Comments
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Posted by bassman2112

Honestly, I feel like this is a good thing for Marty. This means he can be a part of any project he wants, and will likely have front-of-the-box billing. Having him doing contract work is great for him, though it proves that in-house composer gigs are basically non-existent. (Sound designer in the industry here)

Posted by isomeri

Maybe he was a shit bandit.

Posted by scottygrayskull

From my experience when some immediately gets out there ahead of their now former employer and says the termination was without cause, it usually means there was a very definite and likely to never be disclosed cause.

I don't expect we'll ever find out what happened, if anything as he could be correct.

Edited by Quarters

Not the biggest Halo fans, but the music certainly was never the problem. This seems worrisome. This, mixed with their total backtracking on the new trilogy(lol, nvm, it's a saga now), paints some concerning signs over the series. Especially considering Halo 4 wasn't exactly a number one stunner.

Edited by sirkibble2

@mrsmiley: While heated contract negotiations could have happened, or a heated anything for that matter, you don't terminate someone for that. This is something that had to be brewing for a very long time.

@geraltitude The game is 5 months away from release. They didn't just "not like his music anymore."

Posted by SmokePants

Sounds like politics and egos. My impression of Marty has been that he's somewhat of a diva and maybe that got out of control. When they announced he was working with Paul McCartney, it sounded like an egregious waste of money and a vanity collaboration. Maybe he got too big for his britches.

Then again, I get the impression from listening to Bungie podcasts that that entire studio has been walking on eggshells for the past 10 years. Jason Jones might well be Darth Vader. Who knows?

Edited by Sooty

Maybe now GiantBomb can hire him. @jeff

Posted by hollitz

Well that sucks. But I bet that dude will have no trouble finding work. Immensely talented.

Posted by Murdoc_

@frobitz: That was my first thought too. Sounds personal and not good for them to put it like that.

Edited by Waffley

I really really hope this isn't linked to the ongoing problems with Seattle's shit-bandit crime ring.

Posted by Asurastrike

The music I have heard thus far from Destiny didn't sound great.

Posted by Mr_Creeper

Well, guess I should listen to some Halo soundtracks to see what this guy's all about. Never really played the game; didn't really strike my fancy.

Edited by 80PoundGames

I'm reminded that, to this day, Adam Sessler has no idea why he was fired from G4. So, for those who say "there must be a reason" and "something must of happened" - sometimes I guess there is no "reason" other than perhaps the board of directors were looking to cut cost.

Posted by Foggen

This is a really puzzling development. @patrickklepek, you know what you have to do.

Posted by AuthenticM

@voodoopc said:

Maybe he shit all over their bathroom and got caught.

Hahaha

Posted by ll_Exile_ll

Yeah, first Staten leaves, now Marty gets fired... Destiny is probably going to be a REAL shitshow.

There are over 500 people, employees of one of the most decorated developers in the industry, that have been working on Destiny for the past 4+ years.

The lead writer and lead composer leaving less than a year before the game is set for release, likely having already contributed 90% of their role in the game, is somehow going to make the game a "shitshow?"

I wasn't aware game development was that reliant on a single writer and a single composer, 2 out of 500 people, to be successful.

Posted by Deusoma

@quarters: Just a minor correction, friend, Bungie no longer has anything to do with the Halo franchise. After they made Reach, they went off on their own in exchange for giving Microsoft the rights to Halo. Halo Anniversary, Halo 4, and that Spartan Assault game have all been made by 343 Industries, so while this doesn't bode well for Bungie's new game Destiny, it will not affect the Halo franchise going forward at all, unless 343 happens to hire Marty to do the music for future Halo games.

Edited by fatalflame

@therealminime said:

@patrickklepek said:

@l4wd0g said:

Marty made some of the best scores.

ODST AKA BEST HALO

Pretty much yeah and that soundtrack is the stuff of legends.

Wow. Just heard the piece on it's own for the first time. Always liked the scores of the Halo games, but this gives me a whole new appreciation for his work!

Edited by LucidDreams117

Oh man. I don't even know what the hell is going on at Bungie anymore. A pretty big guy (can't for the life of me remember his name) left a few months ago and now Marty??? Marty?!?!?!

343, ask him to work. Halo needs his music.

Posted by IanYarborough
Posted by chilipeppersman

Well this is too bad. He made great music though, and im sure he will find employment at some other nice company. Good luck dude

Posted by DonutFever

As an O'Donnell, I am saddened.

Him, Ken Levine, and Amy Hennig? Games have gotten weird.

Edited by Phoenix87

Fuck

Posted by Spitznock

He was like the heart and soul of Bungie's past few games, imo. Without his music, they will lack a tremendous amount of character.

Edited by FinalDasa

This seems crazy, he was such a presence on those early games a big reason for the feeling of atmosphere in those early Halo games. I really want to know what went down at Bungie and am eager to see where he goes next.

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Posted by OleMarthin

can't image him having a hard time finding a new job. some of the best game music ever in the Halo games, BIG loss for Bungie.

Edited by Sammo21

I am sure he knows exactly why he was let go, but he can't because of an NDA.

Edited by Brackynews

@mr_creeper: There are many wonderful Halo tracks. He might be best known for his advertising jingles, though. Especially Flintstones Kids.

@hailinel said:

Why does everyone assume he'll just go make more Halo music? You think he wants to do that more than explore other possibilities?

People project what seems obvious to them as a perfect fit. Much like everyone who assumed any given old-school GameSpot personality will just have to get a job with Giant Bomb. Or like how my mother keeps thinking I'll always fall back into working in a library for the rest of my career. :p

Edited by Hey2theZeus

@geraltitude: Have you heard Destiny's music ?Its amazing so he knows what he's doing. I doubt it was because they didn't like the music.

Two key Bungie employees responsible for Halo are gone. First Joe Staten who is back at Microsoft and now Marty who will probably be back there also.

I hope this has nothing to do with the Activision partnership and them not giving Bungie freedom to do what they think is best for the game.

Edited by Spotshadow

This is disappointing. Halo 4 was definitely missing something (and not just this) without that main theme he created. I was looking forward to seeing him under Destiny.

However, like someone else mentioned, he will find a place somewhere fast.

I salute you with a simple but resounding E note.

Posted by Spotshadow

@l4wd0g: 100% agree, I loved ODST because of the soundtrack, it was oddly placed, but I remember so many points in that game I just held back and took in the atmosphere of the city and the music.

Posted by bug9329

FYI: "without cause" is a somewhat standard legal term in US employment. "For cause" would mean the employee violated a company rule or policy (e.g. failed to show for work). "Without cause" means the person violated no rules or policies that are known causes under the law/regulation. These characterizations impact unemployment eligibility and other things what notice of termination the company has to provide.

Posted by LibrorumProhibitorum

343 Studios almost has to offer him a job, right? I mean come on Marty O'Donnell is an absolutely fantastic composer and him and Halo go hand in hand perfectly.

Posted by Lazyaza

He should go work with Amy on Dead Space 4.

Edited by Quarters

@deusoma: Right, I totally knew that, just blanked. Still not used to saying 343 Studios when talking about Halo, just used to always saying Bungie. Yeah, I guess that is kind of a bad sign for Destiny, since it probably was pretty far along, at least enough to get some scoring done.

Posted by KaneRobot

One of very few people in the game industry (that isn't a GB regular, anyway) that I will take notice of when his name is mentioned. This is really weird to see happen.

Would be pretty great if he went to 343i.

Posted by RuthLoose

@geraltitude: Have you heard Destiny's music ?Its amazing so he knows what he's doing. I doubt it was because they didn't like the music.

Two key Bungie employees responsible for Halo are gone. First Joe Staten who is back at Microsoft and now Marty who will probably be back there also.

I hope this has nothing to do with the Activision partnership and them not giving Bungie freedom to do what they think is best for the game.

Exec: Right... right... but where do the plastic instruments fit into your business model? You know, we're thinking about doing a new Guitar Hero revival game targeting current gen systems.

Posted by zudthespud

Destiny will be released on nearly every platform under the sun later on this year.

Except PC damn it.

Posted by Falconer

Over a decade later and I still listen to all the Halo soundtracks regularly. I'm equally in love with what has been released of Destiny's music so far. I'm glad he was at least able to leave his mark on that series.

Whatever he ends up doing next, my wallet is already open for it.

Posted by pondwhale

I expect more details to emerge, you don't let go of a talent like that on a whim. Regardless, I doubt he'll be out of work for long. As someone who hasn't counted themselves among the ranks of Bungie fans for a good long while, this is equally as exciting as it is surprising.

Posted by randombattle

I look forward to many articles from "journalists" sitting around going "Dang I wish I could find out what happened but Bungie declined to comment! Oh well I hope someone writes a tell all book about this."

Edited by Rukus

I look forward to many articles from "journalists" sitting around going "Dang I wish I could find out what happened but Bungie declined to comment! Oh well I hope someone writes a tell all book about this."

The truth hurts. :( Get us those details, Scoops!

Posted by Elwoodan
Posted by Mr_Creeper

@mr_creeper: There are many wonderful Halo tracks. He might be best known for his advertising jingles, though. Especially Flintstones Kids.

Oh, shit, I LOVE that jingle!

Edited by PhanThomas

Maybe Keifer Sutherland is composing the music for Bungie's next game.

Ok, that made me burst out in laughter. XD

Posted by Kolonel_Kool

@zephyr said:

My money's on MS and 343i showing up at his house with a Brinks truck to get him back on board the Halo franchise.

That would be awesome. As much as I enjoyed Halo 4, I really did miss that man's music.

Posted by Fram

"Rain" from ODST is one of my fave pieces of composed music, video game or otherwise. Also it speaks volumes about how much I've been corrupted by Giant Bomb that when I first read his tweet, my mind immediately made the shit bandit connection.

Posted by subyman

Strange. Halo has one of the most fully realized soundtrack in the entire industry. It is pretty much the Star Wars of the video game world. Play the theme song for anyone under 30yo and most will immediately say Halo. Not many games can claim that.

Posted by jasondesante

fucked!

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