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Halo composer Marty O'Donnell wins Bungie legal battle

Latest court documents detail long-running feud.

Ex-Bungie composer Marty O'Donnell has won a substantial settlement from his former employer after claiming that he had been fired "without cause" back in April 2014.

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O'Donnell has since helped found new studio Highwire Games.

A new profit-sharing settlement for O'Donnell will see the composer paid for the use of his music in the Destiny franchise, the first installment of which will total $142,500.

Freshly-published court documents have also revealed the behind-the-scenes saga that lead to O'Donnell's termination.

In a nutshell, O'Donnell had become unhappy with what he perceived as the encroaching influence of Destiny publisher Activision.

This lead to a falling out with Bungie boss Harold Ryan and other members of the studio's upper management, and ultimately to his dismissal.

Bungie stated at the time of O'Donnell's departure that he and the studio had parted "as friends", although the timing of the move raised eyebrows as it came during the crucial final six months of development on Destiny.

The new court documents reveal that O'Donnell had become upset about Bungie's changing plans for his Destiny score. He had been asked to create a symphonic suite of eight movements, dubbed Music of the Spheres, for use throughout the entire 10-year Destiny franchise.

O'Donnell also intended that his work would be released separately, something that - it soon became clear - Activision had little enthusiasm for.

The composer spoke out against Activision after the publisher took control of the Destiny trailer shown at E3 2013 and replaced O'Donnell's score with its own music.

In response, O'Donnell interrupted press briefings and attempted to stop the trailer being posted online to preserve Bungie's "creative process, artistic integrity, and reputation".

Bungie's top brass were worried O'Donnell had "hurt the Bungie team, hurt the game, drove a negative online discussion, and violated [Harold] Ryan's instructions". There was also a suspicion that O'Donnell was more focused on publishing his Music of the Spheres work than taking the best interests of Bungie into consideration.

O'Donnell was not fired at this point - despite a suggestion from Ryan that he should be - and so went on vacation over the summer of 2013.

But when he returned to work Bungie found that the composer was not contributing to the project as expected. O'Donnell was finally fired in April 2014 and stripped of his company shares.

Separate suits have previously seen O'Donnell receive $95k for unpaid work plus damages, and have returned his shares - despite Bungie arguing that it would cause the composer to become a "bothersome presence at board meetings".

This latest lawsuit win is the final battle of O'Donnell and Bungie's legal war, and will see the composer compensated throughout the life of the Destiny franchise.

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