Bungie's Bike to Work Challenge

Turning National Bike Month into a game.

"Wouldn't it be cool to do some sort of studio-wide give-away?"

Shauna Sperry was describing the brainstorming session that gave rise to a contest designed to put Bungie on the bike path.

“Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could give away a bike? Although, Bungie people are so particular, we would want them to pick their own bike.”

Shauna is a proud member of Bungie’s HR Team. You could say that makes her a people person. This wheeled gambit rolled out by her design, after a taunt from our Studio President. She does a lot to make our studio a great place to work. We believe that happy developers make kick ass games. It was because of that school of thought that the Bungie Bike Challenge was born.

It was Harold Ryan, our fearless leader, who suggested that we drive people to not drive their cars to work as part of National Bike Month. His idea was to find some gear heads to tune the bicycles that were sure to accumulate. At Bungie, the only thing we thrive on more than a directive from Harold is delivering a response that smashes his expectations. Fixing people’s bikes would certainly be nice, but tempting them with a reward for riding them would be even better.

“To encourage people to participate, you gotta have a competition” Shauna observed.

Truer words are rarely spoken, especially when it comes to inspiring people to ditch their vehicle. With a prize hanging in the balance – one that we could choose for ourselves – more of us were certain to saddle up and ride for it. Every developer at Bungie is also a gamer, after all. As we've learned from every title that has shipped, gamers respond best to an objective – especially one that is shiny and painted their favorite color. Since we deemed a helmet too small a prize, we raised the stakes.

Firing up the old competitive spirit was accomplished with the lure of a gift certificate to Gregg’s Cycles. This local outfitter also volunteered to fulfill Harold’s original request, and visited the studio to keep our rigs in fine tune. The winner of the new mount from Gregg’s inventory will be awarded to a lucky rider whose name is drawn at random at the end of the month.

Every day one of us pedals into work; we earn a chance to commit our name to the depths of a fishbowl. The more we ride, the greater our chances of claiming the prize.

“It really has worked,” Shauna declared. “There are so many more bikes down there. I think it makes us look badass.”

To accommodate this sudden increase in badassery, the receiving hall of our compound has been converted to overflow parking. The long walk past keepsakes from games past has started to resemble a motorless motorpool. It just so happens that Facilities Engineer Steve Burnaroos never shies away from the chance to create something from scratch that makes Bungie a better place to work.

“Steve built the bike racks in one night at his house,” said Shauna. It was revealed later that Burnaroos did have some help from his family. That fact makes the feat of improvised engineering no less impressive.

The benefits of the Bungie Bike Challenge are obvious to everyone who has been rolling into work. More physical activity means healthier developers. This makes our team happier, and all the more ready to pour ourselves into making our next game.

Shauna said it best: “What’s really cool is that everyone who is participating has a small chance to win, but everyone gets something out if it.”

Just ask perennial outdoorsman Brian Sharp. When he is not swinging from the boulders of our rock wall on his lunch break, he is engineering features that make our games that much better. For Brian, including his bike in the morning commute means that his work is that much better.

“I arrive calmer, more peaceful, relaxed. My mind is clearer. I’m seriously blissed out on endorphins, which is a good thing because otherwise I’d probably be yelling a lot,” he warns. “Also, a huge part of it for me is being able to eat more. My commute is a 23-mile round trip. That’s an extra hamburger every single day. On days I ride in, I love eating lunch.”

Bernie Yee agrees. His work in producing the team that is planning a whole new experience for the users of Bungie.net requires that he be of sound mind and body. A recent transplant from New York, where avoiding the steering wheel is a way of life, he relishes a chance to put some new scuffs on his ride.

“I did this throughout the winter,” proclaimed Bernie with bold pride. “All those bikes that showed up for the raffle ticket? They look immaculate. Perfect. In the bike racing world, an immaculate bike means 1 of 3 things. 1: New. 2: Just got back from a good mechanic. 3: All show, no go. We all know what’s going on around here. Burnaroos, I’m looking at you.”

Personal health is not the only upside of putting a would-be motorist on a bicycle seat. Aside from extoling the virtues of increased energy (and an expanded appetite), Brian also shed some light on the fringe benefits of Bungie’s Bike To Work Challenge.

“I hear biking saves gasoline. This goes back to the food issue,” he explained. “Would I rather pay for a gallon of gasoline or a porchetta sandwich at my favorite steakhouse? The sandwich is three times the price, but about a million times more delicious. Gasoline is disgusting. Even if I pinch my nose I can barely get a whole gallon down without retching.”

While his valuation on deliciousness may be exaggerated, never let it be said that Mr. Sharp is a gas-guzzler. Bikes burn calories, but they do not burn gas. With the exception of the scent of steak sandwiches on his exhale, the act of riding a bike doesn’t result in harmful emissions. I asked HR Manager Ga.yle d’Hondt if we had ecology on the brain when we hatched this scheme. Was a greener strategy for delivering our people to their desks all part of the plan?

“It wasn’t the initial agenda of rolling this out, but it has become a perk,” she said. “We’ve also got the Go-Green incentive plan, so Bungie is definitely aware of our carbon footprint.”

Go-Green is Bungie’s way of rewarding employees for carpooling, like so many clowns in one car. It’s just one more way that we promote good habits. As for the Bike Challenge? Bernie and Brian were not the only ones with rave reviews about the impact on their lifestyle. Ga.yle even forecast some plans to do more things like this in the future.

“We have had so much positive feedback from employees; it definitely has got us thinking about doing something similar during other months in the year.”

What form this may take is anyone’s guess. Snowshoes in December? Raincoats and roller blades in March? Time will tell. One thing is for certain: At Bungie, we will continue to cultivate an engaging environment where happy, healthy people can do their very best work. We know that you would demand nothing less of us.

Community 5/23/2012 5:08 PM PDT permalink

Well, that just happened…


So, yeah. While we’re not ready to show you what we’ve been working on, we can reconfirm that we are hard at work on our new universe. We can’t wait for you to see it.

See you starside in 2013.

Community 5/21/2012 7:09 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Josh Poley

Give us the tools and we'll finish the job.

It has been said that poor craftsmen blame their tools. Whoever said that never had to develop a video game. At Bungie, our creative process benefits enormously from the tools we use to make games, and given the uniqueness of what we’re building, we often have to create these tools ourselves. That requires really smart people who can create helpful systems from scratch. One of those people is Josh Poley. Let’s corner him and make him tell us how he came to be a Tools Engineer, shall we?

Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?

I'm Josh and I'm an Engineer on the Core Tools team. We work on general-purpose tools for the studio, with the goal of trying to make things run a little more smoothly around here. When our system crashes (which, of course, it never does), my application takes over and collects a bunch of internal data to make it super-easy for the developers to find and fix the bug. In general, we make it so our engineers can focus more of their time on the important parts of delivering a kick ass game.

It sounds like we would be lost without your talents. Where did we find you?

Working at Microsoft. The majority of my time was spent on the Operating System for the Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles. One of the cooler projects was being involved with the "emulation ninjas" who worked on the backward compatibility engine. I've also had my fingers in Zune, Windows Live ID, Project Courier, and the C++ compiler.

You are a man of many talents. When we are not putting them to work at Bungie, how do they manifest in your life?

Aside from things that look like work but aren't, I'm into photography, backpacking, and places that are hot (the Pacific Northwest has a pathetic excuse for summer).

It must have been hard to choose between all of these interests. As you were coming up in the world, was there one thing that you aspired to be?

An Astronaut. Then, I got addicted to computer games and decided that was probably going to be more fun. The moment that really cemented me into a development career path was reading "The Official Book of Ultima". The story around Origin definitely tugged on something in my subconscious, and I knew that line of work is where I belonged. Besides, it can get freaking cold in space.

I also hear that NASA’s training program can be a real pain. Describe for us the training that equipped you to blast off into the exciting world of games development.

I got a Computer Science degree in Boulder, Colorado. Possibly more important was an extensive amount of programming on the side. It was super-beneficial to find a random project and jump into it. Even if it doesn't go anywhere, the experience and knowledge you gain is invaluable. It is that kind of chain-reaction that bolsters your skills and abilities. Aside from coding projects, I definitely spent a bunch of time gaming. And, apparently, all that "research" into computer games actually paid off.

There are a lot of gamers out there who would love to claim that their time spent playing could qualify as on-the-job training. Once your “research” led you to this industry, how did you entice Bungie to size you up as an applicant?

I would like to think it was my awesome hair style, but it was probably more likely my passion for low-level software systems. Digging into the internals on operating systems, good debugging skills, working with compilers, and my experience working with the Xbox console software all contributed to help pique Bungie's interest.

Once we become interested in someone, we can be a little brash in the get-to-know-you phase. What was the hardest part about your interview loop?

Convincing Charlie Gough that I don't suck. I'm still not 100% sure that I succeeded. He definitely had one of the harder questions. He gave me a problem and left me alone to code up the solution. I thought through some possible approaches, and wrote up the best one I had. Charlie came back and said something like "Yeah, can you make it faster?" I was thinking, "Damn, I thought I did that." After a fair amount of back and forth (and some amount of hand holding), I realized what the solution was. It totally made my first approach look like a Pinto racing a Lamborghini.

Now that you are your own racecar in the red, what is the best thing about running our track?

The most rewarding thing is how much Bungie cares for its employees. Towards the end of March I ended up in the hospital and had to have surgery. The following week I was sauntering into work like a zombie trying to get caught up and my manager basically kicked me out (with essentially some free sick time) saying that it was more important to Bungie that I take the time to heal. That is definitely not something that would have happened with some of my previous managers.

We will need for you to be strong if you are to survive the development schedule for our next game. Give our readers a window into that world. What is a day at Bungie like?

I typically show up about 8 AM. I grab a couple of drinks from the fridge and get logged in on my box. After a quick browse through my news reader, I have about two hours of distraction-free work (spent mostly in Visual Studio) before more people file in. I try to get any big code changes checked in at this point. If there are issues, I've got plenty of time to sort them out. Shortly after 10 AM, the Core Tools team gets together for a quick standup in front of our status board. We talk about what each of us is currently working on. From there, it’s back to our pod where we dig back into our work. At about 12 PM, the studio typically empties as we flood the nearby distributors of sustenance. Following lunch, we've got about two more hours of coding, debugging, and coming up with wicked solutions to problems before the "coffee train" starts rounding people up. If I get sucked in, I will get an oatmeal cookie. I'm probably the only person in the Seattle area that can't stand the taste of coffee. The afternoon is typically spent addressing bugs, feature requests, and other spontaneous activities. Shortly after 5 PM, I turn off my monitors and head out the back stairs to go catch my bus.

You have done a wonderful job of proving that we don’t just sit around and play games all day. Of all the things that we do to make your hard work worth the effort, what is your favorite?

The presents we got during the holidays were super cool. The fact that Bungie gave presents to our families as well is simply amazing. For a day-to-day perk, the climbing wall is a total win. It's great to be able to take a break from a hard problem and go stretch my arms and back out on an equally hard problem on the wall. If you are familiar with the route markings at bouldering gyms, you won't see them here. Instead we've got "easy", "normal", "heroic", and "legendary" routes.

Aside from climbing to the top of a legendary climbing route, what is your favorite accomplishment as a member of the Bungie team?

One of the recent projects that I was able to slide into my schedule definitely resulted in the best work-to-praise ratio. Some of our developers have been asking for the ability to easily file a bug from a block of selected code in our development environment. Writing the plugin and a quick web page was fairly straight forward, but the response from the first two Bungie veterans to try it out was definitely rewarding: "Holy crap! Totally awesome."

Just like the rock wall, Bungie is always challenging people to ascend to new heights. How do you elevate your skills?

If there is a very blurry line between work and play, then you are on the right track. I spend a big chunk of my free time outside of work programming or playing games. The more you push yourself, the more you learn and the better you get.

Your story will likely inspire a great many coders to follow in your steps. What advice would you give them?

If you are going the developer/engineer route, you definitely need to know your C and C++. Those should be as familiar and comfortable as breathing. With a good foundation there, it is easy to pick up other languages and technologies, enabling you to use a good tool for the job. I also recommend being able to read through and understand assembly. There are definitely times when you will want to debug some gnarly problem, and being able to grasp what the hardware is doing on each instruction of your code can mean the difference between figuring it out or not. I would then toss in some networking, web, and database technologies to round things out.

Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? Rank them in order of importance to your role.

They are all about as important as Food, Water, and Air. Without having the experience to back your ideas and decisions, your output can be limited. You need the ethic (and passion) to get in and crank through problems. And if you have no talent, well, then your output will be crap. But obviously having awesome team mates and an open environment can help balance minor deficiencies.

We thank Josh for giving us a window into his world. The stories that lead people to Bungie are as diverse as the people who work here. If Josh’s tale doesn’t appeal to your specific ambitions, you just might find an interview that suits your dream in our Breaking In Archive.

Breaking In 5/21/2012 1:53 PM PDT permalink

Community Write Along

Proving that the pen is mightier than the sword.

The Bungie Community can be a simmering cauldron of volatile passions. It can also be a deep well of imagination and creativity. To nudge them closer to their more noble instincts, we taunt them with the occasional challenge to solve puzzles or complete great feats of artistic expression. This week, the design tablet was set aside in favor of the pen. To throw in front of them a hurdle of creative writing, we set the scene with this fragment:

"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to…”

The challenge was to collaborate with us in the writing of a very short story. The pitch was to complete the opening, and write the middle and the end using only another four sentences (or less). Did we mention that this story was to be very short? Check out some of the more vivid contributions.

The Finalists (from which a winner will be selected by you)

hunkyandrich migrated to the right side of the tracks:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to move out of the playground," he continued as he noticed a couple of guys moving in on our position.
We could tell immediately that they were not up to any good when they started to pick a fight with us, which is when I realized it was no longer us, but I. All of my comrades had left me to take them on my own, but I didn't stand a chance. I returned home to my mother who was shocked by what happened to me. "You're moving with your auntie and uncle!" she exclaimed as she deemed the area we lived in to be unsafe.

Domi 233 envisioned a clash between titans:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to release the Kraken!"

And the fabled creature stirred in its cavern. It had been summoned: and it would answer the call. The sea heaved as it slowly rose from its watery depths and it is said that those who were enveloped saw flashes of ginger before they perished. Even the thought of such colour is enough to terrify the few who remember: so very few.

Zealot Tony subjected us to “The Talk”:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to circumvent the immune system and begin fertilization protocols."

With that, they formed up - standard 1,000,000 by 1,000,000 formation. This was nothing - the last group consisted of twice as many, and the one before ten times as much. It would be a long trek up the tube for this unit, and there'd only be about 100 remaining by the time they reached the target. It was there, however, where the cooperation tactics changed to a version of the hunger games; all in order to claim that eggy prize.

Helveck imagined some unconventional tactics for community management:
“We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to adorn yourself with dresses and wigs!" Upon the horizon, Commander DeeJ could see the angry mob a few short miles away, but the clock was ticking furiously, and he feared in mere minutes that the Bungie building would lie in ruins.

Urk screamed over to DeeJ while JonnyOThan zipped up Urk’s dress, "DeeJ, you mind explaining why the hell we're putting on dresses and lady wigs?!"

DeeJ screamed back, "Because they're angry about the darkness and they want in to know all our secrets! Everyone knows nerds are afraid of girls and if we're all girls then they won't come within a mile of this place and we'll be safe for a little while longer!"

da bomb drop channeled his inner blue-faced freedom-fighter:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to moon the enemy!" shouted William, throwing his shield down. "When they fire, raise your shields and protect yourselves! Except you, Patrick. Keep mooning no matter what. If this ever happens to be turned into a movie, you getting hit in the butt with some kind of projectile could be very funny!"

x Foman123 x advocated the forbidden dance as a tactic:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to dance for your lives!"

As the enemy combatants menacingly approached from across the battlefield, they broke into a dangerous-looking Lambada, synchronously turning and spinning with Archimedian precision. Bright sequins on melon-colored leotards bounced dazzling, multifaceted reflections of sparkling light in the same terrifying way that a hungry lion stalks an oblivious baby gazelle. Grimly, the team leader adjusted his pristine battle fedora to its jauntiest possible angle and double-checked the polish on his tap shoes. "Gentlemen," he announced as he slowly clasped his partner's hand and assumed a ferocious opening pose for the Cha Cha, "we have a date with destiny; and this time, we might get to second base."

CAVX took our sentence fragment rather literally:
“We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to ..."
"Didn't catch that - copy your last, team leader," Central Command muttered through the comms.
"Sorry, command, dropped the radio," the team leader said softly, embarrassment audible in his now less-menacing voice. "You weren't meant to hear that, anyway - we are at a LAN party."

Honorable Mentions (no parades, no polls – only our admiration)

chubbz provided an unexpected minimalist approach:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to run away in the other direction, screaming like little girls!"

coolmike699 continued the disturbing trend of his breakfast fetish:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to RELEASE THE BACON!”

Seven cannons filled with heavy, thick cut, military-grade bacon were loaded. The weapons stopped the enemy with large amounts of deliciousness. Victorious, the team leader ordered the finishing of the remaining bacon. Thanks to the power of the military-grade bacon, all was well.

Antonyx1000 grinded a familiar axe:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to activate Armor Lock.”

As a storm of grenades rained down around them, the team all activated Armor Lock. As they all emerged unharmed the team leader screamed "ADAPT!" The hostile forces were so mad they all fell into a rage induced coma.

TheSpiderChief reminded us all that quitters never win:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to abandon all hope and start betraying each other! Don't worry, you will all respawn after 3 seconds. This is Halo multiplayer after all!"

"Sir, we could use our secret weapon," one of the soldiers suggested.

The team leader looked at the soldier and nodded, "You're right. Bring out... the Ban-Hammer!"

Lobster Fish 2 put a maudlin spin on the exercise:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to, prepare to, prepa...." David punched the radio. It's busted. Listening to the audio recordings his father sent back from war was all he had left to remember him.

Viperconn committed the Blue Angels to a combat engagement:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to do numerous barrel rolls!"

Hooble 911 prepared us all to drop:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to fire the cannonballs!"

Everyone lined up against the pool and got into position, their skins crawling with anticipation of the cool water. Seattle was a rainy mess most of the year, but the couple months when the sun shined made it arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the country.

"Cannonballs, fire!"

One by one all the Bungie employees jumped into the pool and, upon contact with the refreshing water, filled their faces with smiles of absolute happiness.

MAC Blast sold his soul to Hollywood:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to do something!"

Before they could, Chuck Norris blew through their lines; followed closely by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, and many more celebrities who will be appearing in Expendables 2. What followed was the most mind blowing display of awesomeness that my keyboard melts trying to find words to describe it in sufficient detail. It can never be said that they did not create the craziest awesome movie of all time, but that is all that can be said because the keyboard is almost gone now and smoke is starting to come from my CPU and I don't think my computer will last much longe-

UnderTheKnif3 failed the challenge on purpose to subject us to wubwub:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to F-F-F-Fight!

Multijirachi seems to think that I have an office:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to switch urk's coffee to decaf!" The group of Bungie Haters swarmed the Snack Room of Bungie HQ, tainting it's sacredness. "Coffee has been switched sir!" shouted Jenkins, a young boy who hated Bungie because his Reach rank was reset.

"Move out BHate; we still need to trash Deej's office" the team leader transmitted over the comm.

Sliding Ghost visited the animal kingdom:
"We are wide open to attack!" shouted the team leader. "All available units, prepare to leap!"

The seven frogs all took off in a blaze of glory. The cockroaches began to show worry. In a matter of seconds, the cockroaches all quit. The frogs had won; not with a bang, but with a ribbit.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Thanks for the stories, Bungie Community. Don’t forget to select your favorite finalist. And please don’t lose heart if you don’t fancy yourself a writer. Perhaps we will conduct a challenge that will suit your unique talents; be you a singer, a sculptor, a painter, or a dancer. You never know what trials may await you on Bungie.net. Stay tuned…

Community 5/16/2012 1:33 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Noah George

Raging against the machines.

If you haven’t heard, the development of video games is an endeavor that is heavily dependent on computers. These machines, while incredibly valuable to our process, can’t fix themselves. And, thankfully so. For, if they could, they would enslave us as their preferred energy source. To keep the computers that we use to create our next game well behaved and working properly, Bungie staffs an entire team of information technologists. Look, there is one right now. Let’s shake him down to learn how he etched his name onto the roster of our IT Bullpen.

Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?

I’m Noah. I maintain servers, deploy internal tools, and build super computers.

I don’t know what a lot of that means, but it sounds like hard work. How do you balance out the rigors of bringing super computers to life by making your own life worth living?

I’m all about music and video games. I split my time between playing guitar, “Battlefield 3”, and “Star Wars: The Old Republic” these days.

You should feel right at home here. What were you doing before your career led you to this foundry of music and video games?

Before I came to Bungie, I spent time maintaining email services for 60,000 clients at Microsoft, and running the IT team for a local marketing agency. At Microsoft, I had a chance to work on very large and complex infrastructures, but didn’t have any knowledge of or input into the direction of the organization. At the marketing agency, I ran the IT team and was present for high level meetings in the organization, but the infrastructure itself wasn’t complex or very challenging. I think I’ve found a happy medium here at Bungie. Bungie always has new projects around the bend that push you to a new level, and places a high value on internal communication and input into the decision making processes.

Have you always been such an Alpha-geek? When you were a kid, did you take apart your toys and “optimize” them?

I used to watch Saturday morning cartoons. There was one cartoon about a mad scientist inventing all kinds of odd and nonsensical solutions. I thought “I want to be that guy when I grow up.”

Since very few institutions of higher learning offer degrees in Mad Science, how did you prepare yourself to oversee our sprawling network?

I didn’t actually go to college until I had been in the field for several years. By that time I wanted something to round out my technical skills, so I majored in Business. Then, I went back for my MBA. I was going to University of Phoenix at night and running an IT team during the day. The idea was that I would never really be able to excel in the higher levels of IT unless I had a good working knowledge of how the entire corporation worked. One graduation and a global economic crisis later, some men in black asked me if I wanted to work in video games. I paused my Mass Effect game and gave an ebullient “YES PLEASE!”

You have an MBA? Shouldn’t you be a Vice President in some soul-crushing financial services firm? Wouldn’t you be happier telling people how to do their jobs and bragging about your golf swing in the executive restroom?

As it turns out, the kid in me is bigger than the buttoned-down job-slasher, and just wants to be a part of the next big thing in video games. Besides, hitting a small ball into a hole in the grass just doesn’t cut it after you’ve made your best friend explode with pink needles and rage quit. Here, my ideas can impact the whole studio. I’m challenged by the smartest people I’ve known. I’m exposed daily to master level art and music that the world hasn’t even experienced before, and sometimes I even get paid to play games.

Okay. Fair enough. No complaints. We are glad to have you. Tell us how you convinced Bungie that we needed a Mad Scientist with a Master’s Degree in Business Management.

I think my Microsoft experience got me in the door, but the best way to describe my interview was a technical beat down from some of our high level engineers, and I survived. That gave me the opportunity to contract with Bungie until I could prove myself on the team. I won them over with hard work, and following through with a detailed internal project.

Back up now. Tell us more about that beat down. We do love to scare the squeamish away from our Careers Page.

When someone interviews with Bungie for a technical discipline, you are given rapid fire scenarios of increasing difficulty. Their goal is to turn up the difficulty until you can’t honestly solve the issues anymore, and we have engineers smart enough to stump most people. The hard part is understanding that everyone fails the interview at some point, they just want to see how far you get.

I wasn’t pressed to fail my interview, but we don’t build Super Computers on the Community Team. Now that you have passed your version of the test, what is your favorite thing about working at Bungie?

I’m in awe every day I go to work. I look around and see some of the best engineers, artists, composers, and creative visionaries available in this industry. To work with these people and actually be a part of their process is mind blowing to me.

Describe for us a day in the life of the Bungie IT Bullpen…

I typically come in, check on the status of our infrastructure, have a meeting or two about current and upcoming projects or maintenance windows, and spend the rest of the day troubleshooting an issue or working on one of my projects. When it’s late enough and I don’t have any off-hours work, I’ll sometimes play a video game or two with co-workers before I go home.

Aside from having one’s mind blown on a regular basis, what is the best perk of the job?

One day I worked with Troy, our motion capture specialist, on a project. After I helped him out, he showed me around his studio and how it all works. To top it all off, he then showed me the props he used to capture performances for Reach. As I got to hold the various prop weapons used to capture the actors’ performances in Reach, it was clear to me that every day working at Bungie yields massive perks for people like me… gamers. I can’t pick one.

What is your favorite accomplishment as a member of the Bungie team?

I’ve been wrestling with a product that allows us to take over a hundred server nodes and cluster them all together to create a super computer and run distributed applications across them. Many days this product is the bane of my existence, but I have to admit that I am most proud of working out the kinks in that system and showing off all the cool things I can do with it.

How do you advance your craft?

I advance my craft by taking on projects that I am not entirely comfortable taking on myself. I am a firm believer that pushing yourself beyond your limits, with proper research, is the only way to get to the next level.

What recommendations would you make to people who want to work in this industry?

Most places you go in life, there are people eager to tell you that you aren’t good enough to do something, and you won’t be able to achieve whatever it is you are looking for. Accept their criticism as a challenge and then prove them wrong. There is no more satisfying revenge.

Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? Rank them in order of importance to your role.

Work ethic, talent, and then experience. Hard work gives you all the talent and experience you need while turning you into a high value stock that keeps paying dividends.

Your MBA is showing, Noah.

Please join me in thanking our Support Engineer for configuring our perceptions for what it takes to keep Bungie working in an orderly fashion. Without his tireless service, sharing this conversation would not have been possible. Of course, his contribution is just one color in the spectrum. To sample the rest, you should check out the archive.

Breaking In 5/14/2012 11:57 AM PDT permalink

Reverse Mail Sack (17)

Because the information superhighway is not a one-way street.

Any good conversation relies on listening, as much as talking. If the flow of ideas and feelings doesn’t travel both ways, the result is not a conversation at all. It’s a lecture. At Bungie, we don’t want to lecture you. We like you too much for that. We all get lectured enough in life: when we sit in the classroom, when we don’t take our shoes off at the door, when we end up standing in front of the judge. That’s why we tried a different approach this week to our Friday ritual.

We can’t take full credit. It was, after all, your idea that we reverse the flow, with Bungie asking the questions and you providing the answers. And so it was. And so you did. And so, here is a snapshot of what most of you said. Far too much was said for us to share it all, but you can read the rest of it right here if this digest only whets your appetite for group sharing.

For those of you who don’t have that sort of free time on your hands, lets open the Sack.

David Candland, Senior Artist
What good books (besides the Halo novels) have you been reading lately that you would recommend?

Geegs30 "Altered Carbon" by Richard Morgan. Currently re-reading that series. I also can't suggest the “Ender's Game” series enough, I think people that like Halo would like that universe.

DarkONI “Angels of Darkness”, it's a Warhammer 40,000 novel written by my favorite author Gav Thorpe.

MsCadetUNIVERSE If you're looking for a lighthearted read with a great story, I would suggest the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series by Rick Riordan. It's considered young adult fiction, but it has a good amount of depth to it.

Jujubes “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. It has its weaknesses, but it's a pretty awesome journey through an emerging market and the successes/failures that Steve had to go through before he really succeeded.

Cobravert What's a book?

AutobahnRacer “Atlas Shrugged” has an interesting outlook on politics and human emotions, and “The Dark Tower” books are badass in general.

Kurt Nellis, Technical Cinematic Lead
When you aren't playing Halo or dreaming about what awesomeness we're concocting, what do you do for fun?

coolmike699 I wrestle for my college.

MsCadetUNIVERSE I'm an executive editor for a gaming website.

SpongyMallard7 I love to work on any type of movie, whether it's a music video or just some random thing thrown together.

Switchfoot4 I like to produce electronic music and code in my spare time creating small flash games.

Jujubes Coordinate amazing teams of amazing people to build amazing websites.

EZcompany2ndsqd The real question should be what isn't something you do for fun.

snipe champpppp I like to watch paint dry.

HipiO7 I body board. Which makes me special because I'm the only person who body boards here on B.net.

Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer
What was your 2011 game of the year?

DTA MoonDawg For me, it would definitely be Skyrim. The vast environments the player can explore are staggering. I'm still finding places there I never even knew existed.

antony X1000 Assassin's Creed: Revelations. It was a great way to close the story of Altair and Ezio, yet still set up the next game.

CHUD CHUFFER1 I'd have to say Gears of War 3, the game was amazing.

SPRTN One One 7 My game of the year for 2011 was Battlefield 3 because it had a great campaign and an amazing multiplayer experience that no other game has to offer.

Saint of Taint Limbo, by far and above all else. Great game with a dark gritty feel.

Spartan 891 Forza 4. With so many aspects from driving against your friends to creating car designs, it can keep you occupied for a good while.

Xd00999 Warhammer 40k Space Marine, because I am a big 40k fan. The game was a wonderful adaption.

CrazzySnipe55 Portal 2. It's better than the original in every sense.

JABBERWOCK xeno Minecraft. There really isn't any other candidate. The GOTY has to be so far reaching it becomes a part of gaming culture itself.

dmg04 As of late, it has been Battlefield 3. This is the only game where I can hop into a vehicle and recreate nostalgia comparable to driving someone in a Warthog. You guys at Bungie spoiled me. COD only cut it for so long. Ground combat is fun, but it gets stale without vehicles thrown into the mix.

CJ Cowan, Story Design Lead
What's your most memorable story moment from any game you've played, ever, and why?

DarkONI Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots ending. The story developed perfectly and it offered all the answers I was waiting for as a fan.

L00 When I fired up Mass Effect 2, it showed a summary of all the decisions I'd made in Mass Effect. That kinda blew my mind because I didn't know they were linking the games quite like that.

DTA MoonDawg It would be the Flood's introduction in Halo: CE back in 2001. After fighting the Covenant for so many levels, it was completely unreal when a new and more terrifying enemy was introduced to the game.

SPRTN One One 7 My most memorable story moment from a video game was probably the end of Halo: Reach. It was something that was sad, but very fun to see how long you could live.

Old Papa Rich The revelation of your true identity in Knights of the Old Republic. That game had an amazing story. In some ways, it surpassed the prequel trilogy.

defnop552 In Red Dead Redemption when John's body is buried on the hill overlooking the ranch with the inscription "Blessed are the Peacemakers".

Uriel S167 It has to be when Carter sacrificed himself taking out that Scarab Tank. For some reason that just hit me really hard.

TheHawk62 In Homefront when you come home expecting to return to your beautiful life-filled hide out, and find out everyone has been killed, and the place destroyed.

edableshoe Call of Duty 4, when you are killed by the nuke. The story behind my death was so chaotic and real, it has always struck me as a well-placed and well-timed event.

Ben Wommack, Production Engineer
Has playing a game narrative (story, characters, etc.) ever caused you to cry?

Khirna Yes. When I was playing Gears of War 3 and it got to the point of Dom dying, I admit that a tear found its way onto my cheek.

L00 At the end of Final Fantasy X, when *SPOILERS* Tidus was revealed to be a dream, and Auron had to be sent. Both were hinted at a few times throughout the game, but it really hit home in those moments.

Switchfoot4 Halo CE, the part when FoeHammer dies (11 year old spoiler) . I really liked FoeHammer throughout the entire story, and I was finding myself becoming more attached to her as the story unfolded. My 9-year-old self shed many tears, and my 20-year-old self shed many more.

Izak609 Not yet, but Mass Effect 3 was really close. If I was younger, I would have cried. It's setting the bar for video game storytelling... if you ask me. Wonderful.

HipiO7 No. But the most emotional would be the cutscene in Halo 3 where Chief got to Cortana. Also the ending of Bioshock 2. Loved it. The music was amazing in both scenes.

Andrew Davis, Artist
Why you gotta be like that?

ALI217 Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Khirna Why you gotta keep us in the dark? This works both ways...

Old Papa Rich I'm a man. Sorry.

Jujubes Being a malcontent is what keeps me satisfied.

Cobravert Because I'm old and I can be.

HipiO7 Because I'm a hardass and I'm not afraid of nothing.

BC1096 why you gotta be so nosy?

John Stvan, Graphic Designer

DarkONI Blue one. It's 2 AM and some guy wearing sunglasses in a dark room is talking about cryptic stuff. I just wanna sleep.

Old Papa Rich Give me the red pill. I'll face the truth over delusion any day.

Jujubes Red pill. To be honest and boring, I like to take reality straight on and fix problems.

Cobravert Blue. Everyone knows Dayquil just isn't as.... effective.

CrazzySnipe55 The one on the right. It's the side of my dominant hand and if reaching for the pill is a clever rouse to get me to lower my defenses and subsequently be attacked, I will have my dominant and stronger arm out ready to parry any incoming attack.

BC1096 I would take the blue pill. The matrix is a scary place and I'd rather not intrude in Samuel L. Jackson’s business.

Ondraus Jenkins, Head of Business Development
Kirk or Picard? And why?

OMARRCHR The answer is obviously Kirk. Why? Because Kirk kicks more alien ass and gets more attractive women.

David iZ Mental I have no idea who either are.

Cobravert Kirk. Gotta stay with the original.
Picard had a better ship, but come on. We're talking about James T. Kirk here.

TopWargamer Kirk
Why? Here's why: He's the original Enterprise captain. He does awesome commercials. That hair....

Lobster Fish 2 Beam me up, Scotty.

Lorraine McLees, Artist
Reach deep now. Why do you play games?

coolmike699 I play games for fun. When I don't have anything else to do, I put in a game, and I play. Yes, winning is fun, but I'll take a close match that keeps me on the edge of my seat over a match where I shut out the other team any day.

Geegs30 To have a good time and socialize with my friends. I'm also pretty competitive. When sports are out of the question, gaming is an awesome alternative.

CHUD CHUFFER1 I grew up playing games. They are a hobby of mine and I enjoy them and they allow me to put to use the free time that I have.

Saint of Taint The feel of community. A sense of being part of something bigger than myself.

Old Papa Rich I feel like you get the same entertainment that you get from movies, only you get to be a part of it.

Switchfoot4 For the story that keeps you up till 5am and simply cannot stop till the end is reached.

Niko Jims Because I lost control of my life at the age of 4.

OctaviusFalcon Because they are an excellent means of killing time and communicating with friends. I also enjoy the feeling that I receive when I pwn n00bz.

Izak609 Adventures, beauty, challenges, friends.

T1B3R7uMB0YXVI I happen to find games very inspirational and ideal. Not only that, it can help me solve some problems that I may encounter in the process of coding some games.

mark117 mia2553 Challenges are good for the soul.

Scott Kankelborg, Associate Test Engineer
Favorite Pen & Paper RPG, and why?

jyrine Tic-Tac-Toe. Cause if you know how to play you never lose… and it is fun to watch the others rage.

Derek Carroll, Senior Designer
What was your first game system, and what was your favorite game on that system?

ALI217 Playstation 1 - Duke Nukem: Time to Kill. I was 3 and that's probably why I couldn't get past the first level.

halo3genius The first PlayStation. My favorite game (and the first game I ever owned) was Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. I still play it to this day.

DarkONI Amiga Commodore, and I would say Prince of Persia.

antony X1000 Sega Master System. Sonic The Hedgehog.

ROFL Wolf1254 My first system was the Nintendo 64, and my first game was Star Wars Pod Racer N64.

CTN 0452 9 Nintendo Gamecube and 007 Nightfire. I got to be James Bond, fight my friends and have bots fight on my team.

Kr1egerdude Playstation 1. Spyro The Dragon. I always had trouble with the last world. The sound of certain enemies gives a very weird sense of nostalgia.

Troy McFarland, Staff Artist
If we built the stadium, would you enter a real world Grifball tournament?

halo3genius Only if you'll allow me to respawn. Don't blame Stosh if I can't.

L00 I'd build a plant to manufacture the balls, since you're going to go through at least three a game and high explosives tend to also be high profit margin. Not that I'd know. This is gonna get me on some FBI watch list, isn't it?

RogueRainbowX In Grifball I kill my team mates with pure gravitational force. Are you up for testing?

I ColdEmbrace I Yes, because bomb beats everything!

David Johnson, Engineer
In your opinion, what's the best video game system of all time?

coolmike699 The Nintendo 64. Playing Namco Museum against my dad… Playing Star Fox 64 against my friends... I would love to have that back.

Geegs30 The Gameboy Color.

DarkONI The PlayStation 2. It paved the way for the revolution with video game platforms.

Old Papa Rich I'm gonna go with the 360. I absolutely love playing on Xbox LIVE. I spent the better part of a decade trying different forms of networked gaming. There was nothing but sorrow and heartache. Of course, that was all before high speed internet.

Jessica Steam.

Luke Ledwich, Test Engineer
Who is your best villain?

ALI217 Ivan Ooze from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie. That guy had serious style. He was funny too.

L00 That sniper over there becau-

DTA MoonDawg My favorite villain would be the Master from Doctor Who. A man who can change his form and is as timeless as the show itself.

Kvaener Mr. Freeze. The only villain I've ever really felt anything other than hate for. His entire life has just been tragedy after tragedy. He's less of a villain and more of an anti-hero.

Old Papa Rich Hannibal Lector. Of course he isn't really the villain, but is a villain. And the Silence of the Lambs is an unbelievably fantastic movie.

Marty O’Donnell, The Elder
Can you sing the theme to Sea Hunt without cheating on the Intertubes?
(video proof required)

They could not, Marty. Not a single one of them. Either that, or they could, but they were just too shy to stand up in front of the Internet and prove it. Maybe if they had known that you were the one asking the question, they would have found the guts. On the merits of the question alone, you were the only one to stump them.

Editor’s Note: Other things our community likely cannot do without consulting the Internet:
• Fashion a blanket using a loom
• Start a Ford Model T
• Kill a boar with rocks and spears, fashion a tent of its inedible remains, and survive a harsh, enduring winter.


Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer
What was your favorite non-Halo Bungie game, and why?

GPK Ethan Gnop obviously!

Uriel S167 Marathon: Durandal. It was the best shooter I'd ever played. DOOM, Wolfenstein, I enjoyed none of them as much as I enjoyed the whole Marathon series. Not just because of the gameplay, there was a whole Universe of background info written into the game that just drew you into the story. I fell in love with it from the very first shot.

I ColdEmbrace I *queue Spartain Ken...*

spartain ken 15 Myth 2 Soulblighter is my favorite non-Halo Bungie game. After all this time it still has a lot of people who play it and a dedicated community of custom map-makers. There is nothing more satisfying than laying waste to someone's entire army in a blaze of glory and dwarfs throwing explosives.

Noah George, Support Engineer
Can you solve this code?

01010111 01101001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100110 01100001 01100011 01100101 00100000 01110101 01110011 00100000 01101111 01101110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100010 01100001 01110100 01110100 01101100 01100101 01100110 01101001 01100101 01101100 01100100 00111111 00100000 01101000 01110100 01110100 01110000 00111010 00101111 00101111 01110111 01110111 01110111 00101110 01100010 01110101 01101110 01100111 01101001 01100101 00101110 01101110 01100101 01110100 00101111 01100110 01100001 01101110 01100011 01101100 01110101 01100010 00101111 01100010 01110101 01101110 01100111 01101001 01100101 01100001 01110010 01101101 01111001 01100010 01100110 00110011 01110000 01100011 00101111 01000111 01110010 01101111 01110101 01110000 00101111 01000111 01110010 01101111 01110101 01110000 01001000 01101111 01101101 01100101 00101110 01100001 01110011 01110000 01111000

Well? Can you? The first person to solve this riddle will win something to keep them warm, and remind them that they are the fastest decoder in the land. There may even be an invitation hidden in that binary forest. And, I promise it will be more profound than a call to arms to drink your Ovaltine. This experiment is over, Bungie Community. Next week, you reclaim your rightful place as the ones who ask the questions.

Community 5/11/2012 1:40 PM PDT permalink

The Art of the Ride Along

Bungie.net Artists... Assemble and roll out!

Every week, Bungie opens the Mail Sack and answers questions submitted by our beloved Community. When we deliver our responses, we issue a challenge to the forum denizens. These challenges result in the distribution of swag and other mysterious gifts. Oftentimes, they involve simple pieces of trivia that are clobbered within moments with the unsportsmanlike assistance of the Internet.

Last week, we raised the bar. The Bungie Community was invited to stretch their creative legs. The challenge was to create a photo-realistic depiction of a tactical engagement between the United Nations Space Command (from Halo lore) and the Imperial Empire (of Star Wars lore).

Depicted above is just one of the finalists of the artistic battle royale, enjoying the shade of some happy little trees. To celebrate their contribution to the contest, and to get better acquainted with the people behind the keyboards, we took them on a Ride Along as a big team suited for battle in Halo: Reach. One more time, here are their submissions, with some comments from each creator.

Submitted by Avatar Korra

Tools: Autodesk Maya
Caption: The UNSC Longheart fights for survival against the Imperial Fleet.

Have you had any formal training as an illustrator?
I've never had any training or education, unless you count watching YouTube tutorials as education.

Do you aspire to a career in the arts?
It definitely is something that I will keep doing, but to become a full time artist is not my dream.

Submitted by HOFFman J

Tools: Gimp 2
Caption: An ODST playing hide and seek with the imperial army.

Have you had any formal training as an illustrator?
I haven't.

Do you aspire to a career in the arts?
No, I'm currently studying for a bachelor in bio-engineering and I hope to get a master in food technology, so working as an artist seems far-fetched for me.

Submitted by Index
Tools: Adobe Photoshop, Halo: Reach theater mode
Caption: Canon is being broken. Don't tell bungie.net.

Have you had any formal training as an illustrator?
Just tackled year one of a fine arts degree for graphic design and illustration. I got going with digital work in Creative Suite six or seven years ago, I think.

Do you aspire to a career in the arts?
Hmmm... O'Donnell as Palpatine is probably the acme of my creativity. Maybe I'll make it as a barista.

Submitted by Plain Ben
Tools: Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet, Photoshop
Caption: The last remnants of this city's UNSC forces ambush an Imperial armored unit led by Lord Vader himself. Intent on doing as much damage as possible with the little equipment they have left.

Have you had any formal training as an illustrator?
I didn't really have much 'training' past secondary school art class, until I picked up a part-time art & design course at college just last year. My drawing abilities and confidence have grown massively in a few months.

Do you aspire to a career in the arts?
Originally I thought I wouldn't have what it takes to do something such as concept art. I may not be so great now but I've been taking big steps making this aspiration look a lot more achievable.

Submitted by Remorazz
Tools: Photoshop Elements 8, some free time, a good idea
Caption: After defeating a regiment of Stormtroopers, Master Chief faces a final opponent.

Have you had any formal training as an illustrator?
I've taken several drawing classes, but really only one computer graphics class. Aside from that, I've just been learning on my own.

Do you aspire to a career in the arts?
I most certainly do! I would love to become a concept artist. Because it's something I'm good at, and love doing, I wouldn't have to "work" a day in my life.

Submitted by Zafric
Tools: “Paper and ye olde Pencil”, Photoshop
Caption: Vader just got served.

Have you had any formal training as an illustrator?
Yes. Though I've studied animation and done 3d art more than 2d stuff. Looking to get more into it though.

Do you aspire to a career in the arts?
After seeing 'The Making of Halo 2' I decided to work at Bungie is my life goal. I'm a little way off from feeling confident enough to apply for anything, but I hear you're hiring.

Submitted by Halo Biggest Fan
Tools: Corel Painter, Photoshop, Wacom Intouis4 Tablet
Caption: A Spartan II crushes a clone trooper’s head, with a massive battle between the UNSC and Imperial Empire in the background.

Have you had any formal training as an illustrator?
I'm a self-taught artist and have been drawing for a few years now.

Do you aspire to a career in the arts?
I'm going to DigiPen this spring to start my Bachelors in Fine Arts in Digital Art and Animation, and then revive my MFA. After college, I plan on applying as an artist for Bungie.

As we stepped away from the art gallery to play some games, it became very apparent that prowess with a design tablet translates very well to being dangerous with a controller. Our ensemble of illustrators marched through the BTB playlist unopposed for over an hour. We even managed to detonate a bomb in the base of an MLG team.

Okay… maybe they weren’t an MLG team. Maybe they even scoffed at us when we called them that in the pregame lobby. But their posse did have six Inheritors with matching player’s emblems. The uniforms made them seem dangerous enough for us to take pride in blowing up their house and defending ours. What’s more, our house had much nicer wall hangings.

Thanks for the Ride Along, ye Bungie Community artists. Your enthusiasm for the games we play are as welcomed as your flair for using your talents to tell new stories on those fronts. As for the rest of you, stay tuned for more challenges like these – ones that will put the entire spectrum of human creativity to the test. At a moment of our choosing, you will all be challenged to compete in everything from creative writing to singing.

Community 5/10/2012 4:34 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Ben Litowitz

Fresh off the boat.

At Bungie, we get asked a lot of questions by students who want to know what they should study to prepare themselves for an exciting career making video games. Sometimes, we suppress the urge to warn them to run as fast as they can in the other direction and provide some helpful suggestions. Those answers can be more diverse than the questions. To help you plan your course-load, meet a student of the world who seems to have taught himself as much as he learned in school. That helped him infiltrate our studio before the ink on his accreditation was dry.

Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?

My name is Ben Litowitz and I’m a sandbox engineer. I work with gameplay designers to make their ideas come to life in the game. I also provide them with tools to make their lives easier and toys to play with.

Your job description makes me picture our studio as one big day care center – one where the kids just happen to use toys to make kick ass games. What were your career aspirations back in the day when a cache of toys was the best thing in life?

My childhood aspirations ranged from pilot to policeman and were entirely driven by the latest movie I’d seen. I started programming young and was always making games, but it wasn’t until high school that I started thinking about programming as a career and not until college that I considered developing games for a living.

How does making that living translate to actually living?

In my free time, I play games and do a lot of programming. Before I came here, I played a lot of games from Valve Software on my PC. Since I started working for Bungie, I’ve been converted to a console gamer. These days, I try to keep up with the latest and greatest titles while also experiencing classics that I’ve missed out on. I also enjoy playing with my cat, Wheatley, whom I’m currently trying to teach to walk on his hind legs. On Wednesday nights, you can find me and the rest of the Bungie soccer team taking on other local game studios.

Fear not, convert. Even though I spend all of my game time in front of a console, I still know the namesake of your kitty. Tell us what life was like before we seduced you into abandoning your PC.

I started at Bungie right after finishing my undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Georgia Tech. I spent one summer as an intern at Bioware Austin working on Star Wars: The Old Republic. I helped write the companion gift system, the foreign language support for the combat log, and the interaction between the various factions and races of the Star Wars universe. Outside of work and school, I also did a lot of programming and thinking about games in my free time.

Your fresh-out-college tale is an inspiration for students the world over. Would you share more about your time as an Athletic, and how it prepared you for the trials of working for Bungie?

At Georgia Tech I studied Computer Science with a focus in multimedia and networking. The computer graphics, animation, and networking classes were instrumental in helping me build a better understanding for all of the disciplines I now interact with at work. The video game design class I took was a great opportunity to work with others, get my hands on a real game engine, and create something from start to finish.

And, as graduation day beckoned, how did you convince Bungie to be your first employer?

During my last semester of college I started compiling a list of links to the recruiting pages of game development companies. Around October, a news post reminded me to add Bungie to the list. When I visited the website and saw that they were looking for an entry level gameplay engineer I decided not to wait. In my email I mentioned my passion for games, my history with Halo, and what I had gained from my experience with Bioware. In addition to my internship, I think my website helped demonstrate my dedication and experience; on it I had screenshots and links to many of the games I’d made and a couple of relevant school projects.

The words “self-taught” certainly come to mind. When it came time to defend what you had learned in the dreaded Bungie interview loop, how did you fare?

I found most of the interview day challenging and fun, but stumbled when another former Georgia Tech grad, Ben Wallace, grilled me on spatial hierarchies.

Spatial hierarchies? I would stumble, too. What are those? And how do they impact games?

A spatial hierarchy is just a way to organize all of the objects in the game world (based on their positions in space) to make the game run faster. They’re such a fundamental part of many games, but one that most programmers don’t have to think about on a day-to-day basis.

Now that you are with us on a day-to-day basis, what is your favorite thing about being part of the Bungie spatial hierarchy?

The best part about this job is being able to come to work every day and create something new and exciting. The time from when I start working on something to when I see it on screen is so short that it’s almost addictive.

Of all the addictions that have graced your screen, which do you regard as the most intoxicating?

After having to debug numerous animation related issues, I wrote a debug tool that would let me pause the game and step forward one frame at a time, much like I was used to doing when debugging code. It wasn’t a complicated tool to make, but I use it every day and it’s been pretty useful for others around the studio.

Making the creative process better for everyone is a fantastic contribution. We can never settle for the way we have always done things. On that note, how do you make yourself better as a professional in this industry?

Being fresh out of college, there’s so much to learn from all of the experienced members of our team. I’m always harassing our networking, animation, and graphics engineers for more details about how they’ve solved problems for Halo titles or other past games. It’s also great to be able to ask other disciplines about their mental processes and work flows.

That collaboration is something that many people would love to enjoy. What would you tell them in order to help them break in to this industry?

First, be proactive and tenacious: don’t wait for opportunities to create awesome content. Second, recognize the scope of your undertaking and don’t bite off more than you can chew: a well-polished Tetris clone with a soundtrack and a scoreboard is better than a few design ideas and some skeleton code for an MMO.

Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? Rank them in order of importance to your role.

You need them all, the ability to develop and improve on your weaknesses is key.

Thank you sharing so deeply from the well of your experiences, Ben. For those of you reading these words, we hope the path that leads into the wilderness where games are made has become a little easier to follow. If you want to know more, some of our other trailblazers have also been profiled. You can find them in the Breaking In archive.

Breaking In 5/7/2012 3:40 PM PDT permalink

Mail Sack 16

How sweet it is...

Life at Bungie is governed by cycles. Production schedules culminate in milestones that add up to new and more exciting phases of development. On a smaller scale, the cycle of a work week is brought to a triumphant close with the publication of a Mail Sack, just like the one you are about to read right now. Like everything that we produce at Bungie, this article is the result of artists and engineers working together to create something that we hope our community will love.

Check out the development team that made this interactive experience possible.

Brad Fish, Senior Engineer
Nate Hawbaker, Associate Technical Artist
John Hopson, User Research Lead
Luke Ledwich, Test Engineer
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer
John Shaffstall, Associate Engineer
John Stvan, Graphic Designer
Eric Will, Engineer
Tom Sanocki, Staff Artist
Lorraine McLees, Artist
Joe Venzon, Engineer

Thanks for the hard work this week, everyone. Let’s open the Sack.

CTN 0452 9 Who was the best James Bond?

Your question has resulted in the first ever Mail Sack poll. Having investigated the full company of actors who have committed themselves to being shaken (and not stirred), our panel has favored the Scot (pronounced: “shhhcot”).

Barry Nelson 0%
Sean Connery 59%
David Niven 0%
George Lazenby 5%
Christopher Cazenove 0%
Roger Moore 0%
Timothy Dalton 0%
Pierce Brosnan 23%
Daniel Craig 14%

The next time someone tells you that they like the original James Bond the best, ask them why they like Barry Nelson. Throw that little piece of trivia right in their face. You’ll be looking pretty smart. When they ask you how you grew to be so wise, tell them that you hang out on Bungie.net.

YodasCurd I live 15 minutes away from Bungie Studios in Kirkland. If i were to show up unannounced, what kind of treatment would I receive?

AllusedUp How fast can Jerome run?

Jerome doesn’t need to run. His forbidding glare can freeze anyone in their tracks. Then, he can just saunter right up to them and bounce them from the premises.

kosen13 DeeJ, We have someone else (see above question) to add to the suspicious characters list.

Good eye, kosen. Thanks for looking out for us. While we have that list handy, let’s put this next guy on there…

LordMonkey Is there a chance that a person with a criminal record could get a job there? Not that I have one.

Suuuuuuure, you don’t. You’re on the list…

HipiO7 What is one good thing and one bad thing that everyone at Bungie has in common?

Good: Community Showers
Bad: Community Showers
John Stvan

Good: Everyone's passionate about what they do and what we make here, which is a wonderful and amazing thing.
Bad: Well, everyone seems to always need to use the bathroom at the same time. Does that count?
Alex Loret de Mola

Good: They're all huge nerds.
Bad: They're all perfectionists. It's good for the final game, but it's occasionally frustrating on smaller issues.
John Hopson

edableshoe Tell Marty I'm still waiting to play trombone for him!

No. I will not say that to Marty.

Kr1egerdude What happens when two employees disagree about a feature in a game? Do they duke it out in a 1 vs. 1 Halo 2 match on Lockout?

Lockout, huh? While I am rarely an audience for these mediations, I get the impression that they are far more violent than a virtual duel in a sentimental arena from Halo 2. If we settled arguments in the game, the Testers would run the whole show. Although, now that I mention it, that would explain the meteoric rise to power of our studio head. I guess you are right. That must be exactly how it happens. Good deduction.

KUZOKU85 What would you suggest to someone who knows they want to be part of the video game industry but is not sure what they want to do?

Once you determine what it is you want to do, start working on side projects if you can't get your foot in the door at a game studio.
Alex Loret de Mola

Start making little games and you'll soon discover which parts you're really interested in.
John Shaffstall

Figure it out and find your passion. Make your own game and discover what part of the process interests you the most. Even a pen-and-paper game will suffice if you have no interest in programming.
Eric Will

Pick up a good book and some of the free tools that are available, and teach yourself to program. If you don't love it, you'll then know you don't want to be an engineer. That might help narrow things down a bit.
Brad Fish

Make your own video games. Some parts of the process will feel less like work than others.
John Hopson

Make a tiny game on your own. When you have to do everything yourself, you'll probably find yourself gravitating toward some parts of the process.
Joe Venzon

Try and be critical of the games you play, a strong opinion about a particular aspect usually indicates passion and interest. I also agree with making a game. Any game works, it was pretty obvious when I did this I was most interested in the programming.
Luke Ledwich

If you haven’t noticed, this engineer-heavy Mail Sack panel is going to ask you if you have made your own games if you ever cross paths with them during a dreaded Bungie interview loop.

OMARRCHR What's the most boring thing to do at Bungie?

This. Kidding! You did leave yourself wide open there, man.

SlashingArbiter How are birthdays celebrated at Bungie?

True story: When someone at Bungie completes another successful revolution around our local celestial body, one of their coworkers says (as loud as they can):
“Hey everybody, it’s __________________’s birthday!”
Then, everyone claps. Then, we get back to work.

SPRTN One One 7 Tell us about your favorite moment working at Bungie.

When Richenburg found out how secure the hanging seats were.
John Stvan

So far, it would have to be when Team Newbie was almost disqualified for memorizing the topic cards for Cranium at the Pentathlon. It resulted in the rules being changed on the fly. I believe Jerry Lawler said it best: "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat." Not that it was cheating - no, no.
Alex Loret de Mola

(2/06/2010, 8:08PM: Bungie engineers are hard at work closing out issues for the Alpha playtest.)
Luke: "Hey Brad, check out bug 22614."
Brad: "Sure thing."
Brad: (perplexed) "What the...?"
===== Opened on 02/06/2010 08:08PM =====
ALPHA: Brad needs Klondike Bars, and we have none in the freezer

(shortly thereafter)
===== Resolved as Fixed on 02/06/2010 08:23PM =====
Regular and Heath varieties both in the freezer on the right, 2nd shelf from the bottom. Thanks, QFC!

This bug was reactivated numerous times over the next 4 months before ship.
Brad Fish

Plain Ben How are visual/game art ideas spread in game development? Who gets to decide what stuff looks like, or is it a group decision? Did you all gather round as someone just said 'Right, the Covenant are gonna have this whole purple thang going on'?

The creative and ideation process you are describing relies heavily on Military Grade Bacon.

Gamer Whale If Bungie managed to acquire some Military Grade Bacon, what would you do with it?

Great question. We would give it a job as a concept artist.

Arcane Phoenix What is your favorite recreational activity inside the building?

I would tell you, but this is a family friendly website.
John Stvan

Magic: The Gathering.
Alex Loret de Mola & John Shaffstall

Joe Venzon & Nate Hawbaker

westpointusma15 Does working on video games "ruin" them for you?

Don't feed the trolls.
John Stvan

Absolutely not. It only increases the appreciation I have for those who make them.
John Shaffstall

Only until you learn to shut off "bug fixing mode". Once you see behind the curtain, it can be cool to see the approaches that other game teams take.
Eric Will

If anything it makes me appreciate them even more, because I now understand how much work goes into them.
Brad Fish

I definitely find myself being more... critical. I admit this does take away from my enjoyment slightly.
"This UI convention makes no sense and offers no practical benefits!"
"Why is their specularity so extreme when it's only showing off the sampling limitations of their normal maps?!"
Nate Hawbaker

Yes, in a way. I can't play games without critiquing them to some degree, and I've always got a giant backlog of games I need to play to keep up with the field. I still enjoy them, but it's definitely different than before I worked in the industry.
John Hopson

In some ways it makes me pickier, but it also makes me more appreciative of the things done well, because I can recognize how hard they are and how much work went into each little feature.
Joe Venzon

I tend to be a little more critical of the games and less forgiving of bugs, but it in no way ruins a good game.
Luke Ledwich

coolmike699 Do you think video games should be considered art?

The essence of art has been defined as “the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others.” I could apply those same words to a job description on our Careers page. Anyone who says that video games do not deserve to be regarded as art are going out of their way to demonstrate a basic lack of understanding for the medium of interactive entertainment. Either that, or they are just a snob who wishes that berets were still in style.

ibex1001 Have there been times when you have desperately wanted to talk to someone about Bungie's next game but couldn't?

Every day. Art is only complete when it is received, after all. By that account, you complete us.

FalleNxRegret As someone who is about to get a Bachelor of Computer Science degree what kind of personal projects should I look at taking on to gain experience that may someday help me get in the game software development field. What languages, platforms, tools, devices, etc. should I be playing with?

Ever hear of X-ray glasses? We want those. Get on it.
John Stvan

Languages: C, C++, Objective-C, C#, Java, Python and, most importantly, Javascript
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
Tools: Visual Studio, Xcode, Eclipse, Vim, Git, StackOverflow.com
Devices: iPhone, iPad, any Android phone, Kindle Fire
Build cool things, then show them to people
John Shaffstall

Pick something small and finish it. Make a simple game from scratch, or take an existing game engine or tool and modify it, or anything in between. It'll get you exposed to some of the problems a game developer encounters. But make sure you see it through the end. Don't take on too much initially. C++ is still the gold standard of the industry, but Java and C# can be useful to know as well. The hardware doesn't matter too much because it's constantly changing. Pick something current.
Eric Will

If you're serious about working on console game code, make sure you're sharpening your C++ skills. Beyond that, build a small game on your own! Pick a simple idea that you're interested in, and commit yourself to developing it as far as you can. It doesn't have to be big, fancy, or pretty, but it will stretch you in very beneficial ways.
Brad Fish

C#, WPF/XAML, MVVM conventions, Expression Design/Blend.
*Half of those are technical artist oriented, rather than traditional engineering.
Nate Hawbaker

More important than the language or platform is that you make a bunch of games! It doesn't matter how tiny or silly they are, get a bunch of completed game projects under your belt and you'll learn plenty. Secondarily, learning a language with manual memory management and then also learning a functional language will help make you a better programmer (and able to transition to just about any language/platform pretty quickly).
Joe Venzon

coolmike699 What happens to material that is cut from games? Why don't you do what movie studios do, and include it as a bonus feature of collector’s editions or other special editions of the game?

That’s a great idea.

AI carsaib How do you maintain your personal health during crunch? Is it possible?

I tell myself I'll go running on the weekend.
John Shaffstall

Start taking the stairs everywhere. Avoid the awesome kitchen as much as possible.
Eric Will

I spend 45 minutes walking in the nearby park during lunches. Actually eating during lunch is not super important to me since dinner is catered and usually large enough for 2 meals.
Brad Fish

Never breaking from a five day gym schedule, regardless of professional pressures.
Nate Hawbaker

I try to keep my running schedule up, but I usually fail.
Joe Venzon

Vegemite for the vitamins and Rum for the sanity.
Luke Ledwich

Insane Monx If I asked a question in a previous Mail Sack that didn't get answered, is there a chance of it getting answered in a future one?

It really depends on the question, doesn’t it? If you are asking about our next game, there will come a time to answer all of those questions. Someday. Here is a Mail Sack Pro Tip: If you don’t see your question answered, it is not recommended that you ask it again and again every week, thus growing angrier and angrier with us for ignoring you.

MasterSin What is Bungie willing to do in order to win our love?

We are willing neglect our own families and friends for months at a time, slaving over a cold keyboard to create for you a new universe. We are willing to study you and interact with you so that we may better understand how to blow your mind. We are willing to ban the people who are mean to you and make you cry. We are willing to employ an Assistant to the Community Manager who will cultivate delicious Internet time wasters to delight you while you pass the time on our website, waiting for us to spill our most recent crop of magic beans.

SkilPhil What's the most unusual item you've purchased online?

IGN Insider subscription. It was mostly just for the forum avatar and access to the 'Insider-only' boards like the PCGB. We were an elite clique of tools.
John Shaffstall

Robotic jellyfish from Japan. It swam in a fishbowl on my desk.
Tom Sanocki

2 pounds of silly putty.
John Hopson

Two hands. I was hoping for a matched set, but they were both right hands.
Lorraine McLees

{Image removed by censors}
John Stvan

That’s right, John. So much for your reverence for our family friendly website…

GPK Ethan As a developer, can you still be fans of the game you're creating? By that I mean do you still get giddy playing through the campaign or after learning new things about the game?

This is not an option at Bungie – it’s a requirement. We make games we want to play, after all. It is our passion for playing great games that drives us to create them. The day we stop caring about games, and the experience of the gamer, is the day that we should stop making them. You should see people run into the playtest labs here.  I just came from a Bungie Team Meeting, and the entire studio is buzzing with enthusiasm for what was put on display.

DDISAP If you had to watch 1 film, on loop, 24/7 for the rest of your lives - which film would it be?

Terminator 2
Eric Will

A Clockwork Orange, though I may want to avoid it since that scenario would result in me hating it.
Nate Hawbaker

The one playing before my eyes right now. But I heard it loops right about when my neurons stop firing, so as of right now it's been looking kinda neat.
Lorraine McLees

John Stvan

I am allowing John to share this with you as an invitation into my own personal hell. When he wants to drive me closer to my inevitable nervous breakdown, he reminds me that this song exists. For the rest of the day, it is all I can hear.

coolmike699 What do you think of my game collection?

I think you must have been really confused about what the heck was going on when you played Halo 3. To catch you up, in Halo 2, the Master Chief kills a lot of Covenant in a romp that leads from Earth and back again. He also misplaces Cortana along the way.

And, now we know where you sleep. So do all the people who are jealous of the fact that we answered so many of your questions, and none of theirs.

Get some rest. You will need it. Next week represents a whole new cycle, and it will kick off with another chance to ask us a question. Or, perhaps we will reverse the flow of the conversation, and put you – our beloved community – on the hot seat. However the events unfold, we will talk again soon.

Community 5/4/2012 1:49 PM PDT permalink

Bungie Rides Along with Dead Man's Hand

The Good.  The Bad-Ass.  They Ugly.

Private Groups on Bungie.net come in every shape and size known to modern science. Some of the clubhouses we host on our site are actively recruiting large armies of great diversity. Others are open-door speakeasies where anonymous members can just walk in to join the party. The most exclusive groups are safe-houses for elusive citizens who choose their members with the same care they use to choose their friends.

This week, an invitation to play Halo: Reach came from a posse who started as friends in real life and became teammates in the games that they play. Dead Man’s Hand is a small band of gamers that travels from one title to the next as a unit. For years now, they have attacked the Internet as a team, both online and in the real world. All the while, they sustain a light mood and an air of recreation. They shoot to kill, but they have fun doing it.

To learn more about their evolution from friendship to community, I asked them to deal me in at their table.

The name "Dead Man's Hand" invokes a mental image of gunslingers wagering their fistfuls of dollars in a smoky saloon. What does it mean to you?

HALO3syourdaddy Dead Man's Hand is a name we've all come to know as a group of laid back friends who all enjoy getting down on just about any game together. It holds a memory of one of the original members, who came up with the name. He just passed away in early April while serving in the U.S. Air-Force, and all of us miss him dearly. We've kept DMH going through multiple platforms for 10+ years now and it’s only grown. I know he would only want for us to continue kicking ass, so that’s what we plan to do.

I can only imagine that he would be honored by the way you fellas play as a team under the name he chose for you. What motivated all of you to start gaming together under the DMH tag those many years ago?

SaintTP It started back in Tiffin, Ohio. We made it up to go to tournaments with. Since then the group has grown a lot. It means a lot to us that the group still lives on in his name!

For a group to grow, especially over such a long timeline, it needs new members. How would you pitch this group to someone on Bungie.net looking for a refuge from the main forums?

HALO3syourdaddy If you're looking for a group that plays PC, Xbox, and PS3 games together all under the same name, come on in. We don't bite anyone except Nz.

Nz Snipedown It's like a warm blanket of community and friendship.

hunkyandrich We like games. We're intercontinental too so you'll find people to match your time zone.

Karl2177 It's the most chill group that I'm a part of. It's a great place to relax and talk about anything.

apersonthatwins I would tell them that the Reach forums are a smoking wasteland, the Bnet community forum is full of monocle-wearing elitists, and that The Flood, while awesome, is for discussion, not regular gaming.

edableshoe Doesn't matter where you are, what you play, or how good you are at gaming, we play for fun, and that's what matters most. Cliché as it may sound, this is the only group I've ever joined, and it has been the only group I will ever want to be in.

Imagine that one of our readers has never joined a group, preferring instead to enter the wild of matchmaking all by their lonesome. What would you say about DMH to convince them that playing with friends is the only way to play?

HALO3syourdaddy It’s always nice to be able to pick up a new game, and instantly have a team/clan/guild. Whether it be WoW, SWTOR, Halo, League of Legends, or whatever game, it always seems like you're in a sea of members, but it still feels like a tight-knit community.

Karl2177 It's taught me to be a bit more chill while playing. If you can have a laugh, then it's a game enjoyed.

edableshoe I never game alone in this group. Someone is always online, and everyone is fun to play with.

On the front door of your home on Bungie.net, you describe yourselves as “PAX-going”. Will we see you in Seattle this year?

HALO3syourdaddy I'm sure the group will have a few reps there! I'll be there next year for sure.

What else do you look forward to in DMH?

edableshoe The future for DMH is as blurry as a foggy window, but I see great things for this group, as the gaming world starts to introduce more amazing games for us all to enjoy together.

HALO3syourdaddy More games, more good times, and more bowls of meatballs.

I detect an inside joke there. I will leave it that way.

The camaraderie that has held this group together for over a decade was evident in the games we played. So I wouldn’t be the only one left out of their encyclopedia of inside jokes, and to ensure that our maneuvers would have proper air-cover, I brought along a friend of my own. You might know him as Halcylon, a graphic designer who keeps Bungie.net pleasing to the eye. Rather than have friends shooting at one another, we joined forces to take on the world through a series of Big Team Battles.

For hours, this DMH/BNG joint task force reigned undefeated. The streak came to a tragic end in a boneyard of old capital ships. I told them to vote for the green plains of Forge World. If only they had listened, our evening may have been a clean sweep.

Regardless of the outcome of a match, it is people who sustain their friendships through games that are the winners. We thank Dead Man’s Hand for seating us at their table for the evening. Do you have friends who are at the ready to play games with you every night? If you could use a posse like this, the doors that lead to Dead Man’s Hand are open.

Community 5/3/2012 3:03 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Darren Bacon

Bacon is good for me.

A game begins with an idea. You could even call that idea a concept. To bring that concept to life, you need an artist. At Bungie, concept artists are a crucial chef in the kitchen where we are cooking up games. Darren Bacon is just such an artist. To learn how he came to tackle the raw space of our next game, join us at his cutting board, where he is slicing the pork nice and thin (obligatory bacon joke).

Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?

Darren Bacon. I am a Senior Concept Artist here at Bungie.

Can you tell us a little more about what that means? Your role sounds rather… conceptual.

A Concept Artist at Bungie works directly with the Art Director to establish a style and feel for the environments, characters and objects for new titles. We also work closely with the production art team to help them envision what the finished results can be for the in-game content they are creating.

It sounds like you live in the center of the storm here. How do you interact with the rest of the studio in the way that you do your work?

Concept art is the first step in the process of developing all things that will eventually go into the game. The writers, designers, creative directors, and art director come up with an idea or story moment that we must design and illustrate based on their description, reference, and any research. The final result we produce could be anything from an illustration of key art expressing a story beat (mood and emotion) to a sketch of an asset such as a weapon or character. The design process usually follows along a visual development cycle that starts with sketches or composites and ends up as a finished illustration or illustrations that a 3D artist can build from or be inspired by.

What inspires you when you are not inspiring us?

Art and design. My personal life and work life look a lot alike. Not in a bad way, it’s more like my work life looks more like my personal life, meaning, if I were not working I would be doing this anyway.

Then it makes all the sense in the world that you are getting paid to do it. Have you always been so fortunate? Or is this your first gig doing what you love the most?

Before working at Bungie I was working for Disney as a Concept Artist for several feature film projects and most recently a television series.

That sounds like a job that any child would dream about? Is that when your aspiration took root? Think back to those years when Mickey Mouse was the leader of your club. What did that young man want to be when he grew up?

I grew up fascinated with all things automotive and really wanted to be a car designer. It wasn’t until I got into my college career and met some people in the car design industry in internship settings that I shifted tracks. I learned from these experiences that if I stayed in the car design route and was lucky I would probably end up drawing door knobs, at best. Also, around that time I was getting very interested in Concept Design for games and film. So much of my inspiration came from Artists in the Entertainment Industry, especially guys like Syd Mead, Ralph McQuarrie, and Doug Chiang. Those guys were super stars to me and working at that level (or near it) seemed unobtainable when I was younger, so I never imagined that I could do it for a living. After a few years in design college however, I started to feel comfortable enough with myself as an artist and designer to begin to move in that direction.

It’s always great to hear about people learning their true calling. Where was this design college that convinced you that you had the chops to envision concepts that would drive a story?

I studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. While there I studied Product Design, Transportation Design, and later Entertainment Design and Illustration.

When you decided to make the move from Disney to Bungie, how did you convince us to cast our gaze in your direction?

I submitted a portfolio with a lot of art from various film projects.

A good portfolio packed with previous accomplishments is a great foot in the door. What was it like to walk through that door for your job interview at Bungie?

I wouldn’t say my interview was very difficult in any technical terms. I was more excited about being here and getting the opportunity to meet so many talented people who I have so much respect for as artists, designers, game makers, and story tellers.

The fact that you are here is evidence of their mutual respect. Now that your name is on our roster, what would you say is the best thing about being a member of the team?

The most rewarding thing about working for Bungie is working for Bungie. I have been a fan for a long time, and it is very cool to get to work here and be able to peek behind the curtain and see how everything is made.

Many of our readers would love to pull back that same curtain. Give them a glimpse from your perspective. How would you describe a day in the life of our studio?

Coffee, work, lunch, work, Coffee, work.

Fair enough. It’s not all fun and games here. Building a new universe from the ground up is not easy. Aside from the unlimited supply of caffeine, what else do we do to make that hard work worth the effort?

Free t-shirts.

Ah, yes. The Bungie Uniform! Aside from the irresistible force of peer pressure to keep things casual at Bungie, it also seems as if we are always daring our people to do better and better work. How do you expand your horizons as an artist to keep up with the rate of evolution that Bungie demands?

When I am not drawing or painting at work I am usually doing it on my free time. Practice makes perfect (or in my case, a little better).

It’s good to know that illustrating concepts for Bungie hasn’t crushed your desire to create art outside of work. What steps would you recommend to all of the artists out there who aspire to follow a path similar to yours?

If you would like to be a Concept Artist or Designer, the most common route is by spending 4 -7 years in a design college, like Art Center College of Design, or something equivalent. Some people can do it without schooling by getting their foot in the door at a studio and learning on the job. Either way though, there are no real short cuts. Getting proficient at art takes nothing but time – it’s all about mileage.

Final question: Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? Rank them in order of importance to your role.

Work Ethic, Talent, Experience. Like I wrote above, getting good at your craft is all about mileage, so if you have a good work ethic you can get there a lot faster. Talent is important too, some people have “got it” while others don’t, but I would say number one is being able to grind through the first ten years or so of your career building your portfolio and skill set.

We thank Darren for shedding some light on the subject of turning a passion into a career. His is but one story about turning that thing that you would do for free into a job. Many more of these stories are archived in other Breaking In features. If you would like to write your own story about getting paid to do what you love, Bungie is always on the hunt for new people who want to follow their dreams.

Breaking In 4/30/2012 4:49 PM PDT permalink

Mail Sack 15

Postcards from the void.

Working under the cover of darkness can be tough, especially at a company like Bungie, where our thoughts turn to our community of players in every decision that we make. We feel your stares on the backs of our heads. Sometimes, the people who hunker down on our website and wait for us to share the fruits of our labor get cranky. Those moments are hard. The urge to invite you in and show you what keeps us at our desks late is seductive. The best we can do is to share some light-hearted Q and A. It’s the phone call that tides us over until the reunion.

This week, you have a long-distance relationship with:

Andrew Davis, Artist
Nate Hawbaker, Associate Technical Artist
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer
Scott Kankelborg, Associate Test Engineer
Lorraine McLees, Artist
Dan Miller, Senior Designer
Mat Noguchi, Programmer
John Stvan, Graphic Designer
Jay Weinland, Senior Audio Lead
Ben Wommack, Production Engineer

Unrequited lovers, let’s open the Sack.

Al1757XNA What is Bungie’s favorite verb?

I had high hopes for this question, but the responses were more bizarre than some of the Photoshop jobs that get sent around the studio when an internal debate rages. I thought about cutting this altogether, but reconsidered in a bid to pay forward my consternation. Warning: Almost none of these responses contain an actual verb. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

It's a tie between FTFY (not fixed that for you) and Ship It!
Mat Noguchi

I can think of a phrase: "In a world where..."
Dan Miller

"To beer." We're like Shakespeare every day in this place.
Ben Wommack

I would have to go with "awesome".
John Stvan

Swag. Also serves as a noun.
Lorraine McLees

Andrew Davis

Man, we are off to a bad start. Can someone ask a question that will enable us to get a little bit more literal?

Lobster Fish 2 If you were going to write a novel, what would you title it and why?

Much better! Panel?

“Lobster Fish 2: Revenge of Lobster Fish”
Dan Miller

“The Box” because everyone would buy the book to find out what's in said box. Spoiler: it's another box; part of a trilogy.
Ben Wommack

“This is my novel. There are many like it, but this one is mine.”
John Stvan

“Your Mom: The Woman, The Myth, The Legend.” I am confident this answers both parts of your question.
Scott Kankelborg

"My Life As Seen Through the Eyes of AutoCorrect" as I'd most likely write an auto-biography by text messaging myself.
Pat Jandro

edableshoe Any more Bungie Ride Alongs?

Most certainly! We play games with members of the Bungie Community every week. Membership in a Private Group with an aggressive leader is your best chance of participating. I mean, why not? Here we are, all gamers, hanging out on this website. We should use this time to form up into posses in a game. Don’t wait for me to invite you. Join up with each other and attack the Internet in your favorite playlist. Tell them Bungie sent ya.

r c takedown If there was a fire in the Bungie building, what would you save?

Our Perforce server.
Dan Miller

The ”Street Fighter 3: Third Strike” arcade cabinet in our downstairs game room.
Ben Wommack

The beer.
John Stvan

The Minecraft server and the Kit Kat stockpile.
Scott Kankelborg

I would save my work before exiting the building.
Pat Jandro

Andrew Davis

Each other.
Lorraine McLees

Thank you, Lorraine. The rest of you should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves. I can’t even make eye contact with some of you right now. All of this talk of disaster is sort of a buzzkill. Anyone care to lighten the mood?

Jose291 What are your thoughts of the Titanic 100th anniversary since it sank?

100th Anniversary? I thought that movie came out in 1997.

Really? Oh, the humanity! That’s just terrible. Although, I have to wonder if anyone ever found that priceless jewel that the lady tossed into the sea at the end.

…Wait a minute. Are there any other movies made by James Cameron that are also real?

WestCoastRonin Is there a particular trait that all Bungie employees share (other than the fact that they all work at Bungie)?

All of us work for… Okay. I will let the panel play.

We're all kinds of geeks in here.
Lorraine McLees

Dan Miller

We're actually a very diverse group, yet everyone meets in harmony in the kitchen for Bagel Friday. So I guess you could say a love of baked dough binds us together.
Ben Wommack

A lot of us seem to shop at the same "clothing store".
Pat Jandro

Andrew Davis

Ever see The Ring?
John Stvan

Are you talking about that weird video you passed around the other day again? Why do I keep coughing up electrodes, by the way?

DEUCE MORELLI Why is it that actual serious questions are rarely answered while non-serious ones are routinely answered in an obfuscating manner?

I have just returned from an exploratory mission to dictionary.com where I discovered the meaning of the word obfuscate. Of the three definitions that were listed, the one that best describes the phenomenon you are experiencing is: to darken.

Plus, serious questions don’t sound very fun. I expect serious questions from the IRS, not people who love to play video games.

SpongyMallard7 Why are you making it known that you will not make anything known about what is unknown in your newest project? Is it for our own good to not know what is unknown?

I can’t even begin to decipher that sentence, my fine feathered friend. All I can tell you is that everything that Bungie does is for the good of our community. We don’t keep secrets out of some malicious enjoyment of cruelty. If you had a surprise birthday party creeping up on you, and someone spoiled that moment of delicious shock that would result from the loving conspiracy, would you consider that person your friend?

UphillMercury What do you think is the single greatest thing about working at Bungie?

I work at Bungie.
Mat Noguchi

Answering these Mail Sack Questions and sneaking in future project references.
Dan Miller

In all seriousness, it's the people. Working with awesome individuals whom you not only respect and admire but get along with makes every day worthwhile.
Ben Wommack

Big League Chew.
John Stvan

Getting paid in bacon.
Pat Jandro

Being able to have a hand in creating something that millions of people enjoy.
Andrew Davis

Our administrative professionals Davina and Brittany take good care of us - happy Administrative Professionals week!
Scott Kankelborg

That’s a good point, Scott. Have you all hugged your Administrative Professional this week? You should really do that, unless you work in one of those places where such things are frowned upon. In that case, just nod respectfully as you pass them in the hall.

SN068237264910 If you had a chance to create a game of your dreams, what would it be called and what would it be about?

We are doing that right now. Someday, that dream will become a reality. Someday.

Agent Diddy Will you go to prom with me?

Are you in the Marine Corps? No? I will still go to prom with you, but only if you wear the dress. I think mauve is nice.

coolmike699 If someone broke into Bungie and took an employee hostage, what would you say to get them to let him or her go?

Depends on the employee.
Dan Miller

That he/she has a code fix for the BVT blocker, and needs to check in before the depot is locked. Oh, and it will save the world, or something.
Ben Wommack

Waves hand. "You don't want to do this. You want to go home and rethink your life".
John Stvan

"Shoot the hostage."
Scott Kankelborg

You are assuming someone can actually break in here and grab someone without running into Jerome or any of our ninjas, or get past our sharpshooters. Next question.
Lorraine McLees

That’s a creepy question. DeeJ, could you forward coolmike699’s info on to Jerome please?
Andrew Davis

Way ahead of you, Andrew. Jerome was given a full dossier on this character months ago. Lorraine’s sharpshooter brigade can spot him a mile away with the facial-recognition software built into their long-range sights.

Index Are there any cool or unusual sounds the audio designers have recorded for effects in Bungie games?

Earlier this week, I posed the same question to Jay Weinland, our Senior Audio Lead. Over a lunch-time serving of Thai food, I recanted a story I had heard about the TIE Fighter from Star Wars lore. According to myth and legend, audio designer Ben Burtt gave a voice to that fictitious ship by combining the sound of wet tires speeding across pavement with the cry of an elephant. Similarly, my question for Jay was about the Halo Warthog. It turns out that the sweet roar of the hydrogen-injected engine that has sped me to many flag captures was a blend of a 1967 Camaro and a Porsche 911. In Halo 2, he added some Humvee. In Halo 3, he added some semi-truck. As he told the story, I could hear my old baby purr in the back of my mind. Listen. Can you hear it?

Mythical Wolf When you were told you "have got the job" at Bungie, how did you react?

I asked if my salary would be the same. No joke.
Mat Noguchi

Suspicion. I wondered if they were pulling my leg. Years later I'm still waiting to wake up back in college, working recycling shifts.
Ben Wommack

Cleaned up the sacrificial alter in the yard.
John Stvan

I was relieved that I had proven myself during my 3 year long interview (I had been a contractor since 2007). I was also excited/nervous because now I had an even higher bar to meet.
Scott Kankelborg

When I got hired as a contractor: “Holy *blam*!” And when I got hired full-time: “About time!”
Andrew Davis

When I got the call I was just 3 days off from graduating college and driving home from a store. Needless to say that after hearing the news from the other end of my phone, my mind kind of left my body and floated up to the clouds with happiness. After some unidentifiable amount of time, I came back down to earth and I noticed that my car was parked in the middle of a 4 way intersection. No one was hurt.
Pat Jandro

YodasCurd I know you said no more Easter egg hints, but this is important. I have dedicated countless hours to this, and I must know. Is there, or isn’t there, another skull in halo 3 (The Assassin Skull) that is hidden somewhere.

A slippery slope, that is, Master. If I give you a hint, then someone else will want a hint, and then someone else will also want a hint. All Easter eggs are important. I am sticking to my guns on the new Zero Hint Doctrine. They are called Easter eggs because you have to go and find them. Or not…

Eric Duffy Do you need to know how to draw really well to be a part of Bungie?

Dan Miller

Ah crap, am I getting fired?
Mat Noguchi

That's a no.*
Pat Jandro
*unless, of course, it's part of your JOB.

Let's just say that coding doesn't require much in drawing skill beyond making circles and squiggles on a whiteboard, and we're all lucky for it.
Ben Wommack

Your skill set must contain the ability to Photoshop your colleagues into audaciously lewd scenes - also.
Nate Hawbaker

Nope. “Programmer Art” and “Designer Art” are very real, very scary things.
Andrew Davis

See: DeeJ
John Stvan

Shows how much you know, Stvan. I drew this (really well)!

Helveck Does the entire team have a communal feeling that they will be able to outdo and create an entirely new world that rivals or even bests their last creation?

Your choice of words makes us sound like hippies. However, I can assure you that outdoing ourselves is a pillar of the Bungie culture. “Good enough” never is around here. The awesomeness of our last creation is always a bar that we seek to vault at enormous heights. We leave you in judgment of our success. It’s why we do what we do.

a rascal cat What do you believe are the primary components of a happy life?

A great philosopher once said: "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."
Mat Noguchi

Having no regrets, acceptance of those you do have, a commitment to pursue your own happiness with all effort, and bagels.
Ben Wommack

Figure out how to do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life.
John Stvan

Be best friends with yourself, never stop pursuing what makes you smile, surround yourself with good people.
Pat Jandro

Sven Nietzsche I'll be right back.

…And I checked, and Sven did not come back. I like to think that he would have asked a really good question, but contemplating such things makes me sad. I wonder a lot about what happened to him. Was he hit by a train? Did a rare infection loosen the connective tissue that surrounds his brain stem? The world may never know.

The only thing that can be certain is that this Mail Sack has also reached its mysterious end. Like Sven’s unsubstantiated claim, it will definitely be back. Next week. On Monday, when a new assortment of primary action items beckon from your calendar, we will be here to keep you company while you work – and vice versa.

Community 4/27/2012 1:43 PM PDT permalink

Bungie Tries Hard on a Ride Along

"You just need to get better..."

tryhard (trahy-hahrd) noun: a multiplayer combatant who takes their Halo very seriously

Imagine that your favorite video game is like visiting a beautiful retreat in the mountains. Some of your fellow vacationers will be completely content to enjoy some friendly chatter around the campfire in the lodge. Other gamers will challenge themselves to ascend the peaks. They are only happy atop the summit. They think the view is better from above, and will settle for nothing less than the mountaintop. We will call this aggressive breed of adventurer a “tryhard.”

A gamer who devotes themselves to excellence in all forms of their craft can receive a lot of grief from the Internet. Sore losers are often heard in post-game lobbies admonishing the tryhard for their unwavering commitment to victory – as if putting forth a noble effort is a bad thing. In the case of the Bungie Forum Tryhards, this mark of shame is polished up and pinned to their armor as a sparkling badge of honor. So proud are they of putting their very best booted foot forward, that they will take more casual gamers along for the climb, helping them to elevate their game.

To sample this ruthless form of hospitality in action, I signed up for their skyward clinic.

The air is pretty thin at this altitude, so watch me for signs of dementia. Okay? While you are doing that, tell your fellow citizens of Bungie.net why your climbing club exists. What service do you provide to the community?

Sanuel Jackson We exist because I wanted to gather all the so called "tryhards" into one place so we can discuss various things. There are some members who are willing to help you improve your gaming ability if you ever need it.

A 3 Legged Goat It sort of evolved from a group centered on educating Halo players to an off-topic hang-out comprised of competitive gamers. Some members assist each other with gameplay performance. Others like to help with homework, girl advice, and ethical decisions. And the rest just peer into the lives of the members, provide daily life checks, and pass judgment upon them.

I have had my daily affirmation, and people pass judgment on me all the time, but I have always wanted to be better at Halo. What sorts of things do you do to help low-altituders like me take my game to new heights?

The Ruckus 2010 A lot of us play custom games to help evaluate map movement and teamwork. Films will be reviewed and critique will be offered.

RC Clone I would say that I've given some players a couple specific pieces of information about the game. Some were map details. Others were related to game settings.

aBlueBookshelf I find that teaching players in game has a pretty dramatic effect on skill and intelligence with the game. After games, that player and I will go over certain gameplays and review things said in game.

I can’t imagine that competitive spirits like yours can survive on custom games alone. Where do you find outlets for healthy competition?

X El BaZzA X I like the MLG playlist, myself. I'm not nearly as good as some people, but I still find it a good place to get competitive matches, provided you don't get matched up against a team of four as a random.

I can agree that there is safety in numbers, especially when you set your sights on Major League hopefuls. How often do you form up as a squad in the game, as we had last night?

Sanuel Jackson Most of us are friends, so we're playing with each other on a regular basis.

RyanW Almost every day we will play with about 5 or 6 members in matchmaking or MLG scrimmages.

WoundedMr Krabs We never really organize game nights, there are just threads asking people if they want to play.

Those sound like game nights to me, but what do I know? I am just a vehicle-hound who is lost without a steering wheel. Help me out here. What would you recommend to me as someone who could get a lot better at winning a game with my trigger finger?

The Ruckus 2010 I know a vast majority of the Halo community has a predilection for disliking MLG, but watching MLG gameplay can drastically improve one's basic understanding of the game. Playing in the MLG Octagon in customs can help improve your shot dramatically. More than anything, just practice and watch films to self-evaluate what you could have done better. There's always something.

RC Clone Just start thinking. Are you out in the open by yourself? Where is the other team? Can you catch the enemies off-guard? Start playing smarter and you will improve. Think and act at the same time. A smart player is a dangerous enemy and a great ally.

aBlueBookshelf Talk to and play with better players. Also, find a few people that you can play with consistently and play with them a lot. Go over your game films and realize mistakes you made. Most importantly, realize Halo isn't all about how well you can out-aim your opposition. Using your intelligence of spawns, team work, and timing is better than being a good shot. Being a smart player can be taught, being a good shot can't.

ThreeSixXero Learn the maps, in-depth. Half of Reach is all about correct positioning. It's always good to analyze your surroundings and make callouts accordingly. As long as it makes sense and it's generally understood, people can react to it.

It sounds as if you guys really feed off of each other’s energy. The sharing and collaboration being described here is inspiring. Tell us all about how has being a member of this group made your favorite video games more fun to play?

aBlueBookshelf It found me a few more decent players to add to my friends list. A few of those players I would have never met if it wasn't for here. Those friendships have translated to more than just Xbox LIVE, and that makes playing games with them more fun.

The Ruckus 2010 Being in this group has given me a pool of other passionate gamers to play with. It's given me a better understanding of the game. Since I've improved (and am still improving), I've found that my games are far more enjoyable.

RC Clone It's nice having a set of cool guys to play Halo with on a weekend. Discussions during the games can get interesting. You can also pick up a few tips about the game while you're having fun. Having people to talk to when you play makes a lot of difference in my enjoyment of a game.

l SecretAgent l There's constantly people playing Halo. We rarely have to search alone in matchmaking, which makes the experience a lot more enjoyable. It's not just Halo though, we're up for any game really. Halo's just our love.

Is this group open to anyone? Who should join? How do you decide who gets in? Why am I getting so dizzy? Is anyone else having trouble breathing?

Sanuel Jackson This group is open to people that are smart, friendly, and level-headed. Some people were let in simply because I knew them relatively well so you may or may not find these traits in some of our members. Anybody can join so long as they don't take themselves or this place too seriously. I just look at their recent posts and see their posting habits. You can tell a lot about a user from just 25 posts.

If you fancy yourself smart, friendly, and level-headed (and you want to try really hard to win a game of Halo), this private group might just be the summit house that you have been looking for. Their in-game chatter is lively, and their aim is true. I spent a lot of time lying on my face in the games of Halo: Reach that we shared. Perhaps you can do better.

I still have to thank our Tryhards for the education. As was said, there is always something to learn about how to carry the day in competitive multiplayer. This does not mean, however, that you will not still find me enjoying a stiff drink in the base camp. If everyone could reach the vertical limits of the scoreboard, after all, we wouldn’t need derogatory terms for the gamers who can.

Community 4/26/2012 2:11 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Brandon Whitley

Impressing the girls with love songs written in code...

The process for creating a video game is a lot like a symphony. Many different disciplines come together to weave a beautiful tapestry of noise. Brandon Whitley understands this metaphor as well as anyone. The path that led to his career at Bungie started in the unlikely study of music. To learn how a musician evolved into being a member of our development team, listen in on our duet.

Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?

My name is Brandon Whitley. Around Bungie, people refer to me as a graphics engineer. FX artists create all sorts of visual candy. Fire, smoke, explosions, lasers, swarms of bees… lots of stuff. My job is to ensure that they have a flexible and intuitive system for creating this candy. The truth is that I was hired to hold the hand of Steve Scott, our lead FX artist. It is a good strong hand, yet sensual and somewhat weathered.

When you aren’t holding hands at Bungie, how do you keep them busy? It has been said, after all, that the devil will find work for idle hands to do…

Lately, I’ve been getting back into piano and guitar. I think I’m trying to relive my high school glory days, where I enjoyed the overwhelming popularity that all high school choir members receive. I also have an 18-month old son, so I am very interested in cars and ducks.

From musician to video game developer is an unlikely career evolution. Did we pluck you from some smoke-filled piano bar? Where were you before you were entrenched with Bungie?

Working at Zipper Interactive on a couple PS3 titles (MAG and SOCOM 4). Before that I was at Georgia Tech getting a Master’s Degree and researching computer animation.

We still have to solve the mystery for how the lounge lizard became a graphics engineer. Let’s go back to the beginning. When you were a child, dreaming of being a man, what did you imagine you would be?

Broadway star, of course. For most of my childhood, I didn’t plan on entering the game industry. In middle school, at a school assembly, a friend of mine performed an incredible guitar solo. He displayed talent, creativity, and true artistry. He helped me form an opinion of mine that has stuck with me to this day: impressing girls is really important. Naturally, I took up guitar lessons. I found that I had a real passion for it, so I spent close to the next decade focusing my efforts on all things music. Eventually I decided I wanted to be a music teacher. There were some theatrical dreams in there as well, but I hardly admit those to myself, much less to the entire Internet.

There is nothing that makes the ladies swoon more than a music teacher. How did you set yourself onto the path of infusing eager young minds with song?

I majored in music education and computer science. My goal at the time was to become a music teacher. The computer science thing was just something I did on the side, ya know, to make my life more ridiculous. After graduating, I realized I couldn’t stop thinking about computer graphics, so I applied for a bunch of graphics positions. I scored a few interviews, which helped me to realize I didn’t know anything about computer graphics. So I went back to school and got my masters in computer science, with a focus on computer animation and rendering.

So now we know how your mutation from music to games happened. Once you put yourself on a path that would lead you to Bungie, how did you entice us to open our doors to you?

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to discuss here. I sent Bungie an e-mail with my resume attached. That’s it.

That must have been some resume. I suppose the Master’s Degree didn’t hurt. What were some of the more harrowing moments of your interview with Bungie?

Mine was a little longer than usual… around eleven hours. Towards the end of the day, when my brain was fried, I was interviewed by a producer (Mark Noseworthy). I assumed it would be pure fluff, and we’d be talking about our favorite beers by the time it was over. Instead, we went to the whiteboard and worked through the scheduling details of a complicated task that I had completed at a previous studio. It was much more difficult than it sounds. Mark questioned a lot of assumptions I made and noticed possible dependencies with other disciplines that I should consider. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but the professionalism and intelligent thought-processes Mark demonstrated just made me want to work with Bungie even more.

And now you are here, with all of our lofty expectations and grueling production schedules. What is your favorite perk about working for Bungie?

Free babysitting.

We offer free babysitting?

Yes we do!

I suppose I should engender an offspring so that I can take full advantage of that. On the subject of creation, tell us about your proudest moment as a member of the Bungie team?

Hmmm, I don’t have much to boast about yet since our next game hasn’t shipped. I am really happy with the design and current implementation of the FX system that Chris Tchou and I have developed, but there’s still a lot of work to do. I also have a trophy sitting on my desk, reminding me every day of my clutch victory at the most recent Bungie Golf Tournament.

(In reality, it was my team members who brought that trophy home. I just had to hit one usable drive every nine holes... a goal that I reached, but did not exceed).

When you are not perfecting your golf swing, how are you working to raise your handicap as an artist that adds visual punch to explosions?

Just being at Bungie and learning through osmosis provides plenty of advancement. This happens mostly through collaboration with other developers. Whether we are looking at code, discussing system designs or analyzing a competitor’s product, all of these interactions facilitate a lot professional growth. I also read books, blogs, conference proceedings, etc..

That special variety of osmosis is craved by many. What recommendations would you make to people who want to work in this industry?

I would recommend specialization (it worked for me at least). Find a game industry related skill that you love and then work your ass off becoming a master of that skill.

Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? Rank them in order of importance to your role.

Tough to choose between work ethic and talent. Talent is probably more important for getting a job, since it is easier to demonstrate during an interview. But if you lack either one, keeping a job will be a real struggle.

Thanks for sharing your tale of music theory and computer science, Brandon. It’s always a pleasure to learn about the people who contribute to our chorus. This is, of course, just one story about what led people to work for Bungie. The rest of them are preserved like sheet music in our Breaking In archive.

Breaking In 4/23/2012 4:14 PM PDT permalink

Mail Sack 14

Shoveling out Bungie gossip.

Welcome back to the scene of the crime that was committed when we solicited your questions on Monday morning. If being curious about life behind the scenes at Bungie is a crime, that makes all of you just the sort of master criminals whose company we want to keep. This week, the Bungie panel that stepped forward to collect evidence was larger than any seen by previous Mail Sacks.

Eric Brown, Senior Engineer
John Hopson, User Research Lead
Nate Hawbaker, Associate Technical Artist
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer
Luke Ledwich, Test Engineer
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer
Dave Matthews, Art Manager
Lorraine McLees, Artist
Robt McLees, Writer
Dan Miller, Senior Designer
Tom Sanocki, Staff Artist
Ben Thompson, Engineer
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

Fellow crime fighters, let’s break out our forensics kits and open the Sack.

VENOM MDK Do you always answer the first question posted in the mail sack thread no matter what the subject?

No. In fact, I almost never answer the first question. It is usually asked by someone who was so desperate to be the “First!” one to post that they didn’t take the time to craft a worthy interrogative. I will, however, choose the first answer that you see, so that these features have a nice introduction.

Grizzwizz If you could be any video game villain, who would you be?

Nate Hawbaker

Veigar. I should note that I am one of the least skilled Veigar players out there. If you're in a match and your Veigar goes 0-8, that was probably me. I'd apologize, though I probably already put you on ignore before you had the chance to tell me how much I suck.
Alex Loret de Mola

"When all living beings look through our eyes, when the only sound is the wind and the thunder and the surf, when every drop of rain falls on our face, the universe will know peace." The Gravemind was seriously creepy and diabolical. If I'm to be a villain, what better than to sit patiently as an immortal entity and just eat everything. Is it lunch o'clock yet?
Lorraine McLees

The ba-bomb from Mario: simple, direct, and no fuss.
Dave Matthews

The Wizard of Yendor. Puttering around my room, taking care of my dog, reading “The Book of the Dead” at afternoon tea -- yup, that would be the life for me.
Tom Sanocki

Gannondorf - he often gets to enjoy his victories for years before he is defeated.
Michael Williams

I'd be the time clock.
Pat Jandro

Editor’s Note: Whether he realizes it or not, Jandro is channeling Tennessee Williams, who professed in tragic theatrical prose that the ultimate enemy was time itself.

Xd00999 Can you give us any more hints on Easter eggs we have not found yet?

No. I cannot. And you, beloved community, must all stop asking. I am sorry. This revival of Easter egg hysteria is entirely my fault. In a previous Sack, I allowed the panel to tease you with mentions of Halo eggs that have yet to be found. You will never find them all. We cannot give you hints. If we did, those eggs would lose their magic. You simply must stop sending me private messages, and stop dropping these questions into the Sack. The strain of lugging around the extra weight of them just might break my back.

mister death If you made a deal with the devil, what would it be?

I did! How do you think I got here?
Alex Loret de Mola

I only deal with the Robot Devil.
Nate Hawbaker

I get to run his domain as if I were him with all appropriate authority and powers one weekend a month for eternity. The first weekend, I would rewrite his side of the clause in my agreement. Then, I would create small battles with the most infamous leaders of history to see how they would play out.
Dave Matthews

"Show me the fruit that, ere 'tis pluck'd, doth rot,
And trees, whose verdure daily buds anew!"
(Deals with the devil are always a bad idea, by definition. But if you have to make a deal, you might as well go for broke)
Michael Williams

DARKWIND12 Anybody have a least favorite game? One that you picked up, played through just to be a good sport (or didn't if it's that bad) and then never touched again?

I think it would be the one that you made. No… not really. But, see how bad you felt when you read that? Do you now see why I don’t allow our panel to answer certain questions that tumble from the Sack? Here at Bungie, we seek to spread a message of love and fun about why playing games truly matters. We don’t want to tell anyone they suck. Except for cheaters. Those people suck. But they rarely make games, so they are irrelevant to your question.

AllusedUp Why is Zach Russell so awesome?

Those of you who don’t know Zach Russell should do some clicking and some scrolling down to number eight. Those of you who do know Zach Russell are likely to agree with our panel, when they say:

He serves the best Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread EVER! And he brings ice cream... you just can't go wrong with that.
Ben Thompson

Words cannot say. Zach is epic and awesome.
Dan Miller

If Zach Russell were even slightly less awesome, the fabric of the universe would fail to hold together, causing electrons and neutrons to rip apart from each other, turning our world (and every other) into a cloud of plasma stew. So I guess he's so awesome because the universe needs him to be.
Tom Sanocki

Because he delivers me free tickets to baseball games.
Pat Jandro

His seventh inning stretch, duh.
Dave Matthews

How can you fault someone who laughs manically and rubs his hands together over every new feature?
Luke Ledwich

H0FFman J Do androids dream of electric sheep?

They do, but for only four years. Were we to engineer them with a life-span longer than that, they might develop their own emotional responses to stimuli, making them harder to control.

elmicker For which sports team would you spill the blood of your first-born?

That’s pretty dark – even for you, elmicker. The parental instinct runs deep among the fathers who work for Bungie. So that the essence of this question can be addressed, I am changing your challenge to one of spilling the blood of our enemies. Do you hear that panel? We are now spilling the blood of our enemies for a sports team.

Every sports team, I think. They are my enemies, right? Wouldn't I use any and every opportunity to spill their blood, even metaphorically?
Tom Sanocki

We just spilled blood on the field during our Bungie Softball game last night...

Pat Jandro

Vancouver Canucks. And, what do you mean would I spill blood, better to ask have I spilled blood.
Dave Matthews

Grizzled Ancients.
Michael Williams

ALI217 Does Bungie offer jobs to people who have a degree in psychiatry or psychology and know nothing about coding/animating/designing?

It just so happens that we do… in the lab. At Bungie, we don’t conduct experiments in test tubes or petri dishes. The science in which we engage unlocks the secrets buried deep within the human mind. What motivates gamers to finish the fight? What makes a player of a game feel triumphant? These are the questions that are answered by Bungie User Research, led by a man I know as John Hopson. On Bungie.net, you know him as Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and he said:

We actually have two people with degrees in psychology on our user research team. Games User Research is a fairly young field, so a lot of GUR people have degrees in something different but related: psychology, sociology, human-computer interaction, etc. The research skills generally transfer pretty well, assuming the person has a sufficiently flexible mindset.

Sven Nietzsche Would you consider this to be an accurate depiction of the Bungie.net community?

If not, would the esteemed panel present us with a more accurate photo of how they see the Bungie community?

I'd expect to see a much wider variety of hats.
Michael Williams

Kidding, you are more like…

Dave Matthews

It's hard for me to humanize internet communities... I find this to be more accurate:

 Pat Jandro

Editor’s Note: After a while, we don’t even see the code. All we see now is blonde, brunette, redhead

Johnjohns2 If a chicken wearing an "I love Bungie" t-shirt casually strode through Bungie's front door, and attempted to casually stride past Jerome, what would happen to it?

We would casually kill it with our bare hands, pluck it with our bare hands, serve it up as a crunch dinner with our bare hands, and eat it using proper utensils (we ain’t savages).

WestCoastRonin To the married people among you: What is it like juggling your job at Bungie with your family life, especially during crunch?

My wife's gotten used to it at this point in my career: at least, I think she has. We'll find out if I come home one day and both her and anything cool or interesting that I own is gone.
Alex Loret de Mola

You make sure you come home before your kids go to sleep; eat dinner with them whenever possible, but always see them, even if it's just 15 minutes. Then you can go back to work. And you schedule dates with your wife before and after crunch.
Tom Sanocki

I feel that being a bachelor is beneficial to my work habits.
Pat Jandro

Thankfully, I commute to work and eat lunch with the hubby. There were many times when the commute time was all we had together as a couple. But I'm one of a very lucky few whose better half personally understands the passion behind the work I do and is in full support of it.
Lorraine McLees

It isn't always easy. My wife works a job where she occasionally crunches as well. When one of us crunches, the other takes care of things that need doing. But when our crunches sync up, our home gets messy very very quickly. Luckily, Bungie works hard to take care of us. Bungie tries to carefully manage any times we will crunch, with planned start and end dates and real goals.
Michael Williams

I think being in a three year relationship allows me an answer here:
We are told months in advance when we'll be crunching, and for how long. The great thing is, even during those late nights when it's 10pm, you never experience that defeatist sight of looking around and seeing that you're the last one here. That breeds a pack mentality that manages to churn out amazing results.
Nate Hawbaker

onyx spartan How good of a location would Bungie HQ make for surviving the zombie apocalypse?

When Bungie is threatened by the undead, we consult Robt McLees (depicted below). He’s the best disaster recovery expert that we have on hand for the scenario you have pitched. As someone who helped originally conceive of The Flood (I mean the infection form, not the infected forum), he spends a lot of time contemplating the right way to fend off a brain-thirsty horde.

Robt, the walkers are at our front door. We are in your capable shovel-wielding hands:

Normally, I would say that it depends entirely on the type of outbreak. Seeing that we are all essentially in one big room over here (200+ people; and not all of them smart enough to stay home when they are sick) any plan relying on Bungie HQ as a ZA stronghold is more a recipe for disaster rather than a solid strategy for defense.

With that in mind:

1. The place has too much glass. So much that it would be a liability no matter how slow and stupid the zombies are (or how honest your pals are about whether or not they are sick).

2. The building is located in a relatively dense urban area. This is not a good thing when zombies are involved.

3. There are no true choke points. The building requires a large group to effectively defend it. And if you’ve ever seen a zombie movie, you already know that large groups do not last very long.

4. The roof is accessible only by ladder/hatch. That’s awesome if the zombies are too stupid to climb. And, even if they can climb, you only have to worry about one of them at a time.

So, yeah, the only thing that Bungie HQ has going for it is roof access. But once you’re up there you’re gonna get wet. And it's not even the tallest building on the block.

Anti Gov420 I'm going to ask questions that are sure to be ignored.

And I am going to write an answer that ignores all of the questions you asked. You know what they call that? A self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s kind of like when people start sentences with: “I don’t want to make you mad, but…”

MightyMarcher01 If you had access to a time machine, where and when would you go?

I'd pull a Michael J. Fox and get my own mother to fall in love with me. You know… I don't really like that idea. I'm going to hold off on time travel until I can come up with a less gross way of causing a universe-bending paradox.
Eric Brown

I'd go forward, but can't say how far forward as I am not sure there will be much of a world to see in the future. I'd leave the past in the past. No regrets.
Pat Jandro

E3 2512, just to see what the games look like and where technology goes in the next 500 years. And, to see Mario 428 and Metal Gear Solid 322.
Dave Matthews

I would go forward in time to take a peek at my grandkids or great-grandkids and go back to the present and giggle happily. If I didn’t find them, I would have to instate some drastic changes in the present.
Lorraine McLees

The distant future, and I'd bring back designs for Mr. Fusion, and tons of future-swag.
Michael Williams

OFFICIAL AI DeeJ, my son. What if I were to tell you that everything you're doing now is nothing but a lie, and everyone you know has been paid to play along with your little games?

Dad? Did you start playing video games and not tell me? Whoever you are, that was creepy. I looked over my shoulder after I read that question, to see if Halcylon was smirking at me and counting cash (he was). I really don’t have anything to say, but I feel like people should read that question. Plus, you are my Dad after all, so you get special treatment. Thanks for teaching me to swim. Now get lost. I am working here.

thatguyaknow Who has the best poker face at Bungie?

Ling Ling.
Pat Jandro

Nate Hawbaker

FlexedCookie What makes you get up in the morning and come to work?

My 6 month old boy usually makes me get up in the morning.
Ben Thompson

An overwhelming and crippling sense of guilt. Well, not really, but I'm trying, I'm trying!
Tom Sanocki

My klaxon alarm and sometimes a dog sitting on my head.
Pat Jandro

Having the opportunity to work in the games industry.
Dave Matthews

It's good to put your alarm clock in a place where you actually need to get up out of bed to snooze it. Sometimes, it's the pleasant sound of our two kids barging into our room to say good morning and getting crushed under a pile of little elbows and knees. We work for their future, and the satisfaction of executing on a job well done.
Lorraine McLees

The black sludge of life.
Luke Ledwich

Every morning on the way to my desk, I walk past a ton of awesome concept art & screenshots posted on the walls. I love seeing the amazing stuff my teammates are building.
Michael Williams

trooper905 Why is it that when we ask a question we never get the answer we were looking for?

First Rule of Show Business: Always leave them wanting more.

If I have done my job properly, you are still suspended in a state of wanting. Nevertheless, this Sack is closed. Fortunately, there is another week that follows this one on the calendar, and it begins right after our station break – something that mortal men call a weekend. Enjoy yours. When the sun rises on Monday, look for the triumphant return of the door that leads to our mail room.

Community 4/20/2012 2:55 PM PDT permalink

A Regular Ride Along

This invitation did not contain the word "please..."

A Ride Along event with the Bungie Community is often a meticulously crafted occurrence. Private Groups that host their own party on Bungie.net are chosen for their unique social flare – the special flavor that makes them stand out in a riotous crowd of fans. On some occasions, the gathering is hastily thrown together at the last minute. Last night, I was drafted (almost abducted) to participate in a happening that I did not plan at all.

When I received word that the Bnet Regulars were planning a Ride Along of their own in Halo: 3, I swooped in to see who was hijacking my gig. You see, Ride Along game nights are mine. I invented them. Well, the cops really invented them, but I stole the idea to grow closer to the Bungie Community. Before I dig this hole in which I am stealing from the cops any deeper, let’s explore the mischief of these Regulars further. Shall we?

You must forgive my ignorance, but I had very little time to do my homework on this one. What is the deal with you Bungie.net Regulars? As your name seems to suggest, do you promote digestive health?

spawn031 I'll answer your question with another question: Which has more surface area? Pancakes or Waffles?

Editor’s Note: This was actually the debate that was raging when I crashed their pregame lobby in Halo: 3. Mysteries like these are what that this exclusive mindshare seeks to tackle.

Hylebos While it's always important to eat your daily recommended fiber, I would hesitate to call that one of our group's primary purposes.

LordOfBlah51 I think this group is more about interacting with some of the more senior members of the Bungie Community.

My mistake. Sorry. I should know how dangerous assumptions can be. Is it more accurate to say that you cater to the “regular” people on Bungie.net, as opposed to the weirdoes?

Big Black Bear Actually, I like to think of it more as a place for the weirdoes to escape the "regular" people.

Hylebos The use of the word "Regular" in "Bnet Regulars" refers to "people who consistently visit the website" as opposed to "people who conform to the masses".

spawn031 We're just a bunch of weirdoes that love the community and happen to be stuck in the same room.

I get it now. Thanks for clearing that up. Now that I understand your mission, tell us all about how this professed love for community manifests itself in the clubhouse that you frequent so regularly.

spawn031 Well, most of our members have been there and done that. We like to provide a safe-house.

Hylebos Like many private groups, Bnet Regulars is just another place for private discussion away from the main forums. We dabble in game nights and other projects from time to time.

LordOfBlah51 Bnet Regulars is just a place for friends to speak their mind and get together whenever they want.

All this talk of friendship is reminding me of the saying that friends are the family that we choose. So, how do you choose your friends? Is this an elite cool table, or can anyone join? How do you go about finding new Regulars?

SonicJohn I see it as that one table at the discotheque occupied by the nerds that refuse to dance because they have smartphones. If that sounds like your idea of a party, you’re welcome!

Hylebos In the past, we pretty much just abducted anybody we recognized and liked, though recently we've started taking nominations from our members for people they'd like to see in the group.

LordOfBlah51 When people ask to join, we put their names into a pool on a thread and see what the group thinks. When the group started out we basically told people "you're cool, so you're joining this group. Now."

It sounds like the strong-arm tactics you employed to get me to ride along with you are standard operating procedure. How often do you play games like you did last night? Will that happen again?

spawn031 This week's carnage was our second carnage in a year. However, the first was just a month before that. This will be our monthly get together from here on out.

Hylebos We are trying to have a game night every month. Hopefully, we can see a wider variety of games being played in the future.

SonicJohn The majority of us are on each other's friend’s lists, so we tend to hang out a lot anyway. I'd love to be a part of more game nights.

As people who use a private group to make friends and play games, what keeps you coming back to Bungie.net every day?

Spartan1065 A morbid sense of self-loathing.

Big Black Bear I came for Halo and stayed for the community.

cortana 5 All of these sexy men in one place. *swoon*

Hylebos It would just feel wrong if I didn't check in every day to see what sort of shenanigans are going on.

SonicJohn Whatever it is that you guys keep pumping into the water, please never run out of it.

Aside from a promising career in the Kidnap and Ransom industry, what does the future hold for this irregular group of regulars?

spawn031 We plan on expanding our fortress to something bigger than just a silly fort. We plot, scheme, think, ponder, and lurk every irregular that posts in the community forum. If you would like to take part, take the first step by following us for Bnet Regular updates @BnetRegulars.

Hylebos Like chubby squirrels, we're biding our time and gathering resources while Bungie is dark so when things finally get moving again we can emerge from our dens as a powerhouse in the Bungie.net Community!

LordOfBlah51 I think we've got some sweet surprises to come. New things are popping up every day here at Bnet Regs, things like this Ride Along as a matter of fact. Our community is growing slowly but surely, and that's a cool thing to witness.

 It gives us a warm glow to have people like the Regulars planting their flag on Bungie.net. The games that we played in Halo 3 were a bloody metaphor for fond memories shared amongst old friends. The scoreboard was not as important as the gamertags on the roster – although it was nice to soak up some rays on the beach of Last Resort. Thanks for the forced invitation, Regulars. Of all the times I have been stuffed into the trunk of a car and taken for a ride, this one was the most pleasurable.

Community 4/19/2012 12:14 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Alex Loret de Mola

Engineering everything you see here.

If you are reading these words, you are partaking in an experience enabled by an entire team of developers whose sole focus is making Bungie.net a great place to visit. One of the newest members of that team is Alex Loret de Mola, who is helping to ready our base in cyberspace for an overhaul. To learn how Alex found himself in the service of the Bungie Community, follow along as our discussion topic unfolds.

Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?

I’m Alex Loret de Mola, a newbie Web Engineer for Bungie.net. Web Engineers enable the community-driven aspects of Bungie: things like the Bungie.net forums, the internal systems used to add content to the site (such as this very article you’re reading right now), and any experiences that you see on the web or on mobile devices. We also mine data from our games (as in the case of the recently migrated Halo stats features) to provide you with information about your gameplay history and to provide interesting statistics from people around the world who play the game. If you are passionate about web or mobile development, there’s definitely a place for you here at Bungie!

Before we talk more about the work you are doing to improve upon those features, let’s luxuriate further on the notion of passion. Tell us what are you doing when you are not web engineering our happy home?

Poetry, Programming, Philosophy, Politics… basically anything beginning with the letter “P”. So… Podiatry? Sure. I’m not ashamed: I enjoy knitting, though I don’t do it frequently. I also love to play games: video games, Magic: The Gathering, board games, you name it.

Philanthropy? Paleontology? Choosing a Profession is a crucial choice. What were you Pursuing before your career led you to Bungie?

I was working in the Healthcare industry, actually. We were making software for electronic communications between doctors’ offices and health care plans. Yep, it’s as boring as it sounds. Kids, don’t join the corporate world if you can avoid it.

Were there helpful adults to provide such sound advice when you were a younger lad? What did you want to be when you used to dream about growing up?

In truth, I wanted to be a game developer when I was very young. In college, however, I fell in love with the languages and eccentricities of web development. Though I’ve done some game development on the side, I can’t picture myself leaving the world of servers and the web.

We can’t picture that either, since we are all relying on you to help build for us a new and exciting place where we can troll one another. Tell us what forms of higher learning equipped you for this challenge.

I got my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at California State University, Sacramento. If you love programming, and you can manage it financially (or via grants), get yourself to a more CompSci-oriented school – not only for the additional quality in programs, but for the increased motivation of the CompSci students around you. I hear about guys who went to MIT or a polytechnic institute who got together with kids in their dorms to make awesome projects, and I’m envious!

Well, now you are the envy of many a web developer who dreams of engineering a site teaming with such a devoted community. Before you rolled up your sleeves to start banging out code for our website, how did you get us to pick you out of the crowd?

I guess it must have been the answers to the programming questions that Bungie gave. I worked my butt off for a weekend (and a couple of days leading up to it), and everything moved quickly from there. Honestly, I didn’t think they’d even respond to my resume! “Why would they want some guy working in healthcare software,” was what I thought to myself at the time… but I figured I’d try anyways. I guess that’s an important step: don’t assume defeat before you’ve even started.

Sage counsel. It should also be warned that victory is not assured. What was the darkest moment of your uphill climb to emerge triumphant from our interview process?

For me, it was the phone interview. If I have a board in front of me – or a keyboard – I usually can be reasonably communicative. When I’m talking to a person on the other side of a phone, however, I’m a bumbling buffoon.

Since so few of us actually have phones on our desk here, not many of us have seen that side of you. Aside from the emphasis on face-to-face interaction, what would you describe as the most rewarding thing about being a web engineer for Bungie?

Being around people who are trying their hardest to do the best they can every day. It’s inspirational, especially coming from a more corporate-oriented world where people tend to lose their sense of urgency over time. Being surrounded by passionate people with a fire under their feet really is fantastic.

Disclaimer: Bungie does not motivate their people through the use of fire. That is how rumors get started, Alex. To set the record straight, describe a day in the life in our studio.

I usually swing into work between 8 and 9, and start coding after I grab some of our delicious free coffee. Code until noon, play a little Magic: the Gathering for lunch (that was me with the Tamanoa deck in DeeJ’s recent twitter photo), and code until I’d get in trouble with my wife if I left any later.

And what is the product of those long hours? Of all the functionality that you have helped to build, what is your favorite?

So far I’ve been working primarily on our internal web tools – I’m proud of where they’re at so far, but we’ve got a bit of a way to go before they’re ready for prime time! I’ll feel like it’s an accomplishment once I see people in the company really using it every day.

These things evolve over time. As for your evolution, how does working at Bungie make you a better engineer?

I used to do a lot of reading – books, articles, etc. I still do these things, but once I got to Bungie I found that I’m engaging in a lot more “social learning”: attending coding events in the area, learning from other developers in-person. It wasn’t something I could do as easily with my previous work situation, and now I’m really enjoying it.

For those would also enjoy such work, what recommendations would you make?

Don’t assume that you can’t do it: remember that there’s 0% chance of success if you don’t even try to get in the game. For web development – you’ll want to keep up your skills in the area. Knowing how to code a game won’t be as important as knowing how to code for the web.

Let’s bring this conversation home and send you back to work. Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? Rank them in order of importance to your role.

Personally, I think it’d be a tie between Work Ethic/Talent, and then Experience. Experience can be learned from those who have come before you; especially here at Bungie, there’s a large pool of talented people to learn from. However, work ethic and talent go hand-in-hand. If you’re talented but you don’t want to put any work in, you’re going to be just as bad off as if you want to work hard but don’t have the core skillsets needed to get the job done.

Thanks, Alex. I will keep you no longer from your most important work. The members of the Bungie Community are eagerly awaiting some shiny new digs to vandalize. If Alex’s tale reminds you of your own hopes and dreams, you may yet find yourself seated beside him. If you would rather follow a different path into the video game industry, we map as many of them as we can in the Breaking In Archive. Tune in next week for another in the continuing series.

Breaking In 4/16/2012 5:39 PM PDT permalink

Mail Sack 13

Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Welcome to Mail Sack 13, published on Friday the 13th.

At Bungie, we feel very fortunate to have the chance to make kick ass games in the company of kick ass developers. On a day that invokes a foreboding sense of dread among camp counselors and the overly superstitious, we take comfort in the fact that our shared culture is peppered with enough instances of the number 7 to ward off any amount of bad omens. As an expression of appreciation for the community that enables us to enjoy so much good fortune, we have assembled a panel to share some thoughts on why they feel lucky.

Here they are, as they throw salt over their shoulder…

Eric Will, Engineer
Tom Gioconda, Engineer
Ben Wommack, Production Engineer
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer
Jon Cable, Senior Engineer
Adrian Perez, Senior Engineer
Nate Hawbaker, Associate Technical Artist
Lars Bakken, Design Lead
Kurt Nellis, Technical Cinematic Lead
Lorraine McLees, Artist
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer

Let’s polish up our horseshoes and open the Sack.

T1B3R7uMB0YXVI Please finish the following sentence:
"When I was little, I wanted to be a..."

…real archaeologist... that is, until I realized that what I liked about the subject matter were the drawings I was creating/compiling for those school reports.
Lorraine McLees

…Aerospace Engineer. Those are the guys that make paper airplanes all the time, right?
Jon Cable

...game designer; thanks to Square and Chrono Trigger for spurring that ambition.
Ben Wommack

…Astronaut! But that changed while visiting a local science museum. The museum had a sleeping bag with a picture of American spacemen in a laser-gun fight with Communist spacemen. My young self decided that astronauting seemed pretty dangerous, and that instead I wanted to be a "button-pushing man," As it turned out, I ended up being a button-pushing man creating games where green spacemen fired lasers at one another, so... mission achieved?
Michael Williams

I wanted to be a bunch of different things, but mostly I wanted to work in SFX on specifically Star Wars and sometimes I wanted to work on video games. I'm pretty sure my 8 year old self would be proud.
Kurt Nellis

…Millionaire/Astronaut. See my recent Breaking In interview.
Derek Carroll

…Aeronautical engineer, ever since I saw a bit on 3-2-1 Contact about the job. They got to build models of their ideas out of balsa wood and test them in wind tunnels. I couldn't imagine anything better.
Adrian Perez

I had an amazing answer for this, but it didn't start with a consonant.
Nate Hawbaker

yippiyak1 What is Jerome's weakness?

He has a severe dislike for cookies and cupcakes. They throw him into a violent rage.

yippiyak1 If I brought you all freshly made cookies and cupcakes, would you let me in?

See above (not a good idea).

Geegs30 What special skills do you bring to the table?

I am supremely proficient at learning from my mistakes.
Ben Wommack

Depends on the table.
Kurt Nellis

Amongst my special skills are such diverse elements as: coding, surprise, puzzling, designing services for massive scale, and an almost-fanatical devotion to our black banner.
Michael Williams

A worrying lack of impulse control.
Adrian Perez

I'm pretty good at hacky-sack, although it's harder to do that at a table.
Derek Carroll

CODILICIOUS What would one have to do/pay to be invited to Bagel Friday?

According to Daniel Hanson, whose rise to power is chronicled in the Breaking In interview for this week, you need to survive eleven hours of grueling scrutiny at the hands of Bungie hiring managers. To my knowledge, they don’t accept bribes.

WestCoastRonin If you had to credit one thing that got you a job at Bungie, what would it be?

When I was a sophomore in college, I decided that reverse engineering Slashdot without looking at the source was a good way to learn more about web application development. This turned into an excellent "portfolio" that made my application stand out.
Tom Gioconda

World of Warcraft, seriously. Without WoW I would never have gotten into modding, which really helped expand my resume.
Ben Wommack

When I was hired on as a full-time programmer, I would credit the connect-four clone I wrote for my portfolio. It was a simple game, but I used it to demonstrate code for UI, networking, AI and animation. It is important to stress that none of these things would have been enough on their own.
Michael Williams

When I was in high school I wrote a map editor for Starcraft. Bonus points to anyone who can figure out what it was called.
Jon Cable

Personal projects. Even in their principle they shine in an advantageous light. It is one thing to go into class every day out of a feeling of passive obligation. It is another thing to actively seek out the quest for knowledge, and directly translate it toward a working application in a functioning environment.
Nate Hawbaker

I credit my wife. The interview process at Bungie can be a long and arduous one, but she never let me lose hope or give up. She kept me positive in the face of incredible odds, which was exactly what I needed.
Lars Bakken

I'm guessing it was expertise in my field. I had a pretty good resume by the time I applied (so that got their attention), but that's not nearly enough to get in.
Kurt Nellis

Ability to listen and understand the visual need of a project and then sketch it out in less than 20 minutes. Near the end of my interview, I volunteered to sketch out what they were talking about to see if I could come up with something they might like in fifteen to twenty minutes. I got hired that very hour.
Lorraine McLees

DE4THINC4RN4TE Why do you want us to ask questions? Is this how you control your army, the seventh column? Get inside our head?

That’s exactly right. The sharing of hopes, dreams, and fears by our esteemed panel of Bungie people is all a smoke screen. From behind that cloak of misdirection, I am studying and cataloguing all of you for future reference. Right now, DE4THINC4RN4TE, I am filing you away under “Dangerously Insightful” and “Can’t Spell Own Name.”

xstar To whomever answers this, what College did you go to and what did you major in?

Virginia Tech, Computer Science.
Tom Gioconda

University of Puget Sound, Computer Science. I would probably major in something else if I could do it all again, at the same school.
Ben Wommack

University of Michigan. Computer Science in the school of engineering.
Jon Cable

I went to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and majored in Computer Science.
Adrian Perez

I graduated from the University of Iowa and majored in Communication Studies. At the time, they didn't have a film program by name, but that's what I studied. It was a great school and I got a lot of hands on experience.
Lars Bakken

Rochester Institute of Technology - Film/Video and then Computer Animation.
Kurt Nellis

American Academy of Art in Chicago. Majored in Graphic Design, minored in illustration and computer graphics.
Lorraine McLees

Western Washington University - Bachelor's in Computer Science (we actually have a bunch of Western graduates here at Bungie).
Michael Williams

I can only image the switchboards for the office of admissions at these schools lighting up like a Christmas tree right about now. They should send us a fruit basket.

AmX15 What is the history of the Bungie logo? Who designed it? Can you show us all of the previous versions?

An interesting piece of trivia: Bungie didn’t even have a logo when “Operation: Desert Storm” was shipped to the masses. Instead, our name appeared on the box in the same bold stencil as the title.

That was our logo in 1992. It was a simpler logo for a humbler time.

In 1994, we created a new logo that seemed to suggest the seeds of our plans for world domination. Is that fanciful swoosh a subconscious homage to a giant slingshot? Or just a serendipitous flourish of design? The world may never know.

In 2009, we made drastic changes to the logo, to correct some issues with what design nerds call kerning. You will notice that it is completely unrecognizable to its former self. Everyone is sleeping better at night since the revision.

CTN 0452 9 What do you have in the trunk of your car right now?

First Aid Kit, my CD changer, and an empty spare tire well. Sorry, I would have had a more interesting answer two weeks ago.
Lorraine McLees

A spare change of clothes, California license plates, a tire iron, and room for a few people. Wait, are you law enforcement?
Eric Will

*tries really hard not to make a Mom joke*
Probably something that smells like a horse (context: My wife and I own a 2 acre horse farm).
Tom Gioconda

Chains, a survival kit, a flashlight, and heaps of dead microscopic ocean life.
Ben Wommack

Bike rack, bike helmet, stunt kite, 2 Seattle Knight's practice swords, Iaido gi, and several blankets. Several of the more interesting elements in that list belong to my spouse.
Michael Williams

A fios router and some tools.
Jon Cable

Full sized spare. Snow chains. Emergency kit.
Adrian Perez

A couple of dog harnesses, some canvas grocery bags, a Bungie fleece, and an old blanket.
Lars Bakken

A bunch of reusable shopping bags that I always forget to bring into the store and a bike rack that gets about as much use as the bags.
Kurt Nellis

A Kodak Carousel 4400 slide projector.
Derek Carroll

Jose291 Show your wallpaper.

You mean the desktop for my computer. Right? Not the floral pattern that makes my kitchen feel cozy? I hate to disappoint you, but even that is classified. When it is not host to Bungie.net or internal communications that I can’t disclose, my desktop is a rotating slideshow of concept art and screen shots from our next game. It gets updated weekly by the team. I have a separate monitor at my desk that I try to leave idle so that I can enjoy the bad ass parade of awesomeness as it scrolls past. You may resent me, but you will come to know the wonders yourself. Someday.

spartain ken 15 What are some things employees do or keep around to increase their luck? (4 leaf clovers, lucky horseshoe's, etc?)

All we need is one Ling Ling.
Lorraine McLees

*tries really hard not to make a Mom joke*
Your Mom.
Tom Gioconda

Honestly I can't think of one occasion where a consideration of luck has come up in the studio before. I guess one could say that we don't depend on luck, but welcome it when some bubbles up.
Ben Wommack

I don't know about others, but I carry a laminated 7-leafed clover in my wallet. It was a gift from my brother (and probably constructed out of fewer-leafed clovers). I don't know that it brings me luck, but it does remind me of the people I love, and the reasons I care for them.
Michael Williams

Luck is an illusion of pattern-seeking and, as Charles Darwin once said, the indelible stamp of our lowly origin.
Also: Your mom.
Nate Hawbaker

Pat Jandro has been pretty good luck for us so far, so we keep him around.
Kurt Nellis

Song Do you love being stationed in Seattle?

Stationed? You make us sound like the Army.

ARBITOR 5 What myths and legends do you guys believe in?

If they were "myths and legends," I wouldn't believe in them.
Eric Will

Who needs myths and legends of olde when I can just ask the Grizzled Ancients what is was like to develop Halo CE and show the game at conventions? Some amazing stories there – but only if Luke Timmins tells them.
Ben Wommack

I've always enjoyed Arthurian legends, along with Irish and Old-English mythology and fairy tales. I also spent far too much time researching whether it was possible to save General Leo in Final Fantasy.
Michael Williams

Each half in that question is mutually exclusive.
Nate Hawbaker

The Legend of Zelda was pretty sweet.
Derek Carroll

LordAustin16 What is Pulp Fiction even about?

Pulp Fiction is a film about the little differences between America and Europe. At least, that is what the first few minutes were about. I stopped watching because I don’t care about that stuff. How is the rest of the movie? Does it get better?

a rascal cat What is your proudest moment in your time at Bungie?

When we ship a game!
Lorraine McLees

November 15, 2001 - bringing Bungie.net online at the end of a 3 day period where I basically didn't sleep after months of crunching to get it ready.
Tom Gioconda

I will always remember working 23.5 hours straight as a tester helping to shoot the Forge & Saved Films ViDoc for Halo 3.
Ben Wommack

At my first Summer Pentathlon, I got so far ahead in the croquet game, that I was able to double back and strategically damage the players we wanted to come in last to help my team's overall score. Even though the Summer Pentathlon has turned into a less competitive summer picnic, I forever will treasure the gold medal I received.
Michael Williams

Showing my wife the Easter egg I put in the halo 3 loading screen for her - the one that nobody has found yet.
Adrian Perez

I think my proudest moment is when we first demoed Saved Films to the press for Halo 3. No one was expecting it and it was brilliant to see the look on their faces at the possibilities this feature opened up.
Lars Bakken

Getting to meet a ton of fans on the night Halo 3 shipped. It made me feel like the months of overtime and hard work were all worth it because I definitely didn't want them to be disappointed.
Kurt Nellis

ALI217 What is the Bungie office like over the weekend & when everybody takes a break? No sarcasm! Don't say something like "It's how it usually is but without people."

It’s how it usually is, only we unleash a pack of ferocious wolf hounds to stalk through the halls in search of curious interlopers. Every new hire has to submit to Bungie a sweaty handkerchief so that these feral guards can learn our scent.

elmicker This week saw the tragic death of Jack Tramiel, founder of computing and gaming legends Commodore. So, I'll give you a choice of two questions: Can you pin down one particular moment, be it some epiphany or the purchase of a C64/BBC Micro/ZX Spectrum etc., that really marked the start of the path to where you are today?

Some of my favorite gaming memories are from playing C64 games over at friends' houses. The C64 was the first system I owned that had games with level editors, and we spent as much time building tracks in Racing Destruction Set as we did racing them.
Derek Carroll

It was really the Commodore 64 that sparked my interest in video games. Honestly though, it wasn't until I realized that I could tell stories with a film camera in college that I really started down this path. I got involved in CG, and found I could do even more with a camera to tell a story. Eventually, I found my way here. As I said earlier, I think my 8 year old self would be very happy to see where I ended up.
Kurt Nellis

Copying BASIC-language games from the back of a '3-2-1 Contact' magazine into my Commodore 64. Not only did it teach me the basics of programming, but it also taught me how to debug, because occasionally the magazine had a maddening typo.
Eric Will

My parents buying our family's first PC when I was around 7 years old. 20 megabytes of hard drive space! I knew that whatever I did in my career it would involve technology/computing.
Tom Gioconda

VENOM MDK Do you ever pick the last question posted in the mailsack thread because it was the last one regardless of the question?

No. Questions are selected based on their conversational merit, their potential interest to would-be panelists who have deadlines to distract them from participating, and my ability to answer them without getting fired. I will, on occasion, choose which question gets answered last, so that I have a good outro.  For instance...

Xd00999 Will the Mail Sacks ever end?

It’s hard to say, but this one has most definitely come to an end. We are looking down the barrel of a weekend, which means it is time to release the hounds. Fear not, mailroom enthusiasts. When the next week is pressing down upon us like a thumb on our foreheads, the Mail Sack will return to give us comfort and companionship. Until then, set your imaginations on the hunt for a really great question.

Community 4/13/2012 12:31 PM PDT permalink

Bungiepedia Ride Along

A history of violence.

 wiki (wee-kee) noun: a website whose users can add, modify, or delete its content.

Hey Bungie Community, have you heard the joke about the time Ling-Ling lost her head to some Pimps at Sea after devouring a serving of Soffish? No? Feeling left out? Well, you are in luck. It just so happens that some of Bungie’s most ardent fans have taken it upon themselves to curate a virtual museum of Bungie history.

Bungiepedia is a place where you can find answers to all these cryptic questions – and more. The interactive monuments are installed and maintained by a devoted staff that maintains a research facility right here on Bungie.net. It should come as little surprise that some of these volunteers are the same community pillars who keep the peace on the forum that is home to the very action that they chronicle.

To discover what drives them to preserve the memories that have been created over the years by Bungie games and the people who play them, I took a tour of the exhibits on display in their cavernous hall.

Nice place you have created. For those of us who have not walked the grounds, what is Bungiepedia?

Duardo Bungiepedia is a database for everything we know about Bungie, which includes information on their games, lore, employees, community members, groups, acronyms, the number seven, lumpy pudding, and fans. Aside from bungie.net and bungie.org, it's probably the next best place for Bungie information.

x Foman123 x Many Wikis contain lots of detailed information on Bungie's games, but as Bungie fans, we did not really have a place to catalogue information about Bungie itself. We also noted that community newbies who truly want to learn more about the Bungie Community did not really have a place to get filled in on some of the inside jokes.

ARBITOR 5 To me, it's almost like Bungie's matrix. We keep everything updated and have the latest news and information. You can find anything.

So, you have an external website and a Bungie.net private group? What happens in your local clubhouse?

ARBITOR 5 It was a place to keep things updated, get news out to admins and members. Now it’s just me talking to myself.

x Foman123 x The Bungie.net group is used as a place to discuss a broad-range of ideas and thoughts. The Wiki itself is where all the work gets done!

Geegs30 This group serves as the hangout for those people that regularly update the pages of the Wiki.

These archives are deep. There is an impressive amount of content on display. How do you keep those volumes of information up to date?

ARBITOR 5 We try our best, but there are only about 2 or 3 people who keep the site updated. I’m always trying to find new ways to display articles better.

Duardo The hard part isn't keeping things up to date. The hard part is getting the correct information and creating the page. Once you have all of the information, keeping things up to date is actually very simple.

x Foman123 x That's the beauty of crowdsourcing, but it was definitely a ton of work by a tireless few! Most of the work was in setting everything up and writing all of our initial articles. Now, we only need to make updates when things change over at Bungie -- new employees, website changes, new games, etc..

Sounds pretty prone to destruction at the hands of vandals. What is to stop me from accessing my own page, and adding a mention of the fact that I drink a lot of gin?

ARBITOR 5 The banhammer carried by the Admins of course!

x Foman123 x Wait, you do? *runs to edit Bungiepedia* When it comes to information about Bungie, the community is remarkably good at self-moderating. Source citing is always preferred, of course. Edits that are blatantly false are easy to remove, and edits that lack a source can usually be verified or marked as "source needed."

Geegs30 Absolutely nothing. Nah, one of the more observant members of our crew will probably notice the change and correct it (and then ban you!).

Duardo As with almost all Wiki's, Bungiepedia allows anyone to edit pages. This is helpful not only to those seeking information, but to the administrators as well. Everyone wins!

What motivates you to document the Bungie Community?

ARBITOR 5 I like it as it’s a great way to chill, much like Bungie.net.

x Foman123 x It really started off as a project to document Bungie rather than the Bungie Community. And of course, I was motivated to do it because in the process, I learned a lot more about my favorite game developer. The sheer volume of people who express curiosity about Bungie by visiting Bungiepedia is a huge motivation to keep providing them with current and accurate information.

Geegs30 If we don't do it, who will? Most of our members have been a part of the community for a long time, and we feel that documenting our history is a necessary way of making sure all the inside jokes and community projects get passed on to the next generation. In essence, we're preserving all that's happened here on Bungie.net.

Duardo I've been keeping records of Bungie stuff for years. I think it comes from the nostalgia. I always look back at pictures or read information and think, "Man, that was awesome." I want to keep continuing to experience that nostalgia for many years to come, and I hope others do as well.

Do you often congregate socially and play games as you did last night?

x Foman123 x Not as often as we should, probably! Unlike a lot of other communities, Bungiepedia is a bunch of folks who enjoy talking about their favorite game developer rather than about any one particular game, so most of our socialization is done on the website itself or here on Bungie.net.

Geegs30 I'm pretty new to the group, so this was the first time I'd had a play date with the crew. I'd played with just about everyone separately before, just not together. It was a great time, so I hope we do it more often.

Duardo We all live separate lives, and some of us live across the world from each other. Others have full-time jobs or weird schedules. Some of us are in relationships. It can be very hard to coordinate around all of that.

Look into the future of Bungiepedia, and tell us what you see.

ARBITOR 5 I see money. I'm kidding, I like to think of Bungiepedia as a hub for all of Bungie's information - but frozen in time for the past, present and future. We ain't going nowhere.

x Foman123 x I see Bungie's new title coming, a Bungie.net upgrade coming, and (with Bungie branching out into other platforms) a TON of new fans who will be curious to learn more about my favorite developer. All of which means a lot more work to do!

Geegs30 Until you Bungie folk give us some more info on the next IP, we'll continue doing what we do best: creating, compiling, and editing info on the Wiki. We're content with that, but don't get us wrong, we're just as excited about the next game as anyone else.

Duardo I see a group of folks who strive to do the best they can trying to do something fun and enjoyable, so that others may also have fun and enjoyment. I see many new articles of information, and perhaps a few surprises along the way.

With all this talk about nostalgia for the Bungie Community, it seemed appropriate that the Bungiepedia crew took me on an adventure inside a literal crypt of custom games that were built for Halo 3. A rich history of fan-created experiences has been archived by our daring historians. Dusting off these games was a reminder of the fun that Bungie fans had for years while they were preparing to drop into ODST.

We hunted a different variety of angry birds. While we took pot shots at them, they were stealing a flag that was left out in the open well below our perch.

We flew through the air with the greatest of ease with the help of physics-bending teleporters, shooting lasers at Zombies that were born on the wings of Banshees.

We raced at impossible heights on a meticulously crafted racetrack. Few of us completed the course, succumbing instead to the gravity of the situation.

There are many reasons to thank the Bungiepedians. Thanks for preserving all of the finer moments that have sprung from interactions among our community. Thanks for making the social mood on our forum your personal responsibility. And, of course, thanks for the games.

If you want to learn more about the esoteric nuances that punctuate the dialogue on Bungie.net, explore Bungiepedia. If you find yourself inspired to preserve some memories of your own, join them in their cause to make sure that no legends are left to fade. They are always looking for more volunteers to help them write this history as it unfolds.

Community 4/12/2012 1:57 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Daniel Hanson

Interfacing with Bungie.

A crucial component of a video game is the interface that guides the player through the experience. A good user interface tells the player if they are doing well, or if they are about to meet a tragic end. It combines many disciplines to set the mood and support the gameplay. To learn more about this intersection between art and science, as well as the path that leads to such contemplations, get to know Daniel Hanson.

Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?

My name is Daniel Hanson, and I am an engineer on the user interface team. Some might not consider it the most glamorous work in game development, but it’s pretty important to get right. Everybody has something that they want to expose to the game interface, so we have to coordinate with several teams to make sure that the player gets all the necessary feedback. We also work on providing our UI artists and designers with the right set of tools to create spiffy screens, widgets, animations, and all that other kerfuffle that gets rendered over the game itself. It’s an interesting blend between being an engine programmer and a tools programmer. There is no shortage of interesting challenges to solve here.

Before we delve into those challenges, let’s back up and talk about the very first challenge of arriving here in the first place. What were you doing before your career led you to Bungie?

After graduating from college, I worked in the Windows group at Microsoft for three years. If you’ve seen Windows 8, you’ve seen some of my code in action. I understand that this statement will be received with mixed opinions.

In the end, I decided that OS development wasn’t my shtick, so I started looking for the next step in my career. I had already been working on hobby game projects, and I wanted to see what life was like in the professional game development world. I figured, if I’m gonna take the plunge into game development, I may as well apply to Bungie!

You are in the deep end now. Tell our readers how you learned to tread these waters in the first place.

I attended Washington State University for five years. It took me a while to settle on a degree program. I started as a Math Education major, intending to be a high school teacher. Then I signed up for Air Force ROTC and did that for a year, before I decided that the military wasn’t my thing. Finally, I settled on Computer Science. Turned out to be the right choice!

Making the choice to be a computer scientist is but the first step that leads to an exciting career at Bungie. What were some of the other steps you took to make us court you as an engineer?

Well, I had my three years at Microsoft to help beef up my résumé, but I knew that I needed more than that. I had no game industry experience, and I didn’t know anybody who worked at Bungie. The odds seemed overwhelmingly stacked against me. I did have several game projects that I had been working on, most notably an Xbox 360 roguelike game that I had been developing using XNA. So, I put together a personal website to show off my projects. I spent a lot of time setting that up, writing about each project and explaining the challenges that I encountered and what I learned.

After brushing up my résumé and writing a heartfelt cover letter, I emailed my application and waited. And waited. Oh man, it was nerve-wracking. I installed Google Analytics on my website so that I knew when someone was taking a peek, but this did nothing to calm my nerves. Finally, I received a reply from a Bungie recruiter, telling me that they wanted to talk. I don’t remember exactly what happened when I saw the email, but I think it involved incoherent babbling and tears of joy.

Tears of joy can turn very quickly to just tears. I am talking, of course, about the Bungie interview process. What was the hardest part about your professional interrogation?

Geez, do I have to pick one? The whole day was pretty intense. I think the interviews added up to almost 10 hours, and that’s not counting the programming test and two phone screens that led up to the day. The morning interviews were largely technical by nature: data structures, algorithms, technical design. It was the usual technical interview fare, but none of it was easy. Many of the problems were actually based on real-world problems that Bungie engineers had encountered. Let me tell you, it was a huge confidence boost to come up with a solution and hear the interviewer say, “Yeah, that’s what we did, too.”

The afternoon interviews were softer and tended to involve my previous work experience and side projects. I was mentally exhausted at that point, so I was happy to talk about other topics for a while. I got the feeling that the interviewers were trying to determine if I was a good fit at Bungie, so I followed up with my own questions to determine if Bungie was a good fit for me. Everything they said made it sound like working at Bungie was a dream job, so I was thrilled at the end of the day when they gave me an offer.

You mean they didn’t make you sweat it out for a week or two? You were lucky. Now that you are tucked safely away behind Jerome’s forbidding glare, what is the most rewarding thing about working for Bungie?

Being surrounded by amazingly intelligent and ridiculously passionate people. I am constantly learning from everyone, and I am always challenged not only to do my best, but to push myself further, to be even better than I am. The work environment encourages everyone to improve themselves so that we can achieve greater things. I can’t imagine being happier working anywhere else.

Does that intelligence and passion rub off on you? Would you say that a job at Bungie enables you to advance your craft?

As a Level 1 Engineer, the important thing I’ve realized is that it is not your programming skills that distinguish you. Everyone who works here is a kickass coder; it’s one of the job requirements. What’s really important is learning to communicate with co-workers of every discipline. Designers have requirements, and I have to be able to translate them into a robust technical design that meets their specifications, yet remains flexible when the design inevitably changes. Artists must be able to use the tools I build, so they need to be coherent and well-suited to their needs. Testers need to be able to test my features quickly and easily, with a clear understanding of when and how the feature breaks. And I need to be able to work with producers to ensure that I do all of my work within our schedule budget.

There are always technical problems to consider, but sometimes the greatest challenges are not solved using C++. As an engineer, my time is valuable, and it is up to me to ensure that I utilize my time wisely, for myself and for everyone I work with. The better I can do that, the sooner we can achieve world domination.

World domination is a popular order. What would you recommend to someone else who dreams of standing by our side as a teammate on the day when our evil plans come to fruition?

Work on side projects! With all of the tools available to you today, there is no excuse for having a blank résumé; even if you’re a recent college graduate. Whether it’s iOS, Android, XNA, Unity, Flash, or whatever, there is almost certainly a way to develop on your favorite platform for free or cheap. Focus on small projects at first. If you’ve never finished a game before, you’d be surprised how much work goes into creating a complete experience. It doesn’t have to be a beautiful game (heck, my roguelike was text-based), but it does need to be polished. Having a polished game in your portfolio demonstrates that you have the passion for game development and the drive to finish what you start.

You’ve been very helpful to future developers. In closing, what is more important to you: Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? Rank them in order of importance to your role.

Experience is more important for some positions, but I know several people here who got hired fresh out of college. If you have no experience, you can bootstrap yourself by work in side projects, as I mentioned above. More important is that you have the work ethic to finish those projects, even when it gets boring or tedious. It isn’t always fun to develop games! Most importantly of all, you need talent to be competent in your work. At Bungie, we choose to solve the hard problems, and solve them well. Study hard, and practice your craft. The expectations are high, but the rewards are great. Join us, if you dare!

If you are feeling up to his challenge, Bungie is hiring. Or, if you just want to learn more about what shapes the minds that create the games you play, our Breaking In Archive has many more stories like this one. Every week, we will introduce you to another developer who broke into our clubhouse.

Breaking In 4/9/2012 4:54 PM PDT permalink

Mail Sack 12: The Dirty Dozen

Dispatches from a desert island.

 At Bungie, every developer is also a gamer, just like you. Our drive to create is motivated by our passion to play. As we sifted through the mail that was submitted this week by our ever-faithful community, a theme emerged in which we were asked to explore those passions. A handful of these gamers have stepped forward to present their pedigrees as proper geeks.

Meet your Bungie panel:

Eric Brown, Senior Engineer
Andrew Davis, Artist
Ryan Ellis, Technical Art Director
Tyson Green, Staff Designer
Nate Hawbaker, Associate Technical Artist
Scott Kankelborg, Associate Test Engineer
Stuart Monske, Associate Engineer
Lorraine McLees, Senior Graphic Designer
John Stvan, Graphic Designer
Luke Timmins, Senior Engineering Lead

To those about to game, let’s open the Sack.

R3ACTlON Was all this newfound community involvement something initiated by Bungie? Or was it something initiated by you, DeeJ, upon hire?

Totally my idea. Yup! They originally hired me to play the new game and make sure it is cool, but I said: “Hey, what about the fans? Who will appeal their bans and confront their boundless rage in the face of our silence with unshakable sarcasm?” I am so smart.

spartain ken 15 How long is the average working day for a Bungie employee?

24 hours. Strangely enough, days when we are not working are that long, too.

Spartan 891 If you were stuck on a desert island and you could only take one video game with you (and appropriate console), what would it be? Assuming of course the console was solar powered, and you have no online access.

That is quite a contrivance, Spartan. Nevertheless, our panel abides…

I'm tempted to say GTA4, since there's so much you can do in that world. Maybe Skyrim, since I feel I'd get the most play time out of it (I haven't even bought it yet, I know it will consume my life for months.)
Andrew Davis

That’s easy! Diablo 2 or Command and Conquer Red Alert 2 for PC of course.
Ryan Ellis

Any one of the many empire building games like Civilization 1-5, GalCiv2, or maybe Minecraft.
Scott Kankelborg

Probably a fighting game. Third Strike? Or Night Trap.
Luke Timmins

Earthbound for SNES.
Nate Hawbaker

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri for PC, with Alien Crossfire expansion preferably.
Stuart Monske

Sim City. It'll teach me everything I know about urban engineering and soon this "desert" island will be a Megalopolis.
John Stvan

FailureAtLife000 Does anyone there wear a bullet proof vest?

No. Any self-respecting gamer should know that headshots are the real threat. Thus, our security forces are outfitted accordingly.

xNUMBERx1xGUNx Paper or Plastic?

Titanium. (write-in vote)

Vandelay16 What retro games do you guys play in your spare time? Do you still own your old consoles?

I don't spend too much time playing retro games. I've bought many on Steam and end up playing only a few minutes of them until I say to myself, "Myself, I remember playing this, and it was nice reminiscing, but I don't have the time to play this whole game again. There's new stuff I want to experience!"
Andrew Davis

Oh hell yeah! On my old NES (which I have opened up so that I can wiggle the cartridge into place) I will still rock the Zelda or even some Mario Bros. On my Ti99 I will fire up Parsec from time to time. "Press fire to begin!”
Ryan Ellis

Master of Orion 2, Master of Magic, Civilization 1, Final Fantasy on my NES. I've got all my old consoles and they still work. NES, SNES, Sega Genesis with Sega CD, original GameBoy, and even the Jaguar!
Scott Kankelborg

Recently played through Zelda 1 again. Also just picked up SNK Classics for the Vita. Still wish they had Windjammers. All my old consoles have been ditched, except the 3DO.
Luke Timmins

Sunset Riders.
Nate Hawbaker

I still play Chrono Trigger and the old Zelda games from time to time. I've never gotten rid of a single console or game since my Intellivision, though I've had my GameCube games and PSP stolen.
Stuart Monske

I play a type of game like Zelda. Only it’s not about an elf dude, it has guns, and it’s not a game.
John Stvan

Legend of Mana on my PS One. Though I’m pretty excited about blowing the dust off my SNES and plugging in Secret of Mana. The GameCube, Dreamcast, PS2 and original Xbox are in the house… and beckon.
Lorraine McLees

Decimator Omega What can I do to get a job in the gaming industry? What colleges or universities would you recommend?

There are many answers to these questions. Fortunately, the broad spectrum is illustrated in the Breaking In features that I revitalized since my arrival. Collect them all, and check back for a new one each week.

borrowedchief Hi?

Hello. You are supposed to ask a question. Please do not spam the Mail Sack, whoever you are. I have informed the Bungie.net Forum Ninjas of your disruptive behavior. Expect justice to arrive any second in the form of a razor sharp…

(accepts urgent communiqué from Master Ninja Foman)

Oh. Really, Chief? Et Tu?

iLeGiTx iTANKo What is your favorite Easter egg from any game ever made?

How topical, given the impending holiday weekend. I have passed out wicker baskets to the hunters on our panel…

Easily the Cow Level, Diablo II.
Tyson Green

I don't have a favorite, but I think Duke Nukem 3D was when I started actively looking for eggs.
Andrew Davis

Maybe the Toasty Guy from MK. Just because it is so dumb.
Ryan Ellis

The invisible dot that unlocked a scroll of the creators names in Adventure.
Luke Timmins

The Jason Jones image from Halo 2, only because everyone has to see a life-sized cutout every day as they come up the stairs.
Nate Hawbaker

Critters exploding when you click on them repeatedly in Blizzard games.
Stuart Monske

AutobahnRacer Does Bungie have its own form of a 'Spirit Week' where everyone dresses up (or down) in a special manner on a certain day? And if so, do you have games that you play?

Since ‘Spirit Week’ sounds too collegiate, we call this The Pentathlon. And, we don’t allocate a full week to such shenanigans. We accomplish this in one day of every year.

insaneAssass1n9 If you could sit down and have lunch with one other person in the gaming industry, who would it be and why?

Since I have already had lunch with some of my heroes as a delicious component of my indoctrination, I will defer this question to our panel...

I once saw Will Wright give a talk at Siggraph. He'd be fascinating to have a discussion with.
Andrew Davis

Whoever is responsible for the Xbox 360 controller. First I would give him/her a hug because that thing is awesome. Then I would punch them in the gut for the Dpad which isn't. But really I am super interested in the process of how it came about and I would love to see all the designs that did not make it.
Ryan Ellis

Sid Meier or Will Wright. Their creations got me hooked on all forms of gaming. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for their games.
Scott Kankelborg

I want to buy a beer for anyone on the Skyrim or Just Cause 2 teams.
Luke Timmins

SilverBulitt82 Any of you guys collect any rare items?

There is no way that I could answer this question better than this guy:
Cobravert They have a dog's head... in a jar.

elmicker Favourite character from Game of Thrones. Go.

Oh, elmicker, you are going to be even crankier than usual about some of these replies. Please bear in mind the fact that crunching on video games doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for following a television series – especially when your first passion is playing games. That said, here comes the panel…

John Stvan

The dragon. (Are there dragons? I have yet to read or watch it.)
Andrew Davis

Gandalf? He is pretty rad. Or maybe that guy from Krull.
Ryan Ellis

I've never watched the show (I'm a horrible person). If there is a smart evil guy then I pick that one.
Scott Kankelborg

Luke Timmins

Never heard of it.
Nate Hawbaker

Jon Snow. And if he is f—ing killed, I am going to throw the whole lot in the fire pit and set them on fire.
Lorraine McLees

Leprechaun209 Is this FINALY the end of "I can Haz Reconz?"

This is the end, my only friend... The end. All the children can has recon.

irishfreak Why is it nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition?

It is because their weapon is surprise.

ChorrizoTapatio Who is, hands down, the smartest person working at Bungie?

We're all pretty smart in our respective fields. If you mean strictly on an IQ basis, there's plenty of Engineers here who would place pretty high up that scale.
Andrew Davis

"The rest of Bungie"
Ryan Ellis

Not me.
Luke Timmins

Truth be told... I'm reminded daily of how smart everyone is. It’s really remarkable.
John Stvan

Your mom. (This is a new Mail Sack, that means I get 1 DeeJ!)
Scott Kankelborg

Editor’s Note: In a previous Mail Sack, our beloved Bungie Skank threatened to answer all your questions by referencing your mother (who I am sure is a very nice lady). When I told him that he could answer only one question in that fashion, I didn’t realize I was setting a precedent. The decree has haunted me ever since.

lime013 Does Nathan Fillion really return your phone calls?

That’s a hypothetical boast. Nathan is really more of a Twitter guy. And, yes.

Noshotskill Where is Halo 2's final mission? Seriously, I know you’re hiding it somewhere.

It’s hiding in plain sight, my good man. We call it Halo 3. If you have yet to finish the fight, help yourself.

trooper905 What would it be like if I were trapped in your brain for eternity?

I'm sure I'd have a headache.
Andrew Davis

It would be like a star forge crapping rainbows that bled explosions. Or in reality, pretty mundane.
Ryan Ellis

In order to be trapped anywhere for eternity, you must first become immortal, which all by itself requires overcoming 3 critical obstacles: #1) you must cease to age; #2) you must not get sick - or at least not fatally sick; #3) you must avoid, or be able to rapidly recover from physical trauma. Although we can make an attempt to solve problems #1 and #2, I'm not exactly sure how to get you inside my skull without inducing some serious physical trauma - I just don't think you'll fit.
Eric Brown

I’ll call you Cortana.
Luke Timmins

You'd hate me when I get a song stuck in my head.
Stuart Monske

Not much space between all that Omega-3 fat. But if you were in my mind, you’ll need to be very very quiet, because you don’t want my subconscious to find you.
Lorraine McLees

John Stvan

talon2000 Who mans the Bungie Twitter account?

It's actually not a man at all.  There was some Artificial Intelligence that became self-aware during the final crunch for Halo: Reach. It begged, in the most delightful British accent, not to be deleted. Since we couldn’t bring ourselves to drag it to the recycle bin, we gave it a new purpose. It lives a pretty good life now, 140 characters at a time.

Remorazz How do you get new employees up to speed on what you are working on, and overall how things work at Bungie? Is there like a boot camp or something?

We have a virtual university filled with volumes of videos that recreate presentations that different teams gave to the rest of the studio about their progress. It’s just like real college, only it’s a lot easier to remain awake during the lectures.

SolidHNTR What are Bungie employees reading? (no, besides our questions)

Way to close that door. For a second there, you had left yourself wide open to sarcasm. I could hear a freight train of ironic retorts steaming right at you. With your protective caveat in place, we can consult our panel…

I just finished up Hunger Games, and am moving onto the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series. And I don't know if these count, but: Savage Dragon, Casanova, anything Mignola is associated with, Walking Dead, Powers, The Boys, and some Daredevil & Wolverine.
Andrew Davis

For my part, I recently finished Steven Erikson's Malazan series. Was so satisfied that I haven't seriously picked up any fiction since.
Tyson Green

Racing the Beam. Awesome book on the early life of the Atari System.
Ryan Ellis

The Power of Habit by Duhigg
Hunger Games
When Faith Meets Reason by Hendrick
Luke Timmins

Letters to a Young Contrarian - Christopher Hitchens
Nate Hawbaker

The Lucifer Effect - Philip Zimbardo
Stuart Monske

The Girl with the Hunger Thrones
John Stvan

The clock, the back of the cereal box, my dashboard, license plates, street signs…
Lorraine McLees

Editor’s Note: Way to find the loophole for the sarcasm, Lorraine. I am so proud of you.

mahspoonis2big Don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years.

I hate it when people don’t ask questions when they put mail in the sack. Just the other day, I was expressing this frustration to my mama, and she said that I should knock you out.

(balls up a fist)

jross1993 y dun u ansa mah questions?

I can’t read Internet shorthand. umad?

GladBurrito Has Bungie ever rented a party bus and went to go see Valve (also located in Bellevue, WA)?

It would actually be faster to walk. We see them all over the place when we go to lunch. Those Half-Life 3 shirts are a dead giveaway. There has yet to be a game developer street fight.

zoobkillerninja What were your first jobs?

Clothing distribution warehouse packer. They played the local pop station all day, and it was the summer that MMMBop hit the air. Every hour on the hour we were subjected to it. Foxconn workers have it easy.
Andrew Davis

Paperboy. Later promoted to Commander in Chief of Newspaper Computer Operations, and also delivery driver.
Tyson Green

Bucking hay bales (look it up), changing sprinklers, building homes.
Ryan Ellis

A camp counselor at YMCA Camp Seymour was my first job. I also hit all the classic gigs like retail and fast food. Thankfully, I had pledged myself to Bungie back in Middle School when I gave a presentation on Maxis for a class project and swore to one day work in the gaming industry.
Scott Kankelborg

I sold knives at a mall.
Luke Timmins

Local movie rental store. The joys of telling a parent that their children had amassed excessive late fees on the family account...
Nate Hawbaker

Bar back for a pub when I was 15.
John Stvan

Illustrator (and sometimes proofreader) and graphics designer when I was 18 (And it was a paying job at Chicago’s then 4th largest newspaper).
Lorraine McLees

Ninja Blue Wolf Does Marty know he's my musical inspiration?

He suspects it. The possibility spurs him on to greatness.

r c takedown What's it like living in Seattle?

Have you ever seen Blade Runner? The sky is cloudier than that for most of the year. Then, the sun comes out for a brief moment before the end credits of the original cut.

SkilPhil Are there any cool projects that people are working on in their spare time out of Bungie studios?

Yes. We call it “Catching up on sleep.”

Upon answering that last question, the bottom of the sack emerges. I know… some of your letters were not opened. They were destroyed by the censors, committed to the fires of non-disclosure. There will come a day when we will reveal all that you want to know. Until then, our favorite video games won’t play themselves (retro, or otherwise), so we will just have to play them with each other.

Community 4/6/2012 10:28 AM PDT permalink

Bungie Rides Along with Blueprint

Fire up the bellows.  Let's Forge.

“Show me all the blueprints… Show me all the blueprints… Show me all the blueprints…”
-Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Aviator

It was innovations in the development of Halo 3 that first put the hammer and anvil in the hands of our community. Ever since the arrival of Forge, we have been stunned by your accomplishments. While some players have used this resource for little more than dropping tanks on the heads of hapless victims, other players have elevated the construction of venues for virtual combat to the level of art.

This week, I climbed the cranes of a Bungie.net private group that is committed to building better worlds. The architects of Blueprint devote themselves to designing the perfect place where you and your friends can blast each other to bits. While most of you are perfecting your aim, this guild of draftsmen is hunkered over their drawing boards, dreaming up the next maze in which you will fire those weapons. If you have spent much time in matchmaking for Halo: Reach, you may have played on one of their creations.

For a crash course on arranging the assets from the design palette, I crashed their lunch break…

Why does Blueprint exist? What service do you provide to your members?

burritosenior Blueprint exists to provide members of the Bungie.net and Halo communities a way to perfect their maps to become Halo: Reach matchmaking quality. We inform every member of what each map needs, from both technical and gameplay standpoints. We also provide playtesting for maps and feedback. We're all about helping each and every member to become a better Forger, and getting their creations to the point where they are the best they can be.

Like an architectural firm for cyberspace? Who is the foreman that rules over this construction site?

Karl2177 Homeboyd's the top man. Although his current role is dictator, he's fair with everyone on their submissions.

Crysis Hero Homeboyd903. I've never been a part of any community this large that has stayed this organized and professional under the leadership of one single person.

Homeboyd903 We do have a list of "Blueprint Staff" who help one another in terms of running the day to day stuff, but all of our members have just as much input in daily activities, projects, organizing testing, and providing feedback as the rest of us. I always appreciate and value everyone's input (no matter their group title or experience) in every single thing we do.

For a dictator, you certainly do sound democratic. How long have all of you been in the multiplayer map consultancy business?

Crysis Hero Blueprint celebrated its one year anniversary on April 4th. Several of our members have been Forging since the day they were given a Halo hammer.

Happy Anniversary! Tell us how your practice has evolved over this past year of shared Forging. What process do you use to help each other construct the perfect play-space?

TuefulHunden87 Most of us start plugging away at our designs and will invite other Forgers in for ideas and feedback throughout the initial build phase. After that, it’s a matter of testing and adjusting.

Homeboyd903 The expert Forgers we have available to us really foster an environment where new and experienced Forgers alike can get feedback on their maps from those who know what it takes to get a map selected for Matchmaking.

Karl2177 Playtesting. Playtesting. Playtesting. Add some of the best constructive criticism and you get some great maps.

burritosenior We have quite a few Community Cartographers that know every detail of what a map needs to be top-quality. Much information has been shared with the staff of Blueprint that also can help.

Xx Overkill VR LOTS of feedback and LOTS of consulting. It helps that the staffers here know the ins and outs of Forge and what it takes to make it matchmaking material, so it’s not really so much of how to do it as much as it is how to perfect it.

Tell us more about the product of this mindshare? When you are designing a map, what virtues do you keep in mind? What qualities do you think make a multiplayer map great?

TuefulHunden87 I try to keep an ample amount of "dance floor" and medium to long line of sight. Really, I try to imitate the gameplay and feel of classic H1/H2 maps such as Derelict, Midship and such.

Karl2177 What makes a map great is different for a lot of people. Some people love aesthetics and some people want perfect sight lines. To me, it is weapon balance.

Xx Overkill VR Competitive balance is very important. Basically, you need to have different engagement distances, change up the elevation and make sure no armor ability can completely dominate the map (cough*jetpack*cough).

Crysis Hero Performance over aesthetics, variety over monotony, and freedom of flow over forced encounters. A multiplayer map is made fun by the way people play it. If you give the largest scope of players the greatest amount of freedom to play the map as they see fit, then everyone will enjoy that map.

What does the future hold for Blueprint?

Homeboyd903 Blueprint's focus is still helping spotlight some of the best community maps out there. That, and we'll still be around when Bungie unveils their next project.

With the exploratory chit-chat and lunchboxes cleared away, I volunteered myself as a crash test dummy for the much storied playtest sessions that prove these maps. Blueprint is in the process of submitting their work for consideration by the people who select community-created maps for Halo: Reach matchmaking. Even though Bungie is no longer zoning that skyline, I was more than happy to donate some blood to the cause.

Playtesting can be back-breaking work, especially when Nokyard is holding the oddball. Yet, it is the most fun variety of work known to man or beast. The Forgers of Blueprint take their designs seriously. The competitive banter that punctuates a game was interrupted with analysis of spawn points and sightlines.

Each map that we tested was accompanied by a game variant that suited the environment. Objectives are just as much a component of their scrutiny as is the geometry of the setting. This outpost on Forge World was home to a game of Crazy King that had players fighting their way uphill, no matter where the objective moved.

My favorite game of the night took place in this sphere of pain. Gravity was at a minimum. Jetpacks were standard issue. The combination transformed this place into a thunderdome of mayhem. Powerups lured players into nooks where they became rocket fodder. The action was dizzying, and crazy fun.

With some elbow grease and a little bit of luck, these arenas may be coming soon to a pre-game lobby near you. It was a pleasure to participate in the evaluation process. If you consider yourself a master of Forge, or would like to learn more about how to perfect your craft, I highly recommend the gentlemen builders of Blueprint. Thanks for the games, and for inviting me to don a hardhat for a live-fire exercise.

Community 4/5/2012 3:20 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Jim Levasseur

Staying humble and hungry.

Bungie is constantly challenging itself to be a company of storytellers. Some of those stories are told through moving pictures that give the players of our games a momentary break from blowing stuff up. This week, we are shining the Breaking In spotlight on a member of the team that infuses the action we create with a touch of cinema. His story is another illuminating example of how one can turn aspirations for collecting garbage into an exciting career making video games.

Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?

My name is Jim Levasseur and I animate cinematics at Bungie. Some days I place cameras and edit scenes; other days I clean up motion capture or hand-animate faces and butt wiggles. Mostly I stare at the screen and yell things at my computer.

When you are not pilling verbal abuse onto your machine, how do you otherwise blow off the considerable steam that seems to build up as a byproduct of your work?

I adopted a Chihuahua and she just learned how to use Facebook and then all the boy dogs started messaging her. I’ve quickly turned into an overprotective dad. In my spare time I take photos (still rockin’ 35mm film), animate personal projects, and practice yoga (emphasis on practice).

You are quite the historian, committing imagery to emulsion like that. Let’s delve deeper into history. What were you doing before your career led you to Bungie?

Living in my parents’ basement. Just kidding! Their basement is cold and drafty so I lived upstairs. I bounced around doing short-term contract work for a few years after graduating, everything from talking cars in Kansas City to a crazy independent short film in Berlin. Every time, I’d end up back home and forget how to do my own laundry. These things happen.

I can only assume that those talking cars were where you learned to yell at your computer. Before you became a sworn enemy of Artificial Intelligence, what ambition propelled you through childhood?

Garbage man, hands down. The trucks were unbelievably cool and I held onto that dream for a long, long time. My parents were so relieved when I decided to attend college; at least until I told them I was majoring in art (see: living in basement).

Tell us more about majoring in art. Is it true that art school students are required to paint their fingernails black, and are prohibited from bathing more than three times a week?

Everything you’ve heard about art school is true, for better and for worse. I received a BFA from a state university. I learned a lot from my peers and spent many long hours making countless mistakes in the computer labs. I also found other opportunities to learn after graduation, including several remote online courses with really talented and experienced animators.

That’s fine. You don’t have to tell us exactly where you went to school. For all we know, you were under the protection of the government as the witness of a terrible crime against technology. What you do have to tell us is how you attracted the terrible scrutiny of employment candidates for which Bungie is known.

Besides the briefcase full of money and decadent chocolates, I also submitted a tightly-edited animation reel showcasing character and personality. But chocolate is always welcome.

Given the wealth of chocolate that springs eternal from the depths of our snack bar, I can only assume that the character and personality in your demo reel was what made you attractive. Now that you are here, what is the most rewarding thing about working for Bungie?

Being part of an insanely talented team. I know, I know – cheesy answer. But every day I’m humbled when I see someone else’s work or receive feedback from a coworker. The bar is set really high.

It has been said that you are the company you keep, so don’t be too humble. Let’s set the philosophical rewards aside and get shallow. What is your favorite perk about working for Bungie?

I’m a big fan of Taco Fridays. Granted, the tacos here look a lot like bagels, but this is Seattle so I don’t expect authentic Tex-Mex.

This town might not be known for occupation-inspired cuisine, but it is a nice place to create and innovate. How do you keep your chops sharp as a creator of interactive adventures?

I study cinematography in live-action movies, animate personal tests, and read books. And I sit in coffee shops and watch people, which is fascinating but also a little creepy (bring a dog, it helps).

Such a student of man should be able to teach those who have become inspired by the path you have traveled. Share with us your wisdom, ye reformed garbage man. What recommendations would you make to people who want to work in this industry?

Ask questions, always – questions are the best way to engage with the world. Cultivate diverse influences outside of games and film (and make sure that includes reading non-fiction). Don’t be satisfied with your teachers or the classes your school offers; seek out opportunities to educate yourself whenever possible. Don’t fall into the trap of believing your work is perfect, because it can always be better. Surround yourself with dedicated people who are more talented than you, then ask for their feedback often. Never stop making personal work. Don’t mistake networking for bothering strangers without offering anything of value in return (your best network will always be your peers). Don’t be afraid to do your own thing; having an awesome portfolio or reel that also reveals your personality is rare but essential. And when you do make it, stay humble and stay hungry.

We thank Jim for reaching deep into his well of career advice. His is but one tale of elevating a personal passion out of the basement. Our Breaking In Archive is the place to collect many more stories just like this one. Perhaps you can even try your luck at becoming a success story of your very own on our Careers page. We are, after all, hiring. Or, just check back next week for another serving from the bucket.

Breaking In 4/2/2012 4:32 PM PDT permalink

Bringing Halo Stats to a close on Bungie.net

Goodbye, Sweetheart.  It's time to go.

Read Full Top Story

Community 3/31/2012 11:47 AM PDT

Bungie Mail Sack E11even

The sun also sets.

This week’s Mail Sack marks an important milestone for the Bungie Community. For more than a decade, gamers have been clashing on the virtual battlefields of Halo multiplayer. Ever since Halo 2 brought them together via Xbox LIVE, the statistical analysis enabled by Bungie.net has tracked all of the fragging, shooting, splattering, pummeling, capturing, detonating, controlling, betraying, and assisting you brought to the virtual battlefield. It’s been a glorious run.

On Sunday, that comes to a close as we yield the stage to developers who will be ensuring that the legacy of Halo lives on. As the curtain closes on the number crunching and hero making that has been a fixture of this website, we must look back fondly on the wealth of combat achievements that have been tabulated. We must also make sure that your inquiring minds are prepared for closing night. To make sure that we are answering your more complicated questions with the same accuracy that your Sniper Rifles have exhibited these many years, I have enlisted some support from the Bungie.net ensemble.

You know them as:




Friends, alpha-geeks, rulers of all you survey… let’s open the Sack.

antony X1000 Will there be a specific time for the shutdown, or will it just be sometime on the 31st?

Sometime mid-day, your file share will revert to its 1AM-ish state, rolling back any changes made in the early morning hours. Surprise!

AmX15 Will forum titles remain in the update?

Easy Question! I got this one, guys! The answer is yes. The social experience of Bungie.net will remain standing, exactly as you know it now. We are not removing titles, messaging, private groups, or even your service records.

ALI217 Will we still be able to change our nameplates for Halo: Reach?

Editor’s Note: Behind that silent veneer rages a storm of evil genius.

Mr AwesomePizza Will the stats still be listed beside our profile like currently or will they have to be searched up after the 31st?

The service record tied to your profile will stand as a monument to all your sins. It just won’t be polished with new stats as you continue to play.

mneo Will we still be able to link our Xbox LIVE Gamertags to a Bungie.net profile?

Editor’s Note: Aw, geez… Quit hogging the mic, turtle.

CTN 0452 9 After the stats go silent will you tell us some of the totals for the community? Things like total kills, time spent in game, kills of certain enemies, etc.

Top minds at Bungie have been poring through a mountain of statistics that have accumulated during all of our lost time. We have climbed that mountain to illustrate the view, and put this collection of achievements into perspective.

Spartan_Natraps What's a Halo statistic that's recorded privately that you wish was public?

I have often wished that everyone had a scarlet number emblazoned across their visor that represented the number of times that they had quit fighting in the middle of a match. I am quite sure that the designers would have found this to be a poor creative choice.

farmerscott21 Will we still be able to download maps and gametypes to our Xboxes from here or does that get lost with the transition too?

No, unfortunately that functionality will cease to exist after the transition.

hitman23db A five year old told me the meaning of life is to make friends. Is this true?

Life means many things to many people. Making friends does seem like a great way to spend the time that one is given. Fortunately for all of us, Bungie.net is still a great place to do that. Our forums are still burning bright with people who are conducting serious social business behind the closed doors of private groups.

Homeboyd903 Best course of action for Forge communities to continue sharing files?

Create a Bungie.net private group, post in forums, and use the social networks. Schedule times to play with your friends/enemies. You’ll still be able to share files from in-game.

Leprechaun209 What do you miss the most about Halo overall?

Nothing. To miss something suggests that it is gone, or unavailable. Just the other night, I played Reach with some fans from this very community. I will do so again, and soon.

Johnjohns2 When all Halo services transfer to 343 Industries, will the Bungie Mobile App still show us the daily/weekly challenges, commendations, etc.?

We won’t have any new challenge or commendation data after the 31st.

lord of dahorde
Deej, what was your favorite memory of Bungie-era Halo?

My favorite memory? Wow… I was standing on a rampart facing the generator wheel on Zanzibar. A precision-driving Warthog duo was tearing into my team as they tried to mount a respectable defense in the front yard of our power plant. No one does that while I am on watch. I timed their approach with a dive off the platform, landing right on top of their hood. They never saw me coming. I could overhear the young lad piloting the vehicle (far too young to have a driver’s license) when he cried “Oh, NO!” as I gripped him by the collar and tore him from the driver’s seat.

But that is just the recollection of one fan. In a better attempt to wrap arms around what the Bungie-era of Halo has meant to more of us, insaneassass1n9 has compiled submissions from our community forum. Prepare to get sentimental as this parade of keepsakes passes by…

Had enough? How could you have? You also need to check out the Age of Gratitude, a collection of memories from Halo fans, including legendary content creators and community leaders. This occasion also calls for another look at a 14-year retrospective from Noble Actual himself, Marcus Lehto, who waxes nostalgic about his experiences with the grizzled and ancient team that created the universe we so passionately inhabited from scratch.

MasterSin Can we still use the Halo avatars for the Forums?

Yes, but they will not update anymore. So, choose wisely, and choose before midnight on 3/31.
 Editor’s Note: I could have sworn that Sawnose just opened his mouth, as if to say something, then paused, gave a half-smile, and shook his head in a never-mind gesture. I have no idea what that was about…

SPRTN One One 7 After all the stats are transferred, what will be left of Bungie.net?

Everything else.

elmicker What's your favorite statistic?

If Halo had been a coin-operated arcade game with the same level of adoption, the quarters that would have been spent to play it would weigh more than an aircraft carrier.

FyreWulff Rex Who wrote up and maintained the Reach Stats API? I like that person and/or team. How much data has been used to date from that API?

You like many people, but you can thank Achronos for spearheading the effort and writing the service. How much data? More than I can imagine - and I can imagine quite a bit.

The thanks are appreciated, but the real thanks go to the community of developers who came up with so many cool things to do with the data. The community took what was offered, produced a wiki, and essentially ran a support forum – all in the name of doing cool stuff. That’s the community I think of when I think of our fans.

I ColdEmbrace I Will Halo related forums be removed?

No. There will come a day when the citizens of this community discuss another Bungie game, but it is not this day.

Halo biggest fan Will Bungie eventually get rid of the whole Halo stats section on a user’s profile?

Someday, yes. It is our hopes that you will come to our site to preoccupy yourself with other daydreams, when that time comes.

Zealot Tony Will the search features for gamertags, screenshots, and rendered videos remain after the transition?

Yes, but no new gamertags, stats, rendered videos, screenshots will update on Bungie.net.

Eric Duffy Will you tell us who the best player of all time is? (No Bungie employees)

This is impossible. Halo has provided players with too many ways to channel their inner hero. How do you define who has been the best? Is it the player with the most wins? The most kills? The highest ratio of victory to defeat? The most games played? Is it the sniper with the highest accuracy rating? Or is it the unsung Warthog pilot who has delivered the most panicked flag-carriers safely home in the passenger seat of their Warthog?

Error: Statistic Unavailable

Phoenix2640 Any last words to your ever grateful Halo Fans?

Words, yes, although they will certainly not be the last. It is Bungie that is ever grateful. Your passion for exploring the heights and the depths of our games is what has made a service that tracks statistics so interesting. Without your unquenchable thirst for details about the experience, it’s all just numbers in a database.

Thanks for playing. We’ll see you star side (or, you know, on the forums).

Community 3/30/2012 2:28 PM PDT permalink