The Return of the Mail Sack

by DeeJ - 11/30/2012

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It’s been a while since we've completed the ritual of a proper Mail Sack. So much has happened in recent weeks to interrupt the flow of community love. Good old Xbox LIVE celebrated its tenth birthday – which completes a full era in Internet years. American descendants of colonial defectors devoured millions of flightless birds and battled each other in shopping centers to celebrate the things for which we’re most thankful. And, there was that small matter of the conceptual glimpse of new universe that we let slip.

But enough about the past. Let’s look optimistically toward the future, and open the Sack!


Vladof Assassin Why does Bungie do these 'Mail Sacks'? It just seems like a waste of resources.

Dude! Waste of resources? Talk like that could get me fired. Mind you, I’m not sweating my untimely demise too hard. Bungie assigns an enormous amount of value to good community relations, which is why I get to sit in this comfy chair and bide my time until our gag order is lifted. As for the Mail Sack, I've always believed that listening is more important to a healthy relationship than talking. That’s why I like to ask you fine people questions. Plus, it also helps me plug the void that I will ultimately fill with chatter about our next game.

Soon™.


dmg04 Did you miss us?

Nope. I've been here all this time, looking in on your heated debates and sounding off where it became necessary. Since I've been keeping you all to myself, it’s our panel that might have been missing you…

Definite maybe.
Tom Slattery, Localization Content Manager

Never knew you. Sorry, it’s not you, it’s me.
Matthew Ward, Senior Cinematic Designer

Wait… where’d you go?
Drew Smith, Producer

Every day. I can't wait until we’re firehosing information at you guys.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

Sure, but I knew our paths would cross again!
Jay Weinland, Senior Audio Lead

Since answering these Mail Sacks is the only responsibility I have here at Bungie, it has been a terribly lonely and unproductive November. Thanks for coming back, it means a lot.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

I've thought of you every day while you've been away!
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

Not as much as you missed me.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Real nice, Chris. Keep an eye on Owens. He’s easily the boldest troll in this Sack.


r c takedown Did you have to move when you scored a job at Bungie?

Aside from the few of us who actually lived in the Greater Seattle area when they got hired, we all had to move. I get the question about “telecommuting” a lot from people who stare longingly at our careers page, but harbor a lingering devotion to their own back yard. At Bungie, there is no such thing as working from home. You have to enter the honeycomb if you want to access the hive mind. Fortunately, Bungie does a lot to make the experience worth the trek.


WestCoastRonin Besides building an awesome universe that none of us can see yet, what is a perk of working at Bungie that most of us on the outside wouldn't know about?

Personally, the chance to be a fly on the walls that contain my favorite creative process is a real treat. The chance to make a contribution to that process is still surreal. Our esteemed panelists might have a less starry-eyed perspective…

Music is blasted throughout the men’s restroom. It’s a beautiful thing.
Matthew Ward, Senior Cinematic Designer

Insanity classes in The Central.
Drew Smith, Producer

Amazing and often hilarious Photoshops by our artists that only our eyes get to see.
Tom Slattery, Localization Content Manager

New Employee Free Lunch program, by far. New Employees can go out with every person at Bungie over the first 6 months and Bungie will pay!
Jay Weinland, Senior Audio Lead

The speed of our network - it will seriously melt your face. Transferring files at home makes me feels like a turtle. If I'm not at work, the Interwebs feel like I'm connecting through dial-up.
Michael Strein, Engineer

I’ve learned a lot, just by working with other departments at Bungie. We have very talented people here, and it rubs off. We work in an open office. No cubicles! It makes for easy sharing of ideas.
J Garris Jones, Technical Artist

The Oompa Loompas who make us candy on a daily basis.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

We have a liquor license and a fully stocked beer fridge for whenever the occasion calls for either.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

Don't tell Harold, but I'd probably work here in exchange for a dormitory-style room and three hot meals a day.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

Piloting an amazing starship is a fantastic recent perk.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

Ahhhh, yes. I’ll tell that story next week, Bungie Community. Promise.


Recon Number 54 So, are you going to answer the questions that were asked in the BWTJHA era (Before Well That Just Happened Again) or the current era now known as OMGWTFBIMMDCT (OMGWTF Bungie Is Making My Dreams Come True)?

Sorry. We’re not quite ready to call this an end of an era just yet. Soon™.


Big Black Bear Do you enjoy making people cry?

Only if they deserve it. And, only if the proper authorities aren’t around to intervene on their behalf.


THORSGOD What was your most recent interaction with an officer of the law?

Great question! Let’s learn all about the fascinating crimes that have been committed by the Bungie panel, as well as the death-defying escapes from justice that resulted…

My wife and I had dinner with my good friend (and police officer) Jack and his wife back in San Francisco. We grilled lamb. It was delicious.
Matthew Ward, Senior Cinematic Designer

I bought a parking permit in San Francisco. I had to secure several spaces.
Drew Smith, Producer

Mailing one a Christmas card.
Tom Slattery, Localization Content Manager

We recently got pulled over for making a free right that wasn't so free.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

A hug.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

Man, that was a total letdown. Not a single high speed chase in the mix. We need to get out more.


Frag Ingot If you had to choose one screenshot to represent everything awesome about your next game, what screenshot would you choose?

No single image would do the trick. There’s a reason we plan a steady cadence of assets and information as part of our marketing plan; we don’t want to desensitize you, or strip you of your own free will. Not yet, at least.

JScientia13 Can you give us the name of the awesome looking vehicle in the recently released image that is now my wallpaper?

Well, now that you mention it, we’re partial to Awesome Looking Vehicle.


homocidalham I'm feeling down. Can you say something to cheer me up?

Oh, yeah? Did you have a tough week? Here are some words of inspiration from our cheery panelists…

“Life is good… and life goes on.” – Master Splinter (original B&W TMNT comics)
Matthew Ward, Senior Cinematic Designer

Every day is a new opportunity to try new paths, and there are a ton of amazing things to be discovered both big and small.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

There is always a light at the end of the tunnel and you have to assume it is not an oncoming train. That thought has gotten me through some heinous crunches over the past 17 years in video games.
Jay Weinland, Senior Audio Lead

Free beer?
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

www.failblog.org
Drew Smith, Producer

If none of those sentiments have done the trick, you can always try music.


arzeik What is the song you listen to when you’re low and you need to cheer up?

Lately, it’s been Draw A Crowd by Ben Folds Five.
Matthew Ward, Senior Cinematic Designer

Right now, something by Neon Indian – Hex Girlfriend.
Drew Smith, Producer

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Tom Slattery, Localization Content Manager

Please don't judge me too harshly, but when I seriously need cheering up, I listen to popular pop music (Call me, Firework, Gangam). It's simple, happy, and warm, like going for a drive on a sunny day. In other moods, I'll listen to the more complex stuff you hear on KEXP.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

There is a Jimmy Cliff Live album has a few tracks that stick out (Wonderful World, Beautiful People, or You Can Get it if You Really Want it) but then most Reggae makes me happy. A little more modern might be first Joe Jackson album or the first section of Elvis Costello’s Punch The Clock (if those count as more modern… *sigh* yes I’m old).
Jay Weinland, Senior Audio Lead

You Make My Dreams by Hall and Oates always works for me.
J Garris Jones, Technical Artist

Theme song to Cheers.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

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Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer


I ZEROC00L I Will the podcast make its return? Or is it gone forever?

It’s gone forever, or until we decide to revive it. Once we have more to talk about, we just might commit some of those conversations to a castable format. I’ve been accused of being in love with the sound of my own voice, so the odds are in your favor if you be an audiophile. I can tell you one thing: Lukems won’t be invited.


M1Silencer Who are the people you look up to and use as role models?

All of my role models are on the Mail Sack panel…

I think everyone at Bungie looks up to Marty. He’s tall and he’s been making music since the 30’s.
Matthew Ward, Senior Cinematic Designer

My mother and my close relatives are huge role models for me. Anything that is good about my character, I learned from them.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

Jason Jones! He made the games I loved as a kid, and makes the games I love today.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

I am my own role model. People look up to ME.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Anyone who enters my life and offers inspiration.
Drew Smith, Producer

Well, duh! Thanks for defining “Role Model” for us, Drew. Looks like we have another entrant in the Troll Wars.


Izak609 Am I ambitious in assuming Bungie.next is around the corner, after the "leak"?

Is that all you can think about? I wouldn’t classify assumptions as ambitious. Anybody can just haphazardly lob a wild guess out there. So, no, you’re not ambitious in assuming anything.


MiloOmega I think I might be having a stroke due to the leak, suggestions?

Elevate your feet, and place a phone call to the first responders in your community.


GPK Ethan How does one start modding?

When I first came to Bungie, I met Nate Hawbaker, a fellow community recruit. I remembered some his work from Halo.Bungie.Org. While he freely admitted to me that he cut his teeth as a member of the Halo modding community, he assured me that he was not responsible for the flying Warthogs that terrified me so much in Halo 2. Check out how his experiences helped him to become a member of our team…

First, a disclaimer: All modifications to software should be done under the apprehension that it’s for educational and recreational use. Modifying code should never be attempted in the interest of something nefarious like cheating.

Do you want to start working on a game that has official developer support for user-created content/modification, or do you want to work on a game that doesn’t necessarily have support?

If you want to rely on developer support, the answer is pretty straight forward. Search the Internet for the numerous engines available (Unreal, Source, CryEngine). There is a wealth of documentation and tutorials out there that will cover far more than I ever could in a paragraph or two.

If you want to get into making/changing content that doesn't have official developer support, things get more difficult. For nine years, I was involved in the Halo modding scene. There’s a very active community that harbored the same sort of work you might find in any supported community. All the development and reverse-engineering falls onto the users in that space, but it usually still produces wonderful results.

I think modding is as important as anything else when it comes to getting a job in the games industry. The process of properly condensing polycounts, maintaining good topology, importing your content through the engine, and reconstructing shaders through that engine’s system is truly an art unto itself. Modding allows you to translate your conceptual ideas into a crafted player experience – and that is one shiny star on your resume.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist


MozzarellaMonky Do you accept Christmas gifts from fans?

Your love is gift enough.


FloodScientist I love you.

You see? We’re easy to please. Consider our stocking stuffed.

Now that we’re back to a more predictable routine, the Mail Sack will return to its normal state as a gift that keeps on giving. We start collecting your letters every Monday on the Community Forum. That’s also the place where you can win a rare and special piece of Bungie loot if you can be the first to decipher this message…

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