The Artist and the Board of Directors.
All work and no play makes a gamer a dull boy (or girl). For the most recent edition of the Community Ride Along
, we matched a new Bungie employee who turned gaming into work with a group that turned work into a game. Sound confusing? Read on.
The purpose of these events is to celebrate community – that phenomenon that occurs when gamers create something together that the creators of the game may have never even envisioned in the first place. This week, a designer on the Bungie Visual Identity Team was drafted to ride shotgun.
He is known to us as Halcylon
. You see evidence of his work every day you visit this website. Just like you, he started out as an impassioned player of Bungie’s games. Now, he creates art alongside the people who make them. To give you a sense of the contribution he makes, and how he arrived here, I cornered him under the hot lights.
Put that coffee down! How did you come to work for Bungie?
: The details of my life are quite inconsequential.
I actually got my start in the community doing fan art and screenshots, and eventually started working with BS Angel and Firestream on their sites (HawtyMcBloggy.com and HaloCharts.com). As I’m told, when I did my “We Are ODST
” Star Wars style poster (and the two follow up pieces), a few employees sent them around the studio and my current bosses took notice. When a contract job opened up, I put together my resume and portfolio and applied. At first I didn’t get the job. It wasn’t for another three months that another job opened up and Bungie decided to take a chance on contracting me to help ship Reach. I guess I did something right, because I’m still here – along with another amazingly talented artist who started on the same day. He’s the guy who’s designed all the sick Bungie Store
apparel you’re wearing.
People like urk, stosh, and agdtinman were paramount in helping me as well. Bungie’s always been very transparent and open to questions about opportunities. These qualities were crucial to my getting this job.
Glad you made it. Now that you are here, what do you do at Bungie?
I make cool -blam!-. Honestly, that’s the easiest way to describe what I do. I work for the Visual ID & Marketing Teams as a Graphic Designer. We work closely with how Bungie is seen both internally and externally. My projects revolve around graphic design and animation for marketing, PR, and web. We work internally with the Dev Tools teams, Recruiting, HR, and IT, but also on projects for Bungie Aerospace like Crimson and for our Foundation and even Bungie Day.
You were obviously inspired to create art about Bungie games before you were paid to do it. What has it been like to work alongside the people that provoked you to pursue a career in the video game industry in the first place?
It’s ridiculous to think about. I’m a fan boy. I look up to everyone around me as giants in an industry packed with talent. To be able to contribute to, and in a lot of cases work alongside with, some of the industry’s leaders in art and design is a dream. Lorraine McLees is my senior designer and she’s a master of just about anything. From print to web, sculpting to drawing, it’s humbling to see how talented she and everyone else here is.
What are some examples of your work that Bungie.net members might remember?
Well, DeeJ, your phone has my wallpapers on it… so that’s something. But we touch so many facets of what fans see, to front and back of packaging, posters, in store signage, screenshots, Avatars on Xbox LIVE, the list goes on. Bungie.net has recently had some facelifts, too, and with the guidance of the web masters, we have been able to help start the reshaping of Bungie.
What is your favorite accomplishment as a member of the Visual Identity team?
The Bungie Day animated banners were some of my favorite projects. Actually, everything Bungie Day related – Bungie vs. The World, the web layout, and Steaktacular were all really fun to design and help layout.
Internally, I’ve helped design and develop a tool that is used daily now. My team director and I had to come up with a solution for a project that went through almost a year and a half of iteration. The internal site now stands as something that everyone at Bungie participates in.
What is on the horizon for you? What are you working on right now?
Right now? You know we aren’t working. We are all playing games all day and eating turkey
But other than being lazy and suffering from an overdose of tryptophan, I am currently working with Stosh and the web team designing some interesting new stuff. But that’s all I can say.
What would you say to aspiring young gamers who dream of following in your footsteps?
This is the coolest and most rewarding opportunity I’ve ever had in my life, and it just keeps getting better. For anyone out there interested in the field of game awesomeness, my advice is to work hard, develop a “no-quit” attitude, and prepare to jump into the deep end without warning. It was literally months before I was hired that I was doing web work and some fan art and not really going anywhere. On my first day at Bungie, I was working on a Dorito’s bag design and Reach assets that the world would see.
Bungie recognizes talent. If you have the skill, the tenacity, and the drive to continually challenge yourself and your peers, then you’ve got what it takes. Oh and a little luck and timing doesn't hurt either.
The private group chosen to ride along with Halcylon has been a break room on Bungie.net since Halo 3, catering to working stiffs who just want to daydream about playing video games when they should be hard at work. For years now, The WorkPLace
has spiced their water cooler conversations with war stories and chatter about all kinds of digital engagements. Their track record as a company of gamers includes architecture of better multiplayer battlegrounds, mass invasions at fan conventions like PAX, and staunch solidarity among its employees. To gain an insider perspective on their operations, I audited JoeSki73
, a stalwart member of their Board of Directors.
Take us back to the beginning, to a humbler time before a sprawling corporate headquarters home to 195 members. How did the WorkPLace come into being?
: The WorkPLace started out as “Halo 3 in The Work Place” back in January of 2008. A few of our current members used to create a weekly thread in the main Bungie.net forums every Friday as kind of a hangout for older gamers juggling their jobs and responsibilities with their love of gaming. Someone suggested the bright idea that we start a group (because we would tend to get off topic in the various main forums) and TWP was born.
Speaking of juggling jobs with gaming, the theme of the command structure for your group is all business (i.e.: Desk Jockey, Middle Management, Supervisors). Tell us how the metaphor for the WorkPLace as… well… a work place flavors your interactions.
: It just naturally fit us from the first time they were implemented. We are comprised of all older gamers, holding down jobs and surfing Bungie.net primarily while we are at work. It's actually pretty ironic when you consider the fact that we use a business model structure for our goof-off place to escape from our business model structure places. Although, our WorkPLace BreakROom enforces a strict keg party on each day that ends with “y”... so we have that goin' for us.
Those keg parties might explain the odd capitalization in words like ‘WorkPLace’ or ‘BreakROom’. Are those drunken typos? Or are they a secret code that embodies some hidden intrigue revealed only to the members that stride the halls of your online club?
: I would love to tell you that it's something really awesome that has really deep meaning and anyone who knows it’s true origins has mysteriously gone missing, but...no wait... let's stick with that.
Your secret is safe with me. Let’s talk about what has kept the WorkPLace strong since you first opened up for business. What keeps loyal employees rooted to your offices?
: Halo 3 was the clear catalyst that brought us all together, but it didn't take long before lifelong friendships emerged, seemingly overnight. I couldn't brag enough about our members and the awesome ways they constantly step up to help out their fellow WorkPLacers. From something as trivial as helping someone get that last achievement to sponsoring a WorkPLacer's son's hockey team so they could play this season to pooling our resources so we could extend our love to the family of a dear friend. WorkPLacers never cease to amaze me and through all the ups and downs, good times and bad, everyone is always there for one another. We definitely have our arguments too, but that's just part of being a family.
“Family” is a bold comparison for a group that shares a common passion for playing video games. Like other families, has your involvement with the WorkPLace reached beyond the virtual world that you all share?
: It may seem like I'm overstating the friendships we've built in The WorkPLace, but they are sincere. With that said, WorkPLacers tend to jump at the opportunity to meet up with one another and events like PAX Prime, PAX East and Comic Con have all played host to some of the larger meetups. Those are obvious though. What really sticks with me is how multiple times a year you will see in our forums news of WorkPlacers traveling, for whatever reason, and their desire to meet up with any other WorkPLacers in that area. It's not uncommon to see a thread in our forum with pics of a recent get-together of different WorkPLacers every couple weeks.
How does a group as tightly-knit as yours go about recruiting new members? Do you invite anyone on Bungie.net join you?
: We do have a hard 21 years or older rule in place (for various reasons) but primarily The WorkPLace is open to anyone who an existing member knows them well enough that they are comfortable adding them to our family. We are always looking for great people to share in our shenanigans and BreakROom keg stands.
While I usually see The WokPLace abbreviated as TWP, during our games your squad was sporting a DP72 clan tag. What is the significance of your dazzling team uniform?
: Unfortunately, we unexpectedly lost a fellow WorkPLacer and a dear friend, this past October. "Deathpimp" was family to many of us and the clan tag in MW3 is just a small tribute to our buddy.
Terribly sorry for your loss! That tribute is a true testament to the strength of your friendships.
Since you chose Modern Warfare 3 as the game for your ride along, it begs mention that a group born of Halo 3 has evolved to play a lot of games together over the years. Your forum has always been abuzz with talk about everything worth playing at any given moment. Yet, when asked, members of the WorkPLace will defend the notion (rather vehemently, in fact) that TWP is not a clan.
: That's because we're NOT a clan!
By some appearances it seems we are a clan and honestly I'm sure we share many characteristics with some clans out there... but what we feel sets us apart from a typical clan is that we aren't as focused on "performance in gaming" and are more focused on just enjoying our hobby together in-between changing our kid's diapers and finishing up that PowerPoint presentation for our big meeting at work the next morning. That's not to say we can't hold our own when we put a party together, though.
Editor’s Note: That actually sounds like many clans I know.
As far as what keeps us playing... sure, we do various little things like in-house tournaments for fun or "Fustoms Friday" events, but day in and day out it all boils down to friends just simply enjoying games together.
To be sure! Some of the better customs I played in Halo 3 came from your group. And, I recall seeing a lot of your Forge creations loaded into Matchmaking as official venues for combat. What does the future hold for the WorkPLace?
: Bungie's new hotness is obviously on top of that list, but honestly, we're going to keep on keeping on regardless of what the future holds. We are all pretty proud of the home we've carved out here on Bungie.net.
To see where the WorkPLace is currently conducting their hostile takeovers, we infiltrated a squad on maneuvers in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. What’s that, you say? Talk of a game not made by Bungie, right here on Bungie.net? What treachery is this? Bungie.net is home to gamers that play many titles. And, it must be said that Activision is a publisher of some of the finest games available (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). The WorkPLace is a great example of a group that was born in Halo, but ported their friendship and teamwork into other experiences. Their adaptability will help them to remain loyal to Bungie's quest for world domination.
Answering the call of duty with the WorkPLace squad was a real pleasure. Tactical chatter was mixed with the sort of barbs that old friends trade. Despite the fact that their teamwork won them victory in match after match, the party line sounded more like poker night than war. A variety of games were played throughout the evening. Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Domination. We even made an experimental foray into Hardcore Search & Destroy that was met with angry protest and spirited debate.
As a cap to the evening, we played a more social variant called Gun Game. Every man fights for himself, and every man starts out with a lowly pistol. As the bodies hit the floor, a player’s weapon is upgraded. If a combatant is dispatched with a blade, however, he is sent back to the beginning with that same sad pistol in hand.
Which is exactly what Halcylon did to one of the WorkPLacers before the game was over. Our killer instinct got the best of our desire to be nice to our hosts. You just have to watch your six, even when you are wielding a really big machine gun. These matches were great fun. Bungie thanks TWP for the ride along, and for making our website a more meaningful place for their members.
If you cross paths with Halcylon, JoeSki, or any member of the WorkPLace, be sure to pat them on the back for their contributions to our community. This website is what you make of it. Each of us has a chance to create our own experiences here. A grouping of friends like this one could be waiting for you on these forums.