Friendship of Mythic Proportions

Lean on me...

The Bungie Community is constantly astounding us with their creativity, and their solidarity. Recently, some ancients (who were playing Bungie games before some of their contemporaries were born) banded together to produce a piece of art that would steady a friend in need as he took steps toward a new challenge. Behold the intersection between passion for games and compassion for one's fellow gamer.

Miguel writes: Folks, here's a link to the whole Soulblighter Sword Cane saga, how it came to be, why we did it, etc. It all started back at the tail end of August (right before PAX Prime!) and is finally done now. The man has his uber-cane! Thanks of course to all of you for creating a wonderful environment for us to form such lasting friendships. Man, are we getting old.



 Cheers to the big hearts at Bungie.org.  

Community 12/20/2012 4:21 PM PST permalink

Breaking In - Reed Shingledecker

Melting your face with FX...



What’s in a name? An artist by any other name could create environmental effects that are just as sweet. Yet, you have to admit that this guy carries a moniker through life that you’ll not soon forget. We can only hope, for all of our sakes, that his work on our next game will leave an equally indelible impression. Let’s see if he’s up to the challenge…

You there! Identify yourself, and tell us what you’re doing here.

My name is Reed Shingledecker and I’m an FX Artist here at Bungie. I’ll assist in bringing beautiful worlds to life with environmental effects and, occasionally, create a grand explosion that melts faces off.

Thank you for making our game a beautiful place in which to have one’s face melted. Are you an environmentalist in the real world as well? Or just in ours?

Outside of work, I’m usually pretty laid back. I recently picked up playing the violin, which is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But, it’s very rewarding when you can play a song that people recognize and enjoy. Other than that, I enjoy spending time with my fiancé and enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest.

It sounds like you are more of an indoor guy, then. You don’t hear a lot of kids saying that they want to be “Environment Effects Artists” when they grow up. What did your younger self used to dream about doing with his grown up self?

I really wanted to be a professional baseball player when I was younger. I played second base and I wanted to play for the Atlanta Braves. When I got into high school, I realized that probably wasn’t going to happen after not making the team. I shifted my studies to becoming a chef. I was sure to attend a culinary school, until the day I watched Pixar’s Toy Story. That movie altered my life path to where I am today.

Unfortunately for your ambitions, the only education that Disney provides leads to theme park experience. Where, then, did you decide to seek higher learning that would enable you to melt faces with digital entertainment?

I received my Bachelor of Science in Media Arts and Animation from the Art Institute of Portland. There, I learned most of the principal tools in 3DS Max and Maya. I still use principals of animation and scale, form, and perspective. All of that is extremely useful in creating realistic art in games.

Are we the first place that has had you creating art for games? Or was there another stop for you along the path that leads from watching a Pixar movie to working on our Art Team?

Before working at Bungie, I spent three and a half years at a small FX outsourcing studio in Seattle. I was more than blessed to work on eleven different games: including Call of Duty: Black Ops and Black Ops 2, Darksiders, XCOM, and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. I was a level builder on the Call of Duty titles. On all the others, I worked on FX. I was fortunate enough to work under industry vets with fifteen years of experience. They taught me everything I know about creating awesome art.

You’ve got some great games under your professional belt. Was that, along with the dashing name at the top of your resume, enough to convince us that we should take a look at you? How did you get your foot into our heavily-guarded door?

I just kept applying. I must have applied to Bungie twice a year for 6 years. As my portfolio grew, so did my quality of work. I kept removing the older work which wasn’t as good as my current work. I think my work on XCOM is what might have impressed them most.

We’ll never tell. It takes more than a kick ass portfolio to close the deal here, as you know. Do you remember the most challenging moments from your interview loop? Have you repressed those memories like a traumatic episode?

It took me about a year of interviewing at different places to feel confident in my work. I was a little afraid of change but I wanted this job so bad that I wasn’t going to let myself down. The interview was surprisingly easy and their interest in me was apparent so it went really smooth.

You’re shattering our image as a tough sell, but I won’t ask you to fabricate any nightmare stories. Now that you have your dream job, what’s the best thing about coming into work every day?

Getting to work with the most talented people in the industry. I can look over my monitor and see a lot of mind-blowing work that has yet to make it into the game. It makes me work just that much harder to keep up with the quality bar here. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Describe a day in the life in our studio.

I usually show up around nine, turn on my lamp, and smile really big knowing I’m at the greatest place on Earth. The studio is already buzzing with creativity. People are chatting about their night or about what they are going to be working on. I start by doing a quick play through of the level I am working on to see if anything has changed. Then for the next couple of hours I work on my task list until lunch. Being a new hire, I usually go out for lunch, since the company pays if you go with someone new every time. After lunch, it’s more creating FX tasks. During the day someone may or may not drop something and the studio will do a unified clap for that individual. It’s quite amusing. I then head out the door a little after six.

Sounds like you’re a stranger to crunch. Give us time. We’ll challenge you. Of course, we’ll give enough perks to help you survive. Which one do you think will help you go the distance?

My favorite perk is by the Bungie love. Being surprised with an onsite barista or random t-shirts is amazing. Every time an email comes in about a surprise I just sit back and smile thinking that I can’t believe this is happening to me.

Oh, it’s happening to you alright. We might have to do a follow up to this piece to see if you’re still this satisfied next year. We have a lot to build, and that’ll require each of us to elevate our own personal game. How do you plan to evolve your work while you work?

I try to stay ahead of the curve by seeing what others are doing and trying to do better. If I cannot do better, I ask them to show me how to. I’m always asking questions and also answering them when others ask. As I learn a new technique or a solution to a problem, I can take that knowledge forward and that becomes my quality bar. It like a giant never ending staircase and it so funny to look back at stuff you thought was awesome six months ago think that it’s not nearly as good as you could have done today.

You’ve made your job sound just as fun as some people might have imagined. You may have altered a path or two of your own through the course of this conversation – like your very own Toy Story. What would you suggest to the inspired?

To break into this industry I believe you have to really want it. It’s hard, there are long hours, crazy deadlines, and lots of coffee. But the reward is beyond amazing. Seeing people line up at midnight in the freezing cold to buy a game you worked on is an amazing feeling. When trying to break in, I made the classic mistake of having everything I had ever made in my portfolio. I quickly realized that I need to make better quality art and only show the very best. I ran through games and tried to recreate what I was seeing. Once I could make a model with a texture that would ship in a game, I knew I was ready to submit a portfolio that would be taken seriously.

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

Talent, Work Ethic, Experience. Talent will get you in the door. Work ethic will show your willingness to learn and Experience is a combination of the previous two.

We’re as thrilled to have Reed on the team as he is to be here with us. He’s not kidding about this being a nice place to work. If he’s sold you on the idea of making games for a living, but you don’t fancy yourself an artist, there’s no reason to lose hope. You can always browse the Breaking In archive in search of many paths to walk.

Breaking In 12/18/2012 11:37 AM PST permalink

MailSackalypse

The end is nigh...



It's with a heavy heart that we loosen the strings on this bundle of mail. The ocean of misinformation on the Internet is filled with ominous waves that foretell the end of times. If the prophecies buried in the Mayan calendar turn out to be more than poorly translated mirages, at this time next week, we’ll all be scurrying to outrun our own panicked demise. That means that his could be the very last Mail Sack to ever grace Bungie.net. Should the world come crashing to an end, it’s doubtful that our website will survive.

Let’s savor this moment, everyone. It’s time to open the Sack.  Perhaps for the last time...


THORSGOD What’s your personal hell?

Why are you asking? Is it because you also think that we’ll all be delivered there next week? I can’t face the music, yet. The Bungie Panel will have to answer this question…

Being bored.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

A staring contest with a man who has no face.
Drew Smith, Producer

Being locked in a room with a net-terminal and only flakey, dial-up modem to keep me entertained.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

There’s only decaf.
Tom Slattery, Localization Content Manager

A room full of spiders.

Rachel Swavely, Associate Technical Artist

An eternal Monday morning staff meeting at a large government bureaucracy.
John Hopson, User Research Lead

Inflation outpacing market growth. Or running out of candy.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

Waiting.
Cameron Pinard, Artist

A world without Bungie.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

A world without Your Mom.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

Level 14, of course.
Ben Wommack, Production Engineer

My Little Pony.
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead

Youtube comments. Herp derp derp der herpy herp.
Chris Butcher, Senior Engineering Lead


xXIHAYD0IXx If you were given one standard United States Army Squad with all their organic materials (no artillery and air support) during the American Revolution, how and where would you use them to maximize their effectiveness?

Do you daydream about upsetting the balance of history with modern firepower, too? In this case, I’d post that squad of time travelers at the top of Bunker Hill and say “Standard orders are still in effect... Don’t fire ‘till you see the whites of their eyes.” Of course, with their high-definition optics, this range would be realized with a lot more room for them to breathe.

The limitations you’re imposing here do sort of limit the fun we could have. I mean, why not intercept the invasion army with a carrier group about a mile off the coast, as if to say “Wassup?”




RighteousTyrant What alcoholic drink goes best with making games? And don't lie. I'm sure you've done it a time or two.

A Dark and Stormy.
Luke Ledwich, Test Engineer

It switches every project. For this game, the wheel of fortune seems to have landed on tequila.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

Chilled Nigori Genshu sake, and I could use some now.
Michael Milota, Slovadomilotavitch

Anything that fits in a beer helmet.
Drew Smith, Producer

Home-brewed root beer. 1 proof, wooo!
Tom Sanocki, Staff Artist

We call it Blöödwine, but outside of these walls, it’s known as Rumplemintz. 100 proof of minty goodness.
Forrest Soderlind, Technical Artist

Beer for playtest. Whiskey for coding. Absinthe for crunch.
Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead

The free kind.
Chris Owens, Associate Test Engineer

Sake.
Rachel Swavely, Associate Technical Artist

Yamakazi Single Malt Whiskey (12 years).
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

A Rum and coke; but have a Monster energy drink handy so you don’t get too sleepy.
Kevin Hart, Artist

Scotch: pretty much a required part of game development.
Cameron Pinard, Artist

Chimay Rouge, which has been known to show up in our beer fridge from time to time.
Joe Venzon, Engineer

Jameson.
Adam Williams, Artist

For me, that’d be Smirnoff Ice. I can hear you judging me, but it’s a tasty beverage!
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

Rainier beer mixed with 5 Hour Energy.
Stosh Steward, Web Designer

Bailey’s and Coffee.
Justin Truman, Engineering Lead

Mountain Dew.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

Single malt scotch, neat, preferably as smoky as a fire pit.
Ben Wommack, Production Engineer

Bundaberg Over-Proof Rum.
Chris Butcher, Senior Engineering Lead

Beer is my go-to when working late hours. I try to stay away from harder stuff while I’m working. Working a 12 hour day with a hangover is a TERRIBLE idea - not that such things have ever happened to me.
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead


blizzera27 How many stars are in the universe?

“Billions and billions.” –Carl Sagan


All of humanity Who's your favorite Doctor?

Is this a census? Are you testing us? Because that never ends well…



What say you, Bungie Panel? Is there a Doctor in the house?


Daniel Hanson, Engineer


Kevin Hart, Artist


John Hopson, User Research Lead


Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead


Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin


Troy Mcfarland, Motion Capture Lead


Michael Milota, Slovadomilotavitch


Chris Owens, Associate Test Engineer


David Shaw, Producer


Drew Smith, Producer


Forrest Soderlind, Technical Artist


Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead


Rachel Swavely, Associate Technical Artist


Joe Venzon, Engineer


Michael Williams, Senior Engineer


Adam Williams, Artist


gorocurt What are/is the only acceptable topping(s) on a hot dog?

According to the laws of Chicago, the birthplace of Bungie (and its Assistant to the Community Manager), a proper Hot Dog can be garnished with just about anything but ketchup.


catman6 What's the most exotic meat you've eaten?

Good question! If our civilization is reduced to rubble next week, we’ll probably have to revert to appetites that favor whatever we can catch in the wild. Hopefully, the Bungie Panel isn’t finicky…

Widgety Grub.
Luke Ledwich, Test Engineer

Sushi from a freshly caught salmon.
Michael Milota, Slovadomilotavitch

I ate buffalo once. I have since become vegetarian.
Drew Smith, Producer

Guniea Pig in Peru. It ended up being quite tasty.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

Jellyfish. Surprisingly crunchy!
Tom Sanocki, Staff Artist

I call a tie between camel and kangaroo. Your call.
Tom Slattery, Localization Content Manager

Rocky Mountain Oysters. Can’t say they were delectable, but they were better than the undercooked rattlesnake sausages I had, or the kangaroo burgers.
Forrest Soderlind, Technical Artist

An armadillo roast.
Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead

I have had Shark and Bear. I hope they didn’t eat a person, because that would inadvertently make me a cannibal.
Rachel Swavely, Associate Technical Artist

A friend of mine makes a mean rattlesnake chili.
David Shaw, Senior Producer

Ants, covered in chocolate.
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead

Elk, venison, bear, shark. Take your pick.
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

Uncooked chicken. I suck at grilling.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

Ostrich, or maybe alligator.
Cameron Pinard, Artist

Grasshoppers count as meat, right?
Adam Williams, Artist

I’ve eaten Ostrich Jerky. It tastes like Chicken.
Justin Truman, Engineering Lead


SonOfTheShire Are you guys planning to see the Hobbit?

Way ahead of you, Halfling. “Planning” has been replaced with “planned.”




StormFront If at first you don't succeed, _____________.

Nuke the site from orbit.
Luke Ledwich, Test Engineer

Lie, and say you did.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

Reload.
Forrest Soderlind, Technical Artist

Burn down your opponent’s house.
Drew Smith, Producer

Talk to those who have succeeded. That, or build an army of robots.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

Stop trying and DO.
Chris Owens, Associate Test Engineer

Become an assassin and destroy all your enemies.
Rachel Swavely, Associate Technical Artist

Stand behind the engineer’s desk until it’s fixed.
Ben Wommack, Production Engineer

Use short, controlled bursts.
David Shaw, Senior Producer

Blame your team and ragequit.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start.
Kevin Hart, Artist

Redefine the terms of success.
Cameron Pinard, Artist

Try your mom, I hear she’s much easier.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin


Violet Are there any Easter eggs from any of your previous games that we have yet to find?

Yep.


defnop552 What do you see?



Interesting. It’s time for our psyche evaluation, everyone. Fall in, and write your entry into Rorschach’s journal…

A very long conversation.
Michael Milota, Slovadomilotavitch

Broodmother from Dota2.
Drew Smith, Producer

Two fancy gentlemen holding picnic baskets talking to one another in a park full of butterflies.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

Two bonobos locked in an uncomfortable stalemate, each wanting to bowl in the direction blocked by the other, and so left with no choice but to stand in silence beneath a pair of kidneys suspended like light bulbs from the ceiling above--the softly cast shadows of the organs a gruesome reminder of the stakes for those who would engage in this primal, bumper-free game.
Tom Slattery, Localization Content Manager

Two girls and one cup. A very big cup.
Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead

A cow on his way to becoming steak.
Josh Eash, Release Manager

Two bird-ladies bending over to pour water out of a jar. Their hearts are beating out of their chests because they love each other, even while their baby hatchlings fall from the nests behind them. But what does it mean?
Stephen Hodde, Senior Audio Designer

I see Rorschach, judging me.
Chris Owens, Associate Test Engineer

A tuxedo with a red bow tie or an alien rib cage.
Rachel Swavely, Associate Technical Artist

Alien Tuxedo with a bowtie.
Kevin Hart, Artist

Two waiters putting dishes on a table.
Joe Venzon, Engineer

Two people who are very confused about how bowling works.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

Two monkeys using fire magic.
Ben Wommack, Production Engineer

A person in the cold smiling.
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead


I ZEROC00L I What's your favorite YouTube channel?

What else did you think I was going to say to this?




ultimatetornado How do you become a man?

Two boys enter. One man leaves.
Luke Ledwich, Test Engineer

Step 1: Grow a pair.
Step 2: Grow another.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer


Michael Milota, Slovadomilotavitch

You’re not truly a man until you have written an app in assembly.
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

A true man must know how to do seven things:
He must know how to use a sword.
He must know how to use a gun.
He must know how to read an ancient language.
He must know how to write code.
He must know how to ballroom dance.
He must know how to bake a pie.
He must know how to repair a helicopter engine.
Tom Sanocki, Staff Artist

It just happens. One moment you’re a boy in school, and the next you’re looking at pictures of yourself taken from above and realize you barely have any hair left. Before you know it, you’ve got coworkers telling you they were born in the ‘90s.
Tom Slattery, Localization Content Manager

Wear a pink shirt, and don’t give a -blam- what anyone has to say about it.

Drew Smith, Producer

Wrap your steak with steak, before you eat your steak.
Forrest Soderlind, Technical Artist

Watch the Matrix Trilogy, the Star Wars trilogy, The Indiana Jones Trilogy, and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. No breaks. And if you say some of those are not trilogies, I’ll just ignore you.
Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead

The Klingon Rite of Ascension.
Chris Owens, Associate Test Engineer

Treat others with respect, especially those who have less power than you.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

Take care of those around you at your own expense.
Kevin Hart, Artist

Have kids.
Joe Venzon, Engineer

CRUSH YOUR ENEMIES, PAY YOUR OWN RENT, BUY YOUR OWN BEER!
Adam Williams, Artist


Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

I’ve initiated the rite of manhood at the bachelor party for one of my friends. Each attendee came up with their own ritual. He survived. That’s all I can say about it.
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

One will only attain true manhood when one realizes he never will. /zen
Ben Wommack, Production Engineer

When you have the tools to support yourself, then you are a man.
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead

Be as swift as a coursing river.
Have the force of a great typhoon.
Build the strength of a raging fire.
Be as mysterious as the dark side of the moon.
Daniel Hanson, Engineer

Have at least one Y chromosome.
Justin Truman, Engineering Lead

Surgery.
Rachel Swavely, Associate Technical Artist


Mythical_Wolf Will we die next Friday?

We will not die – not as a global civilization, at least. I give you my promise. You see, this is a totally safe bet. If the world doesn’t come to an end, the Internet is left thinking “Wow, those Bungie guys know what’s up!” If we do get knocked down by some grand cataclysm in accordance with Mayan prophecy, you’ll hardly have the resources to tell us how very wrong we were. Thus, we’re taking an optimistic tack. Never mind the satire buried in the title of this Mail Sack. People who bet on the end of the world always lose. We shall return.

And you know we’ll have a good time then.

Community 12/14/2012 9:26 AM PST permalink

Breaking In - Andy Howell

Make me a match...



At Bungie, we believe that anything that's fun to do is more fun to do with your friends. This obviously includes playing a great game. But making a game that you can play with your friends over the Internet is no easy feat. Fortunately, we have can-do leaders like this guy to make sure we get it right…

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

My name is Andy Howell. I’m the Matchmaking Test Lead here at Bungie! My team ensures that Matchmaking in our game is painless and fun. Without us, you would never be able to play with your friends. We help to push for quality across the entire matchmaking process, from start to finish of a game.

Sorry I can’t tell you more, you know... super-secret stuff.

I know all too well, my friend. Keeping secrets is a part of life at Bungie right now, but someday we’ll get to enjoy a conversation with our community about what we’ve been developing. Until then, how will you be passing the time?

Super-secret stuff. And Star Trek, other science fiction, motorcycles, fast cars, photography, comic books (mostly DC), and weird giant robot models. I also am very interested in honing my skills. I volunteer for many projects and make different “tech demos” and mods outside of work. I love breaking and building new fun things, usually in that order, followed by breaking them again.

With all this talk of breaking things and seeing them fixed, it would seem that you were born to be a Test Lead. Has this always been your plan? What did your inner seven year old dream of being?

A Starship captain, for reals. I wanted to protect the earth from aliens and explore the galaxy. Find strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civil… you get the idea.

It does sound familiar. Since mankind didn’t get around to creating a Starfleet you could enlist in by the time you reached a working age, what sort of schooling did you seek for yourself?

I studied Computer Science and Multimedia Production. I use what I learned EVERY DAY. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was tailoring an education to assist me in my future career, funny how that works.

A lot of people would call that lucky, rather than funny. Tell us how that worked for you. How did that future career start to take shape?

I started out in Information Technologies for education, teaching computers how to use teachers in their class rooms. Wait, I mean the other way around, maybe…

Then I moved on to become a multimedia producer for a church, which was really fun. Not only did I get to help people, but I was able to create cool new multimedia experiences. When I was laid off due to downsizing, I found out that Microsoft was looking for testers for their new super-secret project on the (then new) Xbox. I was testing Xbox LIVE functionality across all games a few weeks later.

The migration from working on Xbox LIVE to working at Bungie makes total sense, but can you recall the steps that led you to us?

I was found by a headhunter who needed to fill a contract role at Bungie. Next thing I knew, I was helping to finish up Halo: Reach. After we shipped the game, I went on to work for a few other game studios. However, Bungie had wanted me to come back, and the timing was finally right!

Welcome back. We missed you, but not enough to let you sidestep the standard interrogation in our interview chambers. Can you face those memories and provide would-be applicant with a warning about the horrors of our recruitment process?

Here at Bungie, we like to ask “interesting” questions. It helps us know how you think. My interrogation was an all-day process, so I would say my last few interviews started to get harder since I was very tired. I had just flown to Seattle from Rhode Island - the other side of the world almost – so I had Jet Lag, and my brain was fried from a day filled with questions. Someone asked me a logical testing question about a device I had never heard of or even thought to test. At first, I hit a brick wall. Then I started to think outside of the box. Obviously I pulled through.

Now that you’re in the box, what’s the best thing about the work that you do for Bungie?

I love that we take time to play our game here. When we bring a new system online, it’s great to see people playing with it, or interacting with it – and even better if they aren’t even aware of it. It’s very rewarding. We create fun, and I get to see it on the faces of my co-workers.

You paint a vivid big picture, but what is one day like around here?

FUN! I love what I do. I love the games we make. I can’t imagine doing anything other than making video games. Our average day is to break things and do science, what could be better than that?

It sounds like you’re pretty happy with your Bungie experience. And yet, we go well out of our way to keep guys like you content. What’s your favorite perk as a member of the team?

I would say it has to be the Bungie love we receive. For instance, Bungie will arrange for pre-screenings of movies, outside events, and other fun group activities.

What is your favorite accomplishment as a member of the Bungie team? Describe that one moment in which someone appreciate your work, and assured you that you belonged here…

I would have to say when we work on a bug that ends up being a hornet’s nest, and we have to spend time unraveling the issue. Once we get to the core and can identify the problem with certainty, I am satisfied in my job. I try to recreate that moment every day.

Another thing we need to do every day is enrich our skills. What is your plan to become ever more dangerous to the bugs you’re hunting?

I talked a bit above about how I try to expand my wheel house with personal projects. I also spend a lot of time just playing video games. I’ve been working in this industry for a long time now, so that can be a task at this point. However, when I just play games, I find it makes me better at my job. The simple joy of playing a game makes me want to make our game as fun as I can.

That sounds like hard work, but it’s work that many people would like to do. What would you tell them to help set them on the path of becoming Test Lead?

Give it everything you have. I would suggest this to anyone trying to do anything they’re passionate about. You REALLY need to grab on with both hands and hold on to that dream. Learn all that you can about game development, build mods, play betas and alpha tests, read books. Do what you can to enrich yourself, because just wanting it is never enough. Dreamers just want it. Doers will build it and make it happen. You will never get what you want by just wanting it.

Andy is here because our games won’t test themselves, so we must return him to his daily pursuit of that perfect moment. While our Test Teams are the bedrock of our development process, Bungie needs doers of many different varieties. The Breaking In archive is a great place to learn all about the different kinds of fun that beckon from our development floor. We need doers of all kinds.

Breaking In 12/11/2012 8:46 AM PST permalink

Once More Unto the Mail Sack

Let slip the dogs of Bungie...

Every self-respecting Mail Sack begins with an opening act that sets the stage. One cannot just dive right into community love. You need to set the mood. Well, this week, we were so anxious to tear into your letters that we said “To hell with that!”

Let’s open the Sack.

Krimm117 Have you ever been awarded The Shaft, and if so, why?

Ah, yes. The Shaft! For the uninitiated, it’s the dreaded totem that stands on our desks as a monument to our costliest mistakes. As I was writing these very words, Jon Cable stopped by to ask if I knew its whereabouts. That spells very bad news for someone, friends. Let’s see if our Bungie Panel knows where it might be found…

I don’t get the shaft…

…I give it. [YEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH]
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

Not at Bungie.
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

Awarded…? No. Given…? Yes.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

No, but I awarded it to your mom once. Once.
David Shaw, Senior Producer

Not yet. Give it time.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

If you do get the Shaft, you’re told to never to talk about it.
David Hurd, Support Engineer

The shaft has been on my desk for months. I stole it.
Luke Timmins, Senior Engineering Lead

Mr. Timmins, keep an eye out for Mr. Cable.


crawlingshadow9 What is your favorite video game genre and why?

What if I told you that we loved racing games? Or dancing games? How would that warp your theory about what we’re creating in this (occasionally compromised) cloak of secrecy? I can tell when a Mail Sack question is baited like a hook intended to catch some details about our labor of love. Sometimes, I feel like a security guard who can pull a thief out of a crowd of eager shoppers.


defnop552 What's your quote for the Bungie Yearbook?

“This is the worst kept secret ever.”
Jonty Barnes, Production Director

“Let’s shoot this.”
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

“YOLO!”
Noah George, Sever Ninja

“Remember that time when we did all that stuff? Good Times.”
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

“I blame the bloating on the bagel dogs.”
Leland Dantzler, Tester

There’s a yearbook? Oh man, I need to get into shape.
Drew Smith, Producer


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Joris Kyker Why does Drew Smith have such an amazing taste in music?

Drew is formerly a Hipster from the East Coast. His origins endow him with eccentric tastes that extend from his fancy assortment of headphones all the way down to his fleet of funky shoes. This tragically fashionable disposition impacts his music selection as well. I’ll let him offer a counterpoint, since no Hipster alive would tolerate their identification as a Hipster. Drew?

I was posting on BBSs before you even knew what a 2400 baud modem was DeeJ. Now where did I leave my PBR?
Drew Smith, Producer


SilverBulitt82 If you discovered another planet similar to earth on the far side of our galaxy, what would you name it?

SilverBulitt83.
David Shaw, Senior Producer

Urmom.
David Johnson, Engineer

Hurth.
David Hurd, Support Engineer

Bubba.
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

Kate Upton, since the chances are slim that I’d be able to visit either.
Noah George, Sever Ninja

Planet Owens.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Pluto. Take that, scientists!
Travis Pijut, Test Engineer

Far Earth.
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

The Farside, to honor Gary Larson’s brilliance.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

Klarphnog.
Drew Smith, Producer

That’s not even a thing, Drew. I even Netscaped it with my modem.


Sundalius Does Bungie still do Ride Alongs or have they died out?

You make our official community game nights sound like Velociraptors. While equally ferocious, they are in hibernation, rather than extinct. The convention of the Ride Along will return. What we really need to make them meaningful is a new game that we can share as player and creator. We’re working on that, as hard and as fast as we can.


coolmike699 If you got the chance to blow up one thing, what would it be?


John Stvan, Graphic Designer

I always thought getting to plan and blow up things like this looked like a great job:


Jonty Barnes, Production Director

Time.
Drew Smith, Producer

A Golf course, if it would mean my putt would go in:


Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

Do the cars of everyone who drives under the speed limit count as one thing? If not, I would say Pluto, to put it out of its misery since it’s not a planet anymore.
Travis Pijut, Test Engineer

Planet Owens.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

This question leaves me wondering why so many of our Test Engineers want to destroy planets. Looks like it’s time to check their shared documents for plans to build a Death Star.


A Pimpin Lady Where does Bungie find/hire their contract employees?

They find us, traveling the same treacherous path that’s been negotiated by everyone on the Bungie team. That journey begins with a single first step, and you can find it on our Careers page.


Unanimate Objec How do you combat your body's eternal spiral into decomposition?

Denial.
Jonty Barnes, Production Director

Preservatives.
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

I’ve been eating better and working out more, but it’s really the ritualistic sacrifices that should keep me going for another century.
Noah George, Sever Ninja

I combat it mentally (I’m losing).
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Work out twice a day. Burn more than you eat.
Travis Pijut, Test Engineer

http://www.bungie.net/forums/topics.aspx?forumID=10
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

Kicking and punching a heavy bag and watching Cocoon every week.
Drew Smith, Producer

Candy. In reality, it’s likely just like taping rockets to collapsing arteries and blasting further into the decomposition wormhole. But, dang, gummi bears are WORTH it.
Leland Dantzler, Tester


Dropship dude As hard as it is for us to be in the dark, how hard is it for staff at Bungie to keep a lid on the greatness being developed within the walls of the studio? The desire to get what you've been working so hard on out there must be overwhelming.

So overwhelming, in fact, that I have a whole team of censors who watch my every move. The urge to bathe the Bungie Blog in the sweet action that I see every day is almost irresistible. Deploying content from me to you requires more authentication and approval than is required to launch a missile from a submarine, and I don’t have a key.


spawn031 Worst experience on a date. Go.

During the get-to-know you phase of a first date, my dinner companion told me all about her last boyfriend, and how their relationship ended because he played too many video games. This fed logically (and tragically) into a conversation about what I did for fun. I didn’t have the heart to lie. That was before the appetizers had been delivered to the table. Thanks for spawning that memory. Let’s see if our panel has been any luckier…

We hiked up to Griffith Observatory hung over. I lost count of the times I heaved. She didn’t call me back.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

I showed up at the restaurant and she was having dinner with some random guy that she had just met. On the upside, I didn’t have to pay for dinner.
Travis Pijut, Test Engineer

My date decided it was a bad idea to order the red wine, because it would stain her teeth and her therapist would know that she’d been drinking again.
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

I made out with someone who had just eaten several dill pickles.
David Johnson, Engineer

Back in school I took the girl out. I planned everything for a night at the Frying Pan (a bar in NYC). When we met there I discovered she brought a friend. <cue price is right fail music>
Drew Smith, Producer

A date threw up on me once. I really can’t go into more detail here.
Noah George, Sever Ninja

I found out she was a vampire.
David Hurd, Support Engineer

Not enough cash to cover dinner… at Hooters.
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

It’s really hard to pick a winner/loser here. As for my own happy ending, it was my wife who bought me my first Xbox, and a copy of Halo: Combat Evolved. There is someone out there for everyone. Keep the faith, boys.


ChorrizoTapatio How tough is it to break into the marketing end of the gaming industry? Are individuals with business degrees just as valuable to Bungie as designers, engineers, and Jerome?

First of all, no one is more valuable than Jerome. Were it not for his unflinching service as our steely-eyed sentinel, Bungie HQ would have been overrun by anxious interlopers long, long ago. As for your more sincere question, the gaming industry can be a bit of a closed circle. Almost everyone who has braved the Internet as the subject of a Breaking In interview has told their story about learning to create their piece of our puzzle elsewhere, and then bringing those skills here. While most of the work done at Bungie is reliant on rare skills for crafting art or writing code, there are occasional roles to be filled by people with the business acumen to complete the equation between the developer and the gamer.


Kvaener Do you have an Arch-nemesis?

With the Pentathalon Puzzlehunt coming up, it would probably be Roger Wolfson.
David Johnson, Engineer

Robert Khoo of Penny Arcade. One day I’ll retire from Soccer and kick his ass.
Jonty Barnes, Production Director

Yes, and she is also the mother of my children.
David Hurd, Support Engineer


David Shaw, Senior Producer

Not… anymore.
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

Of course, all great super heroes do.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

The need for sleep.
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

La Fours (mall security).
Drew Smith, Producer


scagjmboy45 How many cameras are in the Studio?

Do all the smart phones count? Or are you only asking about the electronic security eyes that peer into our space from just about every surface? Either way, it’s just about impossible to achieve the quality of “stealth” within these walls.


EpicWaffles If you won the lottery what would you do with the winnings?

“I would quit my job at Bungie!” said no one. Here’s what they did say…

Have some memories erased.
David Hurd, Support Engineer

I would buy a condo in the fancy high-rise right next to work.
Noah George, Sever Ninja

I’d buy a house, a nice car and then invest the rest into a massive domed structure in which contains a tropical paradise with all you’d expect to find there, including a surf-able beach, and a steady temperature of 80 degrees.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

It depends on the amount.
$1 million: pay off the house, put money away for retirement & kid’s college
$15 million: start my own distillery
$25 million: Create a non-profit creative space for fine and performing arts, including a live/work space for resident artists & all ages theater & music venue
$50 million: All of the above, and create a scholarship foundation for art & technology students
$100 million: Hire a private doctor who is on call 24/7, and spends their time providing free health care to the local community
$250+ million: Hire a crack team of mercenaries to infiltrate the war torn Afghanistan mountains, and extract a pillar of lapis lazuli.
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead


LIGHTNING ROUND!

Gamer Whale Are there any cons in working at Bungie?
Are you asking if any of our people have done time?

SN068237264910 Where is the Webmaster?
We put him charge of our social networks.

CrazzySnipe55 Are you going to have community beta testers for Bungie.next.
There’s a pretty good chance of that. Who’s ready for the next evolution?

BC1096 Is it cool if I pop by Bungie on my birthday?
It all depends on what the word “pop” means in this context.

mister death WHY do you only choose the 'intelligent' questions?
Please see the previous question. So much for your theory.

TopWargamer What's my trust rating?
You mean your Pink T Number? It’s 5827.

JScientia13 Have you ever thought about asking us questions in the mail sack?
Thought about it - even did it. We find that we like it better when you ask the questions – and the stranger the better.


QuirkyNate What are the strangest questions someone has asked you outside of the mail sack?

You really don’t want to know the answer to that. Seriously.
David Shaw, Senior Producer

Do Chucky’s interview questions count?
David Johnson, Engineer

I interviewed an engineering candidate who asked me if I liked a picture of a wolf that he’d just drawn. He really didn’t talk much about programming and the whole interview was quite unsettling. I’ll never forget it.
Jonty Barnes, Production Director

Are you really a Prince? This was a pickup line an older woman used on me when I gave her my business card at an industry event. It had a picture of a frog on it. That was a bit awkward.
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

Where would I be if I were a muffin?
Leland Dantzler, Tester

Long before I was at Bungie, I was asked who my favorite cartoon character was during a job interview.
Noah George, Sever Ninja

They don’t get any stranger than the mail sack.
David Hurd, Support Engineer

I never leave the Mail Sack.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer


Thank you, Chris. It’s our hope that no one will ever leave the Mail Sack. We love all of you too much to let you get away. If you try, they’ll find you in the woods! We’re sorry if that feels creepy, but it’s how we feel. And there’s no point in denying one’s feelings.

We’ll continue this overly attached love affair next week, Bungie Community. See you in the mailroom on Monday.

Community 12/7/2012 10:27 AM PST permalink

Bungie Crews The Artemis

Per Audacia Ad Astra

It’s no secret that Bungie dreams of traveling (boldly) to the stars. So many of our games have flung humanity into the vast reaches of space in search of intrigue and adventure. It’s also no secret that Bungie loves to play games – all kinds of games. Tables in our studio have been found strewn with controllers, dice, cards, chips, figurines, and even the occasional pawn or queen. Recently, as a mission to explore a strange new blend of these two passions, we built ourselves a starship.



It was as good a way as any to spend a lunch hour. The bridge for this mighty vessel was our state of the art theater. When we aren't using it to screen films with our families and friends (or show our emerging game to very special guests), this multimedia lounge makes for a luxurious Combat Information Center. The game in play was Artemis, a simulator that brings six players together on a network to roleplay as a space-faring crew.

Our ship builder was Garrett Greer. Appropriately enough, Garrett is a Bungie Engineer who troubleshoots our games to keep them in strong working order. As someone who first played Artemis at a LAN Party, he knew that he had to enlist his Bungie teammates into this virtual space program. “My first thought when I saw the theatre was that this would be the best bridge ever,” he recalls.



There’s Garrett, advising Tom Gioconda on the command console he would use to lead our mission. If you’re no stranger to Bungie.net, you may know Tom as Achronos, an Overlord of our community clubhouse. The moment he assumed the big chair, we called him Captain.



A Captain is nothing without his crew.  It was these brave souls that volunteered to man the stations that would keep Artemis functioning like a living organism. From left to right, they are: Jacob Miner (Science Officer), Kurt Nellis (Communications Officer), Michael Williams (Helm), Sergey Mkrtumov (Weapons Chief), Jay Thaler (Engineering Chief).

“What really amazes me about this game is how easily people get into their roles,” said Garrett, who began his off-world naval career with an itchy trigger finger. “I started at the weapons station where I quickly earned a reputation for over zealously loading nukes and randomly shooting ordnance.”



It would happen that, aboard the Artemis, such overzealousness is a very common trait among green officers. Our maiden voyage was anything but a hero’s tale. Fresh out of spacedock, our space cowboy of a Captain ordered his crew to open up the throttle. And who can blame him? It’s not every day that life affords you the chance to bark “Maximum Warp!” at a bridge staffed by eager cadets.



Tragically, our anxious crew never even saw the minefield that brought their trek to a sudden and explosive end. Fortunately, their peril was all just part a game. Watching your shiny new spaceship disappear in a luminous cloud of debris is something that you can laugh about when you can conjure up another one with a few clicks of a mouse.



With some lessons about carefully plotting a course under their belt, our crew ventured forth again. This time, they took more care to chart their surroundings. If you can avoid the derelict munitions strewn throughout the system, there is much to experience aboard the Artemis. Missions of many types beckon from the cosmos. Stranded explorers cry out for rescue. Strange phenomena invite research. Local space stations are available to refit and resupply.



“Red Alert!” No space romp would be complete without a battle against hostile invaders. After their untimely demise in the minefield, the Bungie crew found their rhythm as a team. Under the steady guidance of her Captain, the Artemis fended off several attacks against their own ship and the home base that kept them stocked with torpedoes. The programmable lighting system in our theatre helped to set the mood. With weapons and shields at their fingertips, they ruled the stars.

This will not be our last mission. The word is out at Bungie, and astro-lunches are to become a habit. Thanks to the creators of Artemis for making a great game, as well as to Garrett for helping us to blast off. You don’t need a private theater to enjoy this game. The home version is available to all on the Artemis website. All you need is a brave crew, and a little bit of networking muscle.

See you starside.

Community 12/4/2012 9:53 AM PST permalink