Bungie Rides a Little Pony

Ride Alongs are Magic.

brony (broh-nee) noun: A male fan of the television series "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic"

Bro + Pony = Brony.

This unlikely Internet phenomenon first came to my attention in the days of assembling a clan to play Halo 2 on Xbox LIVE. As me and my fellow Overlords scrutinized promising recruits, it came to our attention that two of them had changed their gamertags to cutelilpony and lilpinkpony. Why would gamers who wanted to be taken seriously as efficient killers do such a thing? In their case, this whimsical shift in virtual identity was the result of a brewing prank war between college roommates.

Upon further investigation, however, it was revealed that the Brony movement is quite real. There are conversation clusters on the Internet that embody a sincere devotion to an animated television series. Right here on Bungie.net, we have a thundering herd of Bronys who find their pasture in a private group that they call home. The mere mention of the topic can cause our forum to erupt in heated debate and shameful scorn.

With my own captive audience of Bronys at the ready to serve as a test audience, the urge to explore the complexities of their shared culture was too hard to resist. And so it was that, in an evening of games playing Halo: Reach, I learned all about the magic that binds together their friendship. To harness the wisdom garnered from this ride along, read on.

Tell the uninformed about your group. Why does it exist? How long have you been around?

Assault We are the official My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic private group on Bungie.net. We discuss art, music, videos, the show itself, and anything else pony-related on a daily basis. The group was created to control the massive amount of Bronys that was growing across B.net during February of 2011.

A Dumb Door It is a fun community of people who are simply happy to have a shared interest.

ElementWrath We meet in mutual worship of our pony overlords.

No, seriously. You don't all really watch that show. Do you? Isn't this one of those ironic displays of enthusiasm? Like when people express themselves by pretending to like cheap beer or David Hasselhoff?

Frequency99poopy Yes, we do watch the show. I look forward to a new episode every Saturday. I can understand the confusion; I was the same way before I started watching.

A Dumb Door Everyone shows their own personal degree of enthusiasm for it. Whatever the case, while we do enjoy the irony of liking this show, we also legitimately enjoy the community that has sprung up in support of it.

PMC Fluffy A common misconception is that all Bronys only like the show itself. That is not true. The art, literature, and compositions are truly awe-inspiring. If it weren't for the community, I would probably not consider myself a brony.

Okay, for the sake of science, I will risk being royally punked here. So, tell us what lessons we are missing out on if we are not watching this show? How does your shared affinity for these pony-bound parables impact your interactions?

A Dumb Door The show teaches us lessons on how to be a good person in general. They may seem like common sense to some, but I see a lot of people who don't actually follow the lessons, despite their obvious nature. As for its impact, we tend to be extremely friendly, giving, and caring around each other.

il uragano 3493 This fandom is one of the most creative assortments I've ever come across on the Internet. The fan-made content that comes from this fandom is absolutely mind-boggling. The music, the art, the writings... the content is endless!

Assault If there is anything that the show has taught me, it is to never judge a book by its cover.

Who is the whisperer of this cheery union of miniature horses? Who makes it their responsibility that your friendship is indeed magic?

il uragano 3493 That would be Dragoninside, the group's initial founder, as well as Exalted Kezia, one of the chief administrators here. Also the moderators here, including Assault, FearJ77, and Snipe Champpppp.

A Dumb Door We have our moderating team. Other than that, in general, we like to keep a good community.

PMC Fluffy The unique thing about Bronys is that there are no leaders. Sure, there are a few prominent members, but we generally accept each other as equals.

Your turnout for this Ride Along was impressive, I must say. How often do you gather together to play games? How is that organized?

il uragano 3493 Quite often, actually. We play a large assortment of games, ranging from Halo: Reach, Minecraft, Battlefield 3, Forza Motorsport 4, the whole nine yards. They always turn out fun.

A Dumb Door Oftentimes, a thread is posted asking people to join in a game. As for Minecraft, that game is sort of always running with people coming and going at variable intervals.

Assault Game nights come and go. If someone feels like having a game night, they are encouraged to make a thread and do so.

How do you Bronys maintain this pastel-hued good cheer in the face of so much scorn and mockery at the hands of the Internet?

Frequency99poopy You say that like anyone actually listens to the opinion of the Internet.

A Dumb Door We tend to live by a couple of creeds. "Love and tolerate" and "Haters gonna hate."

PMC Fluffy If I have learned anything from my experiences on the Internet, it is that you should not care about what others think of you unless you know that person on a deeper level. Many people judge something because they don't understand it, or have never tried it.

Assault A very smart computer once said, the only winning move is not to play. When people start to attack us and pass judgment on us, the only thing we can do is ignore it and walk away.

You have made a believer out of me, ye Bronys. What does the future hold for your magical feeding troth?

il uragano 3493 I think that this group isn't going away anytime soon. At least, I hope not. This is the friendliest bunch that I have ever met over the Internet, or anywhere for that matter.

Assault The original creators of this group didn't think it would last any longer than a month. But here we are now, a year later, with over 550 members and still going strong.

ElementWrath Hopefully our community will continue to expand. Then we can only hope that people stop trying to use the subject to troll the Flood senseless. I've made a lot of great memories here that I doubt I'll forget, and I'm sure I can look forward to plenty more.

The games that I played with the Bronys were just as creative as you would expect, given their professed fondness artistic expression. The mood was as cheerful and enthusiastic as their love for the show that brought them together in the first place.  We took turns losing a game of Invasion on a map that seemed designed to force a stalemate (or, “Everyone wins!” in Brony-speak). We hurled ourselves repeatedly at one another, with Warthog after Warthog meeting their untimely end in a choke point guarded by a stubborn Wraith.

We trudged through a luminescent maze, deprived of our ability to jump, while being pursued by Zombies whose only form of assault was to block our passage by armor locking the gaps in the wall. Once cornered, we could only wait to be infected by the Alpha-Zombie, he being the only player on the map with a working weapon.

Another infectious game was light on action, but heavy on art direction. The meticulously Forged venue suggested secrets that would distract us from the dangers that lurked around every corner.

To reward my patience with their more recreational fare, the Bronys obliged me with a nightcap of Team Slayer on old-favorite Hemorrhage. Matchmaking was our dealer, and the fates were kind. My trusty steed was mighty, if not infallible at the hands of stronger beasts.

If you crave the promise of a kinder, gentler community, these Bronys aim to please. Their message of tolerance and goodwill is one that they take very seriously. The doors of their Internet stables are wide open to fans of their favorite show, or just people who yearn for the friendly vibe that flavors their shared magic. Thanks for the games, Bronys. Keep your chins up as your gallop across the Internet spreading your message of love.

Community 3/29/2012 10:53 AM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Danny Bulla

Even rock stars have to audition.

Bungie is always on the hunt for the best and brightest developers. This exhaustive search brings new faces to us from every corner of the map. One of them is Danny Bulla, a rock star who left a land of infinite sunshine to join us under the misty canopy that hangs over the majestic Pacific Northwest. Read on to find out how and why he made the trip.

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

Your new best friend, right DeeJ? Right? In all seriousness, I’m new to these parts, ever passionate about game design and world domination. I’m a gameplay designer on the sandbox team. We try to make all the things you do feel and play amazingly. So much, that you’ll want to do it over... and over... and over again! In fact, we should just make a jumping game. Jump. Jump. Jump.

I am not sure how well that would be received by our patient community, Danny. Some of them need a little healthy competition to keep them engaged. You can relate, I am sure. So that they can relate right back, tell them about your interests outside of work.

I’m big into music, all music really, though recently I’ve been listening to a lot of WubWubWubWub. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I love gaming. I tend to focus more on the competitive games: Marvel vs. Capcom (Thor/Tony/Wesker accepting all challengers), DotA 2, card games (like MTG and Ascension). Really anything that I can win in. Losing sucks.

When I find time - or just need to relax - you’ll find me playing my piano. Nothing like 88 weighted keys to end the day.

We are indeed fortunate to have that competitive spirit on our side, now. What were you doing before your career led you to play for our team?

Getting Sun. I moved up from Southern California where I was working on Red Dead Redemption. Before that, Austin, TX, where I worked on Blacksite: Area 51. Both games taught me a ton. I wouldn’t be doing this interview now if it weren’t for the things I learned on those projects.

This is the easy interview. Can you remember the hard interview? Or have you blocked it out like a long-repressed childhood trauma? What was it like to face the panel that sized you up as a potential employee at Bungie?

The interview process at Bungie is intense, more intense than any interview I’ve ever had. That being said, there wasn’t one part that stood out as harder than the rest. Everything I knew about game development and playing games was analyzed. Bungie wants people that are as passionate about games as they are about making them. I didn’t know if I had the job when I left the interview, but I realized that I wanted to talk to those guys more. The amount I learned just by interviewing took me by surprise. That was the moment that I knew I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t here.

Sometimes, getting our attention can be even harder than surviving the audition. What did you do to make Bungie take notice in the first place?

I tried a few different approaches at first. Goat sacrifices didn’t seem to work, so I decided to give my résumé a shot. Thanks to my good friend and fellow gameplay designer Ham-Ham (Josh Hamrick), I was able to get my foot in the door!

They say it’s all about who you know. You just proved them right. Now that you are here, what is the most rewarding thing about working for Bungie?

How about two things? The first I’ve already touched on: Knowledge. I’ve already learned so much here. Everyone here is just so good at their job. The second, which is equally important as the first, is Bungie’s dedication to its employees. They continually go out of their way to make sure we are happy, creative, and genuinely excited about our games. If we aren’t, they find out why and address it. If they don’t, we riot. Pitchforks and all.

You make the experience sound so lofty. We do have fun here as well. What is your favorite perk about working for Bungie?

No joke? The endless supply of Raisinets. My dad and I would always get a box of these when we went to the movie theatre. Never, and I mean ever, did I think I would be able get up from my desk, do a few pull-ups, then go get some delicious chocolate covered raisins.

Now that we know how easy you are to please, we will have to keep those stocked. A competitive guy like you keeps track of his achievements. What is your favorite accomplishment as a member of the Bungie team?

Getting runner up for the Drunkard category at our annual Golf tournament. Just kidding Mom, I don’t drink… It has to be the DotA 2 Pentathlon victory. My team of Newbies and I decimated the rest of the studio. Yes. Decimated. Mad?

While Danny is busy fending off the waves of anger that are sure to come from vanquished Pentathlon opponents after this is published, you are welcome to track all of the trails that leads to Bungie. This is just one story about joining the cause for world domination. The rest are stored for safe keeping in our Breaking In Archive. More are to follow. Watch this space.

Breaking In 3/26/2012 3:55 PM PDT permalink

Men in Kilts

This clan fights for the forces of good.

Read Full Top Story

Community 3/23/2012 4:30 PM PDT

Mail Sack Ten

Dispatches from the mail room.

There are ebbs and flows in the tempo for building a game. Some weeks, giving structure to the raw space is even and steady. Other weeks, we spend more hours atop our cranes than any real-world safety regulation would ever allow. Developers call this Crunch. At Bungie, we don’t reserve those precious moments for just the very end of our process.

This week, some of our finest are working extra hours to ascend to the next phase. As you might imagine, this challenge keeps people from wandering into the mail room. Not to leave you completely out of our loop, a few foremen have taken a moment to browse your letters while waiting for some freshly poured concrete to dry.

Tyson Green, Staff Designer
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer
Jon Cable, Senior Engineer
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer
Dan Miller, Senior Designer
Daniel Hanson, Associate Engineer
Danny Bulla, Designer

Before they don those hardhats again, let’s open the Sack.

The Yeti Who is the most dangerous Bungie employee?

Harold Ryan - for many reasons.
Dan Miller

Harold Ryan. I once watched him physically take down a marketer. There was blood.
Michael Williams

mark117 mia2553 The Community is in a gap right now with you guys being dark for so long. Can we see pics of how busy you guys are without divulging the new hawtness?

I can’t show you a picture of that. Our studio is a dimly-lit foundry of activity, and a flashbulb could send these crunch-weary hoards into a panic. At the very least, we could lose valuable seconds of night-vision, which is a sacrifice I cannot risk.

Wikked Navajoe Post a picture of your fanciest attire.

Now that is a picture that I can share! If you are not dialed into our various social networking channels, you may have missed this charming exhibition of altruism. The polls are still open if you would like to cast a ballot in favor of this dashing clan.

AcedannyK 7 Does everyone at Bungie know each other, more or less, or do you encounter strange new faces often?

Bungie is in the grips of a rampant growth spurt. There are strange new faces here on a weekly basis. Admittedly, some are stranger than others. We don’t take too long in getting to know them. That’s why man invented lunch.

Stuckers What's the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything?


Poy Poy What is the most unfair thing at Bungie?

Any Pentathlon ruling that goes against the Grizzled Ancients should be investigated for fraud and bias.
Michael Williams

Well, there's the fact that we can't talk to you guys about our game.  Man, I wish I could talk about that.
Daniel Hanson

That I have to go home.
Dan Miller

Editor’s Note: Altogether now… Awwwwwwwwwwwwww!

Krimm117 What's the most notorious practical joke to take place at Bungie?

My favorite involves hidden cameras and Photoshop, and can never see the light of day.
Michael Williams

We don't talk about that anymore.
Dan Miller

Galactic Pixel Besides planning Ride Alongs and having the Mail Sack every week, what do you usually do at Bungie (that isn't classified)?

I hate to say it (you have no idea how much), but it’s all classified. For now, at least. When I am not planning my next in-game anthropological experiment or conducting this weekly census of curiosity and sharing, I am representing your deepest hopes and wishes in our creative process. During a crunch week, this most crucial aid to development is met with heartfelt retorts like “Go away!” or “I will kill you!” or “I slept three hours last night!”

elmicker What's your favorite album?

I think Weezer's Blue Album is still my overall favorite, but for long driving trips I prefer Cake's Comfort Eagle.
Michael Williams

Radiohead's OK Computer.
Dan Miller

Fiesta Zombie Do you guys ever dress up in something ridiculous? I don't know, something like a gorilla suit or a morphsuit?

What the hell is a Morphsuit? Since it is rude to answer a question with a question, please see below.

Elem3nt 117 During the Pentathlon, who was this person wearing a purple dino robe who had two employees help him/her down the stairs while holding his/her hands?

Sorry, Elem3nt. The identity of our purple friend will be kept a secret, until he/she chooses to reveal themself. If you insist on solving this riddle on your own, the boots are a dead giveaway.

Sven Nietzsche Does Bungie have a Milton Waddams? If so, what is he/she obsessed with?

You aren’t reading Marcus Lehto’s blog? You should.

EZcompany2ndsqd Who are you closest to at work DeeJ?

I suppose that depends on which context for the word “close” your question invokes.
I am closest in proximity to Halcylon.
I am closest in appearance to urk.
I am closest in musical talent to Marty.
I am closest in creativity to Joe.
I am closest in strength to Jerome.
I am unrivaled in capacity for exaggeration.

ALI217 Riddle: If time flies like an arrow, then what does fruit fly like?

A banana. Hey, if you can use the Internet to solve my riddles, I can use the Internet to solve yours. Cheating is a slippery slope that sends us all tumbling to our own soul-crushing demise.

Dropship dude When the time comes to order a pizza, for whatever reason, is there a collective support of toppings, or do some people in the office like to ruin it and go all vegetarian on you?

Urk is a vegetarian. Check out what our current production schedule does to local establishments who serve up said pizza. If you look closely, you can see proof that not everyone at Bungie is a bloodthirsty carnivore.

nickpickles Does Urk hate DeeJ because DeeJ usurped his former job.

No. Urk hired DeeJ to keep you company while he schemes behind the scenes to ensure that our next project kicks as much ass as possible. Urk hates DeeJ for a completely different reason: Because DeeJ devours animals with unquenchable blood lust. How did you trick me into talking about myself in the third person? DeeJ hates it when people do that.

T1B3R7uMB0YXVI When you do the interviewing process, is it necessary to wear a suit, since it's not going to be needed when you actually work in the video game industry?

For some institutionalized wretches, it can be hard to rise up to the challenge of a job interview without donning the corporate uniform of a proper suit. I am ashamed to admit that I was once one of those poor souls. Prior to the scrutiny of my good behavior at the hands of the review board at Bungie, I took the risk of asking about the dress code. I had a nagging suspicion that I would be laughed out of Bungie’s zip code if I arrived in a suit, but I still had to ask – sort of like needing permission to pee after a long stretch in jail. It was urk himself that set me straight, when he said:

Don’t wear a suit. If you wear khakis, you will be turned away at the door.

Peace Police Are you going to make the Noble Map Pack free once the Halo stats transfer on March 31st? If your answer was anything but yes, why?

That’s not our call to make. The Master Chief is out of our capable hands. For details on the fate of his franchise, you will need to ask angel.

MAC Blast A long time ago, Bungie received a shipment of Beef Jerky from a fan. What was the brand of the jerky?

For the most part, it is company policy at Bungie not to eat food sent to us from the Internet. Not everyone wants us to live long and healthy lives, you know. We have enemies that prowl the grid who know that poison is the only thing between them and a giant slingshot aimed at the sun. In this case, however, the generous gift of salted meat came from a reputable establishment. We devoured it like a pack of starving wolves.

homocidalham How big of a portion of Bungie started out as fans?

A big portion. Our own Breaking In interviews tell many a story about people who took their love for playing games and converted it into a newfound love for making games. At Bungie, we are looking for people who can blend the right set of skills with a passion for making great games. And who is more passionate than a fan?

SN068237264910 Let's say that you were on your death bed and had just enough gasps of air to say your final words. What would those words/phrases be?

"You must remember... the true power of the Sword of El'Yozgoth... is in... your heart."
Michael Williams

Dan Miller

snipe champpppp What is the most money you have ever stolen out of a wishing well?

It’s time to come clean. I once stole a quarter from a fountain at a shopping mall so that I could defend my high score for Omega Race. Over the years, I have rationalized that victimless crime with speculation that the person’s wish was that some troubled youth could stay on top of the leaderboard for their favorite game, but we both know that isn’t true. Don’t we? Thank you for this chance to step back into the light, snipe champpppp. As a token of my thanks, you have permission to remove one p from your name.

HWJohn Each of you turn into some sort of firearm, whether it be a .22 or the Vulcan cannon off an A-10. Which one are you?

Does a MAC cannon count?
Michael Williams

B.B. Gun
Dan Miller

coolmike699 If you could have something you made in a game in real life, what would it be?

A scarab-building factory.
Dan Miller

The Teleport ability from Shadowrun (and a katana).
Derek Carroll

Forge. Create warthogs at will? Yes please. Although the lack of an undo feature could be dangerous.
Jon Cable

The Banhammer. Just imagine the power!
Michael Williams

An AirZooka.
Daniel Hanson

A horse that came to me every time I whistled.
Danny Bulla

Editor’s Note: Horses in Halo? This will make sense on Monday.

Telec I don't want to work in the game industry. Can you suggest what course I should study at college in order to achieve this? Any advice in general?

You don’t want to work in the game industry? Why not? If you are dead set on following a path that leads you as far away from here as possible, I would recommend majoring in… uhmmmm… chemistry. I have been here for about five months now, and I have yet to meet a single chemist.

Viperconn Why is it that whenever I'm offered to ask a question, my mind goes blank?

That’s called performance anxiety. It can be hard to deliver when someone is watching. I will stare into the corner and give you another chance. The floor is yours. I am staring right into this corner. Fire away, now. Any time…

Well, don’t worry too much about it. It happens to a lot of people. This is not the last sack of mail that Bungie will collect. You will all have another chance to put us to the question of your choosing next week. In the meantime, please remember to put safety first. It has been two days since our last workplace accident

Community 3/23/2012 11:52 AM PDT permalink

Bungie Rides Along with Mythics

Answering the call with the Royal Blue.

At Bungie, we believe that every member of our beloved community was created equal. Good luck convincing them of that, however. On the forum where their debate rages eternal, everyone bears a title that betrays the level of trust they have accrued during their time as a guest in our court. Some members are Honorable. Some are Heroic. Some are even Legendary. For too many, these social designations have morphed into somewhat of an obsession.

This virtual class system is all based on a closely guarded science. Good behavior is rewarded with evolving titles, all color coordinated for easy reference. The highest plateau to which one can aspire is that of a Mythic Member. The blue title bar that underscores their name sits like a crown atop all of their conversations.

Deep within the catacombs of Bungie.net hides a secret keep where Mythic Members revel in their elite status. One cannot be invited to this gathering. One must earn the right to join. In the hopes of sharing some drippings from their magnificent feast with the masses, I welcomed Mythic emissaries to play some games and tell their story.

What does it mean to be Mythic?

dmg04 Google tells me that being Mythic is to be exaggerated or idealized. My heart tells me that it's to be better than everyone else.

Halo53 To some people, being a Mythic member is about a dedication to improving the community. To others, it's a meaningless colored title bar that simply indicates a long-term commitment to maintaining an account on this site.

I ZEROCOOL I It means you’re super popular and get mad chicks.

Top_Gun_2021 To be mythic, one must be fully enlightened. To be enlightened, one must have inner peace. If you are an '04 mythic there is an even more special place for you.

Skibur Being Mythic isn't just about the title. It's about having an understanding of the forums and community that comes from years of interaction on this site.

What happens behind closed doors in the secret hall of Mythics?

dmg04 That's like asking what happens behind the doors of HFCS! All I can tell you is that we have much more interesting things to talk about. In fact, we have quite a few Bungie.net Forum Ninjas in our ranks. Also, Elmicker’s disapproval of everything is entertainment at its finest.

I ZEROCOOL I A lot of nudity....... Too much nudity.

Halo53 There are a number of highly classified discussions that take place within the Mythic Members group. Unfortunately, you lack the proper security clearance for me to go into further detail about many of them. It’s essentially the movie 300 crossed with the Council of Elrond. The only difference is that most of our members wear shirts.

Top_Gun_2021 It involves being as blue as can be. We mostly complain, vote in my polls, talk about politics, ask for mythical advice on fashion and clothing accessories, share house decorating tips, talk about women, gossip about other people, add to our internet egos, scat, tell each other what happened after eating Taco Bell's new Doritos Burrito, post mean comments in other Mythic's threads, and other mythical shenanigans that are super-secret.

Skibur Well it's hardly a secret... There are more spies on this site than there were in the KGB.
It's a relatively small group, but it has remained consistently active from the beginning. The majority of us are around the same age, and have been on this site for quite a few years which gives us some kind of connection that just makes the group work.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to Mythicness?

Halo53 There are two available options for members who wish to attain their mythic hood. The first is to perform the Royal Blue Ritual. It is forbidden for me to discuss the details of all of the steps required for the ritual. I can tell you that it involves a fossilized wooly mammoth, honey mustard, and a generous donation into Yoozel's PayPal account. The second option is to be a positive contributing member of the community.

I ZEROCOOL I Take the Blue pill.

Top_Gun_2021 You should stop aspiring to be mythic because all it does is allow you to be in the Mythic Members group - although the group is awesome. That does not mean you cannot be mythic in your heart. If you want the title, all you have to do is not get banned and be active.

Skibur Real Mythics never aspire to become Mythic, they have always been Mythic.

dmg04 '04 or bust.

Sorting through these conflicting accounts of the true Mythic essence had me confused. Is there nudity? Or do they wear shirts? In an attempt to arrive at the truth, we prolonged our experiment into an evening of playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. To observe these Mythics in their preferred state, I put them on the same team, pitted against the rest of the world served up in heaping helpings of opponents by Xbox LIVE. Along for the ride was fellow Bungie employee Nate Hawbaker, whose own story was chronicled in the Breaking In interview posted earlier this week.

Despite the fact their private interactions seldom lead to shared game time, the players on Team Mythic displayed an instant capacity for teamwork. Their chatter seemed to suggest that they were drawing from the same mind. It is no secret that Mythics are motivated by rewards for the right tactics. In working together to unlock killstreaks, they entreated the opposing forces to a literal air-show of in-game assets.

Mythics thrive on a state of superiority. For them, being as good as everyone else is not good enough. In COD, this truth is just as relevant as it is on Bungie.net. For example, as depicted above, why play as a stock character when you can play as a juggernaut?

To close out the night, we experimented with the Infection playlist, a product of the Modern Warfare community. Sooner or later, it seems that every community of gamers embraces the threat of a zombie apocalypse. To demonstrate to the Mythics that we too understand their cherished notion of solidarity, the Bungie detachment of Team Mythic locked down our own corner. Standing back to back like Mythic members on Bungie.net, Nate and I protected each other from lower forms of life.

In any other recap of a Ride Along event, this is the part where I would encourage you to join this coven of Mythics. As you have learned, this is not an invitation for me to extend. Instead, I can only issue the challenge that an ivory tower awaits those who earn the right to ascend it. We can thank these Mythics to share some games with us, and for making our community their home, but we cannot drive the uninitiated to their door.

Community 3/22/2012 9:46 AM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Nate Hawbaker

Plotting all courses to world domination.

If you have been following the Bungie employees who have graced recent Mail Sacks with their deep wisdom and infinite irony, you may recognize Nate Hawbaker as a perennial panelist. He has been as passionate about Halo games as he has been about the community that has played them. That’s why he agreed to step away from the storm we’re brewing to discuss a path that led him to an exciting career in controlling the weather. Let’s learn more about how this self-made man broke in to the business.

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

Nate Hawbaker. I design the tools that we use here at Bungie to develop The Next Big Thing™.

Don’t get excited, everyone. That is not what we are calling it. Nate is just being colloquial.

So, Nate, when you are not misleading the community about the working title of our next game, what pastimes do you use to balance the rest of life with your aggressive workload at Bungie?

I help cover photography at our local exotic car show here in Redmond, Exotics@RTC. Does taking my Corgi to the park count as an interest? It definitely should.

I would say that your enormous Corgi thinks so. Let’s change the subject from the dog path to the career path. What were you doing before your professional leash led you here?

I was working in QA at Nintendo, “testing” Mario Kart 7 – aka trash talking my coworkers at ear-shattering volumes.

Beware the blue shell. It is a crusher of all dreams. Speaking of dreams, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Oh man. I think this is the part where I say Astronaut or race car driver, right? Honestly I can’t recall. Let’s just assume I wanted to shoot aliens in the face.

Very few institutions of higher learning offer degrees in that very particular field of study. What education did you pursue to prepare you for a life in the trenches of video game development?

Outside of my High School education, I was working towards an AAS transfer at Bellevue College. I got bored of that after a year before I decided to dedicate my time towards personal projects and education.

So you are a student of the world, and a professor in your own hall. How enterprising of you. Once your own class was dismissed, how did you show Bungie what you had taught yourself?

I made a nifty piece of software called Vanity. It grabbed enough attention to get a front page mention, before melting my servers of course. Apart from that I was an active member in the community through HBO for 8 years.

We pay homage to the same Godfather, in that respect. Tell us about the rigors that led to the offer that you could not refuse.

The initial phone interview was one of the most fun conversations I had ever had for a job. I never had so many common things to talk about, from hobbies to rendering technologies. That instant commonality left a huge impression. The hardest part: The 11 hour long in-person interview. So much problem solving…

Was the experience up to this point worth the trials? What is the most rewarding thing about working for Bungie?

Being surrounding by such extreme talent every day – it’s so creatively conducive.

But how does that manifest in terms of going to work and doing your part? Describe a day in the life in our studio.

Initial run through the kitchen to pick up free food. Morning meetings to make sure everyone has a clear plan of attack for the day. And then around 30 minutes into the day you usually find yourself walking away from your desk to ask about The New Hotness™ that is on someone’s monitor.

We are not calling our next project that either. Back to the details that flavor the grind, what is your favorite perk about working for Bungie?

Did I mention the free Red Bull AND gym membership?

You did not. Mass quantities of the former seem to beg of mass quantities of the latter. Tell us how you expend all of this spare energy. What is your favorite accomplishment as a member of the Bungie team?

Every single time I can make someone say, “That’s a good idea, I’d never thought of that.”

Do these collaborators of whom you speak return that favor of inspiration? How do you advance your craft while wielding it to help us make kick ass games?

Keeping busy. Here, it’s impossible to be bored. But even outside the studio I try to occupy my time with personal projects.

You are like your own program for Continuing Studies. What recommendations would you make to people who want to work in this industry?

Don’t be afraid to take a little bit of time to yourself to try something new. You’d be amazed at what you can do when you give 100% of your time towards a new personal goal for even a month.

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

Talent, Work Ethic, Experience – This is a trick question!

As you have taught yourself, the best tests can be the ones that are not graded. By that measure, you passed with flying colors, Nate. We thank you for sharing your story with hopeful souls who dream of turning their hatred for aliens into a career.

If you are one of those dreamers, you are welcome to peruse other stories like these in the Breaking In Archive. No two paths are the same, after all. Stay tuned for the remembrances of more trailblazers as they recount the steps that led to the development floor of Bungie.

Breaking In 3/19/2012 3:17 PM PDT permalink

Bungie Mail Sack 9.0

It's a sack.

Behind every kick ass video game is a cast of characters who bring life out of code. Just like you, they have hopes, dreams, heroes, and ideas about what they would request for their last meal. Some of them even put their pants on one leg at a time. It just so happens that, after they do that, they are whisked away by helicopter to a secure compound where they are tasked with the creation of universes filled with danger and intrigue. To make them a little more human, however, we have gathered a discussion panel to share some intimate details about themselves, and fired some of your questions in their general direction. Meet the volunteers who lined up against the wall this week.

Lars Bakken, Design Lead
Jon Cable, Senior Engineer
Nate Hawbaker, Associate Technical Artist
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer
Ben Litowitz, Engineer
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer
Mat Noguchi, Anger Management Graduate
Lorraine McLees, Artist
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

Don’t be shy, everyone. Let’s open the Sack.

Top_Gun_2021 Is there anything better than being first?

Being relevant is also nice. But that takes more time. And where would that leave you?

The Storm You can have one meal every meal for the rest of your life. What will it be?

Spicy chicken sandwiches. It'd be a significantly shorter life, yet more delicious.
Alex Loret de Mola

Panang Curry/Pad Thai combo lunch.
Jon Cable

Either Ezell's Chicken or my special ordered burrito from Nick's Grill in Kirkland. I really hope there is the caveat of “If no health risks were involved,” as either choice would probably shorten my life expectancy faster than smoking 25 packs of cigarettes a day.
Pat Jandro

Ben Litowitz

John Stvan

Chipotle with a small portion of Lefse.
Nate Hawbaker

It might have to be yellow curry with chicken and brown rice, but a good meat lasagna would almost tie it. That's a hard question!
Lars Bakken

In that hypothetical scenario, I would likely appreciate a plate of yellow rice, shrimp scampi, grilled asparagus and breaded baked tilapia with a selection of tartar sauce, horseradish cream sauce, balsamic vinegar and mayonnaise.
Lorraine McLees

Editor’s Note: Maybe I should have cut this question. After reading all of these responses, I am picturing some of my favorite coworkers sitting on Death Row.

IHaveTURRETS JR What is your favorite Disney movie? Pixar does not count.

I will say this once, friend. Around these parts, Pixar always counts. Always.

RogueRainbowX How do you get a ride along?

Asking me usually works. I have a list of Private Groups on Bungie.net that I will be reaching out to with a ticket to ride in the near future. It helps when you approach us (me) with a unique experience in mind. A Ride Along is an event that you design – a chance for the fans to turn the tables on the developers. You set the stage. We are just along for the ride. You show us why you love to play games, and how you play them. It’s a great chance for us to study you, and to learn from you.

UnderTheKnif3 Who's your hero?

At the moment, it's Alan Turing, who advanced (and some may even say, created... though that may be too strong of a conjecture) the field of Computer Science and aided a world that hated and feared who he was. I wish he'd have lived to see what became of his efforts, and how different the world is now.
Alex Loret de Mola

Bruce Lee.
Ben Litowitz

If you mean someone I look up to, and has admirable qualities that it would behoove me to try to emulate in some way in my daily life, that would be Robt McLees. (What... not obvious???) If you mean someone who was instrumental in where I am today, that would be Jean "Moebius" Giraud. His work has inspired perhaps two generations of artists and creators who are currently working in entertainment – be they comics artists, illustrators, movie directors, costume or set designers, concept artists, and so on. For someone with such influence and talent, his confidence was tempered with humility and respect for others. When I met him at the release of the Halo Graphic Novel, I let on that his work was highly influential in shaping my career and how one illustration in particular has stayed in my mind all these years (though the book it was in had long since vanished). He expressed that he wished he knew what did that – what made one of his works a masterpiece – so that he could do it all the time. He hoped that he had a few more of those left in him. I am certain he did. It was a very sad day on March 10 this year, when the great Moebius died at age 73. But, his work lives on!
Lorraine McLees

Christopher Hitchens.
Nate Hawbaker

It’s going to sound corny, but my parents. They were silly enough to make me believe I could do anything I wanted with my life. Hence, I thought I could make games for a living.
Lars Bakken

You are.
Jon Cable

Seriously, DeeJ, screen these questions better.
John Stvan

Editor’s Note: A carpenter is never better than the building materials he is given.

Tookurdignity I was wondering, DeeJ, what would be YOUR advice for a guy looking to either start up his own game company or follow your path into becoming an employee at BUNGiE?

If you want to start your own game company, you should really ask someone smarter than me. If you want to work for Bungie, you should really follow a path that was more direct than mine. If you insist on following my path, you must first toil for over a decade in the trenches of various corporate settings, devoting an embarrassing portion of each day to fostering your own gaming clan on The Man’s dime. Then, one day, become so burnt out on earning that Man’s dime that you load some basic life necessities into a van and head west to accept a job offer that is filled with mystery.

Insanities Are there going to be more Breaking In articles in the future? I found the recent one about Derek Carroll fascinating.

Now that is where I would point someone if they wanted to plot a more direct path to the video game industry. Breaking In will be a weekly feature, barring unforeseen interruptions. I have already gathered a collection of fascinating reads that is deep enough to keep us all fascinated until the harvest.

Spartan_Natraps How do we get YOUR job?

First, you must hunt me down and eliminate me. Unfortunately, I am very hard to stalk.

CrazzySnipe55 On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy do you think it would be to stalk you without being discovered? Explain your answer… thoroughly.

10. All Bungie employees are hard to stalk. One of the perks of employment is a company transportation program that sees us ferried safely to and from work every day aboard Blackhawk helicopters. Insertions are by parachute. Extractions at the end of the day happen on the roof. Since our building isn’t weight-bearing to that degree, we have to grab on to a rope ladder as they pass overhead. From there, we ascend above the perpetual cloud cover that graces our city to mask the respective vectors that lead to our homes. So, unless you have infrared anti-aircraft action, you ain’t stalking this.

Galactic Pixel What makes Bungie so awesome?

It’s the helicopters.

sneakysangheili If you could buy any car in the world, what car would you buy?

I don’t need a car. Helicopters, yo. Helicopters.

HOOBLA 911 What one picture would describe the whole experience at Bungie Studios?

Alex Loret de Mola

Ben Litowitz

John Stvan

Jon Cable

Lars Bakken

Nate Hawbaker

Pat Jandro

Lorraine McLees

CRAZYPOTATO After you pass the torch to 343 what will happen to Halo 3's forge creations?

Nothing. The creations that you have erected (and yes, we have seen those), will live on. Forged Maps and the File Shares that willing cartographers use to trade them are born of the game itself. While Bungie.net will not reflect any changes that you make after March 31st, the files themselves will merge unscathed. Short of you deleting it yourself, there is nothing that can be done to undo your work.

THOMAS 15O If an old shady man pulled up in a van and asked you for candy, would you do it? And if so, what type of candy?

That’s not the way it works. The shady man fills the van up with candy, and offers it up to unsuspecting victims.

dmg04 What ever happened to the ODST truck from the ODST truck tour?

We filled it up with candy.

Mythical Zero What is the source of Mat Noguchi's unfathomable Rage?

As a relative Newbie at Bungie, I had to enter Noguchi’s gravity well to investigate. The following is a transcript of the conversation that ensued…

(Interior: Bungie)

Me: What gives? Two fans asked this question this week.

Noguchi: Honestly, that’s not how I want to be remembered. So I’m working on it. (And yes, you should publish that.)

Me: Aww shucks, man! No one on Bungie.net wants you to grow up. Don’t make me ask urk.

Noguchi: I would really appreciate it if you posted my response.


Me: I will do what you appreciate.

Noguchi: Thanks man. I know it’s like throwing a cat in front of a tank to make it stop.

I am not sure who is the tank (or the cat) in that metaphor, but I had to share it for the visual image it invoked. You’re welcome.

coolmike699 What's something that causes a lot of debate or controversy at Bungie that we wouldn't expect?

Perhaps this is too obvious, but the greatest subject of debate is the creation of the game itself. People will fight with nova-hot passion to defend the features and elements that they hold dear, locked in mortal combat behind closed conference room doors. The greatest source of controversy is the music that gets played in the bathroom, especially when it contains secret riddles that can only be answered at the Pentathlon.

zarrowsmith DeeJ, should I become a doctor or work on video games?

Become a doctor. The hours are better, and there is far less blood involved. If things like pain and exhaustion don’t deter you, there is always our Careers Page.

SmokeSUCKER117 I'm too young, but still, what job will be waiting for me in the future?

To acquaint one’s self with the job market of the future, just take any job that exists today and add the word “Space” or “Nano” in front of it.

Its A Mirage Are there any Easter eggs from your past games that surprised you at how quickly they were found or any that surprised you at how long they took to find?

Definitely the IWHBYD skull in H3. But you cheated. There is one Easter egg in Halo 3 that I don't think anyone has found - I stumbled across it in code a while back. It only happens on a specific day...so good luck.
Jon Cable

Memoir of a Golden Egg:

It all began on a fateful afternoon in our old studio in Kirkland. I was out back, shooting some animation reference for a cinematic in Halo 3: ODST when Mr. Marty O'Donnell, eager to make his way to the break area, made the fatal mistake of not going around the space where I was shooting. Instead, he decided on walking straight into my camera's view to interrupt my work and do a little jig in an effort to be "funny" ...oh how correct you didn't realize you would eventually be, Marty.

What happened next was beyond delightful. After being momentarily irked that my shot was ruined, my brain shifted gears. I quickly realized that I was sitting on a gold mine. The instant after he passed through my recording camera's line of sight with his feet shuffling and his fists pumping, I knew that it was my civic duty to make something happen with this once-in-a-lifetime footage. Luckily, I knew just the man to employ for the job. The dancing .gif of Sir O'Donnell surrounded by flying hearts that Steve Scott authored made my insides tingle with delight. It took all the discipline in the world for us to hold this close to our chests. When showing this gem behind closed doors to those select few who needed to know, the audio and design teams rallied to forge a secret Easter egg that Marty himself was not aware of – a legendary prank that would essentially "ice" Marty's own Halo Easter egg tradition, the Siege of Madrigal.

As the launch date for ODST neared, Marty was so excited to keep his tradition of implanting a special spot to play his sweet secret music, he decided to hold a competition and reward the first dedicated player who found it with a special prize. I remind you, Marty had no idea what we had been up to under the hood. We managed to slip in some stuff in the 11th hour before ship that would make this special Marty Dance .gif pop up and play when a player activated his coveted Siege of Madrigal on the Legendary difficulty setting. Fate was on our side.

 The person who first discovered this spot in ODST, and WON the contest Marty was so excited about, just happened to be playing on Legendary difficulty. Still ignorant to the fact, Marty gathered some of us in private to view for the first time the saved film of his grand contest being won. Let's just say the surprised "WTF?" expression on Marty's face as he learned first-hand what we had been scheming in secret will forever be burned into my memory. This whole experience solidified the fact that I work at the best game development studio on earth.  Even though he may not have learned his lesson of interrupting people's film shoots; the ol' gipper sure can take a joke with the grace of kings.
Pat Jandro

I must concur with Pat's entry. See, I was the one who implemented said Marty dancing gif in one of my levels. I tried to put it in the most out of the way section of Kikowani Station. That was a blast putting it in and not letting Marty in on the secret.
Lars Bakken

There are apparently still a few that have yet to be found. What--? No. I'm not telling!
Lorraine McLees

SH4D0W0733 What terrifying beast keeps the golden text of yours and others from gracing the flood with your presence more often?

Watch this… You see? The Flood is a beast all its own.

Frag Ingot Will Bungie ever publish a book of the elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections that is 'The Flood'?

If we were to publish the contents of The Flood, the world would be devoid of trees.

r c takedown If you didn't get into the video games industry, where do you think you would be right now?

I know exactly where I'd be: in an overpriced and cramped apartment in Boston, working with healthcare communication protocols. I'm glad to be here.
Alex Loret de Mola

Trying to get into the video game industry.
Jon Cable

I'd most likely be a traditional camera operator recording marine wild life for months on end in some isolated part of the world.
Pat Jandro

A dark, dark place.
Ben Litowitz

Anywhere else, my smart mouth would have landed me in witness protection by now.
John Stvan

Probably doing something in film or video. I studied that in college and actually worked on some independent films before getting my first gaming job. All my friends in college went off to do some amazing things in the film industry, so maybe I'd be doing that as well. Who knows!
Lars Bakken

I have never worked elsewhere in the game industry but here, and I wouldn't be at Bungie today if I had never met Robt at the American Academy of Art in 1988. To answer the question though, if I wasn't at Bungie, I think I would still be in the area of visual design, likely cracking the whip on graphic designers and illustrators somewhere in Chicago... playing more games in my spare time -- and likely pondering pushing pixels for one of those companies I read about. And maybe try out for that place called Bungie who is hiring like crazy right about now.
Lorraine McLees

Spending money on college out of veiled obligation - or Norway.
Nate Hawbaker

Trytikan Does one require a college degree if we wish to apply for Bungie?

From Nate’s comments above, it sounds as if college is not an absolute requirement. Sometimes, the world can teach us lessons that are more valuable than ones that can be gleaned from term papers and such. At the risk of feeling terribly irresponsible, I must provide college with my highest recommendation. Where else can you live in a city that is dominated by people your own age? College is like Xbox LIVE, only with beer.

Kris the Abyss This goes out mainly to designers, but I guess it could work for everybody else. Does your knowledge for how a video game is created and designed affect the way you play through a random game? And does it sometimes ruin the experience for you?

To avoid a storm of negativity that would saddle me with a public relations nightmare, I will simply go on record by saying that turning your first love into a profession does change that thing. It doesn’t destroy your love for it, but you have no choice but to see it differently. For example, in high school, I was that mysterious man in the window at the back of the movie theatre. I could clean, thread, and start a movie projector blind-folded. My love for cinema motivated me to become a master of my craft. To this day, if there is a piece of fuzz dancing in the corner of a movie screen, it is all I can see until the end-credits roll.

Zafric I love Bungie and the amazing games that you've made over the years and I see all the effort and love that's been poured into them, and I want to personally thank you for it and tell you how much I appreciate it.

Dude, I can’t give you any fancy helmets. I didn’t even work on Halo. You are kissing the wrong ass. But, thank you. The pleasure is all ours. Really.

Trytikan Who's in charge? Like, who runs Bungie? Is it kind of like everyone's their own boss? Or is there just a single person to run it all?

Bungie is a very freestyle environment. There is no boss. We all manage ourselves, and see to it personally that our own efforts are well spent on bringing our shared mission into focus. No one tells us what to do. The last thing we need is…

(feels cold steel against the back of his head)

Harold Ryan... Harold Ryan is the President of Bungie! He looms like a shadow over us all. His word is rule and law. My life for him!

(turns around – sees only a poof of smoke)

With that last question, I declare this Mail Sack empty. To keep the conversation rolling, we will just have to open another one next week. And that, constant reader, is a promise. Keep your eyes on Bungie.net. If you will excuse me, I have a rope ladder to catch.

Community 3/16/2012 1:41 PM PDT permalink

Bungie Rides Along with Cafe

Coffee Grounds and Tea Bags.

 A wise man once said that sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name (and they’re always glad you came). While the source of that ancient wisdom has become lost to the ages, there is a private group on Bungie.net that has taken that basic human need and made it their charge. It is no secret that the dampened populace that lives under the misty skies of Seattle loves a good cup of coffee. That oven-roasted sentiment is shared by the members of Café.

The nutty aroma that emanates from their cozy haunt is one of friendship, with a dash of madness. The brew is fake, but the camaraderie is real. No community is complete without a place to dilate one’s pupils with a piping hot dose of caffeine. This week, we dropped in and grabbed a table to get acquainted with the rowdy Café staff and pen a review for the local hospitality reader.

What is Café? Why the name? How would you describe your establishment to an outsider?

a rascal cat  The Café is a group devoted to the community’s well-being. I'll do my best to sound as non-infomercialish as possible, but I can't make any promises. If you're looking for a place to relax, the Café is the group for you! (Editor’s Note: Starting to sound pretty infomercialish, to me.) I said I would do my best... In all seriousness, akin to an actual café, our group provides members with a welcoming, coffee-scented, biscotti-infested environment where members can gather and discuss topics that appeal to them. Whether you want to talk about the various flavors of coffee or Bungie's next IP, spirits are always high and the coffee is always brewing.

When did you first open your doors for business? Who broke the ground on which your house stands?

a rascal cat  The Café first opened up on August 5, 2011. Membership was limited for a short period of time, but after a while, we believed that it was in everyone's best interest that the group be opened to the public, so a larger majority of people could participate in the relatively zany discussions that were taking place behind closed doors. Our intention was, and is to this day, to inspire members of the community to not only get more involved in the Bungie.net experience, but to enjoy it as well; to engage in genuine, lighthearted conversations with people that they can relate to. We hope that, by providing our members with a warm, homey atmosphere, we can deliver them from their stress and spark their vivacity one coffee mug at a time.

Who is the proprietor of the Café? Do they rule with absolute power? Or is there a staff of virtual baristas that also tend to the clientele?

Lobster Fish 2  Rascal is the pro-player… pair of pliers… prop tire... proprietor here at the Café, and he does rule absolutely. Absolutely amazingly, that is. His humor (as noted by his avatar) is blatant in all of his posts, and he's the only leader we'd ever want to have. He's a Gentleman... eh, sometimes. The minions that rule under him, and there are a good number of us, are not only fair, but we also know how to brew a mean French vanilla latte. Or was that just me? Regardless, our clientele is always pleased, and any ruckus is shut down immediately.

Are you still open for business if Bungie.net users need a place to hang their hats?

Spartan TKIA  Of course. We welcome anyone who wishes to join our community with open arms. As Rascal mentioned earlier, having our membership open is mutually beneficial. We are graced with the presence and insight of those wishing to join, while Café enables members to engage in relaxed, lighthearted conversation.

What sorts of activities keep your people engaged? Do you play games with each other regularly?

Jumbus  Day-to-day life in the Café is full of entertaining and interesting threads that bring us all together to sit down, take a sip of your favorite brew, and forget about the burden of real life. In these dark times, we have kept ourselves occupied with the odd game "night." Due to members of the group being from so many different time zones (I mentioned "night" earlier?) it can be a challenge setting up events. The solution? More members! You (yes, you) are always welcome. Join now for a limited time offer!*

*Conditions apply. Join Café now for further details.

Wait... I'm not doing your job for you am I, DeeJ?

My job encompasses many things. My self-imposed mission is to help members of the Bungie.net community make friends and play games. Thus, you are fitting into my evil plan like a fist into a glove. On the subject of evil plans, what does the future hold for Café?

Lobster Fish 2  Hold on, let me get my caffeine crystal ball... Ah, yes. I see coffee, prosperity, good times, and a double dose of sunshine. Heavy on the sunshine. We'd love to see this group hit the 500 or even the 1000 member mark. When Bungie’s new game drops, we hope to be a mini-hub, harboring some great activity and conversation about it. Great things on the horizon, I can't wait. Neither can the rest of us.

To better understand the impact had by double shots of espresso on the virtual construct where games are played, I ordered an evening of carnage from the menu scribbled in frantic handwriting on the sandwich board. My findings led to the disturbing discovery of a debilitating condition that afflicts the over-stimulated. For the purposes of illustrating our Ride Along with Café, we will refer to this dangerous syndrome as Caffeine Psychosis. To raise awareness for the misery endured by sufferers of the tragic affliction, I even burned some of my remaining Bungie Pro render minutes (which expire later on this month, by the way).

Early symptoms of Caffeine Psychosis may include a fondness for custom games that induce a complete and total overdose on stimulus. Speed Halo is a perfect example. This variant of the Infection game type puts a zombie at the end of a tunnel that is pitched at a nauseating angle and bookended with teleporters. The result is an explosive cascade of vehicles that scream past with dizzying velocity. It’s a lot like playing in rush hour traffic as it falls down a staircase.

Long-time suffers of Caffeine Psychosis will demonstrate an affinity for combat scenarios that require whipcord reflexes. Shotty Snipers comes to mind (or “running at Snipers with Shotguns,” as I like to call it). Despite my constant protesting, if you play Halo for long enough, someone makes you hold the Sniper Rifle. Witness the performance of a normal test subject at the hands of opponents who have toxic levels of caffeine coursing through their bloodstream.

The most chronic cases of Caffeine Psychosis may exhibit a complete and total loss of regard for the virtues of teamwork. Here, we see a cafeholic doing his tea-inspired dance on the canopy of Halcylon, Bungie Graphic Designer and otherwise Ace Falcon Pilot. Rather than seize the glory that is usually reserved for brave souls who grace Hal’s gunner seat, this poor wretch has succumbed to more sinister urges, thus damning his pilot, his team, and himself.

If you crave frantic mayhem like this, and you have a thick skin for livelier-than-usual chatter, the Café is open for business. Please seat yourself. Their doors are wide open to all patrons. Oh, and I almost forgot to leave a gratuity on the table for Hoobla and ctjl96 for serving up some non-decaffeinated screenshots.

 Check, please.

Community 3/15/2012 10:48 AM PDT permalink

Crimson: Steam Pirates for Chrome

Crimson: Steam Pirates for Chrome is live.

Captain Blood’s adventure migrates to the big screen – or, at least, a screen bigger than your iPad or iPhone. Be you a landlubber who has yet to get your feet wet, now is a great time to join the crew. Be you a salty dog who has lived to tell the tale, here is a new way to play. The release of Crimson: Steam Pirates for Chrome brings the swashbuckling action to your web browser. Walk the plank to the Chrome Web Store to take the plunge!

Chapter One is free for download. Across three chapters, 24 voyages challenge you to command your fleet and your Steampunk shipmates using an elegant action interface. Take the helm of crafts that traverse land, sea, and air. Score precious bounty and measure your treasure on Leaderboards on Bungie.net.

Set sail for Google Chrome, and plot a course to the Caribbean and beyond.

Community 3/14/2012 2:29 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Tom Sanocki

Lighting the road, one newbie at a time.

If you’ve been tracking our careers page, you know that Bungie is locked in the grips of a rampant growth spurt. On a weekly basis, eager new faces are led wide-eyed through our studio.  Behind every ambitious newbie is a harrowing tale that illuminates their road into our humble home. For this week’s Breaking In, a stretch of that winding path is being lit by an animated personality who we know as Tom Sanocki.

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

I’m Tom Sanocki, and I eat tasty snacks. That’s what I do. Coincidentally, I do stuff that makes our characters better – but I’m sure other people are doing that as well.

Snacks power the vessel, but they do not make the man.  When you are not animating heroes and villains in our brave new world, what makes life otherwise worth living?

I have two children, so I am constantly weighted down by the responsibility of having precious lives in my hands – no undo, no saved game. That usually paralyzes me just when they’re about to do something incredibly unwise. After saving them at the very last instance, sharing a teachable moment about an important life lesson, and sending them off to bed, I enjoy hiking/backpacking/camping, video games, film, books, drums, and sporadic attempts at writing.

Teach our hopeful future developers a life lesson of their very own.  What were you doing before your career led you to Bungie?

I spent 11 years as a Character Lead at Pixar Animation Studios. I created character pipelines, wrote rigging and simulation software, built master rigs, poured over schedules and spreadsheets, led teams, rigged/modeled/simulated characters, and went to meetings. Lots of meetings. Did I mention meetings? Those were some great meetings. Yet, strangely, something was missing...

To help fill in those gaps, let’s peer into the darker recesses of your childhood memories.  What did you want to be when you grew up?

A game developer! As a kid I spent my spare time writing computer games (and in rural New Jersey, you get a lot of spare time). I wrote a bunch of games in a variety of styles and techniques, sold one copy ($3 pure profit, baby!), and realized years later that none of them were fun to play. At all. After a decade in computer animated film, I’m doing games again. Funny how life works, no? Hopefully the games will be more fun this time around!

Life has a way of teaching us those lessons.  Further to the point of teachings, what sort of education put you on the path of bringing life out of code?

My dad helped me learn the BASIC programming language when I was eight, and I taught myself more programming languages after that. After high school, I got my Computer Science Engineering degree at Princeton University, where I realized there’s a lot more to writing code than just learning programming languages! I fell into computer animation accidentally, by auditing two animation/graphics seminars at Princeton after I graduated. Finishing one project took two all-nighters in a row, including a full day at my actual job. That was my idea of a crazy post-college social life!

What did a crazy party animal such as you show to Bungie to grab our attention?

A clearly organized demo reel showing the characters I rigged, modeled, and simulated. I made sure I had an intro to each section that clearly described what was coming up and what I did in it, and I made sure to show calisthenics tests and progressions as well as finished shots. There was no sound at all on the reel, because no one listens to reels with the sound on anyway! I’d like to hope my love of finding clever and efficient solutions, being flexible and adaptable, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible made an impression too, but I’m sure I’m just being silly.

As anyone who has infiltrated our team recently can attest, a candidate is given a full day to make an impression.  What was the hardest part about your interview with Bungie?

It was super fun, but dude, it was long and intense! Lots of super-smart people to talk to, across all sorts of disciplines, so we were switching topics constantly. And these weren’t fluffy conversations – I had a producer ask me how I’d make character design more predictable, and after every idea he’d say, “We already do that.” I had a lot of fast thinking to do!

Now that your thinking is clocked at near supersonic speeds on a daily basis, what is the most rewarding thing about working for Bungie?

We are making something insanely great. We can get cool work done without bureaucratic hassle. People trust you a lot, even when you’re new. If something needs to be done, I can just do it, or get someone to help, without clearing it with eight bosses or filling out TPS reports. I can walk over to anyone I want and ask him or her a question, even if it’s Jason Jones. That’s more than one rewarding thing, and that’s how Bungie works – ask for one good thing and get five. It’s hard at first, but you learn to accept it after a while.

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

Care deeply about the work you do, even the boring and tedious stuff. Care so much you’re willing to toss it aside and start over when someone suggests a way to make it better and you realize they’re right. Raise your standards on what is “good” and “good enough.” Learn to love working with people, even the ones who can be a bit prickly. Work hard, work efficiently, be persistent without being annoying, and always make it great.

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

If you work hard, and have the honesty to see where you’re lacking and the courage to ask others how to make your work better, you’re gonna make it. Experience is great, and talent is awesome, but it doesn’t go anywhere without sheer crazy hard work.

If crazy hard work like this is the sort of punishment that you desire, our Careers Page has plenty of calls that require your action.  At this very moment, our hot seats are open to the next brave soul who thinks they can fill them.  If Tom’s story leaves you wanting more, you are welcome to pour through all of the life stories in our Breaking In Archive.  You can also drop by this time next week for a tale from another new employee.

Breaking In 3/12/2012 4:04 PM PDT permalink

Bungie Mail Sack 8.0

In this case, Q/A does not mean Quality Assurance.

Like any great team, Bungie is the sum of its individuals.  Between those very same individuals, there exists healthy rivalries, expressions of mutual inspiration, moments of celebration, and a secret desire to use one another as a human shield in the event of a zombie apocalypse.  In opening the letters that tumbled from the Mail Sack this week, a theme emerged about how Bungie employees feel about one another.  Here are the individuals who agreed to open their hearts and reveal their deepest feelings about their fellow developers.

Sam Arguez, Producer
Chris Carney, Senior Designer
Andrew Davis, Artist
David Gasca, Senior Test Engineer
Tom Gioconda, aka Achronos
Nate Hawbaker, Associate Technical Artist
Luke Ledwich, Test Engineer
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer
Ben Wommack, Associate Production Engineer

Hello, gentle friends.  Let’s open the Sack.

dmg04  Before Bungie, what was your "epiphany" moment. What brought you to the conclusion that you wanted to do what you're doing now?

I was undecided about pursuing a more technical oriented graphics rendering position or a more art-focused position. The moment I had instant clarity is when I saw a job listing *cough*, on bungie.net. The list of criteria for the position I now hold was quite literally everything I loved to do. Until that moment, I didn't realize that such a hybrid position existed.
Nate Hawbaker

Watching Jurassic Park had me hooked on the idea that I wanted to be in entertainment, creating something amazing out of thin air. It was a round-about journey to get from dinosaurs to interface art.
Andrew Davis

I was in the fourth grade, and we had been assigned to do a project based on the book Old Yeller. My partner and I ended up writing a small BASIC program that printed an ASCII dog onto the screen. Looking back, it was a really silly little thing to have made, but at the time I was amazed that we had been able to create a program that created art. Shortly afterwards, I stumbled across a book in the library about creating adventure games. From that point onwards, I knew I wanted to make games.
Michael Williams

I decided I was going to work in the industry when I was 10, while reading the Chrono Trigger manual in the car on the way home from Toys R Us. The good feelings that game gave me, even before I started playing, made working on videogames seem like the best way to live a happy life.
Ben Wommack

Watching my dad make a 20 pixel helicopter shoot a 4 pixel rocket across our Commodore 64 at home.
Luke Ledwich

EZcompany2ndsqd  For those who are I guess newer at Bungie, How does it feel not just to be a fan anymore? But a Fan and a worker at Bungie?

As someone who is (I guess) newer at Bungie, I am going to hoard this question from the panel and enjoy it all by myself.  The feeling is just as surreal as you would expect.  On any given day, you can be walking the floor and cross paths with someone you remember from countless ViDocs or media appearances that you scrutinized over a decade of waiting for Halo titles.  Other people speak names when they introduce themselves that you had only read in print previously.  It can be hard to maintain your dignity in line for coffee, and you never want to make excited eye contact in the restroom.  With this sense of awe comes a self-imposed burden of responsibility.  When you come into Bungie from the realm of fandom, you bring with you a mission to keep the Bungie community experience as cool as it ever was.

Hylebos  What's the strangest or most humorous glitch or error that you've encountered in one of your games during development?

There have been lots of those, but I still think one of the better glitches was the Halo: Combat Evolved Marine using a Needler to taunt (shoot at) the body of a dead Elite... only to cause the needles to super-combine and kill the taunting marine. Particularly in the Keyes escort mission when Keyes did it.
Tom Gioconda

Look in my two eyes.
Andrew Davis

Not exactly a glitch, but during the development of Sandtrap, the Elephant was given temporary sound effects until we could hook up the real assets. It was amazing fighting on the map and suddenly hearing the distant sound of Herb Alpert's "Spanish Flea" getting louder and louder, as the Elephant approached.
Michael Williams

On Reach, in New Alexandria, one of the civilians went all ET when she took damage.
Sam Arguez

I've been waiting to show this off for years.  During ODST, there was a content bug where Dare's textures were mismatched, creating a horrific demon in human skin with white eyes and a mouth on her ponytail.
Ben Wommack

Watching the entire studio crash from the balcony.  You can’t help but laugh, watching every monitor turn an angry red.
Luke Ledwich

Anonym0us  Who is the one person at Bungie that everyone can look to for inspiration or advice on any subject?

ONE person? It wouldn't be Bungie if we couldn't go to just about EVERYONE here for inspiration and advice. (Anyone who answers otherwise is off my list.)
Andrew Davis

Every day, I'm surprised at how wide everyone's skill set is. Traditionally, an engineer will have excellent knowledge of just engineering. This is the only working environment I've been in where I can discuss rendering costs with a concept artist, and artistic merits with an engineer. I think it's that constant edge-bleeding of abilities that helps us craft extremely informed problem solving and innovation.
Nate Hawbaker

Marty. He's certain to have an opinion on whatever you need. Admittedly, the advice may not be good advice, but it will always be inspirational.
Tom Gioconda

One of the joys of working here is that you can start up a conversation with anyone, and come away with amazing ideas. For the purposes of the question, I'll just choose someone recent I had a conversation with: Steve Lopez. He has a huge range of knowledge on tons of topics.
Michael Williams

Joshua Rodgers, once Production Engineer turned Tools Engineer. I maintain he knows everything and only holds back information so we children may better ourselves through self-discovery.
Ben Wommack

Probably Pete Parsons.  It’s always inspiring to see someone cheerful in any situation.
Luke Ledwich

defnop552  Does Pete Parsons still work at Bungie?

I love it when you guys cancel each other out.

AcedannyK 7  Does the studio celebrate employee birthdays at Bungie? If so, how?

On any given day, the eerie silence might be broken by a jubilant cry similar to “Hey everyone! It’s Acedanny’s Birthday!”  This always triggers an enthusiastic round of applause all across the sprawling maze of desks.  Coincidently, dropping something heavy on the floor is answered with the same response.  All of these stories are true.

Big Black Bear  Historically, developers and testers make up one of the bitterest adversarial relationships known to man... How would you classify that relationship at Bungie?

When you crave context for the test culture that rules the march of progress at Bungie, you debrief one David Gasca, who is at this moment doing me the favor of clearing this very Sack of typos and dangerous misinformation.  Let’s see if he will notice this gap in our conversation and fill in the blanks:

One of the best things about being in test at Bungie is that the testers work very closely with everyone here - much more closely than many other places I’ve worked. Test is involved in a lot features from almost the very beginning. We sit in on spec reviews, we give feedback, watch the feature come online, then test the crap out of it. It’s very common to see testers and engineers hanging out at each other’s desks talking about bugs, or new features coming online. Regardless of discipline, the goal is to make sure we have the best possible product go out the door. People from all disciplines appreciate that, it makes it easy to work together. That doesn’t mean we haven’t seen our share of snide comments in the thick of crunch.

burritosenior  Who designed Blood Gulch and who named it?

Look at you, Burrito!  You finally asked a Blood Gulch question that doesn’t make me roll my eyes.  When you crave trivia about classic Halo multiplayer maps, you make a pilgrimage to the oracle that is known to the faithful as Chris Carney.  I made this trek, just for you, into the fabled canyon of scorched earth.  Here are the historical gems that he dragged from the depths of his war-torn mind:

I designed the ground, roads, hills, and cliffs and also did the finishing of the Gulch.  However, someone else did the bases (I just textured those) and slapped a name on it.  If I had to guess, I would say it was Hardy LeBel.

SPARKSFLY2000  How can I hold lightning in my hand like you?

Were you not warned against playing with electricity as a child?  Yeah, neither were we.  Our halls are filled with brave developers who monkey with the destructive forces of nature every day.  We are always seeking equally foolish souls on our Careers Page.  Give it a read.  Do any of those Required Skills remind you of your special gifts?  If not, you could always fly a kite adorned with a key.  Or, seek education in an arena of relevant study that represents a cherished passion that we can exploit.

All of humanity  Who are the unsung heroes at Bungie?

I thought this would be an infinite regress of who is responsible for allowing other people to work, until I got to Jerome. I think it could be said that anyone at the studio may not be here if it weren't for preventative measures taken by Jerome.
Nate Hawbaker

The testers. I'm fairly certain they're going to kill us all one day, given that they have to deal with all manner of craziness being thrown at them constantly.
Tom Gioconda

Probably our Admins and HR. They keep us running. Without them there's no way we'd survive.
Andrew Davis

The test team isn't unsung, but the song can always be sung louder. I think the quality and drive of our test team is one of the most important factors to our success. Another relatively unsung group of heroes is the Audio team, who has often ended up working the most brutal crunch cycles, due to the narrow window where audio gets finalized before release. They work amazingly hard.
Michael Williams

Definitely the admin, HR, and security staff - pretty much everyone who doesn't actually work on games. The reason the rest of us can focus so much on projects is because they're handling all of the other work details so well. We would starve without them.
Ben Wommack

The Snack Fairies
Luke Ledwich

EAGLES5  What kinds of magazines do you guys read in the break room?

What’s a break?  For that matter, what is a magazine?  Do you mean those things that feed bullets into rifles?  Doesn’t sound like very good reading to me.

RigZ Boi  My hate for you is stronger than a mother bear's love for her new-born cubs. Thoughts?

I think that you suck at metaphors.  If you wanted to talk hate, you should have alluded to the fact that father bears eat their newborn cubs, so that they won’t compete with him for their mother’s attention.  That might have wounded me where my esteem resides.  The way you phrased it enabled me to run home to fond memories from my childhood, in which I was raised by bears.

coolmike699  What's the strangest thing a fan has ever sent you?

I haven't seen anything too odd from fans, they're usually extremely awesome. We still have poetry sent in from a fan hanging in our kitchen - it's great!
Nate Hawbaker

Lots of poems, raging voicemails, poorly-worded attempts at death threats, slabs of meat and other foodstuffs could suffice for an answer; but the strangest/most memorable was probably the crate of alcohol from someone who wanted to get rid of his booze but didn't want to just throw it away. Security "confiscated" the open containers. Riiiiight.
Tom Gioconda

If I remember this correctly, it was just after Halo 2 when we got a package from France. In it were a few Barbie and Ken dolls, messily dressed up and painted as Cortana and some Marines. There were notes scratched on a few pieces of paper in French, but the most disturbing part were the photos of the dolls they included... I'll leave it at that.
Andrew Davis

At some point, our Spanish-speaking fan-base decided that I spoke Spanish (I do not). I could only stare bemusedly at my XBL messages, and regret that I couldn't read their (presumably) kind words. I'm still not entirely sure where they got the idea, but I still get occasional messages to this day.
Michael Williams

I think the incoherent Xbox LIVE messages are the strangest.
Luke Ledwich

The custom-made, life-size cake of Master Chief's helmeted head, which probably cost hundreds of dollars to have commissioned. No one wanted to try eating any because it was so weird.
Ben Wommack

Koolen  What is beyond the boundary of space itself?

Stuff, I guess.  Isn’t stuff the opposite of space?  Don’t we always say that we need more space for our stuff?

insaneAssass1n9  If you could switch jobs with one other Bungie employee, assuming you had the required skill set for that job, who would you switch with and why?

Probably one of the concept artists, because I really do wish I had their required skill set. They do beautiful work.
Andrew Davis

Dan Miller, one of our senior designers, and creator of the infamous trench run at the end of Halo 3. His work always seems to be among my favorite parts in any of our games.
Ben Wommack

I've always been in awe of the concept artists on our team. The quality of their work and the speed at which they create images is incredible. I'd love to have the ability to take the scenes I see in my head, and turn it into images (rather than my current line-art scribbling).
Michael Williams

There's this guy, I'm not sure if you're familiar with him, I think he goes by DeeJ. From what I can tell from my observations, he spins in his chair all day whilst occasionally muttering deeply existential questions to himself. That seems like a pretty solid gig.
Nate Hawbaker

Editor’s Note:  I only do that when one of you posts something mean or stupid on the forum.

Malfar  Has anyone there ever secretly wished that Bungie was located in a milder climate?

As someone who just migrated here from Chicago, where it was -20 degrees in the winter and 100 degrees in the summer, I would say that a climate that is 40 degrees and rainy for nine months out of any year is pretty freaking mild.

BeguiledEnd  Gimme ALL YO CASH FOO!

This is not a question.  While a request in nature, it is more like a command.  And, No.

HWJohn  If each employee had the choice of one weapon and one fellow employee to use as a human shield to protect him/her self from the zombie apocalypse, what would their choices be?

My weapon would be an anti-zombie raygun. With that, I wouldn't need a human shield.
Andrew Davis

Weapon: A light tank loaded up with a lot of fuel. Don't even worry about the main gun, just roll over the top of the zombie hordes on your way to shelter. Make sure to have some machine gun rounds available just-in-case.
Human Shield: Robt McLees - Our resident zombie expert. If I've got him with me, I estimate my chances of survival increase 5000%. Plus, if the tank is a terrible idea, he will let me know.
Michael Williams

I'd take a gravity hammer to knock back the hordes, and enlist Dom, our resident test guru, as my shield. Because Dom is a robot, and doesn't need to eat, sleep, or leave the office, he will be immune to infection.
Ben Wommack

I think a good old fire axe.  Anything else would run out of ammo. I would probably choose Andrew Harrison for the human shield.  Once he had out lived his usefulness (or turned), I am sure I could outrun his gimpy knee.
Luke Ledwich

Anybody not saying "shotgun" here for their weapon is both wrong and possibly already a zombie.
Tom Gioconda

Poy Poy  How about a mandatory 10 minutes a day where all of the employees roam the forums?

How about a video game that will never be ready for anyone to play?

antony X1000  Is the studio pretty much one big open room, like the previous one was?

I don’t answer questions about our facility unless bribed.

(Opens next letter, with contains a question and a crisp twenty dollar bill.)

Lekesa  Do you still have limited walls to create an open environment?

We do still have limited walls to create an open environment.  Good question!  Here is a view of our studio from the About Us page of Bungie.net.  You can browse the rest of them as they auto-load on the page.

When I tell my friends back home about what is like to work at Bungie, I describe our space as a Day Care Center on a Star Destroyer.  The development floor is a magical place, bristling with screens that display wonders that would get me terminated faster than a freedom fighter from the future if I were to tell you about them.  The great thing about where we work is that people always have access to one another to share ideas or to dig each other’s work.

HEDGE 071  What is the greatest compliment a team member can receive from others working in the studio?

If you look up and discover someone behind you, just staring at the stuff you've got running on your screen, you know that you've done something well. When a crowd starts naturally gathering around someone’s desk, you know that something amazing has been created.
Michael Williams

"That's going in game!?" ...said with positive connotations, of course.
Nate Hawbaker

I really liked the bottle of whiskey that showed up on my desk after a pretty grueling milestone deadline. I think I teared up a little.
Andrew Davis

That's a tough one; it's different for so many people. The most general compliment would be something like "He / she gets stuff done." The idea that the rest of the team can rely upon a person without concern or question.
Ben Wommack

JABBERWOCK xeno  Any chance once we get weekly updates going again, we could have a weekly Q&A as well?

That’s it.  I quit.

(drops the mic on the stage – walks off)

Fear not, Bungie Community.  I will likely regret my hasty resignation in the morning, and beg for my old job back.  That’s means that the Mail Sack will return next week, starved for your usual tidal wave of interrogation.  Keep your eyes trained on Bungie.net, or our point of presence on your social networking channel of choice to be alerted about your next chance to put us to the question.

Community 3/9/2012 9:24 AM PST permalink

Bungie Rides Along With Sapphire

This week, we revisit Halo 3 with a virtual mob.

Think of Bungie.net as a sprawling city, filled with urban dwellers who all share a passion for kick ass games.  In this city, various forums play the role of distinct neighborhoods, with unique attractions as lures beckoning players to roam their streets.  Atop a shining hill, there is a fortified City Hall staffed by Ninjas who set policy in smoky meetings and deal out justice with the business end of a razor-sharp Katana.  In tunnels deep below, Bungie Overlords preside over mysterious machines that light the streets and keep the populace warm.

Now imagine a tower that reaches skyward in a bid to scrape the clouds.  It would be home to hundreds upon hundreds of citizens, more than any other free-standing structure to be found on the local grid.  This private clubhouse would be a place where members of an exclusive chapter congregate to discuss the rigors their lives, stoke the fires of friendships, and (of course) play some games together.  We would call that place Sapphire.

The statistics of the private group that played host to the Ride Along for this week are impressive.  1,255 members, at least at the time of this posting.  1,000 pages of forum chatter on every topic known to man or beast, including some that would get you run out of town were they to be spoken on main street.  750,000 posts exchanged between their Sapphirites, making this one solitary club responsible for 1% of the chatter on all of Bungie.net – an impressive watermark, given the hundreds of thousands of gamers who have written their names into the register of our fair city over time.

Ever since my arrival in Bungietown, people have whispered of the towering juggernaut that is Sapphire.  With so much weight to throw around, Sapphire does not come to you.  To explore the heights of their cultural monopoly, one must infiltrate Sapphire of their own volition.  To learn more about this gem of community, I visited with Sapphire’s moderation force, led by a gamer known to them as Harlow.

Tell your fellow citizens the story of Sapphire. What were its origins?

Harlow The Sapphire community is actually about a year older than our group creation date suggests. We were originally founded back in 2009.  After about a year, I decided that the community needed a re-branding of sorts.  I hit the reset button with the intention of building a much friendlier, open group. People often ask me why I decided on the name Sapphire.  The truth is that I have no idea.

Mystery can be intoxicating when it comes to seducing the masses into following your lead.  What is the mission of Sapphire? What vital service do you provide your members to inspire them to maintain so much chatter on your board?

Harlow I originally set out to give people a decent, active forum to visit when they were bored. Over time, I think the community evolved into a very large, ever-changing group of friends. A lot of us have met in person - a lot of us plan vacations together - and it truly is amazing to see the vast number of friendships (and in a few cases: romances) that have formed out of this one community. Sapphire has become many different things to many different people.  It can be a place to meet great friends or just some forum you go to for a good laugh or to debate issues you're passionate about.

With so many people debating issues, it must be hard to keep the peace.  When I started lurking your forum, I was warned that you run a tight ship.  What does that mean to you?  What might someone do to be forced to walk the plank?

Harlow The rules themselves are actually very lax, although we expect a certain standard of posting within the group. What people were referring to was what we call the Sears Policy. We're a community with a strong sense of identity, and a member of the group badmouthing us to other people tarnishes that identity. A salesman working at Sears would be fired for telling customers that Sears was an awful place to shop.  In the same way, members of Sapphire who portray us negatively are removed. At first glance, this might seem a little radical, but it's done with the best interests of our community in mind, and I don't think anyone who has spent a decent amount of time in the group can claim that it doesn't work. We don't mind constructive criticism - in fact, we welcome it - but there more appropriate avenues for that, and in the end, bashing the group to people outside of it isn't really constructive at all.

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?  I promise that I wasn’t there to badmouth anyone.  When one of your trusted lieutenants showed up in my inbox to verify my intentions, I decided it was time to take a ride with your ranks.  Let’s change the subject, and give your staffers a chance to sound off.  Why did you select Halo 3 for your Ride Along?

slayerspiddey Halo 3 was the game we most often played together in our early days. The memories of laughing until our sides ached in Sandbox customs and making frantic callouts as we helped each other raise our skills are things many of us look back on fondly.

The private group that slays together stays together.  Are game nights like these a regular occurrence for Sapphire? If so, how do you plan them? What else do you play?

II Pr0diG II  While a lot of our members are interested in gaming, game nights aren't the only community event we run, and they certainly aren't the sole focus of our group. We do encourage people to get together informally to play.  Recently, jaythenerdkid and Elite_Buddy have been running regular game nights on both XBOX Live and PC networks. The games they play are chosen by the community, and have included Reach, BF3, and many others. CoD Zombies is also a perennial favorite. In addition to this, we have a dedicated Minecraft server run by xconn30r, which has a pretty active and dedicated following.

Such momentum can be hard to sustain.  Where do you see Sapphire sparkling in the future?

jaythenerdkid  We've reached the stage where Sapphire is a community with its own distinct identity, and that's reflected in the fact that we now have online presences on FacebookTwitter, and elsewhere. We're constantly looking to expand into new arenas and diversify our user base. Our goal is to create a community that welcomes people from all corners of the internet and gives them a place to form close friendships whilst sharing the things they love with other like-minded people. We've currently got some exciting stuff in the works involving a Sapphire hub that will offer services like a live chat, interactive history archive and maybe even a Sapphire store, which several or our members have expressed a lot of interest in seeing. From there...who knows? As they say, the sky's the limit.

As the venue for our Ride Along, Sapphire decided to bring us on a tour of the sentimental battlegrounds of Halo 3.  Like an armed escort, I brought along two fellow tourists from our underworld of development.  Any urban inspection deserves the attention of an engineer.  Given the titanic size of the structure to be surveyed, I brought two.  I will let them speak for themselves.

Who are you, and what do you for Bungie?

Hello. My Name is: Tomo.  My job title is Production Engineer, but that probably doesn’t mean a whole to people outside our walls. In short, we’re the glue that keeps the pipes connected between all the different groups in Bungie. By the way, we are hiring more PEs!

My name is Scott Kankelborg.  When I’m not tending to my duties as Bungie Skank, I’m a tester (Associate Test Engineer if you’re feeling fancy).  On Halo 3, ODST, and Reach, my primary focus was on saved films and configuration testing.  I have a 13” CRT TV rocking 480i at my desk, and I’m not afraid to use it!  I’ve also done a healthy portion of the performance and File Share testing, and I still help Sawnose in feeding and grooming the Hydra.  I currently find myself embedded in the trenches with the UI team as well.

Thanks for covering me in the game last night, gentlemen.  It had been a while since I had bathed in the babbling creek beds of Valhalla.  What was your favorite thing to behold again in Halo 3 last night?

Easy! It starts with a B and ends with an R. Yes, the faithful BR.

The Brute Chopper!  That is by far my favorite Halo vehicle.  It brought back fond memories of sniping my way through Campaign and getting some sweet splatters in MP.  Fun Fact – we were making “get to da choppa!” references before the public even knew the Chopper existed.

I have to say, it was nice to see the old crown of flames alight on your heads.  Was your old Halo 3 armor as rusty as mine?  What was the rudest awakening that reminded you that you had been away for too long?

I think the question should be “what were,” I was so horrible! Let’s see; failing to melee, not reloading, accidentally throwing power drains and trip mines at teammates, not zooming in, etc., etc.

I had completely forgotten that the Bungie flames continue to burn bright when you are invisible in Halo 3.  I believe I died several times before re-learning my lesson.  I also forgot how much of a game changer armor abilities really are.  How do you expect me to defend myself against a superior player if I can’t transform into an impenetrable fortress?  How can I snatch a vehicle from an unwitting teammate without sprint?

Of course, it was not all gaffes and painful reminders.  We had our moments.  What was your greatest feat of triumph in our matches with the fine gamers from Sapphire?

I believe the very first game counted as my only great moment of triumph.  Thankfully, Tomo had not yet joined, so I had my moment in the spotlight at the top of the scoreboard with the most kills for my team - as well as the highest K/D in the game.  Stats are everything, PLAY TO WIN!

Not being last on the “Bungie Team” playing Multi-Team on Orbital.  That honor went to DeeJ.

Thanks for the reminder, Tomo.  You Engineers certainly do have a death-grip on the details.  When the party lobby was divided into five squads of three, the players for Team Bungie (depicted above in envious green) were laid out in the street, side by side.  As always, I will accept full responsibility for our demise at the hands of our skillful community.

Bungie would like to thank the entire delegation from Sapphire that lured us into the sand traps of Halo 3 all over again.  And, thanks to un par de tenis, Telomee, and hihi100202 for the sweet screenshots.  Good games were had.  Good memories were dusted off.  If you find yourself homeless and alone on the streets of this cold, hard town, you might think of joining a group like this one.  New people are the lifeblood of any respectable community, and Sapphire has a boastful tradition of activity to uphold.

These Ride Along events are likely to break out in your neighborhood at every given moment.  They can strike without warning.  Keep your eye on Bungie.net for your chance to share some of your favorite games with some of the people who create them.

Community 3/8/2012 10:06 AM PST permalink

Breaking In - Derek Carroll

Derek Carroll describes a road less traveled.

After months of silent dormancy, the Breaking In feature makes a triumphant return this week.  Every Bungie employee has traveled their own road into our studio, paved with curriculums of study, professional accomplishments, passion projects, and life goals.  For aspiring developers with similar goals, today’s inside scoop is being served up by multiplayer veteran, Derek Carroll. If you find yourself outside the industry looking in, and you want to make the leap, Derek’s here to help you stick the landing.  Read on to learn more about the man with a winning smile and dreams of world domination.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Derek Carroll, and I’m a Senior Game Designer currently working on secret stuff that I’d love to talk about, but can’t.  I’m pretty good at making games and not talking about them until they’re announced.  It seems like only yesterday that I was hired to do multiplayer design for Halo: Reach, but I guess that was about three and a half years ago.

Ah, the past.  Instead, let’s talk about the present.  Tell me about your dreams, hobbies, and inspirations.

I enjoy making and playing videogames, watching movies, building cameras and taking photographs, and generally messing around with technology.   I have a hard time getting rid of old tech on the off-chance that it may become useful someday.

Actually, let’s talk about the past, too.  Complete the following sentence as you would have at twelve years of age: When I grow up, I want to be a…

Millionaire.  Seemed like a pretty good gig if you could get it.  Astronaut or Secret Agent sounded pretty good, too.   Now that I’m older and wiser, I realize that you shouldn’t announce your intentions to become a Secret Agent.

And, becoming an astronaut requires endless hours of physical training and a willingness to wear (and fill) diapers.  What intention did your High School Guidance Counselor have in store for you?

I have no idea.  In high school, the last people I would pay attention to would be the office staff.

Did you pay attention long enough to earn yourself a college degree?

Nope.  I went to art school in Chicago for photography, but got a job at an ad agency that taught me more and had better computers.  Oh, and they paid me, which I liked a lot more than the other way around.

So, how did you make first contact with Bungie?

The advertising industry in the 1990s was dominated by Macintosh computers, so my work machines were ideally suited to playing lots of Marathon after hours.   Making multiplayer maps for Marathon was an alliterative way of edging my way closer to the game industry. (Fun time-waster:  Find my maps online and try to play them 15 years later!)

I made the jump from the ad industry proper to being the web guy for FASA Interactive, which allowed me to meet people and make contacts in the games industry.  When Microsoft bought FASA Interactive, I freelanced for a while before taking the leap from marketing to makin’ games for a living.  I moved out to Washington and worked on games like MechWarrior 4, MechCommander 2, MechAssault, (notice a pattern?) and Shadowrun.

FASA Interactive and Bungie were in the same building at Microsoft for several years, so I knew some people at Bungie before shadowy agents approached me to talk about coming in for an interview.

What sort of charms did you bring with you to the interview?

Nothing but my winning smile and dreams of world domination.

We don’t put much stock in the former.  Is there one moment in the interview that makes you smile when you look back on it?

Well, it was a pretty standard interview loop, similar to what you’d see at Microsoft.   I think I may have been too honest with my personal feelings regarding FFA Slayer, and set off some alarm bells.  Luckily, I convinced enough people that I wasn’t here to “Ruin Halo,” so they offered me the gig.

In one sentence, describe what it’s like to work at Bungie.

Working at Bungie is incredibly cool and as long as I don’t use punctuation I can make this as long as I want and I guess a lot of people play our games so there’s a bit of pressure to deliver awesome stuff that will blow people away but everyone here is so talented and driven it’s totally sweet.

Aside from rejecting punctuation, is there any advice for would-be applicants looking to construct their own syntax monstrosities (and make kick ass games)?

Make stuff.  Lots of people have good ideas, but it takes hard work to actually make things that other people will value, and your ideas will only be improved by the process. 

Show off your work.  It’s important to get feedback, especially from disinterested strangers.  Your mom is not going to tell you that your work is bad.  If your stuff is bad, you need to hear it, and you need to know why, so you can improve.

Speaking of disinterested strangers, if you’ve already made some stuff and shown it off to people who loved it, you should scoot on over to our Career Opportunities page.  We are hiring.  Big thanks to Derek for lending us his insights on how to breach the fortified confines of our happy home.

Breaking In 3/5/2012 5:32 PM PST permalink

Mail Sack Se7en

Ringing the Bell of World Domination

The studious developers of kick ass games at Bungie find themselves cramming to create a brave new world that we sincerely hope that you will love.  Despite our deepest urges, until those assignments are finished, we simply cannot invite you to look over their shoulders.  That would be cheating.  This does not mean that they don’t miss you dearly.  Fortunately, the honor falls to me to conduct field trips that enable them to visit the petting zoo that you call Bungie.net.  Please join me in welcoming the lucky souls who were given a hall pass this week.

Lars Bakken, Design Lead
Andrea Fonger, Engineer
Scott Kankelborg, Bungie Skank
Dan Miller, Senior Engineer
Kurt Nellis, Technical Cinematic Lead
Jeremiah Pieschl, First!
Cameron Pinard, Artist
John Stvan, Neither Cool Nor Important
Jason Sussman, Senior Artist
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer

School is in session, people.  Take your seats and let’s open the sack.  This first question was one that I forgot to run last week.  I like its existential contemplation so much; I saved it as a delicious snack for later.

Lobster Fish 2  If you had to die today, how would you want to go out?

Jeremiah Pieschl

Well fed, mama told me I should always eat before going out.
Dan Miller

Saving a bus full of kids from machine gun toting robot dinosaurs.  Of course, I’d go out saying something inspiring and heartwarming to the last kid I saved. He/she would go on to do something great, like coming up with an anti-robot dinosaur gun.
Kurt Nellis

With a clean pair of underwear on.
Scott Kankelborg

Pushing an orphanage out of the way of a satellite strike.
Michael Williams

Nuclear explosion in space seems like the flashy way to go out, but my sentimental side would choose being surrounded by friends and family.
Cameron Pinard

I totally want to ride off a cliff on a flaming motorcycle with a backpack full of bottle rockets and fireworks while smoking a cigar and drinking a bottle of Jameson (don't drink and drive kids).  In reality, I'm sure I'd wind up dead because I tried to get bread out of the toaster with a fork.
John Stvan

Editor’s Note: Jeremiah didn’t actually answer your questions.  He just responded to the message I sent to solicit wisdom from the Bungie Panel with “First!”  See how that feels, Internet?  It doesn’t feel very good, does it?

chubbz  Do the guys at Bungie have a strict 9-5 schedule? Or are there multiple shifts, with guys coming in at multiple times?

Engineers, Producers, and organizational types hit the beach at the crack of dawn with a balanced breakfast already being converted to precious development energy in their stomachs.  Designers, Animators, and other artistic types stagger in like war-torn reinforcements sometime before the crack of 10:00 AM with dark circles under their eyes, mumbling about coffee.

sam da man 2008  If you had one thing you could add to Bungie Studios, what would it be?

More showers. Two is not enough!
Dan Miller

A Pancake House right next door. I miss that amenity from our old office.
Lars Bakken

A  replica of the tavern we frequented in Kirkland, complete with purple drinks.
Jason Sussman

I would add a fire pole from the upstairs to the downstairs. It would speed up a trip that is surprisingly circuitous.  Plus, it would add 1000% more awesome to transit.
Michael Williams

Shooting range.
Scott Kankelborg

More natural light. Sometimes I feel like I work in the Bat Cave. I mean, if I did work in the actual Bat Cave, that would be pretty sweet.
Andrea Fonger

John Stvan

More people?  Has anyone mentioned we're hiring! An indoor skydive would be pretty sweet.
Cameron Pinard

Editor’s Note: Thank you, Cameron.  What would a Mail Sack be without an obligatory link to our Careers page?  Take our jobs, if you dare.  And why wouldn’t you dare?  Read on…

Kr1egerdude  What was your worst deadline experience?

Halo 3 Trench Run - but what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.
Dan Miller

During ODST. At one point I and another artist rebuilt an entire level in one week.
Jason Sussman

The last minutes before we had to turn the ODST countdown clock off, praying for a last-minute reprieve from the governor.
Michael Williams

Last Bungie Day.
John Stvan

I don't really have a "worst" experience. We've had those long crunches - days where we go home super late and come in super early - and the last minute push to get the perfect release candidate, but I work with awesome people at an amazing studio. We're all in it together, nobody slacks off, and it all works out.
Scott Kankelborg

The project I pushed myself the hardest on was ODST.  It was a painful, but important, learning experience.  Even thinking about it now, I remember some of gut wrenching nervousness about not letting the team down.
Cameron Pinard

da bomb drop  Whenever a team have finished a movie, there is always that "That is a wrap, crew" moment on set, when bungie has made a game go gold, what is the reaction like in the office?

It's like when the Rebel Cruisers get past the Imperial Blockade in The Empire Strikes Back.
Dan Miller

There's a wrap vibe, but it's different than on film sets.  Each team ends up 'wrapping' at different rates, so while a group of artists will suddenly cheer before disappearing to go party, there's always some group still working. Even at the launch parties, there is still a group of engineers and IT experts making sure that everyone putting their disk in for the first time would be able to play. Those are some hard core workers, and I always make sure to have a drink for each of them.
Kurt Nellis

It’s much the same, only we instantly walk onto the next set and get ready to do another.
Jason Sussman

There are any number of those kind of moments throughout development.  Going gold has a strange feel to it, as there are usually a lot fewer people actively working on the project at that point, but there is generally a feeling of relief and happiness when it does happen.
Cameron Pinard

BRADEN OWNZ  How do you become a voice actor?

First, submit yourself to training in the pure craft of the theatre arts, with dreams of glory and fame on the stage or screen.  Second, get really tired of the taste and texture of ramen noodles.  Third, invest way too much money on a professionally produced demo reel.  Fourth, send said demo reel to a bunch of agencies and casting directors.  Finally, pray your very best prayer to whomever you think is listening.  If you are famous, you get to skip all of these steps, and accept an offer for some easy cash.

LordJebe  What are the chances of a Finnish bloke ending up in your magnificent team?

Finnish the Fight?

EZcompany2ndsqd  If someone just happened to get past Jerome, who or what would be your second line of defense?

That’s where the fun begins.  You’ll never expect the third line of defense – or the fourth.

coolmike699  What's your favorite rumor that you remember reading about Halo?

I don't read rumors. I create them.
Dan Miller

That one could receive Recon by asking.  Wait... Favorite?
Jason Sussman

I've always been impressed by the number of fake UI screens that claimed to be leaks in the Halo 3 era and beyond. Protip: 90% of the time, if you see a "leaked" UI screen, it has been created by some dedicated fan with a lot of time on their hands.
Michael Williams

Master Chief being a woman.
John Stvan

Pretty much anything related to the BR/DMR.
Scott Kankelborg

Everything from the heady days between the Macworld reveal and the MS buyout is going to top most other stuff.  That was long ago before I worked at Bungie, and nobody really knew what Halo was going to be back then.  So, stuff got really crazy.
Cameron Pinard

krazygamer1011  Can I get a tour of your studio if I fly across America?

Yes.  One caveat: You must accomplish this without the benefit of machinery or the fabrication of a personal array of wings.  If you can do that, we will be very interested in meeting you.

Paddydark  When will you guys start interacting with the community again?

How dare you?  I slaved for hours over a hot keyboard to cut and paste together this masterwork of community interaction.  Questions like these could get a guy fired, you know.  And where would you be then?

CTN 0452 9  When it comes to playing games, what makes a good game, great?

Your mom.
Scott Kankelborg

Dan Miller

Polish is the most important part of making a good game great. If you take time to look at your game and refine it (tweaking damage, AI, gameplay, art, etc.), it will show.  Taking that time can make a normal feature into a brilliant one - and can make the great parts of a game ones people will remember long after they have played it.
Michael Williams

When it sucks you into the world and won't let go.
Andrea Fonger

Attention to detail.
Cameron Pinard

ClassicRckr  What's the most important aspect of any game?

Shipping it.
Dan Miller

How the game feels to play. It has to be responsive and fun to move around in the world. If those basics aren't there, you're going to have a tough time making anything else feel correct on top of it.
Lars Bakken

That it's finished.
Kurt Nellis

Having a cohesive vision throughout the game. With art, design, and story.
Jason Sussman

A game is the sum of its parts. Without the music, art, code, animation, bug-less operation, or all the other components that go into the game, the experience would not be the same. I suppose you could say the most important part is the implicit conversation it creates between the creator and the consumer.
Michael Williams

Whether it's fun to play!
Andrea Fonger

That it resonates with someone.  If there is no connection, it's just all process.
Cameron Pinard

John Stvan

Your mom (that's right DeeJ - I used that one twice. I'm a rebel)
Scott Kankelborg

Editor’s Note: Skank was going to answer all of your questions that way, until I told him that he could only do it once. 

borrowedchief  How do you feel about The Artist taking top honors at this year’s Academy Awards.

Not bad.  Eh?  How nice for them.  I can’t speak for everyone in the studio, but if I had made that movie, it would have featured more explosions.  And been in color.  With talking.

THORSGOD  You get to throw two b.net members into a coliseum and watch them fight to the death.  Which two do you chose?

You, and whomever has a beef with you.  Any takers?  I will send a “Burn Bright. Burn Blue.” t-shirt to anyone in possession of the courage to meet this Norse legend in hand to hand combat.

Editor’s Note: Not really.  That isn’t actually the Mail Sack challenge for this week, nor do I condone fights to the death between fans.

Krimm117  Who currently holds The Shaft, and without giving specific details, can you tell us why?

But it just so happens that I can give you specific details. The Shaft is a PVC talisman of excruciating manual labor.  This relic from ancient Bungie History is placed on the desk of someone who has been saddled with a task that no one would wish on their worst slingshot-bound enemy.  Currently, it resides on the desk of Test Manager Jamie Evans, who tells us:

I have it, because Test normally knows who breaks the current build of the game... and we can give it to them.

Moral to the story: You break the build, you fix the build.  Don’t break the build.

UnderTheKnif3  What's the most fun part of development? I'm talkin' the whole sha-bang.

Adding music, and hearing it (you're welcome Marty).
Dan Miller

When everyone on the team is firing on all cylinders at the end of development. The amount of sweet and amazing things that happen per minute is just mind blowing.
Lars Bakken

If you ask me: The people I get to work with. If you ask my parents what they think: Getting to play whatever game I want and eating potato chips 100% of the time.
Kurt Nellis

Having the giant beast you've been working on ship.  After putting so much effort into a project, seeing it all come together, and then releasing it to the world.
Jason Sussman

There is this amazing moment near the end of game development when all the art polish starts being included. Suddenly, those grey angular levels you've been playing turn into these rich works of art. That is the moment for me when the full scope and beauty of the game finally sinks in.  It is a really good feeling to see the game doing something, and think "I helped make that happen."
Michael Williams

Hearing people talk about something you worked on.
Andrea Fonger

I love the process.  Don't get me wrong, it's great seeing the end result.  But I love getting into that flow of getting things done, banging out assets, fixing bugs, solving problems, and tweaking that one variable to make something sing.
Cameron Pinard

That's a dumb question. Who let you in here?
John Stvan

Editor’s Note: John is friends with the person who posed this question.  As hateful as it may seem at first glance, what you are seeing exchanged above is actually a bizarre form of love.

AcedannyK 7  What is your least favorite part of game development?

When the tools are new.
Dan Miller

That lull between when the game is out of our hands and before the fans gets to play it. The wait is just as excruciating for us as it is for you.
Lars Bakken

That the job isn't like the movie Grandma's Boy and we can't just play games all day.
John Stvan

Seeing a favorite idea or feature getting cut.
Kurt Nellis

The stress and anxiety of wondering if people will enjoy it.
Jason Sussman

One of the worst feelings is when you are at work well past midnight, finally check in your work, and then the build fails. You realize you will still be at work for hours, and call your loved ones to tell them you won't be heading home yet (assuming they are still awake).
Michael Williams

I don't have a reserved parking spot on the 1st floor. That pretty much sucks.
Scott Kankelborg

Anytime you're blocked from working, be it from a bug, or just a lack of a tool you need. Nothing more frustrating than that.
Cameron Pinard

antony X1000  Are there any other days like Bagel Fridays?

There are, but they are far less popular. Mucous Monday is by far the least favorite.  We had to completely cancel Get Tazed Tuesday for insurance purposes.

AmX15  What is your favorite interwebz meme?

Dan Miller

Michael Williams

Scott Kankelborg

Andrea Fonger

risay_117  Do you plan to answer all my questions?

Your list was an agonizing 58 questions long.  The only one I could answer was this one.  Your answer is “NO!”

KUZOKU85  Are there any martial artists within Bungie's legion? If so, what rank and what style?

There are lots of Krav Maga folks.
Jason Sussman

We have an entire gang of Badasses.
Dan Miller

Pat Jandro claims to be a Maroon belt in the art of Kung Pao.
Kurt Nellis

We all have a black belt in rolling and pushing.
John Stvan

I know some people who do Aikido, Krav Maga, and MMA.  I'm sure there are other martial arts represented.  We've got a very diverse group of folks here.
Michael Williams

Back in my youth, I did Tae Kwan Do and got a black belt in it.  I'm horribly embarrassed by how inflexible I've become.  I'd probably break a hip trying to do anything too serious now.
Cameron Pinard

NoWise10  Do you need to be an "artist" to be in the game developing industry?

LOL. No. You need to be an "artiste".
Dan Miller

Yup, but only if you're looking for a job as an artist.
Kurt Nellis

Nope!  You still have Programmer, Audio, Animation, Test, IT, Designer, User research, and Production.
Jason Sussman

Not in the sense of drawing or modeling skills. "Programmer art" is legendarily bad across the industry (as my stick figure flailing can demonstrate). However for every discipline you need to have a dedication to quality, and a deep attention to detail. I know I've seen code snippets that I could consider art when they do a difficult task in a simple, clean, and beautiful way.
Michael Williams

Definitely not. I couldn't draw myself out of a paper bag (I challenge anybody reading this to create such a drawing).
Scott Kankelborg

Heck no! If that was required, I wouldn't be here. I do draw a mean box in Paint though.
Andrea Fonger

I'd say you don't have to be a good artist, not to get all after school special on you but everybody is a little artistic. I think to work in an industry that is based on creative output you should actively nurture that side of yourself regardless of what you do.
Cameron Pinard

See: DeeJ.
John Stvan

BRADEN OWNZ  What computer programs do we need to know inside and out to get a job at Bungie?

I mostly use Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Yuke  How much do you love your fans?

They can now fly Pelicans and Phantoms and dance with the Grunts in Halo: Reach.
Dan Miller

Oh, you have no idea...
Lars Bakken

To the moon and back. But no further without having met. Then it's probably at least back to the moon again.
Kurt Nellis

|---------- this much ----------| (but not an inch more)
John Stvan

So much that we even love the haters.
Michael Williams

Most places in Washington don't have an AC unit, so during the summer I love my fans a bunch. They're pretty much useless in the winter, though.
Scott Kankelborg

I get to do the amazingly fun job I get to do because of them.  It’s hard not to be grateful for that.
Cameron Pinard

Achilles1108  Why am I so much better than everybody else?

Because you are a Mythic Member of the Bungie.net community.  Everyone knows that those people’s lives are worth far more than their junior contemporaries.  I am surprised that you even had to ask, since you Mythics are reminding us of this fact at every turn.  I guess the old wisdom is true: The best questions to ask in an interview are the ones to which you already know the answer.

With that final kernel of higher-learning, our Mail Sack for this week is closed.  Class is dismissed.  We will see you back here when it is time to stand and deliver all over again.  In the meantime, know that the Bungie Panel, and all of their colleagues, are hard at work to give you something exciting and new to talk about in the halls that you roam so diligently.

Community 3/2/2012 9:10 AM PST permalink

Death By Ride Along

Send in the Mongoose Lords, two-by-two.

The M274 ULATV was designed by the United Nations Space Command as a scout vehicle – a simple shuttle intended to ferry a Marine across the shortest distance between two points.  It is the runt of any fleet.  It cannot fly.  It cannot boost.  It was not endowed by its creators with any means of lethality.  In a tactical engagement, it is as dangerous as a shopping cart.  Conventional wisdom tells us that carnage is reserved for the Warthog.  The quad bike is for delivery services.

Not to be constrained by the wishes of a designer, some players of Halo assign far more value to what they affectionately refer to as the Mongoose.  Like its cobra-foiling namesake, they see it as a killing machine, bred for war.  In the absence of munitions, the front bumper is weapon enough.  With gauntleted hands gripping the handlebars, their craft of choice is a war horse, instead of a glorified cargo wagon.

One such gamer is analbumcover.  Back up and read that gamertag again.  Now, picture the packaging that encases your favorite musical offering, pressed into vinyl.  Better?  Moving right along… “Mr. Cover” is a Master Goose Lord in a noble biker gang that travels light and fights hard.  Since the finishing of the fight in Halo 3, a private group known as Death By Mongoose has corralled quad-bike enthusiasts into the same explosive pen.  Their favorite moments of multiplayer action include two gamers piggybacked over four tires.

This brave order of Mongoose pilots deserved more scrutiny, so I dusted off my armor to walk among them.  As I stalked through the garage where the Goose Lords of DMB rebuild motors and grease axles, I approached the hulking form of this burly Inheritor to plumb the rich culture that surrounds their ultra-light labor of love.

Tell us about the origins of this group. When did you start?

analbumcover  We started out back in 2008, when a bunch of people that play the game the wrong way collided and exploded into a cloud of awesome.

Misery loves company.  Eh?  Aside from your insistence on foolish daredevil tactics on your flimsy steeds, what else holds your Mongoose-bound membership together?

analbumcover  We talk about other stuff more than we talk about the Mongoose in our forums. Just think of it as a place for off-beat people to hang out and just talk a bunch of smack - and occasionally about Mongooses.

Pardon the pun, but passion like yours deserves a vehicle for expression.  How do you all go about celebrating your love for the Mongoose?

analbumcover  In the massive amounts of YouTube videos that are generated by our group.

Has your love for vehicular manslaughter translated into action in any other games besides Halo?

analbumcover  I have a Honda Recon 4 wheeler with a trailer attached to it at work. Every now and then when I see someone lined up just right I get this urge to run them over.

Whoa, now!  Hold your horses.  I said “other games.”  Your killer-instinct is spilling over into real life.  Sounds like there might be a need for some group therapy in your ranks.  In the event that these urges become a pandemic, how should other Mongoose enthusiasts seek you out for reprogramming?

analbumcover  Bribery works.

In a bid to vent some of that pent up splatter-lust, thus saving countless lives at intersections across the world, I invited Death By Mongoose on a ride along astride their preferred craft.  To spread the good word about Mongoose love, we filled out the lobby with an invitation to a custom game flash mob.  Lord Cover was enterprising enough to capture the evening and add some swing to the highlights.  Have a look.

Instantly, it became apparent that this was no Rocket Race.  Like a ballistic joust, the flavor of their preferred custom games favors a sniper rifle.  In a custom game with the Mongoose Lords, there is no splash damage.  The vehicle earns an indestructible respect that is absent from the wilds of multiplayer.

To spark alight the old competitive spirit, I threw a couple of “Burn Bright. Burn Blue.” t-shirts into the pot.  The challenge was issued to all: Win the last match, and you lay claim to some limited edition swag.  If you see some tagged Bungie gear in your town, it just might be one of the dynamic duo comprised of Xannder and Direwolf King.  Good game, gentlemen.  Your loot is in the mail.

Thanks to all of the Goose Lords, Floodophiles, and random strays that partook in an evening of break-neck speed and unexpected g-forces.  If moving violations like these look like your preferred brand of action, you should check out Death By Mongoose.  We could all use a little help prolonging our social movements, and theirs moves faster than most.

Community 2/29/2012 3:10 PM PST permalink

Bungie Mail Sack 6.1

Now with more Bungie Panel!

Last week, the Bungie Panel enjoyed catching your volleys of interrogation so much we fielded even more people to shag the mail that poured from the depths of your collective mind.  The culture of our studio is a source of great pride among the people who populate Bungie.  Here is the peanut gallery that assembled this week to tell you all about it:

Rick Lico, Senior Art Lead
Cale Haskell, Associate Engineer
John Stvan, aka Halcylon
Dan Miller, Senior Designer
Jim Levasseur, Cinematic Designer
Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead
Justin Truman, Engineering Lead
Sam Arguez, Producer
Nate Hawbaker, Associate Technical Artists
Michael Williams, Senior Engineer
Kurt Nellis, Technical Cinematic Lead
Andrew Davis, Artist

Welcome to the show, brave souls.  Let’s open the sack.

antony X1000  What is your favorite thing about working at Bungie?

Working with a talented team of people. Join us, we are hiring!
Dan Miller

My co-workers. The passion and creativity they apply to making awesomeness ensue is incredible.
Michael Williams

Working everyday with people that are absolutely awesome at what they do. It makes you want to push yourself.
Sam Arguez

Free coffee and soda. Free snacks and chocolate. And the gym membership to offset them.
Christian Diefenbach

At any one moment I can stand up from my desk and see several monitors housing some of the most awesome content and artwork ever bestowed upon my retinas. I mean just yesterday I saw [CENSORED] set up a [CENSORED] in [CENSORED] and it had [CENSORED] over the entire [CENSORED]!
Nate Hawbaker

Editor’s Note: Nate censored himself.  I would never play you like that.

spartain ken 15  How often do fans go to the doorsteps of Bungie HQ and try to gain entry?

Never!  One does not simply walk into Bungie.

Statefarm98  Why haven't we seen a Bungie game where you play as Jerome and fight off fans?

The best games are ones that provide a threat that is realistic enough to instill in the player a sense of tension – perhaps even dread.  There would be no sport or contest in the game you are describing.  Plus, everyone would just complain that Jerome was overpowered.

CTN 0452 9  If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?

Sprint. 'Cause Armor Lock isn't balanced.
Dan Miller

Do you know when your roommate wakes up just before you and then proceeds to take the longest shower ever? My superpower would be doing that every day.
Jim Levasseur

The flash! Anything to keep my schedule balanced.
Christian Diefenbach

Something that could be used without being conspicuous. How about the ability to stop time? Then I would always be the first one to the kitchen when free food arrives.
Nate Hawbaker

The power to view the past. This ability would be amazingly educational when viewing events in the distant past, and incredibly powerful when viewing events mere seconds ago.
Michael Williams

To stop time, or to move super-fast. Anything that would allow me to squeeze more into a day.
Sam Arguez

Flying. Seriously, who wouldn't choose flying? I guess if you were afraid of heights? Even then, you could fly, so what are you afraid of?
Kurt Nellis

The ability to grant wishes. Everybody gets one.
Andrew Davis

Editor’s Note: Andrew’s offer not valid on Bungie.net.

jacob crawford  Has the idea of tours of the studios ever been taken seriously? I don't mean us normal folks waltzing in to the more secret areas, but something maybe like what you would get on a tour of a brewery.

If only games could be brewed in enormous iron vats.  You tease us with your metaphors, jacob crawford (if that is your real name).  There have been times when our fans have been welcomed onto the other side of our shark-infested moat to enjoy the tapestries.  Those times will very likely come again, for a very exclusive and carefully selected audience.

U Got Pwned1264  What games, besides Battlefield 3 and Halo, do you guys play during free time?

A select few of us play Street Fighter... or various incarnations of it... Street Fighter X Tekken is the game we're really looking forward to.
Rick Lico

Dominions 3
Cale Haskell

Mind games.
Dan Miller

I just played through Dear Esther which was beautiful and thought-provoking, if not exactly a traditional game. Next up is Alan Wake on the PC... where it rightfully belongs. Can you tell I'm a grumpy PC gamer?
Jim Levasseur

Do board games count? Dominion, Risk, SmallWorld, Ticket to Ride, Aquire and Go Fish.
Christian Diefenbach

Lately I've been playing an irresponsible amount of Dark Souls. Before that was Arkham City and Uncharted 3. I also love playing short-form indie PC games.
Justin Truman

I'm currently playing Skyward Sword and Skyrim, and the backlog contains God of War 3, Bayonetta, Darksiders, finishing Dark Souls, Tactics Ogre, and the list goes on... I used to play a lot of JRPG's but there haven't been a lot of good ones in years.
Sam Arguez

Forza 4, Modern Warfare 3, Minecraft.
Nate Hawbaker

I've been catching up with my backlog (Arkham City, Assassins Creed 1, Beyond Good and Evil), have a group for Risk Legacy, play a bit of pen-and-paper RPGs (Pathfinder), and play a lot of board games with friends.
Michael Williams

Skyrim.... Wait. There are other games?
Kurt Nellis

I just finished up Fable 3 (finally!). I think I broke the end-game moral decisions by becoming a land baron early (and rubber banding my controller to earn me lots of dough!). I have a stack of games I still want to play, but the ones I've completed recently that really stand out to me are Red Dead Redemption, and the Batman and Assassins Creed series. I'm a sucker for single player exploration & collection quests.
Andrew Davis

adeckofcards77  How often is someone interviewed for an open position at Bungie?

Interview loops are top secret, and happen in a hidden nook deep in the belly of our sprawling compound.  Very few candidates survive them.  Out of respect for the dead, we choose to not speak of them openly.  That said, it does seem that a fresh newbie is birthed into the studio every week lately – sometimes, several at a time.  So, you do the math.

OMARRCHR  Does anyone at Bungie ever take a break? If so, what do they do?

We get breaks?
Sam Arguez

Only long enough to acquire sustenance.
Nate Hawbaker

No breaks. Facilities recently removed the bathrooms to improve our efficiency. In a few weeks, IT will be rolling out feeding tubes for all the artists.
Jim Levasseur

Work out, rock climb, Insanity sessions in the Central.
Dan Miller

My hobby is woodworking. Powertools without a computer interface FTW!
Christian Diefenbach

Nothing beyond our mandatory shuffle around the exercise grounds. Otherwise the shackles really start to chafe.
Justin Truman

We generally spend time with our family and friends, and catch up with our entertainment backlog.
Michael Williams

Everyone is encouraged (and sometimes forced) to take all their vacation days. I try to take as many motorcycle camping trips as possible during the summer. A few years ago I drove down to San Francisco and Yosemite, and I'm now thinking of going further.
Andrew Davis

sam da man 2008  What's next for Bungie Aerospace?

We have games in the pipeline.  I am working on a plan that will reveal them to you.  Please stand by.  Someone will be with you shortly.

StormFront  What music does the office listen to when creating the best game on Earth?

Anything not in the bathroom – ‘cause we aren't making games in the bathroom.
Dan Miller

See: Steve's "Poop-tunes" playlist.
John Stvan

Max Richter, The Avett Brothers, Explosions in the Sky, Vampire Weekend, Parov Stelar, Mimosa, etc... pretty much anything that doesn't involve mindless noise or creepy chanting.
Jim Levasseur

Anything that doesn't steal focus from the task at hand: Gregorian chants, Chopin, Mozart, etc. No operas though, people hate when I yell "Figaro" with my headphones on.
Christian Diefenbach

I'm listening to Jay-Z while typing this.
Justin Truman

Old game soundtracks (it makes me miss the old days), Anamanaguchi, Helios, Thrice, The Dear Hunter, In Flames, Soilwork, Rise Against, and so on...
Sam Arguez

Let’s take an adventure over to Monitor #3. Childish Gambino, Hadouken!, JAY-Z, Tegan and Sara, Snoop Dogg.
Nate Hawbaker

There's a huge variety of music that gets listened to in the studio, and several employees are active in local bands. Regular debates spring up about the music streamed to the bathrooms (Christmas music & Puzzle Hunt music have been major topics of discussion). Personally, I enjoy listening to KEXP's streaming station, or occasionally listening to a bit of NerdCore. (Full disclosure: I know the artist behind that link, so I may be biased, but I also think the song is awesome.)
Michael Williams

Last.fm tells me I've been listening to way too much Dan Deacon, Decemberists, & Neutral Milk Hotel (I shipped Reach listening to those three almost exclusively.)
Andrew Davis

nerd  I want a pic of your desk!

Thanks for the softball.  Here is where the magic happens, dear Community. I waffle between calling it “Mission Control” and “CentCom.”  It’s not much to look at, but it’s home.

walshypru  What is your opinion on the validity of 'video game design' degrees and other similar qualifications that have gained popularity recently?

Speaking specifically to the animators out there... Your animation reel and its demonstration of your skillset is what matters to us. Saying you went to school and successfully mastered a skill is much different than showing us what you've learned. The reel is everything. That being said, the best way to learn animation is by attending an art college, specialty school, or online animation training. The quality of the training is much more valuable than the accreditation, so do your homework on the professors and department. Many animation schools teach buttons in a program, or strictly film animation. Even though that information may be helpful, finding a school that will teach animation tailored for the gaming industry will help you MUCH more.
Rick Lico

I came into Bungie with a “video game programming” degree, so, hey-o!
Cale Haskell

Mod experience is free.
Dan Miller

Do your research. School can be a valuable environment to learn from experienced industry professionals and ambitious peers, or it can be a huge waste of time and money. Focus more on what you can do (animation reel, environment art portfolio, graphics demos) than earning a piece of paper. And if you want to make games, make games (even the Portal guys had a solid playable concept).
Jim Levasseur

Bungie has people who hold degrees in Art, Math, Engineering, Physics, Biology, Game Design, Game Programming, Computer Science, etc., and some really awesome people who never graduated in anything. The point is, if you are really good in what you do, you will find a home in the games industry.
Christian Diefenbach

I think it's awesome that there are finally legitimate education avenues for game development and design. On the other hand, nobody in the game industry requires you to have a degree - you just have to be good and be able to prove that you're good. Draw, model, level design, program on your own, and you can get the same chops without the college debt.
Justin Truman

I went through the Guildhall @ SMU and wouldn't be here today if I hadn't, so I guess that answers the question.
Sam Arguez

It's hard to answer this question without upsetting at least half the population that has considered one. Everything that my job requires me to know, I taught myself. The catalyst for that learning owes itself to my involvement in the modding community, and the resulting personal projects.
Nate Hawbaker

For the right people, video game schools can work well. We have a number of people here at Bungie who have come to us through game schools. That said the vast majority of people working at Bungie have more traditional 4-year degrees. A 4-year degree gives you a wide range of knowledge that you can often apply to game development in surprising ways. The main disadvantage to a college or university is that they generally won't give you hands-on experience making games, or give you projects that will build your portfolio. I always suggest that people in a 4-year school get involved in game clubs, or online projects to make games - it gives you lots of experience and material to show potential employers.
Michael Williams

I'd say try and get a well-rounded education. With almost any type of degree, you'll only get out of it what you put into it.
Andrew Davis

Editor’s Note: I minored in Theatre!

drummer0702  Why don't you require actual letters to be sent?

For the same reason we don’t require you fine people to shoot each other with actual guns.  The Internet is safer and more efficient.  If we used the postal service to have these chats, they would occur a lot less frequently than once a week.

r c takedown  What is your favorite thing to do at the Bungie office?

Dan Miller

Insanity workout at lunch time!
Christian Diefenbach

Make awesome videogames.
Justin Truman

See something awesome and unexpected.
Sam Arguez

Putting lap times on our in-office scoreboard in the ForzaPod.
Nate Hawbaker

Besides the daily work and the Pentathlon, I love the evenings when we get together to play games.
Michael Williams

Thinking. More specifically: During the winter: Thinking about how wonderful it is to work for such a great company and not have to be outside in the weather. During the 2 weeks of summer: Wonder how I ended up working in a cave and reevaluating if I could have made better choices in my life.
Kurt Nellis

All the after-school activities are really awesome. Rock climbing, life drawing, Pathfinder, Risk: Legacy, enjoying any of the many games on Steam, drunken debauchery at karaoke next door.
Andrew Davis

Editor’s Note: Anyone who did not indicate that their favorite thing to do here is work really hard has been reported to Harold.

elmicker  With a mind to gabe's interview and his commentary on Valve's flexibility at the individual level and lack of structure, how would you describe Bungie’s environment? Is it flexible? Is it flat? Is it agile? How free is any one developer to just go "Whoah, this is cool!" and work on said cool-ness?

Interesting interview.  Thanks for sharing.  I would describe Bungie as a complex animal, comprised of internal organs that work in concert to drive us forward in our hunt for kick ass games.  We have teams of people committed to specific elements of development, all focused on a singular goal.  While independent thought is demanded of the people who work for Bungie, for the most part, all of our audacia is aimed at the same astra.

Sven Nietzsche  What are your strengths?  What are your weaknesses?

Strength: Muscles.
Weakness: Muscles.
John Stvan

Next question, plz.
Dan Miller.

Strength: Writing TLDR emails.
Weakness: Writing TLDR emails.
Sam Arguez

This isn't a job interview.
Nate Hawbaker

Strengths: Puzzle making, rocket racing, and thinking up ways players could abuse game systems.
Weaknesses: Chocolate cookies, fighting games, and using the sniper rifle.
Michael Williams

Zaphog  What's up with the Laboratorium?

Hidden away amidst the beakers and instruments, our venerable Dr. Bunsen Honeydew toils away in the trenches of Science to answer mission critical questions, like:

Bungie Sam  When is Bungie.net most active?

Honeydew: 1pm to 6 pm Pacific Standard Time.

Dropship dude  How do timezones work?

Basically, the entire world adjusts their clocks so that the sun is high in the sky at High Noon.  It was enacted as a standard in the 1800s, to make sure that people could see real good during their gunfights in the town square.

Chalupa King117  What is THE most absolutely most treasured object in the Studio?

Our pants.
Rick Lico

Desk space.
John Stvan

Dan Miller

I can't speak for everyone, but I'd say I am.
Justin Truman

Sam Arguez

The simple answer is the Pentathlon "Cup". The real answer is Urk's beard.
Nate Hawbaker

Given the level of competition over it, I'd argue that it is the Pentathlon Cup. Other candidates include the Jason Jones cardboard standee, our Declaration of Independence, the Hydra Device, and our Server farm.
Michael Williams

Editor’s Note: The Pentathlon Cup is a Fist.  And, thanks for the Forge art, DoughBoy.

KUZOKU85  Back in August or so you told us you'd be going the darkest you've ever gone and it’s been almost seven months. For the Bungie fan this is no mere torture, this is agony in hell. Please, you must give us some tiny morsel, a table scrap, some beacon of light, a date, an event, anything. Can you spare us some idea of when we'll get even the tiniest fraction of knowledge about Bungie's new game?

You will play it with your hands.

Kr1egerdude  Where do you see video games 10 years from now?

In your mind.
John Stvan.

In the future.
Dan Miller

In my living room.
Christian Diefenbach

I want new input devices to replace motion-sensing and directly read my thoughts. That way I can stop flailing my arms and panting.
Justin Truman

That's what's great about them, no one really knows.
Sam Arguez

Modern Warfare 12 - I kid. It's extremely difficult to project that far in the future without just referencing current trends. If anything that Paul Debevec has shown in the last two years makes it into a realtime environment, consider me excited.
Nate Hawbaker

In 10 years, I believe all games will have an online component. I think the kind of stats and interaction you see on Bungie.net will be common even in the simplest arcade titles. Our challenge is to stay ahead of what is common!
Michael Williams

Streaming directly into my retina via a corneal implant. Oh, there'll probably be some kind of goblin derivatives and/or aliens to fight, too. That sort of thing is timeless.
Kurt Nellis

LordMonkey  Coke or Pepsi?

Coke.  Give ‘em hell, Bobby.

farmerscott21  Is Luke Timmins a nice guy in real life?

Editor’s Note: Is this real life?

Sam Arguez

Justin Truman

HOLY CRAP YES HE IS. He's the nicest man who plays with knives that I've ever known.
Cale Haskell

I heard that he no longer stabs people when mistaken for Jason Jones.
Nate Hawbaker

Luke Timmins is a saint and a lover.
Dan Miller

Yes, he is. And he does use the word "sausage" every chance he gets.
Christian Diefenbach

Luke Timmins is a super nice guy, who is a pleasure to work with. He likes to claim that his job these days is "drinking coffee," but he is directly and indirectly responsible for a ton of awesome technology.
Michael Williams

Answering that would be a bit like someone in the Justice League unmasking Batman. No can do, my friend.
Kurt Nellis

Super nice. Wait... our review period just ended, I can say whatever I want to! He's pretty nice... I guess.
Andrew Davis

People are always asking me if I know Luke Timmins…With a gun barrel between your teeth, you speak only in vowels.
Luke Timmins

Zafric  When it comes to hiring employees... Would Bungie favor applicants who are devout Bungie fans as opposed to someone who is indifferent? If not, does being a Bungie fanboy actually have the opposite effect? i.e. Does the childish glee of a fanatic get so sickening that you'd prefer not to have him/her around?

Indifference doesn’t sound like a quality that any self-respecting employer would value.  At Bungie, we are fortunate to be in the position to hire many people who bring with them a passion for what we do.  We newbies try not to make fools of ourselves when we meet our legends, but it happens.  They give us a six month grace period, and take us out to lunch to let us know that they need to eat, just like any mortal.

SkilPhil  Have you had any unusual requests for help in the office that isn't really 'Community Manager' related?

Urk did ask me to pick up his dry cleaning once.

spartan120  How much has the culture at Bungie changed over the years? Have you all 'matured' [so to speak] and given up your 'stick it to the man' ways?

Our beer selection has improved. You can tell a lot about a company by their beer.
Dan Miller

We are still a company that values its creative independence, and the maturing happened in the way we manage our time and build relationships with our publisher, but at heart, we are still like kids in an amusement park.
Christian Diefenbach

When Chucky pulls his pants down, we no longer take pictures.
Justin Truman

A good bit.  We have fewer whiteboards to draw –blam!- on...  I'm not sure if that counts.  How exactly would making games "stick it" to anyone?
Sam Arguez

I've been with Bungie since Halo 2, so I can't speak to the Chicago days, but I feel like Bungie has matured while still keeping our passion. In the old days, most people here were single, and now the majority is married and has children. These days the whiteboards are cleaner, but new craziness around the office has replaced the old.
Michael Williams

Not really all that much. We're a lot bigger (I started working here in 2004 and I've now been here longer than 3/4 of the company!). But even at this size, we've maintained a pretty good level of irreverence. There exists video of our own Dave Dunn performing Rock Lobster in a crab costume in front of a bar of Bellevue popped-collars and cougars, if that means anything.
Andrew Davis

IamNickMan  Does the sarcasm just come to you for these questions, or are you just a sarcastic person?

Aren’t those two conditions the same thing?  I am a sarcastic person.  It’s a job requirement.  Thus, sarcasm just comes to me.  Just in case this response is not sarcastic enough, I will close by offering up the fact that you look really, really nice today.  I like your pants.

Wumpa Warrior  Can we please become / A site with only haiku? / I want an answer

One thing I have learned / Is that our Community / Chooses their own style

Your answer is “No.”

…And the Mail Sack is now closed.  Fear not, stalwart Bungiephiles.  It will reopen again, when the weekend is a dull memory, and the sun rises on a brave new Monday filled with renewed threats of another work week.

Community 2/24/2012 10:11 AM PST permalink

Riding Along With Bungie in BF3

Piloting the other Warthog.

Remember that old war story about the drought of activity that gripped Bungie during the holiday break, and how the people who lurked about our studio passed the time by raising an army to play Battlefield 3 on our private server?  Yeah, that was fun.  While the urge among our ravenous community to fire up their PCs and sort their respective kits for combat was impressive, it did come with an obvious rebuke:

“That’s nice of you, but what about people who play on the Xbox?”

The answer to this burning question came from a longtime member of the Bungie Community.  Helveck has been an Average Joe in the neighborhood of Bungie.net for years.  When he saw his fellow shooters looking for action while they stake out their claims on our website, he sprang into action.  Thus, the Bungie Community Army was born to glory.  To learn more about his recruitment efforts, I subjected him to a full debriefing.

(Focuses a spotlight in Helveck’s face) Tell us how the Bungie Community Army came into being.

Helveck  I saw how Bungie, and you in specific DeeJ, began to harness the power of the community.  I thought to myself, "Why not support it in any way I can?"  So, I created the Bungie Community Army, partly to bring Battlefield 3 players who frequent Bungie.net together, but also to bring members of this site together to help maintain a sense of connection while we wait for Bungie's next big thing.

I can hardly take credit for your initiative, but it is nice to know that my total neglect of console gamers who love BF3 inspired you to take matters into your own hands.  Have you had much success herding people from Bungie.net into games?

Helveck  It was surprisingly easy to bring in a decent number of people to the Bungie Community Army group. Getting people together for games can sometimes pose a bit of a challenge. Keeping people’s interest when your group is not so much discussion based as it is event based can cause a bit of a drop in activity.

Sustaining activity is the trick when it comes to leading a team.  Allies can be a big help.  There has been talk about an affiliation with The Community Carnage. How has that paid off?

Helveck  The Community Carnage really helped our group get off the ground. Having a central HUB that affiliates with a few other central groups in an organized manner makes connecting with all sorts of members here really easy.  Having a structured way for a few groups to organize, host and post gaming events in the Main Forums is one more way for us to use the tool that is Bungie.net to connect with one another.  We enjoy the company of our fellow members on new common ground outside the confines of the forums to have new interactions, new experiences, and new memories.

If you are looking for gamers that call Battlefield 3 common ground, I would assume that you could find people with whom to play on a site devoted to the game. Why Bungie.net?

Helveck  I've been coming here for many years, and I've met many great people who share in the same interests and hobbies. I've forged many great relationships and friendships here and I wish to keep them.  So, why not stick our hands in something a little different while we all wait for the time where we can all gather under the single banner again that is Bungie's next big title?  When that time comes I know I'll be happy as hell that I stayed here.

You are a man of vision.  What do you have planned for the future of your private group?

Helveck  Hopefully, the Bungie Community Army will continue to grow.  The moderators and I are working towards making it more active, and more efficient. Our current plan to maintain a decent stream of activity is to host weekly game nights as opposed to the odd one here and there. Each week, a different moderator will host an event.  To keep people in the know, we will be issuing Private Messages to all of our Members.  Contests may be soon to come as well, and we are always open to new ideas, feedback and input.

If people play BF3, can they join the Community Army?

Helveck  If you play Battlefield 3 on the Xbox and are looking for solid teammates, I can assure you that joining the Bungie Community Army would serve as a way for you to meet people you can trust to make your gaming experience all the more enjoyable. All you have to do is visit The Bungie Community Army and join up. Hope to see you there!

To keep the bonds strong between Bungie and the fans that so diligently make their online home on our site, I drafted a member of our development team to accompany me on a Ride Along with Helveck’s battle group.  The volunteer for this inspection was a fellow enthusiast for all things Battlefield 3.  Coolie Calihan is also a Bungie newbie, just like your devastatingly handsome Assistant to the Community Manager.  That is not his gamertag.  His real name is just that awesome.  Recently, we have found it very difficult to keep our hands off of this game.

Tell the troops about yourself, Coolie.  What do you at Bungie?

Coolie  My fancy title is Associate Environment Artist, which essentially means I work with a team of superbly talented folks crafting the most beautiful environment game art possible. When I'm not forging polygons in the Iron Fires of Pentium, I'm just a dude that gets psyched about RTS games and shredding succulent powder at the local ski resort.

An environment artist should find a lot to love in BF3.  What do you think of the earth that we scorch in that game?

Coolie  The game is gorgeous. All the separate elements of the game are outstanding, but the environments bring it all together in a seamless sea of explosion. I think they (DICE) deserve a ton of credit for Frostbite 2 as well.  The engine is amazing.

Why are we so addicted to BF3 right now?

Coolie  With so much stuff to blow up, it's less of an addiction and more a sense of duty. Plus, you'd be hard-pressed to find a game better suited for teaming up with friends. You always have a few stories to tell after playing BF3 with your buds.

What is your specialty in this game?  What's the next unlock that has you licking your chops?

Coolie  I love the Engineer class for the rockets and repair torch, so I'm usually supporting armor. I unlocked the thermal scopes before the thermal nerf patch... the pwnage was uncanny, especially on the G36c.

What was your favorite thing about playing with our Bungie.net friends?

Coolie  Besides the epic, game-saving disarm during one of our first games, it's totally awesome to have people excited to play their favorite games with us. Playing with friends is always more fun. I hope there is more of it in the future!

As long as there are games to be played, and awesome people who will play them with us, the future will remain bright – even though we are dark.  If there are other groups bunkered on Bungie.net that play Battlefield 3, we want to know them.  If there are groups that play other games, I will seek out Bungie people to ride along.  Helveck speaks the truth.  There is still an amazing community on this site that cannot (and will not) be ignored.

Bungie would like to apologize to Helveck for injuries and damage to equipment sustained during our attempts at taking a team photo.  That is the nature of Battlefield 3.  The fight waits for no one.  This is not the first time that our shenanigans in profiling local recruitment officers has resulted in a charred Warthog.  They come in many shapes and sizes.  If the Warthog that you are currently piloting has wings, you are encouraged to report for duty in the Community Army.

Thanks for the ride.  All of this talk of Warthogs has ignited an old hunger.  Next week, more Halo.  The carnage will be a Flood.

Community 2/22/2012 4:04 PM PST permalink

Bungie Mail Sack 5.0

What marvels will tumble this week from the sack?

The conclusion of another week compels me to go all postal on your asses.  The trend for this cycle of interaction between developer and community puts more emphasis on quality, and less on quantity.  Translation: I am fielding less questions, but providing more answers.  Translation for the translation: In response to some of your more nebulous inquiries, I have distracted a panel of my brothers-in-development from their all-important labor in producing for you a new game so that they could ante up with their own opinions and insights.  Introducing my fellow letter carriers:

David Candland, Senior Artist
Ryan Ellis, Technical Art Director
Tyson Green, Staff Designer
Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer
Daniel Hanson, Associate Engineer
Nate Hawbaker, Associate Technical Artist
Joshua Rogers, Engineer

Thank you for joining me, Gentlemen.  Let’s open the sack.

T1B3R7uMB0YXVI  During the Halo statistics transition, will the private BF3 server in Bungie be affected?

Why would a cessation of updates for Halo statistics on our site interrupt the fog of war that is enjoyed in our IT bullpen on a regular basis?  I will say this, and I will say this again (and again) until everyone is overcome with a cuddly sense of peace and safety: On March 31st, we will stop updating your Service Records here at Bungie.net with new statistics.  Those metrics for how awesome you are will be inherited by the folks at Waypoint.  That is all that will happen on that day.  California will not fall into the sea.  Mayan prophecies about our ultimate doom will not be realized.  It’s just a day when your heaping body-count starts being counted elsewhere.

antony X1000  How many employees does Bungie currently have?

We are currently larger than a Platoon, but smaller than a Battalion.

M94 Mushroom Man  Do you like bananas?

That is what greets all of us when we arrive for work every morning.  According to Brittany Lichty, our High Priestess of Snacks, we love bananas:

We eat on average about 80lbs of bananas per week (meaning Monday - Thursday). Lately I’ve had to buy closer to 100lbs.  Damn dirty apes.

Editor’s Note: Friday is omitted from Brittany’s assessment of a week because it is inevitable that our appetite for bagels will fully eclipse our hunger for any other type of food made available to us.

risay_117  What do you do with traitors?


Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew.
Ryan Ellis

Make them scrape the scum off the bathroom floor. With a toothpick.
Daniel Hanson

Keeeeelhaul them!
Joshua Rogers

Launch them into the sun.
Nate Hawbaker

We make them respond to questions from the community. When you’re really bad, you get all the questions about BoBs, bans, GRD helmets and the definition of “Canon”. I am indeed sorry for everything that I have done and promise not to do it again. Easter eggs are not considered canon.
David Candland

Editor’s Note: I am not a traitor.  I volunteered for this mission.

OOninja  What about making a game is so hard that it prevents doing a podcast?

Making a game is certainly hard work, but that grind has never kept us away from the microphone in the past.  The absence of a podcast to tantalize your ravenous ears with conversations about living and working at Bungie is more a symptom of our blackout on the next project.  There will come a time to tell you all about it.  That time is not now.  When that time is now (or then, I guess), I will plug that microphone back in so that we can raise our voices about the wonders that await you.

ian11214  Why are double sausage and egg muffins so good?

It really depends on how much you like to eat sausage.

SN068237264910  Will there be front row seats people can purchase when Bungie launches their enemies into the sun?

You mean like a public hanging?  That’s very medieval of you to even ask.  The best view of that ordeal will be from the inside of the vessel that we commit to the sun.  Ergo, watch your step.  Our list of enemies is long, but the reach of the slingshot is longer.

Steel Latch  How do you guys get your voice actors?

This question demanded that I ascend the staircase of the Ivory Tower to consult The Elder.  To satisfy your curiosity about how we lure talented men and women into our recording booth to breathe life into the characters that drive our games, here is what Marty O’Donnell had to say:

First of all, we’ve always had some talented voice folks right here inside Bungie. Of course we loved having Joe Staten as the voice of the Grunt, Dave Dunn as our Scared Crewman, and various other Bungie Thespians (including myself) over the years to pick up the slack. In addition, I was used to working in Chicago with some local voice talent that have shown up in our games, Steve Downes, Pete Stacker, Tim Dadabo just to name a few. Here in Seattle we’ve auditioned many fine voice actors and found some gems like David Scully and Jen Taylor. When it comes to celebrity voices we’ve used a company in LA, Blindlight, to help connect us with some great voice actors who actually wanted to work with us. Like, Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Ron Pearlman, Keith David, Zachary Levi and the list goes on.

nishu  Do you guys still keep in touch with Steve Downes?

Another voice actor question!  We can wake Steve Downes whenever we need him.  If you miss the Chief’s dulcet tones, you can always stream his daily address to Chicago commuters as they road rage their way into work to the sounds of classic rock.

DeadlyCracker  Has Marty been kicking out any sweet blessed music lately?

Now you are just pandering.

VENOM MDK  What game(s) are the fine folks there looking forward to in 2012, besides the new IP?


Diablo III, being able to play DOTA2 on a machine at home.
Tyson Green

Mass Effect 3, Diablo 3.
Ryan Ellis

Diablo III, Resident Evil 6, Darksides II, Hitman: Absolution, The Witcher 2 (360), BioShock: Infinite (If it comes in 2012).
Josh Hamrick

Grand Theft Auto V, Minecraft (X360), Trials Evolution.
Nate Hawbaker

Mass Effect 3. Also, the new Paper Mario might convince me to get a 3DS. AND WHERE THE HELL IS TORCHLIGHT 2?
Daniel Hanson

Heh, I see what you did there. Without divulging whether or not our new IP will be released in 2012, I look forward to playing Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3, Diablo 3, Ni no Kuni, Journey, and Bioshock Infinite.
David Candland

petetheduck  Does the Bungie crew still take pleasure in the fan-made Halo creations that pop up at Halo.Bungie.Org?

Without a doubt.  Some members of the Bungie crew poured their heart and soul into Halo for over a decade.  It is always humbling when that body of work inspires you to unleash your own creativity.  Not a day goes by without me cruising Halo.Bungie.Org in search of a pearl of fan-created multimedia that tells a good story.

Malfar  If Bungie had 48 hours left on this planet, and had to choose one science fiction book to read. What science fiction book would Bungie choose?


Excession or Player of Games by Ian Banks
Tyson Green

World War Z
Josh Hamrick

I can't read that fast, even collectively!
Nate Hawbaker

48 hours? I guess that rules out Dune. Probably Ender’s Game.
David Candland

I wouldn't choose one book. I would choose seven books, and I'd pick I, Robot seven times.
Daniel Hanson

Starship Troopers
Joshua Rogers

Editor’s Note: Service guarantees citizenship.

TheRepoMan108  When are we going to get some info on Bungie's next game?

See below.

CTN 0452 9  When will you be able to tell us something about the next hawtness of Bungie.net?

See below.

TuffJuice  What can you tell us about the new project that is not vague and misleading?

See below. 

RigZ Boi  When will DeeJ be fired?

When I answer any of the three questions listed immediately above.  Keep on wishing, Rigz.  Sooner or later, you will all realize that I will not cave, and that you are all stuck with me until it is time to dance.

lord of dahorde  Do you believe in aliens?


Sure. I was one for around eight years after arriving from The Great White North.
Tyson Green

Yes! I see them on the highway every time it rains in Seattle.
Ryan Ellis

Absolutely, without Aliens we wouldn't have Sergeant Johnson and... Wait... What was the question again?
Josh Hamrick

David Candland

Nate Hawbaker

Editor’s Note: If aliens don’t exist, isn’t the universe an awful waste of space?

Canadian Bac0nz  What's Bungie's policy on hiring outside of the US? How would a foreigner go about getting a job at Bungie?

Another question about Aliens!  Bungie seeks the best of the best of the best artists, engineers, designers, and animal wranglers to help us reach the stars.  Nowhere on the careers page does it state a ”Yankees Only” rule.  We will journey to the four corners of the Earth to recruit the people we need to dominate it.  Round about the same time I came on board the good ship Bungie, a fellow newbie from Holland was relocating stateside to create concept art.

radical00edward  Are you a 'high-five' kinda or a 'fist-bump' kinda lad?

Tough question.  In either case, one runs the risk of having their gesture go unanswered.  In the instance of an unrequited high-five, you look like a fascist (always a mistake for someone in a position of real ultimate power on the Internet).  A jilted fist-bump leaves you wide open to a paper attach in a surprise game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.  This is why I usually walk around pointing both fingers at people and saying “What’s up, Chief?”  It’s safer, and no less silly a greeting than the first two options.

Valiant Outcast  Have you been given a semi-specific timetable as to when you will be allowed to give us the first glimpse into Bungie's new project?  Sarcastic answers are fine.

It comforts me to know that you are able to subsist on a steady diet of sarcasm.  For the time being, it is the only resource I have at my disposal to keep you warm.  The timeline about which you daydream is scribbled on a wall near my desk.  As soon as I am done wading through this mail, I will go in there and reserve space for all of you on that wall.

TheNuclearkirk1  Why do you always give such sarcastic answers?

Because Valiant Outcast says they are fine.

Neanderthal 487 What did you eat for your last meal?

Funny story.  I had ordered a Big Mac with fries when the Governor’s office called and said I was free to go.  Turns out the evidence was collected using tongs from the same all-you-can-eat salad bar that was the cause of the altercation that went so horribly wrong.  So, in a serendipitous turn of events, the need for a last meal was commuted.

MsCadetUNIVERSE  Why was Bungie thanked in the credits for Uncharted 3? Is it because Bungie is just that awesome?

Bungie cannot take any amount of credit for the pixelated goodness found in Uncharted 3.  Those accolades belong solely to our equally awesome friends at Naughty Dog.  As for why they thanked us?  For a brief moment in time, we might have pulled back the curtain that hides the mysteries of our creative process from the rest of the world.  Game credits aside, they were also kind enough to send us a poster for the awesome result of their hard work, signed by the awesome team.  It’s awesome.

spartain ken 15  What kind of pranks have you or do other employees perform around "the office?"


This one is pretty good, DeeJ.
Josh Hamrick

Prank implies abnormality, which eliminates day-to-day activities like Copter O' Clock and Bungie Spam Photoshop wars.
Nate Hawbaker

We installed a single bathroom for all the men in the studio and made the entrance and the exit the same door. Ha! You should see the looks on people’s faces every 30 seconds when they get a door smashed into their knuckles from the other side when they reach for the handle.
David Candland

Editor’s Note: For the sake of security, Bungie encourages all employees to lock their computer before they leave their desks.  When one fails to do this, the very worst websites that one can imagine greets them upon their return.  Think of websites that could get you fired from a real job.  Now, think of websites worse than that.

CAESAR XVI  What is the appropriate way to introduce oneself after years of lurking?

The Internet can be a cold, hard place.  There are people on Bungie.net who even assume alternate identities to ask what they think are stupid questions – despite the fact that such things don’t exist.  Were I you (Disclaimer: I am not), I would start a thread in the Classifieds Forum.  Let people know who you are, what you like, and how they can enhance the time you spend on Bungie.net.  Amidst the sea of trolls that emerge from under the bridge to shame you as a newbie, you might just find a kind soul who leads you to a good game.

MetalxTongue  What happened to this thing that you were going to be doing?; I remember that you posted in a thread saying that people that are good and help others out will be rewarded, I want to know if that is still happening?

I have no idea what you are talking about.  That does not exist.

Berend de Groot  Omdat je de vorige keer wat in het Duits hebt teruggeschreven, vroeg ik me af of je ook Nederlands kunt. Zo ja, wil je hierop antwoorden?

Ik spreek alle talen, van deze wereld en vele anderen.

Challenge:  I will send a "Burn Bright. Burn Blue." t-shirt to the first person who can translate that exchange.

Al1757XNA  What is in your closet?


I don't have a closet, just a filing cabinet. Full of neat stuff.
Tyson Green

Skeletons... of all the people that ever hated on Armor Lock.
Josh Hamrick

A portal to a faraway land.
Joshua Rogers

Tom Cruise.
Nate Hawbaker

New hires. When we run out of floor space, we start stacking them in there until the next desk move.
David Candland

ImTriForceGuy  Has anyone said anything to you as creepy as me yet?

I don’t find you that creepy.  You know who is really creepy?  Snipe Champpppp.  He holds the record for the creepiest private message I have ever received on Bungie.net (although not the creepiest of all the Internet).  We will keep most of the details between me and him, but the basic spirit of the message was that he would start a petition to have me fired if I did not abuse him more.

snipe champpppp  I honestly can't think of a question that is good.

I told you to stay away from me!  You are well within 500 yards.  And no, for the last time, you cannot lay face down in my dirty bath water.

xgeua  What did you do on your first day at Bungie?

I sat in a chair and watched video recaps of Bungie Day summits and presentations given by different teams to the rest of the studio.  I was brought into the fold of Bungie’s next game.  You can hate me all you want, but know that I can relate to the anxious anticipation that permeates this community like the overpowering aroma of patchouli in a Seattle record store.  I remember telling urk that I would have paid him to watch those videos – not the other way around.

Halo biggest fan  You have any tattoos?

Nope.  My belief system forbids it – which is to say that I believe that I would change my mind about what I wanted to have inscribed under my skin no less than a month after I got a tattoo.  This guy has a more confident sense of devotion.

Dunver  When will we hear about some more Bungie Aerospace projects?

Soon.  Ask me again sometime, soon.

Insane Monx  Is Bungie using Latin (Per Audacia Ad Astra) for their new IP because it relates to the new IP, or just because Bungie likes their Latin?

We have always liked our Schoolyard Latin.  Non Facete Nobis Calcitrare Vestrvm Perinaevm.

That concludes our chat, friends.  The post office is now closed.  Our doors will open again at a time of our choosing.  Regular business hours do not apply.  Keep your eyes on Bungie.net for the next random appearance of the Mail Sack.  Going forward, I will try to bring more and more people from the development floor into the party, Harold willing.

Community 2/17/2012 2:38 PM PST permalink

Bungie is Hiring.

Take our jobs, if you dare.

Read Full Top Story

Careers 2/16/2012 3:56 PM PST

For Carnage, Ride Along

Myth fades to Legend.

In observance of the corporate bonanza that star-crossed lovers recognize as Valentine’s Day, I spent the night with a hoard of fallen lords.  There was no candy, nor flowers, but there was blood - literal buckets of it.  While the majority of western civilization was jockeying for elbow room (and their maiden’s favor) in some overcrowded bistro or other, I was being entreated to carnage of mythic proportions on an antiquated – yet still very romantic - landscape.

Huddled in their private castle on Bungie.net, the warriors of For Carnage Apply Within breathe new life into old games.  These are Bungie fans in the purest sense, unearthing titles long-forgotten by many gamers, and polishing them back to their original luster.  They play everything in the portfolio: Marathon, ONI, Pathways Into Darkness, and more.

For our Ride Along, they selected a tour of a blood-soaked map from which the name of their union was pulled in Myth II: Soulblighter.  The preparation for our big date was a march down memory lane in more ways than one.  Not only does the game depict fantastic battles from a fictitious past, the software is over 14 years old – ancient history in and of itself.

Thanks to some retro-engineering courtesy of Mariusnet, Myth II has been dusted off and hauled out of the museum for modern audiences to enjoy.  I was led down the obstacle-strewn path that leads to a pre-game lobby by Atom, a fearless leader of the FCAW crew.  Anyone who bemoans the occasional flaw found in the otherwise instant gratification of Xbox LIVE needs only to partake in that labor of love to fully appreciate recent evolutions in multiplayer gaming.  Those same hurdles are evidence of the passion that these gamers have for classic Bungie experiences.

To better understand that passion, I applied within with some probing curiosities…

How did FCAW come into being?

The Sorrow 1994  FCAW as we know it today is the offshoot of two groups called the Myth Jumpers and the Marathon Jumpers. The groups on Bungie.net all needed to get reset, so the groups combined and For Carnage Apply Within was born. Ghandi 2, GameJunkieJim, and Reiginko were the original Myth Jumper admins and BobBQ and GameJunkieJim were the Marathon Jumpers admins.

It would seem as if the torch has been passed.  Who leads this motley crew now?

Atomsk A33  I handle the day to day business in the group. Things like hosting games, scheduling, news posts, organizing special events, forum moderating, settling disputes, helping new members with tech support, and recording attendance all fall in my lap. Sard used to do more when he had more time, but these days he mostly handles Myth and Marathon lore and acts as the group's unofficial historian. Still, he steps up and helps with hosting and organization when I need him to. Placid and Cydonain (The Sorrow 1994) moderate the group and keep the peace, as well as helping organize events and occasionally handling hosting duties. Slayer moderates from time to time, but mostly he brings life to the group when things are too quiet.

What activities do you use to drive your interactions?

Placid Platypus  We have weekly game nights on Fridays, where we play monthly rotations of Marathon or Myth, as well as Tuesdays, which serve as a catch-all game night and has seen members play a variety of non-Bungie titles.  Aside from our regular line-up, we organize and host the annual FCAW Summer and Winter Olympics. The Olympics are three days of tournament style play in Marathon, Myth, and one of the more recent Halo titles. Each year we crown a bronze, silver, and gold medalist after the final night of games.  Throughout the year, we also topically host one or two other special events, such as a Bungie Day celebration.

What makes a game as time-worn as Myth so compelling to this day?

spartain ken 15  Myth is compelling to play because every encounter is so unpredictable. You never know how the game will turn out and who will have the last army left.  All the explosive-throwing dwarfs and giant Trow battles make the game even more exciting.

What do you have planned for the future of your group?

The Sorrow 1994  I don't really know if we do have plans. We are kinda sorta affiliated with Community Carnage, and plan to start doing community game nights.

How do other people join?

EL  My favorite part about this group is that the doors are always open. FCAW welcomes new members and their love for the old school games. New or old, everyone is treated the same. It is a rare thing to find a group on B.net with so few members and yet still be very active. I think it is proof of the unmatched greatness found in Bungie games and the love the fans give back.

What is your favorite thing about this sentimental clubhouse?

ZayneHumphrey  FCAW is an amazing group filled with a bunch of great people who hand me my ass every week. Without them, I most likely wouldn't have given Marathon or Myth a chance; which is a shame, since they're both interesting and great series that Halo owes a lot of its awesomeness to. Everyone here can look past anything that's "dated" and have fun. That's why I come back, not just for the people, or the games, but for the experiences.

Heed the words of Sir Humphrey, for he speaks the truth.  A cursory inspection of the Myth multiplayer experience reveals many seeds that grew into the forest of great player vs. player moments that the world came to discover in the Halo franchise.

Flag Contested!  These knights are the kings of their own hill.  They will battle to the last, by your command.

Myth doesn’t pull a lot of punches in the carnage department.  Did I mention the blood?  It flies.  It splatters.  It stains the ground red.

Archers man the ramparts to defend their territories from pigs driven by bad guys – or “people with different beliefs,” as we came to know them over the course of the match.

The Journeyman (also affectionately regarded as a “Jayman” and a “Shovel Hobo” by the hardcore) is a powerful character who heals his allies and beats his enemies to death with the business end of an entrenching tool.

We concluded our mythic visitation with a bang.  Marty the Elder stopped by to don my multimedia helmet (double-speak for headphones) and pay homage to the honor guard that had assembled for the evening.

“You guys are playing Myth? I think I can see my dad!”

Trivia: The Elder Elder provided the voice for the Surly Dwarf.  You can see him in the video below, along with assorted Grizzled Ancients from Bungie, "back in the day" - as well as fellow newbie Michael Salvatori, who recently succumbed to our ranks as an official employee.  Warning: The haircuts in this backstage tour don’t hold up nearly as well as the game.

Thanks to everyone at FCAW for being my bloody valentines.  As we lay the foundation for your next kingdom, your enthusiasm for all things Bungie drives us to the excellence you demand.  While you lay in wait for the fruits of our current labor to be revealed, it warms our hearts that the old campfires still burn brightly in the darkness.

If you find yourself missing retro multiplayer action like this, you should help yourself to the feast of camaraderie that is served up on their round table on a regular basis.  The invitation is clearly etched into their oaken door: For carnage, apply within.

Community 2/15/2012 2:12 PM PST permalink

Bungie Mail Sack 4.0

Another week, another mountain of questions to dodge.

It is always a treat to open the sack, and sift through the bizarre spectrum of treasures contained within.  You honor us with your rampant speculations and demands for information from within our inner sanctum.  Before your patience is eroded by all of this glad-handing, let's dance on the razor's edge of full-disclosure and answer all of that which can be answered.

Ktan Dantaktee  Will Private Groups be deleted? There are rumors of this feature going bye-bye, so I think it would be nice if you guys could clear this up.

As long as you are spending your precious time here and having fun, we’ll continue to give you the tools to make the most of your stay. We’re ethical landlords, and we’ll never kick you out of your home (until we’re ready to move you into a better one).

BREQ  The question on everyone's pizza sauce covered lips.  Will Recon still be unlockable after the transition?

As with all post transition Halo questions, this one should be directed at 343. Ask for angel. Tell her I sent you (we go way back). What we do know is that you won’t be able to unlock it through Bungie.net.

Alpha4O  Will the freezing of data mean that my stats like K/D and medals will not be updated? If so will this also affect the Bungie mobile app?

Yes and yes. The app will still display your historical record, let you send private messages via Bungie.net, and see what your friends are playing on Xbox LIVE. Oh, and there might be some new stuff for the future. Might.

Mereel N7  Any idea on what The Flood will be renamed come March 31st? Will there be a public vote if the name does change?

I will say it again: On March 31st we are not leveling any forums, imploding any private groups, or launching anyone into the sun.  Please quote me on that, in the event that any other doomsday conspiracies arise.

Its A Mirage  Can you give us a hint on the fun that will be had with the halo stats before they're frozen?

The only hint I can provide is that fun will be had.  Much fun has already been had compiling them, by all of us.  As we hand them over to the new stewards of the Halo warfront that rages every night on Xbox LIVE, it is altogether fitting and proper that we look back in sentimentality.

Elem3nt 117  During Halo 3's development, who created the Halo 3 Cradle of Life (llink here) comic story/art? Was it the folks among Bungie?

I stole an image from that link for those of you too lazy to click it (thanks, Halopedia). The artist behind that work is Ashley Wood.  A number of folks among Bungie were big fans of his work, so he was asked to lend his mighty pen to travel back in time and plant the seeds of Halo 3.  Challenge: I will send a "Burn Bright. Burn Blue." t-shirt to the first reader who can identity another Halo-themed work from his portfolio.

Big Black Bear  Are you just getting us to do your job for you? Shouldn't we be getting paid your salary?

You are doing only half of my job for me.  I am doing the other half.  The portion of your half of my salary that I didn't spend on controller batteries went to the tax collector.

coolmike699  What's the best food available at Bungie?

The blood of interlopers who crash our gates without an appointment.  At least, that is what Jerome is always telling me.

AmazingMaco v2  If I was curled up on Bungie's doorstep, in the cold and the rain, would you take me in and nurture me as your own?

(See previous question above.) Curling up on our doorstep is never a good idea.

Verachi  When will Luke give me my steak?

This is not a question you ever want to ask Luke to his face.  On this occasion (and this occasion alone) I have braved Luke’s haunt on the other side of the studio to see how he might react to your threadbare query.  Luckily, for both of us, he was feeling magnanimous today, when he said:

Verachi. I will never give you your steak. Your accomplishments in Halo, whilst not forgotten, no longer entitle you to dine on my dollar. All the best in your continued quest for meat.

Ah, Lukems. You haven’t lost your tender touch.

RigZ Boi  Why does my hate for you know no boundaries?

Did we not have this same discussion privately?  I will echo the answer you gave me.  You hate me because I am the community manager you need right now, but not the one you deserve.  Because I can take it.  The one you deserve will show up later, and you will find that he looks just like me (but with a larger, rubberized codpiece).

Cockburnicus  Is your current position with Bungie a temporary one? (and don't give me some wishy washy nonsense about just being happy to be here)  It seems to me that these community guys hang around for a year or so and then go and do something else.  It's a foot in the door type job.  So can we expect a newer version of you in a year or so?

Maybe if you were all nicer to your community managers, they would stick around for longer.  Did that ever occur to you?  All kidding aside, knowing the heart of a gamer makes someone extremely valuable to the creative process that drives development of great games at Bungie.  And, who knows the heart of the Bungie Community better than the people who have lived in the trenches with you?  Luke and Urk are doing amazing things to make sure that the next game you play with us will be the best it can be.  We should be excited that they are where they are.  As for how long you will have me to kick around?  I was running gamers through a maze of my own creation for six years before Bungie called me up to serve you.  I am passionate about games that spark alight the flames of community.  No matter where my adventure at Bungie takes me, you will find that I am very hard to shake.

TacoPizzaHunter  Who do you think will win the Super Bowl, Giants or Patriots?

First of all, I also love Taco Pizza.  It makes my wife nuts, because you can’t put tacos on half of a pizza and expect them to stay there.  As for your question: You asked it the day after the game.  Would you also like to make a friendly wager over who will win World War II?  I love easy money.

prometheus25  What numbers should I pick for tomorrow's lottery?

Now that is a question about the future.  If you win, I get half: 7, 12, 26, 32, 57, 79.  In the event that you need another number, just give them… 62.  Those of you who are reaching for your decoder rings to discover some cypher hidden in those numbers, the joke is completely on you.  Seriously.  If I see speculation in some hidden corner of the Internet about that, I will roll around on the floor behind my desk, cackling in ways that will send a chill up the spines of those unfortunate enough to be seated near me.

Top_Gun_2021  How are the employees desks organized in the building? A map would be awesome.

We cluster people together based on what they are working on, to make it easy for them to bounce ideas off of one another.  A glance over anyone’s shoulder reveals our project reflected through a similar prism.  Concept Artists sit near Concept Artists.  Animators sit near Animators.  There are no walls that separate any of us from each other – aside from the ones that provide privacy for the restrooms.  As a relative Newbie, I still come up with reasons to take the scenic route to the other side of the office.  For those of us that become lost easily, we do have a map that illustrates the sprawling layout.  Here is an extreme close-up:

risay_117  Did you ever have a party in the studio?


SkilPhil  What lessons did you take away from the Bungie Pentathlon?

That’s more like it, constant reader.  I learned some hard (and very valuable lessons) during the Pentathlon.  I learned that, in order to etch your name onto The Cup (that is actually a Fist), you need to be a gamer that possesses skills of great diversity.  You must be as competitive as you are social.  You can’t just shoot first and ask questions later.  You also have to be able to answer those questions.  You must be a problem solver, a singer, a riddler, a dancer, a tosser, a gambler, a soldier, a conjurer, a driver, and even (on rare occasions) a sculptor.  The winners of the Pentathlon are perfect beings who can crush all challenges in their path.  In that respect, Middle School put us all to shame.

Killa kella159  What is the codename for Bungie's next game?

Let’s just call it “Bungie’s next game,” shall we?

MKmiksaFIN  Who controls Bungie's Twitter account?

Several of us know the login.  You never know which of us is whispering 140 characters of sweet nothing into your ear – although odds are it’s me.  If you are not following us @bungietweets, you should jump on board.  I interact with people there almost every day.  World Domination requires one to leave home from time to time, after all.

ExquisiteDragon  How much bacon is stored at the studio?

The notion of storage implies surplus, which would suggest that we ate our fill, and left something for later.  When it comes to bacon, this is never possible.

Spartan_Natraps  Will videogames ever transcend their status as mere entertainment?

Are you not all evidence of the fact that they have already?  Every day, thousands of you make your way to this website to interact with one another on topics that have nothing to do with games.  Thus, videogames have become a social lounge where people make real and lasting friendships.

AngryFacing  When could we possibly expect a peek at Bungie's next project? Even the tiniest peek through a hole as tiny as a pixel.

Why do you make me tease you like this?

There is your pixel.  Don’t stare for too long at its brilliance, lest you ruin the vision that you will need to experience it in all its fully-realized glory.

shadow 2648  Are you excited about all the new hires coming in to the studio? And do you see yourself possibly hiring new networking and 3D Designers straight out of college? Or are you looking for more experience than that?

Slow down now, eager young mind!  One question at a time.  New hires are always exciting.  Just the other night, I rode the elevator with a new Environment Artist who was thrilled to announce the he had just finished his first day.  It reminded me of that glow of naïve excitement that enveloped me when I started working at Bungie, those long (three) months ago.  As for hiring people straight out of college, the Careers page does a better job than I could of explaining what we look for in a candidate.  I can tell you that we want the best of the best of the best – since you would demand nothing less from us.

CODILICIOUS  How is JonnyOThan doing?

JonnyOThan… JonnyOThan… Oh!  You mean Sandbox Programmer Extraordinaire Jon Cable.  He’s fine.  Just the other night, he accompanied me on a surprise inspection of a Minecraft server that is ruled by fellow members of your community.  He is happy, healthy, and laying the foundation for your next granular castle.

Kvaener  Kannst du mich verstehen? Es wäre so toll, wenn du mich verstehst!

Ich verstehe dich. Tut mir Leid zu enttäuschen.

GrinnialVex  Are you guys going to PAX this year? I'll be going for the first time ever and I'd like to stal- er, meet you. You know, hang out, tell stories, get close... totally not in a creepy way though.

I will most definitely be at PAX. Plenty of other Bungie people will as well, to embrace the gaming goodness as fans. We have a good group in attendance every year. It is in our backyard, after all, and Penny Arcade always makes it worth our while.  I might even host my very own panel discussion, which would include little more than me sobbing unintelligibly over a table strewn with empty shot glasses about how hard it is to keep secrets from thousands of people who just want to appreciate your work.

darkruby  Is it hard creating a game that no-one outside the studio knows about?

Bartender!  Another shot?

ecartman1214  Will those of us who signed up for the Bungie beta tester program awhile back be getting any more information in the near future?

I have just returned from the Bungie Lab, where User Researcher Brandi House had the following temptations to forecast:

We contact sub-sets of our beta pool regularly to help with a variety of research like surveys (yay radio buttons!) and on-campus playtests (gasp!).  Don’t lose heart if you haven’t heard from us yet!  We’re constantly cooking up new ways to leverage your delicious brains, and there’s a good chance we’ll need you in good time.  We love you.  Bear with us, you dear brave souls.

CheckedBRUTES  Will the Bungie Weekly Updates make a comeback?  Will there be a Bungie Day this year?

I update this site much more than once a week lately.  What more do you want?

CheckedBRUTES  Will there be a Bungie Day this year?

Man, you just won’t stop.  Every day is Bungie Day when you work for Bungie.  As always, we will invite you to celebrate with us on 7/7.

stephen087  It's known that Bungie has a variety of games in studio for employee recreation. Are there any notable rivalries among employees in certain games?

The most bitter and time-honored rivalries exist in Street Fighter.  That game has serious business at Bungie for years.  Our competitors in that game even have the fancy peripherals, and volumes of downloadable content to keep them sparring.  See the angry warning and the security cable?  Yeah.  I stole their box to mine screenshots for one of our Ride Along recaps.  Big.  Mistake.

DARKWIND12  How high will you count the Mail Sack? And will it always end in ".0"?

I will answer your questions for as long as you are inspired enough to ask them.  Someday, when I am writing more official weekly updates, I will still reserve a small section where you get to drive the conversation.  As for the numerology, there may be a .5 or something, in the event that I make a critical error in reporting, and have to issue a retraction.

insaneAssass1n9  What will happen if Bungie cannot find qualified people to fill some of the job openings that the site has listed?

Hypothetically, we would create them from scratch using crash test dummies, spare machine parts, animal guts pilfered from the dumpster of a local butcher shop, and just a touch of black magic.  Those creations are hard to control once set in motion, so we would really rather hire gifted professionals who can be manipulated with snacks.

Fortunately, we’ve had little trouble filling our open seats with talented asses.

The Storm  What do you (honestly) do whilst in the office?

I sit quietly, chained to my desk, sifting through volumes of insanity in the hopes of finding one insightful question that truly lets me express my inner joys.

homocidalham  Is Jason Jones ever going to tell us what the connection between Marathon and Myth is? Particularly concerning Marathon and the great devoid?

No. Not because he doesn’t want to, but because the 90’s are lost to him.

QuirkyNate  Can you please tell Achronos to stop being evil and start being merciful?

Achronos has power over all of us that is too dangerous to anger.  I crave the same mercy for which you would ask.  His reach extends to moderate my forum presence as much as yours.  We need a brave warrior to take up our cause, since it is clear that neither of us have the spine to face him alone.

SPARTAAA 117  Can I get a callout please?

This...  Is…  (nah, too easy)

Callout cancelled.

SunGlassed Skunk  Will you ever answer my questions? I’ve posted in every mail sack, maybe it's because I smell.

You smell just fine – a heady blend of sandalwood and game controller plastic.  It’s your questions that stink.  Or, perhaps you are just cutting too close to The Truth.  I am saying that without delving into the archives to investigate what you have asked.  The only advice I can provide is that you keep asking.

El Mequetrefe  What do you do with a drunken sailor?

It really depends on the time of day.  If it is early in the morning, you chuck him in the long boat 'till he's sober.  If it’s late at night, I usually just buy the bastard another drink.

m sghette  In an inexplicable tale stretching far beyond the boundaries of my own belief, I have acquired the gun pointed at the head of the universe and I have come to make my demands. I demand you tell us more about what you and Bungie are working on, a lot more. If my demands are not met this Friday, I will pull the trigger.  Also, if you could tell me where the phrase "the gun pointed at the head of the universe" came from, I would be very grateful. I can’t remember.

Well, it’s Friday, and we are all still here.  Consider your bluff called.  This unsuccessful con was not a total loss, since your question was compelling enough for me to lure veteran Bungie storyteller Robt McLees out of his fiction-fortified bunker to dig deep into the past and unearth some lost trivia about how that phrase entered our lexicon:

I can’t remember exactly when I heard it first, but its original author — at least here at Bungie — was either Jason Jones or Joe Staten. If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on Jason. Here’s the funny thing though — and the only reason that I included Staten in the equation — Jason did not refer to the universe actively as a rule. The galaxy was always big enough for him. It was already inconceivably large, without having to drag the whole universe into it. He hated the phrase “save the universe” because nobody could threaten the universe. Saving the universe would require defeating time at the very least. In fact, it may have started out as “gun pointed at the head of the galaxy” but Marty changed it to universe because it sounded more American. But memory is a funny thing. It is imperfect.

THORSGOD  Can you shoot urk with a nerf gun for me?

The Gun Pointed at the Head of the urkiverse?

He had it coming.  On more than several occasions, our conversations have been interrupted by a suction-cup-tipped projectile affixing itself to my screen.

Valiant Outcast  Is there a chance that I could get some advance warning to when Mail Sack 5.0 will be open so that I don't find out after it closes like this time?

No.  These sincere question and sarcastic answer sessions will strike without warning.  They will come at a time when I can maintain watch over the post office.  That said (starts whispering) Monday mornings are usually good for me.

Coda: No promises on the Internet.

All good things come to an end, friends.  This Mail Sack (it was good for me) is no different.  Your curiosity about life in the trenches of development is as appreciated as your willingness to keep us company on our website while we toil away on something we hope you will play.  Though we are dark, you still burn bright.  Talk to you again next week.

Community 2/10/2012 2:28 PM PST permalink

Community Mine Along

Building community, brick by brick.

The invitation came spilling out of a Bungie Mail Sack, hidden amongst a heap of demanding curiosities like a diamond buried under tons of rough earth: “Do a lot of you guys like to play Minecraft?”  As it turned out, a lot of us guys do.  And so it came to pass, in a break from the usual experience of trading gunfire and verbal taunts with the fine people who yet hunker down on Bungie.net, that we gathered a delegation of video game makers from our own construction site to inspect the mines that had been tunneled out by our faithfully community.

What ensued was not a Ride Along.  This was a community Mine Along.  Ever since this 8-Bit simulation of excavation and construction was in Alpha, a merry band of Minecrafters on Bungie.net have been braving the dangers of the subterranean to drag treasures and building materials to the surface.

As soon as we landed on the virtual landscape hosted by their server, it became apparent that not a lot of mining would be taking place.  None of us wanted to touch a thing.  The world they had created was a pristine gallery of monuments to all our sins - and not just ours.  Sprawling in every direction from their spawn house were vistas that included icons from many corners of geek culture.  The sheer volume of work was startling.  Assuming our machines could render them all at once, the eye could not possibly take them all in at the same time.

The band of creators who had agreed to host us in their own private three-dimensional construct buzzed through the air like architects born on the fiery plumes of jetpacks.  With their world set to creative mode, we could fly from one installation to the next.  Thankfully, their sun was rigged so that it would never set, sparing us from the dangers that creep out of the mines at night to prey on the craftsmen who raid those caverns by day.

Speaking of the craftsmen, let’s shine our hardhat-mounted lanterns in their direction, so that we may pile the accolades they so richly deserve upon them.  Together, they have erected (shut up – get your mind out of gutter!) works of art that immortalize the passions that united them in the first place.

Tell me how your group came into being…

RollinRollin13, Admin
The same way a lot of things come into the world. Some drinks, some laughs, and then a lot of panic.  The server started out small. There were really only five of us who were active, and it was rare for more than one of us to be on at once, but we had great times. Word got out about our humble gathering, and soon it started to grow and expand, and became the community we are now. We've gone through many incarnations (10+ servers, 3 admins), but we're here now.

Your patient evolutions are an example to be followed by anyone who seeks to cultivate community among gamers.  Throughout all of this steady growth and construction, what is it about Minecraft that has compelled you to build better worlds?

Gr33n Knight, Veteran Crafter
It has a lot to do with the sheer amount of opportunity. No other game lets you dig underground to mine for resources and build houses out of those materials. It's the ultimate sandbox, and every new idea makes you want to keep playing.

And how does an idea become a reality?  Or, rather, a virtual reality?  Describe the creative process that you use to create those installations.

lkp117, Crafter
After hours of Minecraft, I have the experience to just build. I don’t really need to plan out creations except when they are a bit challenging. While building, I ask myself does it look good? Is it practical? Do I like it?

You make it sound too easy.  Be honest.  What was the hardest part about erecting (I said shut up!) your monuments?

deserthawk950, Elder Crafter
If I'm in creative mode, sometimes I have issues getting the dimensions right. if you're not meticulous, one wrong block can -blam!- over an entire creation. In Survival mode, getting supplies to make a good looking creation can be difficult.  Who wants to see something made purely of Cobble, Dirt, and Planks? Nobody. That's who.

Anyone that lives most of their lives atop a crane can tell you that every construction site has its accidents.  Ever have one of your creations destroyed by a creeper?

badhitman008, Crafter
Oh man, the first time I started playing here, I built a house at a town we made. It was all wood, nice cozy little place. Go outside for a sec and right there staring me in a face was one. I swear I almost heard it say “Hi!” before it blew up.

As impressive as it is, there is still a lot of room in your world for urban sprawl.  What do you have planned to keep your server alive with such creative energy?

RollinRollin13, Admin
As of right now, we have a whole lot planned. We're going to be using a very nifty plugin called multiworld. What this will allow us to do is create the main world for our server, which will run the default survival settings.  It will also allow us to create a second world running creative mode. Feel like making some pixel art? Hop onto the creative world for a bit. Tired of being creative and just want to kill some spiders or go spelunking? Switch over to survival. We've learned a lot since we first started hosting our server, and we're looking to put it all together into the best experience possible for our players, because that's why we go through the trouble of hosting and maintaining this server. We could do it for ourselves, but it's not as fun.

You are starting to sound like the people I work with.  The miners that you so diligently host are lucky to have such a selfless foreman.  Your words remind me of another guild of architects and artisans who wield diamond-tipped tools.  I am speaking, of course, about the builders from Team Bungie, who are hard at work on the next game we hope you will love.  Let’s see what they had to say about the world you created for us to enjoy.

What was your favorite creation on display in the world of the Bungie.net Minecrafters?

The cycling 7-element LED display was pretty impressive.  My favorite artistic creation was probably the Megaman-style Chief.
Jon Cable, Sandbox Programmer Extraordinaire

The Tardis was really cool.
Mark Taylor, Associate Tools Engineer

Has to be the grayscale Pokémon characters from Red and Blue for original GameBoy. Didn’t see  MISSINGNO though…
Coolie Calihan, Associate Environment Artist (Minecraft Virgin)

The Tardis was just awesome, with the halo ring a close second.
Luke Ledwich, Test Engineer

What surprised you the most about the world of the Bungie.net Minecrafters?

I've never been on a creative mode server.  The range and quality of structures was really impressive.

The perfect nature of the art. When I try to make glorious pixel art structures they inevitably end up looking nothing like the thing they’re supposed to. The Minecrafters have created some pixel-perfect stuff!

The vastness and creativity. I got lost multiple times and had to use creations like Goku, Clippy, and an epic battle between the Chief and an Elite to find my way.

All the art, I expected a more construction based server.

Before we return to our own mines, any parting words for our hosts?

Thanks for having us!  I hope I didn't spawn too many chickens...

Thanks for the sightseeing tour!

Hacka lök!

We left little creations; the sign reads “Awesome Work! Cheers, Beardy Wombat”

Before we wrap up this recap of our groundbreaking evening of art appreciation, allow me to lead you all on a similar tour of the sights on display in the realm of the Bungie.net Minecrafters.

Towering over their creators, the Master Chief and a Covenant Elite face off in a duel at the edge of a plunging precipice.

Not everything in this environment was a tribute to games people play.  Surrounding a central wildlife preserve is a great wall to keep local fawna safe from harm.

No online community is complete without a Mission Statement.  Upon arrival on the Minecrafters’ turf, all visitors are presented with placards that illustrate the preferred etiquette. 

Hanging in the ether is a tapestry that even a fallen lord would proudly display in his keep.

I am your shield.  I am your sword.

“It’s a me...”

Even the Forerunner maintain a base of operations on this server – although it is highly unlikely that their majesty will be inherited by that cow.

And, finally, what self-respecting inspection of Bungie-themed installations would be complete without a visit to Installation 04, led by The Chief himself?

To reiterate what has already been spoken, we would like to thank the Bungie.net Minecrafters for their hospitality.  They aim to please.  That same hospitality is yours for the taking.  If you possess the skills of a Master Craftsman, or have become inspired to take up a pick axe for the first time, make your way to their clubhouse.  This society of low-res architects is as passionate about building community as they are about building images from their own minds.

Community 2/8/2012 1:36 PM PST permalink

Bungie Mail Sack 3.0

Some of the news that is fit to print.

With the dust from the Bungie Pentathlon having been carried away by a cleansing winter wind, the highly classifed development timeline that rules our roost has returned to a normal state of fury.  As such, I can get back to the all-important business of answering your mail.  Wherever possible, a window is being opened into our world.  Once again, I have hounded my coworkers for comment on (most of the) topics that roll around inside your collective mind.  Let's open the sack.

Statefarm98 So who do you think is winning the Super Bowl?

I am rooting for Volkswagon.

acnboy34  Once again, got any ideas to revitalize groups - new features, etc. - that you're willing (or allowed) to share?

Once again?  Have I been ducking your furious inquiries?  (See next question below)

ECOH Cam  What are your thoughts on the sudden increase in community activity - all the community organized events and such?

All part of the plan!  A healthy online community is the sum of its citizens.  You are the most important ingredient in the concoction of spicy mayhem and carnage upon which we all feast.  As someone who is desperate to feed you meaty updates of our work-in-progress, I am thrilled that we can appetize on games we are playing, and maybe even play them together.  As for changing the way private groups operate?  I am not the head chef in that kitchen.  Top men are working on it.  Top.  Spicy.  Men.

THE SALTY CHIP  What do you think of the Bungie community?

(See previous question above)  I think you are freaking awesome.  I think you kick much ass.  I think I am most fortunate to have the chance to lead you all into a brave new world.  I think this is a glorious time that we can use to get acquainted and reinforce the social structures we will need to preserve the tightly-knit aesthetic of our community in the event that it is invaded en masse again by a new breed of fans.

antony X1000  What is your favourite event from this year's pentathlon?

My favorite competitive event was the Modern Warfare 3 tournament, in which I led a rag-tag and frantically-trained squad of Newbies to a field of battle from which they emerged victorious against seasoned warriors from far more tenured schools.  My favorite social event was Dave Dunn’s Photoshopathon.  The challenge was to build a work of art around the fearless leaders of our sprawling team.  The theme was Space – The Final Frontier.  Here are the winning entries.

David Candland  Senior Artist (Winner)

Anonymous  Senior Artist (Co-Runner Up)

Michael Zak  Senior Art Lead (Co-Runner Up)

Cpl Crosseyes  How crammed are the hours there at this early/medium point in development? Any of the employees starting to pull the overnighters yet or do the lights actually turn off every night?

The lights are turned off even during the daytime here, lest we wilt under the blaze of full luminescence.  Many hours committed to the cause of world domination have atrophied our ability to withstand the unfiltered radiation of the daystar.  Fortunately, the magic on our computer monitors lights the way.

Big Black Bear  What's been the biggest surprise / shock / eye-opener since starting at Bungie?

At my previous job, when my boss would catch me browsing a gamer forum, he would say “Get back to work!”  At my current job, when my boss catches me browsing a gamer forum, he says “Keep up the good work!”  Old instincts do die hard, however. Sometimes, I still minimize Bungie.net when I feel someone creeping up on my six.

jross1993  What's it like working for Bungie?

This question again?  Okay.  What else can I tell you?  This is the first job I have ever had in which I do not have a phone on my desk.  Also, I am surprised by how seldom I get “sick” anymore.

Bob Bobinson  What's urk up to these days, besides super classified secret stuff?

He spends a lot of time talking to super serious dudes in black suits and dark shades who roll up to our studio in unmarked luxury sedans.  (see next question below)

Dropship dude  Why doesn't urk return my letters?

According to urk, your letters are currently the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation. As such, we are unable at this time to comment on said letters or acknowledge their existence (which I totally just did).

Editor’s Note: I asked your question sincerely. That’s what he said. Those of you who are always asking questions about what it is like to work here should try and imagine approaching your boss for an official comment for official release and being fed madness like that.

coolmike699  How the hell do you plan on world domination if a snow storm is enough to stop you?

Whoa!  What gave you the idea that we were stopped by the crystalized moisture that heaped itself so cruelly upon on our fair city?  Allow me to be completely clear on one point.  Snow didn’t stop us.  It may have slowed us down a little, but world domination is still clearly in our crosshairs.  We adapted to the hostility of our conditions and arrived safely at work through guts and ingenuity.  Challenge: I will send a "Burn Bright. Burn Blue." t-shirt to the first person (employees not included) who can correctly name the two Bungie Commanders depicted in this Halcylon original.

Editor’s note: Aren’t you glad that imperial legislation didn’t shut down that glimpse into our rebel base?

Kretos  How long did it take Jon Weisnewski and his band mates to come up with the songs for Sandrider?

Now you gone and done it.  Jon is rarely at a loss for words about his awesome band.  Here is what he had to say:

Some of the songs came together really quickly. I’ll get an idea for a riff or arrangement, figure it out on my own and then bring it to practice. Nat and Jesse are both very talented musicians and we’re all pretty like-minded with our music tastes so it’s pretty easy for us to all click together on an idea and bang out a song in one or two practices. Other songs take a long time, depending on how we’re playing them in the practice space.  All in all, that record took about a year to get to a point where we were ready to record.  Keep in mind that we are all busy dudes so we weren’t practicing regularly. Practice is key to getting good at anything and everything.

All of humanity  Are there any plans to bring back the Bungie Podcast?

I would certainly enjoy the chance to step to the mic and address each of you with exciting updates and exposing interviews.  Someday, friends.  Let’s wait until we get to a point where there are things we can actually tell you.  Right now, it would be an hour of dead air, or me describing what I had for lunch.

snipe champpppp  What happens if I don't ask a question?

You don’t get an answer.  And, I don't get to dole out the abuse that you, snipe champpppp, have personally requested of me previously.

HALO3syourdaddy  What is something I absolutely don't know?


Sonic343  Do you guys ever go to local restaurants as a company?

That question is just a little creepy, as if we might put our menus down on the table, only to discover you staring at us from the booth across the aisle.  Deepest fears of being stalked aside, if you pay attention as you make your way through the hospitality scene of the greater Seattle area, you can find evidence of our passing.

Ktan Dantaktee  Will we be getting any new merchandise in the Bungie store soon?
H0FFman J  Will products from the Bungie store become available for purchase in other countries in the near future?

Alright fellas, take a number and get in line.  Remember the last time we opened the Mail Sack and someone was asking about baseball hats?  On that occasion, Bungie Store curator Christine Edwards was gracious enough to step out from behind the counter to take a bow and let us know what was on back order.  On this occasion, she has been equally gracious:

Because the Bungie Store currently uses Amazon's WebStore, we are limited to the countries that Amazon allows shipments to, which is a very expansive list of countries.  We ship to the maximum number of countries available.  We introduced several new items in the Store for the holidays and simultaneously discounted clearance items that have been on there for quite a while.  We're currently planning new items to be put on the store, but do not yet have a date for when they'll go live.

spartain ken 15  Have you guys thought about putting a vintage section in Bungie store? (Like selling Marathon and Myth shirts, old soundtracks, etc.)

Oh, Ken.  You really do take every opportunity to stake out your corner as president of the old school fan club.  If I could harness your enthusiasm, I could power a small, idyllic town for a year.

CoRaMo  What is Jerome's favorite sports team?

Indianapolis Colts.

There you have it.  Jerome is a man of few words, but he was still happy to go on record.  He’s the strong, silent type, you know.  Any time spent answering questions like these distracts the laser-like focus he keeps trained on the constant threat of interlopers that looms over our front door.

Sniffy66  Does Bungie have any plans in case there are no bagels to serve on Bagel Friday?

This would never happen.  Ever.  However, in the spirit of sharing, we could always order up some Bacon Maple Bars.  As the name suggests, these are donuts.  With bacon.  Donuts Evolved!

Insane Monx  Why don't you or urk write Weekly Updates filled with useless information?

What do you call this?

x Foman123 x  Have you guys looked on the bottom of the Pentathlon trophy yet?

You know, Foman, we hadn’t looked under the trophy until you asked.  Upon closer inspection, we found absolutely nothing.  We looked under.  We looked behind.  We looked around.  So, either you were teasing us, or our late-night cleaning crew made off with whatever time capsule you had secreted away for us to find.  If you were teasing us, I must remind you that, with great power comes great responsibility.  Urk and I are very prone to your suggestions.  For now…

MightyMarcher01  If Bungie was a person, would you date it?

I suppose you could say that Bungie and I are in a very exclusive relationship.  So, yes.  My lonely eye no longer wanders to websites that promise a new career and a better tomorrow.

Stormkiller626  What's the point of these mail calls?

It's a Mail Sack.

I am studying you.  I seek to know what is on your collective minds, which of you require closer scrutiny, and which of you need to be watched at all times.

Muzza777  To be or not to be?

That is the question.  Isn’t it?  Given the choice, I would prefer to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  As anyone who has discharged a rocket launcher too close to their opponents can tell you, there is not much nobility in taking up arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them.  For those of you who are totally confused right now, stay in school.

Cranium Crater  Does the web team look at our suggestions for the site?

Yes.  All the time.  There is the proof.  To quote Achronos from our most recent ride along:

…We’re taking everything we’ve learned over the last decade and building ourselves a brand new battle station. I can’t wait to share it with you.

CheckedBRUTES  Is Jason Jones still around?

Of course.  Who else would knight us on the day of the Pentathlon?

xgeua  Who else outside of Bungie Studios knows what Bungie is working on.

It’s just Bungie. “Studios” was cast off the moment we become independent again.

Decimator Omega  Is Bungie still hiring?

Still?  We never stopped.  Are there any Engineers on deck?  I added about a dozen new job postings this week.  Bungie is looking for alpha geeks who can ascribe code to everything from animation to mobile applications.

Geegs30  Are you guys accepting community-made Crimson avatars?

We are accepting community-made avatars of (almost) all types.  User themes, too.  Rather than focusing on specific games, I would recommend creating forum assets that embrace a theme that is more universal to Bungie.

SirShadow  Are the "Breaking In" interviews going to make a glorious reappearance sometime?

Yes.  Sometime.  In fact, sometime very soon.  I have one open on my desktop right now, even.

Delta 15t  If you had a hammer, what would you do?

I would hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters, all over this land.  Short of people living up to that utopian ideal, I would ban some fools back to the Stone Age.  Ya dig?

R3ACTlON  Do a lot of you guys at the studio like Minecraft?  If any of ya do play, can we get together on one of the community servers to build cool stuff like this?

I have to admit, that is pretty cool.  To answer your question: Yes.  We play Minecraft.  We should arrange for a tour of your finer creations sometime.  The only problem is that the people I am inviting to ride along are threatening to start fires in all of the worlds that they visit.  So, keep a river dammed up and at the ready.

Professor24  I love free writing, but I am nervous to make it my career. Should I keep it as a hobby and go to school for something else? What does Bungie look for in a writer?

The oracle that I consulted for this wisdom is a member of the writing team here at Bungie who is working with Joe Staten to spin tales that will haunt your dreams.  Senior Writer Dave Mongan had the following pearls of inspiration for you:

I won’t lie, it’s not easy breaking into writing.  And a helluva lot of hard work goes into making it your career, whether you take a slew of screenwriting courses or toil away in a dark corner for years, honing your craft alone.  But – it is the best job I could ever imagine, especially at a place like Bungie, where the creative spirit is encouraged to go wild... or wilder.  That said, imagination and inspiration are the most important factors we consider when screening candidates: Does a writer blow our minds with his slightly-insane outside-the-box ideas?  Does her passion for storytelling jump off the page, scream obscenities in our faces, and demand we pay attention to the riveting tale being told?  If the answer is a resounding “yes,” then we know we’ve got a winner. 

Bricypoo Will you marry me?
im am b0red Will you marry me?
Sundalius  Will you marry me?

And... No.

It’s not that I don’t love each of you; truly, madly, and deeply.  My wife is just not crazy about sharing our marital home with three people that I met on the Internet.

SH4D0W0733  Will you marry the first poster on page 12?


Editor’s Note:  The discussion thread that issued the call to fill this Mail Sack was unceremoniously locked on page 11.  Crisis averted!

That concludes our fireside chat for this week, gaming fans.  Tune in next week, as I dodge more bullets and crush more softballs out of the park.  The Mail Sack is your chance to ask "What's up?" and for me to answer "That's classfied."  Thanks for playing along.

Community 2/3/2012 9:24 AM PST permalink

Pentathlon LIVE

Cup stays where?

Read Full Top Story

About Bungie 1/27/2012 8:58 AM PST