Breaking In - Forrest Söderlind

A character among characters...



Happy Halloween! As people bring ghastly characters to life with their costumes and decorations, we’d like to introduce you to a member of the Bungie Team who does this every day in the games that we make. For this artist, realizing our worst fears is all part of the business…

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

I am Forrest Söderlind. The title on my card reads (lambda x: x if type(x) is ‘rigger’ else x=’tech_artist’), but most people know me as a Technical Artist. My job is to create deformation skeletons, control rigs, skin weights, and tools for the animation and cinematics teams. What this means is that when you see the characters moving around in the game world and the cinematics, I played a part in making it so they are alive and how they look as they move.

Before we learn what it takes to give life to these characters, let’s talk about real life. What are your interests outside of work?

What is this ‘outside of work’ you speak of? Actually, I’m really busy outside of work as well. I’m into death metal, black metal, grindcore metal, thrash metal, speed metal, doom metal, power metal, industrial metal, djent metal, and showtunes. I kid, I kid - I’m not that much into doom metal, but I’ll enjoy it occasionally.

When I’m not listening to music, I’m usually found learning a language. This month’s language focus has been C#. I’ve also done some world travelling and we’re aiming to hit all continents. So far, we’ve hit North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Only three left… then it’s time for space! Oh, and I was in a metal band, unsurprisingly, and still make music today of a more glitch nature (still sounds like metal where appropriate).

Are you sure you’re in the right place? It sounds as if you may have wanted to be a rock star when you grew up.

Do we ever really grow up? Philosophical, snarky answers aside; I’ve known that I’ve wanted to work in video games since my family first owned a Commodore64. I have some art skills and some technical skills, so a mashup of both is a perfect fit for me. From then on, it’s been lots of research and development (c’mon, Mom, just one more level?!), drawing, painting, and programming. Actually, when I was a kid, I did see a glimpse of me working on a flux capacitor sometime in the future…

You were wise to settle for more practical aspirations, as we can make games without the burden of generating 1.21 gigawatts of electricity. Has your entire career focused on Technical Art?

I’ve worn many hats throughout my career, including tech support, software support, hardware support, computer building/repair, and game testing. I’ve played a lot of other video games, on console, portable, and PC – my favorite portable system is the Virtual Boy. A Technical Artist is part support, part content and my experiences enable me to assist in a wide variety of tasks, when necessary.

Wearing many hats requires a big head filled with all kinds of knowledge. How did you learn all the things you would need to do this job for Bungie?

I have an AAA in Programming, an AAA in Computer Animation, and a BFA in Production Animation. I use all of the skills I learned in school just about every day. I also learned how to work with other people since, largely up to that point, I was focused on solo projects. In each school, video games were relatively untaught, so I studied short and feature films. Today, there are more options for training in games, but curriculum quality is still being worked out in many schools. There’s much to be gleaned from film about storytelling, character design, environment design, and character development. All of this is transferred into games (hopefully) and blended seamlessly (hopefully) for players to enjoy. A great game will immerse you without you even knowing.

Your hope is a beacon in the night for students who are about to embark on their own adventure. Once your schooling was complete, how did you infiltrate our studio?

I just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right attitude. I was part of a couple local meetings and lunches that my current team members also attended and we just got excited talking about the same sort of ideas. We’re definitely on the same wavelength, with the same goals in mind. Also, my appearance is hard to forget. I have a clearly defined silhouette (Character Design Lesson #1, kids).

It sounds like the introduction was like a first date. Was the interview as much of a love affair?

The hardest part was figuring when to stop discussing cool ideas and plans for the future with everyone. Also, the interview room had no windows and my retina UI was disabled on the way in, so I didn’t have any reference for the time that passed. It seemed like the first three months of the interview went by so quickly, that the next three months started without being aware that time had actually progressed. The next few months of the interview were fairly grueling, but once I foraged for food, fresh water, and a razor, I was equipped to handle the oncoming interview years.

(Disclaimer: Forest is exaggerating for effect. The Bungie Interview loop lasts a standard Earth day – but can feel much longer.) What is the reward for all those years of struggle?

The most rewarding thing is working with an esteemed group of people on a fantastic project every single day. It is just amazing to see all the characters coming to life and running around in the world. The feeling that our cinematics give is just breathtaking to me. We make games that we want to play, have fun doing it, and that is very exciting for me.

What does that mean in the course of one day?

After battling several bears and wolves on the way to work, I hit the gym. Sometimes I’ll eat a steak or two before the gym, depending on how many bears I’ve beaten. Then, I’ll have two more steaks to prepare for work. I’ll usually get the latest build, meet up with some of the other tech artists for steak, and discuss the plans for world domination. Then we’ll move on to building a character skeleton or two with our bare hands and checking for animator or artist tool needs. If there are bugs in our tools, we’ll fix those, while fighting off wolverines. After lunch, which is usually a couple of steaks, wrapped in steak, we’ll check out some character designs and plan out upcoming skinning or weighting work. Sometimes, we’ll need to update characters or control rigs, so those are usually longer processes, spanning a couple days. We’ll finish off the day with a nice steak, and sometimes a steak wrapped in bacon to help balance out all the other steaks.

If you’re not going to take this seriously, no one is gonna learn a thing. Please name, as sincerely as you can, you favorite perk as a Bungie Employee. You may only use the word “steak” once.

My favorite perk is definitely the gym membership, so I can be fit for the Zombie Apocalypse. I go every day, and sometimes eat a steak there. It’s vital to have some sort of physical exercise since most of us lead a rather sedentary lifestyle.

But we accomplish so much from that sedentary posture! Among all of your accomplishments at Bungie, which one stands out in your memory as the highlight of all that sitting around?

While I was learning how the vehicle system in Reach worked, I made a test vehicle using a skateboard. I set up a shredder animation set with ollies, airwalks, street plants, ollie finger flips, heelflips, impossibles, kickflips, etc. While it was pretty sweet, there wasn’t enough memory to support the extra vehicle in game. Using our carefully handcrafted tools, I transferred the animation to the Mule character (the giant beast that the Covenant were attempting to wrangle), doing the same tricks on more appropriately-sized Warthog. That was also pretty badass and we tried to find a place to jam it into memory. Sadly, it never made it onto the disc.

It’s just as well. Skateboards have never fared well in battle. With the obvious exclusion of pushing the boundaries for combat vehicles, how have you been able to expand on our skills working at Bungie?

I’m always working on little home projects, trying out different animation controllers in other engines, or testing out MIDI interface devices for DJ software and/or game engines. I never waste my commuting time and always have my laptop active while riding the bus, working on game prototypes or creating music. See other interests for more details.

Aside from sitting next to you on a bus, is there anything you would recommend that hopeful developers do to learn more about our corner of the industry?

Keep working on projects, whether it’s art content, audio, or programming. Find a small team to work with and finish the project. Keep scope small and achievable. Lots of projects get started, but very few are finished. Work on mods, level packs, game prototypes, short films, and anything that will show the skills that you can bring to the table. Playable demos and videos are great. We need to see what you can do, rather than just hear about it.

Get to know people in the industry – attended GDC, Siggraph, E3, etc. The more people in the industry that get to know you, the more they’ll think of you if they’re looking for an engineer or a modeler (or whatever your specialty is). Forums are also a great way to get involved, but be polite and people will respect you back. Ask questions pertaining to your projects and offer good advice to those asking for it.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Forrest. Before we return you to the characters that need rigging, please sort these virtues for us: Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? Rank them in order of importance to your role.

I’ve found a better metric that seems to fit. I show my Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent at all times. That being said, while it’s good to have a balance of all of them, Nerve and Experience are key to my role as it’s important to not be afraid to try things out, while keeping in mind the things that didn’t work in the past. It’s also important to be Flexible and Evolve to develop better workflows and tools that continually improve. I include Charisma since a large part of my job is support for animation and cinematics and it’s crucial to be approachable when dealing with some very complex issues that happen when making a game and have Patience in order to come up with solutions and explain them. Work Ethic is also important, and very imperative to know when to stop working, go home, get some rest, and come back the next day refreshed and ready to dive in again.



Forrest is obviously a character in his own world, and his world is a stage for his own show. We wouldn’t have it any other way at Bungie. As a bonus for this Halloween Edition of the Breaking In series, we give you a startling visage from his time spent next door, enjoying his favorite perk.  Metal enthusiasts call that corpse painting - the perfect accessory for some dead lifting.  We call it just another day at the office.

Breaking In 10/31/2012 9:14 AM PDT permalink

Trick or Mail Sack

Bungie's fire and cauldron bubble...

The witching hour is upon us. As the skies darken to a foreboding shade of grey, and the trees flourish with every color found in a flame, our studio is being readied to welcome trick-or-treaters. Don’t take that as an invitation to knock on our door dressed in costume. We only have enough candy for the good little boys and girls who have parents that work here. We’ll be sure to give you glimpse of our masquerade ball, though.

Maybe you’ll be able to spot:

Derek Carroll, Senior Designer
Mark Flieg, Artist
Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer
John Hopson, User Research Lead
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer
Chris Owens, Test Engineer
David Shaw, Senior Producer
Michael Strein, Engineer
Rachel Swavely, MoCap Tech
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer
Mark Yocom, Release Engineer

Let’s open the Sack.


ALI217 What is your favorite attack/finisher from any fighting game?


SkullsGirls : Ms. Fortune : Nom, Nom, Nom.
Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer


Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer


Mortal Kombat 2, Liu Kang’s Friendship finisher. Makes me laugh. Every. Time.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer


Mark Yocom, Release Engineer


Hougeki Unshin Soukoshou, the Hidden Mountain of Steel
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer


Sgt Bash X77 Do you play some games by other developers just to get inspiration for your new project, and do you see it as work so you can make your new project better?

We play all kinds of games. Almost all of what we play is for the sake of leisure. While we draw some inspiration from experiences that other developers create, we value our game time far too much to treat it like homework.


Kalriq What is your favorite game genre in general?

Adventure Platformers like Ratchet & Clank, God of War, etc.
Mark Flieg, Artist

Turn Based Strategy/4X games.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

Competitive Shooters like Halo, Quake, and Unreal Tournament.
Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer

I love RPGs, as certain dark things are to be loved.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

RPGs and FPSs.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

MMOs.
John Hopson, User Research Lead


CrazzySnipe55 Do you subscribe to the ideology that a game development company puts things into their game just to elicit an emotional reaction?

Is there any other reason to put something in a game? Even elements that are designed to inform, guide, taunt, or provide feedback to the player can elicit (or even suppress) a reaction. Some of the things we put into our games are there to prevent you from experiencing emotions like frustration, boredom, or rage. Not only do these design tactics keep the player properly entertained, but deliberately provoking an emotional response makes it much easier for us to identify and retire the Replicants in our player base.

By the way, CrazzySnipe55, you're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise...


MightyMarcher01 What is the your favorite picture on the internet?

The whole Internet? Thanks for narrowing it down for us.


Chris Owens, Test Engineer


Derek Carroll, Cake-Loving Photo-bomber


Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer


Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer


Michael Strein, Engineer


Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer


MozzarellaMonky When you start a new project, do you take ideas from the entire studio?

Yes we do! Our studio is a totally open environment where everyone is welcome and encouraged to have an opinion. This doesn’t mean that all these ideas are regarded as “good” by the designers who make the final decisions. For example: I’m getting a lot of pushback on my request to have invincible avatars for Bungie Employees who play our next game. The outlook at current is not good (ask again later).

On the subject of taking ideas from the entire studio, let’s see how well that decision-making process works out for this guy…


Captain Scurvy Will you name my new dog for me?

I always thought that Cobalt Nova would be a cool name for a loyal companion. How about you, Panel?

Dog.
Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer

Wind.
Mark Flieg, Artist

Your Mom. Think about the amazing conversations. “I think Your Mom missed me today, I came home and she had completely shredded the couch.” This name is completely acceptable for a male dog as well.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

Dolly! If you need a steak bone chewed on, or a carpet freshly pooped on, just leave everything to me. (Bonus points for catching the reference!)
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

John Waters. You’re welcome.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

How about Wilbur?
David Shaw, Senior Producer

Snuff, because A Night in the Lonesome October is the best book of all time.
John Hopson, User Research Lead

Considering your moniker, name him/her “Lind” after James Lind who first proved scurvy could be treated with citrus fruit.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer


Wikked Navajoe On a scale from 1 to 100, how busy is your schedule?

99. All hands are on deck for this next project, and we’re charging full-speed ahead. Every hour of the day is given to squeezing into this game as much awesome as it will hold - and some days are longer than others. There’s no such thing as idle hands at Bungie right now. We save that final percentage point in our schedule to eat, climb the rock-wall, and keep the connection to our community alive with this here Mail Sack.


DE4THINC4RN4TE Name the most profound effect working for BUNGIE has had on your life.

Working at a place that provides enough paid days off to spend about 2 months of every year in other countries.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

It’s seriously destroyed my ability to ever be ok working anywhere else again… ever.
Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer

It's been an amazing experience working with talented and motivated people who really care about what they're doing. The most profound effect of this is the gratitude I feel every day to be able to be some small part of it.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

I believe that there are companies out there that actually care about their employees. I was seriously beginning to doubt that.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

I enjoy my job for the first time in many years. I can spend the weekends with my family.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

I’m skinnier. No, seriously. Bungie is a very fitness-conscious crowd, and it’s helped inspire me to get in better shape. I’ve lost about 40 pounds since I started working here.
John Hopson, User Research Lead


EAGLES5 If I kill and mount big foot, will you hang it in your studios?

We have a Bigfoot. If you be a hunting man, we think that the Loch Ness Monster would be a nice addition to our growing collection of mysterious anomalies.


edableshoe What is the scariest room at Bungie?

The interview room.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Any room where I find myself alone with Matthew Ward.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

Restroom. We’ll leave out the details, for your sake and mine.
Mark Flieg, Artist

The inner sanctum room with no windows and the seven-sided table. The leadership team conducts strange and terrible rites in there to maintain the stability of the universe during crunch.
John Hopson, User Research Lead

The server room. I’ve been told that if you aim just right you can utilize the airflow to gas somebody all the way across the room.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

What kind of gas are we talking about here, Skank?


WestCoastRonin Who is responsible for making the ViDocs and other video content that has come out of Bungie in the past? Do you have an internal video production team?

I asked the same exact thing when I got here. It turns out that Bungie’s resident storyteller and digital auteur was one of the interrogators on my interview loop, and he never revealed himself. He prefers instead to remain behind the curtain, pushing the buttons that make the wizard belch green smoke. There isn’t a single photo of him in existence – at least not one that isn’t blurry or obstructed by trees in a dense forest.


Lobster Fish 2 What was your favorite decade to experience? Why?

The dream of the ‘90s is alive in Seattle, too. We relive that decade every day. All you need to do is turn on the radio. Let’s see if any of our people have been able to escape the gravity well of pre-millennial nostalgia…

The ‘90s. I'd still be wearing neon baggy pants if it weren't for that court order.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

The ‘90s. Mostly for the music and the sweet arcades.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

The ‘90s, be it the SNES, rollerblades, denim everything, or a combination of all of the above.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

The ‘90s. Why? Space Jam.
Michael Strein, Engineer

The ‘90s. It was a great decade for entertainment. Good music. Games started to become a more serious affair - some of my favorite games of all time come from the decade. Good movies.
Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer


The 80’s! Only had a few years in the 80’s but they were amazing due to Labyrinth, the crazy style back then and music.
Rachel Swavely, MoCap Tech

The 80’s. I got my driver’s license. I attend all the big-hair-band concerts. I met my wife. I became a computer programmer.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

Just as I suspected: It looks like only two of the people in our sampling prefer big hair to soggy flannel.


defnop552 If you could travel back in time to when you first started in the industry, what advice would you give yourself?

Skip grad school, make more games.
John Hopson, User Research Lead

Don’t expect college to teach you how to be a professional computer programmer.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

As this was my first gig straight outta school, I think I’d give myself a hug and tell myself to stop worrying so much about not meeting the studio’s expectations.
Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer

Don’t get jaded, always be closing and bet everything you have on the 2004 Red Sox to win the Series.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Don’t sign up for that Facebook account, it’s just gonna become noise. Bet on Bungie.
Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer

Buy Apple stock.
David Shaw, Senior Producer


Mr_Brightside How can I make my writing colorful like yours and Recon Number 54’s?

When you say “colorful,” do you mean the unmistakable hue that signals our posts on the Bungie forum? Or were you referring to a delightfully entertaining literary quality that spurs you on to drink deep of our every word? If you want colored text on the forum, you’re gonna have to ascend to the seat of power occupied by a Forum Ninja, or even a gold-plated employee of Bungie, Inc. If you want to be a more colorful writer, Urk tells me the secret is usin’ a lot of apostrophes.


SG Tumnus123 What's the best costume you've seen?


Pat Jandro, Senior Cinematic Designer


Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin


Derek Carroll, Senior Designer


Shameless self-promotion.
Mark Flieg, Artist


Josh Hamrick, Senior Designer


LIGHTNING ROUND!

ChorrizoTapatio May we please be the judges of an employee costume contest for Halloween?

Okay. Stay tuned.

AxJARxOFxDIRT Do you shower before bed or after bed? I think that is a good lightning round question.

That’s such a terrible question, we’re cancelling the LIGHTNING ROUND altogether. Nice goin’.

Mythical Wolf Please tell me this week's Mail Sack challenge will be a Pumpkin carving contest.

This week’s Mail Sack challenge is a Pumpkin carving contest. You’re welcome.

Report to Facebook for details. Come on now. You can share a challenge with the rest of the Internet. Show them what you’re made of, Bungie Community.

Community 10/26/2012 2:57 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Joseph Ainsworth

Machines making machines...



Game development relies heavily on machines. The more work the machines can do, the more the people who wield those machines are freed up to dream and create. While it sounds dangerous to give machines more and more control of our lives, this guy assures me that we have everything under control…

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

My name is Joseph Ainsworth and I am an Associate Test Engineer at Bungie. In simple terms, I assist developers by testing their amazing features and write tools for the test team to consume. I also help support our automation services by writing script and code to add new automation features. No one can ship a game in this day and age without a lot of automation.

It sounds like you’re creating machines that will eventually take over the world. Until your “automation” becomes self-aware and decides the fate us all, how will you be spending your free time?

Like most gamers, my interests include Games/TV/Movies, but I also enjoy Tennis & Snowboarding. We have a lot of snow up in Washington, so you can always get in some good runs at the nearby ski resort.

Describe for us the trail that you ran to end up working with our Test team.

Before working at Bungie, I worked at a smaller mobile/handheld games developer as a grunt tester. I took this job straight out of college in an attempt to stay in the games industry, and it paid off in giving me practical work experience in test. As soon as I spotted the opportunity on Bnet to test scripts in Halo: Reach I knew that I had to jump at the opportunity! Nine months of contracting on Halo: Reach and post-ship support, I was given the chance to join the Bungie squad full time and haven’t looked back since.

It sounds like you’re a man with a plan. Was your rise to power in the video game industry all by your design?

I have always wanted to be in game development. Since the early days on my Nintendo, I enjoyed playing as many games as possible. Once I reached High school, I found out about Digipen, a game development school in Washington that offered a 4 year degree in game development and programming. It was a huge risk to go down this path, but I was fortunate enough to translate my learning experiences into my actual job.

Luck favors those with courage. Let’s dig deeper into this free advertisement for Digipen. What did you learn there that you still use today?

I have a Bachelors of Science in RTIS. Most of my college career was spent programming in various languages, which I still use to this day.

How did you charm us into inviting you into one of our interrogation chambers as a job applicant?

I was very over-qualified for the position that I applied for, making it easy for the recruiters to bring me in for an interview. The hardest part about getting into the game industry is being able to get a phone call back from recruiting. Once you get the interview then you truly have a chance to shine (assuming you don’t blow it!), and show off your skills to get the job.

Your hubris is showing! Did you still feel so overqualified once we had our way with you during a full day of interviews?

The hardest part of my interview at Bungie was the open ended test questions, as sometimes there is no “correct” answer and they can be left up to a person’s best discretion. On the flip side, the programming portion of the interview went smoothly and I was able to secure the job on that front.

It’s apparent that your confidence will simply not be shaken. Let’s talk instead about the work you’re doing for us now. What’s the most rewarding thing about your gig at Bungie?

Seeing people use and enjoy the products that you make is always rewarding. This further drives you to want to implement even more awesome features and make people’s lives (and tools) a lot easier.

Take us deeper into that experience. Describe for us, if you will, one day in the life of a Test Engineer?

The day starts, everything is on fire, hoses are pulled out, and hopefully by the end of the day all the fires of been quelled! In all seriousness, Bungie is a very dynamic environment. Every day is a new experience and tests a person by keeping them on their toes. It’s in this sense that the firefight scenario is very applicable, because you just never know when something is going to break or someone will have a request that needs to be fulfilled ASAP.

You make it sound so exciting. How do we reward all that time spent in our burning building?

Great benefits, great people, relaxed environment.

What’s your favorite accomplishment in this relaxed environment? Describe that one moment in which someone appreciated your work, and assured you that you belong here.

Adding a tool for managing and tracking BVTs from the test team is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. This tool is in use by a lot of the test team, and it is always a joy to add new features to make their lives easier. When someone literally says to your face, “Thanks for all your hard work, we really appreciate all the new features,” you know you have done your job.

You mentioned the drive to always be implementing awesome new features. How has that drive manifested in your job?

Upon being hired at Bungie, I had spent most of my programming experience in C++. Since being at Bungie, I have learned all the ins-and-outs of C# and WPF. This new coding language has been a god-send for being able to create and iterate on tools in a stylish fashion.

Pass some of that style on to hopeful young developers-in-waiting who want to sit near you. What would you tell them to drive them on to an exciting career as an engineer?

Don’t settle for just the basic qualifications for your job, always try to be over qualified and understand/progress toward future goals. Dedicated and goal driven people are the only people who really make it in this tough industry. Also try meet and make friends with people in the industry, because they always say, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

We’re glad that we know you, Joseph. As some of our coworkers have already said: “Thanks for all your hard work.”

Anyone who packs the confidence to take the risk of joining this industry, but lacks a solid plan might find some ideas in our Breaking In archive. Joseph’s gambit is just one way to come work for Bungie. We have a studio filled with risk takers – daredevils of every variety. And, we need more of them.

Breaking In 10/22/2012 4:37 PM PDT permalink

Career Day Mail Sack

What do you want to be when you grow up?



For so many members of the Bungie Community, playing games (and loving them) is simply not enough. Their daydreams about games compel them to make games, and we can certainly relate. Just about every person who calls this studio their home away from home was driven to plant roots here by their passions as gamers. When we opened the Mail Sack this week, the questions that tumbled from its depths focused on the mysterious migration from the controller to the workstation.

Bungie Career Day begins now. Let’s open the sack.

antony X1000 Were you part of the community before you started working at Bungie?

Most of you know that I was plucked from the same battlefields that you have played on to lead this march into our next game. I am not alone. Here are only a few of the developers who blazed a trail into the industry before I ever met them…

Back in 1995, “the community” was just alt.games.marathon on USENET. A bunch of current Bungie staffers were once big fans of Marathon and Myth, way back in the day.
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer

Once a gamer, always a gamer. Just one more level…
Forest Soderlind, Technical Artist

Yes. The website and I always were, and always will be.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

I wasn’t part of the Bungie community, but I was a part of another videogame community online. I ran my own website, too!
David Johnson, Engineer


EpicWaffles What should I start doing to be a Level Designer at Bungie?

Whenever you ask a question about getting a job at Bungie, the answer will invariably be: “Make something!” No matter what sort of job you’re applying for, the people who interview you will want to see that you have done what we need you to do somewhere else, even if it’s in your home office. Level Design is no different. Here’s some advice on how to cut your teeth on your own projects…

The best way to get into making games is to make games. There are plenty of game engines out there that will let you show off your skill.
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer

Pick up any of the free level editing tool kits and start learning. UDK (Unreal), Unity, and Source SDK are great places to start. Start small, learn the basics, and build small levels no bigger than a couple rooms that emulate spaces you have seen before in real life or other games. Study some architecture, learn basic composition, and apply it to the levels you are building.
Evan Nikolich, Designer

Design your own levels and get them noticed in the community. Keep working at it and try different things. Knowledge is power!
Chris Owens, Test Engineer


Kr1egerdude What's the most difficult part of your day?

Waking up before dawn so I can make it to work on time. Don’t get me wrong. It’s totally worth it.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Bypassing the morning treats Bungie offers without partaking in them.
David Johnson, Engineer

Meetings right before lunch. Usually they run long and then I have to wait even longer to get lunch.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer

Whenever I have to make significant edits or completely gut a mission or level. It can be tough to go back to existing work and know where to start and editing to make the gameplay experience better.
Evan Nikolich, Designer

Tearing myself away from the screen to try to get home and start cooking dinner at a reasonable hour. It can be really hard to stop coding when you get rolling on something, and it’s even harder to stop playing the most recent build of our game.
Andrew Friedland, Associate Engineer

The hardest part is prioritizing tasks. There’s so much to do, which makes it essential to prioritize properly.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

The commute. Seattle-area drivers are... different.
Mike Forrest, Senior Engineer


QuirkyNate If you were going to rob a bank which employees would you take?

Bungie doesn't recommend bank robbery as a viable career choice. Assuming, however, that we are just playing around here, I volunteer to drive the getaway car.


Jondis Is it better to specialize in one area or to be well rounded? I've heard both.

I prefer to be well-rounded, although I can see the benefits of both. I think it has more to do with your personality. I tend to get bored easily when I focus all my energy into one area. I like to keep learning and expanding my knowledge on as many different skills as possible.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

For test, both of those are the correct answer. We’re all expected to specialize in our specific area, but we’re also expected to be knowledgeable across the board.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

Definitely have a specialty, but know how to do everything else at least a little bit so you can communicate better with people who work in different disciplines.
Forest Soderlind, Technical Artist

The best engineers I know have areas where they’re experts, but also a general knowledge of the entire field. Perhaps just as important, they have a keen understanding of what they know and what they don’t.
Joe Venzon, Engineer


Kaneg93 What all should a freshman computer science student do besides obtaining their bachelor's degree that will ensure they have the necessary skills, knowledge, or experience needed to earn an engineering position at Bungie?

One does not earn any position. They take it, with audacity and tenacity.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer

Write your own game engine. It’s the best experience you can have. There are so many documentation/discussion forums online nowadays that it’s pretty easy to start hacking your own thing.
Alexis Haraux, Engineer

Networking is just as important as knowledge and skills. Knowing who to talk to, when to talk to them, and how to talk to them is imperative to land any position. If no one knows you, they won’t know to ask you to work with them. Get to know the industry face-to-face.
Forest Soderlind, Technical Artist

If it already exists, join the game-making club on campus. If it doesn't, think about starting one. Or, you can try to find people online to work with. I was able to join the Game Creation Society during undergrad. I hear TIGSource is also good for finding like-minded people.
Andrew Friedland, Associate Engineer

All software engineers at Bungie are expected to have a good understanding of data structures and algorithms. Know your Big Oh notation!
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

Don’t just stick to classwork. There's no substitute for the experience of working on a real piece of software. One way to do this is to find an open source project that you're interested in and try fixing a bug or two.
Mike Forrest, Senior Engineer

David Hanson, my teacher for Systems Programming, gave weekly programming homework assignments. If your program crashed for any reason, you got a zero for the assignment, no exceptions. After the midterm, if your program crashed or leaked memory, you got a zero. It was the best motivation to write solid, robust code that I ever had.
Tom Sanocki, Staff Artist

We have a good number of programmers that are mathematicians, physicists and engineers; which reflects one of Bungie’s emphases: Math is delicious. A practical (and solid) algorithms base also helps a lot. The rest you can get with hands on experience - and the more you have the better.
Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead


HDhacker What do you typically do when you are having a bad day of coding?

Rage eternally at the inequities of reality. I have a lot of bad days.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer

If I get stuck on a problem, I take a break and go running, or if it’s late, I head home.
Joe Venzon, Engineer

Coding in itself is almost never the problem you want to solve, except at school. If you’re having a bad day, just go outside, lie on the grass, and enjoy some sun. If you live in Washington, move to California.
Alexis Haraux, Engineer

I just drink another Monster Import: Dub Edition and make some music in Ableton Live. Usually calms me down.
Forest Soderlind, Technical Artist

I think it’s important to find some sort of inner Zen when you’re having a rough day. When I can, I temporarily switch to a task that’s sure to invigorate me. If I can’t, I ask a coworker to give me a sanity check to make sure I’m on the right foot.
David Johnson, Engineer

When I feel myself starting to stall and get frustrated, I usually get up to go to get a snack. If that doesn't help, I’ll bounce my thoughts off coworkers to see if I’m failing to notice something more elegant, or if I just have a really nasty issue.
Andrew Friedland, Associate Engineer

It is amazing how often a two minute conversation with a colleague reveals the solution. If that doesn’t work, I follow John Cleese’s recommendation. If all else fails, I play a game for a while to relax.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

Stop and take a break. If it's an issue of not being able to focus, switch to a different task for a while. Or caffeine.
Mike Forrest, Senior Engineer

Am I brain dead? Take a day off and go home. Am I still functional? Go play <Insert new Bungie game title here>!
Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead


calcarlson Can I or should I pursue a career in Video Games as a 3d sculptor? I use physical media and I'm wondering if that has any place in a video game studio, or if you use solely computer based models?

Yes! Video game models are sculptures in a different medium. Typically, it’s less dangerous and less messy than casting and you go home at the end of the day with clean clothes. A traditional-skilled sculptor can transfer the same concepts digitally. You would just need some basic 3D software training to get up to speed, but the art stuff will already be there.
Forest Soderlind, Technical Artist



That snarling visage was sculpted by hands that belong to our Character Team. In order to see their work from a more literal perspective, the guys that bring to life new creatures in our games took a sojourn to the Seattle Sculpture Atelier. Taking a break from virtual modeling to workshop the physical medium was a valuable exercise. Don’t go jumping to conclusions, now. This was little more than an experiment. If you think you’ll see that beasty critter in our next game, please reign in your conspiracy theories.


Arbiter 739 How did you learn to code?

I figured out how to modify game genie codes for Dragon Warrior 3.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer

I started on a Commodore64 using super simple basic commands. Just pick up a book and try some things out. Keep the scope of your projects small and manageable at first and build from there.
Forest Soderlind, Technical Artist

My mom enrolled me in some computer programming camps offered at universities during the summer. That’s what really sparked my love and passion for it. Once you have the basics, it’s easy to go off and explore.
David Johnson, Engineer

I made the effort to learn to code and it made me a better designer. I learned by taking classes in high school and college, but the most productive learning was done on my own side projects or learning on the job.
Evan Nikolich, Designer

The most important thing is to find some projects that interest you and dive in. I ended up dumping hours and hours into making a terrible JRPG battle engine and was completely hooked after that.
Andrew Friedland, Associate Engineer

In high school I bought a C++ for beginner’s book and went through all the programming examples. Then I bought a more advanced C++ book and did the same. I wrote some programs for some relatives to get some “real world” experience.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

Trial and error mostly. There's no substitute for getting your hands dirty in code.
Mike Forrest, Senior Engineer

I really, really, REALLY wanted to print dots all over the screen, but holding down the period key only gave me 255. It all snowballed from there. (True story!)
Tom Sanocki, Staff Artist

On an Apple IIc computer. Writing code.
Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead

Being “forced” into coding for immediate real world needs is what has worked best for me. Back when I started on Halo 3, we had a tool called “Xbox Chief.” I started out by writing automation scripts using the simple language, but eventually needed something more powerful. I learned to convert all of the stuff I was doing into C# and then began playing around. Now I write all of my scripts using C# as well as write programs for various tasks around the studio.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin


LordMonkey What programming language do you find most useful?

When it comes to improving my computer science skills and writing relatively bug-free code, but performance is not a concern, I like using Haskell.
Joe Venzon, Engineer

Python is super useful and versatile. Multi-platform, easy to read, and it’s used everywhere. As an object-oriented language, it’s quite powerful.
Forest Soderlind, Technical Artist

C++, you’d be surprised how useful it is…even if you don’t code.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Personally, I think C# is one of the best languages to learn because there’s so much already at your fingertips. It lets you explore and create without having to hunt down or write your own common structures. It’s easily the language of choice I use at home for random projects.
David Johnson, Engineer

COBOL, Basic, Logo, Fortran… so many memories. Fortunately, Bungie focuses mostly on C++ and C#.
Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead

C and C++ are supported by most major platforms so learn those first. Next learn C#, Java, and JavaScript. If you know those languages you can get hired just about anywhere and you can quickly learn any other language.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

If I had to pick one it would be C, because you can use it for just about anything. But there are better alternatives depending on what I'm doing. PHP is great for smaller web projects because it's quick and easy and runs on just about anything. And Java and C# are great for more complex systems.
Mike Forrest, Senior Engineer

Certain languages at better at certain things, and you should pick the one that fits best. Don't limit yourself to only one or two. Once you know the basics of how various types of languages work, it usually isn't too hard to pick up a new one if you want/need to.
Andrew Friedland, Associate Engineer


Professor24 I always seem to get stuck on chapter three or four of a book that I'm trying to write, what keeps the writers at Bungie creative?

Accept that the first draft is going to suck and write it as quickly as you can. Don’t judge a single word. Don’t second guess yourself. Don’t correct spelling or grammar. Just get words on the page. Create the ugliest beast you can imagine then chain it to a pipe in the basement and walk away. Don’t even look at it for at least a month. When you are ready, get back in there and make it handsome.
Clay Carmouche, Writer

I think the biggest reason most people get stuck is self-judgment. You have to learn to love your creativity. And if you can’t love it, at least accept it like the problem child it is, and keep trying. It will constantly lead you down dangerous paths and get you in trouble. But if you just take a breath, and love it for trying to be good, love it for aspiring, and accept it as imperfect, like we all are, then you’ll have the patience to wait and try again and see what comes next. Writing is hard. But you have to just keep going, just keep writing, and you will, eventually, fall back in love with your work. And when you don’t feel that creative spark, write anyway. As a great teacher of mine once said, the real secret to writing is three simple words: Ass. In. Chair.
Joshua Rubin, Writer

Consume other acts of creativity. Stare at a painting. Watch an old movie. Read some story that’s not at all related to the premise you’re working on. See how other creative folks handle their business. If that doesn’t inspire you, steal from them, but add enough of your own sauce to make it your own.
Eric Raab, Managing Editor


Full Time Loser Should I give up?

Quitters never win. Now buck up, and walk the walk. You could start by picking a more inspirational username.


Try Would you rather work for money or job satisfaction?

Everyone who weighed in on this conundrum chose satisfaction. Here’s why…

I’m compelled to work every day, doing the things I love to do. Some call it obsession; I call it PassionTM.
Forest Soderlind, Technical Artist

Money is a nice perk, don’t get me wrong, but having worked at a job where I wasn’t at all satisfied, your mediocre job eventually becomes your worst nightmare and starts taking over your at-home life as well.
David Johnson, Engineer

I had opportunities to pursue better paying jobs when I first started working, but I’ve learned that if you don’t like coming to work every day, the higher pay isn’t worth it. However, by all means, get paid what you and your skills are worth! Ideally, you have a satisfying job with a wage you feel you deserve.
Evan Nikolich, Designer

If you paid me a ton of money for something I didn’t enjoy, I would end up taking that anger home and would never be happy. On the flip side I should point out that having an employer that clearly appreciates my contributions adds to the satisfaction of a job I enjoy doing.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

I have a few friends who have a job they love, but are barely making ends meet. They’re always happy and don't mind the fact that they don't have much money. I have another friend who is making money hand over fist, but hates his job, and I have watched him become depressed and less energetic.
Andrew Friedland, Associate Engineer


Job Satisfaction > Money!
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

I’ve done the money thing, and it’s soul draining, although I do miss the huge money-filled vault that I used to dive into.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Job satisfaction is great, but I do like being paid in money. You can buy more stuff with it.
Mike Forrest, Senior Engineer


MightyMarcher01 What is your favorite type of chip?

Silicone.


SpadesJr2 How would one go about getting into the voice acting business?

You’re in for a special treat. I found a voice actor that might know a thing or two about working on games. You may have even sampled some of his work (you better have). The floor is yours, Chief…

When it comes to Voice Acting. The emphasis is on "acting," not "voice." Someone telling you that you have a nice voice is no reason to pursue voice over. Many great voice talents don’t have a rich deep voice. What they have is believability. The idea is to be able to internalize the message and deliver it so the listener "feels" it. If you live near a place that has a reputable acting school, look into what classes they offer. Many will offer voice over classes. Even taking an intro to acting class or an improv class would be helpful. Talk to actors who have taken classes there and get a few good referrals (very important). If you live near a city that has a branch of the actors union (AFTRA-SAG), call them. Often times, they offer free classes on getting into voice over, and can also make recommendations on reputable schools in your area. Whatever you do, DON'T GO TO A BROADCASTING SCHOOL.
Steve Downes, Master Chief


PVSpartanL36 Do you have any wisdom to share with someone who is new to programming and struggling?

Pick a project that you think is really cool (simple game, cellular automaton, physics simulation, website, etc.), and DO IT. Even if you don’t finish it (I’ve never completed any of my personal projects), you’ll learn a lot.
Alexis Haraux, Engineer

Don’t give in to the gremlins! If you’re struggling over some programming concepts, step back and go through some tutorials to help you understand the basics fully before moving on. Try teaching someone else some basic programming concepts. If they get it, move on to the next level. By teaching someone else, you’ll discover the holes in your own knowledge.
Forest Soderlind, Technical Artist

No matter what you pursue, there will be obstacles. Realize it’s a phase in the learning process. Once you get past the obstacle, you’ll have gained new knowledge and expertise, and this will make you a better developer. Good luck, and keep plugging away!
Evan Nikolich, Designer

Even at the professional level, programming is a constant struggle, so learn to enjoy the struggle. The most rewarding projects I’ve worked on were the most difficult. Also, find a mentor who can review your code and give you guidance. Lastly, it takes time and practice to become a proficient programmer so have patience and diligence.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

Try to avoid getting frustrated. Programming is hard enough when you have a clear mind. Do your best to make sure you're not attempting something that's over your head. Stick with simple problems for a while and things will start to click. Just keep practicing. One way to improve is to take some older code that you wrote or an old homework assignment and re-write it to make it cleaner, or better, or faster.
Mike Forrest, Senior Engineer

Keep finding odd and diverse tasks to sharpen your skills. Challenge yourself to do something new. It doesn’t have to be big, but it has to be outside of your comfort zone.
Christian Diefenbach, Engineering Lead

Learn by shooting for targets that directly affect you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions from folks that know what they are doing. In the five years I’ve been at Bungie, I have never had an Engineer refuse to provide me with as much help as I needed to get through something.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

Create a reasonable goal involving something that interests you, and learn what you need to do in order to accomplish that. Having that goal behind you will almost certainly steer your passion behind the process, which is a big help. Almost every time I started learning a new computer language for fun, I started simple. One of the coolest university projects I had to do was to create a networked, multiplayer game of Battleship complete with win/loss record keeping.
David Johnson, Engineer

Modify completed code, or code samples. It’s a lot easier to see cause and effect when you can change aspects and directly see the effects and connections.
Jennifer Ash, User Researcher

The universe is fundamentally computational; learning its secrets will take time. It took the universe 13.75 Billion years for you to be born. Have patience and keep plugging away.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer


spawn031 My friend in an Xbox Live party chat just told me that you guys can give me blue flames.

Here you go. We consider the matter closed. Please stop writing us letters.



At least about blue flames. We do love your letters, but the ship that carried your blue flames as cargo has sailed, friends.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this look into our world, and the roads that lead here. We’ll let our hair down a little more next week, and get back to the ridiculous sarcasm and nonsense that you should expect during this communications blackout. So many of you just seemed so sincere about your curiosities this week, and we’re just a bunch of suckers for eager young minds that want to make games.

Community 10/19/2012 2:25 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Tom Slattery

Shooting baddies is fun in any language...



Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Habla Español? Parlez-vous français ? Вы говорите по-русски? Across this big, wide world, there are players of Bungie games who would answer those questions “Yes!” To make sure they can love our creations just as hard as players in our own backyard, we keep this guy busy….

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

If you’re reading this, and English isn’t your second or third language, odds are good my work won’t impact you very much at all. If you can’t read this, it’s a good thing I’m here - assuming you can read some other language. If you just can’t read, it’s time to put the controller down and hit those books, son!

“But, Dad, I’m almost an Inheritor in Halo: Reach!” In all seriousness, what is the nature of your job, and how does your work impact people who don’t speak English?

I’m the Localization Content Manager and it’s my job to translate all of Bungie’s game assets — text, voices, manuals, and so on — into other languages so that players around the world can understand the answers to such important questions as “Why am I shooting these baddies in the face?”, “Why are these baddies trying to shoot me in the face?” and “Where should I go next to continue shooting things in the face?”

My day-to-day duties vary, but the main responsibilities of the position are managing the pipeline for text and audio localization (creating software tools for automation where possible), coordinating with external localization teams, managing internal localization staff, and overseeing the linguistic testing process.

So, how many languages can you speak?

Let’s see… English, Japanese, the full arsenal of Spanish profanity, and a handful of phrases my brain managed to retain from three years of French in High School. So, two.

And how do speak the universal language of fun when you’re not building a universal translator into our games?

Traveling, photography, games, reading, being a wine and coffee snob. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about theoretical physics and spending as much time as possible outdoors, making the most of what has been an amazingly long Seattle summer with my wife and giant, floppy-eared Doberman. (Don’t mutilate your puppies’ ears, people. So not cool.)

A coffee and wine snob must be right at home in the gloomy bosom of Seattle. What other localities have you visited to prepare you for this job? What did you do there?

I went to Japan on the JET Program after college and taught English at a public junior high for a couple of years. After that, I was lucky enough to land a job as a video game translator at one of the big Japanese publishers and worked there for a little over five years before eventually coming back stateside for a position at the U.S. headquarters of another major Japanese game company.

My first job in the industry was hands-on, in-the-trenches localization, and that experience was invaluable. I spent years working as a translator alongside development teams on a variety of platforms, and because of that, I understand what translators need in order to produce their best work possible--and what can be done on the development side to ensure the whole process goes smoothly.

The job after that involved more project management than translation. It turned me into a better organized and more effective communicator, capable of juggling multiple projects and competing tasks (i.e., staying sane and keeping myself and others productive when there was more on my plate than I could hope to get through any time in the foreseeable future) while also managing expectations on both sides of a vast physical and cultural divide. (U.S. and Japanese work cultures are…different, to say the least.) I also had an awesome boss who taught me a lot about being a good manager.

The teaching gig — well, uh, that got me to Japan (and gave me deep and profound respect for middle school teachers!).

When you were growing up, did you always want to be a man of the world and its broad spectrum of languages?

I never really had a concrete plan. I went through a bunch of phases as a kid, and even changed majors at the last minute the summer before college. More than anything else, I wanted to learn a second language and try living in another country. There was always a vague goal of ending up in the game industry, but not much beyond that.

Don’t keep us in suspense. When you changed your major at the last minute, where did you land?

Computer science, with minors in Japanese and math. A few general education requirements aside, pretty much everything has been useful to my gig at Bungie in some way. I use the programming in my current position, and learning another language was, obviously, pivotal to getting where I am today.

That’s a unique blend of skills. How did you convince us that we needed them?

I never asked why Bungie picked me over other applicants, but I would guess it was a combination of experience and demonstrating real passion for the specific job I was applying for. Working a position like this — and being responsible for the quality of languages you don’t even speak — you need to be a strong advocate for localization. You need to care about making sure the game doesn’t just get translated, but gets translated well. We need to create an experience in that language for players that’s just as awesome and immersive as the one players of the English version are getting.

Did that same dedication to excellence in linguistics propel you through your Bungie interview loop? What was your inquisition as a candidate like?

It wasn’t “an” interview, it was a full day of them - one interviewer after another, never knowing what topic to expect next. Even lunch was a sort of interview, so there was never any downtime to collect my thoughts. By the end of the afternoon, my brain was mush.

If your ability to translate our games is still intact, I would say that you made a full recovery. Now that you’re here, what’s the best part of your gig?

Knowing that I’m contributing to something awesome that I’m excited about as a gamer, and having the ability to influence decisions that will make the experience better for millions.

We certainly hope that many people will attend the feast we’re preparing. Describe for us a day in the life of setting the table for such a diverse audience.

I usually have some coffee at home, get to the studio a little after 8:00, grab some more coffee, work until lunch, eat, grab a little more coffee, and work some more. Sometimes, if I’m feeling a bit drained, I’ll get a late-afternoon coffee to mix things up. You don’t want your routine to get too predictable, right?

You make Bungie sound like coffee snob heaven. Is that your favorite perk? If not, name the one thing that Bungie does for us that makes you the happiest.

The music in the bathrooms. Why on earth people seem to think making bathrooms the quietest places in a building is a good idea is beyond me. Every restroom everywhere should be pumped full of loud, awesome music. No one wants to hear the things that go on in there.

No one.

Let’s get this conversation out of the toilet. Shall we? No one who works at Bungie is allowed to sit still, at least not in terms of their skills. What’s your plan to become ever better at what you do?

I’m actively involved in the IGDA Localization SIG, and I do my best to keep current on any and all industry happenings related to localization—the good and the bad. Also, I married a native speaker of my second language. Does that count?

That should certainly keep you from getting rusty – especially around the holidays. Would you recommend the path you travelled into this industry? What would you say to someone who shares your passions for languages and gaming?

Don’t do what I did! Moving across the world without any kind of plan worked out pretty well for me, but in retrospect, it’s rather amazing I ended up in this industry at all.

Before we say “Arigato!” please translate this riddle into an answer: Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? Rank them in order of importance to your role.

Tough question. Experience is definitely big. Knowing the kinds of issues you’re likely to encounter lets you plan effectively and nip potential problems in the bud. Work ethic is right up there too, though. There are a million ways to cut corners on localization, and all of them hurt the end result. So, maybe it’s a tie between those two, with Talent in third place. Talent is critical for translators, but I’m just the man behind the curtain in my current role.

Bungie needs people who speak all sorts of languages to help us make games. In Tom’s case, some of those languages are literal. In other cases, the languages we speak are rooted in math, or science, or even art. To find out if your favorite language might lead you to one of our seats, you should check out the Breaking In archive. Right this very minute, we are hiring translators from all disciplines.

Breaking In 10/16/2012 12:18 PM PDT permalink

The Mail Sack is Secure

Warning: This can be habit forming...



When you ask a question of Bungie, you can expect a whole galaxy of different answers. Even if there are things that we agree on in lock step, we still manage to take those steps in our own fashion. This collision of perspectives and experiences aids the process we use to make our games. You’ll learn more about that process Soon™. In the meantime, these guys stepped into the mail room to give you a sample of the spectrum that shines in our studio.

Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead
David Johnson, Engineer
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin*
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer
Troy McFarland, Staff Artist
Chris Owens, Test Engineer
David Shaw, Senior Producer
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer
Jay Thaler, Senior Engineer
…and introducing Jerome as Bungie’s Security Lead

*That isn't a joke.  The IT Department has all the fun with their titles. As for everyone else, whether your titles are suitable for a resume or not, let’s open the Sack.


Malfar Any MechWarrior fans in the house? What's your favorite Mech?


Marauder all the way.
David Shaw, Senior Producer

I actually used to be part of a thriving BattleTech table top game. I piloted a heavy assault Mech with three MRM missile pods, two PPCs and six coolant pods! That way I could alpha strike.
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead

My favorite Mech of all time is MechaGendron. It’s a fictional software-testing Mech I created for a comic series I’m working on. He’s an unstoppable testing machine that can do his job without the burden of emotions or fatigue. He eventually joins the professional gaming circuit and crushes all his opponents with his sweet gaming skillz. At night, he fights crime with his Gauss Rifle/LRM20 combo. But that really has nothing to do with MechWarrior. That’s a great game, though.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Good stalkers know that a number of us are ex-FASA Studio peeps, who might have made some ‘Mech games in the past. After four major games and a bunch of expansions, I’m physically unable to leave off the trademark apostrophe from the word ‘Mech (in the BattleTech Universe, it’s short for BattleMech). To actually answer your question, my favorite ‘Mechs are the ones from Tesla Battletech, the most hardcore and evil of all the MechWarrior games. Coolant Loops! Ammo Bay Fires! Glory!
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer


Kivell What is a strange habit that you have?

I maintain a bizarre weekly ritual where I invite a bunch of gamers to ask their favorite game developers questions, and then eliminate any chance of those two groups of people actually talking about what they really want to talk about. The angst that flows from both directions nourishes me, it does. I’m sure our Panel has even weirder fetishes…

If I think no one is watching, I sing when I code. I feel like it has a positive effect on my ability to reason, and it keeps me awake when I’m coding late nights.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

I am addicted to SCIENCE! Well that and almost every joint in my body can pop, probably due to my science addiction.
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead

I won’t eat hot food. I let my food cool down to what most people would consider “barely warm” before eating. I eat quickly so I don’t hold up the table.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

I keep coming back to this place called Bungie every weekday. What in the world is up with that?!
David Johnson, Engineer

I have a habit of making up complicated origin/backstories for people I don’t know. They usually involve super powers, the mob or the CIA.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Responding to these.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

I end every statement with the words “In accordance with prophecy.”
Troy McFarland, Staff Artist


talon2000 Who's your favorite historical figure and why?

(Inset Marty joke here - then turn question over to Panel.)

I have quite a few heroes, but my favorite would have to be Neil Armstrong - or any of the astronauts from that time frame. Can you imagine? You had to be part scientist, part pilot, part cowboy, part crazy man, and a jack-of-all-trades to make it into the program! Then, you strapped yourself to that giant explosion. It’s probably why I get a kick out of movies like this…


Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead

Thomas Jefferson: For the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, Declaration of Independence, his involvement in the distribution of the smallpox vaccine, and for being President of a country that had doubled in size since first holding office.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

Mark Twain. In spite of the historical climate that he lived in, he held the radical view that all people were created equal. And his wit was razor sharp, in accordance with prophecy.
Troy McFarland, Staff Artist

There are so many to choose from! How about Ludwig van Beethoven? The man loved music so much that, even after becoming deaf, he was still able to work his craft - just because he had an intuition for how melodies and harmonies would weave themselves together. It’s that sort of determination and fearlessness in the face of obstacles and limitations (despite having every excuse to quit) that I’d love to embody.
David Johnson, Engineer

Tesla. His genius and inventiveness have always amazed me.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Abraham Lincoln, because of his mad vampire hunting skills.
Jay Thaler, Senior Engineer


Elem3nt 117 Have you ever witnessed anything supernatural?

Every day, I see people conjuring exciting experiences out of nothing but math. They are the wizards in my world…

Getting a job here felt supernatural to me.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

The amount of caffeine ingested by Bungie during crunch time.
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead

Ministry @ Lollapolooza ’92.
David Shaw, Senior Producer

When I was in high school, two friends and I were in the theater’s green room during lunch, and the age-old question of “If God is everywhere, is he also in the toilet?” came up. Right when it was mentioned, a plastic dinner plate that was away from everyone shattered. We were the only people in the room at the time. We still talk about it when we see each other, in accordance with prophecy.
Troy McFarland, Staff Artist

Yes. Twice. But they are long, scary stories. One story ends with a family moving out of a very nice house.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

Carbon fiber.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

I’ve seen and experienced a large number of coincidences in my life. I prefer to interpret those things as evidence in favor.
David Johnson, Engineer

YES. One time I was watching TV, and this girl climbed up out of a well. Then, then she came right through the TV. That was crazy.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer


INTERMISSION: We interrupt this Mail Sack to bring you a very special conference with one of Bungie’s most valuable employees. By popular demand, our community was given the chance to put the question to the man who puts the “secure” in our secure location. Bungie fans know him as Jerome. The world knows him as the immovable object that stands between them and their irresistible urge to know our precious secrets. At Bungie, we know him as the gatekeeper who makes us feel safe while we toil away in the darkness of our compound.



Jerome, the mail room is yours.

YodasCurd What do you do to keep yourself occupied while on the job?

I am constantly looking for intruders, allowing access to those who come to conduct business with Bungie, and monitor all entrances to keep them locked down.

antony X1000 Any stories about extremely persistent fans attempting to get into the studio?

Sometimes, people tell me that their brother or sister works at Bungie, and they told them to stop by. Usually when I ask them for the names of the employee, they can’t tell me.

Hylebos What would happen if a fan tried to deliver a cake to the studio?

Bungie’s policy is to reject any food from anyone other than a food service.

mark117 mia2553 Do you like your new home better than the old one? What are some differences that you can share?

I love our new space, but I did have more fun at the old location because I got to tow unauthorized vehicles.

Jerome Trivia: He performed this task without the use of a tow truck.

CTN 0452 9 What is the best part of working at Bungie?

Being part of a great business, constantly meeting highly talented people, and working at a place where most of the world would love to work.

MsCadetUNIVERSE What is the most memorable encounter you've ever had with a fan?

A fan came all the way from Australia to meet people at Bungie. He was excited to take some photos with me. After he returned home, he sent a wonderful letter filled with gratitude.

DE4THINC4RN4TE What is it like knowing that thousands of people fear you?

I didn’t know about that.

Jerome Trivia: In answering this question, Jerome was actually referring to “fear” itself – a concept that is completely foreign to him.



This concludes Jerome’s press-conference. Please back away slowly without making eye contact. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Mail Sack in progress…


edableshoe How many employees would it take to take down Jerome? Does the studio even have enough?

You know, gators eat employees as ravenously as they eat intruders. Our Panel certainly knows that…

Are you kidding? He’s even deflected Harold’s sniper rounds. He’s invincible, in accordance with prophecy.
Troy McFarland, Staff Artist

He would end us… end us all.
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead

This number is uncertain. I don’t think we’ve ever seen his final form.
David Johnson, Engineer

Are you CRAZY asking questions like that? Keep your voice down. You don’t want to be accused of insurrection.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

Same number it would take to take down your mom.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin


Googlz What's your favorite part of Halloween?

I love the mass-hysteria. The world becomes a stage, and everyone dabbles in theatre. It reminds me a little of Xbox Live, since people channel their personalities into an avatar that they wear for one day. Seeing every profession in the world outfitted with a more attractive uniform is also nice.


Colingo If you could trade jobs with one of your colleagues for 24 hours, who would it be and why?

I would be Jerome so I could make people respect my authoritah.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

Do we get to gain their powers? If we do, I would switch with CJ Cowan, but those 24 hours would have to be on a weekend when I’m at a golf course. Dude hits it far, straight, and with deadly precision - in accordance with prophecy.
Troy McFarland, Staff Artist

Any of our VO actors! I love doing voice over work, and did a lot of it at my previous studio. I haven’t had the chance at Bungie, and I really miss it.
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead

I don’t think there’s any job here I particularly envy. Everyone here works hard and contributes their enormous talent. I’d like to think that jumping into anyone else’s role for 24 hours would just leave me dumbstruck as I face the insurmountable task of trying to figure out how to solve problems that seem second nature to them.
David Johnson, Engineer


Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin


catman6 Are there any unspoken rules of the office that are specific to Bungie?

If I speak about them, they won’t be unspoken anymore. We can’t have that.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

Unspoken Rule #1: Nobody speaks about the unspoken rules of the office.
Scott Kankelborg, Special Projects Assassin

If something is broken in the build that gives you an unfair advantage, abuse it.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

Don’t remind the Grizzled Ancients that Middle School has won the Pentathlon two years in a row, in accordance with prophecy.
Troy McFarland, Staff Artist

There is a sign outside the men’s room that says, “What happens in the Man Cave stays in the Man Cave.” Thankfully.
Alan Stuart, Senior Engineer

Don’t forget your keycard or you will have a miserable day.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Be a Hero. I guess that’s not really unspoken. We’ll often literally say to one another: "Be my hero." And we’re usually being totally serious. Also, don't talk about fight club. Wait!
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead


ChorrizoTapatio DeeJ, could you give us some advice on creating and maintaining a successful blog?

That crucial first step of deciding on the spirit of your message can be the hardest. A blog should be a vehicle for your own voice - a way to express your passions as a gamer. Be honest. Be sincere. And think about the service you intend to provide to your readers.

To build a following, you’ll need to cultivate a unique lure. My friend Hawty McBloggy used to explore games from an edgy, feminine perspective. The guys at Ascendant Justice could dissect fiction better than any other players could. Foo Mo Jive started a blog at Podtacular to serve up a podcast about all things Halo. I walked the Clan beat on my site, which appealed to gamers who craved a social, competitive experience.

As for maintaining that blog? If there is one thing that Louis Wu always impressed upon me, it was the importance of posting updates frequently enough to keep people checking back for more. Fortunately, his forum was also a great place to drop an invitation to the party I was hosting.


Xd00999 What was your favorite project you worked on before coming to Bungie?

This sounds like one of those questions intended for people who have worked on other games. Instead of telling an exciting story about business travel, I’ll assume that you wanted to know about stuff like this…

MAG. That game was crazy ambitious and an achievement that many people thought couldn’t be pulled off.
David Johnson, Engineer

I loved working on the original Fable at MGS. It was my first AAA title, my first time experiencing crunch in the industry, and my first time I really felt like I had my hands on the project. I have a signed poster from my team hanging up in my living room to this day!
Andy Howell, Matchmaking Test Lead

For purely personal/nonprofit projects, my favorite was a NaNoWriMo progress tracking app I wrote over a weekend for my friends in the Penny Arcade forums.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

1vs100 for Xbox LIVE.
Jay Thaler, Senior Engineer

Tribes. It had something like 120 motions that were captured, and the stunts were incredibly fun to get – although we capture more in one day now, in accordance with prophecy.
Troy McFarland, Staff Artist

It’s a tie. Quake 3 (because the project itself was so fun) and Power Rangers Ninja Storm for the GBA (because the development of the project went so smoothly).
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Mario Kart.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist


EZcompany2ndsqd Can you neither confirm nor deny that the beta testing is taking place?

I can confirm that the Bungie Beta is in a perpetual state of taking place. We’re always curious about the mind of the gamer. Inside the guarded realm of our Laboratorium, we are experimenting on willing subjects to learn how they respond to all sorts of stimuli, including (but not isolated to): builds of our next website, builds of our next game, as well as websites and games that belong to other people. Don’t miss your chance to drive headlong into our wall. Make sure that your Beta Tester profile is up to date, and keep an eye on the email address that you share with us.


spawn031 Roses are red, blue flames are blue, I want them dearly, but only from you.




LIGHTNING ROUND!

Tom T How would you describe the community now? What do you think it will be like in 2 years’ time?

Anxious. Bigger.

coolmike699 Is it true that one of your servers caught on fire during the Halo Reach beta?

Maybe.

QuirkyNate What is your favorite holiday? And why?

Bungie Day. Swag.

MetalxTongue Can I have a peek?

At what?!

Eco Maiden How many Bungie Employees does it take to change a light bulb?

One: Burnaroos.

Mass Craziness Can I have a dollar?

No.

EAGLES5 Is it true you plan on surrendering to the Mythics?

Never!

ALI217 Last! (put this at the end of the mail sack)

Don’t tell me what to do. You’ll spoil the ending.

You have reached the end of the Mail Sack. It’s unlikely that you saw it coming, but life is full of surprises. Speaking of which, the Bungie Riddlemasters have a surprise of their own for you. Rare and wonderful swag will be awarded to cunning decoders at every stage.  The puzzle will be complete when you decode the last line.



The only hint I’ll give you is that your next chance to ask us a question will come on Monday. Until then, you are at the mercy of your own problem solving skills. Have a nice weekend!

Community 10/12/2012 10:54 AM PDT permalink