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.


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?


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?


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


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

Breaking In - Matthew Ward

Through the lens...

It was George Lucas who once said: “A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.” At Bungie, we agree that the eye-popping cinematics that punctuate our games should transport the player to places filled with meaningful events. A new member of our team understands this cinematic balancing act very well, having walked that tight-rope with Lucas himself, as well as a whole list of Hollywood heavy-weights. Let’s invite him to relive the finer moments of his career, and see what led him to us…

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

I’m Matthew Ward, Senior Cinematics Designer on Bungie’s next project. I’m part of the team responsible for creating the cinematic beats between gameplay. In our little world, we know that the only reason anyone is playing the game is to get to the next cinematic!

You assume too much, Sir. I play for the chance to vent my rage in a socially-acceptable vector, but this isn’t about me. This interview is yours, so let’s learn more about your little world. Would you begin by telling us what we might find you doing when you’re not creating virtual cinema?

When I find time for it, I’m usually shooting something with a camera – everything from portraits to little short films. I’m also a big wine-o. I love the stuff, and I love continuing to learn about it. I even make my own wine with some friends down in Sonoma, and we’ve even won a few awards for it. Most of all, I love spending as much time as possible with my kids. It’s fun experiencing everything in life all over again - so many simplicities to remind us of what we forget to enjoy. They give me a good excuse to do “childish” stuff; like playing with trains and Legos, doing arts and crafts, and watching animated films over and over again.

Let’s experience your childhood again in the service of this interview. Think back to when you were a young lad. Did you used to dream about telling stories through the moving image?

I always dreamed of being a Disney Animator when I was young. It was in college when I realized I was more of a filmmaker. I liked organizing teams working on everything to do with telling a story through a camera lens. Soon after, I found myself wanting to be a filmmaker. My industry experience has had me doing so ever since being hired out of school. Several years ago, I ended up working for Walt Disney Pictures’ Imagemovers Digital, animating previsualizations and final camerawork. So, I guess you can say I reached my goal of being a Disney Animator.

Is that what you were doing when we found you? Did you come to Bungie direct from the magical world of Disney?

Right before working here, I was the Director of Photography on an upcoming animated film being produced by the Weinstein Company called “Escape From Planet Earth.” It was my first full-DP gig - a result of nearly fifteen years of working with directors like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, The Wachowskis, and Robert Zemeckis. I provided them with shot design, previsualizaton, and layout for their films. Prepping to shoot an entire film was great training. It’s been a key component of my contributions here at Bungie, as we’re trying to bring more of that 35mm big-screen feature-film presence to our cinematics.

There are some rather large names on your resume. Who else have you shared a set with that we might know?

I spent most of my career working with Robert Zemeckis on his motion-capture films, and consider myself an understudy to his filming techniques. I’ve presented pre-viz cinematography techniques to Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, and Tom Hanks to name a few. As for sharing a set, I’ve directed music videos for artists including Glen Phillips (of Toad the Wet Sprocket) and the band CAKE.

You mentioned that you were hired for you first gig right out of High School. Does that mean that you’re a student of the set? Or did you seek some formal education in tandem with your early work?

I attended the Savannah College of Art and Design and focused my studies in Computer Animation and Film. The college was great at tearing us down with critiques and pushing us harder and harder to produce better work. They encouraged us all to critique each other, and even our professors. I’ve brought that tradition with me nearly everywhere I’ve worked, though some places welcome it more than others. I critique myself harder than anyone else, and offer thoughts to my colleagues as well. Luckily, at Bungie we thrive on open critiques and learn a lot from each other in the process. Sure enough, our work gets better and better because of it.

You speak the truth. An artist who can’t handle criticism won’t last long at Bungie. How did you convince us to submit you to the most dreaded critique of all: the Bungie interview loop?

After finishing the film I was shooting in Vancouver, some friends here at Bungie heard I was looking for my next gig and invited me down to meet some people. Although I had some inside influence, it wasn’t only up to them if I was going to fit the bill. I had to provide a cinematic test showing my shooting methods and my skills for animation. My interview alone lasted nearly 8 hours with over 10 people! I guess when they tallied the vote, I was offered the job.

That sounds about right. Each of us has had to go that distance. What was the hardest mile for you?

Avoiding the basket of FREE FOOD (Snickers, Twix, chocolate covered pretzels, Doritos, gum, etc.) on the interview table. I think it was another part of the overall interview – testing to see if I could resist pigging out during some question/answer time.

Love of snacks never hurt anyone’s chances of fitting in around here. Now that you’ve joined the crowd, what’s your favorite thing about the work you’re doing with us?

So far, (I’ve only been here a short stint), the coolest thing has been seeing our work pipe into the game engine and come to life in its full glory. When we lay out most of our work, we’re using a hodge-podge of grey-shaded and low-res textured models, low-res rigs, and temp lighting. When we’ve nailed a scene, we spit it out and watch it with the quality turned up to ELEVEN. It’s the result of many departments’ hard work in tools, design, and planning finally coming all together. It’s the pay-off we’re always excited to see and share.

Aside from the professional motivators, what’s something that Bungie does to keep you happy on a visceral personal level?

Currently, it’s our free-lunch program. For the first 6-months of any new hire’s employment, anyone can take them out to lunch on the house. And it’s not just free food that’s appealing, but it’s a great opportunity to meet people you normally wouldn’t ever meet in the studio because your departments don’t interact. It takes the “stranger” effect out of the equation and makes the studio much more an overall team than just a crowd of unknown faces. I’ve been eating a lot of free food lately with some amazingly talented people.

I’ll be sure to exploit you for a free meal before you expire, much as I’m exploiting you right now to the delight of our community. All of this exploitation must be somehow worthwhile, since you keep coming in to work every day. Can you describe for us your finest moment since you joined the team?

On my first day, I was invited to flesh out our camera and lens kits to provide us with a look that was worthy of a big-budget feature. My task was to help our team design shots and tell our stories within the cinematic style they were looking for. To test it out, I reshot one of our cinematics to demonstrate where we could improve upon our pacing and look. It took some great trust from our 3D story lead to drop that in my lap on day one, and the team has complimented the cameras and lens kit several times since. I believe we’re pushing some great drama, tension, and action within the frame of our compositions.

It sounds like you are a man who is squarely on his game. Do you think Bungie will be a place where you can improve your skills as a creator of dramatic imagery? How will you go about enhancing your mastery of the cinematic arts?

I continue to shoot at home, when I can. I continue to challenge myself at work, learning and doing new things. I play games about 1% of the time the average employee here plays. I’ve started playing the Halo series at home from the very beginning, for the first time. Sure, I feel like I’m gonna puke after 10 minutes (I’m one of the few fortunate souls struck with motion sickness from video games), but I’m fighting through, building up my thumb-eye coordination, if anything else.

Awww, I love noobs. It’s fun experiencing everything in games all over again - so many simplicities to remind us of what we forget to enjoy. What would you tell the gaming veterans who are reading these words? If they wanted to follow your path, what should they know?

The best advice I could best give is to explore all aspects of the creative mind. Art, cinema, theater, light, acting, reading, conversing, music, philosophy, espresso, etc. If there’s no reason behind the action of a game, no story to bind it all together, and nothing pretty to look at while doing so… you’re just at home on a couch, staring at a blank canvas. We’re all here because we love making that blank canvas come to life and sharing it with others.

It certainly sounds like we’re lucky to have you. Before I return you to the set, please sort these ingredients based on their importance to you role: Talent, Work Ethic, and Experience. Feel free to couch your answer in a delicious metaphor if it makes things easier to explain.

Experience, Work Ethic, Talent. If I were a cake-baker, I imagine it would go something like this:

I have a lot of Experience baking cakes. I still knock it out of the park most of the time, but occasionally I try something new and learn from it, good or bad. The next time, I bake it right, or even better than before. Work Ethic comes to play in the fact that I LOVE baking cake and I enjoy doing it for 8 hours a day, sometimes even more. And when I’m not baking a cake, I’m THINKING about baking a cake. Talent is why you love my cakes. I’ve got a knack for what makes them good, and it’s usually a result of my experience and work ethic combined.

And with that, we release a very valuable cook back to our kitchen. Matthew may have traveled some unexpected routes to the land of game development, but his story proves that you never know what skills will become crucial in this ever-changing environment. Our Breaking In archive is shaping up to be a museum where all of those skills are on display. If you don’t fancy yourself a filmmaker, you may yet find an exhibit that speaks to you.

Breaking In 10/9/2012 8:19 AM PDT permalink

Mail Sack of Plenty

May your cup runneth over...

This week, the Mail Sack overfloweth with Bungie Love. If you’re no stranger to this weekly orgy of crowd-sourced inquisition, you’re probably anticipating a roster for the Bungie Panel that squared up to answer some questions. On this occasion, they’re too numerous to list, lest this opening beat start to resemble the closing credits for a game. To discover the identities of the developers who were in a sharing mood when your curiosities were revealed, you must delve into the questions, much as they did.

Let’s open the Sack.

TheSpiderChief Do you, DeeJ, actually look through all the pages of questions we give you or do you just go through the first few due to precious time?

My promise to you is that I read every single question that you commit to our virtual mail room. It’s a great way to read your minds. This labor of love results in an internal monologue that sounds something like: “Can’t answer that without getting fired… Can’t answer that without getting in trouble at home… Won’t answer that on general principle… Can’t even think about how I’m supposed to answer that... Oh, look at this one!” (cut and paste)

chubbz What are Bungie's favorite superheroes?

David Candland, Artist

Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

Mark Flieg, Artist

Joseph Fernandes, Production Engineer

Rachel Swavely, Motion Capture Tech

Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

Rick Lico, Art Lead

Travis Pijut, Test Engineer

Joshua Rubin, Writer

John Stvan

UphillMercury What is the main motivational factor that makes you want to go into work every day?

Creating awesome things with awesome people!
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

My alarm clock.
Alexis Haraux, Engineer

Making something you want to play.
David Candland, Artist

To get away from the crazy creature that is living in my closet!
Rachel Swavely, Motion Capture Tech

DMX1337 Are there any daily traditions for you guys at the studio (either collectively or individually)? If so, what?

Drinking coffee, followed by drinking more coffee.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

3PM coffee break. If your order has more than two words (including size of the beverage), you lose.
Alexis Haraux, Engineer

I rage against “the man” over coffee round 3PM.
Rick Lico, Art Lead

3PM chocolate milk time (followed by 3:15 nap time).
Pat Jandro, Cinematic Designer

Scotch Friday. Hey, you asked!
Troy McFarland, Motion Capture Lead

I like the group circle we sit in and talk about our feelings. Really helps clear the air.
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

LordMonkey In a haiku, describe a day at Bungie.

Blah blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah Awesome

They should have sent a poet. Panel, be any of you poets? If so, issue forth!

My days are filled with
Email and bug fixes
Haiku are stupid
Derek Carroll, Designer

Caffeine-driven code
Prepare for twenty thirteen
World domination
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

code monkey write code
code monkey wait for slow build
code monkey debug
Alan Stuart, Engineer

ascending stairway
leads to the forge of new worlds
hammers shaping ideas
Austin Spafford, Engineer

United we build
A creative new landscape
To entertain you
Mark Flieg, Artist

Pew pew, playing games
Tighten graphics, level 3
We get paid for this
David Candland, Artist

Taf dans la bonne humeur
Grosse pause café a 3 heures
C’est que du bonheur
Alexis Haraux, Engineer

Kitchen full of snacks,
Delicious, bountiful gift?
Or plot to kill us?
Joseph Fernandes, Production Engineer

Unleashed Imagination
Crushed Technology

And, later…

Innovative fix
Technology works again
Ambition achieved
Steve Lopez, IT Overlord

Wish Jerome good day
Tell no one of what comes next
Goodbye Bungie hello Seattle traffic
Pat Jandro, Cinematic Designer

Working super late
What day is it again please
Someone bring caffeine
Travis Pijut, Test Engineer

Roses are red
This line doesn’t rhyme
I’m not good at poems
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

Kivell What will you dress up as for Halloween?

I like to dress up like Uncle Fester due to the resemblance.
Alan Stuart, Engineer

Undecided. Either retired Master Chief or zombie something. You tell me.
Robert Kehoe, Tester

The event horizon of a black hole.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

In my imagination, I lose some weight so I wouldn't be embarrassed wearing an EL-wire stick figure costume (black spandex is required for the best effect).
Austin Spafford, Engineer

A robot.
David Helsby, Artist

I don’t know, gimme ideas!
Alexis Haraux, Engineer

Mark Flieg, Artist

Derek Carroll, Designer

Pat Jandro, Cinematic Designer

Xd00999 What is your favorite part of the workday?

The nice quiet mornings before everyone is here, and I can safe-guard myself from impromptu requests. I’m too reactionary to say no.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

When everything's going well and coding feels more like a rhythm game (mostly chiptunes, hard dance, DnB).
Austin Spafford, Engineer

When a collaborative creative endeavor clicks into place.
Mark Flieg, Artist

Playtest time!
Derek Carroll, Designer

New hire lunches
Pat Jandro, Cinematic Designer

Sven Nietzsche What's your favorite room in Bungie studios?

The rooms that have “lab” appended to them.
Robert Kehoe, Tester

The kitchen, where we store our sweet, sweet caffeine supplies.
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

I really like our bathrooms. We play loud music in the bathrooms which helps cover up the bodily functions. I think this should be a rule for all bathrooms.
Alan Stuart, Engineer

I like the big room that we all share – except for the Audio recluses.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

Hmm, it's hard to choose... does an alcove with a fireplace and hammock-seats count?
Austin Spafford, Engineer

The Bungie Thunderdome, yet for some reason the Rock Wall gets all the attention.
Joseph Fernandes, Production Engineer

Spandex Palace, of course.
Rachel Swavely, Motion Capture Tech

The Theater, glorious AV nerd toy that it is.
Steve Lopez, IT Overlord

Marty’s office.
Pat Jandro, Cinematic Designer

MURDUR 587 What is love?

Love is evil spelled backwards. And misspelled.
Robert Kehoe, Tester

Rachel Swavely, Motion Capture Tech

Mark Flieg, Artist
Love is the integral of the intensity of the romantic feeling over time. I learned this in a lecture called ‘The Mathematics of Love’ in a high school summer program (true story!). Yet another way we can use calculus in life!
Tom Sanocki, Staff Artist

Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

Blindfolded hatred.
Alexis Haraux, Engineer

A wife and son who both outlast me in a weekend Borderlands 2 marathon.
Rick Lico, Art Lead

Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer
Austin Spafford, Engineer
David Helsby, Artist
David Candland, Artist
Joseph Fernandes, Production Engineer
Brittany Lichty, Administration
Travis Pijut, Test Engineer
John Stvan, Graphic Designer
Derek Carroll, Designer

I bet someone in the studio is going to respond with that Haddaway song…
Pat Jandro, Cinematic Designer

Yeah. You think?

XoG Suppressor What is the best prank you've ever played on someone? Don't hold back.

I once Photoshopped my boss’ face onto a picture of Conan the Barbarian and had it printed as a 5’ wall poster.
Joseph Fernandes, Production Engineer

Since you didn’t specify office prank. Back in high-school when there was construction going on, I told a friend that our buddy was using the port-o-potty and had left the door unlocked. I convinced him it would be hilarious if he were to go and open the door of said potty in-front of the entire school. (This was a military school so almost the entire school was out for formation and could see the port-o-john.) Not only did my friend open the door with a huge grin on his face, but he yelled as loud as he could. Our buddy was not in there but instead a construction worker in the middle of pulling up his pants. My friend, cheeks beat read, ran back to his room to the sound of 200+ teenagers laughing at him. By lunch time an orange net fence was blocking off the traveling crapper.
Robert Kehoe, Tester

I like to scream really loudly in the elevator while simultaneously pushing the alarm button. My kids asked me to scare their friends. Hilarious.
Alan Stuart, Engineer

My boss at a previous job was pregnant and starting to show. She'd told a couple of people (including me), but not everyone. A co-worker confided in me that she thought our boss might be pregnant. I said I wasn't sure. The next day, I told my co-worker that our boss wasn't pregnant, but that she'd heard people talking about her weight, got pissed off, and was now trying to find out who started the rumor. I told her I covered for her, but to watch out...
Mark Yocom, Release Engineer

Googlz What is the most irritating part of map design?

Map designers.
Alexis Haraux, Engineer

For a tester, finding that the designer has blocked off my favorite shortcut/exploit with invisible physics. For the designer, hopefully it’s the bugs that show where he/she thought they wouldn’t need invisible physics.
Robert Kehoe, Tester

Derek Carroll, Designer

Im SteelAssassn The Marty Army was promised a Humpday way back when. Gonna pay up?

Oh no you don’t. I delivered on that ancient debt. Well, it wasn’t a Humpday Challenge (those are so old-fashioned) but Marty showed up and played some games with his Army. Maybe I can lure him onto the battlefield again in another ten years. Stay tuned.

coolmike699 What's the strangest way you've ever been injured?

Slicing zucchini with a machete.
Steve Lopez, IT Overlord

Swinging from a flimsy tree branch and splitting the skin on my forearm wide open.
Joseph Fernandes, Production Engineer

My brother sat on me.
Robert Kehoe, Tester

I can’t believe I’m going to admit this to a large audience. When I was four, I cracked my head open by falling onto the corner of a table. This occurred because I was dancing to the music of Fraggle Rock at the time. I still carry the scar on my forehead!
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer

It was first or second grade. I was very excited to be first in line. I didn’t want anyone to get ahead of me, so I stretched out my arms to the doorframe. Then someone slammed the door behind me – yup, that was my pinky finger stuck in the hinge. I pulled it out and ran to the nurse’s office. Ended up losing the pinky nail that afternoon and wore a thick wrapping around it for weeks. My mom still made me practice the piano, and that was the worst part of the whole experience.
Tom Sanocki, Staff Artist

In middle school, a girl I had a crush on tickled me while I was hanging upside down from the monkey bars. I fell and chipped my front tooth, but I had to act cool about it. I still have a chip in my front tooth.
Alan Stuart, Engineer

The Statue of Limitations doesn’t allow me to discuss this in 43 states, and Puerto Rico.
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist

Getting hit by the tail of a friend's overly enthusiastic Great Dane. Those things hurt!
Austin Spafford, Engineer

I split my forehead on my parent’s coffee table at 3 years old playing He-Man on the couch. By the power of Greyskull, indeed.
Mark Flieg, Artist

Being a stupid teenager. We were goofing off and I jumped off the hood of a moving car going about 25mph. Busted my nose and bit through my tongue.
David Candland, Artist

In the eighth grade, I punched a bus seat in an attempt to kill a bee and ended up breaking my left pinky in the process. Bonus #1: I'm not even left handed, so it's not my strongest punching hand in the first place. Bonus #2: I missed the bee.
Mark Yocom, Release Engineer

Tried to push a sewing needle into a chair leg by dropping the chair on it, the needle shattered and went through my finger. Don’t ask why I tried that. I was six.
Alexis Haraux, Engineer

Shot an EpiPen through my thumb by accident.
Rachel Swavely, Motion Capture Tech

I cut myself on a throw pillow once.
Derek Carroll, Designer

In a mocap session prototyping our new IP. I was doing a backwards turn into a run, and craned my ankle on a pillar in our old mocap studio. Which proves that parents do not, in fact, have eyes in the back of their heads.
Rick Lico, Art Lead

Please wait How often does the studio have meetings where the entire studio meets together?

About once a month, if our schedule allows for everyone to share a special moment. Team Meetings are a great way to end a week. Fanfare rings out across the studio floor to call us to arms. The door to the beer fridge swings wide. A mountain of snacks is heaped upon the kitchen island. Rows of chairs invite us to sit and watch as our peers show off their latest and greatest additions to the tapestry we are weaving, with people perched on the grand staircase and every overlooking balcony.

Helveck Is there an Office Motivator? You know, like a Richard Simmons, or an ED-209? Someone that is always saying the right things to help push people to the limits of their talents and beyond?

The biggest office motivator is the game itself right now. It has a life of its own and ultimately reminds us that it’s worth all the effort.
Jonty Barnes, Production Director

You mean besides Richard Simmons who roams our workspace on an Ed-209?
Robert Kehoe, Tester

Yes, and ice cream is frequently involved.
Austin Spafford, Engineer

Pete "Ice Cream Man" Parsons is the go-to guy during crunch.
Mark Yocom, Release Engineer

David Helsby, Artist

WestCoastRonin Are you allowed to bring guests into the studio like spouses, kids, etc.?

The answer is “Yes!” But for the last time, Ronin, I will not marry or adopt you.

defnop552 What's your favorite Pixar film?

Who better to answer this question than someone who worked on some of them? I give you Bungie Staff Artist Tom Sanocki:

Choosing just one favorite Pixar film? Oh, cruel, cruel world! Have you no pity, forcing us to choose between our dear, precious children?

Cars was one of my favorites to work on because we had such a great Characters team – a team fun-loving enough to build a themed bar ("The Rhino Lounge") in our corner of the office. Rigging Mater was a particular challenge for me, since it blended some hard technical challenges with tricky aesthetic ones. Paul Aichele, one of Pixar's top riggers, stayed late with me one night during a hard time in production to figure out how to get his smile just right. That film was filled with moments like that.

Up is one of my favorites because Pete Docter is one of my favorite people to work with. I can't think of anyone else who could pull off a movie as crazy as Up. It was also the hardest Pixar film for me. The concept art for Kevin the bird came in really late, forcing me to squeeze twelve months of work into three. That was wild and brutal, but sometimes the hardest times are good too - especially when you're doing your small part to build a gem like Up.

And Finding Nemo holds a special place in my heart – not only because it's a wonderful film, but because it was my first film. There's nothing in the world like seeing your first film up on the big screen for the first time, seeing your first character appear, and thinking: "Wow, was that really good enough to go up there?"

But who could leave out Incredibles? Brave? Ratatouille -- where we spent several weeks stressing about subtle creases between rat legs, and then rebuilding them all from scratch? Toy Story 2 -- a film about the choice between death and immortality? Or Toy Story 3 -- also about death?

Do I really have to choose, DeeJ? Did we misunderstand the question? Aha – that must be it!

spawn031 Seriously, can I have blue flames?

If I give you blue flames, you know who else I have to give them to?


SharkTooth Can you post a few pictures of areas around the studio?


Hylebos If I wanted to create a fictitious world, where would be a good place to start?

In your mind.

Garland When can you reveal the release date for


Elite Predator How do you deal with being away from friends and family for a while when being dedicated to the title being worked on at the moment?


Remorazz Which position do you think gets it the easiest out of all of you?

Assistant to the Community Manager.

Gamer Whale What are you not working on?

Halo 4. Pass it on.

YodasCurd What would you say if I told you, that the fate of the world lies in a code hidden in this sentence?

It will take more than a superfluous comma to save the world.

Mythical Wolf That's all folks! See you on Monday for another Mail Sack.

Hey. That’s my job. And this is my desk. Who the hell let you in here anyway?

Thank you for your questions. We do appreciate the chance to talk about something while lovingly toil to create something that we won’t talk about yet. You may ask yourself: How can I get in on this? The answer to that question is discovered in our Community Forum every Monday.

Community 10/5/2012 12:22 PM PDT permalink

Breaking In - Stephen Hodde

The sound and the fury...

Last week, David Henry told us all about his work with the Audio Team that is creating the noise that will fill Bungie’s new universe. As you’re about to find out, he’s not a one-man band. The events depicted in our next game happen in a noisy place, and we’ll need entire orchestra of artists to provide the sounds you’ll hear when you play. Let’s collect them all…

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

My name’s Stephen Hodde. I’m a Senior Audio Designer here at the Bungie. I design sound effects for a bunch of different aspects of the game. My favorite part of the job is recording original sounds, whether it’s out in the field or here in our Foley studio. I like giving players a world of sounds they’ve never heard before, even if they’re small and easy to miss. It all adds up to the feeling that you’re experiencing something new and exciting.

To me it just sounds like a bunch of junk. How do you spend your time when you are not filling our game with garbage?

I enjoy Muay Thai kickboxing, reading, eating good vegan food, and spending time with my wife and dog. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Magic: The Gathering and Skyrim.

Knowing these personal details about your life reminds me that you’re a person, which leaves me regretting that garbage remark. Let’s start this whole thing over by going back to beginning. How did this career as a Sound Designer for video games develop?

Sound design was something I just fell into. I thought I wanted to be a composer or a music producer of some kind. After college, I took a job at an interactive design studio writing music and creating sound effects for Flash games and ads. That’s where I started to fall in love with sound effects. The technical side of game sound implementation also satisfied an aspect of my personality that other traditional media couldn’t.

At some point, I decided I wanted to be working in games, and made it a 2-year project to get a job somewhere in the industry. The first thing I did was start reaching out to sound designers of games I loved, and asked for their stories. The one person that kept in touch and gave me some really thoughtful insight was Emily Ridgway (Bioshock, Brutal Legend). She recommended I strip sound from a trailer or some other gameplay footage and replace it with my own. Tim Prebble (Music of Sound Blog) gave me mixing critiques once I had finished editing my own work into the trailer.

Very ambitious. How did you go about getting feedback from other people to push you further down that path of self-teaching?

I was fortunate to have my trailer critiqued at the GDC demo derby by Emily, Paul Lipson, Gene Semmel, and Scott Gershin. There I saw a young woman present a modification of Unreal Tournament where she replaced the sound. Everyone on the panel responded to her demo so favorably that I decided to start working on a mod of Crysis.

I knew I needed to do something that was completely different from what anyone else was doing that was applying for jobs, so I decided I would record all my own sound effects for the mod. I got in touch with Charles Maynes (Letters from Iwo Jima, Resident Evil 5, Killzone 3) to record a gun shoot in San Diego, CA. I recorded and mastered those weapons, and used FMOD and the Crysis Mod SDK to put those effects into the game. I captured in-engine video and edited it together to make my new demo reel.

Three years later, I’m here. I was lucky enough to get some incredible experience at Volition working on Saints Row: The Third, Red Faction: Armageddon, and a few other unannounced/unreleased projects.

Good Games! Let’s go back even further and talk about what inspired that two-year personal mission to break into this industry? Was making games a life-long goal for you?

That question didn’t really enter my brain until I was about 12. I loved computers and playing games - that’s all I really wanted to do. Marathon was kind of a watershed game for me; I didn’t know games could elicit that kind of emotion. I still walk by the Marathon game boxes in a display case downstairs and get a little choked up. The amount of cosmic weirdness that needed to happen to get me from playing Marathon in my bedroom in Charlotte, NC in 1994 to here and now is incomprehensible.

My mom is a musician and she nurtured my musical aspirations and interests. I started playing guitar around the time I was 12 and almost immediately began writing and recording songs. I didn’t seek out music theory or practicing like real musicians do, I just liked the act of capturing something and turning it into something new. Using an earlier version Adobe Premiere or Deck II, I started slowing down the guitar recordings, speeding them up, playing them in reverse, processing flange and chorus effects, and so on.

It’s clear to me now that I wanted to be a sound designer. I thought I wanted to be a composer or musician when I was a kid, but sound design was something I just didn’t know existed.

We never know where the skills we develop might take us. How did your musical education prepare you to end up with Bungie?

I wouldn’t be here at Bungie if not for the teachers that took a personal interest in me, encouraged me when I needed it, and pushed me when I got lazy. My mom was my first champion in all my childhood creative endeavors. She is an incredible pianist and I grew up listening to her practice and teach others.

So much of sound design is happy accidents, trial and error, and black magic. I think most sound designers will tell you they are self-taught in the skills they use, but really it’s an amalgamation of everything. The best audio designers - Ben Burtt, Walter Murch, Randy Thom - are all well-rounded individuals with passion and knowledge outside their field. What shapes their craft and grows them as artists comes from everywhere.

Beyond musical theory and basic enthusiasm, how were you able to take all that passion and translate it into actual working knowledge that would make you employable?

I didn’t have any formal training in sound design or implementation. Mrs. Bucy, my 6th grade music teacher, got me my first internship at age 15 for a recording studio in Charlotte, NC. I spent as much time as I could there, learning basic microphone technique, signal flow, soldering, tape machine maintenance, acoustics, and most importantly dedication.

I went to New York University to study Music Technology, where I earned a Bachelor of Music. In college, I worked with a producer in Brooklyn and helped him construct a recording studio, and continued to record throughout my years at NYU in their Music Tech studios.

Do you ever find yourself recalling the things you did to earn your degree? Or was your education more of a rite of passage?

A lot of what I learned from those years I still use today in some form. Orchestration and creating a sound effect are very similar. Beyond the core content, whatever’s at the heart of the music piece or sound effect, you’re thinking about texture, tone, and how to fill out the frequency space over time. The same critique of classical music recording can be applied to a game mix; its width in the stereo space, the sound’s stage depth, how well can you localize a specific instrument or sound within the image, the mix volume dynamic, and so on.

The implementation aspect of the job can be difficult at first, but there have been a lot of developments with middleware that have lowered the technical bar for entry. I took a Computer Science class in high school that has given me most of the basic vocabulary I need to communicate with developers effectively. Learning FMOD and Wwise was something I picked up in my free time.

You have an impressive story about how you learned to do what you do. How did you entice Bungie to listen to it?

I had met Senior Audio Lead Jay Weinland several years prior at an Audio Engineering Society conference. We both delivered presentations on a physics-driven audio systems panel. Getting to know him in a casual environment without work pressure definitely helped get my foot in the door.

Once they decided to give me a chance, I tried to pull out all the stops, to act as if this was the only interview I’d ever have. I worked through Christmas vacation non-stop on my sound design test, and tried to think of any way I could stand out. Bungie gives its audio applicants a radio play script to edit together a short piece without visuals. I went off that script, and it was something that left an impression with them. I knew it was a risk. Gimmicks or novelties can be really off-putting to employers. I wanted to show them who I was at my core, and ultimately they liked what they saw.

And that’s just the first step into a larger world. Next comes the fearsome trials of the interview loop. What was the hardest part about yours?

The waiting. Oh, and the food poisoning I got at lunch. Luckily it didn’t kick in until I was back at the hotel. I’ve done enough interviews and public speaking to learn to just be myself, so I didn’t have to reach too deep and manufacture some kind of special, better version of me. I knew Bungie’s standards are very high, and I wanted the job really bad, so the hardest part was letting go of all that to just relax and be me. I struggled with crippling self-doubt for many years, so the hardest work went in well before the interview.

Have we provided you with rewards that make up for the agony you endured after your interview lunch?

I am so fortunate to have a steady job in a creative field, that in and of itself is reward enough. At this point I’ve been at Bungie for less than 6 months and I’ve experienced the biggest creative growth of my life. I look forward to coming in to work every day, and I think often about how I’m probably one of the few people on earth that can say that. Sometimes it takes a bit of courage because the caliber of talent here is so high, but there’s also a comforting atmosphere of mutual respect.

You have a long history of expanding your own skillset with personal projects and elective exploration. How do you continue that self-education as a member of the Bungie team?

I’m always listening critically to movies, games, and TV shows that give me some kind of inspiration. I will still make A-B comparisons of my work to other games and films. That back-to-back comparison can yield a lot of insight. Mostly I spend free time with tools or techniques I’ve never used. Occasionally I’ll do a freelance project like an independent film to switch things up.

The guys I work with here have incredible ears and their input has been the biggest factor for my growth. Getting my work into the hands of better sound designers that can give me criticism has been the single greatest educational method in my arsenal.

And it’s not just about the creative skill, it’s how you handle that criticism that determines whether or not you can move forward.

You’ve provided aspiring sound designers with a wealth of ideas for how they can explore what you do on their own. Is there any other advice you would heap onto this mountain?

Patience. I suppose if you put it all together, it was 5 years ago when my wife and I decided to move from Brooklyn, NY and I was able to begin my game audio job hunt in earnest - and by that time I had already worked as a professional sound designer for a few years.

Find your own way to stand out. Again, don’t be gimmicky. It still needs to be tasteful and professional. Put that above-and-beyond attitude into everything, cover letter, your demo reel, website, business cards, or resume. It has to come from a genuine place, because people smell -blam- pretty easy. And it smells bad.

I don’t think we’ve ever talked to a subject who had so much to say about how one can join this world we inhabit. I feel like I just passed a course myself. Before we dismiss this class, rank these elements in order of importance to your role: Experience, Work Ethic, and Talent.

Work ethic, experience. I would probably strike Talent from the list. I don’t know if I was really ever “talented,” I’ve just spent a lot of time doing what I do. I was lucky enough to find something I really liked to do early in life and then I just kept doing it.

And with that, this class is dismissed. If you’re finding yourself wanting to join Stephen in our pit, he has provided a whole volume of sheet music for you to follow. If you’re not musically inclined, but you still dream of making games, don’t lose heart. We need all sorts of artists to make a game. You can learn about all of them in the Breaking In archive.

Breaking In 10/1/2012 11:15 AM PDT permalink

Sneak Attack of the Mail Sack

It's here to make your day...

You might have heard that Bungie is dark. It’s true. We’re darker than midnight around here. Fortunately, if armed with a flashlight, there are a lot of fun things that one can do in the dark. You can play a game of tag. You can hunt for nocturnal prey. You can even host an underground celebration.

Here are the party animals that showed up this week to illuminate the disco ball.

Chris Butcher, Engineering Lead
Andrea Fonger, Engineer
Zeke Garcia, Artist
Pat Jandro, Cinematic Designer
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer
Kurt Nellis, Technical Cinematic Lead
Chris Owens, Test Engineer
Travis Pijut, Test Engineer
Matt Richenburg, Producer
John Shaffstall, Engineer
Tom Slattery, Localization Content Manager
Michael Strein, Engineer
John Stvan, Graphic Designer
Jay Thaler, Engineer

Grab your torches, fellow ravers. Let’s open the Sack.

obbsesedwithhalo I feel so sad at the lack of any indication of when you'll not be dark anymore. Can you put my mind at ease?

We’ve been as clear as we can about when we’ll relight our engines. If you were a little more obbsesed with, you’d likely be a lot less sad. You’ll have reason to cheer up Soon™. In the meantime, can I buy you off with an easy compliment? You sure do look handsome today.

SG Tumnus123 Who's your favorite Starship Captain and what one quality most makes them your favorite?

When you say “Starship Captain,” the first thing that rockets into my mind is an image of William Shatner, looking svelte and young in his burgundy dress-uniform (circa, Wrath of Khan). It’s an elemental, knee-jerk of Pavlovian proportions. Let’s see what jerks the knees of our Panel…

Admiral Piett. He intensified the forward fire power.
John Stvan

Admiral William Adama, The Old Man. I don’t want to spoil it, but go watch Battlestar Galactica, Season 3, Episode 4. You will understand why.
John Shaffstall

Malcolm Reynolds. Loved that deadpan wit.
Travis Pijut

Picard. His leadership brings out the best in his crew – he is not a one-man show.
Michael Strein

Captain Will Riker, (and yes, he is a captain now) because of his totally boss beard.
Chris Owens

WestCoastRonin How do Bungie employees get their nicknames? Do you select your own or is it selected for you by others at Bungie?

I was just about to launch a rant about how no one gets to pick their own nickname. Not ever! Then it occurred to me. Everyone at Bungie is a gamer, and gamers are very unique in that they create their own identities. You all picked your own nicknames on or Xbox LIVE. We’re no different. Evil Otto, Abe Froman (Sausage King), Mantis, Lukems, Urk, DeeJ. Even Marty dubbed himself The Elder. When you think about it, the person we become when we can be whoever we want to be says a lot about us. Noodle on that the next time you witness someone bullying a noob in Matchmaking.

Hylebos This is a question to the Magic the Gathering players at Bungie: Now that the Return to Ravnica expansion has been fully revealed, what new cards catch your eye?

Calling all nerds. Would all nerds please pick up a nerd courtesy phone…

I haven’t glanced at the list too closely yet. That kind of ruins the surprise when you are opening packs. But the token populate mechanic is pretty interesting, any of those cards have my eye for a potential deck.
Travis Pijut

Shock lands, Armada Wurm, Ash Zealot, Judge’s Familiar, Grove of the Guardian. I’m really looking forward to abusing Populate.
John Shaffstall

Hint: It starts with a “C” and ends with “hromatic Lantern.”
Tom Slattery

As an Ink-Treader Nephilim fan, I can’t resist the combination of total Nephilim spell copying control and buffing that will come with the Nivmagus Elemental.
Alex Loret de Mola

EAGLES5 Does Bungie studios own any watercraft?

We most certainly do. Our flagship is an enormous source of pride.

DJ Yella What does Bungie think of Rockstar Games and their works?

We liked Red Dead Redemption so much that we hired Danny Bulla to come here and help us fill your next sandbox. He’s doing some amazing work and, so far, he hasn’t tried to lash any of us to a pair of railroad tracks.

Kr1egerdude Any animal on earth can be domesticated on your command, what would you do with this power?

I would domesticate the trolls, and exploit them to staff a virtual information desk where they would be forced to answer questions asked by forum newcomers. Since a troll is just an imaginary creature, I need to come to grips with the fact that this will never happen. Instead, I’ll task our Panel to answer your question…

Is this power exclusive just to me? I feel my answer would change drastically if not.
Pat Jandro

Lemurs. Lemur power.
John Stvan

I would make random animals ride around on the backs of other animals, because apparently that’s hilarious.
Jay Thaler

I’d domesticate all animals simultaneously.
Chris Owens

I’d definitely get a pet rhino. Well, I wouldn’t, but it’s nice to think about.
Alex Loret de Mola

Enjoy a really nice steak every week. Oh, also probably conquer the world with my animal army and set myself up as the “Benevolent” Overlord or something. But mostly steak!
Travis Pijut

Acquire lion, name him Aslan, and ride him around commanding him to roar at people majestically.
Andrea Fonger

Bear Cavalry!

John Shaffstall

Zafric When it comes to applying for a job at Bungie, do you have any tips or suggestions that would help an aspiring Bungie fan get his/her foot in the door?

Start a blog about games and stuff. Or, follow in any of these footsteps…

Step 1. Have foot. Step 2. Find door. Step 3. Do the math.
John Stvan

Don’t literally try and get your foot in the door and sneak your way in expecting to put your resume on someone’s desk. We have the ability to make people disappear.
Pat Jandro

Create cool things and show them to people.
John Shaffstall

Choose an aspect of video games that you think you’d enjoy working on. Become really good at doing that. Send us your resume when you know you’re good enough to do it here.
Kurt Nellis

Do not wear a meat dress. It’s been done.
Jay Thaler

Don’t come dressed as Master Chief. Seriously.
Chris Owens

Never give up. Never surrender.
Michael Strein

Jondis What's the dress code for an interview at Bungie?

Suit and tie! Actually, that would get you dismissed before the first question landed on your jaw like the opening jab of a boxing match that lasts all day long. As a recent rescue from the double-pleated corporate wilderness, I was instructed very carefully on this point before I climbed into the ring myself.

Dangerouswelsh1 Maybe this question has already been asked or answered but, what would you say is the best way to get into the game industry from a writing perspective?

First of all, I couldn’t help but notice that this question was your first post under this login. If you’ve just joined us, welcome to! If you created that account to side-step an old ban, try and keep your nose clean this time. I won’t tell a soul. As for your question, I would recommend reading up on this guy or this guy. They’re both rather strange, but they’ve survived the trek that you’re contemplating.

QuirkyNate What is your favorite heist movie?

Michael Strein

Kurt Nellis

John Stvan

Jay Thaler

Chris Owens

Matt Richenberg

Alex Loret de Mola

Andrea Fonger

Geegs30 Does the studio go through any noticeable changes during the Fall?

This place becomes home to more hoodies than the Jedi Academy. Eh, Panel?

It gains about 10 pounds.
Pat Jandro

It gets dark around 2:30 and the whole studio feels like a cave.
Kurt Nellis

More flannel.
John Stvan

Luke Timmins stops shaving, presumably to help keep his face warm.
Jay Thaler

We all talk about how the sun is gone and start drinking even more coffee as we break out our collection of polar fleece and plaid.
Andrea Fonger

IslocStarkiller Any Bungie employees gonna see how their baby is doing?

In video game years, our ringed friend is really more like a young adult that has left home to make its way in the world. Just like you, we have images from simpler times burned into our minds, we can remember the finer moments from its upbringing, and we expect to continue to see great things from it in the future.

Los Lotus What are you doing on November 6th?

Voting and stomping grunts. Make sure you do get around to doing both as well. In both cases, you’ll be wielding some of the most awesome power ever imagined in the universe.

KUZOKU85 What advice do you have for a man with a broken heart?

It would be indelicate for me to dismiss this obvious cry for help with a gruff challenge that you “Man Up!” This is a question for the Panel…

Go get a tattoo that reminds you of him/her/it. Wait…no.
Pat Jandro

Duct Tape. That stuff fixes everything.
Travis Pijut

Time heals all wounds.
Zeke Garcia

Stay busy. If you don’t stay busy your heart hurts. Workout, read books, play video games. Word on the street is that Bungie has made a couple that are pretty fun!
Michael Strein

Just give it a few turns.
Tom Slattery

The Return to Ravnica prerelease is going on this weekend: get out there and play! You’re bound to have a good time, and who knows? Maybe you’ll meet a nice geeky gal!
Alex Loret de Mola

burritosenior Some developers go to other sites to give information. Even after the next game comes out, will you hold true to giving those of us that have stuck around here information first?

We have grand and ambitious plans for the Seventh Column faithful. In many cases, we fully intend for our most loyal fans to get information first. In other scenarios, we’d rather make an experience deeper, more engaging, and more meaningful after an initial hit of news and information intended for a broader audience. This party can only get better if we add more people to the dance floor. We think about this to an obsessive degree of detail, and we think you’re going to like what we have in the works. Only time will tell.

BlackHeaven Is the video game industry where you originally planned to work? If not, what were your original plans?

Well, I might have had some surreal dreams when I was a wee-child but this is definitely where I wanted to end up once I started thinking about “a career” in high school.
Pat Jandro

Space, the final frontier.
John Shaffstall

When I was like 6, yes. Then I was going to go into Physics, and then briefly 3D Graphics. Then I realized my 6 year old self had it right.
Travis Pijut

Nope. I started out in SFX in film.
Kurt Nellis

I was gonna be a cowboy. There’s still time.
John Stvan

Bungie is where I wanted to work since my freshman year of college. Mission accomplished.
Michael Strein

It’s where I always wanted to work, but I never had much of a plan. I studied computer science in school thinking I would become a game programmer, but it ended up being writing skills and ability in a second language that got me into the industry - on the localization side of things.
Tom Slattery

Well, it wasn’t where I originally planned to work: but there was a long time when I was younger where I wanted to, and I let that dream slip for a while… but somehow it came around and found me in a way. That is to say, I found it right when I think I needed it and was finally ready for it.
Alex Loret de Mola

I wanted to become a theoretical physicist and develop a Grand Unified Theory of Everything. But then I realized that would be hard and that I enjoyed playing video games instead.
Chris Butcher

spawn031 Blue flames please.


ScooterDad72 How awesome it would be to live the good life?
Pretty awesome.

pureXownage How many mail sacks have there been?
At least two that I can remember.

Valiant Outcast What is the closest you have come to accidentally revealing details about Bungie's new game?
Nice try.

wrcfan Do you agree that poutine is food of the gods?
No. What’s that?

magicmagininja Am I your favorite?
It’s selfish to ask.

Flaming Skullz Can your new game have Godzilla?
Toho would have a fit.

EAGLES5 Has a movie ever made you cry?
Not even once.

Mythical Wolf If I were to leave and never come back, would you miss me?
No. I mean, Yes!

That final sprint has me feeling spent. You have reached the bottom of this Sack. To repeat this process – we do so enjoy the weekly ritual, you must know – please report to the mail room on Monday. Until then, keep the party raging. There will be a bright light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.

Community 9/28/2012 9:45 AM PDT permalink

Reverse Mail Sack 2.0

Back by popular demand: we ask, you answer…

No good conversation is one-sided. There are times when listening is more important than talking. We spend a lot of energy at Bungie listening to the passionate gamers in our community, so it makes all the sense in the world to put them to the question from time to time. At their request, the inquisition for this week has been inverted. When gamers talk about what motivates them, there is no wrong answer. The entire spectrum of answers can be browsed on our forum, but here are some the highlights…

Noah George, Sever Ninja
Do you think the game community could be doing more to cut down on harassment or unsporting behavior in general?


antony X1000 I don't think so. With the anonymity that comes with online gaming, people can act like jerks without many consequences. Although with features like muting, blocking communications and submitting player reviews, it's not a massive problem in my opinion. The community has the tools to deal with harassment and unsporting behavior. They just need to use them.

Kickimanjaro If games are to be treated as sports, and that certainly has been happening, then sportsmanship must also play a part. The people who organize the competitive events have the duty to enforce rules that encourage good sportsmanship.

Jujubes Yes, but not at the expense of playability in games. In my opinion, social gaming structures like clans help a lot.

DE4THINC4RN4TE We should have things to do that for us. Algorithms. Big ass, fancy Algorithms.

Telec There can never be too many positive role models.

cortana 5 Absolutely. A better attitude in gaming, be it causal or competitive, is going to start with the attitude of the gamers. Developers can only do so much to quell the bad behavior of the masses. Gamers, you need to call it out as you see it. Don't stay quiet when some jerk is verbally ripping someone to shreds online. You're making that victim feel alone and helpless.

Jay Thaler, Engineer
The zombie apocalypse is upon us. Most of humanity has already fallen to the hordes of flesh-eaters. You have survived because of your ingenuity, cat-like reflexes, and dashing good looks. As you travel in search of food, you find a grizzled old man who offers to give you a powerful weapon. Now is your chance to make a difference in this battle against the undead. You can choose any one weapon, real or fictional. What do you choose and why?

Khirna Something that doesn't need ammo, or a power source, and won't break or need repair: The ability to control the force!

Frag Ingot I would choose the illustrious "Cure Spell." Nothing does more damage to the undead than a cure.

Dropship dude The Iron Man suit. "But that's not a weapon!" I hear you cry. Well, the United States Government would disagree. No zombie will be able to bite through the powerful exoskeleton and the ability to fly away from danger and defend yourself is the perfect combination of assets. It boasts enough firepower to defend a small population too, so it's not all for my own survival.

Xplode441 I choose a crossbow. If you have the ingenuity, you can create bolts from the materials around you and it's quiet.

MightyMarcher01 Does it count if I say Batman's utility belt? I'm sure I could find some zombie repellant if I looked hard enough.

EuAn1196 Weapons are over-rated. I would take a zombie Halloween mask, so I can blend in.

coolmike699 I would choose a machine gun that fires chainsaws. Do I really need to explain this one?

Ryan Klaverweide, Graphic Designer
What do you think is missing from video games right now?

welder1stdegree A sense of purpose beyond reaching the next checkpoint or gaining credits and rank. I'd like to know that I was having an actual affect upon, or helping to shape the world I'm in for better or worse.

LordMonkey Your Mom.

Disambiguation Replayability. Too many games are coming out lately with a $60 price tag that are really only good for one 10-12 hour experience, and I can't help but feel ripped off.

ToastyWaffles Bold, new ideas. Most developers seem content to "play it safe" and conform to all the popular genre conventions, making only a few minor changes to the trusted formula. I'd like to see a real game changer in the industry; a radical new take on gaming.

catman6 Customization for most FPS games and creativity for non FPS games. FPS games seem to be single minded with a singular direction but they generally offer creative elements. Non FPS games seem to offer customization and freedom but the quests seem to be very repetitive.

A 3 Legged Goat Challenge and innovation. A lot of games are just playing it safe these days and they don't want to stump the player or force them to apply practical skills to play. This takes away a key strategic component that I feel gamers once had to master.

Sven Nietzsche The Zebra Battle Wagon. Make it happen!

Brad Loos, Engineer
How and when did you first fall in love with Halo?

Bricypoo It seems so, so long ago. I first got into Halo when I played it at a friend’s house, which made me want it. So my brother and I ended up getting Halo and Halo 2 for Christmas. I remember getting together with 15 other guys just to play Halo. Those were the days that really turned me from Nintendo games to Xbox games.

SkilPhil Halo 2 multiplayer. This was the first time I could sit in my living room with a friend playing against other people sitting in their living rooms playing with a friend. No AI can beat the uncertainty and camaraderie of playing with and against real people.

jyrine Early 2007 before Halo 3 dropped. I started playing Halo CE non-stop: broken arm, best six months ever. Still got a 4.0.

Bulldawg61 My wife bought Halo with the original Xbox when it launched. Judging it by its cover, I didn't care much for playing it, but she insisted that I keep it. Upon crash-landing in a pelican on Halo, I was able to head-shot my first grunt. Now she wishes she hadn't convinced me to keep it.

WestCoastRonin When I was 14, I traded all my PlayStation games to get store credit to buy an Xbox and a game I had heard about called Halo. I was in love the minute I used the M6D Magnum and the SRS99C Sniper Rifle.

Kr1egerdude My first experience with Halo was when I was at my cousin's birthday party and all of his friends were gathered around the TV. They were playing 4 player split-screen on Coagulation. Instead of playing Slayer they were doing rocket jumps, super jumps, honor-rule Infection, and running each other over with Warthogs. I never saw people having so much fun without playing competitively. They handed me the controller and I crushed people with the grill of my Warthog.

BC1096 When I was 7 I was looking through a disk of game demos my brother had and I saw the Halo CE demo. Looking at it I was like, "This green robot dude looks awesome!" so I started it up. The mission in the demo was Silent Cartographer, my favorite halo mission ever. As a kid, storming a beach with a crap load of soldiers was a dream come true. My god, was I hooked.

BONUS: This came our way via email. I had to share.

Matthew In 2008, my first fiancé passed away after a car accident. I was devastated. My college roommate had introduced me to Halo. During times of stress, we would immerse ourselves in that universe. After my fiancé died, I tried to think of things that would help me escape the harsh reality. I remembered the joy that Halo brought to me when I was stressed out in college. I went out and bought an Xbox 360 and Halo 3. I played Halo 3 whenever I was feeling down or sad. I would just like to truly thank Bungie and all of the employees that had helped create Halo. I believe it helped me and saved me from slipping into depression. It truly was and still is a magical experience to this day. Now I have a beautiful wife who also loves to play Halo with me. I own every Halo game. They are all remarkable, but Halo 3 will always hold a special place in my heart. It will always be my favorite video game. It is very sentimental to me.

Matthew Ward, Cinematic Designer
Which movie would you most like to play as a video game?








Michael Williams, Engineer
What is the most memorable positive experience you had with a stranger while gaming online?

joe campbell Meeting my old clan leader. One day, I joined a random friend's custom game in Halo 3. I had a conversation with the person who would eventually become my clan leader and long-time friend. Years later, we were still playing tournaments. He taught me most of what I know about competitive gaming. To this day, we still text each other. It's funny how you can meet such a good friend from the most random occurrences.

Kalriq I was playing Zombie Panic Source with some friends. They all got wiped out early on, and it was me and a few randoms left in the game. With the undead clawing at our barricades, we did an inventory, formed a plan, and tried to break out of our predicament. One member of our party selflessly chose to stay behind and hold off the hordes of undead, while the rest of us ran. When a member of our group was infected, he told us, rather than waiting for our backs to be turned when he transformed, sacrificing easy kills for our safety! It was like some totally clichéd zombie film, but I don't think I've ever had so much fun. I still play with some of those guys now. There's nothing like a horde of ravenous zombies to bring people together!

T1B3R7uMB0YXVI It would have to be playing Battlefield 3 with a group of Bungie guys during the Pentathlon. I had this most inspired moment when Stosh pwned everyone as a gunner when I was the driver. Stosh and I were the most powerful players, better than a squadron of tanks, and we eventually knew about teamwork without voice.

AutobahnRacer This one time, I was playing Modern Warfare 2, and I invited a bunch of my other pals (if you were there, you're awesome). They all joined, and we loaded up a game of Team Deathmatch. All of us equipped Riot Shields. Our team spawned, popped smoke grenades, and formed a phalanx with our riot shields while shouting "THIS IS SPARTA!" into our microphones. The post-game banter with the opposing team was probably one of the most entertaining conversations that I've had with anyone, ever.

Statefarm98 I met this one random person on Halo 3. We played one game, and for some reason we ended up working together really well. Now, we've talked for three years straight (without even meeting in real life). He's pretty cool, and I had never met someone online who I've actually become friends with.

I ColdEmbrace I After getting the game winning kill in Halo: Reach with a Needler, I received a message from someone on the other team saying, "Nietzsche wouldn't use a Needler!" (I have a Nietzsche reference as my motto.) We had a good chuckle over it and ended up playing a few games together. Personally, I think Nietzsche would use whatever weapon you would least expect.

Kiarah94 I was playing with someone online who is really good and I was not doing so well. I was doubting myself when this guy said I could do anything if I try hard enough. I decided that, in the next game, I would go all out. I finished with my first Perfection medal. There was a guy complaining in game chat and my teammate said “You just got beat by a girl.” Everyone just goes quiet. I felt so Powerful! Now, I never doubt myself - and we are really good friends.

Ben Wommack, Production Engineer
Which do you think makes a better e-sport: Dota / League of Legends or Starcraft 2? Why?

SpAmMer Despite LoL's booming popularity and excellent developer support for e-sports, as a ten year veteran of Starcraft, I'd say it still takes the most skill to master - and is hands down the most entertaining.

Hylebos I think it's pretty cool how League of Legends has over a hundred different champions to master. Each professional has their preferred roles and their preferred champions that they become renowned for, and following the metagame is both easy for spectators and very interesting.

Geegs30 I would have to say League of Legends because, unlike Starcraft, it's a team sport, and it's easier to pick up compared to DOTA. People who watch it for the first time can understand what's going on, and there's rich, deep strategy behind what each team is doing.

MasterSin StarCraft 2. It's an amazing game with a great option to create custom maps and toy with all the units of the game.

spawn031 Starcraft 2. You can't beat this...

Austin Spafford, Engineer
If you could easily teach a thousand people one idea, what would it be?

Disambiguation The scientific method.

Verachi If you use the bathroom in an all-girl house or apartment, DO NOT leave the seat up. Female species are not amused when you do that, Bad things happen. *shudders*

ChorrizoTapatio I would teach people that “your” and “you're” do not mean the same thing. COME ON PEOPLE.

Krimm117 “Half for one's own happiness, and half for the happiness of others.” -Doshin So
While this sounds an awful lot like the Golden Rule, the meaning goes a bit deeper for me. The Golden Rule asks us to "treat others the way we would like to be treated," which can be superficially interpreted. For example, the Golden Rule allows room for undue selfishness and hatred, as long as you outwardly appear to be a decent person. That’s not good enough. “Half for one's own happiness, and half for the happiness of others,” on the other hand, advocates a deeper sense of consideration and respect for others as part of your being, rather than simply how you behave in public.

Queens Knights Seek first to understand. Then seek to be understood.

GrandmasterNinja Do what you love to do. Why? The best painter is the one who loves to paint, and the best runner is the one who loves to run. You usually do your best work when you love what you're doing because you enjoy every second of it.

SPRTN One One 7 There will always be someone better than you at something.

Mike Forrest, Engineer
Is there one game (other than Halo) that you can point to that really hooked you and turned you into a gamer? What was it and why?

jacob crawford Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic. When I first got an Xbox, I was watching my friends play WoW, and liked the idea of character leveling. The plot twists in KOTOR totally blew me away, and I loved the different features reminiscent of the movies.

RigZ Boi Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II. It was something about becoming an angry ginger dwarf wielding a battle axe larger than my character that appealed to me. The joys I had playing that game with my older brother will be a memory I hope I never forget. Brilliant stuff.

Unanimate Objec Trials: Evolution. That game contains one of the most revered and acknowledged contents of any good game: A Challenge. The Challenge is what makes you feel satisfied at the end of a game. It is the reason you keep coming back, and the reason you will never leave.

Odd Hacker World of Warcraft. Before WoW, I was a very casual gamer. After WoW came out I spent thousands of hours preparing for raids, reading forums, and performing spreadsheet-Kung-Fu to sort my gear. Why? It feels amazing to work with other people to take down a boss.

LC o MagiikZ Mario. There is something about that overweight Italian plumber that reaches my heart, and will always have a place there. The first game I ever played was a Mario one, and I own a lot of the games. In my opinion, Mario is an iconic symbol in gaming.

IonicPaul Marathon. Watching my dad play it almost every night when I was young interested me, and getting to shoot aliens with a variety of weapons is a little boy's dream. Marathon was, quite literally, a dream come true, and I've played it consistently through the years. Its Bungie origins led me to Halo, and by extension, every other game I've played via the online community.

DeeJ Adventure on the Atari 2600 sank the hook pretty deep, but it was Halo 2 that turned gaming into a hobby that stayed with me even when I was away from the console. From then on, leading a clan became my own private MMO - and a more rewarding experience than any solitary engagement ever was. I know, I know... I'm jumping the fence here to answer this question, but all this role reversal has me so confused as to where I belong.

We'll be getting back to business as usual next week. It will be your turn again to put us to the question.  The Mail Room opens again, in its usual fashion, on Monday.

Community 9/21/2012 12:54 PM PDT permalink