It's time to take a short break from the fun and games here at Bungie.net and get down to a little bit of serious business. Richard Lico, Animation Lead, has graced us with a few moments of his time and penned a brief examination of his pathway to employment at Bungie. Before gracing the studio with his talents, Richard tackled animation and gameplay design for Monolith Productions' acclaimed Condemned series. Aspiring applicants take note as Richard Lico does what he does best: articulates.
Q. Who are you and what do you do?
Q. Short and sweet. What are some of your personal hobbies and inspirations?
A. My name is Richard Lico, and I’m an Animation Lead.
A. Street Fighter is my inspiration, and why I make games to this day. Well, gaming in general is an inspiration for me. I also love to make my son’s stuffed animals talk to him about life as they try to sneak up on him for a stealth hug. They view my son as the mid-boss. My son views them as pure comedic gold. My wife hasn’t divorced me yet because of them.
Q. Speaking of children and the games they (we) play, complete the following sentence as you would have at twelve years of age: When I grow up, I want to be a…
A. A game tip-line person!! Remember those old Nintendo tip-lines you could call to ask questions when you got stuck in Zelda? What a sweet life those guys had. They played their favorite games, talked about them all day, AND got paid.
Q. Getting paid is good. Doling out tips for 99 cents an hour is even better. What tips did your High School Guidance Counselors offer you?
A. Back when I was in high school, making games wasn’t a viable career path. The Super Nintendo was brand new, and the industry was worried about another crash much like the one that broke Atari a decade earlier. Any good teacher will aim a student at a career that’s easily achievable so they can say, “I have a 90% placement record! I should get a raise now!” Since I was the school artist, they told me I should follow a path doing graphic design, marketing, or book illustration. But to be honest, I didn’t ever care…does any kid?
Q. What about beyond High School? Did you end up earning a college degree?
A. Yes, a bachelor’s degree from Savannah College of Art & Design. I went to art school to learn how to become a game industry artist. I didn’t care how, but I knew “art” was my ticket in. I just happened to have an aptitude towards animation, so I took that road.
Q. And where along that road did you first make contact with Bungie?
A. I didn’t, Bungie contacted me. I was quite happy at my former studio, and wasn’t actively looking for a new gig. But when Bungie came knocking on my door, I would have been a schmuck not to answer it. It took a few years, but the timing was finally right on both our ends and I made the jump.
Q. Sounds dangerous. What gear did you bring with you when you plunged feet first into the interview loop?
A. I had my demo reel on my psp, so I brought that. I also brought my reel on a jump drive. Both came in handy. Some of the interviewers had laptops we could watch the reel on, while others didn’t, which is when the psp came in handy. I had my resume with me, but no one even looked at it. The interview was all about the reel, and my approach to the role they were looking to fill. I think what served me best was my knowledge about how design & engineering relates to animation. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t hold my own in a conversation about animation as an art, but the end performance any developer wants to achieve is for the in-game character, which includes design and engineering.
As a side note, the room in which I had interviewed in has a street fighter machine in it. Luckily I brought my Hugo skills, and managed to impress the locals with some mad Gigas breaking.
Q. Other than the Street Fighter throw down, is there one moment in the interview that sticks out in your memory? Talk about the process. No breaking - mad, Gigas, or otherwise.
A. I had a very unique perspective on the interview. Since I was happily employed elsewhere, I had nothing to lose, so I was pretty honest during the entire process. The way I saw it, I needed to let Bungie know what they would be getting by hiring me, good and bad. I also wanted to see if they’d be open to hiring someone who offers critical feedback. Dave Dunn asked me what I’d change about the Halo games as an animator, and I wasn’t afraid to be honest about the positives & negatives. After I laid my feedback on the line, Dave loved it. At that moment, I knew that Bungie was THE place to be. Having a senior staff that’s open to suggestion and feedback is key to making the best games.
Q. Now that we have you here in the place to be, in one sentence, describe what it’s like to work at Bungie.
A. Much like good game design, working at Bungie has a huge risk versus reward curve where the motivated are rewarded equal to the challenge they tackle.
Q. Any advice for those ready to risk applying at Bungie in hopes of great reward?
A. Do your homework! “I want to make games” is not a good enough reason to apply at Bungie. Understand what you bring to the table, what you could contribute to the company, and ask yourself if you’re ready for the challenge. You need to be sure you want the responsibility that goes along with the benefits. Be driven, and the best at what you do. Think critically about games as an entertainment medium, and be prepared to talk about your internal discoveries with us. And finally, make sure you’re applying here because making games is more important than your individual trade.
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to share a few of your own internal discoveries with us, Richard. Your insights are appreciated.
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