PAX is in full swing. Players are anxious to get their hands on new games. Developers are anxious to reap their reactions. Journalists have questions for everyone. When you come to think of it, the whole affair sounds a lot like a day on Bungie.net, only with a lot more costumes.
To get us into character for a weekend filled with rubbing elbows with some of our favorite people in the world, we’ve thrown together a panel discussion all our own.
, Design Lead
, Engineering Lead
, Cinematic Designer
, Graphic Designer
, Test Engineer
Please display your badges where enforcers can see them, and let’s open the Sack.
catman6 Why are we here?
That is the question. Isn’t it? The motivations that still drive the Bungie Community to B.net are likely as varied as the people themselves. Perhaps you’re waiting to discover our next game, and you refuse to surrender your front-row seat. Maybe you’ve just come to know this website like a comfy chair that has sagged to conform to the unique contours of your ass after all these years. Or, it could be that you’re curious about a future career in game development, and you hope to learn something from our team.
Whatever brought you to our virtual convention hall today, cop a squat. I have goodies prepared for you.
pfhor007 How many of your employees were fans of Marathon and Myth back in the day?
That day was long ago, but we still have some old friends on our team who began their relationship with Bungie as members of much older iterations of our community. It’s no secret that being a creative player of our games is a great way to become a creator of those games. These three gentlemen are proof of that…
Although I was hired at Bungie in 2000, Halo was not the first time I contributed to shipping a Bungie product. Back in the early ‘90s, when I was a budding college student, I had entered a Marathon mapmaking contest called “Bungie for Life.” The winner of the best Marathon Mod was to receive every game Bungie made as long as they remained in business. I was a fan, and the draw of such an enticing prize compelled me to put aside my homework for a week and build The Greatest Marathon Mod In The World™.
Well, I quickly found that one week was not enough time for that, so I settled for a couple of Pretty Cool Single Player Levels With Custom Sprites™. Titled “Return to Tau Ceti,” my first level was essentially a stressful lava maze with health packs placed just before the kill distance (if you went the correct way). The second level was a boss battle in a Pfhor spectator arena against a Juggernaut-Cyborg hybrid. Well, I didn’t win the contest, but I did get my mod published in the Marathon box set bonus disk. It was an honorable consolation prize.
Since coming to Bungie, I’ve added little nods to Marathon in my work; the overshield colors, the little 15m by the motion tracker, naming the Postgame Carnage Report. At one point, I had named the easiest difficulty in Halo “Kindergarten” but that didn’t fly with Microsoft. Go figure.
When I enrolled at the University of Otago in New Zealand in 1995, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I had a degree in computer science already, but the programming that I’d done had mostly been pretty dry and boring stuff. So, I thought maybe I’d go into physics instead, just taking a few additional CS courses on the side for interest. Marathon changed all that.
We used Power Macs exclusively in the CS labs at that time, which were ideal for clandestine excursions into the carnage zone. It was a constant game of cat-and-mouse between us and the sysadmins, who would try to lock down the Macs, but we would always find ways to get around them. (Sorry Tracy and Brian!) Marathon was the lingua franca of our social group, and pretty soon after the release of Marathon 2 it escalated into a nightly religion. One of our favorite tricks was to browse around on the AppleTalk network and try to find other players who were waiting to be gathered by their group, and then hijack them into our group instead. We would also spend hours doing 2-vs-2 co-op speed runs of the M2 campaign. Let me take this opportunity to pimp the one map that I made, “Newton’s Folly”, which is an M2 homage to What Goes Up from Marathon 1. We also made a compilation of 50 of our favorite Marathon 2 netmaps, if you’re in the mood for some carnage.
Marathon convinced me that I wanted to do something in realtime computer graphics, so I gave up the idea of becoming a theoretical physicist and enrolled in graduate school for computer science instead. During my Masters and PhD programs I spent quite a lot of time playing Myth and Myth II, with the Blade of Thorns, Altus Praeses and Civil Order among other people. I also ran a number of tournaments, both FFA and team tournaments, the last of which was the Myth World Cup ’99 which involved over 1000 players and dozens of tournament officials. You can see the MWC99 website which is still up and running at http://www.macobserver.com/mwc99/ … and let me give a shout out to Grim, the continuing organizer of the Myth World Cup, now in its 14th year, at http://mwc2012.weebly.com/. I don’t play much on MariusNet anymore, but it is amazing to see how the community has sustained itself so many years later.
I started out keeping tabs on Myth during development, maintaining a little news website in the early days. After Myth launched and the community was really starting to come into its own, I partnered up with Jaime on the larger Myth Codex website that was fairly involved in the community from that point on.
When it became possible, I tried my hand at modding and made a passable map or two, and helped admin b.net as a BNA. In mid ’98, I applied for a job on Myth II, and (to my amazement) was taken on as a production assistant. Among other things, I ended up writing the documentation we shipped with Myth II’s Fear & Loathing editors, which resulted in some proficiency with the engine and my creating a bunch of Myth II’s spell effects.
On account of work visas being somewhat more difficult to obtain than expected, I returned to Canada after Myth II went gold. Still, I kept active with the Bandlands map making group, helping with a few of their releases, and ultimately scripting about half of the Chimera mini-campaign pack.
CODA: For more Tyson’s illustrious career as a Bungie gamer, this interview
is a great look back.
Gamer Whale Does anyone at Bungie play FreeSpace 2?
Oh, man… What a great game that was! Are you still playing that? I logged a lot of hours in the Perseus Interceptor simulator, but the PC that hosted that fight is long dead. Still, I have some really great memories of leading wings of fighters and bombers into battle against the Shivans.
You know who has even better memories from that game?
FreeSpace 2 was my first game in the industry. I started in test for the initial release (one of only two full time testers), and then was the QA manager for the subsequent game-of-the-year and localized editions. During those later releases, I also got to do some production work for the first time in my career, helping manage schedules and deliverables between Volition and Interplay. But the most rewarding part of all of it was getting to do mission design work with the fans. We put together a content pack where the players submitted missions and the community picked their favorite ones, which I’d then work on with the creators and get them revised, balanced, and polished.
It was a great project; the development team was small and tight knit, and lots of those guys are still my best friends in the world even though many of us are at different studios now. We’ve been to each other’s weddings, we meet up in Vegas now and then, and we fly across the country to visit each other often.
ChorrizoTapatio This question is for the artists over at Bungie: You guys draw some amazing things. How did you hone your skill to that level? Teach me your ways.
For this question, and the next, I went directly to the concept artists who are imagining everything you’ll see in our next game. Several of them were kind enough to sketch some of their unique brand of wisdom on a cocktail napkin.
Practice, practice, practice. Grab a cheap sketchbook and pencil and start grinding away! Draw everything and anything. I started off drawing the 7up dot and Bart Simpson over and over. Eventually, I went to design school and drew everything from the apple on my desk to giant walking mechs. Onward!
“A teacher must never impose this student to fit his favorite pattern; a good teacher functions as a pointer, exposing his student's vulnerability (and) causing him to explore both internally and finally integrating himself with his being. Martial art should not be passed out indiscriminately…”
– Bruce Lee
A way is learned by the student. But to break it down in its simplest form: What subject inspires you? Once you discover this, draw every day, make plenty of mistakes, seek feedback and direction from the art community and professionals alike.
Many great artists are self-taught, but many more go through some form of an education system. If you can get in, I think Art Center is the best. Other excellent education systems are Gnomon or Feng Zhu Design School or Art Institutes International (where I graduated from). If you want to go self-taught route, I recommend Gnomon DVD’s to get some professional insight and tutorials. In my experience, learning how to draw is a lifelong process – no 20 minute ‘session’ with a professional artist is going to transform your ability.
Feng Zhu Design
is a constant internal and external process – but I recommend going through some kind of an education system that involves years of study that I listed – covering all aspects of art including set design, human and animal anatomy and vehicle design. Education from an institute of higher learning is the fastest, and even then it takes years. The most important thing is to do your craft every day – so it’s part of who you are.
Zafric When it comes to applying for jobs at Bungie, do you have any tips or suggestions regarding how to present your portfolio and/or resume?
The simpler the better! You want to make sure you work is well presented and easily viewable. I’ve always preferred the blog format. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to present work as well as making you searchable on the web. I would avoid flash portfolio sites, cd portfolios, mail away portfolios or anything that requires more than clicking a button. HTML is always a safe bet. I would keep the resumes short and sweet and in Word, PDF, or HTLM page format. Best of Luck!
My best advice for portfolios and resumes if you’re feeling lost, is to find examples of artists you admire and are in the position you want to be in and do what they do, make you website like theirs, organize your portfolio like theirs, and find a professional resume and format it the same way. Look at professional artists you admire as instruction manuals for success.
A website, along with a DVD or CD, is the best for submission. On an interview, simply printouts or even a slideshow on a laptop or iPad will work. Don’t do fancy flash intros or anything like that for a webpage, since reviewers of portfolios have hundreds of submissions to go through. Loading times or clunky interfaces might make a reviewer pass over to the next submission. You never want to make anyone work to figure out a complex interface to see your work. A simple gallery page is the best if you’re applying for 3D or Concept. Obviously for animation, a YouTube page of demos is free and effective.
Some good examples are BlogSpot pages, like Feng Zhu’s BlogSpot – a simple gallery of images with a thumbnail browser. YouTube can also be embedded into blogspot for animation applicants. BlogSpot is awesome because it’s 100% free, fast and has plenty of storage for art sites. Also, no need to pay for a registered address, they provide you with one for free.
Most importantly, when applying to any game or production company (Bungie), don’t apply there because you want a paycheck or a job. Apply because you are inspired by the company’s mission and you’re passionate about their games. It will show in every aspect of the application process.
GrinnialVex So, I'm going to be in town this weekend for the first time ever for PAX and all, and I want to know what the area has to offer for a food fanatic from Chicago (where we have TONS of good stuff to eat). Since you guys are all living there, what sort of places can you recommend I check out for some really awesome meals?
Nick's Grill in Kirkland. Get the burrito.
Salmon and chowder at Ivar's on pier 54 (the original location).
Steak at The Metropolitan Grill.
Italian at Bucca di Beppo.
Burgers at Red Mill.
Pub fare and micro-brew at The Pike in Pike Place Market.
Salumi (A sandwich shop run by Mario Batali’s dad).
Red Mill (GREAT burgers).
The Wurst Place (GREAT sausages).
Volterra (GREAT Italian).
Din Tai Fung or Facing East (Bellevue), Maltby Cafe, Skillet (Seattle).
Steak? Got to the Brazilian Steak House in Bellevue or John Howie Steakhouse. Pizza? Go to Kylie's in Fremont. Ice Cream? BlueBird ice cream in Fremont. For that matter, just head over to Fremont, see the Troll, and walk around eating food until you pass out near the Center of the Universe.
If you don't mind walking up the hill from the Convention Center, I highly recommend Skillet. http://www.skilletstreetfood.com/. They started out as a food truck, but they have a physical restaurant at 14th & Union. I'm salivating just thinking about it. If you go, definitely get the poutine. My lord it's good.
My favorite place to eat when attending PAX is Cyber-Dogs, but it's more for the unique atmosphere, perfect distance, and vegetarian menu (which while not essential, is almost always a treat for me).
dmg04 How many hugs can I give you at PAX?
You have to find me
first. If successful in your quest, I prefer fist-bumps.
emopinatapwns I never have any good questions to ask...
Not to worry. You neighbors in the Bungie Community have you covered. Mail Sacking is just as enjoyable as a spectator sport.
In fact, I have questions in reserve. The customary question/answer drill resulted in an embarrassment of riches this week. There was enough delicious community interaction to fill two mail trucks, so I hid one of them in the nearby forest. When it is Friday again, I will share Part Two of the conversation that took place between us and you.
In the meantime, I’ll be seeing several of you any moment now.