Breaking in returns as Tim Williams hits the brakes, let's us fly right by, and scores a missile lock on the questions we fired in his direction. If you want to know what in the world a Production Engineer does at Bungie, how you can perform a perfect landing in the gaming industry, or just want a little bit of insight into the day-to-day flight pattern here at the studio, strap yourself into the cockpit and hold on tight. Tim's about to take you for a ride. Just be thankful you're not out on the wing.
Q. Who are you and what do you do?
A. Hi, I'm Tim Williams and I'm a Production Engineer at Bungie. I'm often asked what exactly a Production Engineer does, even by my coworkers. Production Engineers do everything, from tools to make other disciplines jobs easier to prototyping aspects of the game. Our job description would include words like "support" and "pick up things that might otherwise fall through the cracks." I prefer "jack of all trades."
If you've ever tried to get out of a level and run into some invisible wall that wouldn't let you leave (think sky bubble), that's me. If you discovered that you could kill yourself by jumping on Orbital, that's me. If you need a test level setup for AI or testing some aspect of our game engine, that's me. If you need a recently announced, all new gametype prototyped for Halo 3: ODST, that's me too.
Q. Sounds like you're kept pretty busy at work. What do you do to keep yourself occupied during your downtime?
A. Currently, I'm playing World of Warcraft when not at work. I recently started a guild with my beautiful wife and some friends and are currently working our way through Ulduar.
Q. Let's step back into a more simple time. A time before WoW. You're twelve again. What are you going to be when you grow up?
A. At the young age of twelve, I think I wanted to be a Veterinarian. As soon as I figured that I'd have to perform surgeries, that dream died pretty quickly. By the time I entered high school, I picked up programming as my main area of interest.
Q. Never heard of a dream deferred due to the idea of performing surgery. Did your high school aptitude tests point you in the right direction after you ruled Veterinary practice out?
A. I think the aptitude test was a little old when I got it. It said I should be a mechanical engineer, there weren't computers invented when the aptitude test was created. However, I did help maintain the LAN at my high school and my teachers all pointed me towards programming.
Q. Did you code your way through college and earn your degree?
A. Yes, I received a Bachelor's of Computer Science from Seattle Pacific University.
Q. That put you in pretty close proximity to the studio. How did you first make contact?
A. About the time I graduated from SPU (2000) there was this internet bubble. I went to work for a Dot Com start up, which ran out of funding when the bubble burst in 2001. I had a friend working at Microsoft Game Studios as a Recon Tester. Recon Testers are basically in-depth playtesters. This is a great way to get into games at Microsoft and hey, I was paid to play video games for eight hours a day.
Eventually, I moved to testing Halo PC for Bungie. I was brought back for Halo 2, which was one of the most difficult projects I've worked on. After Halo 2, I moved to Microsoft as a full time Tester working on Project Gotham Racing 3, and then Bungie brought me over to do performance testing on Halo 3. After working on performance testing and helping with ViDoc creation for twelve months, Bungie brought me into the fold.
Q. Were you forced to run through the standard interview gauntlet after your stints inside the studio?
A. I didn't have a formal interview loop. After working as a contractor and with Microsoft full-time at Bungie for four and a half years, I was approached with a job offer. In other words, kicking ass and persistence eventually paid off.
Q. Is there one kick ass moment you experienced while working at the studio that really sticks out in your mind?
A. Working on Halo 2, we were coming into the ship-date very hot. I ended up working for weeks at a time, mostly 12-14 hour days. When we had finally shipped that game, it was obvious how passionate everyone at Bungie was about making exceptional games. Even though I wasn't a full time employee yet, I knew that this is the place where I wanted to be.
Q. Gimme one sentence. What's it like to work for Bungie?
A. It's like working on the wings of a jet going 1,000mph making sure they don't fall off while having the smartest pilots in the industry pilot the craft in towards a perfect landing.
Q. Sounds awesome. Any advice for aspiring applicants looking to develop on the wing?
A. The best piece of advice I ever got was from my first Recon Lead which was, "No matter what you are doing, if your boss comes into the room and looks like they're looking for something, simply ask if you can help and then excel at whatever they ask of you." Someone is always looking for someone to help do the work they need done but don't have time to do themselves.
Thanks to Tim Williams for taking the time to step off the wings of the studio's jet and slow things down so we could get some of our questions answered. Though we certainly don't qualify as his boss, he still excelled at what we asked of him. If you're looking to break into the industry yourself, and you're no stranger to acrobatics at supersonic speeds, you might want to buzz the tower and check out our Jobs page
. We can be persistent too, and it turns out, we're hiring.