Q. Did that horrific inspiration play out as you aged into adulthood?
Jason Sussman fielded some questions for Breaking In this week, taking some time to talk about his path into gaming, how he ended up at Bungie, and his penchant for the horrific, even when it's his own thumb on freakish display. If you're interested in learning what makes one of our artists tick, reading about the path he took into Bungie, or simply want to get up to speed on what you'll need to think about should you decide to send in your own resume and try to score an interview, Jason has the tips and tricks ready below.
Q. Who are you and what do you do?
A. Jason Sussman. I'm a Finishing Artist, which means I take early architected versions of the environments and make them look even prettier.
Q. Straight and to the point. How about a quick list of hobbies?
A. Movies, drawing, music, and gaming.
Q. What were your inspirations from an earlier age? What did you want to be when you grew up?
A. A special effects artist. It’s odd to not want to be a fireman or a doctor, which were the things I wanted to be when I was five or six, but after seeing Star Wars as a wee lad, I was amazed by all the visuals. Then around the age eleven or twelve, I discovered horror movies thanks to staying up late and this new thing called HBO.
Scanners was the first horror movie I had ever seen and it actually traumatized me for quite some time. But I was like eleven years old or so and a guy’s head blew up. What are ya gonna do? So, I guess to conquer this fear I decided to try and create it.
I became a Fangoria and Cinefantastique addict. I was a huge fan of Rick Baker and Tom Savini. I was constantly trying to gross folks out on Halloween and frequently would make my own haunted houses in my room for the neighborhood kids. I even scared my little sister by putting a fake arm in the door of the dishwasher.
A. I actually took the Army path for four years. After leaving the Army I cut my teeth modding levels in Half-Life and Counter-Strike. During that time, I had a sales job and was moonlighting at night with some friends of mine trying to make our own gaming company.
Unfortunately/fortunately we all went out and got real gaming jobs. So about nine years ago I took a job as a Beta Tester at Terminal Reality and eventually worked my way into an environment art job. I made about half a dozen or so games in the six and a half years I worked there. I used the time I was at Terminal Reality to learn all I could. It was a great experience. Then, I was snagged by Bungie.
Q. How did that go down?
A. My portfolio and resume were given to Bungie by a good friend of mine. It was really strange, at the same time another friend of mine delivered my portfolio to Red Storm Entertainment and my cousin delivered my portfolio to Blizzard. I didn’t know my portfolio was being passed around, so I had three phone calls out of the blue in the same week. Talk about pressure and being humbled.
Since I was a huge fan of the Halo series, Bungie was my first choice. After my phone interview and art test they flew me out and I was hired on as a contractor. After showing them I had the chops on Halo 3, they hired me on as a full time employee.
I never knew it would wind up leading to the demise of my thumb while playing (err, practicing) with the Bungie Softball team. But hey, I got to see my bone. That was kinda neat.
Q. Hmm, seems horror flicks really did prepare you for your role at the studio. What did you bring with you to the interview loop to make sure you were ready?
A. Nervousness and excitement. However, I definitely would recommend bringing a tablet and writing down everyone’s name and making notes.
Q. Is there one moment in the interview that would have prompted you to make a note?
A. For folks that may not know the interview process, it is an all day affair. You start at 9am and meet with person after person throughout the day. It quickly becomes a blur of questions. I remember in the beginning feeling nervous. Then being put at ease by Mike Zak when he calmly walked in sipping his morning coffee, wearing shorts and flip flops and easing me into questions.
Q. Ease into a brief description of what it’s like to work at Bungie.
A. Being part of a fully operational battle station and manning one of the guns. It’s neat.
Q. Any advice for aspiring applicants looking to witness the power of our fully operational battle station for themselves?
A. Bungie is looking for someone who is dedicated to their craft and a person who truly is passionate about what they do. We all use that passion to try to make the best thing we can for ourselves and for the wonderful folks that buy our games. Aside from being passionate, I think my best advice is two things you have probably heard your whole life: focus on your craft and never stop learning.
Though we have to stop here, we want to thank Jason for spending some time away from his work to help potential applicants focus and learn a little bit about what it's like to work for Bungie and what they can do to get snagged should the studio lock on to them with our tractor beam. Good stuff. And of course, if you think you already have what it takes to work for Bungie, and you're dedicated and passionate about your craft, you should check out our Jobs Page
. We're hiring.