Steve Lopez steps up to provide the support for Broken In this week, offering advice that ranges from work ethic to ego. If you're making your way in the world today as part of an infrastructure, security, or critical support team, and you have designs on working for Bungie, Steve has some information on hand for you. He also has backups. And a well-oiled generator. Read on for some insight into what it takes to provide Bungie with some much needed backbone.
Q. Who are you and what do you do for Bungie?
A. I’m Steve Lopez and I’m responsible for the backbone staff (IT Ninjas, Facilities, Security) that keeps the rest of Bungie up and running so they can focus on making great games. There’s quite a bit of hi-tech infrastructure behind a game studio that has as many innovative folks as Bungie, and it’s a challenging environment for the support staff because despite planning for overkill, someone always figures out how to use it up as fast as we build it.
Q. How long have you been in the games industry and what were you doing prior to working for Bungie?
A. Peripherally, longer than some of our fans have been alive. I actually went to school in the early 90’s to get into 3d design with the intention of working in games or special effects in the movies. While I was in school I discovered I had a knack for the biz side of things so I started a business designing and supporting high end machines for computer graphics work which eventually led to a gig working for Microsoft and then for Bungie.
Q. What sets Bungie apart from the other gigs you’ve had?
A. For me, two things define Bungie. One is the expectation we have that everyone at Bungie is responsible for improving everything at Bungie. The other is how self critical as a group we are and this meshes perfectly with the first. You are responsible for, but not limited by your role. If you see something you think could be improved, you are expected to say something, even if you are the guy that changes the oil on the emergency generator. It’s amazing what happens when you empower all your people to speak up without fear of stepping on important toes. Often constructive criticism from an unexpected perspective allows you to discover solutions to problems, sometimes problems you didn’t even know you had.
Q. Since your tenure eclipses the age of some of our fans, you probably have a ton of crazy stories to tell. What's changed during your stay and what's the one moment you feel is emblematic of the experience overall?
A. Unfortunately the one true moment that defined Bungie for me is classified and I don’t think I can discuss it. So, instead…
I never cease to be amazed by our fan community and their focus and devotion. When we moved to the new building in Kirkland, it was a while before we got all the bugs worked out of the building and could get around to putting up the webcams. They were down and just had static images for several months. When we turned them on we had a little speculation going to see how long it would be before someone noticed and posted something. Result: less than 2 minutes before a forum thread was started, and that didn’t count the time it took to type the post. You guys are completely awesome.
Q. Nice. We got a message yesterday telling us that one of the cams was a bit blurry and needed some maintenance. True story. Speaking of maintenance, how do you maintain the level of drive and passion you had when you first signed up for duty, and looking back, do you have any regrets?
A. As far as regrets, I only wish I had enlisted sooner. Being surrounded by people who are incredibly passionate about our games is a huge thing. Constant striving for further perfection and world domination is another. This job is not about maintaining the status quo, no job at Bungie ever is, and personally that’s why I find it easy to stay driven. After all, my team will probably get to build (and change the oil on) the giant slingshot we use to shoot our enemies into the sun and it just doesn’t get any cooler than that.
Q. Since you're already way ahead of us and issuing your ominous warnings vis-a-vis World Domination, mind narrowing it down to just the list of folks looking to step into the studio to help provide the lumbar support?
A. If you have a big ego, your first few months at Bungie may be rough.
Q. Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? Which one do you find most important when you evaluate potential candidates for your support staff?
A. Obviously there is a minimum bar to meet for all three and it is pretty high. Work ethic is hugely important on my team as they interface with all of Bungie on a daily basis. We hire a variety of experience levels for backbone staff, but expect all to grow and strive to learn and take on more. People who constantly devour knowledge and stretch for more do well here. If you just want a cool job and aren’t driven to grow your area of influence, you need not apply.
Q. Bonus Round! Give us your top three things people looking to get into the gaming industry should or shouldn’t do.
1. Do not call me (or anyone else here) and ask for Recon. We keep a list.
2. Develop good communication skills. Game development is a highly collaborative process and communication is key no matter what department you are in.
3. There’s a lot of competition out there. You need to be the best and be able to explain why you are the best. See #2.
Thanks to Steve for supplying us with some of his time and words of wisdom this week. If you're here for business and think you have the spine to take on a role with Bungie, and you're willing to check your ego at the door, please check out our Jobs Page
. We're hiring.