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Mail Sack Break

As these words were being written, rows of tables were being lined up on the promenade between our secure compound and the doors that lead to the outside world.{{more}} Many of us are spending a lot more time on this side of those doors as we push toward another milestone in the development of Destiny.  That means longer hours, far more bizarre exchanges on our social email aliases, and a lot of meals delivered to the studio – hence the tables.

We do come up for air, of course. There are coffee break adventures, ascensions up the rock wall, and the occasional raid on the beer fridge. Once a week, we also take time away from the source code to keep in touch with the community that’s waiting for us to finish writing it.

For a solid reminder as to why we make games, we open the Sack.


Hylebos  Can you tell us anything about the Robotic Guards we've seen wandering the Last City in the ViDoc?
They’re deathly afraid of spiders. Although, we do tend to impose our own personality onto our machines (like that guy who swears that his bitchin’ Camaro hates stoplights), so this might just be me with my own things going on.


Tilted the Wolf  What was your strangest day at Bungie that didn't involve getting hired?
Your question does point to a surreal moment, though. When Bungie invites you to come aboard, the moment that immediately follows is filled with elation, and terror, and excitement, and (often) a foreboding awareness that you’re about to pack everything you own. Here are some of the odder beats that befell our panel after they came onboard.

Probably the day we found out that we were becoming independent again.   We got shuffled into an auditorium a short walk from our studio, and I was jokingly telling people that we’re all getting fired.  Then, before the meeting started, we noticed that some Microsoft executives were in the audience with us, and the joke became not funny anymore.  Then, it turned out we were essentially getting fired and then hired into a “new” company.  That day was very weird.
Tom Gioconda, Engineer

During the Pentathlon, we were armed with swords and told to fight to the death (but not with the swords).
Amos Yuen, Engineer

First time I saw MoCap actors in the hallway. Lots of spandex.
Mike Shannon, Senior IT Engineer

Halloween, 1999. Some strange man in a trench coat, gloves, hat, and Telly Savalas mask crashed the office party. I threatened him with the knife I was using to cut cheesecake, and told him to back off my personal space. That was the first time I met Marty O’Donnell.
Lorraine McLees, Senior Graphic Designer

The sniper rifle incident in Kirkland. Sort of novel walking in on a bunch of police yelling at people in our lobby.
Tyson Green, Staff Designer

The day I put on a suit and joined Bungie’s boy band for a photo op on the stairs.
Michael Jelley, Engineer

The incident that gave Jason the moniker Fire Marshal Jones.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer*

All the lights were on one day when I came in. It felt like closing time at a bar.
Rahsaan Green, Sandbox Test Engineer

Because I’m a psychologist who works in video games, I was interviewed by a magazine for an article about “advice for dating female gamers.”  Most awkward interview ever.
John Hopson, User Research Lead

“Want to see what I’d look like if I were your Dad?” --Pete Parsons
Nate Hawbaker, Technical Artist


BlueDemonKyuubi  Other than our personal spacecraft, will we have other personal vehicles? Such as the Pike mentioned in Staten's tale with IGN?
The Pike in Joe’s story belonged to the Fallen. They don’t give up their rides without a fight. But while we fully recommend taking one for a spin if you get the chance, we’re betting that you’ll eventually fall in love with something a little more homegrown. 


Violet  Does creating a game such as Destiny make it any less fun to play?
Is this like that question about loving the dove, and dissecting the dove, and thus killing the dove? Let’s see if our panel thinks that their gig has destroyed their hunger for our game.

Given that I hold the current record for longest time played so far, I'd say probably no.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer

While I create certain parts of certain worlds, the vastness of the game always ensures I’ll be exploring something unfamiliar.
Adam Williams, Artist

Do you make dinner and then not eat it?
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

Being in the kitchen all day does make you less hungry for the meal, but the joy of creation is a different thrill altogether.
Derek Carroll, Senior Designer

Not even a little bit. Getting to try out the latest changes each week is a lot of fun.
Josh Eash, Release Manager

Think of it like playing though a game more than once.  You know the plot details, but you can appreciate the moment to moment gameplay and environments and universe even more.
Tom Gioconda, Engineer

It’s more fun, because when I play our games I can curse all the designers by name.
John Hopson, User Research Lead

In some respects, absolutely yes. No such thing as spoiler tags in design docs.
Tyson Green, Staff Designer

Making games is a labor of love, fueled by passion and dedication. You’d have to ask a tester whether any of the games they had to play over and over again was any more fun after the game ships.
Lorraine McLees, Senior Graphic Designer

Even as a tester who gets more hands on time than others, I’m excited for every play test.
Robert Kehoe, BVT Tester

Not for me, our weekly playtests are the best part of the week!
Wesley Olson, PS3 Tester

No amount of familiarity could make my Warlock any less thrilling.
Leland Dantzler, Tester


Progo  What is more important to you (this is a cruel one), to have fun making the game, or for your product to dominate the market?
It would be pretty sad if we were able to accomplish the latter without the former. If all we wanted to do was dominate the market, we would write software that could predict winning lottery numbers or teach you the secrets of long division. Making games that we love in a way that we’re proud of is much more satisfying. It makes the marathon weeks and looming deadlines worth it. 


iHawkXXIV  What would you recommend for new IT students just coming out of College and University, who would love to join Bungie in your quest for world domination?
As a guy who transitioned to console gaming because defragging a hard drive seemed like neurosurgery, I’m passing you through to our panel.

Understand and get dangerous in as many areas as you can. You might be a stellar network engineer, but you still need to understand the server, application, and security side of things. I feel that generalists have an easier time getting jobs in the technology industry than subject matter experts.
Mike Shannon, Senior IT Engineer

Stay away from big corporations unless you’re OK with being siloed into one area or technology. One thing I love about Bungie is our requirements are such that we get to use “Enterprise” grade gear (i.e. the big boy toys) but small enough that you get to work with all sorts of different things.
Josh LeBow, Senior IT Engineer.

Learn as much as you can, follow your passion to the ends of the earth, and be the best.
Drew Smith, Producer

While your career experience is valuable, personal projects scream “I’m capable and passionate” far more loudly than a long list of IT positions.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

Quality Assurance.  The jobs are plentiful, pretty easy to get and the wealth of knowledge you receive is invaluable.  From there, you can take any path.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer


Khirna  How many people, as a result of working at Bungie, have gained new talents, not related to the job they do?
Eventually, we all start to rub off on each other, personally and professionally. That’s not only why we had to recently update our studio hygiene policy, it’s why we’ve deliberately designed our floor plan to encourage and facilitate collaboration. On-the-job learning is crucial to survival at Bungie. When you’re building the plane while you’re flying it, you need to adapt quickly to changes in air pressure.


TITAN AJR  How has the experience of working at Bungie changed since Bungie first started?
We get to talk about our game now – at least a little bit. That’s been a change that has taken some getting used to. Some of us still lean across the table and whisper “Destiny” in restaurants. Old habits are hard to break. Here are some other notable evolutions in the Bungie experience.

The food lines are longer.
John Stvan, Graphic Designer

The biggest difference is that, instead of me running to everyone in the studio to ask questions about how a block of code works, people are now coming to me sometimes!
David Johnson, Engineer

Thirteen years ago, we could all sit around on the floor in our spaces and eat lunch together.  No decorum at all.  Now we gotta go sit in the café so our bones don’t creak and ache.
Lorraine McLees, Senior Graphic Designer

There’s around 8x more people, and the creative atmosphere now rests upon a stronger professional foundation.
Tyson Green, Staff Designer

The shock has worn off, but the excitement still burns deep within.
Chris Owens, Test Engineer

Remembering names. I say "Hi there" a lot more than I used to.
Michael Salvatori, Audio Design Lead

For me, I’m definitely working on a more diverse array of systems than I was when I first started.  It’s been a very educational experience!
Alex Loret de Mola, Engineer


samurai1226  Is everybody at Bungie kinda into gaming? Or is it more like we hear from other studios, that a lot of people at the studio (e.g. the writers) aren't gamers at all.
We aren’t just kinda into gaming. We are seriously, hopelessly, and shamelessly into gaming. You could say that we love it so much that we’ve made it our life’s work.


TheophilusOmega  What part of making Destiny, or being a Bungie employee still makes you think "I can't believe I actually get paid to do this!"
We get paid? Guys? How much? Is it a lot? I thought we just worked here for snacks and access to playtest labs.

I am almost six months in and every day I walk through the door I feel like I won the Super Bowl and probably have some silly glossy-eyed look on my face.
Mike Shannon, Senior IT Engineer

Whenever we have the opportunity to show something to our community.  I see everyone’s reactions and smile, but there’s always that faint reminder that, once upon a time, I used to be on your side of the fence.
David Johnson, Engineer

The spatial design in making combat encounters often reminds me of playing outside setting up army men battles during my childhood.
Michael Milota, Slovadomilotavich

I said those exact words the first day I started at Bungie.
Wesley Olson, PS3 Tester

You guys are the folks who make “this” worth doing.
Lorraine McLees, Senior Graphic Designer

Your excitement for the game only feeds our morale and makes us want to work harder to keep up that excitement.
David Cleeton, World Design Tester

Tuesday night playtests. Or, as I like to call them, “Everyone come get slaughtered to the sweet sound of Derek Carroll’s maniacal laughter” night.
Leland Dantzler, Tester

My first weekend after being hired, I sat in my newly-moved-into apartment thinking “This is no fun. I want to go back to work.”
Jake Lauer, Web Development Engineer


hedhntr  Will the Bungie Studios Podcast ever return? What if I were willing to personally put up some sponsor money?
It’s not a matter of money. We need something we can safely talk about for longer than thirty minutes. 


Old Monarch  If you could master an instrument, which would it be?
I still have a lot of trouble with my game controller. Until my stats improve, I’m sticking to it. Our panel might have more musical ambitions. 

Back when I was in school, I was really pretty good at the xylophone.
David Johnson, Engineer

Timpani Drums.  Then I would put sand in my living room and host sweet beach parties
Drew Smith, Producer

Ukulele!
Wesley Olson, PS3 Tester

The pencil.
Lorraine McLees, Senior Graphic Designer

The violin.
Reed Shingledecker, Artist

Sitar, it’s always amused me that it could be made of gourds.
Adam Williams, Artist

Electric guitar.
Tyson Green, Staff Designer

Air Guitar.
Adam Williams, Artist

Give me a piano and I will master it. Given enough time, that is.
Michael Jelley, Engineer

John Hopson, User Research Lead

Skull flute.
Mat Noguchi, Programmer*


Frozenpheniox101  Will we have different styles of guns like we will our armor? For an example, could I find a lever-action shotgun in the ruins of Chicago, a charge-based sniper rifle in one of the bases of Mars, or a pistol that shoots 'space' magic enhanced bullets?
We’ve already gone into a small amount of detail about weapon customization, including a small sampling of rare and exotic weaponry. You should check out Joe and Barry’s GDC presentation if you want to see them for yourself.

“So, in Destiny, guns are like swords. Players will find many different weapons as they’re playing…different styles, and colors, and proportions. From Sniper Rifles and Shotguns to Rocket Launchers and Heavy Machineguns, and also, like we did with player gear, rare and exotic weapons.” 

Barry really only scratched the surface. While GDC was going down, Tom Doyle, our resident gunsmith, was closing the show at our most recent team meeting back in Bellevue. We think you’ll absolutely be blown away by what he was laying down. We’re saving that ammunition for later, though.


NanoRev  Sniper, shotgun, pistol or rocket launcher?
Pistol. I do not aim with my hand. 

How 'bout you, panelists?

Sniper.  *BOOM* headshot.
Mike Shannon, Senior IT Engineer

Shotgun, because yelling “pistol” never got anyone the front seat.
Josh Eash, Release Manager

Josh LeBow, Senior IT Engineer.

It really depends on how messy I want to get.
Wesley Olson, PS3 Tester

Guitar beats them all.
Michael Salvatori, Audio Design Lead


DE4THINC4RN4TE  How often do you look at a part of the game and just think, "Damn they're going to love this!"?
To better understand what we’re creating, we play every day. There are definitely moments – lots of them – where it seems clear that what we’re building together is really going to resonate. Almost universally, those moments are followed by a more pragmatic assessment of all the hard work it’s going to take to make Destiny everything we believe it can and should be. So, as much as we want those moments where we sit back and think to ourselves, “Damn, they are going to love this,” perhaps more valuable are those when we wipe the smile from our faces, squint at the build, and say, “Damn, we need to make this so much better.”

And that, gentle friends, is why you’re made to wait. We know your standards are high, which is why we dare not share something that can’t vault that bar and deploy a parachute to safely traverse the distance back down to Earth.  We’ll keep working until we can reach those heights.

We’ll take a break from work to stay close to you, since you’ll contribute a crucial ingredient to this game: the population that will make the world we’re building feel alive. You complete us.  See you next week, when the mail call is sounded again.
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