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Breaking In - Adam Pino

On the roster for Team Bungie, you’ll find the names of some frighteningly smart people. Chief among them is not the author of this blog. For the longest time, the word “Engineer” drove me to picture the guy in the striped hat who sits at the front of the train. Don’t let that happen to you. In the realm of video game development, Engineers write the code that makes the whole world sing. Fortunately, you don’t have to take it from me. This guy does a much better job of telling his story. Let’s get him.

You there! Who are you, and what do you do at Bungie?

Adam:  I’m Adam Pino and I’m a networking engineer at Bungie.  

Uhhmmm… Does that mean you drive our train?

Adam:  No. I work on the part of Destiny that ensures reliable and fast communications among peers for gameplay purposes. I’m part of the team that makes sure that if you shoot a head, your target feels it.

We track entire legions of gamers who pay very close attention to such things. Is headshot tracking to be your main contribution to Destiny?

Adam:  The entire game is networked. If you’re in a public space, anything you do will go through the systems I work on.  If you’re in a fireteam, I’m helping ensure the co-op experience is absolutely top notch and industry defining.

Tell us about the man underneath the striped hat. When you’re not bringing Guardians closer together through the modern miracle of networking, what real-life experiences do you consider absolutely top notch?

Adam:  Video games, art, playing guitar, and spending time with my family.

Straight to the point! I can sense your scientific mind at work. Did you always see yourself plotting a course that led to a life of technical precision?

Adam:  When I was younger, I wanted to be a video game programmer. Previously, I wanted to be a professional baseball player, but I wasn’t any good at baseball.

Me neither. Very much like our team, those teams seem to recruit based on skill. Since baseball didn’t pan out, was there another game that inspired you to pursue an exciting career in making them?

Adam:  Doom.

Now you’re talking! That was a hell of a game, for sure. After your true gifts came into focus, how did you seek out the knowledge and skills that would appeal to our talent scouts?

Adam:  I started a CS degree in college but I didn’t finish it.  I still use data structures and algorithms I learned during that time.  I learned how to type properly in high school, and that’s been invaluable.

I’m going to take a guess here, and say that you had the chance to refine your skills somewhere before you came to Bungie. Am I right?

Adam:  I was working at 343 industries. I had shipped Halo 4, and was working on the next title. Specifically, I added the deathcam feature to Halo 4.

That made you a close cousin from an engineering perspective. How did you make the trek from our old building to our new one?

Adam:  There were two ways. I had an in with one of the engineers here, so that helped a good bit. Coming from 343 Industries, having worked on the Halo codebase, and shipping a difficult feature in the Halo engine didn’t hurt.

In that case, let’s talk about what does hurt. What was the hardest part about entering our new building as a job applicant? We take malicious pleasure in making your vocational interrogation appropriately painful.

Adam:  The interview with the technical lead (Chuckie) was technically challenging. That, and waiting to hear back was very hard. The technical interview here in general is the toughest one I’ve had.

As you’ve discovered by now, we make the interview tough to see if you can catch what we throw at you once you’re on the team. What is the toughest challenge you field at Bungie?

Adam:  Mainly the overall quality bar. Part of it is that we’re a huge team, and any mistake can cost lots of people lots of time and hurt the overall product. Also, expectations for this product are absolutely astronomical. Trying to meet that challenge is exhilarating. 

Do you feel like we have your back as you go to vault that bar? Does Bungie do things to keep your strength up and your mind sharp?

Adam:  For me there’s not one perk. There are a multitude of perks that lead up to making me feel like a valuable part of the team, to a degree that far surpasses anywhere I’ve ever worked before. It’s really an overall attitude. The perks are very nice though.

Bungie demands that we all grow and enrich our skills.  How do you advance your craft?

Adam:  I work on some home projects, read books about programming.  I try to read code at work too, there are a lot of smart people here, it’s worth learning from them.

What would you say to all the other kids out there who will wash out at baseball tryouts, only to discover that their talents lie elsewhere?

Adam:  Make sure you know the job you want. Get a firm grasp on what each job does, be it designer, engineer, or artist. There isn’t a job for someone who just wants to sit around thinking up ideas all day, at some point you’re going to have to put your ideas into action. Also, make something yourself, whatever it takes, work on a mod, or a little project with friend.  If you can show you can make something, you’ll have a much easier time working for a larger group.

Let’s fast-forward to September 9th. When players first step into the world of Destiny, what’s one thing you’ll point to and say “I made that!”

Adam:  Hmm… I guess it would have to be another player. If you see another player in Destiny, I had some small part to do with that.

And when we see you? What will you be doing?

Adam:  Experiencing the story.

Just like the living world of Destiny, our studio at Bungie is full of stories that intersect in surprising ways. Sometimes it’s an Engineer who brings people together, and sometimes it’s a project with high hopes. If you’d like to hear more of our stories before you experience your own, check out all the personalities profiled in the Breaking In archive.
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