This was written the day after my last day at Bungie. I wanted to wait until a week before Shadowkeep Launch to post it!
[Note this is long and more of a rambling on the past 3 months (and the end of 2018 to now) from more of an emotional standpoint than a technical standpoint. If you are curious as to my thoughts on Shadowkeep/New Light, Garden of Salvation, or anything else I suggest checking back in late October or early November to read about it then!]
I'm sitting here writing this while waiting for my airplane to leave from SeaTac back home to DFW. Tons of thoughts are whizzing through my brain at this moment but the only way I can describe my time at Bungie is the word "Blessed".
For the summer of 2018 I applied to over 50 companies looking for a summer job or internship. Not only did I not land a single interview, I only got emails telling me no from 3 companies. To me Summer of 2018 was the biggest waste of 3 months in my entire life because I was defeated, I wanted to work my ass off all summer and have something to show when I came back to classes in the fall. Instead I didn't do much of anything at all.
This dry spell lead to me wanting to come in guns blazing for Capstone. I set a goal of bringing my team's game to every single session of QA in the fall up until cuts (That is 29 Sessions at 3.5 hours a piece!). Dustin, Cody and Ellie (my amazing team) can attest to how I went almost overboard with this. The thing that helped me is that we all wanted to challenge ourselves, and going through to next semester would be a nice bonus if we managed to do it. There were multiple QA sessions where I literally got off of an airplane and started the session not even 15 minutes after landing. I had a mission and nothing was going to stop me from accomplishing it. All of it culminated to having a slide on our final presentation that said we went to every single session possible of QA. Long story short we didn't go through, but the professors were impressed with the QA and the fact that we knew more about a system in Unreal than anywhere on the internet at the time. (Hello GAS, hope you are doing well!)
Not even two days after cuts this QA mission lead me to being picked up by Wrong Warp Games (At the time it was just Evan, Nick R., Nick O., and Sean). They wanted me for two reasons,
#1: They knew that with less on my plate overall I could focus on QA to make the game as solid as humanly possible. (I did do level design as well but it's not as applicable for this specific post.)
#2 I was excited about their game and really cared about it. (I may or may not have said I would riot if Arachnotron was cut).
This was when I realized the record for the most QAs ever done by an individual in a single year was 40. I was already 3/4 of the way done so I decided that not only would I break this record...
I WOULD OBLITERATE IT
11 more QA sessions was easy because we were already planning on doing at least two a week. I also used this time to refine everything for QA, by making a bug log in Google Sheets that Google Forms could interact with. That way logging and finding bugs would be easy and organized for the entire team.
At the end of it all I finished out with at least 55 QA sessions. (I don't remember the exact number but it is so high that it is almost impossible to break with Champlain's current state of QA, I believe we only missed 5 sessions with Arachnotron.) I then proceeded to use this as one half of my Senior Reel. I wanted to show off QA in a fun way, and I really knew that it was something I was good at. In showing it though I wanted it to be really funny, because innately Quality Assurance is hilarious. The amount of things we ran into when testing Arachnotron that would have us laughing so hard we got to the verge of tears was an important aspect of the creation of the game. (Especially anything that dealt with the Inverse Kinematics [IK], the reel shows these pretty well but in real testing we had way funnier bugs).
To me that humor and excitement NEVER happens at Champlain Quality Assurance. QA at Champlain feels like a chore for the developers and a punishment for the underclassmen.
In the real world it's the opposite. Quality Assurance is the backbone of the industry (even if some people don't want to admit it). More importantly than that it is fun as hell. I found myself being more excited about how players will react to something than me actually seeing it for the first time. (And trust me I have seen some crazy stuff.)
To say that from a hiring standpoint I was a risk makes sense. I've only had one job in the industry (Hi Iron Belly!) and I literally graduated college not even 2 weeks before applying to work at Bungie. The most interesting thing is that my reel totally got me my job. What's funny to me about this is that we are told as Designers at Champlain that "Nobody will watch your reel after Senior Show". Not only did someone watch my reel, it also allowed me to catch my first triple A bug ever in Destiny 2! (Not going to say what it is now but if you know me well enough it's the thing I tend to find really quickly in games. Otherwise this will be in my Shadowkeep specific post later on!)
I think the number one thing that made me realize that I love working at Bungie was saying hello to Master Chief every day while walking to a raid play-test. (There's a life size one in the studio and I swear he's at least 2 feet taller than me!) I grew up playing Halo so the fact that I was now working at a company that I have fond memories of playing their games made me feel so incredibly blessed to be there. I took those feelings I had of loving the hell out of Griffball after coming home from middle school and I channeled that into combing the Moon for every bug I could find. I wanted every single Guardian in Destiny to feel the same way I did 10 years ago with Halo while playing this game.
If it wasn't for QA I wouldn't have the technical "Worlds First" raid completion for The Garden of Salvation. Testing a Raid for a Triple A game is one of the funnest things I've done in my life! (More on the raid at a later date, as I am literally only allowed to say the name right now.) [For those curious I am rooting for Datto and Math Class to pull out their first win on 10/5 during world's first race.]
The wildest part about all of this to me is that I spent my first weekend at college (yes orientation weekend) finishing up Destiny's first Moments of Triumph event as a student about to foray into game development, and here I am now finishing up Destiny 2 Forsaken's Moments of Triumphs event as a developer on Destiny 2 Shadowkeep.
There honestly couldn't be a better way to bookend an entire chapter of my life.
This isn't a goodbye however, it's a see you later. I just need to finish up this thing called graduate school at SMU Guildhall first!
Per aspera ad astra,
Photo of my last Bellevue Sunset at my favorite place in the city, Meydenbauer Bay Park