Notes for "Bungie's Force Multipliers - Production Engineers" GDC2019

Reading time: 3 minutes

TLDW Summary: How Bungie organized a dedicated task force of engineers to stay on top of production challenges, blocking issues and shielding Tech-Artists and Engineers from random support requests.


  • Support
  • Tools Role
  • Production

Presentation Table of Contents

slide: achieving the development vision

Presentation Timestamps

What is a Production Engineer (PE)?

timestamp: 1 min into the presentation

  • PE is a dedicated engineering role that comes to the rescue when a content creator hits an issue that blocks his/her work.
  • PEs also track down the root cause of an issue and bring the issue up to the teams that can fix it.
  • PEs are aware of all of the current issues that are blocking developers in the studio
    • they know how to fix the issue
    • they know how to work around the issue
    • they know who is fixing the issue
  • The skill set of a PE is a combination of an Engineer, Tech Artis, Tester, and a Producer
  • PEs look for possible inefficiencies in the workflows of devs that are getting blocked
  • PEs spot workflow automation potential


timestamp: 6 min into the presentation

  • the PE role was formed from a need to have a dedicated person help with random technical issues on the development team
  • there were several gaps in the production knowledge base:
    • missing tools documentation
    • missing workflow documentation
    • slide: Gap: No Docs for tools
  • when the PE team was formed there were about 3-4 PEs
  • Bungie tries to keep the PE ratio to 1:20 users
  • PEs should have the following traits
    • slide: Unique Experiences
  • Diverse Backgrounds
    • slide: diverse background sills

Training & Specializations

timestamp: 10 min into the presentation

  • PEs have a training regimen for new hires
    • a PEs from different teams train the new hire
    • slide: pe training
  • a PE is a generalist but usually will specialize in a particular area of the game production
  • PEs are also responsible for bringing up to speed new hires in the “users” team


timestamp: 13 min into the presentation

  • there is usually a PE in walking distance from a Content Creator
  • details on managing Special Email Support list and issue tickets at min 15
  • about 15% of issues need to be escalated beyond the PE team
  • PEs help Tech-Artists and Engineers focus on their primary work duties, thus maximize the effectiveness of those teams
    • slide: a TA's time
  • PEs can temporarily act as a substitute of a Content Creator and step into that role knowing the process and workflows
  • PEs are in a constant search for the underlying issue
    • is it workflow related?
    • is it tool related?
    • is there enough staff?
  • 20% of a PE’s time is spent in projects that solve small to mid-sized issues that the engineers don’t have time to address
    • examples:
      • BungieLauncher
      • Cleanup of old and not used content

Hiring a Production Engineer

timestamp: 33 min into the presentation

  • key skills
    • slide: what to look for when hiring a pe
  • “foot in the door” type of a position - not a bad thing


timestamp: 38 min into the presentation

  • it is part of a PE’s job to drive cultural change
    • like documentation
  • when the PE team was set up the hiring was done internally
  • PE’s time is organized depending on the situation
  • it is vital for a PE to attend retrospectives

These notes are just the main ideas of the talk. They don’t contain anecdotes and examples. If you want to learn more, I would advise watching the talk on the GDC Vault.

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I took these notes as part of our little “Book Club” for GDC Vault Videos The Toolsmiths #vault club

Jo King-Yost is a member of the Toolsmiths community. The Toolsmiths are a community of Game Tool Developers that are passionate about improving the way people make games.

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