Jason Jones (programmer)

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Jason Jones
Jason Jones at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in May 2006
Born (1971-06-01) June 1, 1971 (age 52)
United States
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
Occupation(s)Video game developer, programmer
Known forCo-founder of Bungie, co-creator of Marathon, Myth, Halo, and Destiny
TitleCCO of Bungie

Jason Jones (born June 1, 1971)[1] is an American video game developer and programmer who co-founded the video game studio Bungie with Alex Seropian in 1991. Jones began programming on Apple computers in high school, assembling a multiplayer game called Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete. While attending the University of Chicago, Jones met Seropian and the two formed a partnership to publish Minotaur.

Following the modest success of Minotaur, Jones programmed Bungie's next game, Pathways into Darkness, and worked on code, level design and story development for Bungie's Marathon and Myth series. For Bungie's next projects, Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, Jones took on a more managerial role as project lead. He served as director on the 2014 video game Destiny.[2]

Early life[edit]

Jones became interested in programming in high school, and learned Applesoft BASIC and 6502 Assembly on an Apple II series computer. When Apple released its Macintosh line, Jones's family purchased a Macintosh 128K, but Jones never programmed much for it. After high school Jones got a job programming for a computer-aided design company on PCs, before going to college the next year. In his off time Jones said that all he ever did on the Apple II was write games, "and it seemed logical to continue that on the Mac," he said. "The first thing I did on the Mac was to port a modem game I'd written called Minotaur from 6502 Assembly on the Apple II into MPW C on the Mac. I was still finishing that when I came to college. By that time, I knew I wanted to write games."[3]


Jones met Alex Seropian in his second year at the University of Chicago. In 1991 Seropian had founded Bungie and published his own game, Operation: Desert Storm.[4] Seropian was looking for another game to publish, and they decided to work together to finish Minotaur. While Seropian did design and marketing, Jones finished the programming. Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete shipped in April 1992;[3] while the game sold only around 2,500 copies (it required a then-rare modem for network play),[4] it developed a devoted following. After publishing Minotaur, Jones and Seropian formed a partnership; "What I liked about him was that he never wasted any money", Jones said of his partner.[5]

Bungie focused on the Mac platform due to familiarity with the platform and ease of use. "The PC market was really cutthroat, but the Mac market was all friendly and lame. So it was easier to compete," Jones said.[5] After Minotaur, Bungie began work on a 3D graphics version of the game, but realized that the game's format was not suited to a 3D environment. Instead, Jones and Seropian wrote a brand-new story for what became Pathways Into Darkness. Since Bungie had no money and Jones was the only one with the available time, he single-handedly coded the game on a Macintosh IIfx, passing art chores to his friend Colin Brent.[3][6] Pathways was successful enough that Bungie moved from a one-bedroom apartment to an actual office.[6]

Bungie's next project started as an update of Pathways but evolved into a science fiction shooter game, Marathon. The game included state-of-the-art graphics, network multiplayer, and voice support, and won a number of awards on release in 1994.[4] Jones recalled that he was surprised anyone ever completed the game and sought to atone for some of its shortcomings with its sequel, Marathon 2: Durandal,[7] which was also released for Microsoft Windows. The Marathon series was followed by a series of real-time tactics games, starting with Myth: The Fallen Lords in 1996.[4]

Bungie continued to expand, and in 1997 work began on a new project, codenamed Blam![4] (Jones had changed the name from Monkey Nuts because he could not bring himself to tell his mother about the new game under that title.)[8] Blam! evolved from a real-time strategy game to a third-person shooter to a first-person shooter called Halo: Combat Evolved. Jones role in development was unlike Marathon and Myth, where Jones was involved in developing more than half the levels and much to most of the story. Instead, he was the project lead[9] and a manager, barely providing any code to the game. He would read war journals by authors such as John Kinkead and Winston Churchill.[7]

In 2000, Microsoft acquired Bungie, moving the team from Chicago to Washington State. Jones recalled that the buyout was a "blur [...] We'd been talking to people for years and years—before we even published Marathon, Activision made a serious offer [to buy us]. But the chance to work on [the Microsoft Xbox console]—the chance to work with a company that took the games seriously. Before that we worried that we'd get bought by someone who just wanted Mac ports or didn't have a clue."[10] Around the same time, a glitch in versions of Myth II was found to entirely erase a player's hard drive; this led to a massive recall of the games right before they shipped, costing Bungie nearly one million dollars.[10][11] Composer Martin O'Donnell said that this recall created financial uncertainty in the studio, though accepting the offer was not something "Bungie had to do."[12] Jones and Seropian refused to accept Microsoft's offer until the entire studio agreed to the buyout.[11]

Combat Evolved was highly successful, selling more than a million units in its first six months and driving Xbox sales.[13] Jones led the development team that created its sequel, Halo 2,[14] and served as director on a new video game series, Destiny.[15][16][17] He was listed in Next Generation's top 100 Developers in 2006 and 2007.[9][18]

After the release of Halo 2, Jones took a sabbatical from Bungie, not knowing whether he wanted to continue making games.[19] As Jones returned, his involvement with Halo began to diminish,[19] as Jones tended to 'dislike' sequels.[20] He desired to build a new intellectual property.[21] Jones worked closely with colleague Jaimie Griesemer who was working on his own internal project named "Dragon's Tavern" which Griesemer described to be a "third person fantasy game"[21] In the end however, Jones had the most power at Bungie, despite not being the President he was the majority share-holder and his vision of the studio was his alone to decide.[21] Ultimately, Jason got his way with the studio's next project and worked with Griesemer to combine his ideas of "Dragon's Tavern" with what would be Destiny.[21] As development continued, and with Griesemer gone, the writing team led by Joseph Staten had created a "Super-Cut" which was essentially a summary of the game's story-line. The super-cut was poorly received by Jones and the rest of the studio.[21] Shortly after, Jones decided to scrap the writing team's work and effectively re-write the story very late into production with Marty O'Donnell, believing it was not feasible and almost impossible to complete.[21] Knowing the game was in peril with his proposed reboot of the story, Jones formed a group called the "Iron Bar" composed of art director Christopher Barrett, designer Luke Smith and writer Eric Raab, an experienced book editor.[21] Jones and the rest of Bungie carried on to release Destiny on September 9, 2014.[21]


  1. ^ Errera, Claude (June 2, 2001). "Happy Birthday, Jason and Peter!". Halo.Bungie.Org. Archived from the original on April 18, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
  2. ^ Inanimado 001 (May 18, 2017). "Destiny 2 Reveal - Interview with Jason Jones Co Founder Bungie". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 22, 2021. Retrieved October 27, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b c Rouse, Richard III (October 1993). "IMG Interview: Bungie's Jason Jones". Inside Mac Games. Archived from the original on February 24, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e Xbox World 360 (October 8, 2007). "The History of Halo; How two students went from Pong clones to the biggest game of all time". GamesRadar. pp. 1–4. Archived from the original on November 23, 2008. Retrieved October 9, 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ a b "Bungie History: Primordial Soup—Gnop!". Bungie. Archived from the original on April 26, 2008. Retrieved October 1, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Staff. "Bungie History: Primordial Soup—Pathways!". Bungie. Archived from the original on April 26, 2008. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Jarrard, Brian (December 18, 2001). "Jason Jones Interviewed By You". Bungie. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  8. ^ Trautmann, Eric (2004). The Art of Halo. New York City: Del Ray Publishing. p. ix. ISBN 0-345-47586-0.
  9. ^ a b "The Hot 100 Game Developers of 2006". Next Generation Magazine. March 18, 2006. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  10. ^ a b "Billion Dollar Donut: Halo CE". Bungie. Archived from the original on April 26, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2007.
  11. ^ a b Bungie (October 12, 2004). Icons: Bungie. G4TV. Archived from the original (MOV) on April 11, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
  12. ^ O'Connor, Frank; Smith, Luke (December 12, 2007). "Official Bungie Podcast 12/12/2007: With Martin O'Donnell". Bungie. Archived from the original on March 31, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2008.
  13. ^ Moreno-Salazar, Quibian (October 9, 2007). "Microsoft Bets Big on Halo 3". Fox News. Archived from the original on July 26, 2008. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  14. ^ Grossman, Lev (April 15, 2005). "The Halo Trinity". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on January 12, 2007. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  15. ^ "Destiny Credits". Bungie. Archived from the original on January 28, 2015. Retrieved February 1, 2015.
  16. ^ McCaffrey, Ryan (June 7, 2014). "Bungie Cofounder Halo and Destiny Creator Jason Jones Breaks 11-Year Silence". IGN. Los Angeles, California: j2 Global. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  17. ^ Pakinkis, Tom (April 29, 2010). "Marathon boss heads Bungie's new IP". Computer and Video Games. Archived from the original on May 1, 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  18. ^ "The Hot 100 Game Developers of 2007". Next Generation Magazine. March 3, 2007. Archived from the original on August 20, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  19. ^ a b Haske, Steve (May 30, 2017). "The Complete, Untold History of Halo". Waypoint. Archived from the original on October 15, 2017. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  20. ^ Rouse III, Richard. "IMG Interview: Bungie's Jason Jones". pid.bungie.org. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Schreier, Jason (2017). Blood, Sweat, and Pixels. New York City: Harper Paperbacks. pp. 176–200. ISBN 9780062651235.

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