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Meet lead designer at Hothead Games

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What is your role at Hothead Games?
I’m currently the Lead Designer at the studio. Most of my work lately has revolved around multiplayer combat modes for our Kill Shot games, which has been a lot of fun.

Where were you before Hothead Games?
Before coming back home to work at Hothead, I was in Toronto working at Uken Games, an independent studio making mobile games. I was there for two years working as a Lead Designer on one of their new IPs.

Why did you choose to come to Hothead Games?
I was initially attracted to Hothead based on the games they had produced for mobile – I’m a big fan of sports games, and I thought that first-person shooters were due to break into the North American market, so I felt their portfolio of titles was really strong. When I interviewed with the designers and developers working on Kill Shot, I could tell they were a talented and passionate group, and it made me excited to have a chance to work with them. Plus, Kill Shot is really fun! It’s awesome to work on games that you admire as a fan. I’m really excited about the future of the company.

What’s your hometown? What do you like about living in Nova Scotia?
Halifax is my hometown, but I lived and grew up all over the province. I have a lot of family in Cape Breton as well.
I’m definitely a Maritime boy at heart. It’s the people here that make it special – there’s a warmth and friendliness to life here that you don’t find in many other places. When you grow up next to the Atlantic Ocean, the salt gets in your blood. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! I feel incredibly lucky to have an opportunity to do what I love in the place I love.

Did you have previous experience in game development industry before you arrived?
I’ve been working in the industry for about 5 years. I started at HB Studios, working on games like FIFA 12 and NBA Baller Beats. More recently, I began working on mobile games; my 2 years in Toronto were spent working on a mobile strategy game called Titans.

What’s a typical day (or week) for you?
I spend most of my days either in Excel or Photoshop. My job is to lay out the plans for new features that the development team will create for the game, so I’ll create documents that describe how the final product should look and behave. This might mean creating a spreadsheet containing all the values for an event’s rewards, or a PowerPoint presentation showing how the menus and user interface should be set up. It helps to be a jack-of-all-trades as a designer! It’s also critical to take a lot of feedback from the team and incorporate it into the design, so I have a lot of meetings through the week with different people on the team, discussing how we should approach the design and how best to make it happen.

What do you love most about working for Hothead Games?
Hothead is a company that really wants to be the best, and I share that passion with them. I moved home because I want to help Halifax become a city that can attract world-class game dev talent, and I think Hothead is the perfect company to work for in this regard. Hothead makes awesome games, they’re already a very successful company, and they have a vision for the future that will see them becoming a huge player in the mobile space. It’s exciting to be a part of it!

What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had working here so far?
The Halifax studio has been working on a live Player vs. Player (PvP) mode for the Kill Shot games, and it’s the first time the company has implemented live multiplayer as a game feature. Most mobile games have asynchronous multiplayer experiences (meaning both players are not online at the same time), but I strongly believe synchronous multiplayer will be a significant part of mobile gaming in the next 5 years. It’s been a blast to work on this with such a talented group of developers.

If a song played when you walked into the office every day, what would it be?
Tough question! I used to DJ in university and I’m a big fan of house music, so for me it would be something to kick the day into gear – I’ll go with “Voyager” by Daft Punk. Although I’ve been catching myself whistling the theme song to Super Mario Brothers a lot lately.

What’s your favourite part about living and working in the game development industry in Nova Scotia?
Getting to live on the East Coast and do the work that I love is a real privilege, and one I don’t take lightly. We have an opportunity to make this industry a staple in Nova Scotia’s economy. I’m grateful and excited to be a part of it.
If you’re a creative type, working in the game dev industry is one of the most rewarding jobs you can get. I get to work with intelligent, creative people every day, making experiences that delight players all around the world. What’s not to love?

What would you tell friends living away is the best part about living and working in Nova Scotia?
It’s the people, full stop. The friendliness and hospitality of Nova Scotians is unmatched. The seafood is pretty good too.

Find out why companies like Hothead Games are choosing Nova Scotia for growth.