Meet Jeanna Cotnam, Sr. Game Designer at Hothead Games
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
What is your role at Hothead Games?
Senior Game Designer
Where were you before Hothead Games?
Carbine Studios, NCSOFT in Aliso Viejo, California
Why did you choose to come to Hothead Games?
I moved to Nova Scotia with my husband who’d been missing home. We met in California but he grew up here so I made the trek to the wintery north with him. I started looking for work in the amazing city of Halifax and lucked out when I discovered a new studio forming right in the heart of the city. I was drawn to Hothead because of their small studio charm and dedication to pushing the limits in the mobile games market. We’ve grown as a team since I’ve started, with staff from all over the world. It’s exciting and I’m glad to be a part of it.
What’s your hometown? What do you like about living in Nova Scotia?
I’ve lived all over the States but I would have to call my hometown Santa Fe, NM (where I grew up) and California for my adult life. Why do I like living in Nova Scotia? The beer, mostly. No really, I love Nova Scotia for so many different reasons. It feels like a mixture of San Francisco and cool European towns. It has a small town feel within a city, a wonderful arts community, great people, and a beautiful waterfront (walking distance from work might I add). Oh and did I mention the beer?
Did you have previous experience in game development industry before you arrived?
I spent about 4 years working on the AAA MMORPG Wildstar with Carbine Studios in California where I focused on creating content within the game. The great thing about working on quests for an MMO is that a world like that has such a vast scope, it pretty much prepares you for anything. You spend so much time trying to create content that is new and refreshing you tend to dip into design influenced by a multitude of genres.
I think that is why I gravitate towards mobile games. I like that the mobile market is still in the process of inventing itself. There are no hard and fast rules to follow, no genre limiting expectations to confine design. Mobile games are constantly evolving along with the tech. I have high hopes and expectations for what we will see on mobile devices and I hope to be a big part of that here at Hothead.
What’s a typical day (or week) for you?
I can’t say that much of my time is typical as each milestone we are often working on a new feature. It’s great because everything feels new and fresh. My roles move from high concept design work to level design and content creation. I enjoy the challenge presented with each new task and seeing it all come together. We work closely with each department within the studio to see the features complete.
What do you love most about working for Hothead Games?
I love learning new things and I’ve learned a lot working here so far. I like digging into new systems and mastering the tech. There’s a lot of room for me to grow as a designer here.
What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had working here so far?
I love being able to make a large impact on design and here at Hothead there’s lots of opportunity to make your mark. Even if it’s not something your team is working on, you can always provide feedback. It’s extremely gratifying when that feedback leads to great design and you can see it come to life within the game.
I also love seeing features that I had a large hand in creating come to life and we have a lot of new exciting things we are working on.
If a song played whenyou walked into the office every day, what would it be?
Fancy Footwork by Chromeo because it puts me in a good mood.
What’s your favourite part about living and working in the game development industry in Nova Scotia?
I am not sure if I have a favourite part of living and working in games here in Nova Scotia. It’s all pretty great. I get teased quite a bit for leaving California for a place that snows but I love it here. I love seeing the industry grow in a place I love to be. I hope that trend continues and we see more studios pop up here.
What would you tell friends living away is the best part about living and working in Nova Scotia?
My work is located in the best possible location in Halifax. I come to work on the Ferry, enjoy some amazing views and take my breaks along the waterfront. Cow’s ice cream is right outside our door, which makes for a dangerous snack break but I am not complaining. After work, there are some great local craft breweries all within walking distance. All of that combined makes even a busy week pretty stress free.
Find out why companies like Hothead Games are choosing Nova Scotia for growth.