Updated: Feb 2, 2020
Always assume good intent.
When Jacob Nielsen first joined Dead Thread Games, the studio knew it was lucky. Jacob’s design experience from his time at the University of Utah’s game development program had been overwhelmingly successful with the publication of Sono, a 2D-exploration based puzzle game. Furthermore, Jacob had also earned an MBA, which lent him finance and product management experience. “Jacob’s knowledge about team management and finances has been a boon to Dead Thread Games,” Lis, another team member, stated, “Whereas many new companies flounder when trying to manage everyday logistics, we thrive due to Jacob’s talent. He’s indispensable.”
However, to count business as Jacob’s only skill would do him a disservice. After effectively earning all his MBA credits, Jacob turned his attention towards his university’s EAE program, considered one of the best in country at teaching game development skills. In this environment he quickly picked up game design, becoming a key figure in games such as Sono, which relied heavily on puzzle-based solutions for its mechanics.
The combination of Jacob’s business and game design skills has proven to be exactly what the studio needed in the development of We Went Back. Whether it’s creating the company charter or weeding out problems with specific scare elements in the game, Jacob’s experience in production management and business helps him navigate what is often the hardest and best part of game development – the collaboration.
Removing blockers and preventing them to begin with is very fulfilling work.
When asked what the most difficult aspect of working on a project like We Went Back is, the answer was immediate, “We have a lot of great people on our team, and they’re all extremely talented, and making sure that they’re getting the experience they need from the project while keeping it cohesive is a constant effort.”
Thankfully, that constant effort is what Jacob thrives on, “It’s probably a bit cliché, but removing blockers and preventing them to begin with is very fulfilling work.” To him, all three disciplines he is experienced in: design, business, and production have the same needs and the same struggles, “Catching issues that others will have with existing mechanics or operations and formulating solutions to those questions is just plain fun – like a puzzle.”
Jacob hopes that players will be left thinking about the elements and events that occur in We Went Back long after they finish playing the game. He notes that a large variety of games, books, and film has inspired his work throughout the years and hope that Dead Thread Games can likewise provide that for others.
Always own up to your mistakes ...
Jacob’s ability to facilitate conversations between team members and knowing how to ask the right questions at a moment of impasse have helped to facilitate the positive culture that Dead Thread Games has become known for. Jacob states that fostering a rich and collaborative environment requires two key elements, “First, always own up to your mistakes – admitting you caused a problem will always turn out better than keeping it a secret. Second, it’s important to remember that rarely does a team member act in bad faith. Creating a narrative that someone is trying to hurt you or the project is more destructive than whatever they actually did. Always assume good intent.”