Scott Howard
These are the personal musings of Scott Howard, Producer / Designer / Gamer

Over the last 15 years in the games industry I have worked on console, mobile, social and free to play games enjoying the nuance and challenges each of these brings. 
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Scott Howard 

Email: scott@fenixdesign.com

Mobile: +1510.710.1973

 

"Real artists ship" - Steve Jobs

Having designed and produced products from ideas to shipped games and services, I know how to balance the needs of the player with the realistic goals of the business. The sweet spot of my skill set is the ability to drill down into the, "Why" of a product vision, turn that into a concrete strategy and lead a team toward that vision, making ruthlessly prioritized, tactical choices along the way.

 

“I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either” - Jack Benny 

  • TOME - Immortal Arena - Pax Prime Editors Choice for Game of Show (2014)
  • Blancspot Media - Apple App of the week
  • Reset Generation - Platinum Award 10/10 - www.PocketGamer.co.uk,  A/A+ 1Up.com
  • Pocket Kingdom - 4.5/5 - GameSpy.com,  9/10 - 1Up.com
  • Ovi Apps Wizard - Nokia Innovation and Excellence Award
  • Speaker - Develop Conference, Brighton, UK - “The Path of N-Gage”
  • Speaker - GDC, San Francisco, CA  - “Brilliant Designer vs. Practical Engineer”

 

“Experience: That most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my god do you learn” - C. S. Lewis

Vice President of Product | BetterDoctor, November 2014 - March 2016

Lead all aspects of product development, while managing engineer and design resources.

  • Shortly after joining, worked with product marketing to explore potential a new market. After a number of experiments in product market fit, we found a new direction to pivot towards, putting us on path to profitability.
  • Established quarterly planning procedures, including setting up team and company Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Used these plans to build out the individual targets and tactical road map for two week sprints.
  • Improved development processes, adding greater tracking and predictability of our work. This culminated in an increase in accuracy of our estimates, hitting 90% accuracy and ~200% increase in velocity of production.
  • Championed lean product development and created a culture of build, measure and learn (from the Lean Startup). All features and improvements would contain some criteria for measurement of success that we would then track.

 

Executive Producer | Glu Mobile, May 2014 - August 2014

Product owner for Eternity Warriors 4, originally lead from San Francisco, but handed off to Beijing studio to run.

  • Worked with PM team to perform a deep analysis and review of Eternity Warriors 3, to get at the core of what made the game successful. Used these insights, to established vision and direction for Eternity Warriors 4.
  • Knowing the challenges of remote development, I creating a culture of, “one team, one fight” to rally the entire team around the goals and success of the game vs individual goals. We were in it together regardless of distance.
  • Once Glu executive leadership decided to focus the game on the eastern market only, I made a smooth hand off of product ownership to Beijing studio, helping their team hit the ground running without missing a step.

 

Executive Producer  |  KIXEYE, April 2011 - March 2014

Worked on Back Yard Monsters, Battle Pirates, War Commander then started TOME - Immortal Arena. Put KIXEYE on the path to AAA game development, bringing console quality experience to Free to Play.

  • Joined KIXEYE as employee 25 and helped them grow the company to 530 plus in three years. Hired key talent including executive producers, technical directors, product managers, creative director and designers.
  • Immediately started building all development processes from scratch because they didn’t exist prior to joining. Set best practices for spec writing, wire framing, agile development and user testing. All are now standard at KIXEYE.
  • Created the concept TOME - Immortal Arena and drove all aspects of it. Built a full 3D MOBA, KIXEYE’s first non-Flash, non-RTS title and set a new standard of high quality game play.
  • Started the TOME team with two others and built it into an internal team of 65, including all disciplines - artists, animators, engineers, QA, product, design, customer service and community management.
  • Rapidly drove the team to a first playable and got the whole company playing on a regular basis. Went Closed Beta in two years and built a framework that would be used in future Unity titles - Rogue Assault and Vega Conflict.

 

Creative Director  |  Blancspot Media, May 2010 - May 2011

Lead all aspects of product development including concept, design, specification, engineering and release management, using an agile production methodology.

  • Helped create a new way of interacting with the news on mobile devices, beautifully mixing motion graphics, powerful imagery and sound to create a uniquely compelling experience.
  • Launched our iPhone app three months after being hired and made Apple’s App of the week shortly after launch.
  • Maintained consistent design, development and release process, allowing us to continually iterate on the design, releasing new versions on 3 week sprint cycles.

Design Manager  |  Connect Services  |  Nokia, October 2009 - May 2010

Managed a team of five designers working on the UX for the Connect Services, which includes Messaging, Social Phone Book, Organizer and Community (3rd Party integration with Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc).

  • Oversaw the UX of all product interfaces, including PC Web, Mobile Web, S60, Maemo (Linux) and S40.
  • Created a unified vision of the product and defined core design principles to be developed against while aligning all wire frames, use cases and user research work of multiple design agencies, (IDEO and Method).
  • Simultaneously managed two design teams - one team working on future features and a remote team working on live ops support. All features were aligned to the core design principles I had previously established.
  • Earned Nokia’s Innovation and Excellence Award for the Ovi App Wizard. The Ovi App Wizard would help the Ovi App Store increase the available number of apps by approximately 250%.

 

Head of Concept and Design  |  N-Gage  |  Nokia, January 2008 - September 2009

Built a multidisciplinary team to evolve and improve the end-to-end experience of the N-Gage service and to oversee the expansion of it onto additional N-Gage compatible devices.

  • Led a team of 10 designers (3 local and 7 remote) who worked to improve the N-Gage Experience on all interfaces PC Web, Mobile Web, S60 Devices (Non-touch), S60 Devices (Touch) and the internal games SDK.
  • Ran multiple user research studies that would be the framework for designing the next generation of the N-Gage service for both high end (large screen, touch, Linux devices) and low end (Non-Touch, S40 devices).
  • Assisted in the development of a totally new internal process for service design and development, a first for Nokia, which had never created a device independent service prior to the N-Gage games service.
  • Helped expand the number of supported devices from 5 to 24, including previously unsupported touch devices.

 

Producer  |  Reset Generation (N-Gage)  |  Nokia, February 2006 - January 2009

Reset Generation was one of The Guardian's "Most Promising Games" for 2008 and #2 on Pocket Gamer's Top Ten for 2008. I worked on initial concept/vision through full launch and post live support of Reset Generation.

  • Helped to create a ground breaking mobile game, connecting PC and mobile gamers against one another in four player multi-player battles, without compromising the experience of either platform.
  • Established the game’s core design principles of, “Inviting to play and unfairly addictive”. Used these core principles as a razor to prioritize and cut features that didn’t align.
  • Oversaw all aspects of the visual direction, making sure every pixel was polished to perfection. This included character concepts, website, logo, T-shirt, game, brand guidelines and a full scale arcade cabinet.
  • At the time, of the 1,850 titles that Pocket Gamer, has reviewed, 11 of those titles have received the 10/10 rating - putting Reset Generation on the same level as Tetris and The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass.

 

Network Games Product Manager  |  N-Gage  |  Nokia, March 2006 - January 2009

Responsible for dramatically increasing the adoption of mobile connected game experiences for the launch of the N-Gage Service, which was effectively Xbox Live on mobile, long before an iPhone ever shipped.

  • Defined the internal development and review process for connected game features, insuring these features were vetted by the SDK team, IOPS team and aligned with CM / CS (live support plan in place before launch).
  • Worked closely with external developers and our internal SDK team to design features that were supported by our SDK including: high-scores, leader boards, multi-player, achievements, match making, and custom game servers.
  • Increased the adoption of SDK supported connected features with 100% of games supporting high score reporting and global rankings. Multi-player games increased from zero at launch to 22 of the 45 games created.
  • Spoke at numerous conferences and ran multiple design workshops around the world with development teams, executives and VPs on designing and building mobile connected experiences.

 

Art Director  |  N-Gage and Snap Games  |  Nokia, July 2004 - March 2006

Lead the art direction on all 1st party games being developed in the San Francisco office, including games for the original N-Gage (Hardware) platform and JAVA based games using SNAP (Internal network SDK).

  • Worked with industry legend Ed Annunziata (Eco the Dolphin, X-Men Legends) to increase the quality of visual design of all 1st party games.
  • Titles included Milehigh Pinball, Pro Series Golf, Pocket Aces Poker and the critically acclaimed Pocket Kingdom - Own the World (4.5/5 stars on Gamespy.com).
  • Pushed the creative boundaries of early mobile game visual design on a very technically limiting design space, 176px by 208px resolution with a 12 bit color palette and 1 bit alpha channel.

 

Design Manager  |  N-Gage (Hardware Platform)  |  Nokia, September 2003 - November 2005

Managed the design of the N-Gage service, Nokia’s first entry into the mobile gaming space, including the visual direction and UX for N-Gage.com and the S60 application.

  • Worked with the engineering team to design an experience that was light years ahead of the current S60 UI and laid the ground work for what would eventually become the device independent N-Gage Service.
  • Created a consistent visual language between the PC web site and the mobile application, allowing users to have a familiar, optimized experience regardless of where they were accessing the content from.
  • Designed multiple game specific versions of the device client UI for such games as Crash Nitro Kart, Pocket Kingdom, Ashen, Call of Duty, Splinter Cell and the critically acclaimed, Pathway to Glory - 9/10 1Up.com

 

Art Director  |  Online  |  Sega, September 1999 - October 2003

Managed the concept, design, UX and development of over 20 game specific websites, nearly all of them utilizing full Flash development, often with complex motion graphics, video and custom built games.

  • Worked on critical IP with stringent brand guidelines, like Virtua Fighter, Phantasy Star Online, Quake 3, SegaSports Franchises (NFL, NBA, WSB, NCAA), Sonic the Hedgehog, Jet Grind Radio and Crazy Taxi.
  • Set the standard for marketing oriented game websites that, at the time, were the first of their kind to blend traditional marketing goals while also driving return visits to get new content and information.
  • Was network game producer on Resident Evil Outbreak (PS2) and Monster Hunter 1 and 2 (PS2).

 

“Ability is of little account without opportunity” -  Napoleon Bonaparte 

“Creativity is not a talent, it is a way of operating.” -  John Cleese

  • Penn State University PA, 1993 - 1996  Major: Computer Illustration BA
  • UC Berkeley 2007 - Center for Executive Development - Product Marketing Management, Negotiations 
  • Scrum Alliance, 2008 - Certified ScrumMaster
  • Scrum Alliance, 2013 - Certified Scrum Product Owner

 

Scott Howard  |  scott@fenixdesign.com  |  +1510.710.1973