I am John Hartzell and I am a developer and game designer. I started out as just a guy from a small town in southwestern Ohio called Troy. All my focus at that time of my life was on sports and computers. After an injury slowed me down in Hockey I refocused my energy on computers and physical sciences. This led to pursuing computer science at Bowling Green State University. After a few years, I found a passion for learning and improving my knowledge in wide of disciplines. This particular journey took me across several continents; including an extended business-focused student exchange in Beijing; an internship with the NGO Greenpeace in Washington D.C., and a brief international community service in Morocco. My focus shifted quite a bit during this period and after a lot of hard work and dedication, I graduated from BGSU with a Bachelors in international studies, focusing in Chinese and international business, with a minor in computer science.
This multidisciplinary journey led me to the realization that game design is my calling. The day I realized that everything I had learned over the years was applicable in some capacity to designing games. I had become proficient in C++ and C#, learned the fundamentals of a very different spoken language, experienced world culture, art, and history, and learned about the leading theories on what makes society and globalization tick. To the present, I continue to add to my abilities through education at Full Sail University. A school that focuses on putting industry tools, networking, knowledge, and work ethic first.
The most important take away from my schooling experience, besides the technical skills I learned, was how important it is to be a good team member. Always fulfilling your role and always helping out where help is wanted, or needed. I was fortunate enough to be the team leader in many student projects, some of which you can view on my works page. Through this experience, I learned what works and what doesn't while working on small projects, with a small team, and limited resources. Learning to take on the role of a follower was also an important aspect of some of the student projects I partook in. In the vast majority of cases, game development is a team effort. At Full Sail, in particular, I have learned to be a productive part of that effort instead of a hindrance to it.
As a professional developer, I have grown tremendously. As a contractor, I learned to manage my time and document everything even when I am not having daily meetings with coworkers. Self-accountability is a huge part of being a responsible remote contractor. Learning fast and being resourceful when no one is around to help is a skillset that I improved as a remote contractor as well. At Cubic, I have been exposed to a large scale production environment and everything that comes with it. Aggressive schedules, accountability, responsibility, backing everything with research, professional bug/task tracking, huge production environments, and highly skilled cross-functional teams. Being a freelance developer and then having the opportunity to put my technical skills to use at Cubic for our men and women in the Navy were only the beginning for me.
At Electronic Arts I have learned how to thrive and excel in a fast paced development environment. A strong team is paramount when working on an accelerated production cycle that sees a full product from conception, to development, to launch, to live service support, and to the grave every 10-12 months. Accountability, trust, self-improvement, and strong work ethic have been keys to success for the team as a whole. In addition to putting my soft skills to work, EA has allowed me to hone my system design skills. Described as the ultimate system designer boot camp, Madden Mobile launches enormous content updates every week. Involving dozens of trading cards all with different stat lines and values. Each major promotion is a new sub economy with its own progression system that has to fit into the greater whole that is the yearly grind for 99 OVR. Balancing free-to-play with business goals is always a challenge but one that I have happily taken on time after time. Strong analytical, math, excel, and system design skills have made me one of the go to content producers for many of our major content releases.
So what do I bring to the table? For one being able to build prototypes comes naturally to me. I love to be on the divide between the more technical oriented folks and those who thrive in a pure design environment. My diverse background of skills and experiences contribute to an ability to empathize and work effectively with a broad range of disciplines. Through constant efforts of collaboration, I continue daily to learn new ways to improve my skills. The ability to own a feature from beginning to end, solid programming skills, rapid prototyping, systems design, general game design sensibilities, patience, and flexibility are some examples of value I can add to a development team.