d3t welcomes Dan Hett, Associate Design Director
31st Jan 2024
Tell us a bit of information about your experience/career background?
I’ve been working in the creative and games industry for something like sixteen years (but hey, who’s counting), and have truly seen it all – if it’s weird or colourful and involves a computer, I’ve probably worked on it at some point.
I cut my teeth in the digital agencies of Manchester, before then working for quite a while at the BBC as a Senior Games Dev on many of their BAFTA-winning projects, plus a cheeky stint as a Research Technologist in their exciting R&D labs.
I then went freelance, working on client projects for the likes of Sky, TATE, The Commonwealth Games and a zillion others. Over time, I began to shift into narrative design slowly, culminating in doing an MA in Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School, which was a lot of fun.
I also started an indie company, PASSENGER, putting out a major work of interactive fiction called Closed Hands, which picked up an IGF nomination for Excellence in Narrative. Most recently, I spent a year working as a Senior Narrative Designer for Deep Silver Fishlabs on all sorts of unannounced AAA projects, which ended unexpectedly during this tumultuous period of games industry shuffling and closures. The results of which has led me to d3t, where I am extremely excited to begin my next adventure!
Although I’ve travelled and exhibited my work all over the world, home is where the heart is – I’m a fiercely proud northern creative, and so finding a studio full of lovely people working on killer AAA games right on my doorstep was too exciting to not get involved with.
As with many folks, COVID really pushed me into a lot of remote work, and I’ve properly missed having an actual office full of good folks (and good coffee) to come and hang out in whilst we make some magic!
What do you love about games?
The people making them, and the scope of the industry. By this I mean that videogames really feel like a medium where there’s room for everything, and as a player I can dive into such an unreal range of experiences so easily now.
Sometimes I want that big widescreen AAA brain-melter, and sometimes I want someone with a story to reach out through their work, and connect with me more quietly, giving me an experience I haven’t had before. At both ends of the spectrum I feel like we’re in a real golden age for the medium, and I adore being part of it.
What games are you currently playing, and what is your favourite game?
I’m a total RPG dork who got a PS5 recently, so I’m currently deeply engrossed in Final Fantasy XVI, which is stunning if you’re into sheer spectacle. Obviously FF12 is the best Final Fantasy game, a fact which I’m sure nobody can disagree with me on whatsoever. I’m still also in awe of Baldur’s Gate 3: as both a designer and writer the way that game is put together absolutely fries my noodle, it is a masterpiece. I also get regularly distracted by smaller fun-sized experiences, I really love games that give me the good stuff in smaller doses – Dredge was a recent gem, and Cocoon was stellar.
Favourite game ever? The one I’ve completed the most is Super Metroid, by far. The game series I’m best at is Tony Hawks Pro Skater – statistically speaking, it’s very likely I will destroy you at Tony Hawks, try me! RPG-wise I’d probably put Persona 4 up there too, I’m a sucker for a weird JRPG.
Best console ever? The Dreamcast, clearly. Give me vibrant experimental weirdness all day!
Do you have any fun facts or hobbies?
When I’m not making videogames, I love printmaking, running D&D and tabletop games with my equally nerdy children, and banging my head at noisy metal shows. And… I really, really, really like jigsaw puzzles! A 3000-piece puzzle with a good podcast and a brew is the best way to unwind your brain ever – try it!
I guess my coolest fun fact is that a couple of years ago I had an RFID chip implanted into my hand, which means I can now wirelessly store data on a little computer chip that lives snugly inside my right hand. Painful, but what a cool pub trick, eh!