Jacob Mikkelsen has been a driving force behind the creativity and unique design of IOI’s games for more than 19 years. From Hitman: Contracts in 2003 to Project 007 today, Jacob has been with IOI through it all. He’s worked in different roles, projects and has seen the evolution of IOI from the early days through to the success as an independent publisher with HITMAN 3.
For Jacob, it all started with making levels for Quake and Duke Nukem, back in the days when those games released with tools on the disc, allowing players to create their own levels. Those experiences inspired Jacob to learn about computer science and software development. He eventually applied to IOI as a Gameplay Scripter and got hired to work on Hitman: Contracts, moving to Hitman Blood Money shortly after.
Jacob has worked on several recent Hitman games too as the Track Lead for the Paris mission in HITMAN 1 and as Game Director for HITMAN 2. Jacob is currently working as a Principal Level Designer working on an unannounced project.
“As a Level Designer at IO Interactive, I am central to the design and assembly of the experiences we create. We are anchor points for the creation-process and work within the constraints of the overall design, the vision and the technology. Teamwork is essential as this is not the product of a single person. There are a lot of interdependencies between all of the components in the game and as a level designer you are working under the rules of these systems. Communication is key here.”
Jacob describes creating games as a team effort, and with IOI’s recent expansion to three studios that’s more true than ever. Collaborating across borders is almost second nature that our developers from several locations are working closely on the same game or project. Each team will typically have daily ‘stand-up’ meetings to coordinate daily work, share progress and keep everyone in the loop. It’s a critical aspect of allowing us to achieve our goals, but also to allow flexibility and ownership amongst our various teams. We have the structure and processes in place to make it a smooth experience.
When we asked Jacob what he likes most about working at IOI, his answer was straight forward enough. Making games is cool. It’s not just about the creation though, there also a lot of technical challenges and diversity of tasks that come with Jacob’s role as a Principal Level Designer – and that’s a big part of what keeps him excited and engaged.
“One moment you’re discussing the narrative of a particular gamelay moment with a writer, then I might be creating a mock–up of a different moment in the game and then I’ll be working with Gameplay Programmers on a new feature and so on. I get to work with a group of extremely skilled, smart, cool and fun people that share the same passion for playing and making video games.”
“The studio is a very friendly place and people are approachable both at work but also socially. Besides work, people often do activities together. Some enjoy playing board games after work, some go for a run/swim/workout session together.
Looking ahead, Jacob is working on an unannounced project – and he’s never been more excited about his daily work or the progress and ambitions of the studio. Jacob has been an integral part of IOI’s history, continued growth and success in recent years. He knows the studio’s legacy and what it means to craft games that encompass IOI’s signature style. He also knows that game development doesn’t stand still, and he’s excited to work on new universes, new projects and work on evolving technology that will push those projects to their limits.