As a Product Developer, Studio Manager, General Manager, Founder, and COO, I’ve made a career of building and managing creative consumer software development and publishing studios, from startup to 300+ employees.
As a developer, I published my first computer game, The Quest, in 1983. A few years later, I co-founded the Austin studio of Origin Systems with Robert and Richard Garriott. At Origin, I Produced/Executive Produced 30+ original video games, including such best-sellers as the Ultima and Wing Commander series. In 1993, I became the General Manager of the Origin Studio after our acquisition by Electronic Arts (EA). As GM, I oversaw all aspects of studio operations, including product development, finance, sales, marketing, customer service, human resources, and IT.
In 2006, I joined NCSOFT, a leading massively multiplayer online gaming publisher, known for such titles as Aion, Guild Wars, Lineage, and City of Heroes. As Director of Business Development, my responsibilities included exploring new business relationships, IP licensing opportunities, game studio partnerships, and game metrics as a business intelligence tool.
I co-founded Portalarium Inc. in 2009 with my former Origin partners, Richard Garriott and Fred Schmidt, to develop and publish online games and virtual worlds that foster people coming together for shared play, good will, learning, and community. I initially served as Director of Development, managing the 40+ development staff, then shifted roles to COO to manage general operations, including finance, marketing, legal, HR, customer service, and community management.
I joined the Capital Factory in 2017, an Austin-based, Certified B-Corp, technology startup incubator and co-working space. As a volunteer Mentor at the Capital Factory, I provide guidance to startups in the areas of values-based company culture & purpose, product development, operations, and funding. I was honored to receive the #1 Rated Capital Factory Mentor Award for 2018.
With over thirty years experience in game development and publishing, Dallas Snell is a veteran of the computer and video game industry. Dallas got his first computer in 1980, an Apple II+ system, while working as a field engineer for Brown & Root Construction. Within months he was leasing the computer system, along with specially designed engineering software he developed, to Brown & Root.
Dallas left Brown & Root in May 1982 to become a freelance game developer. His first game was the Apple II graphic adventure, The Quest. Managing the efforts of co-designer and artist, Joe Toler, and the programming assistance of Joel Rea, The Quest was published through Penguin Software in July 1983. The Quest then went on to become Penguin’s fastest selling game and topped the charts as the #1 adventure game for the Apple II market. Ring Quest, also published by Penguin Software, in March 1985, followed up The Quest.
From 1983 thru 1985, Dallas was contracted to develop educational computer products for Borg-Warner Educational Systems. Those products included All Sorts Of Meggles, The Grimble Process, Learning The Loop, The Playwriter’s Theater, A Treasure Hunt Of Facts In Addition And Subtraction, A Treasure Hunt Of Facts In Multiplication And Division, Weather Wise, and Math Bonz. During this same period, Dallas coordinated the efforts of co-designer Ronald Goebel, Ph.D. and educational consultant Susan Vigen, Ph.D. in the development of a children’s educational program entitled Alphabet Academy. Jostens Learning Systems published Alphabet Academy in the school market for the Apple II system in 1985.
In October 1985, Dallas was employed as a game developer for Origin Systems Inc., located in Manchester, New Hampshire. In 1986, Dallas and Origin’s co-founder, Richard Garriott, relocated to Austin, Texas to open a satellite development studio. Dallas operated as Project Manager on Ultima V and all new products originating from the newly founded Austin development studio. Promoted to Producer in the summer of 1987, Dallas produced the products 2400 A.D. and Chris Roberts’ first US title, Times of Lore. In 1988, Dallas was promoted to Origin’s Executive Producer, which included responsibility for all Origin’s product development operations in Texas and New Hampshire, involving the coordination, budgeting, scheduling and general management of internal and external resources.
As Executive Producer for Origin, Dallas produced Tangled Tales and The Ultima Trilogy for spring 1989 release, and Omega, Wind Walker, Knights of Legend, and Space Rogue for fall 1989. In 1989, Dallas was promoted to Vice President of Product Development. Dallas continued to operate as Origin’s Executive Producer on the products Ultima VI, Bad Blood, Wing Commander, Wing Commander Secret Missions 1 & Secret Missions 2, Savage Empire, Martian Dreams, Wing Commander II, Ultima V Nintendo, and Ultima Gameboy. During the next several years, Dallas grew Origin’s product development department to over 150 employees, and managed a core group of Producers that released such groundbreaking titles as Ultima VII, Underworld I & II, Strike Commander, Privateer, Wing Commander III, Wing Commander Academy, Serpent Isle, Pacific Strike, Super Wing Commander, Ultima VIII, and Wing Commander Armada.
Origin Systems was purchased by Electronic Arts (EA) in 1992. The following year, Dallas was promoted to General Manager of the Origin Studio. As General Manager, Dallas oversaw all aspects of studio operations, including product development, localization, finance, sales, marketing, customer service, human resources, IT, and community management.
As General Manager, Dallas grew the Origin Studio to over 300 employees, while integrating the business departments into the same culture and values of open participation, collaboration, personal autonomy, learning-oriented, and transparent communication that had provided the healthy, sustainable growth of Origin’s development studio into one of the most successful game development studios in the world.
During his term at Electronic Arts, Dallas also provided product guidance to EA’s fledgling educational studio, EA Kids, a division that was later spun off as a separate company called Creative Wonders, a joint-venture between EA and American Broadcast Company (ABC).
After fourteen years in the industry, ten of them with Origin Systems/Electronic Arts, Dallas left the interactive entertainment industry in 1996 to pursue other interests. Dallas took time off from business activities to spend with his young son and to self-study in the growing convergence of the cognitive, behavioral, affective, social, relational, developmental, and neural sciences and the practical application of those sciences in the field of individual, group, and organizational development.
In 2003, Dallas spent a year at the University of Texas in San Antonio in the Honors College Psychology Department focusing on research studies in developmental, emotional, personality, and social psychology sciences.
During this period, Dallas developed the Habits of Happiness life coaching material and provided volunteer stress coaching for parents of special needs children (primarily with families enrolled at Stone Oak Therapy Services in San Antonio, TX)
Fascination with the social dynamics at play in massively multiplayer online games proved more than he could resist, and Dallas rejoined his former Origin partners at NCsoft in 2006 as Director of Business Development.
NCSOFT, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, is one of the leading massively multiplayer online gaming publishers in the world, known for such titles as Aion, Guild Wars, Lineage, and City of Heroes.
As part of the North American NCSOFT management team, Dallas’ responsibilities included exploring new business relationships, IP licensing opportunities, game studio partnerships, and game metrics as a business intelligence tool.
In 2009, Dallas co-founded Portalarium Inc. with his former Origin Systems partners, Richard Garriott and Fred Schmidt, to develop and publish online games and virtual worlds that foster people coming together for shared play, good will, learning, and community.
A $7M Series A raise was led by M8 Capital and included Founders Fund, among others. Initial products focused on the mobile/social space, including Ultimate Collector, a unique game of garage sale shopping and selling, collecting, and world-building for play on web browser and Facebook via the Zynga Platform.
With Lord British’s Shroud of the Avatar, the spiritual successor to Ultima Online, Portalarium has one of the highest crowdfunded video games ever. In March 2013, Portalarium raised $2M during a 30 day Kickstarter campaign, and over $12M through ongoing crowdfunding efforts until official launch in March 2018.
Dallas served as Director of Development from 2009 thru 2012, growing and managing the 40+ personnel involved in the development, launch, and live support of the mobile-social products. With the pivot in 2013 from the casual space to the crowdfunded Shroud of the Avatar, a large-scale, massively-multiplayer online role-playing game, Dallas switched roles from direct project management to Chief Operating Officer. As COO, Dallas provided general operational management in finance, sales, marketing, fundraising, customer service, hiring, human resources, IT, legal, community management, scheduling, localization, and business development.
In 2017, Dallas became a volunteer Mentor at the Capital Factory, an Austin-based, Certified B-Corp, technology startup incubator and co-working space. As a Mentor, Dallas provides guidance to startups in the areas of values-based company culture & purpose, product development, operations, and funding. Dallas received the #1 Rated Capital Factory Mentor Award for 2018.