My name is Tom Slootbeek, 22 years old, and currently in my third year of my Game Design study at the HKU in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
From an early age I was obsessed with video games, playing them every day, trying to become better and beating my friends. I loved them so much that even during class I would draw my own versions of Mario levels and tried to get a group together to try and create a game, but that didn’t amount to much at that time…
During High School I engaged in a lot of group projects where you were given eight weeks to solve a problem by doing research, coming up with a solution and creating a prototype of this solution. These projects laid the foundation for my research based design.
Finding myself still very much engaged in games after High School and having experience in research and team oriented projects. I wanted to work on helping improve my creative solutions and decided to study Game Design.
I also grew up in an environment with the access to a lot of knowledge about educational systems, during my study I want to expand my own knowledge on this and find ways that they could be applied to games. I have since done a lot of self-study into some other fields as well: Psychology, Sport Psychology, Educational feedback methods and others.
Something that also hasn’t faded was my competitive drive, this was something I wanted to use as well. Having played sports from an early age and been in many high rankings in different games, I found myself drawn to esports. Now having actively followed that scene for over six years. There are a lot of great competitive games, but I feel like they still have untapped potential. These games are always really fun to play, but most are a lot harder to get in to and I feel like I could help those games with my knowledge. But helping players learn is only the first part, I also want to help players improve as I think that is the important part that will keep them playing for as long as you want.
1. Help create better tutorials for competitive games.
Right now I feel like tutorials in competitive games aren’t properly teaching players how to play the game, resulting in unequipped players which reduces the all around experience for everyone.
2. Help create better training environments for competitive players.
A lot of games don’t offer the players a safe environment where they can practice they need to participate in a competitive environment. This would help players feel more confident in their ability and make for a better ranked experience where players are more practiced.
3. Help create a better ranked environment.
The ranked environment hasn’t been changed in years, I think it’s time that there is some iteration on it. The focus should change from giving player status to helping players grow.
4. Design enticing and fun to play levels.
Create levels that flow and allow the players to express all the abilities they have at their disposal. The level should give opportunity for unique strategies and allowing for multiple ways for outplaying their opponents.
5. Reduce toxicity in competitive game environments.
One thing that has been tackled wrong in my opinion is the toxicity problem. I think we should focus on reforming players instead of trying to punish them.
My Design Approach
Step 1 – Researching
This is always the research phase for me, it could be either looking for studies that I could gain knowledge or resources such as: youtube videos, articles or anything of that nature. Another method I use is finding similar games that do the things I want to improve upon and try and analyze why certain mechanics work and extrapolate this knowledge and work it into my design. I find it really important to look at already existing knowledge before making any designs myself, that way you are more informed and can make better decisions as a result.
Step 2 – Brainstorming
Start brainstorming, try to write down as many ideas as possible.
Step 3 – Conversing
Start narrowing down on these ideas and select a couple of good ones and iterate on these ideas. The way I choose my ideas is based on criteria that are formed at the start of the brainstorming.
Step 4 – Prototyping
After coming up with an idea is finding a way to create it either virtually or physically. This way we can test if the idea works and start tweaking it.
Step 5 – Iterating
You want to keep testing and tweaking until either the time is up or you are satisfied with the result. After this cycle is done, you start a new and begin a new cycle.
Level Design Approach
Determine the setting by looking at real world examples.
Look at already existing levels to look at level flow and layout patterns.
Create a level design toolbox: including the mechanics used, possible restrictions and things that have to be included within the level.
Start creating different kinds of level flows.
Pick one or two level flows and start creating a rough block out of the level in 2D.
Divide this level up into distinct areas and work these area’s out individually.
Make a 3D version of the level and start solo testing the level, make adjustments if necessary.
Invite other people to test the level and keep iterating on it by either making changes to the distinct areas, removing them or adding new ones.
Keep this iterating process going till the time is up or the level is deemed satisfactory.