Game Design­er

Hey there! I’m Tom, and I spe­cial­ize in UI, UX, Puz­zles, Nar­ra­tive, Lev­el Design & Acces­si­bil­i­ty. My pas­sion is to help make mean­ing­ful game expe­ri­ences that every­one can play!

I’m always look­ing for my next chal­lenge, either in the Nether­lands or remote­ly—please con­tact me if you’re inter­est­ed. Thanks in advance! — Last updat­ed: March 2020.

Contact me at

 

Herald: An Interactive Period Drama

Her­ald is an award-win­ning nar­ra­tive game by Wisp­fire about colo­nial­ism in the 19th cen­tu­ry, in which play­ers expe­ri­ence an adven­ture with lots of dra­mat­ic twists aboard the HLV Her­ald.

I was in charge of set­ting up sto­ry scenes for Book 3 of Her­ald. By plac­ing char­ac­ters, cam­era posi­tions, and props, then sequenc­ing the dia­log texts and ani­ma­tions with Wisp­fire’s in-house dia­log edi­tor, I helped imple­ment the vision of the writer and ani­ma­tors into the game. I also worked a lot on QA, both report­ing and fix­ing bugs, for which I was cred­it­ed in Her­ald Patch 1.2.0.

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A dia­log tree I set up using Wisp­fire’s in-house dia­log branch edi­tor.
Exam­ple of a dia­log & cam­era work in Her­ald.
A scene from the game with lots of actors pass­ing a bun­dle across the ship deck.
I worked in Uni­ty Time­lines to help bring more com­plex scenes to life.
Exam­ple of com­po­si­tion & cam­era work on a scene I made.
Exam­ple of how dialogs from the edi­tor appear in the run­ning game.
Putting togeth­er scenes involved sequenc­ing and tim­ing event for mul­ti­ple actors and props.

(…) Tom’s work has enriched our team dur­ing his intern­ship with his can-do atti­tude, we believe he is a great asset to any team as a design­er with good pro­gram­ming knowl­edge.
—Roy van der Schilden, Wisp­fire founder

Winkeltje: The Little Shop

Winkelt­je is a shop­keep­ing game by Sassy­bot, where play­ers can cus­tomize their shop by plac­ing fur­ni­ture, items to sell, dec­o­ra­tions, and plan­ning the build­ing lay­out.

I was respon­si­ble for com­ing up with new sys­tems to sup­port the long-term engage­ment of play­ers, bal­anc­ing, mak­ing con­tent and imple­ment­ing it with C#. I also helped with com­mu­ni­ty man­age­ment and QA. I’m also cred­it­ed for the Dutch trans­la­tion of Winkelt­je, and helped set up a com­mu­ni­ty trans­la­tion process for oth­er lan­guages.

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Winkelt­je has a ton of fea­tures. Here’s a part of the explic­it onboard­ing I designed.
Some of the objec­tives I designed for Winkelt­je, which helps onboard and moti­vate the play­er to use all fea­tures.
I select­ed which items were added to the game.
I also helped bal­ance the game and spread unlock­ables over the lev­el curve.

Look­ing for a game design­er to design and help build fun games? Check out Tom who helped make #Winkelt­je at @SassybotStudio. I can cer­tain­ly rec­om­mend. :)
—Tino van der Kraan, Sassy­bot Cre­ative Direc­tor

Arboreal (formerly Meadow Folk)

Arbo­re­al is a year-long project to cre­ate a game in the vein of Stardew Val­ley and Har­vest Moon—a laid back farm­ing and adven­ture game.

I did mar­ket research, UX strat­e­gy, and UI and UX design for this project with Unre­al’s GUI edi­tor and Blue­prints.

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Dur­ing pre-pro­duc­tion, we did tar­get audi­ence research. We researched our ref­er­ence games, their sales, com­mu­ni­ties, and sur­veyed 400 play­ers. Of the sur­vey data, we made this graph of play­er moti­va­tions.
Mock­up of the inven­to­ry screen. We start­ed focus­ing on con­troller sup­port, and the UI had to be rethought because of this.
Sec­ond ver­sion of the inven­to­ry in the game, pro­duced by artists.
Exam­ple of a blue­print I wrote for a world map.
Orig­i­nal ver­sion of the dia­log screen. The dia­log choic­es are spread out in a + shape to avoid that play­ers will be biased towards the first choice in the list.
Ear­ly iter­a­tion of the dia­log sys­tem in-game, pro­duced by artists.

Mobility! Accessible Precision Platformer

Mobil­i­ty! is the side project I’ve devel­oped for two years. Born out of my love for pre­ci­sion plat­form­ers, my goal was allow­ing as many play­ers as pos­si­ble to enjoy the game! It was fea­tured by itch.io, PC Gamer, Rock Paper Shot­gun, and select­ed for INDIGO 2018. I kept a devlog with notes about new addi­tions or changes made dur­ing devel­op­ment, which you can ref­er­ence here.

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In Mobil­i­ty, the goal is to touch every plat­form on the lev­el, so I designed the lev­els to be open and allow dif­fer­ent approach­es.
Mobil­i­ty has mul­ti­ple dif­fi­cul­ty set­tings and oth­er acces­si­bil­i­ty options to help new play­ers ease into the pre­ci­sion plat­former genre.
The game has four worlds, each with their own over­world, lev­els, and sto­ry.
Part of the Trel­lo board that served as a to-do list and changel­og dur­ing devel­op­ment.

How to make a good puzzle

How to make a good puz­zle” is an arti­cle with playable exam­ples (an ‘explorable’) for the Explorables Jam 2018.

I present a series of puz­zle design guide­lines that I use for my own games like Tahi­ra’s Tow­er and Sokobanana, and pro­vide playable exam­ples, often a bad­ly designed exam­ple and a good one. These allow the play­er to learn the sub­ject mat­ter bet­ter by see­ing and expe­ri­enc­ing dif­fer­ent designs. It was one of Nicky Case’s cho­sen high­lights for the jam.

Exam­ple of a good/bad exam­ple in the explorable.
I wrote a sim­ple pos­si­b­li­ty space explor­er for Sokoban in Puz­zle­script to explain the con­cept.
Anoth­er exam­ple where I use a 3D sokoban lev­el to make a point about how to present lev­els in puz­zle games.

R4Heal Interactive Puzzles

R4Heal main menu

R4Heal Inter­ac­tive Puz­zles is a col­lec­tion of seri­ous games by Yel­low Rid­ers for elder­ly reha­bil­i­tat­ing patients, com­mis­sioned by Rad­boudumc (a hos­pi­tal in Nijmegen, the Nether­lands). It con­tains clas­sic games such as word search­es and Sudoku, but also more “seri­ous” games such as reac­tion and breath­ing tests.

I was respon­si­ble for main­tain­ing the games, doing QA and fix­ing bugs, as well as imple­ment­ing new games from scratch by brief­ing. For this, I worked with Type­script code and InCourse, Yel­low Rid­ers’ in-house game edi­tor.

R4Heal’s ver­sion of Sudoku.
A reac­tion test: when a fox appears, the play­er needs to press the near­est but­ton as quick­ly as pos­si­ble.
A ver­sion of Mem­o­ry with healthy fruits and veg­gies.
A dif­fi­cul­ty stroop test, where the selec­tion bub­bles also have dif­fer­ent col­ors.
A visu­al­iza­tion for the breath­ing test, the jel­ly­fish move up and down in a sine wave.

Edge of the Sky

Edge of the Sky is a board game I designed from scratch. Play­ers explore a game world that’s con­stant­ly expand­ing on the look­out for ele­ments, which give points when matched togeth­er. Edge of the Sky was released as print & play game on itch.io, and a sin­gle pro­to­type ver­sion of final­ized qual­i­ty was made using the board game work­shop. It was shown on the IGAD Show­case Day as a “Best of the Year” project.

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Paper pro­to­type used to test the game, and what I uploaded to the inter­net as print & play ver­sion.
The game board con­sists out of tiles, which are placed dur­ing the game. These often con­tain ele­ments the play­er must match.
Rulesheet on the print & play ver­sion.
I also let the Game Crafter print a sin­gle pro­fes­sion­al copy of the game, with a box, man­u­al & tiles with min­i­mal­ist art.

Other projects

Hidden Listener

I attend­ed the Glob­al Game Jam with two pro­gram­mers and one artist. My goal was to just expe­ri­ence an on-site game jam, and to have a lot of fun mak­ing a game! The theme was Trans­mis­sion, so we made an espi­onage game set dur­ing a war.

BackFlipped

A sub­mis­sion for js13k 2019, where entrants get a month to make a 13kb brows­er game. I made an end­less-style game where you keep flip­ping between the back- and fore­ground of each lev­el. Playable on both desk­top and mobile.

Tahira’s Tower

A 3D ver­sion of Sokoban, the clas­sic box push­ing game, result­ing in a hard but fair ambi­ent puz­zle game. Sokoban has also inspired some of my oth­er projects, like Picross Push­ers, com­bin­ing Picross and Sokoban, and Sokobanana, which adds a slip­ping mechan­ic to the mix.

jumpNULL

Orig­i­nal­ly a week-long solo game jam game (in which I had to make a Game Boy inspired game), I con­tin­ued devel­op­ing it as a mobile game. It’s a metroid­va­nia in which the play­er can­not jump, allow­ing lev­els to fit on sin­gle screens.

While the project I’ve pre­sent­ed on my port­fo­lio are the ones I’m most proud of, over a dozen more games I made can be found on my itch.io pro­file! If code sam­ples are more the thing you’re look­ing for, check out this instance pool­ing sys­tem I made on Github.

Feel free to reach out at