From chess-like strategy experiences to high adrenaline action gameplay, Nikki already has several well-received designs under his belt. In his spare time, Nikki scavenges his favorite virtual worlds to complete every single Achievement and Trophy. And there is this indoor soccer thing..
Did you know I used your walkthrough for Final Fantasy VII to finish the game?
Haha, awesome! Yeah, back in the days writing walkthroughs was a big hobby of mine. I think I have written over 100 of them together with many game reviews. I love dissecting a game to its fundamentals to understand a game’s inner workings.
So you probably already knew you wanted to become a game designer at a young age?
I got a NES when I turned eight years old and from that moment, I knew I wanted to make games myself. After my NES, I jumped straight onto the original PlayStation and I spent a whole lot of time coming up with game ideas, drawing maps, and writing stories. During my early years in high school, I began to plot my course to become a game designer.
Can you still enjoy a game when you have this constant urge to analyze it?
It’s hard! But there are still plenty of games that I can enjoy as a gamer instead of a game designer. I really do enjoy games that put the player in a fully realized fictional setting where the environments, the story, and the mechanics come together in a natural way. Good examples of this are the Bioshock and Uncharted series.
What is the deal with you and completing all Achievements and Trophies?
I know, I’m a sucker for Achievements and Trophies. I couldn’t care less about my overall Gamerscore or Trophy Level, but I’m a true completionist and I can’t stand progress bars that aren’t completely full. Modern Warfare 2 almost got the best of me! Although I do have all Achievements for that game, I can’t waste all my time on leveling while there are still so many great games to play and my backlog pile is getting ever closer to the ceiling.
It’s just that I think that many of the more difficult to unlock Achievements or Trophies are designed in such a way that they offer you ways of looking at the game from different perspectives. It gives you a good look at what the designers intended with certain mechanics and sometimes makes me admire the work that goes into creating the game’s world and possibilities even more.
How did you join the Vanguard team?
Around the time I finished high school, the first real game design courses became available at Dutch universities. At that time, they were extremely popular and hard to get into, so I decided to do an all-round media course for one year to better prepare myself for the application. Once I got into the game design course, I spent four years honing my skills and earning my Master degree. During my Master, I was offered a part-time position at Vanguard, and they invited me to stay on fulltime after I finished school.
Does the job end up being like you envisioned it when you were young?
Hell no!.. It’s even better. What I really enjoy about working at Vanguard is that the studio size allows me to work on different aspects of game design. On Greed Corp, for instance, I worked on the general gameplay concept first and later I was also able to work on the actual map design to create interesting strategic setups. I was even able to put my writing skills to use and write additional fiction for the game’s campaign mode. On Gatling Gears, I mostly worked on creating interesting encounters, so that was more hands-on in our editor doing enemy placement. I love the variety in my design work.
Are you already at that point where you want to talk about your failed indoor soccer career?