Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thijmen Bink

Name: Thijmen Bink
Twitter: @thijmenbink
Gender: Male
Nationality: Dutch
Birth date: 31/05/1985
Title: CEO & Tech Director
Company: Digital Dreams
Some games that you have worked on: Metrico (and some smaller ones).

1-What did motivate you to become a game developer? 

Not sure actually. I guess the combination of playing games, learning how to code and wanting to make 'something'. It's pretty cool to make stuff, whatever that may be, and this is something that I appearantly was able to. I also like to have people enjoy themselves, and preferably learn something in the meantime. Games can do all that!

2-What does inspire you creatively? 

Every new sight, smell, sound, touch or realization can trigger ideas.

3-If you had unlimited resources to make any game you wanted, what kind of game would that be? 

Heh, well, I guess it would be a VR game when we've figured out properly how to get interfacing right, preferable through Kinect and/or Leap Motion kinda things. I'd like the player to have total freedom, and design a world and mechanics that support that freedom. It would let the player be able to explore in so many ways. Then the game itself could be anything, there is a lingering RPG concept that I'd go for first, but it's that freedom/exploration that's most important to me.

4-What was the biggest challenge of your career? In which game? How did you overcome it? 

Challenges keep coming all the time (and that's why running your own companies stays interesting). The challenge scales with the experience you have. So, while finishing Metrico was the largest challende to date, finishing our first Flash game (2 month project) might have also been the biggest, relatively speaking. It's hard to say really.
But I think... the biggest challenge is keeping all of our noses and thoughts in same direction together, all the time, on whichever project or business matter. It's ongoing and requires a lot of communication, dismissal of assumptions.. that's actually really really hard. So far we're doing alright, most of the time ;)

5-What do you usually do for raising the possibility of success in your projects? 

Well, the project has to be good, duh. We think about what what would be interesting for players to experience and explore, and whether that would still be the case when the game is done. We like to think about what a memorable experience will be, something that people are more likely to talk about with friends, as well as have a meaningful impact on the player him/herself. We also plan Marketing and PR well ahead of times, but fail to execute it as such, due to lack of time/resources. We think about what we want to communicate, and how to be consistent with that message. And of course try to get as much visibility from Sony or whomever we're working with.

6-What is the most helpful piece of constructive criticism you ever received? 

The first one that comes to mind is Robin Hunicke's stories about project's stress and insecurities that she and her teams had. That is was perfectly natural to happen, and can even lead to more qualitive productions (or is a sign of a high potential).

7-What are the advantages/downsides to working in games?

We've got a pretty informal and casual industry, which I love. We get to make stuff, bring it to a large audience, joke around.. what's not to love? Well, the insecurity, of both your company and projects failing, which could always happen. There's often the low income, but I don't really mind as long as I got a roof above my head, decent meals on my plate and beers in the bar.

8-What is your best advice to a beginning game developer?

Always be ambitious, but keep your limits in mind. So push yourself, but be able to finish your games too.

9-Which skills are the most important for a game developer in your field/position?

Well, being able to actually code is pretty important. But being able to understand and communicate with the rest of the team, is just as important. I hear from Sound Designers/Composers that few developers really understand their trade, and the possibilities of sound implementation are greatly diminished because of that.
I guess I'm saying, explore disciplines beyond your core, to know what's possible and how people think about their processes.

10-If I want to become a great dev in your field, what games should I play, what books should I read, and whose work should I follow?

Well by now every developer should have played Journey for its flow, Portal for it's new mindset and Limbo for its original set pieces with minimal mechanics. The very minimalistic design of Jeppe Carlsen's 140. I also love To the Moon for it's wonderful narrative. The silliness in Botanicula and Machinarium. And any of the lovely interactions made by Vectorpark. As to bigger productions, I love the The Witcher for introducing grey choices that have consequences later in the game. Dark Souls & co for their 'open worlds' and hidden difficulty curve (unlike JRPGs with the same creature in 20 different colors).
I don't read a lot, but I loved Flatland. I also love to read Warcraft and Magic the Gathering lore, they give a real good idea of what you can do with the universe of a game and how much backstory there can be to it. It helps creating a consistent and meaningful world.
I tend to follow whomever made something that I enjoyed, that makes the most sense right? If there's one person, I'd say AdriaanDeJongh since he's no doubt going to come up with more crazy silly social games, like Bounden and Fingle.

11-What changes do you want to see in the game industry?

Well, I hope we can at one point leave GG behind us and in fact, have everyone in the industry feel comfortable here.
I hope we'll find meaningful interaction design for VR.
Other than that, I'm confident that things will stay interesting as everything is currently going. I wouldn't mind a bit fewer 'nostalgic 8-bit' games though. We've had and played those, it's time to go forward!

Bonus: Tell us a funny story from your adventures in game development.

My pc actually blacked out, 4 days before Metrico's FQA deadline (Sony's quality check). 'Fortunately' is was only the pc's power supply. Not a good time for your pc to die on you!
Also, while submitting to FQA, we were watching the WC soccer match of Spain-Netherlands. Submission was complete just before half-time, and during we raced to Roy's home and continued watching there in disbelief as we beat Spain 5-1 (with a huge plate of Greek meat). That was a good day!

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