Als je een smartphone hebt zul je vast wel eens een spelletje van King Games gespeeld hebben, zo als Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Farm Heroes Saga en nog veel meer mobiele games. Maar wist je dat in bij King Games in London ook Nederlanders werkte? Wij van 365Gaming gingen even om de tafel zitten met Xandra van Wijk, vragen wat haar positie inhoudt en hoe ze daar gekomen is.
365G: You are a lead designer for King Games, what does this mean exactly? And in which games are you involved with?
Xandra: As a lead game designer I am responsible for the design of a game. This includes coming up with new ideas, liaising with other teams to get their input, creating a clear vision for the how the game will look and feel, making sure the games team has a clear understanding of the design so it can be properly realized. Once it’s been released we may fine tune the design based on data and player feedback. I worked as a level and game designer on the original Farm Heroes Saga and then went on to lead the level and game design of the sister title Farm Heroes Super Saga.
365G: How did you get to become a lead designer?
Xandra: I worked as a game designer on Farm Heroes Saga when I started and was then offered the role of lead designer on Farm Heroes Super Saga.
365G: What is a typical office day at King Games?
Xandra: After I’ve had my breakfast and morning tea, I sit at my computer catching up on emails. After that, I try and catch up with members of the games team including the producers, artists and level designers to ensure that we are all working to the same pace and on schedule to reach our goal for that week. We work in what we call ‘sprints’, which generally last between one to two weeks, and ensures that we’re all working to the same pace so that no one falls too far behind or ahead. We agree on what we will be working on for that sprint before it starts.
365G: What drives your passion for games?
Xandra: It’s something I’ve always felt very strongly about since I was a kid. I think at the core of it is curiosity – exploring a game, figuring out the rules of an alternative or abstract reality. Of course the fulfilment from getting rewarded for your efforts is also a key factor. That’s how my love for playing games started and that eventually grew in to a love for making games as well.
365G: Do you have any idols in the games industry?
Xandra: I don’t really know enough about any of the well-known industry veterans to call them my idol. This might sound very corny but some of the people I’ve worked with in the past or am currently still working with are my idols. I’ve had really great managers at King and I admire them for their ability to provide great feedback, being assertive when needed, protecting the team and at the same time being very easygoing and fun-loving. Also the artists and developers I’ve worked with have always been incredibly talented, hardworking, creative and super friendly. They’re great listeners and will also stand up for their ideas if they believe something could be improved. They’re always excited about improving and quick to iterate. These people are my idols and role models.
365G: Except for King Games games.. what else do you play?
Xandra: I play so many different games on a wide variety of platforms. To name a few of the games I’ve played in the last month: Battlefield 1, Smite, Elder Scrolls Online, Amnesia: Memories, Hatsune Miku Project Diva X, New Style Boutique 2 Fashion Forward, Battlerite.
365G: .. and what is your all time favourite game?
Xandra: That is so hard. I remember Final Fantasy 7 being the first game that I passionately called my favourite game of all time. However that was such a long time ago and there have been some really amazing games since then. The Witcher 3 might be a close second, and Smite might actually be my favourite game of all time now, since I’ve been playing it constantly for about 2 years.
365G: How do you see gaming in the future?
Xandra: I think there will only be more games and a wider variety of them. I feel like more people are playing games now than ever before, thanks to mobile. More people are also starting to develop games, so naturally this will create more diversity in genres as well. In terms of platforms, I think people want games to fit in to their lives conveniently, not the other way around. I’m personally not really convinced yet by VR in it’s current form for that reason.
365G: What do you still miss in the games industry?
Xandra: Cross platform multiplayer games.
365G: When you are on a project, when do you decide the job is done and the game is finished?
Xandra: It’s never finished! Once a game is launched, it is just the beginning for our games teams! Our teams work hard to continue producing new levels and content that our players find engaging and entertaining. We also listen to player feedback which helps us design content that we know our players will enjoy.
365G: What are the biggest struggles you encounter when you are working on a game?
Xandra: Time. There’s always so much we’d like to do and prioritising our ideas with the time and resource we have can sometimes be a struggle.
365G: You are originally from the Netherlands, Is it hard to work aboard the country?
Xandra: Not at all! Especially in London it’s easy since everyone speaks English. King is also very diverse and we have a lot of people working here that are not originally from the UK. It’s easy to make friends and I instantly felt right at home.
365G: What do you miss the most from the Netherlands?
Xandra: My friends and family obviously and also the Dutch gaming industry! It’s a small world, but I have fond memories of all the events and people I met through gaming in the Netherlands. Oh and Surinam food, because for some reason they don’t have that in London!
365G: Do you have any shoutouts to give?
Xandra: Shoutouts to Iris Kroonstuiver, the old Ownage Crew, Gamekings and my Smite clan CAT(a)S(troph)Y!