bilderundworte: Hi Romano, thanks a lot for offering us the chance for an interview! Our website focuses a lot on comics, so we are bound to aks you a few questions about your work there. But first of all, we would like to know a few things about „Cognition“. Being a successful kickstarter campaign the game had some publicity even before it was published. Who initiated the project and how did you get to join in?
Romano: The studio I was working at initiated the idea for Cognition—so the early development was done by that studio. I was on the project as concept artist/art director.
bilderundworte: What kind of possibilities, do you think, platforms like Kickstarter can offer to artists—in Europe? What was your experience when launching the „Cognition“-campaign—and has there been a highlight during this campaign that especially thrilled you?
Romano: Well—actually—it was the first time for me to be working on a project which made use of Kickstarter. Usually when you start up a project it is always hard to find the financial resources. An idea is great but if it doesn’t get the chance to be made it will stay an idea. So working with Kickstarter is a blessing for setting up ideas and projects.
The highlight was when the goal was reached—but went even beyond expectations—that says a lot about the idea and project and how it is presented to the public.
bilderundworte: Quite a few successful US comic books were funded via Kickstarter in 2012. Did you ever fancy to launch a book project of your own?
Romano: I haven’t but you know---knowing that there is an opportunity to make launching your project easier is a good thing. A lot of good ideas never saw the light of day due to a long road of finding the resources [or] publisher etc. Now you can direct it yourself—your success is in your own hands in a sort of way. With pledges you can create a buzz and give the fans an opportunity to be part of the project—so I think that creates a win-win situation.
bilderundworte: „Cognition“ has a very dark atmosphere which hits the „zeitgeist“ quite well. I personally like it very much. What inspired your artwork and creating the character of Erica Reed and how easy was it for you to put your ideas into effect when working with the rest of the developers?
Romano: A good idea inspires the mind visually. So when you read the storyline and the timeframe etc., your build a visual setting instantly which—in my case—I can visualize. I’m the *tool* to catch the atmosphere and mood for any kind of project or idea—but for that to happen the idea must be good to sparkle the mind.
bilderundworte: Could you give us a brief account as to how you went about when developing the design and artwork?
Romano: I get the info from the writer, which has character descriptions and environment ideas, I start sketching very roughly and fast to *catch* the feel of the essence of that specific character.
The first hunch or sketch is usually the closest—because you have all this info and need to put it on paper in one drawing—that’s with character. For backgrounds and such I get reference from the writer or look up some myself. The strength of creating backgrounds is to use what already exists but make it your own (or the story’s own)—changing color settings and add details (or leave out details) .
After that is established (character and background) you put them in a scene and then start working on the total look---in the end you want a world that fits the story, which means that everything has to fit together.
bilderundworte: There is already a downloadable „Cognition“ prequel e-comic. Is this a one-shot or is there any chance of establishing a „Cognition“ comic series?
Romano: I think that all depends … I would for one love to see an ongoing comic book—the fans are the ones who can decide—I mean—A gamer is not always a comic reader. But yeah I would love to see a comic series.
bilderundworte: If you had to recommend „Cognition“ to a friend: what would you name as its most exciting feature?
Romano: Storyline would come first but I would directly praise the visuals—because those two are connected. The one wouldn’t work without the other. It is a total package.
bilderundworte: How often did you play it?
Romano: I must admit I have played it a few times—due to production work for comics and running my own studio I haven’t played as much as I like too.
bilderundworte: How would you compare developing a game to working on a comic book or story – or would you generally choose a different approach to each medium?
Romano: In the beginning it is a same kind of set up —visualize an idea—concept art—storyboards etc. But where a comic is a medium where one is directed in a game you are involved in making decisions. Therefor the development after the visualization takes another direction for the game part.
Animations need to be made—options need to be set. Cuts scenes need to be made—there’s a lot more to it to create the whole *feel* for a game than for a comic--- and then there is the technical aspect of it—which in my opinion can break or make a game. You don’t have this aspect in making a comic. The most technical part [in comics] is the printing stage.
bilderundworte: Most of our website visitors will know you as artist of the European comic series „Storm“. These readers are mostly unaware of your career in the games industry. How big is the influence of these two “jobs” on each other?
Romano: The two affect each other on different levels. For the game part—your part is as a concept artist, to set the atmosphere etc., but you don’t get to do any *acting* for the characters. An animator is assigned for that job [whereas] in comics you have total control of that part. So the process in games on that part takes longer. The good part is that you learn more about acting because you are talking 3 dimensions and moving parts. This also reflects on my approach in drawing characters in a comic.
Vice versa – in a comic you can work with *moneyshots* which is the most powerful pose for a specific character at a specific time in a specific moment in the story—a sellingpoint in terms. This is something which is not easy to achieve in games since you are working with pre-animated cycles. To reach such *moneyshots* you need to look into an animation part and see if there’s an opportunity to make it a *moneyshot* or part of a *moneyshot*.
bilderundworte:... and which one is more fun to work on?
Romano: I think I cannot say which one is more fun to do because the approach is so different. With comics you are on the whole deal visually. You need to get into acting-page layouts—composition—building up the story, etc. In the games you can visualize a world where you actually can make decisions—and create a total world. In comics that is also the case but still—you do parts of that in each panel you draw.
Thanks for taking the time!!!
Thanks for taking the time!!!
(This Interview was taken in English by: Andrea Härtlein)
Read up on Cognition >> here.