Q: #1 As a product director, what was your main fear when creating this game, if any?
Answer: I feared that not many people would get to know our game again. All games we developed beforehand, as a company, had been Free-To-Play Browser games, and even though we tried to put our heart into it, after a while these kinds of games just vanish without leaving a lasting impact. I had so much fear that the same would happen to Sea of Solitude, that is why I also put extra much effort into marketizing it.
Q:#2 Was there a hidden motivation behind the story?
Answer: Well it’s not really hidden but the story started with my private life. At the time I started writing Sea of Solitude into the deep story it has now, I also started a relationship with a man that abandoned me often while at the same time showing me his love very much, I felt increasingly lonely and traumatized by the confusing situation. At some point he opened up to me that he suffers from clinical Depression and that this is why he couldn’t for example even get out of bed just to contact me.
It was the first time I really heard from mental health issues and depression. I wanted to help him very much to overcome his issues so I started to educate myself about mental health. When I talked about it with friends, colleagues and family, they all opened up and told me stories about their own struggles. All this was so intense for me that I needed to let it out. And that’s what I did by putting it into my art. This is how Sea of Solitude became the deep story it is nowadays.
Q:#3 Coming from an illustrator background, how did you encorporate that as a game director?
Answer: Yes my career started as a comic artist when i was 17. These first strong influences of the artstyle and the kind of storytelling carried me through my whole work life so far. I was drawing for a monthly comic, the biggest in Germany, and it had the Franco-Belgian style, like for example, Asterix & Obelix or Gaston. I love love LOVE the flat simplistic 2D look in general and pastellic colors. I love the focus on emotions, personalities and small details in comics rather than huge space battles (I love those too though hihi).
So, these influences are part of me and when I started to develop games I felt in love with the 3D, but I aslo wanted to incorporate my artistic background into it. This is why Sea of Solitude looks as it looks.
Q:#4 For all the girls out there looking to work in game development.. Can you tell us more on when did you know you wanted to work in gaming? Were you a gamer since child or this crystalized later?
Answer: I’m from East-Germany and when the Berlin wall fell I was 8 years old. Immediately my dad bought my sister and me game consoles! Atari and Nintendo NES, Shadow gate and Prince of Persia deeply impressed me back then. A bit later, at 11 I think, he bought us a Commodore and a PC. I totally fell in love with Point & Click Adventures like Indiana Jones, Monkey Island etc. But also a ton of other stuff like Heart of Darkness, Bladerunner, Command & Conquer etc. So that was half of my childhood. The other half was exploring the surrounding forests, shores, old bunkers, left-over-russian military sides with my little gang. Combine those both things and, if you already have an artistic side, you WANT to become a creator, a storyteller.
But back then, becoming a game developer equaled becoming a wizard (or similar ). Nothing you would even think of becoming as it was basically impossible. Becoming a comic artist, on the other hand, was something more realistic. So I started this way. But I always loved games as much as comics. Shenmue and the whole Dreamcast console especially re-ignited my love for games. When finally, in my early twenties, the first game design school opened in Berlin, I immediately applied for a scholarship and thankfully got it.
Q:#5 How does your average day at work look like?
Answer: Before the pandemic: Ten am, tiredly with a huge coffee in my hand having our daily Standup info meeting with all my co-workers in the same room. After that usually, 5-8 hours of meetings as I mainly advised my employees, approved stuff they did or had calls with our agency, publisher, bank etc. If there was a little time left I did my “actual” work directly on the games like creating art assets, leveldesign, gamedesign, writing scripts etc.
Since the pandemic: Ten am, tiredly with a huge coffee in my hand sitting on my desk in the kitchen and having our Standup info meeting as a daily Discord call. Beside that, not much changed except for that everything now goes over Zoom, Slack, Teams, Discords and whatever more apps and calls. Since we started developing a new project, my Co-Founder, Boris, and I brainstorm in a highly creative manner quite a lot, sometimes 8 hours a day, straight. It’s just beyond awesome to just finally think up the wildest ideas again for a new project.
Q:#6 Now the game is released, what is next? Do you have any other projects in mind already?
Answer: Ha, I already answered that unvarnished in the question above! Yes, we have already dived into a new deeply metaphorical world again. If that last sentence already contained hints, you will find out not too far from today! 😀
Q:# 7 Do you follow new game releases? In case you do, which one is your favorite?
Answer: Hihi, ELDEN RING!!! Come on, give more infos FromSoftware!! Beside that, I can’t wait to see more from Project Triangle Strategy as I am a huge fan of Octopath Traveler. Season looked absolutely stunning during the Game Awards announcement and I look forward to seeing more of it! For my fellow Berlin independent devs I can’t wait to finally play Death Trash this year! Stray by Blue Twelve Studio is probably the game, next to Elden Ring I really look forward the most, meaow! Horizon Forbidden West is also on top of my 2021 Must play list! Resident Evil Village I likely am only able to watch a playthrough as I already s..t myself during my playthrough of the demo on PS5. Oh and I hope The Last Night by Odd Tales Games comes out this year. I was already blown away by the initial footage some years ago! I’m sure I missed a ton of other games I look forward to. Wait, Bravely Default 2 is already downloaded and I can’t wait to play it finally. As soon as the Sea of Solitude: The Director’s Cut release activities settle down I’ll dive deep into it.
After such a hard work done, we wish you few relaxing weeks at your most beloved titles. Thank You very much for sharing your words and thoughts with us Cornelia. We wish You all the best on Your journey ahead! We will be watching you 🙂
With respect, pbyte.si – Tilen Firman