Daymare Cat, GMB interview


So I am in the middle of a very interesting collaboration with Cat Janhke ( I promise I don’t sing) and as a result I had the distinct pleasure to talk to both Cat Jankhe and Mateusz Skutnik about another very interesting collaboration, Seriously.

The whole thing started as a twitter exchange (living in the future is very interesting) and became a new escape adventure starring Cat with her music as part of the treasure to be found throughout the game. Suddenly the whole thing became a brand new online point and click video game from multi award-winnipeg independent game designer Mateusz Skutnik.

The music that Cat provided for the game is a song from her brand new musical project called, “Cat and The Menagerie”. When a player completes the game they are given a link to a private download page where they can download the game’s theme song : “Better”.

I asked them both a few questions about the creative process..

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS TO & FROM CAT:

Q: Cat, your songs have such strong storytelling elements in them, so the typical assumption is that as a writer you are influenced by books, but have you ever found inspiration for music in a game?

A: While I LOVE reading and I ADORE playing games, I think that my work as a film composer has actually had more of an effect on the storytelling elements within my songs. Several years ago I was invited for the first time to enhance the movement within a short film and that’s when I really began to practice using music to evoke emotion, instead of just carry a voice.

I give a lot of credit to the directors I work with who continually challenge me to match their vision; they coax me to provide what the audience needs to be in touch with what they are seeing; they give me new vocabulary in this musical language that we all speak.

I am grateful for what I have learned and I hope to continue learning and practicing as I experiment with my music in different media.

Q: Cat, describe what it’s like to go from a fan to a collaborator, to a character in a game, and then move “yourself” around to solve a puzzle…

This has been in the works for some time and for most of the process I just thought, “This is way too good to be true.”

From the beginning Mateusz was exceptionally approachable and encouraging. I think my very first contact with him was a twitter message saying that I’d like to bake him a banana bread to thank him for his amazing games. He responded with “Nom nom” and I was over the moon.

Despite the fact that I am a writer by trade, I’m finding it very difficult to put into words exactly what it means to collaborate with one of my idols, to know that he has spent time in his own world thinking about me and my music…

I’ll tell you what I told Mateusz after I played through the game for the first time:

“As soon as I heard that wind blowing in the background I thought, “Holy crap! That’s me in the Daymare universe!” The ending almost had me in tears (and I do not get emotional easily). I recognize those characters… I recognize those symbols… I recognize that creamy yellow landscape…

This is unbelievable. Your game justifies for me all the hard work and struggling I have faced as a musician. That’s a very valuable gift to me and I am so very grateful.”

EXTRA TIDBIT:

From Cat:

On May 7, 2011, after receiving several emails from me in which I absolutely gushed over his work, Mateusz sent me a message that included the following:

And pls stop with the “huge fan” already ;)

That will help in future dialogue :D

Just thought that was an interesting tidbit. I love this man. :)

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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS TO & FROM MATEUSZ:

Q: Mateusz, your game relies on memory and logic, but also on storytelling elements. Strange sub-plots in the images and items seem to emerge. Can you talk about the process for creating these situations?

A: That’s thanks to my comic book background. You see, I’m a comic book artist first – the game designer second. It’s only reasonable that this game developing business is just another outlet for the storytelling. Moreover, since this is the interactive experience, I can just hint a story, and the player does the rest. The game can be what you want it to be. I just need to point it in the right direction. To quote the classic: I can only show you the door.

Q: Mateusz, In comicbookland where I’m from, a major conceit of the medium is that people buy and read some books just for the art. That sometimes, the part that connects with people is the hardest to quantify. That’s what keeps me coming back to your games. I don’t have time to puzzle out everything, but I don’t feel the need to either, that’s not how I’m wired. That said, I could walk Daymare Cat through the tunnels for a half hour and just marvel at your keen eye for composition and world building. How much of being an artist informs your work in making games?

A: The only way to stay relevant and current is to do everything your way. That’s the only way that proved to be relevant in games as well.

I’m not an artist, I kind of resent that title, first of all because the way people work in comic book land. You need to be a heavy duty worker to finish a book, not an artist, working on a flame of passion. It’s a craft, not artistry. Same goes for the games.

However if imprinting yourself onto the work you do is considered “artistic” – then that’s what I do. And by “yourself” I don’t mean your soul, thoughts or being, nothing that fancy – shmancy. By “yourself” I mean – the state in which you already embraced what you can do and the way you do it – and from that point on you’re fearless in doing just that. That’s the reason I don’t sketch all that much (besides quick composition sketches) and I don’t erase pencil from my works. I leave the whole process on. Same goes for the games.

For me both of those storytelling procedures are almost the same.

author: G M B Chomichuk