TOBIAS MANNE WITZ
KARAKTER’s creative director describes his job, and discusses why AAA games are under attack
What is the story behind the company name?
We believe that cultural heritage plays an important role in how we create and perceive things. Character – meaning features of personality – is understood across all western countries, being global and local at the same time. This is what we hope to give to the projects that we work on.
How long have you been a creative director, and what’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The first time a client booked our art direction service on a grand scale was in 2010, when Crytek had difficulties finding a permanent AD for Ryse. We flew over to Budapest with a small strike team to work locally for six months, developing a stylistic vision for the franchise and working together with the team to implement it. The most rewarding thing is to see when you and your team make a difference.
How has your previous experience in the industry helped make KARAKTER a success?
I started with a weekly comic strip for a local newspaper at the age of 15. Growing into a traditional illustrator for pen and paper RPGs, I eventually moved on to video game art and digital workflow around 2003. At the same time, I was studying graphic design at Potsdam’s University of Applied Sciences. I have benefited greatly from my corporate design professor Beyrow’s systematic and analytical approach, which still can be felt in my own work, I hope.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the industry at the moment, and what’s your solution?
The spiralling development costs and the rise of small apps and indie games threaten our favourite projects, AAA games. We try to make an impact where we can: on the conceptual side. By asking a lot of questions and challenging our clients, we help to bring focus to the production. The other thing that’s helping is our 3D previz blockouts. These are rough 3D blockouts of scenes and scenarios, which can be thrown into the WIP level to see if it works. This enables faster reviews and a better analysis of what’s still needed. It narrows the bridge between 2D concept art and the final in-game experience. This enables our clients a better toolresource allocation, but it also helps with level design and visual design.
KARAKTER creative director Tobias worked on concept design on season two, three and four of Game of Thrones, earning two Emmy awards.