Shorts: Indie Dev Interview: Tommaso Loiacono from Cordens Interactive

Especially for our Patrons in Tier 2 and 3, we have made another Indie Dev interview! Consider joining us on Patreon in Tier 2 or Tier 3 for as little as $3.00 a month and unlock it all!

This time our indie Dev interview is with Tommaso Loiacono, Game Director and Co-founder at Cordens Interactive. Cordens Interactive has developed and published Vesper: Zero Light Edition on Nintendo Switch and Steam.

Kirstin reviewed Vesper: Zero Light Edition enjoyed the game, and said this in her conclusion: I won’t soon forget its gorgeous backdrops and searing colours. This could be exactly what you are looking for, for those who enjoy stealth games. As for me, I will remember it less for its mechanics and more as if it were a painting. (Read the review here.)

Of course, LadiesGamers is always about the personal story in an interview, so we asked Tommaso how Cordens Interactive was founded and the story behind Vesper’s development: Zero Light Edition. Plus, Tommaso has some tips for aspiring developers!

Vesper: Zero Light Edition LadiesGamers


Who is Tommaso Loiacono?

Hi everyone, I am Tommaso Loiacono, Game Director and Co-founder at Cordens Interactive, a very small startup based in Italy, together with my “partner in crime” Matteo Marzorati, Art Director, we created Vesper: Zero Light Edition, our first commercial game!

Also, it’s a bit reductive to say that I am only a game developer, and I think that my passions are a great way to give some perspective to Vesper: Zero Light Edition; I am an avid sci-fi reader, board game player and RPG lover, and above all things, I love philosophy and the history of human thought.

vesper LadiesGamers

Cordens Interactive

How did you start out as a game developer, and how did you come to found Cordens Interactive?

I started developing games from childhood: Dungeon & Dragons hacks, small pen & paper games to entertain family and friends; yes, I think game development really accompanied me throughout my whole life.

When I started university, I decided to study Computer Engineering. As I wanted to be able to craft video games all by myself. Still, I was missing one thing: I am totally unable to draw anything.

When I started the first prototype of Vesper (it was called DUSK at the time, it was done for a course in Game Design and Programming), I had this interesting game design idea in mind, but the graphics were simply… terrible. Thankfully, I met Matteo during the course, and it was like “love at first sight”.

Together, we completed the first prototype. We brought the game to several national conventions. Finally, at the Nordic Game Conference, where we received a financial opportunity to bring the title to Steam and Nintendo. Cordens Interactive was born on that day.

vesper LadiesGamers

Inspiration for Vesper: Zero Light Edition

Where did you take your inspiration from for Vesper: Zero Light Edition?

The mechanics are directly inspired by the Oddworld series. I always liked the paradox of having a completely harmless character, a character that could be killed in just one hit, with the ability to control more powerful foes. I just wanted to mix this simple idea with a peculiar weapon, a tool that could have been remembered after a long time, much like the Portal Gun and the Gravity Gun from Valve’s series. From this point on, the idea of giving other characters in the game the same challenge seemed like a natural consequence.

Talking about the art style, Matteo always likes to cite Halo, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Nicholas Winding Refn as his source material. He really loves impactful vistas with strong colours. I must admit it: much of the game was built with those vistas in mind.

vesper LadiesGamers

The Biggest Challenge

What is the biggest challenge in making a game like Vesper: Zero Light Edition, and how did you overcome it?

Biggest challenge? I’d say the self-imposed ones. When we started the production of the game, one of the goals was to avoid colours. Except for white, for interactive game elements and to limit the usage of any extra-diegetic UI. I think we were really ambitious with those goals, but also very igneous at the same time. Luckily with some hard work, we were able to overcome both challenges. However, for the game elements, we used a combination of animations and shapes to convey different meanings and ensure they were always recognisable at first sight during gameplay.

For the UI, we weren’t able to do it 100%. Still, at a certain point, we just had to draw some extra lines, but I’m still happy with the fact that tutorials are very short and snappy and never halt the flow of the game.

What did the early versions of Vesper or prototypes of the game look like?

Mmmm, the best I can do is just you some pictures:

vesper LadiesGamers

Want to read the rest of the interview too? Find out about where Tommaso and the team at Cordens Interactive got their inspiration for Vesper. And what other games they have planned for the future.

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