Joanna “Asia” Nowak does have a very unique and very special job here at Warhorse Studios, as she is our Historical Consultant. She was born in Bydgoszcz, in Poland and joined Warhorse shortly after our Kickstarter campaign in the beginning of 2014.
Do you have any questions to Joanna “Asia” Nowak? Just ask here.
You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.
1) Where can we usually find you lurking in the holy halls of Warhorse?
Most of the time I am in our Dark Cave, full of artists, but I often fly to other departments to check out some information and spy on some news.
2) How did you hear about Warhorse?
Kuba Holik had already presented you my story here in the Weekly Torch, so I can only add a few details.
Before I started working at Warhorse, I had a good, well-paid job at a big international company, but I needed something different. I was looking for something more aligned with my education and my personal interests, giving me more satisfaction and visible influence on the “final” product. Suddenly, Kuba and I were talking about where I could try to use my knowledge and skills and he said that Warhorse actually wants to extend their team; to get new concept artists and a researcher/historical consultant who would be able to advise, explain, and prepare a database of references for creating a realistic game. I was skeptical about the whole thing because I was afraid they would misjudge me due to my relationship with Kuba and I thought that they would not find me Czech-enough to do the job.
Luckily, until my interview day, Kuba did not tell anyone that we were actually acquainted.
Dan and Štepán Janik (former Concept Art Lead) greeted me with many interesting questions and I talked about my strengths - language skills, experience and knowledge in the field of history, art, conservatory works, and software, which is essential for game development.
I had an interview in August 2013 and started working officially (helped a little in between) in March next year (2014). They must have appreciated my patience, because I risked everything and I quit the job before the kickstarter, so when the first backers showed their support I was totally drunk from happiness and excitement. It was at this moment that I knew I was ready to do something great.
3) Describe your position. What is it about being a Historical Consultant?
I am a universal soldier but mostly I’m responsible for historical consultations, gathering text, and visual information that can (BUT DOES NOT HAVE TO) be an inspiration for our game. I work every day with many people from other departments like environment, script, characters, language, music, art, etc.
Moreover, I manage localization for some languages and I give technical and content-related support. In the past, I was also regularly destroying the old diet habits of my workmates by bringing them cakes and cookies… vegan cakes and cookies. They have never complained…
4) Have you ever work on Videogames before?
This is my first job in the videogame world. Previously, I worked in field of preservation and conservation of the heritage (mainly architecture), software management, organization of events, and in some jobs I was mainly using my language and software skills.
5) What is your favorite team activity?
My favorite team activity is hanging out with Warhorsians in the summer for a beer. In the winter we are stuck in pubs and they are not big enough for us, especially after midnight. Some of us also like to take a leap in the river during our meetings and it’s pretty hard to do that in the tavern. I also dislike the smell of food in Czech’s restaurants and I don’t like coming back home when it is below 0°C. So winter drinking is not my thing.
6) What is your favourite historical piece of clothing in Kingdom Come Deliverance?
Oh, this is so obvious. There are few brigandines that look so dramatic that I cannot help myself from giving them a big like. I bet all of you love it.
7) Who would be your favourite King: Wenceslaus IV. or Sigismund and why?
Interesting question. Thank you that I do not have to choose between the poor horse or the ducks. Regarding the crazy brothers, it is pointless to make a choice. Dr. Vlček did a pretty detailed analysis of the bones of the Luxembourg family some decades ago and it still scares me how similar the truly were. They were both addicted to wine and they both had bad teeth, ulcers, bones problems and more. Moreover, according to the chronicles they both spent too much money and they both had a bad temper. Not really attractive to me….
Considering their date of birth (Wenceslaus IV - 26.02, Sigismund - 14/15.02) they both had low self-esteem, manic depression, felt unloved and were lonely, all while having their dark days. On the other hand, they both did know how to enjoy down-to-earth privileges like good food, night parties, baths and they had tons of lovers. Wenceslas had good taste in fashion and he admired artwork. Sigismund was fond of music, dramas, and long discussions.
Although some claim that Wenseclas was a passive ruler and a weak leader, I am pretty sure he clearly was not interested with his responsibilites. He proved that when he truly wanted something, he got it, just like his stubborn brother - Sigismund. This is why it is difficult for me to choose either one.
8) What is the most difficult part of your position?
The most difficult part is to sense when my colleagues (designers, artists, scripters) really want my advice or not. Sometimes they dig into details and wish to have things very historically accurate (which of course is still a statement that no researcher or academic worker would take for granted) or they just wish I could confirm (or Dan’s fav method – NOT deny) something they have made (or made up). I am lucky to have an artistic and humanistic educational background so I can convince myself to create some ideas and visual concepts, even if the rational me disagrees with it.
So please, get rid of this image of a historical consultant who just puts it all on a plate while the rest of the team listens to him and then copies the designs from some books. It does not work this way. Each on of us interprets. Even I, when I write or paint or sing, it is MY interpretation of something. This is the main difference between us and early medieval artists - there is never one truth, one reality.
We had an ambition to investigate every detail and to be stricter about that, but we are limited by time, money, and the amount of people engaged in the project. Imagine how many archaeologists and specialists in a particular field (ceramic, medieval paintings, iconology, heating systems) anthropologists, geologists, sociologists etc. would have to work for Warhorse. I know personally how strenuous and time consuming it is to do proper research, analysis, and provide it to others, not-to-metion all the questions and doubts that it causes instead of giving just the answers.
9) How does the community influence your work?
Community makes me jump from happiness and feeds my ulcers to grow in my stomach. It inspires and motivates me to extend my knowledge.
10) Describe your usual day at the studio?
Usually after 4 hours of sleep, good training, travel with metro, and more than 100 steps up to the 5th floor of Forum Karlín, (where Warhorse is located), I enter the office around 7am. As a nocturnal animal, I avoid turning on any lights and I vanish into the darkness of the Art department. Paja is usually already there (our graphic artist), Marty and Matěj and Petr and Radek also arrive early (AI guys and programmers). While I switch on my computer, comb my hair, and get all my stuff from my backpack, I check our current level of happiness, discuss the sorrows (and more) with the early birds. Afterwards, we all go for the first morning coffee/tea/water tank or we get a bowl of cereal or apples.
There are some Warhorsians that are already in the kitchen munching on breakfast, prepared by wonder woman - Mrs Hanka or Lucka, wife of Václav, our video editor.
Then I dive into answering the questions from different departments, translations and I check or read the changes in script, give consultations, while randomly stuffing guys (and buying them) with the cakes I bring. Here and there I fight with my eyelids terribly, wanting to cover my eyes, but thanks to my jolly colleagues jumping, whistling, shouting, sending some messages on skype, asking strange questions, singing and ringing our doorbell, I continue to work until the sun goes down until I feel I can no longer see anything clear or I start speaking Polish.
11) What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on translating a variety of languages, proofreading the scripts, and polishing codex.
12) What are some of your notable accomplishments?
Not killing myself and not killing Dan… or a few others… Colleagues…
Becoming resistible to jokes about vegans, women, Poles.
Having a coat hanger in our artistic cave…
A few other things… like the reconstruction of an architecture in our medieval world, especially the Sazava monastery, the preparation of huge pictures and the text database, making graphics to remove some crazy things. I am also very happy each time some of the concept artists (Simon, Tom, Miki, Milan, Arash and Pavel) use one of my suggestions and then we work on the suggestion together. They are super talented and creative, but also stubborn, so this is an accomplishment!
13) What do you like the most about Kingdom Come: Deliverance?
Being Dr Frankenstein and bringing back something to life… and fireflies!
14) How do you relax after a hard day at work?
I keep myself in motion – I run, I dance, I do HIIT trainings, I walk, I do something out of something old and useless, I play with my cats, sing, paint, read and learn new languages. Occasionally, I bake.
15) Your favourite music playlist?
I have synesthesia, which means when I see a word or hear it I combine it with certain colors, tastes, or sounds. The world around me is very intense. Like, you say “Tuesday” and I hear deep, lower sounds of a bass key and a violet color of letters. Therefore, I like many kinds of tunes just as much as color nuances, from classical music to stoner rock or progressive metal…
16) Your favorite book?
Patrick Süskind “Das Perfume”, Little Nicholas (Le petit Nicolas) series by René Goscinny and all books by Andrzej Sapkowski, Kurt Vonnegut or Filip Springer.
17) What species is your spirit animal?
Fire Tiger and Capricorn. And Panda.
18) How do you like living in the Czech Republic?
The more I travel, the more I appreciate Czech Republic.
19) Knights or Samurai?
Afro Samurai and Panda Samurai for sure.
20) If time-travel would be possible, to which era would you go?
To Ancient Greece - full of sun, art, music, God’s powers, and breakthrough discoveries.
21) What was your favourite subject and your most hated one at school?
I loved everything except for philosophy and have always aimed to be the best at everything. Maths, languages, art, chemistry, geography, music, sports, biology, literature and history, you name it. All top grades. I took part in many competitions, did some projects and just enjoyed learning new stuff. I still do. That is why I am so happy to do what I do.
22) If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
As some of my colleagues already have said, a very big thanks to all of you. Backers, fans, co-workers, advisers… I am glad that not only will you judge the final result, but you will also judge our steps and efforts that we put into this project.
Do you have any questions to Joanna “Asia” Nowak? Just ask here.