The English edition of the storytelling game Co-Mix, published and distributed by Ares Games, is now starting to hit the stores, and it’s time to get to know the author of this imaginative, fun and easy to play game: the Italian game designer Lorenzo Silva, 33 years old.

Lorenzo was the co-founder of the game publisher Cranio Creations in 2009. He published games like Dungeon Fighter, in 2011, and Steam Park, in 2013, with this brand. In January 2014 he sold his share of the company to found Horrible Games, which published Co-Mix and Potion Explosion. In his free time, Lorenzo defines himself as an “expert” in horror movies; he watches every film of this genre, from the masterpieces to z-movies!

The game designer Lorenzo Silva, author of Co-Mix.

The game designer Lorenzo Silva, author of Co-Mix.

Ares Games (Ares): When did you start to play board games? Which were your first favorite games?

Lorenzo Silva (LS): I started when I was a child. I used to play with my parents, my friends, and my grandfather. I liked it, but it was just one hobby out of many. The turning point came during a summer I spent at my grandmother's house in the mountains, when a friend's elder brother brought a newly purchased copy of Talisman... BOOM! Mind blown. After every lunch we ran to my friend's place and waited for his elder brother and his friends to stop playing... so we could play! It was an amazing summer.

Ares: How did you start to design games? At which point did you decide to move from player to game author?

LS: When I was studying at the university, I also had a part-time job in a game shop in downtown Milan. I was not much into board games at that time. I mostly played miniature games and roleplaying games. I had the chance to receive part of my salary as merchandise, so I started to buy some board games, and my love for them started to bloom again! I had a colleague, during dead times we started to create really stupid games, mostly by distorting the rules of games we already knew. Sometimes, we showed them to some of our customers who, against all odds, had a lot of fun! From there, it was a short step: I liked to create and tinker with game mechanics, I knew some of the behind-the-scenes rules of the market, and studying started to become really difficult, because my mind was always circling around game ideas... it just had to become my job!

Ares: Are you a full time game designer, or do you create your games as a hobby/free time job?

LS: I'm mostly a game publisher, actually, or more precisely, I make a living with my work as publisher, not as game author... That said, it is a bit tough; however, making games is a full-time job! Sadly, it is much more similar to a regular job than people might imagine, and it requires much more time than I actually have... I've not been going on holiday for two years now!!!

Ares: Which are the major references in your work – literature, movies, games?

LS: I'm into many things: comics, movies (mostly cheap horror movies!), videogames, books, music... and I try to stay updated on everything, but as I already said, time is lacking. So, what I mostly focus on is good fantasy fiction (in the broad sense of the term, horror, superheroes, fairy tales...), whatever form it may take: comics, books, videogames... I particularly like storytelling and plot twists. I don't know if this is an influence on my game designing process, probably. Yes. Probably, what I try to do with my games is to find unexpected twists in mechanics or components.

Ares: How about your creative process? Do you use to start with a theme or with the mechanics?

LS: It depends, I've done both in the past. I prefer to start with a theme, and to search mechanics that reproduce the aspects I'd like more of... but I have to say, in the end, most of the time, I just have the idea of a weird mechanic, and then I have to find a fitting theme for it, something that doesn't look like an afterthought... and that's not an easy thing!

The funny storytelling game Co-Mix.

The funny storytelling game Co-Mix.

Ares: How often do you play games? What kind of games are your favorite as a player?

LS: I play board games once or twice a week. We have a weekly game night that takes place at the Horrible Games studio (our girlfriends fondly nicknamed it "The Nerds' Night"). Once a month we roleplay; a very important event! Roleplaying games take the biggest chunk of my heart. To placate my gaming abstinence, sometimes I also play videogames. I also have to do a lot of playtesting, of course, but I can't enjoy them like a regular gaming session, most of the times they feel like torture sessions! 🙂

Ares: Do you enjoy playing your own games after they are published?

LS: Yes, but I have to wait some time after their development has been completed to start enjoying them again... a lot of time, actually! 🙂

Ares: Looking to the games you have designed, do you have a favorite? Which one and why?

LS: Ah, that's a though one! I love them all, in their own different way. If I really had to choose, I would probably say Horse Fever... it's my first game, and albeit its naivety, it's a really crazy game, just how I like them!

Ares: Are you now working on one or more new games? Can you talk about any upcoming project(s)?

LS: I'm working on many, too many, projects! As a game publisher I'm now focusing on games by other authors. I want to take time to work on some very big and complex designs I have in mind. I'm working on a really strange survival horror game. It's very different from all the games I've done until now. I'm also working on a deduction party game, a strategic game with a very peculiar twist, and many more... But I need time, and I need to not have Essen 2016 as the deadline for their publishing or I risk doing things in a hurry (which is always detrimental to the final quality of a game). That's why, more and more I'm cooperating with other game designers for the creation and development of games. Ah, I'm also working on a "digital" project!

Ares: Any advice for people wanting to become a game designer?

LS: Don't fall in love with your game. Always question everything; it can always be made better. Trust whoever says it's not working, not those screaming it's a masterpiece. And playtest, playtest, playtest... with your grandma, if needed!

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