We conducted a direct interview with some of our employees. People from all walks of life work at COVER Corporation. What kind of environment do employees work in after joining the company, and what kind of work are they in charge of? We think this interview will be especially interesting for those who are thinking about applying for a job here at COVER. In this interview, we spoke with K and O, who are members of the 2D Art Team, an important element of our Metaverse Business, and a producer from the Metaverse Business Division.
First of all, please introduce yourself and tell us about your work!
K: I am an art director in the 2D Art Team in the Art Design Department, Metaverse Business Division, and I am in charge of designing the original backgrounds and props that are incorporated in games. In my previous job, I worked for a consumer game company for about eight years handling concept art design.
O: Before joining COVER, I worked as both a game designer and a manga artist. I belong to the same team as K, and am mainly in charge of designing avatars in the game. In addition, I also help out with designing enemies and props.
I see that the two of you have quite different roles in the art team!
O: We sometimes consult with each other on props and so on, but we don't work together (on design) so much.
K: We don't have a large 2D Art Team yet, so we have to divide up the workload greatly to make it work. However, we do have a strong ethos of horizontal coordination, so we create designs while sharing ideas and consulting with each other as a team.
By the way, how did you two come to apply for COVER?
K: As for how I came to join COVER, it was partly because I was watching streaming of hololive's performers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but somewhere inside I had the feeling that I wanted to try something new. Then one of my colleagues at the time told me that COVER was looking for an art director. I looked at the website and promotional videos that had been released and found it very exciting, so I was interested and applied for the position.
Had you been thinking about changing jobs at that time?
K: I was thinking more along the lines of if I could find an interesting place to work with new challenges, or something like that.
O: In my previous job, I often developed designs based on manualized methods created by predecessors for existing IP, etc. However, I gradually began to feel that I wanted to take on the challenge of creating something from zero to one in a new environment.
As entertainment industry platforms were diversifying and changing with the times, I was beginning to think that I would like to be involved in this industry. Around this time, I had dinner with an acquaintance who had worked at COVER for some time. He told me the kinds of things he was working on and suggested that I apply for a position.
Of course! You were a referral hire from one of our colleagues, weren't you? I remember I was the one who interviewed you during the selection process.
O: Yes, that's right. At the time, COVER was still looking for core members for Metaverse development, so I wondered if the knowledge and skills I had acquired would be useful there. But at the same time, I wanted to undertake a challenge in a world I didn’t know about. So I guess my reasons for joining COVER were similar to K's.
Is that so, K?
K: I thought that if I were to change jobs, I wanted to work in a place that was producing good products from a creative standpoint, and I was also looking for a place that would provide a format or a springboard for the new challenges that I mentioned earlier.
You both had the desire to create something new, didn't you? Then, is there anything memorable about the interview you underwent in such a context?
K: The producer who was in charge of the interview was good at saying funny things or ....... Maybe I was just easily won over ...... (LOL)
You were easily won over? (LOL)
K: It seemed like a whole lot of fun (LOL). The interview made me feel excited about the prospect of working at COVER.
I wonder if the producer remembers this occasion?
Producer: I remember the interview itself, but I don't remember the details of what I said ...... (LOL)
But I do remember talking about what we were going to make. We didn't have anything finished yet, but .......
I think we were in the process of making a full-size version of the promotional video after the short version was released.
K: I was impressed with the creative content that you showed me during the interview and the direction you gave to them, which was well organized.
I also liked the fact that I could hear the warm laughter of employees coming from outside the interview room. I was hoping to get into a company with some good vibes!
Your day-to-day work
In terms of design, what kinds of things do you usually do?
K: Within the Metaverse Business, there are various projects such as sandbox game development, avatar creation systems, and live performances, etc. The 2D Art Team works across the board on design work related to the entire worldview of the HOLO EARTH world that serves as the foundation for these projects.
O: As long as it is design-related work, I am asked to do anything.
I’ve worked on many projects. For example, when I was approached about designing an original character for a manga, I thought I could make use of the knowledge I had gained from my previous job and asked to be allowed to work on it.
Your motivation for applying for this position was that you wanted to create something new, and you have indeed been able to do this. Do you have a different mindset when designing games versus designing for other media such as manga and anime?
O: In manga, if you put too much information in a panel, such as lines and tones, the reader may find it difficult to read or his/her eyes may get tired, so you have to consider how to simplify good designs for inclusion in manga.
In designing avatars for games, the final output is a 3D model, so you have to carefully examine the colors and information in anticipation of how the costumes will look when output in 3D.
Although there are differences in the output for each project and product, we are conscious of adapting the design to the medium, while keeping the overall direction of the HOLO EARTH IP in mind when creating.
A view inside HOLO EARTH, currently under development
Do you encounter any difficulties in your day-to-day work?
K: I am given free rein in my work, and there are many things I can do, but at the same time, there are many things I have to do.
I usually communicate and consult with the planners and engineers about the work I am responsible for, but I try to keep a good balance myself.
O: In the course of our work, we are still struggling to find ways to improve the quality of games to match or improve on the quality of the various big titles on the market today.
In the midst of such a demanding job, were there any points where you both felt that the skills you developed in the game industry, where you both come from, were put to good use?
O: In my previous job, I had done a wide range of design work, including backgrounds, characters, and props, so that kind of experience helped me get right down to business when I joined the company.
K: I had been making 3D action games for a long time, so I think I have been able to make use of the logical thinking I learned in game production. I also draw the background design, which is similar to level design, such as the game's lead lines.
What is a typical work day like for the two of you?
K: I start at 10:00 a.m., which is the beginning of the workday. I check my email, respond to mentions and things that need checking in Slack, and reply to communications, after which I may start my work or participate in regular meetings with programmers and planners.
O: There are many times when meetings are set up to discuss work in process and proceed from there. Although I have set duties that I am in charge of, they are not set on a day-to-day basis.
Word is that COVER employees have a pretty tough time answering questions about their daily routine...... (LOL)
K: Yes! There are also times when meetings come up unexpectedly while we are working...... (LOL)
There are also employees who are in charge of overseeing the progress production, so we coordinate with them regarding the content and schedule of work. However, it is important to manage your own workload by setting aside time assuming that there will be consultations and other such matters.
Are there any aspects of your current work that you find particularly rewarding?
K: Since this is the initial start-up phase of the project, everything is not "just do this or do that." Rather, I am able to commit myself to various tasks and express my opinions. Therefore, I find it rewarding to be in an environment where my creative work is directly reflected in the project.
O: There is a tendency (in other design work, too) to designate tasks to people who can do anything and have them do it. If a person's area of expertise can be applied within the world of HOLO EARTH, we often ask him/her to actively work on a design related to that field.
I personally want to design more and more. Once, people saw a small doodle of the design I drew and told me they liked it, which was later adopted in the game requirements. It is a very rewarding environment where the more you do, the more you get out of it.
K: Of course, there is a condition that the work must be done as much as the schedule allows, but since there are no strict rules or formats on site, it is easy for us to reflect the parts we are particular about.
You mentioned just now that you usually communicate with people from other industries. What is the atmosphere like in the company and in your team?
K: There are no partitions in the office seating area, and people in various positions are walking by here and there, so I often talk about things other than work when someone comes to talk to me. Sometimes those conversations evolve into “I'd love to do that,” and sometimes I just cut to the chase.
O: COVER has specific days where we have to come to work, so when I get stuck on a design, I try to pick the brains of colleagues on the days I come in to work.
Producer: I think COVER's way of doing things allows everyone to switch on and off well. For example, when I am in the office I can talk to my team members openly because they are seated close to me, but when I want to knuckle down and focus without any distractions, I can work remotely. I was expecting more employees to say that they didn't want to come into the office or that kind of talk, but surprisingly, there are many people who actually come into work on a whim.
K: COVER's working environment makes it easier to do your job, right?
O: Basically, we want to communicate with each other on the job, and it is easier to develop a conversation when we meet in person than when we talk remotely.
So talking face-to-face is quite important in your work.
K: Yes, it's especially important when you want to convey your passion for something.
Producer: Even if people talk to me in person in the same manner as when I talk to them during remote meetings, I can sometimes sense from their faces that they seem to want to do something or that they are not enthusiastic about it, and I appreciate that kind of information which one can only get through physical interaction.
There have been quite a few times when I thought I had gathered the relevant people for a remote meeting, only to find that I actually did not invite the people who were involved.
In other cases, when contacting people, I have had to worry about whether or not they noticed my chat message or read it, but when we are in close proximity physically, I can check the status of the person I am reaching out to right away, which is more efficient.
Also, when I come to work and talk about business in a corner of the office, the necessary people quickly join the conversation, resulting in an organic flow of participants.
COVER's employees really do sit close to their bosses, don't they?
K: I think the fact that we are seated close to people in high positions is one of the best things about this company.
Producer: In addition to myself, the CTO, who is the head of our division, is seated right next to me, and the office is designed in such a way that there is little sense of hierarchy in the corporate organization. Those of us working in creative fields want to value the opinions of professionals, and although there may be times when we do not agree with our superiors' comments or policies, we try to have level discussions at such times. Even when I say that I want to do something, other directors will offer their frank comments, saying, “Are you sure you're okay with that?”
In such an environment, people who can actively communicate are likely to fit in well with the team.
K: That's right. Of course there are limits (LOL), but to some extent we are able to express our opinions without reservation.
O: Rather than being hesitant about what you want to do, or being reserved just because you are new, I think you will be able to work more comfortably if you can show people what you want to create in a positive manner.
Producer: Of course, even for those who are not good communicators, we try to be concerned about whether they are accomplishing what they want to do as much as possible.
We think of the things that fans are happy to see being made by people who want to make them, and we also believe that we are a company with a large proportion of people who are both creators and users.
We want to make things that these people think are interesting. On the other hand, we also take care not to go too far in a direction that can only be understood by experts. Even so, there is no need to be reserved when voicing your opinions, and if you don't think something is interesting, you can feel free to think it's dangerous! I and my superiors take great care to make sure that the workplace is a fun place for employees to unleash their creativity.
K: I think the company is very sincere in taking this kind of view.
Are there any aspects of working with the team structure you have described that you feel are necessary?
O: Basically, you need to have an attitude of being able to pursue what you like. In terms of work, I think it is good to have the ability to not just do the work assigned to you, but to think through designs that are applicable to the current and future eras, and to be proactive in brushing up your skills.
K: I suppose it would be to not hesitate to search for what you think is the right answer in your mind. Of course, COVER looks for employees with certain qualities, but if you read this article and think a technique of yours could be useful, even if just a little, then you should jump in and show what you have to offer.
There are people who apply to COVER from industries other than video games and animation, fields which people probably associate most with what we do.
Please let us know what you would like to undertake as members of the 2D Art Team in the future.
K: Holoearth is a project that is really expandable and can encompass many different things, so if there is an opportunity to implement mini-games such as mahjong or card games in addition to sandbox games, for example, I would like to design the things used in those games. When people feel a little tired after playing the game for a long time, they can get together and.......
And play again, this time mini games in HOLO EARTH. (LOL)
K: It would be nice if everyone can spend all day in there. (LOL) Other than that, I would also like to be involved in the design of HOLO EARTH related goods when they are offered at events.
O: I believe that one of the roles of the Art Team is to be the ones to motivate the development team members with a single design.
To this end, I would like to keep my eyes and ears open to the techniques of our predecessors and current trends, constantly updating our designs, and improving the worldview of HOLO EARTH. In the process, I would like to develop a variety of in-house productions that the 2D Team can handle, such as the design of goods.
How would you try to convince someone you think would fit in at COVER that it is the perfect place for them?
K: I would point to the fact that, as a company that operates not only in Japan but also globally, COVER is able to create products that reach people all over the world. In fact, we aim to create products that will resonate with such people.
O: I would emphasize the fact that we are able to create something from zero to one. Here at COVER, if you have an idea for the ultimate design, just propose it. The more ideas you put forward, the more likely they are to be adopted.
K: I think it is great that the company has a creator-first environment that does not compromise on quality and is willing to create large-scale products, including games, for the world.
In fact, COVER is sometimes asked by people who work in the gaming industry whether it is actually possible for them to move into this industry......
K: The fact that this company is making full-fledged games does not yet seem to be widely recognized, which I feel is a great shame.
The people working in this business are quite passionate about what they do and it is an easy environment for creators to work in. COVER is most recognized at the moment for its performer production business, but should those who are considering applying to work here necessarily be fans of these performers or follow their activities?
K: I have heard that within the company the balance is about 50-50 depending on the department, but it is better to know something than to know nothing, and if liking something motivates you, so much the better.
O: That's exactly how it was with me. Before I applied, I did not have any deep awareness of
these performers, but was more interested in how to create games in the Metaverse. When I started watching videos by these performers, I found them interesting, which further motivated me to apply.
K: The more you possess something along the lines of the spirit of a fan, the more likely it is to act as an additional asset in your work.
Are there any issues or areas you recognize as lacking in your division or team?
K: We have several projects running, so we would like to have people on board who can look at our business broadly as project managers. We are still short of specialists for each department.
Do you do anything to improve your personal skills or anything else in your design work?
K: In order to create a better worldview and background, I think you need to see and understand various values before you can convey their merits to others. I don't get out much because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I try to visit museums and bookstores frequently.
O: In order to create reality in the world of the Metaverse, I believe it is important to focus on the details of props. When it comes to this detail, I am limited only by my own knowledge, so I think it is important to be familiar with various cultures and to have a large number of sources from which to draw inspiration.
K: I am careful not to compromise too easily, saying, "That's good enough."
O: I research the history of even a single object. Understanding the context and background information and putting it into the design makes it more persuasive as an expression.
K: However, the more I research, the more I tend to get caught up in the idea of "this is the way it should be," so I am careful not to put too much emphasis on that. It is not pleasant or cool to follow the real thing too closely.
You are developing a sense and balance in capturing and expressing things. It's more like a calm self or a user's perspective.
O: There are times when I go off the rails. I once let my avatar's muscles get too beefy, and I got stopped in my tracks from many quarters. (LOL)
K: The more I learn about anatomy and the like, the more I want to include lines and such. However, I want to convey the message that, when it comes to muscles, I am all-knowing. (LOL)
O: Since 2D-like or anime-like expressions are the direction we were aiming for, we searched for a way to keep the lines that did not match such tastes. I would say, "This line still makes it look muscular. ......" After careful examination, I would decide whether to leave the lines or not.
K: I had the impression that we were doing something more challenging than simply creating something geared toward realism.
Last but not least, is there anything you would like to share with those who are thinking of applying for a position in the 2D Art Team?
O: Frankly speaking, I get the sense that many people currently feel unsure about what it is to create a Metaverse and tend to second-guess it.
However, all Metaverse creators around the world are themselves still inexperienced. As a team and a company, we are creating products while talking excitedly about what would make people happy, so I don't think you should hesitate too much when applying for a job.
K: I believe that this is a workplace where you can easily feel that you are making the product better through your own efforts. I encourage those who want to test their abilities and those who are looking for a chance to do something new to apply.
Thank you for your time today!
How was the interview?
The Metaverse Business Division is currently developing a Metaverse project called HOLO EARTH, in which users will be able to experience various contents by incorporating our female VTuber group hololive in a virtual space, a world they appear in in our otherworldly creation project hololive Alternative.
We look forward to receiving applications from people in a variety of professions who would like to help us continue to provide better entertainment to the world.
If you are interested in working with us, please take a look here!
Now, I would like to thank the producer, K and O, for their cooperation in this long interview.
And thank you to everyone who has stayed with us to the very end!