December was a pretty crazy month. The first half was consumed by a major deadline at work, so I was in “Super Cthulu Crunch” mode (again) for quite some time. This was mercifully followed by some much-needed vacation time visiting family members out of state, and while I did have my laptop with me, I wasn’t able to spend much time working on Vespers or the blog. So December basically became a short one-month hiatus essentially by default. I know this was difficult for many of you. Apologies and such.
Now that I’m back to the usual routine, it’s time to pick things back up, and there’s plenty of good stuff to talk about — including some hands-on time with a (somewhat) recently released adventure game with some eerily familiar themes. But more on that later.
For now, at least, only a few words on Vespers over the past month.
Despite the lack of production on my end, and despite taking on additional work outside of Vespers, N.R. was able to finish off the last of the LOD (level of detail) work on the monastery complex, which I had talked about earlier. This is kind of a big deal, I’d say, since that represents a lot of work and signals, I believe, the last of the work on the main monastery buildings. There are a few details that need to be added, like some additional decorations and the wooden stairs in each of the towers, but those are objects separate from the buildings themselves. So it might be fair to say that we’re finished modeling the main structures of the monastery complex. That’s pretty cool.
Right now N.R. has turned his attention to some of the interesting 2D artwork, for a change. That includes a new title logo, with a different font and altered blood spot. We’re going to try and do some animation with that blood spot in the intro sequence, but we’ll see how that works out. He’s also working on some new designs for the main menu and the in-game HUD elements, such as the text output window. I’m looking forward to new graphics after looking at the hack job programmer art I slapped together who knows how many years ago.
We’re also looking to try something a little more interesting with the splash screens at the start. Instead of just popping up a couple of static 2D graphic logos to which nobody pays any attention, N.R. thought it might be worth overlaying the logos on top of an appropriate work of art. His excellent choice was The Triumph of Death, a piece by the great Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel (the Elder) from around 1562. Although it’s likely that the macabre content of the piece is more a reflection of the violent history of the Netherlands in the 1560’s than of the plague, the theme is still highly relevant: death is an ever-present threat in the world, and ultimately seizes all men and women, rich and poor alike, and to struggle against this fate is foolish and futile. In one instance, the content was described as “a vision of hell and its forces loosed on earth”(1). Without being too much of a spoiler, it’s quite the fitting selection. Although the painting itself is considered in the public domain, we were fortunately given permission to use a good quality digital reproduction from the Web Gallery of Art (an awesome reference site, by the way).
You can see higher resolution versions of the painting, including detail close-ups, here at the WGoA web site.
The character animation work also slowed down considerably during December for a variety of reasons, so not much new to report on that front. But things are starting back up again, and there should be some new content to work on within the week, I expect.
The next Utah Indie Games night is coming up towards the end of January, only a few weeks away. We were thinking we might have everything from Act I done and ready for that event, although it will be a challenge at this point given the slow progress in December. I’ll need to install the remainder of the animations for Ignatius and replace those for Constantin, and then we would need the entire set of animations created for both Cecilia and Drogo. That would get us a roughly complete Act I, although our plan is also to re-do the animations for Matteo and Lucca before declaring Act I officially complete.
And on one final note, the end of December brings yet another anniversary of sorts: December 30, 2005 was the day I received an e-mail reply from Jason agreeing to a 3D remake of Vespers, which essentially marks the start of this project. Coincidentally, that same day I received an e-mail from N.R. asking about being involved in the creation of the game. So tomorrow marks the three-year anniversary of the start of our development. Three years…wow.
(1) Bruegel’s The Triumph of Death Reconsidered, by Peter Thon, Renaissance Quarterly © 1968 The University of Chicago Press.
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(sneaks in and leaves a lovely bottle of Dom Perignon)