Immersive Landscape: Representation through Gaming Technology
"Soon will come plausible alternatives to our world. You may have failed in this one but what if you had a million new chances in a million different new worlds?”
The course is aimed at investigating new ways to interpret, conceive and describe landscape and architecture. While traditional methods of representation will prevail for some time, they make the cognitive process a one-way circumstance with an “emitter” and a “listener” that barely interact. Game technologies permit the creation of realistic, oneiric, utopian as well as dystopian universes. It is possible to use, disregard, twist, bend or re-invent the laws of physics, the flow of time, the hazards of weather, the perception of depth, but most importantly, it permits absolute freedom.
Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, connections will need to be made through studies of landscape representation in the arts, movies and, not surprisingly, video games. Through the investigation, conception and construction of virtual “altered states” you will amass the techniques required to maturate your ideas from the early stages of preparatory work to the deployment phase, bearing in mind that technical skills matter less than the search for astute and imaginative solutions. Game fabrication should be envisaged as a mental layout where elements have to be structured and formulated in a way that they are not perceived as being intrusive, unless, of course, you want them to be.
Some of the topics covered include: “mastering planning and research”, “Strategies of representations”, “realising a graphic style”, “creating meshes and textures for game engines”, “building nature”, “realistic vs. non realistic approaches”, “sound design”, “navigation and interaction”, “document.write(“Hello World!”)”, “targeting different platforms”, “having fun” –
while it's not exactly technical, it's a fundamental notion that should not be lost, especially when talking about games.
The theme of this year is "Gamma World", a journey into a troubled future built upon mutations and ruins. All we can hope is that the continuum of time can be reversed to avoid its final collapse. Exploring this cataclysmic future end-of-the-world scenario with it’s origins rooted in the context of an 80’s environment, old school with no trace of smart phones or google, instead we find DOS, big hair, breakdance, neon and shoulder pads. Of the most memorable from this period would surely be the sounds, the era of synthesisers and the advent of computer technology.
Our software of choice will be “Unreal", a real time 3D engine serving as industry standard in game world creation and simulation (most of the processes can actually be easily transferred to other engines). “Cinema 4D”, because of its very stable and simple workflow, will be used for most of the 3D operations. Students familiar with other 3D packages are free to use them as a possible replacement. However, the most important tools will be a pencil, a piece of paper and your brain.
You can check https://www.immersivelandscape.org to browse through some sample projects from the last two sessions.
The weekly class will be divided into three parts. The first one will focus on theory, methods, and criticism; the second on the technical, where we will be put into practice what has been already investigated. Finally, the third part will be interviews with selected, relevant guests.
On Tuesdays, attendance will be required from 10 to 12 pm EST. Additionally, 1 hour of asynchronous materials will be made available.
Three intermediate assignments will lead to the final.
Note: the instructor will offer live course presentations on 01/19-01/21. To access the detailed schedule and Zoom links, please visit the <a href="https://www.gsd.harvard.edu/live