In the video game world of Harold Halibut, 100 years ago, in the 1970s, the Fedora I spacecraft left earth in hopes of finding a new planet for humanity to inhabit. Poor planning and silly disputes amongst the crew led them to crash-land on a faraway water planet, leaving a small community of colonist marooned aboard a fully submerged ship. But this is only the backdrop—Slow Bros, the production house behind the new game, used detailed miniature models and 3D programming to create a modern gaming experience with the visual feel of stop-motion animation. Think Wallace and Gromit meets BioShock.
Gamers play as Harold, a janitor and lab assistant who works with his boss, one of the ship's leading scientists, to figure out a way to relaunch the Fedora I. Your mission, however, is perpetually interrupted by different interest groups on board the ship, as well as the bizarre happenings that go on in the mysterious world outside.
This team of game designers, carpenters, and illustrators have built an extensive, fully explorable world that gives players real-time control over analog character movements and interactions. Everything you see, from the characters' clothes to the ship's rusted furniture, was designed, cut, sewn, and painted by hand. The designers at Slow Bros employed a number of sculpting and set building tools, as well as clay and puppet fabrication techniques, to create this effect. After each set was built, it was 3D-scanned through a process called photogrammetry, which involves taking pictures of each object from every angle.
Ole Tillmann, one of the game's art directors and writers, says, "There's something about working with your hands that just can't be replicated by using a computer. We wanted the feeling of traditional stop-motion films and still benefit from the sheer infinite possibilities you might get by putting stuff into the digital world. Unfortunately the process is a bit more complicated than that." Creating a modern video game experience that incorporates both digital and analog elements has proven to be incredibly labor intensive and costly; so the Slow Bros studio recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project until it is complete. Check out their campaign video, and actual in-game footage, below:
Learn more about the Harold Halibut here, and check out more projects by Slow Bros on their website.
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