Escape Studios have just completed a project for the British Library’s latest exhibition, Alexander The Great, The Making of a Myth.
This was a fantastic opportunity for our students and graduates to be able to work in collaboration with The British Library and create an interactive map detailing the mythical stories of Alexander The Great.
The project was created with Unreal Engine in the Escape Pod Incubator, our internal studio which aims to provide opportunities for our students and graduates to work with external clients, and gain experience in software development. The Escape Pods are also used for internal research, special projects and are part of the School of Interactive and Realtime
For this particular project we had a mix of 2nd year students working along side UG and Mart Graduates. This proved to be a great opportunity to help our students and graduates push our studio based practice to new levels.
The Ebstorf map is a medieval map of the world which highlighted the mythical journey and adventures of Alexander The Great throughout his lifetime. The experience is designed to allow the user to be able to navigate across the map, allowing you to be able to view the beautifully detailed imagery and click on selectable areas and reveal details about the locations and creatures that inhabited this mythical space.
The interactive map has fifteen clickable points of interest, an eclectic mix of buildings, strange landmarks, and characters, which when selected prompts a small 3D model to pop up with text and a voice recording, presenting details associated with the area.
The 3D models needed to be treated in the same art style of the Ebstorf Map. The medieval art style, which some may consider naïve or simplistic proved to be an interesting challenge, in terms of translating its qualities into 3D geometry, whilst sympathetically aligning it to the 2D look and feel of the map.
Team & Organisation
The British Library’s Yrja Thorsdottir, Digital Content Exhibition Curator, was our client and gave us direction and feedback throughout the development process.
Simon Fenton, Dean of Interactive and Realtime led the project, with
support from Escape Tutors Gregorio Piscitelli, who created the Unreal Engine interactive map template, Christian Avigni, Philip Meredith and Kevin Nally, who aided with photogrammetry, broad support and feedback.
The team consisted of 6 Escape students and graduates. The 3D prop artists that created the map assets and props, comprised of 2nd year Game Art Students, Giselle Camacho and Anand Shukla as well as 3rd year graduates Deanna Gow and Alex Tang. Alex also became the voice of the project and recorded all the point of interest audio information.
MArt graduate Tommy Hallam was an environment artist and animator. In practice due to the flat hierarchy of the team everyone ended up doing a little bit of animation and everyone contributed at a generalist level. MArt Graduate Lee Smith-Anderson, was the Technical Artist. Lee utilised the template created by Escape Tutor Gregorio and worked with blueprints for navigation, systems, and map interactions.
Escape Pod and Knowledge Exchange Outcomes
Creating this interactive experience allowed us to test out our new machines and incubator space, in terms of knowledge sharing and studio-based learning. It was beneficial to have a mix of tutors, students and graduates, the value of having two 2nd year students on the team meant they can take the experience and knowledge into the 3rd year, where they will be working on two group projects, VR (Virtual Reality) and the final project.
For the graduates, it provided a valuable experience before moving into their full time employment at companies such as, XR games, Free Radical and Firefly Studios.
For us tutors it afforded us the opportunity to test new approaches that we can take back into the class and help inform our teaching.