A lot of to-do lists, sketches, pseudo UML diagrams, visual ideas, doodles etc. to jot down over the years. These are the Mundaun notebooks. I always have one open in front of me when developing.
To accentuate the hand-pencilled aesthetic of Mundaun, some 2D visual effects are animated frame-by-frame. In this case, it is a painting by Giovanni, the sinister artist of Mundaun. The things he paints seem to become reality.
The process: An initial pencil drawing is scanned. Parts of the drawing are then erased and redrawn for the next frame, which is then also scanned. This is repeated for all the frames. This process has the advantage that only part of the image has to be redrawn and the smudged quality of the resulting sequence also perfectly fits how a painter would move paint around on a canvas.
The images are then alternated in quick succession in the Unity engine, resulting in the painting coming to life.
Visual inspiration is vital to create the world of Mundaun with its many details. While looking through an old book with beautiful photos of chapels, a focused ray of morning light came through the studio window. I took some photos of the pages and in some of them, it almost seems that the ray is part of the image…
In Mundaun, the player is able to drive a Muli. It’s a hay loader vehicle that collects hay that has been scattered across the hills. The Muli is a means of transport to get to different sections of the mountainous world but also a loyal companion to the player. For example, if the vehicle is lost or unreachable, you can recall it with a small toy version from your inventory. It will flash its lights to guide you to it.
I’ve been working on making the Muli more interesting and dynamic. It now has a radio, which will play all the songs you have discovered and collected from radios across the game world. Those collectable songs are only one of many things that motivate the player of Mundaun to explore thouroughly and have a peek in every building and corner. When entering the Muli, hay fork and rifle are stashed on the hood of the vehicle and hung behind the player. Where you go, your tools go.
Another thing I have added to the Muli is a gauge that shows how full the hay compartment is, so the player can see how much more he has to collect. I had this neat idea, that the needle of the display is a miniature Muli that will slide over a background of hay and seem to get fuller and fuller (left). It’s fine when looked at from close but doesn’t really work in the context of the game as it lacks quick readability. I went with a much clearer design (right) that is readable at a glance while the player mostly has to concentrate on driving the Muli.
A time-lapse of drawing the textures for the hay gauge.
A small extra video: I love how sinister the Muli looks with its headlights on in the dark. The radio is backlit and provides some musical comfort in these dark times.
I’m obsessed with details. They make a game world believable and real, no matter how out there it otherwise is. I’m especially fond of coming up with fictional brands. This is an ammo box for Mundaun of the brand “Drei Herren”, which roughly translates to three gents. As ammo should be sparse, one box only contains three bullets. Hence the name.
The chapel was one of the first buildings created for Mundaun. See how it came into the game from life via pencil drawing and 3D model.
A lot of the objects, buildings, vehicles in Mundaun are inspired or based on real-life things. I made thousands of photos scouting different places in the Swiss alps. Based on this personal photographic library and many more images from historic archives and books, I create the world of Mundaun one detail at a time.
With the textures for Mundaun all being hand-drawn, it is sometimes tricky to get everything in the drawing in the right place so that it ends up on the 3D model where it should be. That’s why I usually do a first rough pass, scan it and see where it lands on the 3D model. I can then use that feedback as I continue pencilling the texture. This multi-pass texturing process is especially valuable on organic non-flat forms, as it can be a bit difficult to get your head around where this or that cloth fold will end up, when looking at a printed UV-Map. That said, it helps that the pencilled textures are drawn in a quite painterly fashion, which makes them quite tolerant when mapping them the model.
I’m quite fond of the way a model looks with only the first rough sketch applied.
The Swiss online video portal arttv.ch did a short (german) piece on Mundaun and how it is made.
I’m trying to integrate the environment for dealing with unfriendly mountain creatures. In this case, the chair lift assists the escape of the player from the hayman. They are seemingly not that technology-savy. Probably, where they come from there are no chair lifts… Maybe another enemy type will be able to ride the chair lift? These are attempts to make the game world of Mundaun feel alive and interactive.