Lumino City_An Enigma of Animated Objects and Buildings
Catrina Stewart & State of Play Games
Lumino City is an entirely handmade enigma adventure game recorded through stop motion camera. It features Lume as its main character and follows her in an epic adventure and a hunt for Grandad after his dramatic kidnap.
Interview with Catrina Stewart
Who influences you graphically?
Most of my library is populated by comic books and graphic novels, from Heath Robinson and his wonderful contraptions, machines and inventions to Rebecca Dautramer and her beautifully painted stories. We often trawled through online archives of inventions for which the patents have now expired; you find incredible drawings of instruments and instruction manuals here. We are also big fans of 50’s magazine adverts and post war posters which provided us with a palette of colours and inspiration for many of the manuals and games in Lumino City.
You mentioned Lumino city’s aesthetics as being developed as a response to Italian villages, how influential is your surrounding environment when it comes to designing?
There is no doubt that Italy and it’s amazing array of small mountain villages and the richness of colours and architecture are a big inspiration for me and some of the designs for the models in the game. I spent most of my childhood living in a tiny medieval mountain village in Tuscany called Sassetta, perched on the edge of a cliff, much like the mountain village in the centre of Lumino City.
How was the musical aspect developed in relation to the journey of Lume and the atmosphere you wanted to establish?
Luke Whittaker: ‘I created the original score for the prequel game Lume, and then when Ed from the Brighton band GAPS came on board we decided that this encapsulated the atmosphere of the city, and it suited the gameplay too. It was melodic enough to have an identity, yet sparse enough not to distract the player from playing the game. Ed brilliantly took the feel of it and created an entire score for every place in the city, often taking inspiration from the physical architecture in the scene to make his sounds. For example, in the cyclist’s house where he has a bike track suspended in the sky, Ed used a sampled bike chain moving to create the beat. At the end, all the themes come together, creating a climbing track which creates just the right kind of tension needed, and one which suits the fact that you’re climbing to the very top of this epic city.’
Are there any movies, books and/or video games, which you looked at when creating Lume and her world?
Wes Anderson films and other games such as Limbo and Machinarium were a big inspiration. Technically we took a lot of inspiration from films as well, the use of a motion control camera for example, which is often used in films but as far as we knew, not in games. This camera rig used in films such as Aliens or other model based animations where the movement of the camera needed to be precisely controlled just like in Lumino City, allowed us to understand that this way of making a game might be possible. For each space and models we had different sources of inspiration, some came from exhibitions, some from books and online archives and some from everyday life experiences. I’m an avid collector of toys and strange objects, these populate my shelves in my studio and home, and often appear in projects that I am working on.
For Lumino City your were designing through models, do you adopt a similar approach even within your ‘architecture’ projects?
Models are an intrinsic part of every project I do, they allow me to touch and see the spaces that I am designing in 3 dimensions in a way that I am not able to achieve through drawing. Many of the spatial and material decisions I make are made during the process of making the models, often due happy accidents. I also love how accessible models are, clients are often able to understand and read them in a way that they often are not able to do with drawings or 3D model computer renders.
Whilst the set inhabits our realm, Lume is ‘computer generated’, what is the reason and effect of this choice?
Many of the techniques and tools we used for the game came from the world of cinema, however, when adapting the film of the model set into a game we came up against many challenges that the small team at State of Play had to overcome. The main reason why Lume was computer generated was because of the way we filmed the model, we chose to film in real time rather than using stop motion animation. This meant that everything that moved in the game set had to move in real time, we had to use motors to move buildings in the set such as the Light House Wind Mill and the Park Washing Wheel scenes, but this wouldn’t have been possible with the character itself.
How important is the art of sketching to the development process of a project?
I sketch most days, sometimes little notes on the side of a piece of paper, sometimes a drawing that takes a lot longer and I might revisit numerous times throughout a project. I always have my sketchbook at hand, and once it is complete I carefully file it so that I can go back to it in later years. Sketchbooks allow me to think through ideas, write and sketch thoughts that come to me at any time of the day or night Most of them useless but every now and again there is one that I keep and it helps me carry on developing the project that I am working on.
Catrina is a cofounder and partner at Office S&M, an architectural design studio based in London. She splits her time between teaching, practice and play. She was a lead designer, architect and model maker for the computer game Lumino City which, amongst other awards, won a BAFTA in 2015 for ‘Artistic Achievement’, as well as being nominated for ‘Best British Game’ and ‘Most Innovative’ FINALIST.
She is a Teaching Fellow at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL and an Associate Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University. She has previously taught in ESA in Paris along side Sir Peter Cook in his studio.
Catrina’s work explores the social, cultural and architectural implications of existing and new technologies, and the increasing need for cities to find alternative ways of expanding. Her work is driven by the need to express the materiality, colour and richness in the details of the everyday.
She is a founding member of the collective STORE, with whom she works with on community projects.
State of Play
State of Play creates lovingly crafted games & animations. Established in 2008, State of Play’s work has won a number of international awards.
Headed by Luke Whittaker, who mostly does the art, design and animation, co-founder Katherine Bidwell and developer Daniel Fountain, they’re a small team who love what they do. When possible they work with people from all over the creative industries.
They recently released Lumino City, a hand-crafted puzzle adventure game made from paper, card, and miniature lights and motors and it won a BAFTA for Artistic Acheivement.