Video: The Dream Machine: A video game made of clay

Most game artists are used to working with pixels and polygons, but what do you do when you're an artist just getting into development? If you're like Anders Gustafsson and Erik Zaring, you make your game out of clay.
Most game artists are used to working with pixels and polygons, but what do you do when you're an artist just getting into development? If you're like Anders Gustafsson and Erik Zaring, you make your game out of clay. Earlier this year, this pair of animators-turned-developers released The Dream Machine, an unusual point and click adventure game based almost entirely on stop-motion animation. It was the team's first attempt at a game of their own, and at this year's GDC Europe, they looked back on the project to explain how their artistic backgrounds helped bring the title to life. Both Gustafsson and Zaring had worked for years in traditional animation, and several years ago the pair decided to try something a bit out of their comfort zone. They wanted to create a video game, but without any formal training in game development, they decided to leverage their expertise and make all of its visuals by hand. "The decision to make a game by hand wasn't much of a decision for me, because I don't really know how to do anything else but make things out of clay and cardboard," Zaring joked. With Zaring in charge of the sculpting, the pair crafted all of the game's sets, characters, and objects by hand, and used the game development knowledge they had to stitch it all together into a single, cohesive, whole. Looking back, Gustafsson believes this approach really gave The Dream Machine its own signature style. "We really liked the tangible, dirty look you get when you do things by hand... We sometimes had to Photoshop [the backgrounds] obviously, but we tried to be as disciplined as we could about not Photoshopping our environments too much because otherwise you quickly lose the realness of the scene," Gustafsson added. Throughout their presentation, Gustafsson and Zaring went in-depth to explore exactly how their clay-based adventure game took shape, and you can check out their talk in full by watching the above video, courtesy of the GDC Vault.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC and GDC Europe already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription Beta via a GDC Vault inquiry form. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can send an email to Gillian Crowley. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins. Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from upcoming 2012 events like GDC Online and GDC China. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.

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