Collaborative Team Spotlight – “Titanic: Honor and Glory”
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The broken model is finally being pieced back together.
“I was probably three or four when I first became interested [in Titanic] …after playing with a broken model my dad built, and trying to piece it back together. I didn’t know what it was—it was nothing more than a puzzle for me. Then I started looking at books and pictures of what it really was, seeing Ken Marschall’s painting, and learning there was a story behind this little, plastic model...”
A year ago, I watched the sinking of the RMS Titanic in real-time. No, I’m not a time-traveler (unfortunately). I’m on the Internet, and on the Internet a person can find the most extraordinary things…like a real-time video of the most infamous sinking in history--a 3-D ship colliding with an iceberg; facts of the actions taken by the crew and passengers written across the screen, documenting events at the times they took place; two hours and forty minutes later, screams are heard, and that grand vessel…is gone.
The video was created and uploaded to YouTube by the people behind Titanic: Honor and Glory, a computer game currently under development by a collaborative team consisting of members scattered across the U.S. The video, with over 18 million views, only widened universal appeal to a project that’s been underway for almost two years. “It’s a project that evolved from many different things, culminating into where we are now,” comments Tom Lynskey, the director and co-founder of the game. Lynskey is also in charge of coordinating logistics, team members, and communicating with the team’s outside partners. “My friends were initially building digital models of the Titanic—one friend working on interior spaces, [the other] on exterior. Together, we decided to combine them into a game project, and I would set a story to it and try to get it produced.” The friends are Matt DeWinkeleer, in charge of accounting and legal, as well as modeling the ship’s interior, and Kyle Hudak, who programs the engine, models the exterior of the ship, and inputs DeWinkeleer’s interior.
Certainly not the first Titanic computer game of its time, most gamers will be quick to say they’ve seen their share of the event, as well as people trying to profit off the misfortune. However, Titanic: Honor and Glory wishes to do much more. “We don’t simply throw the player on the ship when it’s sinking; we show the entire voyage…the player [begins] in England, and travels to the ship through Southampton, and builds an understanding of the world of 1912 in [its] proper context.”
The effort demonstrates the growing possibilities in the field of computer gaming for filmmakers, programmers, voice actors, and writers alike. The success and appeal of this game could start a true shift in the seriousness given to those working on projects like Titanic: Honor and Glory.
Based on the demos and walk-throughs showcased so far, the ambitious project is looking to be one of the most accurate portrayals of the Titanic, its voyage, and sinking. This dedication to the events and real people who sailed and perished is the true goal of the creators. “We want [the audience] to respect Titanic a little more, to learn about the non-fictional people who were onboard, and be inspired by the stories of heroism and the sense of responsibility lost in today’s culture. I want them to feel an interest in the ship…and history in general.” But the amount of effort put into passengers and a ship that sailed only once (and over a century ago) takes more than three individuals. “We do have [many] people participating outside the country: modelers in the UK, Australia, Spain, and Philippines, as well as contributing historians from the UK, Germany, and Switzerland…artists in France and Australia, and our musician is from Canada. Some are personal friends who we dragged into working with us, some applied for jobs, and we liked their portfolios. We’re quite satisfied with the team we have now, but we are excited to grow further!”
However, the journey has been anything but smooth. Titanic: Honor and Glory has no definitive release date, and there is still much funding to be obtained. The team relies on investors and public donations to use the best programs available to give Titanic and the town of Southampton the best quality. Also, collaborative work, while rewarding, does have it setbacks. While individual team members set weekly and monthly goals, each one has other commitments: day jobs, family, and differing time zones play a major factor in when work on the game can reasonably be accomplished. Luckily, after over two years of working together, most of the basic problems have been settled, making the benefits of collaborative work shine through, such as working with the top Titanic historians, modelers, and artists in the field. These benefits have created astounding results Lynskey is excited for the public to see. “I’m really looking forward to users seeing things they thought they knew, but didn’t quite fully understand…and teaching exactly why Titanic didn’t have enough lifeboats, or exactly what it meant to be in Third, First, or Second Class and Crew. People think they know the full story of what happened, but really, there’s so much more to know in order to understand it all.”
Since the release of the real-time sinking video, the team has continually uploaded demos of the game, even going as far as to dive into an additional real-time video of another famous sinking, Titanic’s sister ship, the HMHS Britannic. But top priority is always the game. Lynskey is especially passionate about wanting users to respect the history of Titanic more, and learn about the actual stories of the people onboard. “We are also making this project as an interactive memorial to the Titanic’s passengers and crew. It’ll be a rough game at the end; tragic and difficult for some to play. We want the user to step away silent, having felt a great empathy and reverence for what happened in the middle of the night in the middle of the Atlantic.”
The passion is apparent as many Titanic enthusiasts have reach out to the team, offering funding, or just moral support, in its endeavors. Titanic has always been a fixation in society. There’s something about this story that will never die. Now the boy who once did his best to fix a broken model may finally have a hand in placing the final piece.
“I have my other passions, but I just can’t seem to get away from this ship.”
Keep up-to-date on the team’s progress by following them on Facebook and YouTube for the latest developments. With the 105th anniversary of the sinking coming up on April 15, I’m sure the team will have another great update to share with fans.
If you’d like to donate to their extraordinary project, visit their website: http://www.titanichg.com/