Lords, Ladies, Villeins and all the rest, welcome to our bi-weekly blog post! A little change from Under The Yoke development as last weekend I had the honour of attending Coding Medieval Worlds 3, a yearly workshop for historians and game developers to get together and discuss the representation of history in games.
This year the focus was on Landscapes and Backgrounds and I thought it might be fun to share some insights from the convention for those of you who are historically inclined.
Kicking off the session was a panel on Medievalisms and Soundscapes which explored how sound and music can aid in the creation of medieval aesthetics and environments. The panel also discussed whether we can challenge or change how games present the sounds of pseudo-medieval environments. The panelists included Clio Montrey, an opera singer, composer, writer, and musician who produces games at Microbird, and Mariana López, a professor at the University of York whose work focuses on historical soundscapes and the use of sound design for visually impaired audiences.
The Keynote of the day was by Tanya X. Short from Kitfox games discussing the potentials for procedural generation in historical game design and building game worlds inspired by the past.
We kicked off the second day with a panel on Representing Medieval Space. The panelists, who came from diverse backgrounds in archaeology, environmental history, and art history, discussed ways to add depth and diversity to how we digitally model spaces and represented different types of environments. They explored the impact of pre-modern ways of thinking about and representing spaces, and how these ideas might shape game development. Maria Vargha, an archaeologist, talked about her use of GIS mapping software and digital map modelling to investigate medieval societies. Acer Lewis, a teacher and independent researcher, discussed his work on understanding how late-Enlightenment attitudes about landscape and governmentality contributed to the drainage of the vast wetlands of Southern Hungary. Madeleine Sterns, a graduate student in art history, shared her interests in studying representations of art and art historical narratives in the digital world.
The final Keynote was from Zoe Franznick (Obsidian Entertainment) on What Lies Beneath: How Pentiment Writes (and Rewrites) History. The keynote focused on the challenges of creating a historical game that is both accurate and sensitive to modern views of universal issues such as religion and sexuality. Through careful research, timeless storytelling, and player choice, Pentiment aims to provide a realistic and plausible representation of the early modern period while challenging players' own assumptions about what history looked like.