Funded! This project was successfully funded on January 6, 2013.

Update #34

Happy Independence Day from Meriwether!

3 comments

Happy 4th of July, Backers! Here's a snippet of what Lewis wrote in his journal on 4 July 1805:

"our work being at an end this evening, we gave the men a drink of sperits, it being the last of our stock, and some of them appeared a little sensible of it's effects the fiddle was plyed and they danced very merrily untill 9 in the evening when a heavy shower of rain put an end to that part of the amusement tho' they continued their mirth with songs and festive jokes and were extreemly merry untill late at night. we had a very comfortable dinner, of bacon, beans, suit dumplings & buffaloe beaf &c. in short we had no just cause to covet the sumptuous feasts of our countrymen on this day."

Wherever you are, here's hoping that your 4th of July is just as full of mirth and songs and festive jokes.

Art

Let's start off with a little art. We are moving into high-gear with art production. The highly-detailed and historically accurate concept art Jiyoun has been creating for us is now starting to blossom into 3D models thanks to our 3d artists. Below, watch as Clatsop chief Coboway, whose concept art we included in an earlier update, moves from 3D wireframe to textured asset.

And here is Coboway's daughter, Celiast, as concept art. Cutie-patootie!

Music

On the sound front, Jim Welch continues to dazzle us with his musical acumen. Lately, he's been working hard on creating a leitmotif for Sacagawea: a piece of music that is directly influenced and inspired by authentic Shoshone music. But as you will see from his paragraph below, it's no easy task, even for a veteran composer such as Jim:

"It's been a very interesting challenge trying to recreate the music of Native Americans. I have previously worked on projects that require tribal music with flavors of Native American sounds and quite a few tracks inspired by African styles. However, due to the attention to historical accuracy in this project, there is a need to create a truly authentic Native American sound, something most composers don't have experience with.

"Due to this challenge, it might be smart to simply find field recordings of this music. However, it wouldn't do us much good, since the production values would vary so drastically from our original material, it would break player immersion.

"Interestingly, Native American music is at first glance fairly simplistic. It was the first style my college World Music course covered. It's generally monophonic and the instrumentation is mostly just voice, rattles and skin drums. Even the beats played by the percussion instruments are most often just a meditative, equally accented repetition. However, once you begin trying to sing along to these tribal chants, you find it very difficult. It's not the language that makes it hard, since many of the Native American pieces use nonsense words called vocables. What is challenging is the vocal patterns are extremely nuanced, particularly so in the accent pattern. It's nearly impossible to find a consistent meter.

"While trying to recreate this music, my training and experience keeps forcing my tempo to stay steady and my meter and phrasing to be consistent and 'musical,' which gets in the way. I have contemplated manually notating a constant change in meter and then learning and performing that. However, it feels so inappropriate to compose this type of music with pen and paper, when historically and still today it is passed down orally.

"So it's a bit of a battle. I'm studying a lot of Native American music and doing my best to create something that is authentic, while still sounding modern in production quality and enjoyable to the modern ear."

We cannot wait to see what Jim comes up with! The one thing we do know, based on the great tracks he has already created, is that it will be not only game-appropriate, but emotionally engaging.

Design

We have spent much of the last month working on the level featuring the Corps' meeting with the Shoshone. This is the moment when the Corps of Discovery discovers that there is indeed no all-water route across the United States: the darn Rocky Mountains stand in the way! But they still need to make it to the Pacific Ocean. So acquiring horses from the Shoshone is of paramount importance: without horses, they may not be able to continue their journey at all.

In terms of gameplay, then, your primary mission on this level will be to trade enough of the very limited supplies you have to get a sufficient number of horses to continue the journey across North America. One of the most important parts of the story here, however, has less to do with horses and more to do with Sacagawea.

Sacagawea was kidnapped from the Shoshone by a Hidasta raiding party when she was maybe 10 or 11. She lived as a captive of the Hidasta until she was married to Charbonneau. She is pregnant when she meets Lewis and Clark for the first time, and it is Lewis who delivers the baby. In short, Sacagawea lost a huge portion of her childhood at a very tender age.

But now, through an unbelievable set of circumstances, she is reunited with her people. An age-old question historians have wondered about Sacagawea is this: "Did it never cross her mind to simply stay with the Shoshone?"

Lewis and Clark might not have had many objections to this--after all, Sacagawea's and Charbonneau's roles as interpreters would be much more limited on the other side of the Rockies, since neither had ever been there. Bringing a civilian family along with them also might have been unnecessarily difficult in their estimation--three more mouths to feed during the upcoming winter.

So one of the main stories you as players will explore is Sacagawea's--should she stay, or should she continue on with the Corps? And it will be possible for you to stray from the actual events at this point: one example of how this game presents real choice to players and allows for a more speculative engagement with history.

Proceeding On

Kyle is programming, Carlos is writing, Barb is history-ing, Jim is musicing, artists are arting, and Josh is doing everything. In short, we are continuing to make terrific advances on all game-creation fronts. As always, please let us know your comments either by responding below or writing to us directly. Until next month, be well, and have a safe and wonderful 4th!

Comments

    1. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Sortasoft LLC on July 5, 2013

      Correction: Lewis didn't deliver the baby, but he did (maybe) help hasten his birth by proving a rattlesnake rattle for Sacagawea.

      Lewis wrote: "having the rattle of a snake by me I gave it to him and he administered two rings of it to the woman broken in small pieces with the fingers and added to a small quantity of water. Whether this medicine was truly the cause or not I shall not undertake to determine, but I was informed that she had not taken it more than ten minutes before she brought forth perhaps this remedy may be worthy of future experiments, but I must confess that I want faith as to it's efficacy."

    2. Icon.small

      Creator Christoph Zürcher on July 5, 2013

      Thank you for this interesting and informative update. Keep up the great work!

    3. Missing_small

      Creator Richard Hohnbaum on July 4, 2013

      It looks WONDERFUL!! So want to hear the music that Jim Welch has written/arranged, especially the Indian related music. Dick Hohnbaum

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    ★ SPONSOR MERIWETHER LEWIS ★ The man himself! Captain Lewis had an embarrassment of talents: athletic, courageous, and a dead-eye marksman, he was the soldier you wanted standing next to you in a fight. But he was also keenly intelligent, equally adept in the sciences as in the arts. He is one of the United States' earliest naturalists, recording literally hundreds of plant and animal species new to Western science. At the same time, he expresses himself in his journals with a brio that would be the envy of any poet. It is this American original who serves as the centerpiece and vehicle for MERIWETHER. Backing at this level means that you are backing the game's protagonist. You'll be rewarded with everything at the QUARTERMASTER level, recognition in the credits and the Wunderkammer as Captain Lewis' sole sponsor, and an 11x14 giclée print of Lewis on stretched canvas.

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