BEHIND THE SCENES
A game of miniatures
Sci-fi and handcrafted scenes meet in Trüberbrook.
A Sci-Fi-Mystery Adventure
Take a physicist, a quantum mystery and Germany in the 1960s. Mix with a dash of whimsy, garnish with a smidgeon of nostalgia, and you get Trüberbrook.
It’s a story-driven adventure, with postcard-perfect environments that strike and then linger. In an opening scene, for example, sunlight kisses the golden leaves of a tree by the lake, as shadows dance on the gravel underneath it. The game landscape looks stunningly realistic – and that’s because it was.
Every set in the game was painstakingly crafted in miniature, lovingly lit, assiduously photographed, then carefully recreated in 3D for a one-of-a-kind visual delight. Each set took between one to three weeks to build and, in total, 18 sets were completed.
It was a labour of love that took developers btf five years to accomplish. The production studio had previous experience filming miniatures for films and television, and the game’s wistful settings quickly connected to the idea of using real-world scale models.
“You would spend ages doing this if you wanted to build the same level of detail in 3D,” Hans Böhme, technical artist on Trüberbrook, explains. “Using miniature models also gives our game a unique style, so that’s why we chose to do it.”
The handmade environments were captured using a process called photogrammetry. Dozens of photographs were taken of each model from every angle. Detailed 3D models were then created using these reference images, which were almost identical to the real thing.
The Trüberbrook team then went one step further to shape the character of the game. To create clean scans, a model has to be evenly lit – areas that are too bright or too dark can’t be recreated in 3D. But the flat lighting also looks dull.
“We wanted rich textures and moody lighting,” Böhme says. “So we took a second set of images of the environments and lit these like film sets. We then used a technique called photo-mapping to project these photos onto the 3D model – it’s like a photograph displayed in 3D space.”
Making Trüberbrook was a challenge as the studio had never done a production on this scale before. Böhme reveals that the team underestimated some of the work entailed, but credits the studio’s previous production experience as a big help in finishing the game.
“We’re proud of achieving Trüberbrook’s specific look,” Böhme says. “I hope that people get drawn into this strange and nostalgic world and have a fantastic experience with the game.”