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#1113547 - 06/11/17 12:12 PM Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid?
RichAlexis Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 06/21/13
Posts: 216
Loc: The Netherlands
Here's something that might interest adventure gamers.

On May 14, 1940, the city centre of Rotterdam was bombed by the German Luftwaffe to force the Dutch national government to surrender to the German invaders. 30,000 buildings were destroyed, about 900 people killed, and 80,000 citizens made homeless.

A few years ago, a software project was started by the borough of Rotterdam to digitally recreate pre-war, wartime and post-war Rotterdam, on the basis of photographs in the city archives, carried out by local graphic students. The main 1940 project took the shape of an educational exploration game. The game element was limited to a quiz you take as you walk the streets, and some objects you can collect, both to score points.

Unfortunately, public funding was limited, so while nearly all of the environment was realized in high resolution 3D graphics, in-game information and interaction were never completed, and the project has since been abandoned, in the sense that there is no opportunity for further updates or upgrades. Therefore it's also a bit buggy at the edges: when you approach the periphery, watch the spectacle of the whole environment dissolving into Lego-like bricks and getting airborne, until you're left with miles of ocean and empty skies!

The game was created for the Windows 7 platform, and is 64-bits. It will play on higher Windows versions too, but there are no ports to for instance Apple OS.

The installation executable is 166 MB, and the game takes up 620 MB of disk space.

You can download it from here. (MediaFire download link).
It is free of charge, no registration required and no online tracking!

The menu, city information and quiz are in Dutch only. Street names are always indicated, as well as your position on the map. The city is shown at dawn, with no day-night transition or time change.

Note that different city regions take some time to load while you're playing the game. Loading is indicated by a black screen with an aerial photograph of the region.

Select Graphics quality when starting game

Fantastisch = fantastic
Goed = good
Laag = low

Controls
  • WASD-keys or Arrow keys: move forward, left, backward, right.
  • Move mouse: reposition yourself, tilt up or down.
  • Mouse can be moved while pressing WASD/Arrow keys down (with left hand) to keep moving, also around corners, fine-tuning direction etc. Tip: keep pressing W/Up-Arrow key down while sliding mouse to keep moving smoothly.
  • Enter key: retrieve written info on location (in Dutch) (press Enter again to close info)
  • Move through "?" and "i" marks to take a quiz or get information. Move forward (or sometimes press letter 't') to close the quiz or info window.
  • Escape key to end game.
There is no saving option for your position in the city or the points you scored, so Escape will force you to start a new game.

Floating red shields indicate the brandgrens, the fire boundary enclosing the part of the city that was destroyed, and provide more information on the buildings when you bump into them.


Here are some screenhots I made of well-known buildings that miraculously survived the devastation:

The 'Witte Huis' (White House), Europe's tallest office building when completed in 1897 (11 stories, 43 metres):

Picture

The 'Erasmushuis' of the Dutch Bank Union (12 stories, 37 metres), designed by functionalist architect Dudok (1939):

Picture

City Hall (1920):

Picture

Cineac cinema (1935):

Picture

Finally, a destroyed church, ruins, smoke and rubble:

Picture

Best,

Rich


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#1113563 - 06/11/17 04:08 PM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: RichAlexis]
BrownEyedTigre Offline
The Sassy Administrator PR Liaison
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 01/04/04
Posts: 75862
Loc: In the Naughty Corner
Interesting! Is it an adventure game or does it have war time action?
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#1113568 - 06/11/17 05:05 PM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: BrownEyedTigre]
RichAlexis Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 06/21/13
Posts: 216
Loc: The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: BrownEyedTigre
Interesting! Is it an adventure game or does it have war time action?
Hi Ana!

Glad to see a reply!

No wartime action whatsoever! It's an edutainment exploration or simulation game, comparable to the visit mode of historical adventures.

You just roam the streets, see some passers-by including soldiers, but the only other interaction you get is take a quiz and collect information - both of which are in Dutch, so of little use to this board, I suppose.

I put the link on this board to see if there are comparable projects around the world people know of, how people respond to the graphics and navigation, and if there's room for modification or adaptation to other environments.

Best,

Rich




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#1113571 - 06/11/17 06:13 PM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: RichAlexis]
BrownEyedTigre Offline
The Sassy Administrator PR Liaison
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 01/04/04
Posts: 75862
Loc: In the Naughty Corner
Pretty Cool! I don't know of any others but I'm sure if someone does, they will come forward.
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#1113607 - 06/12/17 12:01 AM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: RichAlexis]
Iurii Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 09/03/13
Posts: 567
Loc: Kiev, Ukraine
RichAlexis, thank you so much for such a great gift! That looks and plays almost like a real historical adventure game. There are even some quiz questions in it smile

The only problem I see is that the mouse movement is too fast - is there any way to limit the speed of camera rotation? Could not find anything like that in options.

And are there any plans to translate all the text into English (at least)?

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#1113633 - 06/12/17 09:57 AM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: Iurii]
RichAlexis Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 06/21/13
Posts: 216
Loc: The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: Iurii
RichAlexis, thank you so much for such a great gift! That looks and plays almost like a real historical adventure game. There are even some quiz questions in it smile

The only problem I see is that the mouse movement is too fast - is there any way to limit the speed of camera rotation? Could not find anything like that in options.

And are there any plans to translate all the text into English (at least)?
Hi Iurii!

Great to hear that you downloaded it, and are playing the game, or enjoying the walk, perhaps a better description! thumbsup Yes, you can consider it as a gift from the Rotterdam city council! FYI, some 3,500 buildings were digitally recreated for the simulation, by dozens of graphic students.

Yes, whenever you hit some floating object, that is, a big letter "i", a question mark, a red 'fire boundary shield' or some scale model, you get some information or a question, and sometimes when you approach a building or some spot, also information screens pop up. From your starting point, the info screens are supposed to appear just before the appropriate questions. They are in Dutch only, and there are no plans for English versions or other improvements, as funding was extremely limited to begin with.

I agree that the mouse movement is a bit too fast. No, I don't see how it can be modified. I guess because I play so many vintage games which now suffer from overshooting or spinning with the mouse, I've become used to "micromanagement" of my mouse, such that I hardly notice it. Perhaps this is where a good 32-bit slowing-down tool, like a successor to Mo'Slo, should come in?

I couldn't help feeling a bit apprehensive about this game. I've been in touch with the project manager of the city archives a number of times, and I had more than a hunch it would never be completed, or if by some stroke of luck, there wouldn't be anyone to support, maintain or upgrade it. So many of these very worthwhile public projects are never fully realized, because they run up against funding problems, and the fact that there are hardly any schools, libraries or community centres that find time to install these games, provide feedback and preserve knowledge and skills about them. Even worse, the same is often true of the team of designers and programmers! In my experience, public software projects never provide any funding for maintenance and support, however strongly developers stress the need.

That's one of the reasons I posted it here. Perhaps some other project can revive it, expand on it, or reuse elements. I don't know how it's been programmed, but if they have been wise, they've chosen some modular approach, perhaps script-based or coordinate-based, so it can be rebooted relatively easily.

Best,

Rich

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#1113635 - 06/12/17 10:13 AM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: RichAlexis]
CaptainD Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 08/25/12
Posts: 588
This is a really interesting idea. I love gaming tech being used for educational purposes like this. smile

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#1113645 - 06/12/17 11:11 AM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: CaptainD]
RichAlexis Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 06/21/13
Posts: 216
Loc: The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: CaptainD
This is a really interesting idea. I love gaming tech being used for educational purposes like this. smile
Thanks! Yes, I think the graphics are certainly really impressive for such a project, and the lighting gives off a kind of appropriate eerie 'magic realism' quality reminiscent of the painter Carel Willink from the same era - if you happen to know him. As if he saw the war coming ....

https://www.wikiart.org/en/carel-willink/townscape-1934

http://www.museumarnhem.nl/collectie/478/het-gele-huis/

Best,

Rich

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#1113652 - 06/12/17 11:59 AM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: RichAlexis]
Iurii Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 09/03/13
Posts: 567
Loc: Kiev, Ukraine
Hi RichAlexis!

I have written some news of your project on my Russian site: http://questzone.ru/news/EuAZklkyEuBdlnZByY
I hope you do not mind!

And thanks again for sharing this rare experience. I see no option of saving the progress, exit means starting from the very beginning only?

I can't even think about anything similar. Although, you know, in 2000s in scenic attraction all over the world you could sometimes buy CDs or DVDs with virtual reconstruction of those sites or their history. I tried to collect those pieces of art, but it is very difficult to find them now. Elena Steingrad has listed some of those 'multimedia' titles on her 'History-Adventures' site.

And let me remind you of both 'Yoomurjak’s Ring' and 'Capri/Anacapri' series as comparable projects! They were indeed made with the support of the respective city councils for touristic goals, you know smile

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#1113660 - 06/12/17 01:19 PM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: Iurii]
RichAlexis Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 06/21/13
Posts: 216
Loc: The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: Iurii
Hi RichAlexis!

I have written some news of your project on my Russian site: http://questzone.ru/news/EuAZklkyEuBdlnZByY
I hope you do not mind!
Of course I don't mind, that was actually a very nice thing to do! bravo Let's see if you get any comments on your site!

You're right, there is no saving option, alas, I forgot. I've added that to my original post. So if you want to rack up or compare scores, you can only do so in one sitting.

Thanks for the links. I'd never heard of those games, and while I did visit Elena Steingrad's page several times, and have bookmarked it, I only now realize I downloaded the Altair4 Ancient Egypt Virtual Tour some months ago as a Windows Store app! I immediately recognized the images on her site (link).

You're right there are hardly any of these multimedia CD-ROMs/DVD(-ROMs) around. The Egypt app is actually a nice mixed-media port (mainly geared to tablet) that combines text, photos (also vintage b&w), maps, videos, 3D explorations of temples where you can tilt, pan and zoom, now-and-then overlay slides (the digital equivalent of those booklets with either lenticular images or transparent overlays which added lost parts to modern ruins, like the ArcheoLibri publications) etc.

I think some of these disks are now being redone as virtual reality presentations with special glasses, so there's still hope!

See for instance Altair4's colour reconstruction of the Ara Pacis altar - but I guess you can't recreate the effect at home!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fq9TJ80x_U

Best,

Rich

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#1113674 - 06/12/17 02:05 PM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: RichAlexis]
Iurii Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 09/03/13
Posts: 567
Loc: Kiev, Ukraine
RichAlexis, thanks for the link to Altair4! That looks great - and you are right about VR technology giving a new life to virtual historical reconstructions. Too bad it requires some special and expensive hardware...

I have remembered two more historical adventure games featuring virtual reconstruction of historical sites that I have played recently: 'Byzantine - the betrayal' and 'Opsys'.

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#1113689 - 06/12/17 04:56 PM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: Iurii]
RichAlexis Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 06/21/13
Posts: 216
Loc: The Netherlands
Hi Iurii,

Nice to get to know all of these obscure games! Also because there are so many more hybrids and approaches mixing travelogue, promotion, mystery and history!

This would also explain the participation of Discovery Channel in Byzantine - I didn't know they had a multimedia branch for a few years!

I get the impression that all the games you mention, apart from Opsys, use mainly FMV (full motion video) and photographs of locations, perhaps also as images stitched together to create 3D environments for the then-innovative Quicktime VR-application, instead of the fully virtual recreations of the Rotterdam game - and all the Cryo/Arxel Tribe/Kheops etc. adventures?

Quite distinct development strategies.

I can imagine that in this way, they were less expensive to make than fully digital games?

Best,

Rich

P.S. I didn't feel like giving a direct link to the Altair4 Ancient Egypt app, because this may activate apps and widgets that people may not want. Suffice to say that you can find it in the Microsoft Store, and there are a few more Altair4 apps on Rome for Google Android.


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#1113718 - 06/12/17 11:13 PM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: RichAlexis]
Iurii Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 09/03/13
Posts: 567
Loc: Kiev, Ukraine
Originally Posted By: RichAlexis

I can imagine that in this way, they were less expensive to make than fully digital games?


Yes, probably. And you can never beat the realism of actual photos and videos!

Although those two games I mentioned ('Byzantine' and 'Opsys') use both FMV/photos (for present day locations) and Rotterdam-like 3D virtual reconstructions (for ancient historical sites).

Originally Posted By: RichAlexis
I didn't feel like giving a direct link to the Altair4 Ancient Egypt app, because this may activate apps and widgets that people may not want. Suffice to say that you can find it in the Microsoft Store, and there are a few more Altair4 apps on Rome for Google Android.


I see - unfortunately I have neither Android nor Windows phone. And I can't find 'Ancient Egypt' in Apple App Store...

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#1113760 - 06/13/17 11:01 AM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: Iurii]
RichAlexis Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 06/21/13
Posts: 216
Loc: The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: Iurii
Although those two games I mentioned ('Byzantine' and 'Opsys') use both FMV/photos (for present day locations) and Rotterdam-like 3D virtual reconstructions (for ancient historical sites).
Ah, I see. Understandably, when there's a modern, everyday setting, there's no need to do digital recreations, only when you travel to the past.

Originally Posted By: Iurii
I see - unfortunately I have neither Android nor Windows phone. And I can't find 'Ancient Egypt' in Apple App Store...
Actually, I don't have these smartphones either, but I have installed the Altair4 app on my Windows 8.1 desktop! It cost just 8 euros, including VAT. It runs perfectly! I wish they'd port their old DVDs on Pompeii and Rome to more platforms too - and they have also more recent multimedia they could release on Prehistory, Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance:

http://www.altair4.com/it/categorie-editoriali/dvd-video/

http://www.altair4.com/it/archivio-multimediale/

Best,

Rich



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#1115736 - 06/29/17 08:16 AM Re: Would you like to roam the streets of Rotterdam after the 1940 air-raid? [Re: Iurii]
RichAlexis Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 06/21/13
Posts: 216
Loc: The Netherlands
I just wanted to add a final note on the Rotterdam exploration game. A senior staff member of the Rotterdam City Archives very generously sent me the documentation files she still had on the landmarks featured in the game. I thought I could offer them to you, so you could put them through Google Translate, or I might even translate them myself!

Unfortunately, they just amounted to extremely sketchy drafts on only 9 buildings, and all the in-game texts turn out to have been typed directly into the game source, and can no longer be accessed as texts in the executable. This confirms my impression that the game design was not modular, or script-based, so would be very hard to modify or revive. A rather short-sighted approach I think, but that's how it is.

Best,

Rich

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