Sculpture

As some of you may have noticed in old screenshots, we had a few placeholder statues around the island. I designed these when I joined the project almost four years ago, and a while back Luis sculpted a couple of nice final ones. However, as we were finalizing some areas, we wanted to add even more statues. We realized that Luis would never have the time to sculpt all of them as well as help me finish the rest of the art, so we searched for a sculptor.

We managed to find Andrea Blasich, a most excellent artist skilled at both traditional and 3D sculpture. He is blowing through the statues and continues to wow us with his stuff. He just finished this giant lady sculpted into the mountainside, and it turned out so beautiful, I wanted to share it:

shot_2015.05.05__time_18_24_n01 shot_2015.05.05__time_18_25_n02

91 Comments:

  1. Will this be in the final game? Sorta strikes me as being out of place. Looks like a ship’s figurehead.

    • My guess is that there is a story reason for sculpted statues being embedded into the cliffs of the island.

      • I have to say that the sculpture itself is great – being on the mountain is fine, too – but the placement IS odd. It’s “too perfect”. It looks like it was mounted onto the mountain, rather than sculpted out of it.

        A “diagonal” (facing either toward the pathway or opposite angle from it and where the sculpture currently is) would be more believable.

  2. Wow…

    Just wow.

    Awesome. Way to go for the sculptor!

  3. I’ve been following this blog since 2011 and it’s so neat to have watched the visuals of this game go from blocky programmer art to a thing of real beauty. Thank you so much for all your hard work!

  4. Is it an abandoned island anymore?

  5. I gotta say I agree, beautiful sculpture if placed somewhere else, but in the mountain? IDK it’s… just odd. Gaudy, too much. Unnatural and takes away from the beauty of the mountain.

    Not to mention… how many more times we gonna hear that the islands finished and that you’re wrapping up technical stuff just to see that this is what you’re still doing? I know it’s hard guys, I know there’s a perfectionist in all of us, you’ll think of things you wanted to add after it’s out, but at some point you’re gonna have to say it: “the game’s done, let’s release it”. Or you’re all gonna die

    • Messages like this are not appreciated. I am going to start deleting them when I see them from now on. Fair warning.

      • I have been thinking about this, and I think I am finally beginning to realize that this game is your brainchild. It’s cost you millions of dollars and an unimaginable amount of time. I am starting to get the animosity towards the “better finish soon comments”.

        If I was you, I’d keep the thing as long as as humanly possible if I thought it wasn’t complete.

        I think the thing the fans are picking up on is that NOBODY works this way anymore. And the fact that you guys are making the total package is blowing me away. I’d wait another 5 years for this. It is such a part of the fabric of my mind now.

        Take your time!

        :)

      • still_dreaming_1

        I am not, and never will push your team to make this faster. I would prefer it takes longer and gets released as a better product. It’s not like there is not other stuff for us to do with our life than wait for this game. But I did have an idea the other day. I think it would achieve the following goals:

        Motivate a lot of people not to post these types of comments.
        Allow you all to work in an unpressured way, at your own pace, releasing the game only when you are truly ready.
        Keep us up to date as to the expected release date.

        Here is the actual idea. You could have a place on the website that shows the current release estimate. You could accompany this with an explanation about what this estimate actually means. Instead of being a deadline that does not change until you either meet it and excite everyone, or miss it and frustrate everyone, it can be a no pressure, moving estimate. Once a week , on a specific day of the week, you should update this estimate as to your new guess of when you will release it. Some weeks it may move back, some forward, and some it will stay the same. But if you update it every week, there will be no surprise or letdown. I think it will also prevent those anticipating it from imagining it is or could be almost released, then growing more and more frustrated and impatient waiting for it. Anyway, no pressure from me, just thought is was a cool idea and wanted to share it. It is not even really an idea for you specifically, it seems like it would work well for most games or projects.

        • In principle, I like that idea. In reality, people will see the date and take it as gospel without bothering to read the explanation, which would just be setting Thekla up for more harassment about the timeline. I think what they’re doing is better: make clear that the ship date is “when it’s done,” and periodically release screenshots and stuff to demonstrate progress. Although I wouldn’t complain if the updates were a little more frequent… :)

          Bottom line is, a person who has no skin in the game (paying for development, publishing, etc.) has no business griping about how long it’s taking. And really, we don’t need more developers that push out games before they’re fully baked; we’ve got EA and their ilk for that.

          • still_dreaming_1

            I agree that not all people would be satisfied by this and that not all people would read the description. But that is mostly because some people will be ridiculous no matter what. Those are not the people this idea is intended for. It is for people that have at least some reasonableness. I do believe there are some out there with some reasonableness and that some of them are still getting somewhat frustrated waiting for the game, even though they don’t have a right to voice any such feelings in a negative way. I think the moving target estimate would be enlightening and enjoyable for most reasonable people that are looking forward to playing this even if they are not beginning to feel frustrated. Another thing to keep in mind is that with this idea, the displayed estimated release date would change slightly most weeks thereby making it harder to take it as gospel or to misunderstand it. They could even keep the estimated release date hidden. You would just see a link that says “Estimated Delivery Date” or something like that. When you click it you are taken to the explanation, and you must check a box saying you understand the explanation before they show you the current estimate. Even though I agree that nobody has a right to voice their frustration in a negative way, I think some people have some level of unavoidable frustration just because they have wanted to play it for a long time and keep checking back and have waited much longer than they expected to and still have no idea when it will be released. I think this would help with that.

  6. Or you’re all gonna die before you’ve released your game and all your fans have played it, thought I had typed that before I had hit reply. That came out bad haha. Love you guys, just impatient

    • I’m sure you mean that jokingly, but understand that it’s pretty grating for the team to hear these sort of comments so frequently when they’re trying to make the game they possibly can.

  7. Looks good but to a layman’s eye it looks completely fantastical. It appears to be a stone sculpture carved out of the cliff, made of the same material as the cliff, but from this angle at least, it’s hard to see how the cliff could have extended that far to be carved from. Also, can you work stone like that at that scale with the arm extended and unsupported? Not an expert and perhaps verisimilitude isn’t the goal.

    • I get the feeling that Thekla is going for a slightly otherworldly feel for this environment. In that case, sculptures such as this would not be quite so out-of-place. I liken it to the Argonath as portrayed in Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring.

      • Just giving my first/second impression. Looks good/looks unreal. It gave me a sort of internal double-take. I figure my honest reaction is the only thing that stands a chance of being any use to anyone involved in development. Looking forward to playing the game when it’s done.

  8. The weeping angels are taking over the island, I knew it!

  9. Phenomenal! Love it! I imagine Andrea’s other works are just as stunning.

  10. It builds so much confidence knowing that despite the financial and time pressures the rest of us perceive you guys to be under, your team still went out of its way to find and hire an expert to construct some (presumably) non-critical aesthetics that are essentially just a bonus for the player experience.

    Of course there’s no such thing as a perfect game, but it’s invigorating to know that you all are still pushing to get as close as you can.

  11. Wow. This is incredible. The sculpture is simultaneously haunting and calming. It fits well with the aesthetic of a beautiful abandoned island.

  12. Given the lengths you went to for realism with your buildings I am surprised by this sculpture. It looks fantastic but that arm would never support its own weight.

    If you look at marble sculptures that the Romans made copying Greek bronzes you will see all sorts of tree roots and plinths added as supports because anything bigger than a human sized arm could not support its own weight when stretched out like that.

  13. Impressive work.

  14. i am so hyped for this

  15. Although the “weight of the arm” realism was something that jumped out at me immediately, I am way to excited about this game to really care anymore. I love hearing phrases like, “finalizing some areas”! :D

  16. We need to get real here, haha. If we are going to question the dynamics of if an arm of a statue is going to be able to support its weight or if the mountain itslef was big enough to have rendered such a statue, then we are going to have to question all sorts of things…

    Why is it always daytime? Why does the tide not change and ruin half of the buildings? Why are there little boats for traveling on an island you could spit across? How does one get building materials to such a place and remain abandoned?

    They are going for realism my fellow dudes. But not THAT realistic.

    Everything looks awesome. The genesis of all of these ideas are coming from the one mind that knows exactly what to do with the game. No worries.

    :)

    • P.S.

      I think her size is perfect, and that she’ll add a really interesting point of interest and help greatly with the feeling of a lot of small, disconnected areas to become a more cohesive whole.

      • Also, OH MY GOD THE GAME IS GETTING FINISHED!

        WOOP, WOOP, WOOP!

        • Seriously. I dont know how much longer Bloodborne will satiate me. I can only try to kill Father Gascoigne 700 times before I give up entirely.

          Perhaps some more GTAV online or Killing Floor 2 in the interim is in order. Hmmm.

          • Don’t give up, I just beat him last night and now the game is much more fun!

          • Father G is stupid hard for a beginning boss fight. He literally took me at least 50 attempts before I beat him. And some of the later bosses I beat on my first attempt with ONLY 6 BLOOD VIALS. So keep at it man! Although I am pretty turned off on Bloodborne right now, I just lost over 200,000 echoes due to a god awful hunter battle near the end of the game :( so I just swapped over to Scholar of the First Sin :D I do need something nice and relaxing though after all these stressful games, here’s praying for a soon(ish) release!!

          • …and Orsi is right. The game gets really cool after father g. And wait…Orsi plays BLOODBORNE?! That’s awesome :D

          • It is awesome! Thanks for the pep talks! I will try him in a few minutes here. I’ve been leveling for hours to try and raise my stats.

            It is so stressful. My favorite is still Demon’s Souls because it fit neatly into my mind. These last ones are so huge and daunting.

            I played through Demon’s Souls 7 times in 70 hours. That 70 hours only got me through Dark Souls one time haha.

            :)

          • I got him! Got into the game and got it first try. I must have just needed sleep!

            Peptalk increased my performance!

  17. I agree that the arm doesn’t make sense. The Landscape architects you worked with guaranteed you a level of realism to every part of the island. But the cliff didn’t extend far enough out for you to carve that from rock. Your landscape architects will be pulling their hair out when they see you allowed a degree of unrealism here that you forbade them when they were at the helm.

    • We’ve done some things that made the architects and landscape architects pull their hair out before. When it happens, it’s for a reason. For some things it’s okay to stray from the rules, they are only there as a very useful anchor.

      • Yes, agreed. Please don’t change it unless you guys want to! It’s fantastic. Maybe the sculptor scraped away the entire mountain to make it smaller for his sculpture. Y’know, to give it more OOMPH!

        • Level of nitpick for The Witness:

          Over Nine-Thousand!!!

          “I don’t think the game should come out on Steam because, The Witness deserves to be lived and not merely played digitally, you know? Like Steam is all commercial n’ stuff and the platform is an insult to what it is. I won’t settle for anything unless I can actually go the island, you know?”

          Haha, I’m not the only one who is excited.

          :)

    • The arm could be supported by a system of rods within the stone arm itself and then attached on to the main body after the rest of the sculpture was completed. Solved! Boom.

  18. I think the same as Elderman commented above. But there is plenty of stuff on the island that is not realistic, so it is obvious that it wasnt the goal.

    Landscape architects possibly didnt advice on how to reach realism but how to achieve other goals such as how to organize the island, how to generate landmarks…

    Im glad that architecture is pretty cool, and based on real one. I was surprised by the design of some of those structures.

    And the color use is amazing. Seeing how both artificial and natural elements share colors in some zones provides a strong identity to those spaces. I loved some of the indoors screenshots with intense red light.

    Thanks for the update Orsi! Keep up the great work guys, this already looks amazing, surely you are getting close to your goal!

  19. While beautiful, I agree that it is also strikingly unrealistic. A statue like that could work if carved out of the mountain and not placed on top of. Check out Petra stone carving as examples of carved out of for inspiration of what might feel more realistic. Interesting Nova episode recently that covered the top down carving method with rubble at the base.

  20. This is starting to feel like a true masterpiece. Like the “L’avventura” of videogames. Don’t let anyone fuck with your vision.

  21. Well, I think that statue looks pretty inspirational to me. I’m pretty sure the team is more obsessed about placement than some here seem to have little faith in. The puzzle panels are already placed throughout the island. The whole island blatantly is a very deliberate mystery for the witness to behold, so I don’t see how statues would be any different.

    Looks awesome guys. Keep it up!

  22. The statue is reminiscent of Harry Weinbrenner’s “Inspiration” statue modeled after a young Myrna Loy. It stood at Venice High School for years but became so damaged from vandalism that it had be take down. Eventually it was recreated by a new sculptor. Now “Inspiration” is recreated again :)

  23. I don’t know how to say it.
    I think this game maybe not a game,it is a micro world,Expect it open to the outside world(・∀・)

    • I have no idea what this means, but I agree!

      The Witness transcends definitions — is breaking out of its own skin. Has been for a while.

      :)

  24. Cool, keep up the great work. For the last couple of months my daily routine has been to check this website for update. Soo eager to play this game now.

  25. The fans, including myself, are ravenous. I think it’s because the industry largely produces rehashed garbage. We’ve been consuming the video game equivalent of fast food for so long that when we’ve been smelling the concoctions of a master chef in the kitchen for so long without even an idea of when the ‘food’ might come to the table, we’re ready to bite someone’s hand off. I say take down the blog, and would encourage everyone to stop thinking about it so much. I’ll try to follow my own advise.

    • Dunno, I love reading posts from previous years, remembering the details I forgot about. That’s done pretty well to tide me over.

      I’m used to waiting, though. I’ve also been waiting for Doors of Stone to release, and that’ll be another couple years.

  26. Reminds me a bit of the Chained Maiden reference in Braid.

  27. Look guys, Ive done three weeks of a beginners course in stone carving (limestone), which basically means my opinions are measured besides Michelangelo’s. That sculpture you are looking at is literally a digital model, that is a stone cold fact. We can chip away at its perceived purpose within the game-world but I can tell you right here, right now, its arm could or could not hold its own weight in the ‘real’ world. So draw your own conclusions. I just tried to sculpt this figure into a 1metre block of (lime flavour) jelly and I can tell you it doesn’t work. Stone is a bit harder than jelly so who knows…

    Message to Thelka Team:

    Go Team! Really been enjoying seeing this project grow over the past few years and I can totally respect and empathise (I am a visual artist, not just a maker of redundant farcical comments (see above^)) the time, energy and dedication you have put behind this idea. In life you only get to execute these kinds of concepts once(?), and its plain to see you want to do it justice (not that I need to tell you that!), which fills me with patient anticipation for the game. Please don’t let the frustrating comments make you question your development approach or the value of this blog, you are a beacon amongst grey waters. Jon, one day perhaps I may make you a jelly statue. All the best on the final stretch, Alistair.

  28. IDK bout anyone else but it makes sense to me. This is an artists island that was always clear. He is a sculptor and there were always statues. The mountain is the vocal point of the island and where the end game is. Its the heart of the island and it makes sense and is poetic that his sculptors are in it.

  29. Really cool screenshot!
    I must say that I kind of agree with the people saying it looks a bit out of place (probably because of the low-poly-ish look of the overall game).
    One thing I would change on the statue is the piece of clothing covering the breast area, that little patch looks a bit too low-polygon compared to the rest. Otherwise it’s an amazing job!

  30. Public Health Announcement:

    If you’re getting this worked up over whether the arm on that statue is “realistic”, well, we’ve put stuff in The Witness that will probably make your head explode. You should wear a safety helmet when playing.

    • Haha, you should make that the official tagline of the game:

      “The Witness: Your Head Will Explode.” (Make sure the Collector’s Edition comes bundled with a safety helmet!)

      PS: Thank you Orsi, Andy, Jon, Luis, et al, for dropping in occasionally to say hi. Best wishes to you all as you put the finishing touches on the game.

    • I thoroughly expect there to be some “crazy ass shit” in that mountain. :)

      • Hellz to the yes!

        I wanna know what kind of crazy stuff is in that area that Jon worked on during his holiday a couple years back. Sounded pretty intense and interesting! Anyone else remember that?

        Also can’t wait to see the underground tunnels I know are there!

        • Yeah I remember that. I seem to recall Jonathan saying something along the lines of it being some of the finest work he’s ever done at that particular time and that he surprised the team with it. It was definitely notable, and it made me really curious. I seem to remember it being possibly a secret area too. Damn, was that really 2 years ago?

  31. Lovely sculpt!

    Though I would like to echo some of the previous points raised in the thread;

    -Seems too pristine (looking at the other assets/ The style is very clean, but still a small amount of damage/weathering [chips/cracks etc]) and this seems to be missing here
    -Similar point to the above but… the transition from rock face to sculpture feels a little harsh (ie the resolution of the faceted rock face to her right arm is very distracting.)
    -Small issue but I feel the hands could use a little more modelling attention (they look a tad “sausage-fingery” in my honest opinion.

    Apart from those minor niggles which shouldn’t (?) consume too much art time to fix, I think this is a great addition and will add a tremendous amount of character to your island.

    Can’t wait to see what else Andrea comes up with! Grats on the new employee :)

  32. I think sculptures like these are a very interesting way to “humanize” the island without having NPCs (as far as I know). It makes me curious how these aesthetic elements will fit into the history of the island, if not some of the interactive puzzles themselves.

  33. Are you having server issues? I haven’t been able to connect to the website in a couple of days.

  34. *will i ride a boat in the witness?*

    i am waiting calmly, so very calmy for an experience that’s going to be as divine as what braid has given me.
    i dont think jon makes ‘games’, he makes experiences and that’s exactly what i’m looking forward to from this.
    people talk about programming and how to make a game a lot with jon
    but what must one be taking seriously is our life around us.
    that’s one thing what jon is really affected with, and so are all of us, who are trying to give a sense of meaning for this life, a period of time that we think should be worth while to be lived, and attain an enlightment about living,each in our own way.
    i will humbly wait for as long as this experience might take to build.
    i trust this.
    everyday the feeling gets more purer.
    i respect and love these people who take not themselves but the idea forward.
    these times are very exciting times, for not just jon but for thousands of people who awaiting deeply to saunter in this beautiful island and i bet ‘beautiful’ is just a tiny word of a description to it.
    braid had changed so many people, including myself, the way i look at, not just games but art and expression.
    like jodorowsky, jon and his team are in their own way, the spiritual warriors, building the dune.
    good luck my good friend that i haven’t met
    and thank you for all the great effort.

  35. It seems that the general consensus is that the statue is unrealistic due to the arm, which could not have possibly been chisled out of the mountain side. Well….

    The arm could be supported by a system of rods within the stone arm itself and then attached on to the main body after the rest of the sculpture was completed. Solved! Boom.

  36. You guys are sneaky, I see the arm of the sculpture sticking out in the island snapshot 2 months ago!

    Greatly looking forward to the game, take your time with this masterpiece!

  37. I just noticed how how much detail I can see zooming in on the image. I noticed that the statue’s foot seems to be suspended above the ground, and I noticed an oddly placed slit on her lower abdomen.

  38. Goung slightly off-topic from the statue (as gorgeous as it is) or the development time (still patient, and looking forward to an awesome experience from team Thekla) I would like to ask one thing.

    Updates used to happen once a month, and those little tidbits or screenshots were always eagerly anticipated. I understand that the team is dedicated to finalising the game, but it would be awesome to have a newsletter or more frequent updates, even if it is just a screenshot or reassurance that the game is coming soon. Even just a means of telling me when this blog gets updated would be very welcome!

    Keep up the good work. But please update the blog more!! :-)

    • I agree with Mike. I’ll wait however long it takes, but the wait is less painful and more exciting when we get a little taste of the game with an update here and there.

      Eager,
      Anxious,
      Excited,
      DB

      • Truly, it doesn’t even need to be about the game. Orsi’s update about reorganizing the office in February was also a treat. Any update that gives us a peak inside the game or your work in developing it is great!

  39. I just hope i get to play this before i start my degree project in september. You guys got this!

    • I hope it’s still sunny and warm outside when it comes out so I can crank the air conditioner and have little sun beams peeking through the window.

      Perfect setting for playing games.

  40. I love the art of this game, this statue looks amazing. Who knows the age of that island to say that it can´t be carved from the rock?

  41. Interesting, this is the first and most direct reference to culture, ethnicity, and the human form that I’ve seen with this project. Previous, the island is home to the mysterious technology of the panels — but that’s just about all that is revealed.

  42. Whenever the team works on the menu/UI/etc., I’d be interested to see how that turns out.

    (not pushing, intended as an expression of mild interest)

    • Braid had that awesome title screen that was also the beginning of the game. It will be interesting if they do something similar or analogous.

  43. can you guys do another road to e3, i love the updates and i think that was the best part of last years e3. a little upsetting that you guys were behind closed doors, but honestly id prefer it that way because i dont want to see any puzzle solutions until im holding the controller.

  44. …I understand people want to play the game really bad, and that this game has been in development for years, but it’s as if we all have a release day fetish, and aren’t nearly as interested in the posts or what’s talked about as they are on getting our paws on the game. I don’t understand why a measly 6 to 8 numbers could be so important to everyone especially when they change nothing about the actual development time. If anything they can only add more glitches into the game. I guess even I’m tired of hearing about this absolute need for a release date and I’m not even making the game. It’s like almost every 5th comment. One day we’ll all be pleasantly surprised rather than potentially disappointed. As long as I’ve been following this project (for years), the answer to the release date question has never changed, nor will it ever. There are a million other far more interesting questions we could all ask, and very likely get an answer to by one of the developers themselves. Of course, even I want to know when the game will come out, but seriously, why the redundancy?? It’s literally insanity to ask the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Pay the team a compliment and… Just. Let. It. Go.

    • its actually not insanity. “doing the same things and expecting different results” is not the definition of insanity. in fact it doesnt even apply to this case. theyre being very impatient, but if you dont want to be asked when youre game will be released…dont make a game. people who insult the developers, insult the industry, or say they wont be buying the game because of the wait, those people are toxic. everybody else is fine.

      • You’re right. It is actually not the definition, but I think my point was fairly clear. There are plenty of awesome people waiting for the game.

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