tabernacle

june 2009 – v2.0

2006: tabernacle – HL2 Mod – tabernacle places the interactor in a hallucinatory medieval world where the only way out is an epiphany: there is no story, there is no game, there is no real … tabernacle explores the manner in which the map is a representation of the embodied self in place …

Production team: glen gugliotti, victor creecy-roberts, justin mullins, ashley guy, glen van den bergen, jon de araujo, ryan veenstra, simon joslin & special guest voice: Dr John

The tabernacle project was supported by and run within the auspices of the QUT Creative Industry CI-transitions framework.

project concept:

The z-axis is you seeing something from a different point of view without moving [Jack Turner]

Tabernacle is an experiment in exploitation of the z-axis. Where the majority of game worlds and social worlds depend on the player understanding the embedded narrative, tabernacle is an exploration of a world where the cultural perspective milieu is such that there is only the minor residual narrative of shared biology.

Set in the 6th Century in an area on the cusp of the old roman empire and where previous tribal order was being absorbed and demonised by church and monarchic institutions, tabernacle plays with ways of representing a cultural perspective.

The focus of the design is not a historical visualisation, rather it is an emotional one. Tabernacle hopes to understand what it would mean to perceive from a different perspective – it explores use of a standard 3D visualisation or games engine and experiments with a variety of visual narrative techniques in order to create something akin to a culturally lethal text.


Cosmas Indicopluestes – Maps taken from Christian Topography – The maps of the “Indian Sailor” were taken as inspiration for the emotional perspective of the world.

The first iteration of Tabernacle was set in the area of Northumberland UK between Lindisfarne island and Hadrians wall – most of the geography was kept true to real with some small allowance to put Hadrian’s wall to the north as a boundary

some critical design concepts / values:

  • Ist POV – no personal avatar – player occupies multiple characters
  • bicameral voices
  • character specific perspective
  • no overall story arc – engagement depends on fulfilling individual narratives and engaging with thw world itself
  • navigation only enabled via landscape itself and audio clues appropriate to the lone traveller who can only guess direction based on simple knowledge that the sea lies to the east and the moors lie to the north west ..

Character design:

Concept art by Ashley Guy

Characters in the first iteration of tabernacle:

  • the arrival character – the monk / scholar
  • the rogue – madman character
  • the fox
  • the pagan character
  • the hunter
  • and final monk character

Animal perspective and sense of smell:


Fox modelling by Zac Fitz-Walter

As the player moves through the world of tabernacle, they jump from one character to another in a carefully orchestrated script. Each character reveals a different perspective on the world until the player arrives back full circle at the monastery on the island and experiences an epiphany of sorts as the sun sets through the rose window.

Chapel and sunset light coming through the rose window by Ryan Veenstra

Audio maps: Multiple layers of audio provide depth and navigation in the world


Audio by Victor Creecy-Roberts and Justin

Anamorphic vistas:

The first iteration of tabernacle has no real rhmye nor reason other than to experience the 6th Century world through a number of different perspectives but there are two anamorphic moments. The first is an apparent map in the priory which the performer discovers is actually a view of the valley from a tree on Hadrian’s wall.

Placing the tree on the tabernalce world map by Glen Gugliotti, Screen grab from Smallville

The second anamorphic desire was implemented as an epiphany and final denouement in the priory – the player has to stand in exactly the right spot to ‘see’ the sunset through the window