Pentiment - Josh Sawyer Interview

Obsidian's recently-released narrative adventure Pentiment is presented as this medieval manuscript come to life. And with that in mind, we can now check out this interview with the game's director Josh Sawyer on the SHARP website, which stands for The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing.

As you might imagine, the interview focuses on the game's book-related aspects, the research that went into it, and the challenges of being historically accurate while telling an engaging story.

A sample question to get you started:

AA: I really appreciate the attention you all paid to the physics of the book, even showing the different page weights between paper and parchment.

JS: The journal and the book – the chronicle of everything that happens in the game – were both very large time investments for modeling and animation and rigging. Because the thing is – it’s kind of hard to explain without getting into super small details – that everything that’s animated is essentially a bone that has a connection to all the vertices of what surrounds it. So I know that it looks like a very smooth thing, but these are all 3D objects with very complex geometric meshes. So getting these things rigged to open, so it really looks like a book opening – not just kind of, but really looks like it – was extremely important.

For the journal [that contains the character attributes, maps, glossary, and objectives], I took a personal journal I had that I wasn’t using very much and I did a bunch of modifications to it to physically simulate how I saw things, like the table of contents and the tabs opening and closing. I wanted the whole thing to be as completely simulative as possible. All of the little tabs and sections are all individually rigged and modeled.

The journal wound up being rigged three different times because each time there was something fundamentally wrong, or there was something that animation director Cathy Nichols would run into some limitation where she just realized “I can’t do the movement in the way that we need it to.” So we’d go back and tweak something or re-rig something. It was very important.