Making a Van Gogh game in just 3 days

Scenes from my Van Gogh game, “The Blue Bedroom”
  • Simple answer: it requires being obsessed with Van Gogh.
  • Elaborate answer: you have to have read all of his letters, in order to be able to create a narrative that makes sense in a game. Almost 900 letters to be precise.

Van Gogh Letters?

My Process to make the game “The Blue Bedroom”

Visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

“The Bedroom” and I in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

Watched all movies about Van Gogh

Read all of Van Gogh’s letters… twice!

Going through the letters during the game jam
Vincent van Gogh: The Letters: The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition. The English edition is sold out all over the world, I got mine via the Danish Royal Library. I mean… I keep borrowing it from the library!

Brainstormed the narrative and the Game Design

Flowchart outlining which letters, paintings, and connections to use
  • What exactly from Van Gogh do I want to show with the game?
  • What practical events and paintings can I show from Van Gogh that are related to the theme “Unstable”? (during game jams, you have to make a game about a given theme, and the theme I had for that weekend was “Unstable”)
  • From what letters can I extract Van Gogh’s own words to portray those events?
  • How can I exhibit his mood and his soul by using both his paintings and his letters?
  • How to mix all of that together, while keeping it as accurate as possible, but without making it boring and time-consuming? I.e. how to make a game about that, after all?

Selected and extracted the relevant letters

Downloaded high-resolution versions of the relevant paintings

“The Bedroom” zoomed in “Google Arts & Culture”

Summarized the content of the letters and created connections between everything

How the letters are displayed in the game (without the red highlight)

Mood progression (or regression)

  • The two most important items: extracts from the letters that pinpoint exactly that and all the different self-portraits when he looks into the mirror in the game.
  • Showing different skies outside of the bedroom window
  • Music
  • From colorful to darker paintings
  • Sound effects

Selected self-portraits to match the progression of his mood

  • Just arrived from Paris: self-portrait with a Parisian hat.
  • Excitement about the arrival of his friend: Self-portrait with a palette.
  • Getting distressed: bald.
  • Play the game to see the rest :)
Van Gogh painted this portrait as a gift to Paul Gauguin, where he wanted to show himself as a Buddhist monk. But in the game I use the portrait to express that he is “getting distressed, so he’s losing his hair”.

Development

  • Coded a simple but complete point-and-click framework with the free Godot game development engine, with object interactivity, UI, secrets, room and scene transition, and more.
  • Sliced and layered paintings with Photoshop. For example, I wanted to be able to open and close the window from his Bedroom, I also wanted to make objects clickable, so I sliced elements from the paintings.
  • Animated Van Gogh's mental breakdown, broken mirror, ear slicing, and more, also using the Godot Engine (mentioned above).
  • Music and sound were taken from Zapsplat and Freesound (royalty-free assets).
  • Added the User Interface and the hidden secret paintings.
The game developed in the Godot Game Engine
Clickable overlays for the bedroom

Published it!

Play the game!

Extras…

Can’t get enough of Van Gogh…

More Van Gogh Content

--

--

--

Autistic Savant software engineer with 25+ years of development experience. Also an indie game developer and digital artist.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Too Heavy a Yoke

Contemporary Artists You Should Know

The Depiction of Maria Montessori

It’s A Small World

John Paskievich and his photography have become synonymous with Winnipeg in the way that Fred…

Six ways to buy contemporary art perfect for the home

Community Healing through Storytelling

Andy Warhol’s famous painting sold for a record amount — How much did it cost?

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Alfred Reinold Baudisch

Alfred Reinold Baudisch

Autistic Savant software engineer with 25+ years of development experience. Also an indie game developer and digital artist.

More from Medium

Silhouette of Sultry

The Deep Perspective and Mystery Behind Frank Ocean

SEISMOLOGY LAB REPORT #1

NXTETG Embraces Experimentalism with debut Single “BEY!”