A free prototype version for of this game, addressing 6 year old children, was published for both iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices in 2016. That version was commissioned by the Onassis Foundation USA in conjunction with the 2016 exhibition Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus. The exhibition brought a selection from the thousands of artifacts that attest to the vibrant daily, cultural and religious life in ancient Dion for the first time to the USA. The mobile game aimed to attract New York youth and introduce them to the world of ancient history and archaeological excavation.
The more challenging, replayable and visually enhanced multilingual PC version of this game, addressing older children as well as professionals and any interested adults, has been available for a symbolic price on the videogame distribution channel 'Steam' since the end of 2018.Production Team:
- Alexandros Giannakidis - Game Design, Programming
- Andreas Diktyopoulos - Programming
- Angelos Kyriakopoulos - Programming
- Petros Kitsaras - Programming
- Stefanos Papadatos - Concept, 2D Art
- Olsey Milla - 3D Art
- Maria Aloupi - Music Composer
- Christina Totikidi - Additional 2D Art
- Vaggelis Gavalakis - Additional VFX
- Stavros Fournaros - Photogrammetry
- Theseus Kokkinos - Photogrammetry
- Lida Mantzourani - Texts, Research
Secrets of the Past: Dion
Secrets of the Past: Dion is a casual simulation game that follows the journey of an archaeological artefact, from its discovery to its museum exhibition. It is a first point of contact with the work of archaeologists and possibly a next generation museum app.
In the game, you assume the role of a Director of Excavations. With your team of archaeologists, you run the excavation of the ancient Villa of Dionysus, unearth its thousands of years old treasures, join together artefact fragments and host an artefact exhibition. The team races against time, a constraint imposed on real-world archaeologists by limited funding and weather conditions. In the process, you inspect up close and interactively the 3D models of the real artefacts found in the ancient site and you learn about the glorious millennium of ancient Dion, the City of Zeus situated at the foothills of Mount Olympus.
The game thus introduces the player to the archaeological process as a prelude to the museum experience, offering a context for and a detailed view of the tangible discoveries at the Villa of Dionysus; as well as an insight into the needs and challenges of managing an excavation project.Game Features
- A unique grid excavation mechanic – reveal instead of build.
- A mix of exploration, worker placement and puzzle.
- Unlimited replayability using the random artefact locations mode.
- A portrayal of archaeology with a learning effect created to inspire young and old.
- A faithful reproduction of the architectural remains of the luxurious ancient Villa of Dionysus, as well as an artistic depiction of its environment.
- The ancient artefacts discovered in the game are 3D models of the real artefacts exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Dion.
- The Preservation Labs are reproductions of the archaeologist workshops in Dion.
- The Exhibition Hall is inspired by the Archaeological Museum of Dion.
- The music is an original composition based on the ancient Greek harp song of Seikilos.
- The stories and artefact descriptions in the game are based on the following publications: - PANDERMALIS, D. (ed) (2000), “Discovering Dion”, Adam Editions (Athens) - PANDERMALIS, D. (ed) (2016), “Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus”, Onassis Foundation (USA) Multilingual: English, Greek, Chinese (soon).
The game concept was formed by Culturplay, an Athens-based game studio, in collaboration with the archaeologists engaged in the Excavations at Dion. The general idea was to develop a simulation/management narrative and an archaeological exhibition seen from the perspective of the Director of Excavations.
For the game design, the studio undertook further research into sources and guides provided by the archaeologists, as well as two trips at the archaeological site of Dion. For the development, the studio engaged a team of eight: two senior developers of whom the one was the game designer, a concept artist, a 3D artist, two photogrammetry experts, a musician and a storyteller. The development lasted 5 months and the first version of the game was published in the appstores in May 2016.
Night at the Museum: The development team was given the opportunity to stay one whole night in Dion Museum to make photogrammetric captures of the 22 ancient artefacts used within the game. These ‘scans’ were then digitally processed to produce digital surrogates of high-resolution 3D models, ready to be used as assets in the video game. The decision to use digital 3D models within the game was part of the larger vision of the archaeologists to broaden access to and encourage the creative reuse of cultural artefacts that are otherwise unavailable to the public due to their fragility or remote location.
The Game Engine used for this game was Unity3D, which enabled not only fast (playable) results, but also the design of the code in a way that allows for its reusability. So, if the developers were in the future to build a game about the excavation of another archaeological site, the same code base would be used along with a new excavation area and new artefacts.