A Light In Chorus: A Case In Points

Definitely not a patronus.

Spending just half a day at EGX meant a whistle-stop tour of Things Which Are Eyecatching And Pip You Have Destiny At Home GET OUT OF THAT QUEUE IMMEDIATELY. That’s how A Light In Chorus pinged back onto my radar, in the Leftfield Collection section curated by David Hayward.

A Light in Chorus is a point cloud exploration affair at present. Alas, enthusing about point clouds tends to net you a lot of blank looks from friends in the pub so the more accessible explanation is “the objects and landscape are made from clouds of little light particles – it’s like walking through a sculpture park made from fireflies”.

There’s a degree of interactivity in the current build as some of the ghostly objects can be swapped for others in your inventory. A broken neon ‘C’ is replaced with a working one you picked up earlier and marks the entrance to a funfair. I managed to explore my way out of the funfair and into some curious parkland populated with lampposts pretty quickly but there’s a lot more you can do within the space. The game’s developers Eliott Johnson and Matthew Warshaw explained you can also rearrange bits of the rides if you so wish – the individual Ferris wheel carriages can be unhooked and reconfigured, for example.

Ever since that Owl City Fireflies song, describing anything as a “made from fireflies” runs the risk of sounding inescapably twee. However, what I played managed to be lovely without tipping over into twee-dom. Just as well, really because at the first sign of a ten thousand lightning bugs gearing up to hug me I’d have been out of that expo faster than a greased weasel on a slip ‘n’ slide.

The team are currently considering their next move. Part of that will likely be keeping an eye on the tension between a free-er kind of exploration and actual puzzle solving elements. But even in its present form, A Light in Chorus is a beautifully constructed and gentle experience with plenty of charm.

16 Comments

  1. AshRolls says:

    I think this would be especially incredible to see in the Oculus Rift.

    • Ross Angus says:

      “My God, it’s full of stars”?

      Hang on, I’m pretty sure I made this exact comment the last time this game was mentioned.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        Coincidentally, in the previous article about this game, I made a comment about that picture resembling Harry Potter’s patronus animal and quickly wrote that here as well, before having a deju vu moment.

  2. Darth Gangrel says:

    Great, I’ve always wanted a game featuring Harry Potter’s patronus animal.

  3. Continuity says:

    I’d like to play a game with graphics like this, it seems like the brain interpolates a lot of detail which is a curious thing to explore.

  4. Jorum says:

    Haha I saw this at EGX and thought “must remember what it was called” then forgot on way home and then thought “ah doesn’t matter RPS is so 100% going to cover that”

  5. Phantasma says:

    I have no idea what it is but it certainly looks enchanting.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Craig Pearson says:

    I give this post Pip out of ten.

  7. John O says:

    I guess “point clouds” are not exactly something that would excite most guys/gals who are into games. I got a rough idea of what they are about during an internship with a company that manages and displays point clouds for clients in the field of engineering. If you want to get an idea, don’t bother with still pictures. You can find a couple of good videos on the Youtubes though.

    In gaming, at the moment they serve as an intermediary step in creating models in a process called photogrammetry. Which is how many models in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter were created, incidentally.

    Basically you shoot a couple of photos and match visible points where they overlap. It’s a technology Microsoft did some research on for Photosynth. In fact, the free toolkits for photogrammetry that exist make use of the tool MS made accessible to the community.

    Once you have the points where the photos match, you can infer from where the camera was looking at them. Really. Well, i’m impressed anyhow. From there it’s not a big step to your first ugly baby point cloud from which you can then create a 3D model.

    Autodesk offers a service called 123D-Catch that’s supposed to do it automatically, but it’s more fun to experiment with the free Python Photogrammetry Toolkit or VisualSFM if you’re so inclined. There’s things like camera distortion and hardware limits to keep in mind and the whole process isn’t really well documented online, but it’s definitely possible.

    Of course, industrially they’re created using laser scanners that work at a much higher resolution and especially accuracy, with markers to make overlapping shots of large areas. Using an additional photocamera strapped to the laser mechanism the 3D-Pixels can be colored, leaving you with a kind of voxel image that’s very clear and realistic. Seeing that projected on a high definition 3D screen at a 1:1 size ratio is quite a sight. It isn’t unusual to get a Cloud like in the “The Shipping Galleries – A 3D Point Cloud Fly Through” video on the aforementioned “Youtubes”.

    Well, with Physically Based Materials and the likes that are en vogue nowadays, the idea of “photorealism” seems not that far off. So why bother with what’s basically a copy in games when we can recreate reality? I think it’s the little things that are missing in games right now, and VR-Glasses, point clouds and big 4k screens will make them visible to the point that they become like aching milk teeth.

    Up until now, nobody bothered about the soldering on pipes, the paint where a wall meets a doorjamb or scratches on the linoleum. It’s a question of resolution, and higher immersion as well as rising 2D resolution lead to higher awareness of what i’d call three dimensional resolution. Think of it as a kind of zooming in on the details. I think that will make a big splash in game development – after all, if there’s something to see there, it changes trivial details like movement, for instance.

  8. dethtoll says:

    Reminds me of this: link to youtube.com

    • The First Door says:

      It reminds me of the Radiohead video:

      link to youtu.be

      From what I remember they uploaded the point data into a visualiser too, so you could play with it, but it doesn’t seem to be active anymore. It’s a shame because it looked much better in a higher resolution!

      I adore visualised point cloud data though, so it’s great to see a game using it!

    • Joga says:

      In a similar vein, there’s “Agenda Circling Forth” link to youtube.com

      The whole “cloud of points” thing seems pretty popular lately in the demoscene – it’s a really cool effect.

  9. sonofsanta says:

    Oh my gosh I want this right now.