• 1hero

    David OReilly: Mountain

Behind The Scenes

David OReilly on his new game where you make a personal mountain

Posted by Madeleine Morley,

Since last week, I’ve acquired an intriguing new edition to my desktop, which lives alongside my work during my primarily computer-focused day. Mountain is a new game, or perhaps it is better described as an ambient companion, for iOS, Mac and PC, and it’s been rotating and humming and engaging with me at all hours of the day. Its creator is the prolific animator David OReilly, the mind behind the alien interactive game in HER, and the writer, director, producer and animator of the mind-blowing Adventure Time episode A Glitch is a Glitch.

Now that I have Mountain, instead of checking Facebook 3000 times a day in order to break up the monotonous day with more monotony, my obsession has shifted and I’ve been continually checking my personal mountain. It’s a living, breathing, peaceful kind of Buddhist tamagotchi, which slowly but continually delivers sparkling moments of intrigue and mystery and surprise.

If I don’t regularly check up on my mountain, which has been mysteriously generated through my answers to personal, philosophical questions, a serene ping will alert me to one of its fragmented, quizzical and always unique thoughts. I’ve arranged my screen so that it is always in my periphery, and sometimes in its distant yet weirdly personal universe it will be snowing, or sunny, or a misty night, or there will be a random object lodged into the side of its peak. I don’t understand it, and I like that, and it’s nice to know that in some way the mountain is personally connected to me, in a time of so many fragmented, random connections. I decided to find out more about Mountain by talking to David, and it turns out that his answers to my questions are just as enigmatic as his new work, and it is almost as if I’ve conducted an interview with the mountain itself.

  • Screen-shot-2014-06-27-at-09.22.12

    David OReilly: Mountain

What inspired you to make Mountain?

Beckett & Buddhism.

Why mountains?

They are beautiful.

What is the relationship between the personal questions asked at the beginning of the game and the mountain that then gets generated?

This is a secret. 

How do the mountains evolve over time?

This is something people will discover. It will be different for everyone who plays it.

You’ve designed the game so that every generated peak will be different and unique. How did you design it so that no two mountains would ever be alike?

There are multiple layers of influence on each mountain, on shape, colour, flora and many other things – the chances of overlap extend to the billions.

Can you explain a little bit more about the process of designing the game?

It was a back and forth between me and Damien Di Fede – who wrote the code and did all the sound and music work. I sent him a proposal of the idea, with some paintings and 3D sketch of how it might work. Damien wrote some amazing things from scratch, like the terrain generator and a new method of generating ambient occlusion. While he was coding I was creating assets and working on the design of things. 

How has this been different from things you’ve done in the past?

Mountain is a very sincere project. It was made with love. I consider it the best thing I’ve done. 

Do you think that you’ll make more interactive work like this in the future?

If I get the opportunity to make something as un-pitchable as Mountain, then absolutely.

  • Screen-shot-2014-06-27-at-11.44.21

    David OReilly: Mountain

  • Screen-shot-2014-06-27-at-14.48.42

    David OReilly: Mountain

  • Screen-shot-2014-06-27-at-11.36.12

    David OReilly: Mountain

Oo-xtcya

Posted by Madeleine Morley

Madeleine joined It’s Nice That as a freelance editorial assistant in May 2014 having graduated from Cambridge University where she edited the student newspaper. In the autumn of 2014 she will begin her Masters course at The Courtauld Institute of Art where she will specialise in architecture.

Most Recent: Behind The Scenes View Archive

  1. Main1

    Redesigns are so often chewed up and spat out in the design world, so when one comes along that simultaneously blows the socks off each and every one of your colleagues upon seeing it, you know it’s going to be worth digging a little deeper. When that redesign is an online space it becomes so much more intriguing than a print publication doing the same thing; the web is like a constantly surging ocean and to move with the tide can be treacherous.

  2. Gif1

    Adam Ferriss is one of those technologically-minded creatives who is able to put his ever-growing knowledge of code and processing to use building aesthetically wondrous digital art for the rest of us to enjoy. His images make me feel like I’ve just taken some psychedelics and stepped into one of those crazy houses you get in funfairs, where there are giant optical illusions on every wall and the floor keeps moving under your feet, except these are made using algorithms and coding frameworks and, for the moment at least, they don’t exist beyond the screen.

  3. List

    Love it or loathe it, mobile phone photography is entrenched in our modern media culture. But it’s facile to lump this ever-growing phenomenon under a single umbrella, encompassing as it does everything from hipsters’ obsession with Instagramming their burgers to the vital role of smartphone-wielding citizen journalists in conflicts around the world. In recognition of the increasing importance of mobile phone photography and the numerous narratives intertwined with it, the British Journal of Photography has launched fltr, which bills itself as “the only magazine dedicated to mobile photographers.”

  4. Listnh

    Colourful costumes, coconut curries and calypso aside, at the heart of Carnival is the celebration of a community. New book Carnival: A Photographic and Testimonial History of the Notting Hill Carnival, published by Rice n Peas Publishing, champions the magic, the musicians and the makers of the Notting Hill Carnival. In it, authors Ishmahil Blagrove Jr and Margaret Busby look back at the origins of the festival in the 1950s and 60s, before crime and crowd control began to hog the headlines.

  5. List

    The best of J.G. Ballard’s fiction is incredibly divisive. On the one hand readers are often disgusted by his brutality; an unparalleled ability to paint a picture of the world that is at once alluring and repulsive. On the other, devotees love that about him. As a result he encourages a near-obsessive loyalty among fans, for a body of work so distinct it’s been awarded its own adjective by the Oxford English Dictionary.

  6. Main9

    I’ve rarely spent as much time on an artist’s site as I did on Pooneh’s when first stumbling across it. Scrolling through her reams and reams of photographs is akin to waking up at a festival and trying to piece together flashbacks of the night before like some sort of stained, star-studded puzzle.

  7. Patlist

    Taking on the art direction of a musical installation touring about British woodlands sounds like a somewhat complex task. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what a musical installation set amongst trees would even involve. I assumed it wasn’t anything to do with singing pixies.

  8. Main67

    The curious work of Corinne Day seems to rear its ever-appealing head every now and again, just to remind us of a time gone by that we weren’t part of, and will never fully understand. Gaining worldwide notoriety with her famous, career-making shots of a teen Kate Moss on Camber Sands for The Face, Corinne’s groundbreaking photographs of quintessentially British, black-soled urchins were to become stuff of legend. Contrived shoots of hired models were never her thing, instead Corinne lifted her lens to those closest to her – the ones doing the washing up, smoking fags out of windows, watching telly. The fact that all her friends were rebellious models was just a bonus.

  9. Salva3list

    From the way Marjorie Salvaterra describes how she works, she could be taken for an author, a screenwriter or a director. Like a writer waiting for a stroke of inspiration, this American actress-turned-photographer says “I mostly wait for images to come into my head before I shoot them, which can mean I don’t shoot for weeks at a time!”

  10. Bs1list

    In films, books, plays and works of art, one item can become piled high with layers of meaning; Desdemona’s handkerchief, Matisse’s apple, Dorothy’s ruby slippers. In Lucy Hilmer’s photography series Birthday Suits, one pair of white pants comes to stand for more than itself. Baring almost all, Lucy stands before the camera; sometimes defiant, sometimes distressed, most often smiling. There’s something deeply personal and poetic about these pictures which made me want to learn more about the woman – and the pants – at the centre of them. So over to Lucy, who answers a few of my questions.

  11. Jack_list

    Ever since he was a wee lad (Jack was an It’s Nice That Graduate in the summer of 2009) Jack Featherstone has been impressing us with his record sleeve designs and music videos, made for the likes of Holden and Simian Mobile Disco. Spying a pair of new sleeves and a brand spanking new video for Hachinoko by Jas and James – the pair behind Simian Mobile Disco – we decided to ask Jack a few questions on how he does his stuff.

  12. List

    Almost exactly a calendar year ago we introduced Dan Woodger on It’s Nice That; showed off his desk-space, his process and some of his skateboarding Dinosaurs. Six months later he was contacted by an art director who’d seen that article and enlisted him to produce one of the most labour-intensive illustration projects we’ve ever come across, creating over 1000 unique images for an emoji app. By way of apology for this torturous commission, we asked him a few questions about how it went…

  13. Main1

    Think about the sheer amount of books, articles, lectures and podcasts there must be floating around the earth on what makes a good record sleeve. We tend to consult designers, or record labels about the images that, thrown against sound, create something that sticks with you your whole life, that you could probably draw from memory. It’s rare when get an artist who creates the music and the artwork that makes it shine, but Tim Presley does.