the Titanic as if you were there in the Rendez-vous de l’histoire de Blois

The video game Titanic: Honor & Glory, in development, was presented at the Rendez-vous de l’histoire de Blois. Objective: to recreate the decoration and atmosphere of the mythical ocean liner down to the smallest detail.

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nostalgic movie titanic by James Cameron and history lovers will soon be able to reconcile. An international team of enthusiasts has been reconstructing, for ten years, the smallest details of the ocean liner lost at sea in 1912 to make a video game, or rather a real “virtual museum“.

To talk about it, two specialists, the historian Antoine Resche (also a videographer on the YouTube channel Histony) and Nicolas Murgia, historical artistic director of the project. Titanic: Honor and Glory gave a “play-conference” this Saturday October 8th during the Rendez-vous de l’histoire de Blois. The opportunity to discover, command in hand, sets perfectly faithful to those in which the passengers of the White Star lived for a few days.

And restoring them is no easy task. “It’s the world’s most famous disaster, and we know very little about it.” observes Antoine Resche to report on the immense challenge that the operation represents. The same author of a book on the ship, the historian deplores the scarcity of reliable sources.

In the cinema, if there is any detail that we are not sure about, we can leave it out of the fieldNicholas Murgia abounds.There, people can explore and push as many doors as possible.

Surprisingly, however, very few details are known about the most famous ocean liner in history. Much of it is known thanks to Father Frank Browne, a Catholic priest from Dublin who landed before the inaugural crossing of the Atlantic.

Passionate about photography, he was able to send some photos of the interior of the ship taken in the Irish Sea, as well as his plans. The First Class Dining Room, recreated in the 1997 film, is one of the most well-known places thanks to vintage photographs.

The only problem: a large part of the plans in question, and of those that were made available later, do not correspond to the reality of the titanic Launched in 1912 and continuously modified until the last minute before leaving the Belfast shipyard. Looking at the press photos, “it’s often just the captain, taken from the same angle by all the papers“, says Nicholas Murgia.

Added to these period sources are videos filmed in the remains over the years, as well as later documents. Some details have also been provided by the study of the two “twin” ships of the titanicnamely, the British (sunk in 1916) and theOlympic (which in the meantime served until 1935… and even sank a German submarine in 1918).

Several times we had to recreate very little known areas, from almost nothing“, continues Nicholas Murgia. “Then we made the decision to add a sign to explain that this or that detail actually comes from the Olympic or the Britannic.

Other times, the concern for realism collides with preconceived ideas. Most of the most luxurious cabins in the titanicfar from Rose’s in the 1997 film, they would look pretty rudimentary in 2022. Or, to quote Antoine Resche: “We wouldn’t want that in a Formula 1!“Similarly, corridors seem much narrower with the joystick in hand than they do in front of a movie screen.

This virtual model can even be useful, later, to historians or amateurs, adds the historian. During the sinking, at least 20 minutes elapsed between hitting the iceberg and the moment the ship’s architect, Thomas Andrews, realizes the ship is doomed. “When you see the immensity of the ship, when you realize the distance that has to be covered between the gangway, the hold, the engine room, you understand that in order to have an overview of what is happening, 20 minutes really it’s so wrong!

The goal is to put reality back into a story that has become a myth. Cameron’s film refers much more to myth than to reality.

Antoine Resche, historian and presenter of the YouTube channel Histony

Made up of a dozen enthusiasts, the THG collective is not in its first attempt: in 2013 they raised 20,000 euros for the first version of the project. Two years later, after choosing to change the graphics engine, this time they raised 60,000 euros thanks to Indiegogo crowdfunding.

In April 2016, on the anniversary of the sinking, they ran a real-time simulation of the disaster, from the collision with the iceberg to the giant’s last gasps.

Today, a great demo version is available for free download. This “Demo 401”, downloadable here in version 1.4, allows access to approximately 30% of the ship’s interior.

Regarding financing, the THG team has a Patreon account, in which interested people can pay them a small monthly sum. Next stop: the release of version 1.5, which will give access to 50% of the ocean liner.

In its final version, the game promises that it will even be possible to experience the sinking in virtual reality, as if you were there. Even James Cameron wouldn’t have dreamed of that.

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