Glitch Art in Crown of Thorns

In Crown of Thorns (see this post for details on the project), some areas are infected with a malicious distortion.  I’ve illustrated this through glitch art, and I’m pretty pleased with the overall effect.  Here are some examples of animations I made:


They look like a hot mess on their own, but the effect in context is something like this:

The Library of Grace Ma’al, afflicted with distortion.
The Church of Grace Daru, afflicted with distortion.

I made these through a mix of glitching techniques called databending: opening a media file in incorrect formats to mess with the data.  In this case, I opened image files as text files in a text editor and as audio files in Audacity (open source sound-editing program), manipulated them by changing the text or applying audio filters, then converting them back into images (though, in all honesty, there was a good dose of good old fashion GIMP audio filtering too).  It’s mostly a trial and error process, though sometimes you can get fairly targeted effects.  For instance, the horizontal striations in the static filter on the screen in the above examples came from opening the static images in Audacity and applying the wahwah audio filter, and where the striations appear and how wide they are corresponds directly to what portions of the “audio” data I applied the filter to.  In the object animations, when whole parts of the objects are jumbled around, that probably comes from copying and pasting portions of the raw data to other parts of the file.  If you’re interested, Google “databending” and you’ll find more informative tutorials than I can give.

On some level, I wish I could have procedurally caused visual artifacts in real-time during play rather than preparing a bunch of glitched assets.  Programmatically glitching visuals in-game seems more in the spirit of video game glitch art.  Still, it was pretty fun including these techniques in a game.

Speaking of the game, this project is currently in testing, and needs a lot of music and sound design, but should be ready for release soon!