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Awards

2018 Awards

Research, Planning, Analysis and Communication

Merit Award

The Witness Island
Fletcher Studio
Lead Landscape Architect: David Fletcher
Client: Thekla

AERIAL SCREENSHOTS TAKEN DURING MODELING
The upper image shows the island when the design team was first brought on board. The lower image shows the same view at the time of publishing.
ISLAND BEFORE AND AFTER
You wake up in a dark circular cave and walk up to a door. With a series of simple gestures, you solve a puzzle and gain access to the Witness Island. Your avatar is now free to explore the island, in an open world environment.
AERIAL VIEW OF THE ISLAND
You wake up in a dark circular cave and walk up to a door. With a series of simple gestures, you solve a puzzle and gain access to the Witness Island. Your avatar is now free to explore the island, in an open world environment.
DESIGNED SPACES
STATIC AND TEMPORAL SKETCHES
A few of hundreds of sketches prepared over the course of the game design. Note the temporal sketch for the Quarry to the left, showing how the space evolved from pre civilization to civilization 3.
VISUAL SURPRISES AND PUZZLE/LANDSCAPE INTERDEPENDANCY
The woman in the bay, one of many optical illusions incorporated into the landscape. Puzzles that are tied to landscape and to phenomena.
GEOGRAPHICAL STUDIES
Early mapping of the Island before civilization, biomes, geology, and map of island areas.
DESIGNED SPACES
DESIGNED SPACES
DESIGNED SPACES
ISLAND MORPHOLOGY AND PROJECT TIMELINE
Comparative changes to the island edge over time. The spreadsheet shows the tracking of multiple project and spatial design at one time during the game’s production.
CULTURAL SUCCESSION MATRIX
Civilizations 1 2 and 3, and theiir relative attributes , materials and technologies.
GAMEPLAY
The game includes environment dependant puzzles that require 80 - 120 hours of game play to fully resolve.

The Witness is a critically acclaimed video game. It is also an intellectually challenging work of art. It is an adventure puzzle, set on a complex and mysterious abandoned island. The island expresses the overlaid palimpsests of fictional civilizations that have been planned and designed using the media of time and entropy. A Landscape Architecture Studio worked full-time for three years, designing and modeling spaces, structures, geography, geology, environmental puzzles, and biomes. The planning design of the Island required thinking across scales, both spatial and temporal. The design team sought to create an engaging, beautiful, strange, and memorable experience for the player, independent of the gameplay experience. A place of “wonder”. The experience of the island should be one of wonder, even if they never solve a single puzzle. During that first week after the game was released, more individuals and groups explored these virtual landscapes and spaces, than will ever explore our built landscapes in our lifetime.