Saturday, May 3, 2014

Versailles 3D Review Part 2: Chaos to Perfection

For this segment, I will be reviewing “Chaos to Perfection” an interactive fly-through of some of the interiors and exteriors of the palace of Versailles. If you have a few minutes to spare, I strongly recommend experiencing “Chaos to Perfection” for yourself ( before reading this post. 

Ok, let's begin!

Obviously, there are a few glaring issues with the simulation. To illustrate this for those who did not experience the simulation, let’s play a game. I call it, “Spot the Giant Plane of Doom.” 

Did you find it?

How About now?

What is this even doing?


Needless to say, the giant planes of doom are a problem. They are really, really distracting! As far as I can tell, the giant planes of doom are randomly generated with the exception of the plane that appears in the middle of the statue in the second screenshot, which always appears. It’s a bug and it needs to be addressed.

On another note, is that a cloud in Louis XIV’s bedroom?

What is a cloud doing in Louis XIV’s bedroom?

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the simulation is actually a pretty great idea. For those of us that don’t live in Europe, it can be difficult to get a sense of the scale of Versailles. When we think Versailles as a “castle” we tend to think of it as a large, ornate house for the monarchy, like other European castles. It is all too easy to forget that Versailles was practically its own city (up to 10,000 people on a given day). In one of the opening shots, we are traveling up the Grande Perspective toward the Bassin d'Apollon (fountain of Apollo). We are traveling fast, but the time it takes us to get there helps us appreciate the sheer magnitude of Versailles. Because of the massive scale of Versailles, I think the makers’ decision to have the simulation as an “on-rails fly through” was a good idea. If the simulation had been an open world “sandbox” type simulation, the likelihood of people getting lost, frustrated, or bored would have been pretty high. Selecting a few places to focus on and setting a time limit for the experience shows off some of the best of Versailles without all the walking in between places of interest. That being said, I would have appreciated some speed control for the fly through. Sometimes the shots went too fast, other times, too slow.

For example, I would have really liked to spend more time in the Hall of Mirrors, which I consider to be the crown jewel of the simulation. The models are of a higher quality than other parts of the simulation, the textures are the most ornate we’ve seen so far, and the lighting helps speak to the emotional experience of the hall of mirrors. 

^ Screenshot from "Chaos to Perfection"

^Photo from the real world Hall of Mirrors

In terms of overall contribution to the Versailles 3D website, I feel that “Chaos to Perfection” picks up where the videos left off. “Chaos to Perfection” is a simulation where it is possible to experience Versailles in an emotional way. The music swells as we float over the landscape to the Bassin d’Apollon, we orbit around the le bosquet de colonnade before getting a closer look at the craftsmanship of the statue in the middle, the camera pans down from a detail of a fresco to reveal the openness and light of the hall of mirrors. Yes, the giant-planes-of-doom detract from this experience and the cloud in Louis XIV’s bedroom is pretty absurd. “Chaos to Perfection” contrary to what the name would have you believe, is not perfect, but it is still a worthwhile and even enriching experience.

Off-Topic Asides and Additional Links:

As my one and only off-topic aside,  I think it’s worth mentioning that the song that is playing in the background is “Love Like a Sunset” by Phoenix. Since Louis the XIV likened himself to the sun god, Apollo, and was notoriously... um... passionate, I think this was an appropriate choice of music.  That is all.

“Chaos to Perfection” is a small part of a website that attempts to educate youth about Versailles in a way that is engaging and interactive. Check it out at

If you want to learn more about Versailles 3D, go to:

To go back and experience individual locations in “Chaos to Perfection” without going through the whole simulation again, go to:

For a glimpse Chaos to Perfection without the giant-planes-of-doom, you can watch the game's trailer at:

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