Apr 16 2014

In Gehn We Trust

It’s back-to-school season here at the Starry Expanse Project! Do you remember the rules of Gehn? If not, pull up a bench and we’ll teach you a thing or two.

The Hologram Pedestal

First, our lord and master Gehn will address the class, via his special holograph pedestal.

One...Five...Uh

Next, we’ll learn to count in the manner of our lord Gehn.

Yummy, nutritious fruit!

Feeling hungry? Maybe it’s time for a lunch break.

Come back soon!

We don’t know about you, but we sure learned a lot today.

It’s worth mentioning that clearly, the Village Schoolhouse is a work in progress. These are screenshots taken from within Maya (not Unreal), and are in no way representative of final graphics. We’re pretty excited about how it’s coming along, though!


Apr 2 2014

Unfortunate Circumstances

Yesterday, on April 1st, we announced that we would be switching to the magnificent DOOM engine, to take advantage of its gorgeous graphics and advanced features like sprite support. Unfortunately, since publishing that announcement, we have discovered some pretty major roadblocks standing in the way of that switch, and it is with heavy hearts that we must retract that announcement. Effective immediately, we leave behind our dreams of a DOOM-based realRiven, and return to the (admittedly lower quality) Unreal Engine.

As a consolation for this heartbreaking news, here is another development shot of an area we’ve been working on, running in the Unreal Engine.

The Submarine Control Room

We acknowledge that this in no way can make up for our departure from the beauty of the DOOM engine, but we think that with a lot of hard work, we will someday get Unreal to approach that level of quality.


Apr 1 2014

Engine Switch

Recently, we announced that we would be switching our game engine. Rather than continuing development in Unity, we would instead make use of the beautiful Unreal Engine 3. However, last week, Epic Games (the makers of Unreal Engine) announced the release of Unreal Engine 4, immediately making our brand new engine obsolete.

It’s fair to say that we here at 59 Volts are tired of this constant upgrading and engine switching. To that end, we have some big news to announce – one final engine switch, to end all engine switches. And rather than move to yet another unstable, constantly changing engine like Unity or Unreal, we have decided to make the move to something with a bit more longevity. Something with a strong, well-established developer community. An engine that John Carmack, CTO of Oculus VR, has proudly supported in the past.

That’s right: our game is, even as I type these words, being moved over to the DOOM engine. We’re happy to report that this move has not set us back at all; the assets we’ve been showing off for the last couple of months (and indeed, everything we produced before the move to Unreal) are being put to use in the new engine. In fact, we’re chugging along so well, we feel confident to finally show off a bit of footage of the Village Basin area that we’ve been putting together:

Now, obviously we’re only in the first stages of development, so please keep in mind that the above video is a work-in-progress. That said, we are actually really happy with the accuracy of DOOM’s sky and water shaders, and we are not planning on modifying them beyond this point.

In addition to the Village Basin, we have begun work on a few other key areas of the game, too:

speculative concept art - subject to change

speculative concept art - subject to change

We’re so happy with the beautiful graphics provided by Doom, we’re even ready to show you guys what you’ve all been waiting for – the first public reveal of Tay, in all its realtime 3D glory!

Magnificent.

Magnificent.

Yes, the Doom engine certainly is spectacular. It’s really allowed us to accelerate our development, and we expect to be ready to release the game by the summer of 1995. Keep an eye out for it wherever computer games (or iPods, oscilloscopes, and/or pianos) are sold!

Coming soon!


Mar 19 2014

Under the Sea

We’d like to share with you another object that we are currently developing – the village submarine, one of the most iconic elements in Riven. Because the textures for the object are not complete, we don’t have it set up in UDK quite yet – these are work-in-progress renders from Maya.

The Submarine
Inside the Sub

 

The interior of the sub highlights one of the more interesting challenges inherent in the project – what do the areas that are never seen in the original game, but will see in our game, look like? In this case, the area inside the submarine behind the seat has been imagined by a member our hard-working art team, as it is impossible to turn around in the original game. You can see his work in this cutaway shot:

Submarine Cutaway


Mar 7 2014

Sticks and Ladders

As work steadily progresses on the Jungle Island village, we thought we’d share a very pretty shot of the area.

Sky's the Limit


Feb 25 2014

Catwalk

Keeping the Jungle Island content train rolling along, here’s the next area we’re ready to show off – the prison catwalk.

The Prison Catwalk

This is the pathway that leads to and from the prison cell in the Jungle Island village, right next to the gallows. Here’s a couple of views of the model overlaid on top of the original images it was based on.

Overlaid view 1 Overlaid view 2

 

Meanwhile, another artist has been working on the doorway and interior of the prison itself. While we won’t have the two pieces put together until they’re both complete, we can show you a work-in-progress demonstration of the door opening.

 

 
We’ll keep you updated as this area progresses.


Feb 20 2014

Help Wanted

Hey you! Yes, you, with the talents! Did you know that we’re on the lookout for new people to bring onto the project? That’s right; if you are interested in joining up, send us an email!

Right now, we’re looking for volunteers to fill the following positions:

  • 3D Artists. Our artists generally UV map and texture their own work, so having at least a basic knowledge of texturing is recommended. We are particularly (but not exclusively) looking for people with experience creating landscapes or characters. Except for character artists, applicants should be familiar with Maya, as it is our primary tool of creation. You must send us examples of your work, and we appreciate wireframes as well as renders. We may request that you create and texture a specific model for us as a trial.
  • Programmers. Specifically, programmers with experience in writing shaders, and/or working in UDK. You must include a resumé, and code samples or examples of previous projects will help a lot, too.
  • Sound Engineers and Foley Artists. You would be expected to be able to accurately reproduce sounds from the original game. Additionally, in some cases we would be asking you to work with the sounds from the original game, isolating them from background noise and that sort of thing. You must include samples of previous work, and we may request a few specific sound effects, as a trial.
  • Font Designers. We find ourselves in need of a number of fonts, mainly re-creating the handwriting found in the journals throughout the game. You must include examples of previous work.

As you can see, we require examples of previous work from every applicant. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!


Feb 16 2014

Jungle Island Wallpaper

While we continue to work on the Village Basin of Jungle Island, we thought we’d share a wallpaper that we put together to celebrate our work so far. We made this one at 4K, so it should be able to scale down to most resolutions gracefully.

Click the image to preview it, or click here to download the full size!

Enjoy!

 


Feb 15 2014

Setting Phasers for ‘Stun’

In the past, we’ve shown you bits and pieces from almost every area in Riven. We kicked things off with an early version of Temple Island. We spent two years demoing Prison Island, and last year we showed you an area from Survey Island as well as a rough layout of Boiler Island. Our tactic thus far has been to work mainly on small areas of the game, breaking Riven into bite-size chunks that we could easily achieve.

Still, there are a couple of major areas of the game that we’ve avoided in the past, and one sticks out like a sore thumb.

Notice anything missing?

Notice anything missing?

Well, for Mysterium this year, we decided to throw our old strategy of playing things safe to the wind, and set about creating Jungle Island. And really, what better way to put our new engine through its paces than by throwing the single most complicated area of the entire game at it?

Our efforts are being concentrated primarily in the village basin, where there are a few different areas being worked on at once. We’re going to keep you guys up to date as things progress, but we thought we’d start the show & tell off with one of the most iconic objects from Riven, the village hut.

knock, knock

knock, knock, knock

It’s worth mentioning that these are screenshots from within UDK. We’re kind of in love with the way UDK handles light and shadows, and we’re pretty sure you will be, too.

(this one is in Maya, not UDK, but it's still really cool)

We have all 38 huts modeled and in place, and now that the materials for the first hut are complete, it will be a simple feat to put the finishing touches on the others.

We intend to continue with small updates like these throughout the development of the village basin area, so stay tuned!

 


Feb 14 2014

More Soon

There's a great deal you should know, but I'm afraid I must continue my writing.