Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it! Sorry about that. Rest assured, the last few months have been extremely active for us, and we have a lot of cool stuff to show for it! Our camera matching has come along really really well, and we’re in the process of loading our matched assets into Unreal now.
We’ll be presenting as usual at Mysterium this year in Salt Lake City, so we don’t want to show off too much just yet. But as a taste, here are a few shots of the fruits of our labor since April:
Keep in mind that these are stand-in models, the first step in creating art assets for our game. They’re definitely a work in progress, but having them done gives us a template to follow when sculpting high-poly models, and allows us to start work on interaction programming. Pretty soon we’ll have a fully playable game! Then we just have to make it look pretty.
If you fit one of those descriptions, or if you have some other talent that you think would benefit our project, please please please do not hesitate to get in touch with us! It’s also worth noting that if you’ve previously applied to join, don’t be afraid to say hello again. We’re much better equipped now to handle a large team than we were in the past.
It may not have escaped your notice that it’s been a little quiet around these parts recently. It’s been a slow couple of months for the Starry Expanse Team, a lot of us have been very busy with other commitments that pull us reluctantly away from the project. The first quarter of the year has traditionally been a slow period for us, so this wasn’t entirely unexpected. We anticipate things to start picking up again soon, as they always do!
However, we’ve not been idle these past months! We’ve been focusing on a new development philosophy which we think you’ll really appreciate. In the past, we’ve focused on presenting an island, or a section of an island, for each update. This has allowed us to explore our development pipeline and refine our methods, but it has also been a very slow process. Too slow, if you ask us! Now that we’ve mastered our process, from camera-match to final polish, it’s time for a change of tack.
Since January, we’ve been working on camera-matching everything in Riven. Yes, everything. Our new goal is to have as much of the game as possible playable by Mysterium 2016, albeit untextured and unrefined. This, as always, is an immense challenge – but we’re just as eager as you to see it finished.
Seven years ago today, in a half-joking AIM conversation between two friends from Uru Obsession, the Starry Expanse Project began. While at the time we were absolutely getting in over our heads, we like to think that we’ve proven our chops by hanging on until we managed to bring together a team capable of accomplishing the insane goal we set for ourselves all those years ago: to make a realtime 3D version of Riven.
And a few months ago, we decided that we would have our first fully complete area of the game done by November, Gehn’s 233rd age. November became December, and now we’re almost done with December, too. It turns out it’s really difficult for perfectionists such as ourselves to call something “complete”. We’re working on that.
Anyway, it’s been too long since we shared our progress with our amazing community, so we thought that in celebration of our seventh year of development, we would show you guys what we’ve got cooking.
While 233 is not yet fully complete (most notably, the exterior still needs work, and our lighting is way off in many areas), we’re really proud of how it’s looking. We hope you guys will like it, too – honestly, you’re the only reason we’re able to continue working on a project of this magnitude under the circumstances that we do. Your continuing support and generosity is what fuels our developers, and we really can’t say “thank you” enough.
Here’s to seven years! We’re still here, we’re still working, we’re going to finish this thing. See you in 2016!
As those of you who subscribe to the idea of a solar calendar may have noticed, it is currently November. We recently promised you guys that we would have 233 finished by November, and we still intend to make good on that promise. That said, we have decided to allow ourselves some…uh…let’s call it artistic license with the definition of “November”. That is to say, we will have 233, in its final state of readiness (more or less) before the end of November.
In the meantime, here’s a couple of things that have been improved upon since Mysterium, to tide you over until the big reveal.
Gehn’s timepiece animation is much more realistic, and more accurate to the original.
For reference, this is what it looked like at Mysterium this year.
Gehn’s bed now has a high-detail sculpt, replicating the fabric folds and wrinkles of an actual bed.
And Gehn’s desk gets more gorgeous every day, of course.
There’s so much more happening here, and all of it is so close to being ready to show you guys. We can hardly wait!
True to our word, we’ve been devoting almost all of our resources here to applying that final layer of polish to 233. While we don’t have that much to announce today, we do have a couple snapshots of some assets that we didn’t quite have ready in time for this year’s Mysterium, now looking much nicer.
Additionally, we are happy to announce that Vincent, our font artist, has completed the Cyrillic alphabet for our Gehn font. Here’s a page from one of his journals, translated into Russian (thanks to the volunteer translators over at GULP!)
And, finally, a few tidbits that can’t be shared as screenshots. We’ve welcomed a bunch of new people to our team since Mysterium, and are working on updating our Team Roster page accordingly. One of our new members, Michael, has been working pretty much nonstop to convert our code to C++ (we had been using Blueprints), which should make things easier to debug in the future, and help everything run faster in the engine.
Hopefully we’ll get another post up before November, but things are so hectic here you may not here from us before our big 233 deadline. See you then!
Since Mysterium ended, there’s been a lot of reorganization and planning going on here at the Starry Expanse. We’ve brought on a few new members, who we hope will help speed along our development process. To that end, we’d like to announce our new goal: We intend to have the 233rd Age finished by November of this year.
While we’re not entirely sure what exactly will happen in November, we are for the first time dedicating ourselves to fully completing an area. We will, of course, continue to keep this blog up to date in the interim with the latest developments on the project, but we wanted to announce that goal publicly, so you guys could start getting excited now!
This year at Mysterium (the annual gathering of Myst fans), we gave a presentation demoing our latest work – most notably, Gehn’s 233rd age. We had a lot of fun, and while the age is not completely finished, we’re really proud of our work so far. You can watch the presentation in its entirety here:
We had a lot of fun working on the demo at Mysterium. We have a tradition of continuing to polish our presentations right up until the minute we go on stage. We’re never satisfied!
The area is definitely still a work in progress – for example, in the demo above we had not yet added the textures for Gehn’s desk. We have since added those in, and you can see them in the screenshots below, rendered in beautiful 4K for your viewing pleasure:
(We’re also aware that there are some weird glitches happening in the water, these are an artifact of the rendering process we used to make the screenshots and won’t be visible in the final game)
We set up the demo for Mysterium-goers to try hands-on, and everyone had a good time.
We think it was a really successful Mysterium, and a great year for the project. Here’s looking forward to 2016! Stay tuned as we put the finishing touches on 233, and begin work on our next area.
If you are feeling particularly generous, you can donate some money to us, to help fund the project. Even though our primary funding goal has been reached, we could always use more funds. The more we get, the easier it will be for us to finish the game in a timely manner. If you donate, your name will be included in the credits!
Just make sure to include your name where the page tells you to!
We are not a non-profit organization, nor are we tax-exempt in any country. All money is to be used for the sole purpose of furthering the Starry Expanse Project, and not the personal gain of any member thereof. That said, we are not obligated to disclose how we ultimately use our funds. Donations are not pre-orders, nor do they represent the purchase of any goods or services. Donations do not entitle the donor to any share in, or profit made by 59 Volt Entertainment. Donations are not a guarantee of the delivery or execution of any goods or service, apart from the previously mentioned credit. We do, however, guarantee that all purchases will contribute to the Starry Expanse Project. Donations are non-refundable.