What a year we had! We welcomed seven new immensely talented people to the team, we were able to ‘greybox’ several large areas of the game which we proudly presented at Mysterium in Salt Lake City, and we even started exploring areas of development that we’ve not attempted previously — like motion capture solutions for our character animation.
We’re all aware that this update has been a long time coming, and we apologize for the radio silence since August — we’ve all just been so busy! To make it up to you, here is our new year’s resolution: We will be providing at least one update per month for the duration of 2017. We’ll keep you informed — and we trust you’ll hold us to it! And a special thanks to all those fans who reached out to us during this time to ask about the project; your support means a lot to us.
2017 is going to be a fantastic year for the Starry Expanse project. We can’t wait to continue sharing this journey with you.
Upon us in the month of August are potentially many events that may make or break the future of humanity. The most critical of these events, of course, is the 19th annual occurrence of Mysterium (the Myst fan convention). This will be our seventh year presenting at Mysterium, and our show this time is going to be quite the departure from previous years — so be sure to tune in!
We’ll post a link to a live video stream when the time is closer. For now, though, be sure to mark your calendar with the following details:
Date: Friday, August 5th, 2016 Location: Salt Lake City, UT Local Time (MDT / Mountain Daylight Time): 3:30 PM
Time zone conversions for your convenience: Eastern USA Time: 5:30 PM Pacific USA Time: 2:30 PM UTC: 9:30 PM (Friday August 5th)
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!
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.