Jun 17 2015

Power-up

Work on 233 is progressing nicely…

Linking Book Pedestal

A Closer View


Jun 3 2015

Marvelous Maglev

Just a small update today, with an object some of you may recognize. This is a high-poly model, where an artist goes all-out to produce the most detailed, accurate, beautiful model of an object as they possibly can, without any regard for poly count or performance.

The Maglev

While we’re pretty confident that our engine could handle a model like this in realtime, the next step will be to create the low-poly model, which judiciously reduces our polygon count without sacrificing accuracy and detail.


May 13 2015

Starry Expanse in the News

Earlier this week, the gaming news website PCGamesN published an article about the Starry Expanse Project, featuring an interview with us! If you’re interested in getting to know the team and our project’s history, it’s a great read. Check it out!


Apr 14 2015

Forest for the Trees

The process of recreating a game like Riven requires a lot of guess-and-check work. Matt, one of our artists, has been gradually figuring out the exact placement of each tree in the Jungle Island jungle, and the precise shape that the pathway follows. This is a constant struggle for us – the placement and shape of every object is triangulated using the original game renders (and other various resources). We use temporary “blocking” geometry, in order to lay everything out in position, before final assets are modeled.

Here’s a quick shot of an area in the Jungle that’s being “camera matched” currently:Jungle blocking

 

We’ve shared a few of these images in the past, but the jungle is a seemingly never-ending area! Once the positions of the trees and other jungle objects are locked down and double-checked, another artist will start adding detail and bringing the place to life.


Mar 26 2015

Je m’appelle Gehn

We are committed to making our game a multilingual experience. One aspect of that push gathering translations of all text and speeches in Riven, and as we have mentioned before, we have partnered with OHB in order to do just that. If you’re interested in helping translate Riven, check out the project page over at GULP.

Another aspect, however, is the actual implementation of those other languages. We’ve shown you guys the custom fonts being built by Vincent, our in-house typographer, before (Atrus, and some of Gehn), but today we’d like to share his efforts towards multilingual support.

The main problem, of course, would be accents and other characters that were not present in the original game. In order to create these, Vincent printed out a sheet of text using our Gehn font, and then drew in the accents by hand. These were then scanned back in, and used as the basis for what is now in the font.

Áççêñtß

Accents in the Gehn font

 

This is the first of our fonts to receive this treatment, but the Atrus font will eventually have all of these characters as well.


Mar 19 2015

Reviewing for Finals

We’ve  been showing off the Jungle island schoolhouse a lot recently, because its one of our fastest-progressing assets. The work in here is now entering the “review” phase, meaning that it’s pretty much all done – just needs a few tweaks here and there. We’re pretty confident that what you see here will be at least pretty close to what the final area will look like. Check it out!

(Beware, these files are pretty high-resolution)





Feb 11 2015

All-Terrain Modeling

While we were pretty happy with our Mysterium 2014 presentation, many of the elements we showed off were incomplete. We’ve been working at polishing a lot of aspects of the Jungle Island Basin, and today we’d like to share a status update.

Davis, another talented member of our art team, has been hard at work for the last few weeks on an updated model of the basin terrain. While we have not yet textured the model (the sculpting is not yet complete, which needs to happen first), we think it’s just about ready to show the world.

The Basin

North wall

South wall

Most notably missing from last year’s terrain model were the vertical ridges that are such iconic features in the original game – now meticulously restored!

At the same time, Will continues the Sisyphean task of stick-walkway placement, in the village. Will has been assigned to this task since before last Mysterium, and it’s a doozy. He’s been placing sticks individually, to ensure that their locations are exactly accurate to the walkways in the original. Here are a few key areas he’s been working on:

Upper-level village walkways

Village walkways, now with 100% more lamp

 

We’re holding off on bringing these updates into Unreal until they’re closer to being totally finished – these images are just snapshots from Maya, and shouldn’t really be judged on their looks. We’ll focus on making them look great as soon as the modeling is complete!


Feb 4 2015

Back to School

This week, we’re showing off some of the texture work that has been taking place in the schoolhouse! When we demoed this area at Mysterium last year, it was in a fully modeled, but untextured state – now one of our artists, Tim, is working to rectify that!

We haven’t put the new textures into Unreal yet, but in the meantime here are a few renders!

The Schoolhouse

The Schoolhouse

The Schoolhouse from above

 

Note that these images are not representative of final assets, there’s still plenty of work to be done here. We’re pretty happy with how they’re coming along, however. You can see more of Tim’s work in last year’s Mysterium demo – he was responsible for the Villager that opens the door when you knock.

Meanwhile, work continues on modeling Gehn’s Office on the 233rd age. As modeling work wraps up on the upper level, Kelly has begun to look at the objects in Gehn’s Bedroom. Here’s her latest object, the nightstand:

Gehn's Night Stand

As soon as we’re happy with the quality and accuracy of the models, texturing can begin. Kelly modeled a bunch of objects for last year’s demo, including the schoolhouse area!

We’ll wrap up with a reminder that we now have a forum! Come by and hang out!


Jan 26 2015

A Whole New 2015

Well, it’s been a quiet year in the starry expanse, our hometown, out there on the edge of the… wait a second, no it hasn’t! This past year was our busiest yet, with the adoption of Unreal Engine 4, a huge chunk of Jungle Island, a working submarine, and so much more.

But the mania isn’t over. We’re launching into a new year, and in celebration of that we’ve prepared a cup o’ kindness rivaled by none other than Gehn’s journals themselves.

Vincent, our resident font artisan, has been hard at work meticulously studying and redrawing the glyphs found in the diaries of one of the most fascinating villains in MYST history. This is no easy task, but the results have been very rewarding.

The original and recreation of the Gehn font, both amazing, side by side for comparison.

(left to right) The  Starry Expanse re-creation of the Gehn font, compared to the original

The entire lowercase alphabet has been completed for this typeface, as well as all of the uppercase. If you look closely, you can see that some lowercase letters are drawn with just a slightly different pen stroke, or are just a little bit “off.” This is a purposeful effect, to give the journals’ text a human feel, instead of just looking like your standard printing press output. Each of these letter variants had to be hand-sketched. We think it paid off in the end, with certainty.

Variants of several letters in the Gehn font

Variants of several letters in the Gehn font

But what New Year’s celebration would be complete without a cozy rug, hot cups of cheer, and community bonding? That is why it’s our pleasure to announce the brand-new Starry Expanse Community Forum (community.starryexpanse.com) — a place where all our fans are welcome to gather for discussions about Myst, Riven, and anything related.

A screenshot of a curious forum posting being composed

The forum is for all kinds of discussion!

Speculations*, cautious optimism, and “fan theories” abound, as well as just general fun and games, we’re hoping this recently added part of the site will be your first stop for questions and answers about the project, as well as the Myst franchise in general. Sign up right now!

Happy new year to all, and may it be the most exciting yet!

 

* also Speculoos


Jan 22 2015

Cho…?

Well hello there! You may be coming to us from Twitter* — our site’s a bit of a mess right now (sorry about that!), but we may as well use this opportunity to point you in the right direction:

Have at it! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

* A big thank you to Rian Johnson!