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.
As has become tradition, we will be attending and presenting at Mysterium this year! If you’re local to the Boston area, swing by the Burlington Marriott next Friday (August 7th) around 2:00 to see our demo! If not, there will be some form of live-streaming video of the presentation, details of which will be posted beforehand.
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.
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.
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.