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!


Dec 25 2014

Happy holidays!


Dec 12 2014

December Update

The weather outside may be frightful, and it may have been a few months since we’ve updated you guys on our doings, but work continues regardless! Here are a few updates on the content we showed you guys last time.

First up, the bushwhacking efforts in the jungle are going well. For those just joining us, most of the work produced by our art team begins as rough blocking geometry, which may not be exactly accurate in terms of shape or detail, but are extremely accurately placed, thanks to the system of camera matching we use (object triangulation using the original game renders).

The colored outlines are our geometry, the background images are original renders from Riven.

Camera Matching I

Camera Matching II

 

The rest of the art team, meanwhile, continues to work on their projects. 233 continues to shape up — here are a few of the props that have been developed so far:

Gehn's Cannen

The Pedestal

Gehn's Desk

Texturing for these models will begin soon!

Finally, we are working on fleshing out the Jungle Island Basin area that we showed at Mysterium, filling in the gaps of missing objects and textures from Mysterium. Here’s one such object, a fishing net from the village, which has been modeled but not yet placed:

The Fishing Net

 

Now, bundle up and stay tuned for more updates; we’re heading back into production season!

 

 


Sep 25 2014

Life after Mysterium

Every year after Mysterium, the team takes a bit of time off as a breath of fresh air after the mad dash to complete our demo in time for August. That brief period of exhalation has been thoroughly enjoyed by each and every one of us, and it is now safe to say that we’re back to work.

After our success with last year’s goal, we have decided to split our team into three distinct groups. The first group, which is the majority of the team, is focusing on finishing up the Village Basin area that we showed off at Mysterium. This includes completing the unfinished assets as well as fixing any remaining glitches and generally fine-tuning the engine.

Meanwhile, two of our artists are off blazing new trails for the project. We’ve discussed our camera matching process in the past, our technique of getting 1:1 geometry based solely on images from the original game. Matt, our expert camera-matching guy, has already begun to apply this technique to the rest of Jungle Island, which is the first stage in expanding our in-game area beyond the Village Basin. In these screenshots, you can see our progress on matching Gehn’s throne and the upper walkway in the forest (the line overlays are our work)

Camera Matching - Jungle Island

(The image is somewhat high-resolution, may load slowly)

Once areas are fully “matched”, we create very simple stand-in geometry for the area, so in-engine work can begin before the final assets are completed, or even started. The stand-in assets are then replaced, one by one, with final art, until the area is complete. This is the state of the 233rd age currently – it is fully blocked-in, and Kelly, one of our amazing artists, is beginning to create detailed assets, based on the blocking geometry.

Here you can see one of the elements she’s working on, albeit still in an early, unpolished phase:

Gehn's Oven

We’re very happy to be back to work – as nice as a break is every now and then, we all love working on this project, and are excited to be able to show you guys some pretty cool stuff in the weeks and months to come.


Aug 6 2014

Jungle Island In-Game

The team is finally home, back in the land of stable internet connections. While we do not yet have access to the footage of our actual presentation, we’ve gone ahead and recorded a walkthrough of the area we demonstrated on Saturday, so you all can get a nice, high-resolution view of what was shown there until the actual presentation can be posted.

Also important to note is the fact that this area is still a work in progress. Many textures and objects are placeholders, or missing altogether. That said, work has progressed since Saturday, and there’s actually one or two assets that have been added to the area since then!

Enjoy:

We’ll post the official video of our presentation as soon as we get access to it. Until then, you can watch a capture of the justin.tv stream here!


Aug 4 2014

A Little Something

The Starry Expanse team  is now gradually making their way back to their respective parts of the world, and we are beginning to pick up where we left off before Mysterium. We have a video of the content we presented on Saturday at Cyan, and we’re working on getting it uploaded (the hotel internet was simply too slow for an upload to be feasible). It’ll be up before the week is out.

Until then, here are two of our slides from the presentation, which we think make very nice wallpapers. Enjoy!

The Gallows

The Crest

(Note that these images are based on renders from Maya, not in-game shots!)


Aug 1 2014

We’re at Mysterium!

Hard at work

We’re at the Mysterium hotel in Spokane, putting the finishing touches on our presentation on Saturday! The URL for the live stream (both for the other presentations as well as our own) is justin.tv/mysteriumcon. Be sure to tune in around 1:30 PM tomorrow (that’s Pacific time!) to catch our demo live. If you can’t watch then, we’ll record it as well for viewing later!

And if you’re here in Spokane with us, come talk to us! Most of us don’t bite!

UPDATE: It looks like we’re running a bit behind schedule, we should be up and running by 2:30. Hopefully. Never can tell with Mysterium, unfortunately!

UPDATE 2: Still waiting, sorry!