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!


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!)


Jul 11 2014

It Takes a Village

Back when we first announced that we would be switching to Unreal Engine, the first asset we showed you guys was a hut from the Jungle Island village. In the intervening time, we have completed much more of the village. In fact, all of the huts are now detailed and textured, and the walkways connecting them are also coming along nicely.

Here’s a peek at what the village looks like running in Unreal:

Looking up at the village

These shots only show the village and beginnings of the walkways, with terrain and other assets stripped away. You’ll have to check out our Mysterium presentation on August 2nd to see the complete scene!

A village!

The beginnings of a walkway

Mysterium is being held during the first weekend of August, at Cyan’s offices in Spokane, WA. We hope to see you there!


Jun 5 2014

Gehn’s Gallows

A few weeks ago we showed you a preview of the counting toy featured in the village schoolhouse. The toy, however, is only a crude, small-scale model of the full-sized gallows, so this week we’d like to share the genuine article!

Used to punish those deemed disloyal to Gehn, the cone-shaped wahrk gallows features prominently in the Jungle Island village basin.

The Wahrk Gallows

The gallows is topped with the skulls of Wahrks (five of them), the most powerful creature in Riven – a symbol both of the power of Gehn, and of the gruesome death awaiting those deemed unworthy.

Five Wahrk Skulls

While we pride ourselves on the accuracy of all of our artwork, the skulls in particular were given extreme attention to detail. Here’s a more detailed look at the model itself:

The Detailed Skull
The Detailed Skull

While the wahrk gallows is not yet fully textured, we look forward to the asset being completed and brought into Unreal within the next few weeks. Stay tuned for further updates soon!


May 22 2014

Font of Knowledge

We here at 59 Volts pride ourselves on the accuracy of our art assets. Every part of our game is painstakingly created from scratch, using the original game as reference – and we don’t stop tweaking our art until it is spot-on.

While this is probably obvious for the models and textures we’ve shown in the past, it extends beyond them, too. Today, we’d like to direct your attention to another aspect of our attention to detail – the handwriting fonts used in the journals throughout the game.

This is a more complicated task than it might initially seem. We aim to support more languages than the original Riven did (more on that soon!), meaning we need full glyph support in our fonts. The original, English version of the game does not cover all letters (accented characters, in particular, are totally absent), so we’ve had to go on the hunt for other localizations. We’ve drawn from the French and German versions of the game, to name a few, plus a number of promotional images from outside of the game itself. On top of that, we’ve had to deal with low-resolution images, font inconsistencies, and all of the other issues that we usually encounter when re-creating Riven assets.

That said, we’re happy to announce that our Atrus font is nearing completion! Here’s a sneak peek at what we’ve come up with so far:

Well, it hasn't!

Because this is a vector-based font, it can be scaled to huge sizes, with no loss of quality. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of our font, with a page from the original game (click to enlarge):

Side by Side

It’s worth noting that the page pictured here is simply a mock-up, that this is not a final texture, nor has it been applied to an in-game model yet. This is simply the easiest way to display the font.

Now that the Atrus font is nearly complete, work has begun on a font for Gehn, which is proving to be an even more difficult task.

Stay tuned for further updates as these in-game fonts are developed. The ending has not yet been, heh, written.


Apr 16 2014

In Gehn We Trust

It’s back-to-school season here at the Starry Expanse Project! Do you remember the rules of Gehn? If not, pull up a bench and we’ll teach you a thing or two.

The Hologram Pedestal

First, our lord and master Gehn will address the class, via his special holograph pedestal.

One...Five...Uh

Next, we’ll learn to count in the manner of our lord Gehn.

Yummy, nutritious fruit!

Feeling hungry? Maybe it’s time for a lunch break.

Come back soon!

We don’t know about you, but we sure learned a lot today.

It’s worth mentioning that clearly, the village schoolhouse is a work in progress. These are screenshots taken from within Maya (not Unreal), and are in no way representative of final graphics. We’re pretty excited about how it’s coming along, though!


Mar 19 2014

Under the Sea

We’d like to share with you another object that we are currently developing – the village submarine, one of the most iconic elements in Riven. Because the textures for the object are not complete, we don’t have it set up in UDK quite yet – these are work-in-progress renders from Maya.

The Submarine
Inside the Sub

 

The interior of the sub highlights one of the more interesting challenges inherent in the project – what do the areas that are never seen in the original game, but will see in our game, look like? In this case, the area inside the submarine behind the seat has been imagined by a member our hard-working art team, as it is impossible to turn around in the original game. You can see his work in this cutaway shot:

Submarine Cutaway