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.


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!

Apr 2 2014

Unfortunate Circumstances

Yesterday, on April 1st, we announced that we would be switching to the magnificent DOOM engine, to take advantage of its gorgeous graphics and advanced features like sprite support. Unfortunately, since publishing that announcement, we have discovered some pretty major roadblocks standing in the way of that switch, and it is with heavy hearts that we must retract that announcement. Effective immediately, we leave behind our dreams of a DOOM-based realRiven, and return to the (admittedly lower quality) Unreal Engine.

As a consolation for this heartbreaking news, here is another development shot of an area we’ve been working on, running in the Unreal Engine.

The Submarine Control Room

We acknowledge that this in no way can make up for our departure from the beauty of the DOOM engine, but we think that with a lot of hard work, we will someday get Unreal to approach that level of quality.

Apr 1 2014

Engine Switch

Recently, we announced that we would be switching our game engine. Rather than continuing development in Unity, we would instead make use of the beautiful Unreal Engine 3. However, last week, Epic Games (the makers of Unreal Engine) announced the release of Unreal Engine 4, immediately making our brand new engine obsolete.

It’s fair to say that we here at 59 Volts are tired of this constant upgrading and engine switching. To that end, we have some big news to announce – one final engine switch, to end all engine switches. And rather than move to yet another unstable, constantly changing engine like Unity or Unreal, we have decided to make the move to something with a bit more longevity. Something with a strong, well-established developer community. An engine that John Carmack, CTO of Oculus VR, has proudly supported in the past.

That’s right: our game is, even as I type these words, being moved over to the DOOM engine. We’re happy to report that this move has not set us back at all; the assets we’ve been showing off for the last couple of months (and indeed, everything we produced before the move to Unreal) are being put to use in the new engine. In fact, we’re chugging along so well, we feel confident to finally show off a bit of footage of the Village Basin area that we’ve been putting together:

Now, obviously we’re only in the first stages of development, so please keep in mind that the above video is a work-in-progress. That said, we are actually really happy with the accuracy of DOOM’s sky and water shaders, and we are not planning on modifying them beyond this point.

In addition to the Village Basin, we have begun work on a few other key areas of the game, too:

speculative concept art - subject to change

speculative concept art - subject to change

We’re so happy with the beautiful graphics provided by Doom, we’re even ready to show you guys what you’ve all been waiting for – the first public reveal of Tay, in all its realtime 3D glory!



Yes, the Doom engine certainly is spectacular. It’s really allowed us to accelerate our development, and we expect to be ready to release the game by the summer of 1995. Keep an eye out for it wherever computer games (or iPods, oscilloscopes, and/or pianos) are sold!

Coming soon!

Mar 7 2014

Sticks and Ladders

As work steadily progresses on the Jungle Island village, we thought we’d share a very pretty shot of the area.

Sky's the Limit

Feb 25 2014


Keeping the Jungle Island content train rolling along, here’s the next area we’re ready to show off – the prison catwalk.

The Prison Catwalk

This is the pathway that leads to and from the prison cell in the Jungle Island village, right next to the gallows. Here’s a couple of views of the model overlaid on top of the original images it was based on.

Overlaid view 1 Overlaid view 2


Meanwhile, another artist has been working on the doorway and interior of the prison itself. While we won’t have the two pieces put together until they’re both complete, we can show you a work-in-progress demonstration of the door opening.


We’ll keep you updated as this area progresses.

Feb 15 2014

Setting Phasers for ‘Stun’

In the past, we’ve shown you bits and pieces from almost every area in Riven. We kicked things off with an early version of Temple Island. We spent two years demoing Prison Island, and last year we showed you an area from Survey Island as well as a rough layout of Boiler Island. Our tactic thus far has been to work mainly on small areas of the game, breaking Riven into bite-size chunks that we could easily achieve.

Still, there are a couple of major areas of the game that we’ve avoided in the past, and one sticks out like a sore thumb.

Notice anything missing?

Notice anything missing?

Well, for Mysterium this year, we decided to throw our old strategy of playing things safe to the wind, and set about creating Jungle Island. And really, what better way to put our new engine through its paces than by throwing the single most complicated area of the entire game at it?

Our efforts are being concentrated primarily in the village basin, where there are a few different areas being worked on at once. We’re going to keep you guys up to date as things progress, but we thought we’d start the show & tell off with one of the most iconic objects from Riven, the village hut.

knock, knock

knock, knock, knock

It’s worth mentioning that these are screenshots from within UDK. We’re kind of in love with the way UDK handles light and shadows, and we’re pretty sure you will be, too.

(this one is in Maya, not UDK, but it's still really cool)

We have all 38 huts modeled and in place, and now that the materials for the first hut are complete, it will be a simple feat to put the finishing touches on the others.

We intend to continue with small updates like these throughout the development of the village basin area, so stay tuned!


Feb 14 2014

More Soon

There's a great deal you should know, but I'm afraid I must continue my writing.

Oct 14 2013


We’ve been pretty silent since Mysterium, and while we have our reasons (big things in the works!), we realize that it’s not cool to leave you guys hanging like this. So as a kind of apology for staying silent for so long, we put together a couple of wallpapers for you guys. We’re providing them at 1920×1080, they should scale down nicely to other sizes.

Paper 1

Paper 2

Paper 3


Enjoy! We’ll have more updates…eventually! We are still working hard, we promise.

(And we know that the D’ni on the elevator is still wrong. We’ve been so preoccupied with other things, correcting the text slipped our mind)

Apr 1 2013

New Platforms

Historically, our stance on platform support for the Starry Expanse Project has always been that Mac OS and Windows come first, and everything else is a possibility for the future. But as technology advances, so must our project. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ll be bringing The Starry Expanse Project to a new platform – a mobile one.

We recognize that mobile platforms, particularly phones, are the way of the future. More and more games are being released for the iPhone, Android, and sometimes even Windows Phone platforms. These devices all have their pros and cons, but we have found that none of them really have the staying power, the resilience that we require of our technology.

There is, however, one platform that does meet these criteria. A powerful, flexible, mobile platform, with the strength to resist any and all competition.

We are, of course, talking about the Nokia 5110.

That’s right, folks. As of today, we are officially adding the Nokia 5110 to our lineup of supported systems. The game will be made available for the mobile platform on the same day as it’s available for Mac OS and Windows, and it will be a fully functional version of the game – not the usual crippled fare you’ll find in a mobile edition. We aren’t cutting any corners; check out some of these screencaps below, taken from our dev unit:

The classic menu you know and love.

Every cutscene fully preserved, rendered in beautiful 1-bit color.

The Places

All of the locations from the original game, remade with extreme attention to detail, including a dynamic cloud system and moving water!

The Puzzles

Every puzzle works exactly as it does on Mac and Windows.

And of course, the awesome maglev rides have been faithfully ported, as well.

And of course, the awesome maglev rides have been faithfully ported.

Keep in mind that, as with all screenshots that we post, these are a work in progress. We are aware there are some problems and glitches, so please refrain from reporting them.

We’re feeling extra generous today, so we decided to give you guys a sneak peek at another aspect of the project, one that we are asked about quite a lot: sound! For a long time now, we’ve been debating how we’re going to be handling the music in our game, whether or not to remake (or even replace) the score originally composed and performed by Robyn Miller. Well, we’ve finally reached a decision, and well…we hope you agree that we made the right one. Have a listen to a sample of the soundtrack from the upcoming Nokia 5110 edition of the Starry Expanse Project:

We are really excited about the new platform, let us know what you guys think of it! What other platforms would you like to see the game ported to?

Update: Unfortunately, development issues have forced us to rescind our support for the Nokia 5110.

Jan 10 2012

Some Small Updates

Hey there – Just wanted to let you guys know that work is continuing, despite our silence. I’ve posted a couple of things to our forum in the last week, and I figured I’d repost them here. They depict (very preliminary) work on the new sky system, and some rigging work on Catherine:

We’re not dead! We haven’t given up! Thanks for continuing to believe in us!

That being said, we could really use another experienced programmer or two. We’d like help developing both the engine, and some backend tools for us to manage the project. If you’re interested in helping out (in this or any other way), just send us an e-mail, and we’ll let you know if we can use you.