Jun 17 2015

Power-up

Work on 233 is progressing nicely…

Linking Book Pedestal

A Closer View


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)





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


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!

 

 


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!


Jul 24 2014

See You Next Week!

Buffering...We here at 59 Volts are feverishly working day and night to put the finishing touches on our demo for Mysterium next week. Our presentation will be on Saturday, August 2nd, at Cyan Headquarters in Spokane, WA. We’re currently scheduled to start at 1:30 PM, Pacific time.

If you’ll be attending the convention in person, great! We can’t wait to meet you! Our plan is to set up our demo in the con room after our presentation, so that those who make the trek out to Spokane can play around with it a bit.

If you cannot attend Mysterium in person, there will also be a live video stream of our presentation. We’ll post more information about how to access that when we get closer to the day of the presentation.

There’ll be an unprecedented percentage of the team present at this Mysterium (nearly half of us!), and we can’t wait to show you guys what we’ve put together. See you there!

 


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 24 2014

Texturing Update

No new assets to show off this week, but we do have a couple of updates to show you guys. Specifically, a few of our older models are now sporting some beautiful textures!

First up, the submarine exterior has been kitted out with a beautiful battered copper material. We’re still working on perfecting the details, but it is already up and running in Unreal 4. Unreal’s new physically-based material engine is absolutely perfect for surfaces like this, and we’re taking full advantage of it.

Shiny Submarine

 

Secondly, the awesome wahrk skulls that we posted last time are now made of bone, instead of the shiny gray default material. We think they look much better like this.

Skulls of Bone

 

As we get closer to Mysterium, we’ll be working hard on fine-tuning our demo. Expect more updates like this in the next few weeks!


May 7 2014

Down the Hatch

Earlier this year, we announced that our development would be shifting to the Unreal Development Kit. We did move to UDK very briefly, but it turns out the story doesn’t end there. Shortly after we made the transition to UDK, Epic announced the release of Unreal Engine 4, which would outdate and replace the engine we had just switched to. We didn’t want to commit to UE4 until we were absolutely certain that it would suit our needs, but after more than a month of testing, we are confident enough to announce that we will definitely be using Unreal Engine 4 from now on.

Unreal Engine 4 is better than UDK in almost every way, and yet they work almost the same. Thus, upgrading has been a breeze. It’s so pretty, it makes UDK’s graphics look like Uru. And what’s more, it has far more platform support than UDK did – as of today, we are finally able to officially announce the addition of Linux support to our platform roster, as well as SteamOS.

We’ve been working on putting together a demo of what the engine is capable of (and we actually showed you an in-engine screenshot from UE4 a month ago, without mentioning it!), so here’s a demo of interaction with the Jungle Island submarine, running in Unreal Engine 4. Please note that the sub is still untextured, and the animations/GUI/interactions are not final in any way. This is more of a programming test, to learn the ins and outs of Unreal 4.

We’ll keep you updated on our Unreal 4 development as it progresses!


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!