Apr 2 2017

Solid Materials

Our artists have been hard at work adding to the material library, our collection of commonly used surfaces that can be used in combination to recreate the detailed environments of Riven. Here are some recent examples, all created by texture artist Jacek Kalinowski!

Red dirt and basalt rock, Boiler Island

Our material system allows us to blend these surfaces together based on a texture mask, which gives our artists a lot of control over the fine details of each asset.

Deposited limestone, Survey Island

Riven is a world of stark natural beauty contrasted against intricate machinery, and our material system allows us to reproduce it in the highest possible detail. From the fine sand on the shore of Boiler Island’s volcanic lake, to the wear and tear on the Fire Marble Dome.

Rough brick, Survey Island

 

Welcome to our new team members!
Brandon Kouri (3D Artist)
Nathan Grove (3D Artist)


Mar 8 2017

To Divide and Conquer

Last month we shared some of our recent camera-matching work on Temple Island, and we noticed that there was some great discussion regarding  the coloured region map we used to place the SuperDome. To answer your questions, we thought we’d go into a bit more detail about what those maps are and how they help us reconstruct such a large and complicated environment as Riven.

Temple Zone Map

We have a similar ‘area map’ for each island.

We have made extensive use of a detailed top-down map of Riven’s five islands (you can find it in the Prima Strategy Guide) to break each island into what we call ‘areas’. This helps us organise ourselves, allowing us to group objects and tasks by area and making it much easier to visualise what needs to be done next. Breaking up an island into sections also means multiple people are able work on it at the same time without getting in each other’s way.

Old Boiler Zone Map

An earlier version of Boiler Island’s area map.

Unfortunately, the map isn’t always trustworthy. We suspect that most (if not all) of the interiors are just inventions based on a best guess, and there are other parts of the map (especially on Jungle Island) where the map clearly deviates from the actual game environment. This can be very problematic, as in the past we’ve tended to over rely on it for placing objects in a scene. This is especially prominent in areas that are mostly indoors, like Survey Island’s interior.

The ‘camera-matched’ environment compared to the area map below.

The ‘camera-matched’ environment compared to the area map below.

As you can see, not only is there a significant scale disparity between our camera-matched geometry and the overhead map, but the map even gets the shape of the pentagonal elevator shaft backwards!

To solve these difficulties, we have a simple rule. Whenever there is a conflict between the original game and the overhead map, we will always defer to the environment as represented in the original stills. They remain the best possible reference.

The overhead map has also had other benefits that directly affect how the game will be played. We use the same area layout as the foundation of our level streaming system, which will let the player traverse the entire age of Riven without needing to see a single loading screen (or switch disks!)

That, however, is a topic for another day.

A big welcome to our new team members:
Jonas Becsan (VFX Artist)
Jordan Cain (3D Artist)


Feb 4 2017

Monthly Update: February 2017

Last month, our art team worked hard on two primary tasks: creating assets for the greybox scenes we presented last year at Mysterium, and camera-matching new ones. Here’s a sneak peek at some examples that have been shared by various members of the team. Remember, all of this work is still ‘in progress’ — and we welcome any comments or questions you may have!

Objects in Gehn's Lab

Some objects you may recognise from Gehn’s lab on Boiler Island. These were created by the latest addition to our art team, Francois Hurtubise!

SuperDome on Map

Shots from the current “camera-match” of Temple Island’s SuperDome™

SuperDome Exterior Camera-Matching

Camera-matching the exterior of the dome. The red and green wireframes shows the work our artists are doing on top of the original Riven images.

Dome Interior Camera-Matching

Camera-matching the interior of the dome. Note the yellow wireframes.

As you can see, there’s lots of important work being done! And it highlights the benefits of the new pipeline we instituted last year — we have different areas in various stages of development, so we can move forward with camera-matching new areas while our artists start filling in more detailed assets in previously-matched ones. Looking forward to sharing more soon!


Jan 11 2017

Looking back, moving forward

Happy new year, Riven fans!

What a year we had! We welcomed seven new immensely talented people to the team, we were able to ‘greybox’ several large areas of the game which we proudly presented at Mysterium in Salt Lake City, and we even started exploring areas of development that we’ve not attempted previously — like motion capture solutions for our character animation.

Survey Island: Garden

We’re all aware that this update has been a long time coming, and we apologize for the radio silence since August — we’ve all just been so busy! To make it up to you, here is our new year’s resolution: We will be providing at least one update per month for the duration of 2017. We’ll keep you informed — and we trust you’ll hold us to it! And a special thanks to all those fans who reached out to us during this time to ask about the project; your support means a lot to us.

Survey Island: Lower Level

2017 is going to be a fantastic year for the Starry Expanse project. We can’t wait to continue sharing this journey with you.

Welcome to our new team members:

Chris Mumford – Developer

Ignatius Reillius – 3D Artist

Kyle Hovey – System Administrator

Leonard Schölch – 3D Artist

Liam Smyth – 3D Artist

Matt Laskowski – 3D Artist

Ryan Jung – System Administrator


Aug 5 2016

Mysterium 2016 video feed

UPDATE: Watch the recording of the presentation here!

Original Post:

Today’s the big day! Follow Mysterium along with us at https://www.twitch.tv/mysteriumcon — presentation will start at 3:30 Mountain Daylight Time.

 

Twitch Stream Thumbnail

 


Apr 19 2016

Help Still Wanted!

We have a really incredible team here at the Starry Expanse Project. Our artists are talented, our developers dedicated. Even the guy who runs the blog is alright!

What’s more, we’re always looking to expand our wonderful team. If you’re interested in joining up with us, there are definitely areas where we could use the help. Particularly:

  • Developers, particularly those with Unreal Engine experience
  • and

  • 3D Artists, particularly those interested in our camera matching process.

If you fit one of those descriptions, or if you have some other talent that you think would benefit our project, please please please do not hesitate to get in touch with us! It’s also worth noting that if you’ve previously applied to join, don’t be afraid to say hello again. We’re much better equipped now to handle a large team than we were in the past.

So come one, come all! We can’t wait to meet you.


Aug 7 2015

Watch our Mysterium 2015 presentation, live!

We’re kicking off the Mysterium 2015 convention at 2 PM EDT!

Watch the stream, live from Boston, here.

Edit: That’s a wrap! We’ll post a link to the archived livestream if/when one becomes available. Thanks for watching!


May 13 2015

Starry Expanse in the News

Earlier this week, the gaming news website PCGamesN published an article about the Starry Expanse Project, featuring an interview with us! If you’re interested in getting to know the team and our project’s history, it’s a great read. Check it out!


Mar 26 2015

Je m’appelle Gehn

We are committed to making our game a multilingual experience. One aspect of that push gathering translations of all text and speeches in Riven, and as we have mentioned before, we have partnered with OHB in order to do just that. If you’re interested in helping translate Riven, check out the project page over at GULP.

Another aspect, however, is the actual implementation of those other languages. We’ve shown you guys the custom fonts being built by Vincent, our in-house typographer, before (Atrus, and some of Gehn), but today we’d like to share his efforts towards multilingual support.

The main problem, of course, would be accents and other characters that were not present in the original game. In order to create these, Vincent printed out a sheet of text using our Gehn font, and then drew in the accents by hand. These were then scanned back in, and used as the basis for what is now in the font.

Áççêñtß

Accents in the Gehn font

 

This is the first of our fonts to receive this treatment, but the Atrus font will eventually have all of these characters as well.


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!