Dec 22 2015


Seven years ago today, in a half-joking AIM conversation between two friends from Uru Obsession, the Starry Expanse Project began. While at the time we were absolutely getting in over our heads, we like to think that we’ve proven our chops by hanging on until we managed to bring together a team capable of accomplishing the insane goal we set for ourselves all those years ago: to make a realtime 3D version of Riven.

And a few months ago, we decided that we would have our first fully complete area of the game done by November, Gehn’s 233rd age. November became December, and now we’re almost done with December, too. It turns out it’s really difficult for perfectionists such as ourselves to call something “complete”. We’re working on that.

Anyway, it’s been too long since we shared our progress with our amazing community, so we thought that in celebration of our seventh year of development, we would show you guys what we’ve got cooking.

While 233 is not yet fully complete (most notably, the exterior still needs work, and our lighting is way off in many areas), we’re really proud of how it’s looking. We hope you guys will like it, too – honestly, you’re the only reason we’re able to continue working on a project of this magnitude under the circumstances that we do. Your continuing support and generosity is what fuels our developers, and we really can’t say “thank you” enough.

Here’s to seven years! We’re still here, we’re still working, we’re going to finish this thing. See you in 2016!

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!


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 stream here!

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 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!

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.

Nov 19 2011

And another thing!

We’re feeling generous, so here’s a re-shoot of the Prison Island walkthrough that was posted before. We tried to capture video from a newer build, but none of the results worked properly, so this video is from the same build as the last video was, so it lacks the newer features that we’ve completed since Mysterium. Still, it’s a much smoother demonstration of what was done at that point – and it has sound, which I think really adds to the experience.

As with before, this is very much a work in progress, particularly the sky, water, and firemarble dome.


Nov 17 2011

A little something

Ok, so yes, we’ve been pretty quiet as of late, and that sucks. It’s not because we don’t like you guys, it’s not because we have given up, so stop it with all that nonsense. No, in actuality, there are a number of factors contributing to our current downtime, one being the fact that almost all of us are students. That means, of course, that we’re incredibly busy during the fall. We are still working on the project whenever we can, it’s just much slower going than it was during the summer.

There are a few other things holding us back at the moment, but in some ways, it’s a good thing. Don’t worry, everything will be fine in the end.

All that being said, here’s a little treat, to show you that we’re still alive and kicking:

Sep 24 2011

Journal Prototype II

We just passed the 95% mark on our journey to the first funding goal, $2000. That means we now have over $1900 raised! To celebrate, here’s another sneak peek at the journal system, this time with Catherine’s journal. Remember that these are not necessarily final graphics or animations. It’s not in-game footage, just a prototype.

Update: Here’s the Prison Book, as well:

Sep 17 2011

Journal Prototype

Here’s another not-in-game prototype of an element from Riven. This time, it’s Atrus’s journal. Enjoy!

In other news, we just passed the 90% mark on our journey towards our first funding goal. We’re almost there, guys!
Note that we’ll of course continue accepting donations after the first goal is reached, and the more donations we get, the faster we can work. Just some food for thought!

Aug 21 2011

In-Game Prison Island

Ok, ok, ok. You asked for it, we promised it, here it finally is. In-game footage from Prison Island, circa Mysterium 2011. This is a good example of what the game looks like at the moment, though not at all a good example of the final level of quality we’re aiming for.

Unfortunately, due to a quirk in our video-capture solution, the recording came out a little jerky. This is especially noticeable in the cursor. We’ll try to fix this in future videos, but for now, just remember that the actual game plays nice and smoothly.

Be sure to see the video in HD!

More to come soon!

Edit: We appreciate the comments and critiques, everybody, but please keep in mind that this is a work in progress. We’re constantly working on making the game look even better than it does here, in fact it’s mainly what we’re focused on right now. We’re taking your comments into consideration, along with our own plans for improvement.

Edit 2: We’ve re-rendered this video so it’s smoother, and it includes sound and more! Check it out!