Welcome to the Earthlight blog! My name is Petra, I'm the Communications Manager for Opaque Media Group! Throughout the creation of Earthlight I hope to bring to you weekly or at least fortnightly updates for each of our developer groups! Sit back and enjoy your reading!
What is Earthlight?
Earthlight is a VR game that immerses players in the journey of becoming an astronaut. We are developing Earthlight in collaboration with space agencies from around the world to give players an authentic experience of the wonders and perils of space exploration.
Where is the project now?
Currently Earthlight is exhibiting behind closed doors to press and business partners at GDC 2016 in San Francisco, United States. Next week we'll be heading to Johnson Space Center for a weekling production meetings/tours of NASA facilities in order to bring the most realistic and authentic experience of what it's like to be an astronaut, In the lead up to the production visit, we've asked the leads of Earthlight to report back on their progress so far.
Moving into testing and prototyping Earthlight, we are now busy logging in bugs, iterating on the player user interface and also running tests on player experience with certain elements of the game. We are pretty focused right now on collecting feedback on gameplay concepts and trying to find the right balance between ‘fun’ and ‘authentic’ training experiences.
Having had some conferences with multiple teams/people from NASA on design principles and concepts, we're happy to report that Earthlight is currently on track to be a very authentic experience in terms of how gameplay maps to its real life counterparts. Design Team is currently also iterating on the Z3 Advanced Suit, an iterative concept based on the Z2 and I-Suit/Z1 designs intended for off-world exploration. We don't want to spoil anything, but some cool hard-science concepts are being fleshed out as we type this!
Art team has been hard at work getting ready for a big production push. We've wrapped up our research and planning phase, having gathered all of the information we can on the Sonny Carter facility and its contents. Now we're starting production off with some of the background/detail assets, produced as test cases for our asset production pipelines & rendering. This will slowly morph into production on the more complex, more gameplay-critical assets like the NBL modules over the coming weeks. Here is a shot of the NBL greybox art used in our discussion with NBL personnel during one of our production interviews.
We are very focused on achieving full interoperability between all major VR platforms and hand-controllers. One of our biggest channels for the past few months has been figuring out how we will wind the multitudes of updates in Unreal Engine 4.11 into our production environment. With Preview 7, the engine is much more stable, and our work has largely shifted from supporting the environment doing low-level performance profiling to see how much extra performance headroom 4.11 has given us. At GDC, we expect to share some of our findings with folks from Epic, and we very much look forward to the final 4.11 release!