After almost three years of development, we’re excited to announce that Heavenly Bodies will launch for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on December 7, 2021. We’ve worked hard to make this game everything we imagined, and we can’t. wait more to share it with you. Our new gameplay trailer below hints at some of the varied, alluring, and often ridiculous storylines you’ll find yourself in, whether playing solo or with a space friend via local co-op.
The art of celestial bodies
Previously we wrote about how the game feels to play and what you’ll be doing out there in space. To celebrate the game’s release so close, we thought we would dive into the benchmark that inspired us and how Heavenly Bodies came to look like what it is.
The visual style of the game is influenced by mid-century technical illustrations, archival footage of early space flight exploration, and sectional drawings that allow the viewer to see detailed structures. Our goal has been to create something that feels more like an artist’s interpretation of space rather than an effort at realism. The work of Soviet architect and designer Galina Balashova and collaborating NASA illustrator Russ Arasmith has been essential in informing our visual language.
Image credit: Artwork by Russ Arasmith, date unknown. Nasa
Capture illustrative qualities in a real-time context
To reproduce this bold, graphic and analog aesthetic, we first analyzed what we needed to effectively reproduce in a real-time interactive context. The key features we wanted to include were:
● high contrast between highlights, midtones and shadows with little fade in between;
● the ability to reproduce illustrative techniques such as hatching and stippling;
● grain that feels relative to the scale of objects in the scene;
● ability to control the roughness of an object;
● Textural support for hand painted details.
The results of our first experiments are below, and we felt they were a first step in the right direction.
Once we had encapsulated these properties in real-time 3D on smaller objects, we wanted to apply them to larger, playable environments.
Our main considerations in translating this style into the heavenly bodies were:
● prioritize playable space and interactive objects over unnecessary detail or clutter;
● use color to highlight essential elements and different types of interaction;
● favor analog technology and large forms that communicate their operation.
Here’s a look at the in-game “Data” scenario, where you can see all of these pieces come together.
Concepts of the communication terminal and operating manual
The information required to accomplish the task at hand is provided by mission control through the communication terminal at all levels. This information arrives in the form of a paper printout which is then added to the user manual carried by the reader.
The operations manual builds on the NASA manuals and checklists given to astronauts for quick reference in stressful situations, of which there are many in the game. The preference for analog technology over digital , Modern and Sci-Fi is an underlying focus of the game. Below are some early concepts of the Awkward Communication Terminal, followed by an example of the materials they distribute at the “Energy” level.
Throughout the game, we’ve hidden a bunch of special collectibles that players can find and return to Mission Control to be proudly displayed. These collectibles are our nod to important achievements in space history, such as Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit, and the Voyager Golden Record that crossed the cosmos containing the sounds of our universe, and more, which we will leave for you to discover.
PlayStation Trophy Artwork is our way of recognizing the efforts of our brave cosmonauts, commemorating their efforts in the form of a physical artifact for players to collect and reflect on, creating their own story of memorable events. Vintage space memorabilia, including stamps, matchboxes, pins, and badges, were integral reference sources, making our own set of assets a great way to pay homage to a bygone era in the world. space exploration.
Our love of historical spatial illustration extends to every corner of Heavenly Bodies, and we have sought to capture the magic of mid-century graphic illustration wherever possible. For us, this era embodies the romanticism and optimism of the first trips to space. While loosely set in the late ’60s, early’ 70s, we’ve adapted events and tech from the following decades to create the types of storylines we want players to experience, and we hope you’ll enjoy it. . See you soon in orbit! Heavenly Bodies will release for PS4 and PS5 on December 7, 2021 – you may wish the game here.