Before we get into our development update, we’d like to recap our E3 experience and touch on the common questions we have received since our recent Xbox announcement.
Last week the team attended E3, the team was part of the Xbox Live Experience, where anyone with an E3 badge could play our 20 minute demo at our kiosk. The other half of E3 was spent running between a slew of interviews and demonstrations.
We won one of the Rock Paper Shotgun’s Editors Choice Award 2018 and received two nominations from Game Informer for Best in Show 2018 and PC Gamer for Best of E3 2018.
Thank you to all of you who made it out to E3 and for all the enthusiastic responses to everything we show!
For those curious, here are links the various articles that mention Outer Wilds from E3:
Outer Wilds Gameplay Demo - E3 Live 2018
First Gameplay Reveal of Outer Wilds on Inside Xbox @ E3 2018
Top Ten of E3: Rock Paper Shotgun
Outer Wilds: Rock Paper Shotgun Article
The Best Indie Games of E3: Game Informer
Four Intriguing ID@Xbox Games: True Achievements
10 Best Games of E3: Paste
Top Ten Games of E3: Arstechnica
What is the Actual Release Date?
While we haven’t announced a specific day or month yet, we will definitely be releasing Outer Wilds in 2018. The crazy date listed on the Xbox One store was the result of placeholder shenanigans. Let us reassure you that you won’t need to employ the services of a cryostasis lab to get your hands on a copy of Outer Wilds.
What platforms will Outer Wilds be released on?
Outer Wilds will initially release on Xbox and PC (available at the Windows Store and Steam). All other platforms are to be determined at this point in time, but we will be sure to update you here when we have more to announce.
Why is Outer Wilds installed on my Xbox?
Outer Wilds was part of a special promotion with Xbox for E3. If you were part of the audience or were watching the Xbox main stage via @WatchMixer you may have received a complimentary pre-order of Outer Wilds. If you have any questions regarding this promotion please contact Microsoft Support.
Giant’s Deep: Visual Effects (VFX)
From the outset we knew Giant’s Deep would be our most visual effects (VFX) heavy planet. As a gas giant with an ocean that is dotted with tornadoes that send islands flying, Giant’s Deep was our testing ground for developing and refining many of the VFX techniques that we use throughout the game.
The first and largest feature of Giant’s Deep is its various layers of atmosphere. At its outermost layer, Giant’s Deep uses the same atmosphere shader as Timber Hearth, with different settings to reflect its non-breathable atmosphere. Below that is a thick swirling layer of clouds, created with multiple overlapping textures to create the churning effect, with special rotating spiral caps on the poles. To add to the stormy nature of the planet, we created a dynamic heat lightning generator that spawns randomized chains of lights inside the cloud layer. This was made translucent so that the lightning shows up brighter in the areas where the clouds are thinnest.
Dotted across the surface of the ocean are the wandering tornadoes that form Giant’s Deeps’ complex physics system. As the tornadoes wander, they will toss islands (or the player) into orbit, where they will float in Zero G before plummeting back down through the clouds. It was important for us that these tornadoes all look unique, so we created a system of joints for each tornado that each move in randomized circular patterns, much like a sand pendulum. We also created volumes at the base of each tornado that modify the height map of the ocean so that the water is pulled visually into the cyclones.
In addition to the massive structural elements like the clouds, ocean and cyclones, there are a number of other effects that help to sell the physical nature of the stormy surface. There is a rain system that dots the player’s helmet visor with refractive water droplets and streams that respond differently based on whether you look up at the sky, drop your head down, or dunk under water. There are leaves fluttering on the wind that intensify when a tornado is near. Finally, we created massive, complex splash meshes so that when an island crashes from space we have an appropriately large scale effect to signal the impact.
The underwater layer of Giant’s Deep also contains a variety of challenging visual effects problems, but those secrets must remain hidden until you explore them for yourself!
That’s the End of This Update
Join us in another two weeks for another development update. Have a great weekend everyone!