The Showroom — A Journey Through a Handcrafted Metaverse
Learn about the new pre-alpha version of the Showroom and how you can enter and explore Star Atlas’s first Unreal Engine 5 experience.
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“All right, I accept your kind offer, master Exfehors. I will now be the caretaker of the Showroom and focus on training the new generation for the better future of the galaxy and advancing peaceful cooperation between the factions and their manufacturers.” — Asha, caretaker of the Showroom
Welcome to the future, Explorers!
It’s finally time for your fleets to leave the realm of digital immutability to expand into the beautiful living world of Unreal Engine 5. The first materialization of the Star Atlas ultimate dream is now in its pre-alpha stage and accessible to the heroic visitors who not only cheered for this day but also helped us to get this far.
Read on to learn how we managed to build together, why it’s a decisive step for the project, and how you can enter and experience this groundbreaking world in all of its Unreal glory.
The Showroom: The Very Fabric of The Star Atlas Metaverse
When our community discusses the Showroom, the conversation usually focuses on describing the beauty of the Star Atlas metaverse and the aspects related to gameplay that allows players another level of utility for their Star Atlas NFTs, not to mention interesting gameplay integrations for the community. In other words, it’s fun and exciting to log in to the Showroom and to discuss with your friends what you discovered there.
Nevertheless, an often overlooked and important part of the Showroom is the universe framework that was born with it.
When the ATMTA team looks at the Showroom from the ground floor, we see an enormous library full of files, a true dataverse. Each one contains a massive building block of our metaverse reality. Every block contains not only information and pre-molded assets, but also a story of the journey of our creative choices, challenges, and successes in designing and building Star Atlas.
Too abstract? Ok, let’s pull a random data file as an example to show you what we’re talking about.
A Tale About a Particular Species of Grass
The first aspect of the Showroom, and the entire metaverse that we are building for Star Atlas, is that it is not a product that comes from an asset shelf in the Unreal Engine 5 library. Every single feature in our game is built literally from the ground up and custom-made to have the Star Atlas look and feel that you love, and serves as a building block of our own universe vision.
To showcase this, check out this photo below of an inconspicuously looking patch of grass.
This grass is much more than just a beautiful rendering. It’s a testament to the Star Atlas dream. Hidden under the cover of high-quality graphics, it tells the story of a huge, elaborate development process that takes place for every single Showroom asset, and this story is the one we will be sharing today.
All journeys start with a single step, and this brave plant life started with the team’s choice of the descendants of native life from the old planet Earth that was to be transplanted to the Showroom environment.
In the Star Atlas lore, the Showroom is in fact a piece of our beloved planet, which now lives as a memento mori in the vast MUD territory, serving to forward progress and innovation through cooperation between different factions and manufacturers. This is how our brave grass, and the environment around it, reflect the logic of this environment in our present world, transcended to our metaverse.
Here are some of the key techniques and tools utilized in the creation of this species of grass:
A set of mechanisms was created from scratch for randomizing the aspects of each leaf, allowing each of them to be seemingly unique, just as is the case in nature.Use of the most advanced light treatments in order to create perfect shadows, which move with the strength and position of the light during each hour of the day.Making use of perspective techniques so that the grass has the same quality and effects in both the first and third-person views.Wind mechanics, so grass moves differently depending on the strength and direction of the wind.Use of 3D spatial sound to create an immersive experience as you step on this kind of grass.A botanist-like careful analysis of volume and proportion to represent a realistic environment.
These are but a few of our protocols, and each one of those requirements creates a building process, which by itself produces valuable data that is integrated into the asset file, which in turn lets us create more exciting new assets and build on existing mechanics for our metaverse.
Everything is thought of and produced in a way to create standards and patterns that will be the source of comparison and building on creating the many exciting worlds within Star Atlas. We accept nothing short of the highest level of quality that we want our game to have.
Now that we have a whole body of research, data, and craft built into every blade of Showroom grass, we can reuse all of it for different types of grass throughout the galaxy — keeping in mind the local interplanetary differences and depending on the evolutionary direction of the grass type itself. The same goes for the shrubs, elevators, stairways, doors, launch pad concrete, and so much more. This will allow us to build much faster and more efficiently in the future.
“Game development resembles the process of a child learning how to move: First comes the hard part, where we have to learn to crawl, and we are here now, crawling,” says Danny Floyd, the Chief Product Officer at ATMTA. “After this phase, the development process gains momentum, and we will reach the stage of walking, and finally, we will have the necessary basis to run, and nothing will be able to stop us.”
Things like our spaceships have a much higher level of complexity, which is why we dedicate so much time and passion to creating the best foundations for them at this early stage. Each spaceship is a full 3D object with countless hours of design, physics, engineering ingenuity, and a myriad of crucial decisions and labor of many teams put into it.
In a sense, the Showroom itself is indeed the doorway to the full world of Star Atlas, as if the universe is expanding and forming from the Showroom until it unfolds in a complete galaxy full of life and untold mysteries, worlds, and civilizations.
The Showroom as a Gamified Star Atlas Social Experience
Let’s discuss what you, a member of the ONI, MUD, or Ustur, can hope to find once you log in to the Showroom.
In this pre-alpha version, you will be controlling Asha, ace pilot, captain of the Council of Peace forces, and instructor of the Academy, where she is focused on training the most talented new arrivals from all corners of the galaxy. You can expect to control new characters from different factions and exotic species in future versions of the game.
Once you get acquainted with Asha, you will be able to explore the grounds of the Showroom and even summon your ships.
All you have to do to get around is take Asha to one of the terminals — built using advanced Photoli teleportation technology — and you will be able to materialize your spaceships into reality and dismiss them with ease.
In this initial version, the Showroom will enable you to summon your ships of different sizes on one of the many different landing pads across the Volant Studio grounds. Some have their textures still being added, but you will be able to see any ship’s model, scale, and volume — just as imposing as they will be in the full Star Atlas Metaverse.
Aside from that, the Showroom comes with a special photo mode by default, which allows you to explore the groundbreaking graphics and different angles of the studio and your fleet — and create a soothing sight for your desktop wallpaper too.
Although this first version of the Showroom is single-player, the upcoming version will enable you to reunite with up to 32 friends in the studio to do some exciting activities, such as flying around in your ships, racing, hanging out together, and other interactive surprises we have in store for everyone.
Indeed, there is much more to the Showroom than the eyes can currently see…
We will keep expanding the Showroom area and allowing it to support more people simultaneously, turning it into a place for members of the community and DACs to join together and plan their future in the stars.
From here on, the Unreal Engine 5 world of Star Atlas will keep expanding, and other gameplay loop experiences will be integrated into the Showroom as we develop our full game.
Nevertheless, we think it’s now time you see for yourself what the future of the Star Atlas metaverse looks like.
Head here to view instructions on how to enter the Showroom.
For more information and answers to specific questions, head to our Knowledge Base.
The Showroom — A Journey Through a Handcrafted Metaverse was originally published in Star Atlas on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.