If you saw the Midnight Star teaser trailer, you might have noticed a spaceship referenced and then a glimpse of it rounding Saturn. That’s the Morning Star Research Vessel (MSRV) Joplin, which serves several purposes for us in the game:
- It transports our heroes out to meet doom and adventure
- It occupies an historic place within the fiction of our universe
- It will matter in gameplay in both a public and a secret way:
- Public: It’s homebase
- Secret: Insert winking eye emoticon
We’ll be taking you through several studies in the making-of for this game, starting with the characters and equipment that you’ve already seen from our announcement of the game.
The Joplin started off as a conversation between a bunch of us here in the studio and our friend and collaborator John Scalzi. We needed a designation for the ship that that implied both hope and genius, but had a cloud of inevitable destiny over it.
As you might have read, our intention with technology for Midnight Star is to show (somewhat) plausible human technology in 120 years that gets our heroes into the fray of the game. This intention helped guide the Great Mike Choi as he explored several different silhouettes for the ship and we talked through the functionality of her various sections.
A key piece of technology for Earth in Midnight Star is the idea of the Skip Drive that allows the ship to skip through space. The drive is capable of short bursts of near-light speed, but only after a lengthy preparation time which entails deploying the exterior panels to collect cosmic rays and supercharge the engines. Mike concepted those panels and the initial look of the Joplin took shape as you see here:
When you play Midnight Star, you will encounter some of the interior of the Joplin, so concepting on the interior spaces was going on at the same tie as the exterior model, and we needed to marry the two. A major piece of that is the bridge of the Joplin, and we realized about halfway through building it out that we could get a lot more awesome drama out of the space of the bridge if we situated it up at the top of the end of the vessel rather than in the middle. Thus, you’ll see an indentation right at the top of this next model where our opening cinematics and some of Charlie’s adventure will take place.
Using the sketches and model, matte painter and Hollywood artist Roger Kupelian put his own spin on the launch of the Joplin in this concept painting:
From there, our friends over at Zoic Studios took all of our materials about the Joplin, and created the high resolution version of the ship that you see in our teaser trailer (and will see at various points during the game). If you look closely, you can see the ship’s name on the side as it flies by and there might be some other hidden stuff in that trailer too. Just sayin…
- The evolution of the Dust bad guys you saw in the trailer (and no, they’re not what they appear)
- The discarded versions of the Joplin and the Dust
- The other baddies you will encounter on your trip to Oberon and back
And, of course, I have to say: AND MUCH MUCH MORE