Inside the art design of Heavenly Bodies, launching December 7

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After almost three years in development, we’re thrilled to announce that Heavenly Bodies will be launching on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on December 7, 2021. We’ve been working hard to make this game everything we’d imagined, and we can’t wait to share it with you. Our new gameplay trailer below hints at some of the varied, alluring and often ridiculous scenarios you’ll find yourselves in, whether playing solo or with a space pal via local co-op.

Inside the art design of Heavenly Bodies, launching December 7

The art of Heavenly Bodies

Previously, we’ve written about how the game feels to play and what you’ll be doing out there in space. To celebrate the game being so close to release, we thought we’d dive into the reference that inspired us and how Heavenly Bodies came to look the way it does.

Visual direction

The game’s visual style is influenced by mid-century technical illustrations, archival imagery of early space flight exploration and cutaway drawings that allow the viewer to see detailed structures. Our goal has been to create something that appears more like an artist’s interpretation of space rather than striving for realism. The work of Soviet architect and designer Galina Balashova and NASA collaborator illustrator Russ Arasmith has been vital in informing our visual language.

Image credit: Artwork by Russ Arasmith, Date Unknown. NASA

Capturing illustrative qualities in a real-time context

To reproduce this bold, graphical and analogue aesthetic, we first analysed what it was that we needed to effectively reproduce in an interactive, real-time context. The key features we wanted to include were:

●   high contrast between highlights, mid-tones and shadows with little blending in between;

●   the ability to replicate illustrative techniques such as hatching and stippling;

●   grain that feels relative to the scale of the objects in the scene;

●   ability to control the roughness of an object;

●   texture support for hand painted details.

The results of our initial experiments are below, and we felt they were an early step in the right direction.

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Savathûn revealed – Planting the seeds of the Witch Queen’s deception

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The threads of Destiny’s narrative are far-reaching, touching practically every aspect of the game. Over the past year or so, Destiny players have experienced a narrative unfold around one of the game’s most beloved characters: Osiris. From the death of his loyal Ghost, Sagira, to his increasingly suspect behavior, questions have followed the famed Warlock and former Vanguard commander for months.  

At the start of Season of the Lost, the truth was revealed. In case you didn’t already know — SPOILER ALERT — Osiris wasn’t Osiris. In fact, Osiris hadn’t been himself for quite a while. Savathûn, the Sister of Shapes, the Witch Queen herself, revealed to Guardians that she had traded places with Osiris months prior, and had been sowing discontent in the Vanguard ever since, creating rampant speculation and spawning wild theories among Destiny lore hounds throughout the community along the way. 

And that’s exactly the way the Bungie Narrative team planned it.  

Over the past year the Narrative team has dug deep, planting the seeds of Savathûn’s deception throughout the game in unexpected ways. Today we’re looking back at some of these pivotal moments and talking with the team about what it was like to bring this story to life. 

The First Glimpse 

The Savathûn/Osiris narrative was the result of countless discussions within the Destiny Narrative team and something that was planned long before it unfolded in the game. The team had an overarching goal of raising the narrative stakes in the game without resorting to killing characters. They also knew they wanted to embed Savathûn into the Last City; as a born trickster, having her impersonate someone and walk amongst the people felt right in line with her character. Furthermore, the Last City was chosen because Savathûn knew it was the last place her sister and rival, Xivu Arath, would look for her.  

“From there it became a conversation in the writers’ room about who the best candidate was for her to impersonate,” said Bungie’s Senior Narrative Lead Julia Nardin. “We landed on Osiris because of his relationship with Ikora, his former apprentice, which gave Savathûn the most direct access to the Vanguard.” 

The first moment where the Witch Queen took over for Osiris came during Season of the Hunt. Early on, players found a series of audio messages from Mara Sov and Osiris in Zavala’s office. The line where Osiris declared that his Ghost, Sagira, had died in an attack – that was not Osiris at all, but rather Savathûn taking the Warlock’s place for the very first time, beckoning players to the Moon. For extra credit, Savathûn orchestrated the player’s first meeting with Crow, creating the situation where players witnessed him “rescue” Osiris from one of Xivu Arath’s minions.

What followed was a carefully calculated campaign of Savathûn manipulating people and spreading distrust and doubt within the Vanguard. Nardin said one of her favorite examples of this was how quickly Savathûn-as-Osiris tanked the initial meeting between Caiatl and Zavala at the start of Season of the Chosen. As soon as Caiatl proposed the alliance between the Cabal and the Vanguard, Savathûn stepped out of the shadows and began questioning Caiatl’s trustworthiness. 

As Na

Building the blasters of Nerf Legends

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Hello! I’m Mihai Preda, studio head here at Fun Labs, and we’re the studio behind Nerf Legends. GameMill Entertainment, our publisher, had been discussing the opportunity of a potential Nerf game with Hasbro and when they brought the pitch to us, we really liked the idea of bringing the toys to life in a video game and creating a unique universe to go along with them. From the start, everyone was very supportive of having creative freedom to come up with a unique set of characters, levels, and story and to create a universe never before seen in any Nerf game before.

Nerf Doomlands The Judge real toy on left, in-game model on right.

In terms of my personal history with the Nerf brand, my son loves Nerf blasters – it’s one of his favorite toys and he has been a source for lots of inspirations and creativity throughout the project. There is something about his adventurous spirit and wonder that just brings me joy. I see it when we’re chasing each other around with blasters or challenging each other to shoot targets across the room. Mostly, though, I think he likes to pretend I’m an alien so he can fire darts at his old man. 

It has been a lot of fun taking those Nerf blasters my son and I play with and translating them into the game. We were fortunate to receive the 3D CAD models used to make the plastic molds for the toys. This was a great starting point for us because they were basically blueprints which allowed us to quickly make high quality game-ready blasters that we knew were authentic to the real-life counterpart.

Nerf Elite 2.0 Shockwave real toy on left, in-game model on right.

For the game, we wanted to take things up a notch and make the blasters come alive to match the new universe we were creating. We did this by taking inspiration from the shape and look of the blasters and imaged them with sci-fi coatings, animated lights, and other effects without changing the identity of the blaster. That was important to us because we wanted to ensure that the blasters still looked recognizable to what people played with as kids (or as adults who still enjoy Nerf blasters). 

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Tips and strategies for Grow: Song of the Evertree, out tomorrow

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Greetings gamers! My name is Stephen Takowsky, and I am the community manager for Grow: Song of the Evertree. Discover a vibrant unique world at your own pace, build the town of your dreams, and prepare for a wonderful sandbox adventure with Grow, launching November 16 on PlayStation 4. Australian-based Prideful Sloth is the developer of Grow and they wanted to share some important tips and strategies to help you on your journey to restore the Evertree.

Explore the worlds of Alaria

Who knows what strange and interesting things you might find when you explore? Oh! There’s a chest over there. What’s that? A recipe for a World Seed! I wonder what’s in this cave… WELL! We will just let you discover that one for yourself <3

Shop til you drop

Buildings aren’t just a great place for your residents to live and work in. They also sell items.  Need some new clothes? Plonk a tailor down. In need of a new do? Well, the Hair Salon is the place for you.  In need of adventure supplies, the General Store has everything you are looking for (and some things you didn’t even know you needed).

Visit the Everkin often

The Everkin are helpful companions you will meet on your adventure, and they have their own mini city known as Where-Ever. It is a fantastic place to visit and a great place to trade items – you see, the Everkin don’t have much care for worldly possessions. But you just might!

Sort/Organise your tools to save time

There is so much to accomplish each day and you might not want to waste time. You can access your tools in more than one way so make sure you play Grow in a manner that is best for you! You have the option to sort your tools for the best efficiency for the way you want to play.

Interact with the world

Pick flowers, shake trees, cut grass, play with critters, solve puzzles, engage with townsfolk, design an incredible layout for your town, and so much more. One of our goals was to create an interactive sandbox game with life management and adventure elements. You will not only get to build your town, but you will also take your experience to the next level by creating a unique community.

Make the Worlds you want to explore

Does a warm and tranquil world sound nice to you? Then make it. Want to try out a world that’s a bit squishy and smells? If you really want that, well we got you covered. What about a cute and dreamy world with heaps of sparkly goodness?  We’ve got you.

You are in control of the world seeds you create. Have fun, mix things up, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Sometimes even the strangest combinations lead to interesting things.

You can also take it easy and not rush things

Even the most dedicated of Everheart Alchemists’ needs to take some time off for themselves. Why not find a nice fishing spot, pull out your fishing rod, and enjoy the scenery? Or spend some time cuddling up with some of the adorable critters and maybe even snap a selfie with them?

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The award-winning A Short Hike hits PS4 November 16

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Hey everyone! I’m Adam Robinson-Yu, the main developer behind A Short Hike. I’m excited to finally announce that the launch date for A Short Hike on PS4 will be… November 16! With the release just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to share a bit more about the world of Hawk Peak Provincial Park, and how it took shape while I was developing it.

The award-winning A Short Hike hits PS4 November 16

In A Short Hike, you’ll be exploring the park and working your way towards the top of the mountain. There’s plenty of areas to find and explore, but it didn’t start this way. In the beginning, I just started sculpting areas that were fun to climb and glide between. At this point, the world and the player’s movement were being designed hand in hand, and I created hills and valleys on whim to test out every tweak to the character’s controls.

Through this process, I started to get an idea for what types of terrain were interesting, and how I could make areas unique from only the shape of their geometry. I also started brainstorming a list of landmarks that I could scatter around the world for players to discover. I collected a variety of references, of either places I wished I could visit, or places that I had been in my own life. For example, the firetower in the game is directly inspired by the one I visited in person when hiking to Mount Pilchuck.

I also used photos to help me establish the primary color palette for the world. I found a photo of a breezy fall landscape that really captured the feeling I was aiming for, and I then sampled colors directly from the photo to build a palette for texturing the rest of the game with.

After this initial experimentation phase, I eventually needed to settle on the general structure of the game. I wanted freedom of exploration to be a core aspect of the level design. To me, this meant avoiding any sort of invisible barriers or cutscenes that force you down a specific path – even from the very start of the game. I wanted the player to always feel free to explore any direction they wanted. However, this can make it difficult to design the game, since I can’t be certain about what the pla


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