Hello Captains! SWallrus, Lead Environment Artist for Star Trek Online, here!
As some of you may already know, our upcoming content update, Season 8: The Sphere, will for the first time ever in STO feature exploration in a Dyson Sphere. Today, I would like to share with you some background on the process of designing such an exciting environment.
After finishing Legacy of Romulus, and after much thought and discussion, we decided we wanted to create a Space Adventure Zone that was set in a Dyson Sphere. Why a Dyson Sphere? You’re going to find out as the storyline advances in our upcoming Feature Episode! Look for more details on that in the near future.
Before we began construction of the Dyson Sphere in-game, we started researching the idea of this incredible structure, looking at concepts and at what other games, movies and TV shows have done. Nothing we looked at, except the sphere in Star Trek: The Next Generation, even came close to the scale of what a Dyson Sphere should be. Our first challenge was wrapping our minds around the size and scale of such a marvel. After that, we needed to figure out what the Sphere would look like, who built it, and how they would have constructed it.
Creating the Dyson Sphere has been one of the most challenging and exciting things we have done on the STO Environment team, as it is unlike anything else we have created in the past. The most challenging aspect was the scale of the Sphere. The theorized Dyson Sphere has a radius of 1 AU, which is the distance from the sun to the earth, and the surface area of that Sphere would be 550 million times that of the earth – the scale is almost incomprehensible! Another challenge was deciding what that would look like in-game and how were we to create it. After several iterations, such as the early designs seen in the picture above, we finally created something that represented how we imagined it to look. But more importantly, we figured out that we could actually create something that would look and feel like a Dyson Sphere.
Next, we set out to figure out what we needed to make it look great, and we needed to define the Dyson Sphere Builders. Who are they? What does their architecture look like? In the early stages of development, we looked at a lot of Arabic geometric designs for inspiration. Playing with the idea that the Builders would construct everything with mathematical harmony, our Concept Artist played around with several ideas of how they would have constructed the Sphere out sectional pieces in squares, rectangles, or polyangular shapes. Unfortunately, a lot of those shapes didn’t read well in game; they became repetitive on the Sphere. We ended up settling on large, continuous lines that would sell the scale and the false perspective. We also carried that design to the rest of the Builders’ structures and assets. The image above displays just some of what you’ll see while flying inside the Sphere.
We can’t wait for you to explore the Dyson Sphere when it releases with the launch of Season 8. We put a lot of time and effort into making it look great and while there were many challenges to overcome, in the end, we defined the Builders’ Sphere through their architecture and style to create a unique gameplay space. Lastly, you can look forward to another Dev Blog on the Dyson Sphere in the coming weeks that will reveal more details about the Space Adventure Zone.
Until then, see you in-game!
Samuel "SWallrus" Wall
Lead Environment Artist
Star Trek Online
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