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Halfway There…

So I hit a big milestone today, bringing the second level to alpha and subsequently reaching the half-way point in the project! It took me roughly two months to complete this, which is not bad considering the first level was almost 6 months in the making! To celebrate here are some screens:

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Dear Esther level 2

Overall I’m very pleased with the results, although technically it has been quite a struggle, in comparison to the first level this one is utterly huge, I broke the Source engine quite a few times in the process of building it to the level of detail you see here. Performance is also looking great, currently on par with the first level, and for those of you who are wondering, if you can run any OB/L4D game then you will most certainly be able to run this. Right now I can run it at 30-40fps, 1900×1080 on my humble laptop with only a 9600M GPU with everything maxed out.

Anyway I’m already looking forward to starting the next level, the caves under the island, I think it will be a truly unique setting where I can really break out the eye candy and play with some interesting art styles, which will be a refreshing change compared to the wide open environments I have been working on previously!

Anyway hope you enjoyed the update!

24 comments to Halfway There…

  • John

    I saw some gameplay in Dan Pinchbeck’s presentation, absolutely stunning work.

  • illas

    As beautiful as I’d dare hope, the skybox in particular creates wonderful depth of field. Oh, and I agree with stickyboot; you really should consider applying to work at Valve.

  • allicorn


  • Hamish

    It’s certainly good that you decided to remix the audio. Quite a few tracks from the original release — although musically brilliant — had some major clipping issues.

    The thing is though, you won’t be able to fix those without access to the original masters, and that’s assuming that the audio wasn’t clipping at input.

  • stickyboot

    Status update please?

  • Yotho

    More more more update ! :D
    I looooooooove your work !!! Make a video pleaaaaase !

  • is there a way to mess around with the symbols painted onto the wall? making them glow more in the light of the flash light, some even appearing or disappearing when the flash light is shone at them? replaying the original at the hermits cave it felt like one even screamed at me when it was out of view forcing me to look at it :) but the goal is creepy, eerie, malcontent, discontent, disappointment of what life has to offer and has given out, loss and despair, not another fear or metro 2033….however I did like their usage of flashlight shadowing in their trailer when there was nothing there to cast a shadow….that was a tad unsettling. Glad to hear you got the audio on the revamp list, the voice acting is “Everything” in the original, music plays a huge part, but that is always disregarded by us mere mortals, as it tends to play in the background of the mind, you understand on a level it’s there but you don’t notice it; you forget it even moves you thus making it more important. Going of the the visuals, I trust you on the audio front as well :)

  • Sound? I’ve been following the progress of the visual development, and I am in awe, and can’t wait for this to be finished so I can boot it up.

    However, what about sound? The voice acting of the original is superb, but do you have access to the original audio, there were times when the audio track could have been seperated from the music track.
    I’ve been thinking of various “folly” sounds too, namely I miss my “english” sounds and I heard a skylark for the first time on a tv series and thought, damned Dear Esther needs a skylark in the hilly/planes

    But there are loads of things that could be added, (although would this detract from the voice acting?) the original was minamislt due to source 2004 capacity, now we improved visuals we need imporved audio?

    Sounds of cattle bells and goats comming from within the shed before you go in?
    Distant clanging of the ships bells? Echo of the people fighting to get to saftey from ship-wreck?

    Could the muisc be improved, could it change dynamically when looking at various things like the bouy?

    Could we have the strecthed sounds of windscreen wipers, cardiac ecg beeps giving a thumping tempo to the dialogue in places?

    I sent a “fan mail” to a guy called Alan Wilder (of depeche mode fame) who does awesome and spooky soundscapes in his music which he describes himself as artistic and Avant Garde, naturally my timing sucks as he’s on tour, but he tends to champion the arts on occasion, and dear esther is nothing more than Avant-garde gaming in my opinion.

    • Hi Boff,

      Yes the audio will be getting a big overhaul when it is a little closer towards completion, I want to put as much detail and thought into it as the visuals. I have already remastered the audio and music so that they are cleaner, consistant and work better in the mix, and I also have done some inital experimentation implementing ambient environment audio with some interesting results.

      Overall I still want the environmental sound to be minimal, as not to distract from the dialogue or music, however I think there is still some cool stuff to be done with it!

  • John

    You’re lying, these are really just pictures from your vacation 6 months ago. You’re a great photographer, but this isn’t right, playing with our heads like this.

  • AlexNagy

    Amazing work! couldnt really notice the detail on your iphone.

    Looking at some of the screenshots its hard to believe you’ve made this on Source!

    If you need a beta tester let me know! can’t wait to see the finished product :D!

  • I hate to even ask this, and I don’t at all blame you if you wanted to keep it to yourself, but how did you get all that foliage? You aren’t using a detail sprite off the textures, are you?

  • Pneu

    I’m very fascinated by your work. It’s by far the best source based mapping I’ve ever seen. All of this is simply brilliant! I can’t really get enough of your High res wallpapers, been staring on them for hours now. ;)

    Also, I’m very interested in mapping and would very much like to see what your map looks like in hammer at this stage. Hope you are planning to release more in-depth articles about how you work in hammer. Don’t show to much though, an artist got to have his secrets. :)

    Keep up the good work and good luck with the cave part!


  • Yotho

    I agree stickyboot, Apply for a job at Valve!

    I have a question: The rocks have got a specular or no? it could add even more realism, I think! But only the rocks that are near water.
    (forgiven my bad English)

  • stickyboot

    Apply for a job at valve please.

  • mooncalf

    Stunning! It’s a wonderful thing that DE should get such a well-deserved rejuvination, and a remarkable showcase of talent. The rich visual tapestry you’re weaving I’m sure will be a perfect accompaniment to the pitch of expression achieved by the speech and score of the original, an experience I’ll be pleased to mention to people of all walks of life.

  • Antlia

    Truly MINDBLOWING. Keep up the fantastic work.

  • So incredibly cool. I’m drooling.

    Feels like giving constructive criticism to Rembrandt, but, the one place I don’t see the quality matching up to the rest of your work is on the stalactites and stalagmites in the cave. The textures seem to break a little or might not be vertical enough, I don’t know. And I would totally vote this as MOTY.

  • Corrosive

    Will you have my babies?

  • HelderPinto

    Wow, sex!

    I have a new desktop. I generally don’t like noisy environments with noise textures, but I absolutely love this cos It actually makes a lot of sense.


  • FlynT

    Really amazing work so far! Very well placed details and Texture arrangement, the Skybox fits nice and provides a brilliant contrast to the whole scene. If i wouldn’t know it, i never would believe that this is Source! I think we have a really hot candidate for the next MOTY ;)

    Keep it up, with my deepest respect.

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