Friday Subnautica dev blog

Posted by charlie 10 years ago

New dev blog

We’ve been inspired by the Rust Friday devblogs, and thought we’d try doing them ourselves. Not sure if they will be worthwhile, but we’re hoping to keep them image and video heavy, using just the media we happened to create this week and shared with each other. We weren’t planning on releasing any of this media, or else we would’ve made it look a bit nicer…

Procedural to hand-crafted

About a year ago, we had tons of low-fidelity, but totally playable prototypes (which we’re hoping to release to you – details coming). I was thinking that we had the game “in the bag” and that it was merely a question of arting things up. Boy was I wrong.

We shifted away from a procedural, randomized world and have decided on a hand-crafted one. We spent months trying to procedurally generate underwater worlds, and while many aspects were promising, our areas generally felt less special than hand-crafted areas, and those two never played well together. So instead of worrying about having infinite worlds that are at least moderately interesting and special, we are putting all our effort into having one world that is extremely special.

We continue our hustle to get the game ready for early access. We’ve cut unbelievable amounts of creatures, weapons, biomes, etc. in an attempt to get the essential core out to all of you as soon as possible. We’re thirsting for that feedback loop and working with our community again, instead of our in our little (very dangerous) bubble.

One of our biggest challenges every day is creating this massive detailed world, at a fidelity that will make us stand out. We decided that we didn’t want to make a game like Starbound or Minecraft, but make something with beautiful detail and artwork – that’s one of our big strengths.

Level overview

So this week, Hugh (who is now acting as producer) created an overhead map that helps us get a handle on the current state of the world, including who is working on what, and just trying to SEE our world. Here’s our current state:


Now he’s off to Gamescom to start showing the game to anyone that he can convince to take a look. Write him at or message him on Twitter.

New “Grand Reefs” and “Twisty Bridges”

Russell started blocking out our “Grand Reefs” area, which is shaping up to look like this:


He also got started on our “Twisty Bridges” area, which is especially challenging. Here’s the concept art:


…and the very beginning of in-game. We’re trying to figure out if these bridges should be models, or sculpted out of voxels.


Grassy Plateaus and player start detailing

Dux detailed some of our “grassy plateaus” regions:


Olmy detailed some of the edges around the all-important player start location, seen by the creepvine forests (inspired by kelp):


Coral tubes sha

Colin added some wicked coral tubes that hide in their homes via vertex displacement shader:

Bladderfish animations

Brandt has been working on the Bladderfish, specifically some inflate and deflate animations:


Peeper curiosity

Andi made our “Peepers” much more curious about the player, so they swim up to you when you’re still and then flit off when you move too quickly:

New Gasopod and Sandshark

We also got the “gasopod” and “sandshark” art done and in-game:

World arrows

I added animated world arrows that help a new player figure out what they can do and what might be of interest (these will only be in the beginning of the game):


Dynamic storms

We started adding wind, rain and intermittent sci-fi electrical storms. Sylvain (our VFX artist) made storm-making look easy with his amazing combination of shader programming, 2D art and particle-creation skills:


Simon created a dynamic soundscape which we’ll use for these storms as well (click-through here). Here are some of the other sounds he’s created here as well.

Transparency shaders

Steve was taken out of action due to RSI but seems to be faring better now. He improved some transparency shaders so they look much better now:



Lukas has had a short time to go from web programming to game programming, but he’s doing well. He’s been working on our in-game PDA, which is your main way of interacting with your inventory and learning about the elements you’ve picked up. This video is actually showing a bug with our Constructor (which lets you build vehicles), but it gives you an idea what the PDA is looking like:

Please let us know what you think!

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