New music for Galatia Academy

The next update comes with new music for one of the key early locations in the game, the university space station – Galatia Academy. Most locations and encounters rely on background music shared by the faction the player is dealing with, but Galatia Academy will be the first location to get a unique piece of music not used anywhere else in the game.

As a composer this is very exciting for me because for the first time I get to move from a broad, zoomed out perspective of planets, star systems and large factional groups to the up-close intimacy of airlocks, hallways, private rooms, and most importantly: individual people!
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Salvors in the Ruin, a digital painting story

For the most part – for almost the entire part – I have been working on new game content since the last update. Talking about it in detail is 100% spoilers, and while I do believe there’s an interesting blog series to write about the overall strategy of narrative design in Starsector during a long development cycle, properly contextualizing it… well, that’d be spoilers.

What else to write about, then? Man, I dunno – but then I had a discussion with Alex about creating an illustration to go with the content I was working on and decided to show him all of my sketches leading up to the final composition. “This could be a blog post, couldn’t it,” I said.

So, hello. This is a digital painting blog post. I’ll show you my process and attempt to explain in hindsight why I made certain decisions. And, to come clean, this is only partially motivated by my desire to insert fan art for Alastair Reynold’s Revenger series into Starsector. (More of it, anyway.)

Earlier this week I created a mission which involves having the player fly out into the fringe of the Persean Sector to dig around in some ruins. There is indeed a Galatia Academy mission which does this very activity, but I assure you that this new mission does it slightly differently! And thinking about these two missions, I was struck by a notion: why not draw some Revenger fan art why not do an illustration of a salvage team finding loot in creepy ruins which could be used for both missions? This situation comes up fairly often in Starsector anyway, and I never really did previously create an appropriate illustration for this sort of thing. Great!

My mind immediately goes to the sequence in Alien where the crew of the Nostromo investigates a derelict ship on LV-426. That era of science fiction movie art production is a huge inspiration to my take on the Starsector aesthetic, as I’ve written about before somewhere on here at some point.

Here’s the shot:

Fantastic! Love the suit silhouettes, the texture, the grim lighting. It’s a bit too organic and boney for what I’m going for, but it feels like a good starting place in terms of setting the mood.

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Painting the Stars

You may have seen this post by Alex come up on your TriPad™ last month – click to visit the lovely original video.

See also a related TriMedia Experience here.

Clearly, something’s up with at least one star or Domain-era tech definitely-safe star-like object. I’m not here to say what’s precisely what or how you players will inevitably try (and succeed) to exploit the mechanics of it, but more to speak about the artistic method to in portraying said star-adjacent objects and/or activities.

Well. I’ll have to spoil a little bit to explain how I’m approaching artistic these problems, so buckle up and be on alert for a COMSEC lockdown. This is the deep-dive digital painting post the Hegemony doesn’t want you to know about!

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Portrait Hegemonization


Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Uniforms and Insignia 

Revision Date pc205.03.20 // by Order of the Ministry of Naval Logistics

“Re-issue of uniform standards document has been ordered to all Hegemony personnel in the Naraka Strategic District due to statistically significant increase in lapse of uniform discipline incidents.”

“Officers are directed to review implementation procedures described herein and are reminded that any deviation from standard uniform to be authorized in written waiver only by commanding officer rank O-6 or superior.”

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The Circle Can’t Be Trusted: Drawing Battlestations

Or: Round stations & the pitfalls of trilateral symmetry, a followup to Zen and the Art of Battlestation Construction

Herein we shall examine in detail the process of creating the Battlestation sprites. There’s gonna be a lot of Photoshop talk, so be warned. Here’s a taste of what a mess my station file is, perhaps revealing a little too much about how I actually work:


Very poor layer naming discipline and related sins on display, for sure. But that aside, let’s start much simpler with a little talk about something we call composition. I’m going to take a classic ship and break down how composition is operating on various scales. Then, using the methodology explored in that process, we can examine how I built the composition of an orbital station sprite. Then I’ll talk about a bunch of random non-pixel art techniques which may be found useful for drawing large station sprites.

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