I don't think I have the brains to become a terraforming scientist, though. I'd just tag along and look out windows all day.

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This scene was created by 3D Environment Artist Liam Tart, who's worked on games like Black Mesa, Natural Selection 2, and more recently, Alien Isolation. He chipped away at this project in his free time over the past three months, documenting his progress in a Polycount forum thread.

Tart says his environment was inspired by Alien, Bioshock, Ringworld, and Halo, and it's supposed to be an exercise in environmental storytelling. You can see this in all the little details: the open drawers, the items strewn across the floor, the reminder to speak to that doctor written on the whiteboard. Maybe whoever lives there did forget, and had to leave in a hurry. Or they could be just a slob. Or it's a Dead Space-like everyone-is-dead scenario, in which case I'm not sure I want to live there anymore.

Here's the lore behind the setting:

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An orbiting space station above a planet in the beginning stages of being terraformed. The space station is a base for the research scientists and engineers involved in the terraforming. They primarily live on this station, but also go on excursions down to the planet for weeks at a time in order to seed the planet with algae and other microbes, with the end goal of making the planet hospitable in generations to come. The station generates it's own gravity via its spinning superconductors below the station, and has the technology to create food (as well as having large stores from Earth), and also generates and recycles it's own breathable air.

A large group of scientists and engineers left Earth 40 years previously, aboard a giant interstellar space station, in order to travel to the nearest star system to ours and start up a human colony in a different star system.

However, Earth received a distress signal 5 years into the terraforming process. A single garbled message was received, and no other contact has been made since. Fortunately, since the departure of the original crew, technology has been developed that has reduced the large amount of time required to travel across space, but the time required is still fairly substantial.

You are one of the crew members sent to investigate the cause of the distress signal. After waking up from 10 years in stasis, you are approaching the station, eager to find out what caused the distress signal.

Yeah, Dead Space scenario it is. There's also a video:

You can check out the rest of Tart's stuff here, on his website.

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Questions? Comments? Contact the author of this post at andras-AT-kotaku-DOT-com.