A deserted island... a lost man... memories of a fatal crash... a book written by a dying explorer. Dear Esther is a ghost story told using first-person gaming technologies. Rather than traditional gameplay, the focus here is on exploration, uncovering the mystery of the island, of who you are and why you are here. Fragments of story are randomly triggered by moving around the environments, making every telling unique. Features a stunning, specially commissioned soundtrack. Forget the normal rules of play; if nothing seems real here, it's because it may just be all a delusion. What is the significance of the aerial - What happened on the motorway - is the island real or imagined - who is Esther and why has she chosen to summon you here? The answers are out there, on the lost beach and the tunnels under the island. Or then again, they may just not be, after all...

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!

Posted by chineseroom on Mar 4th, 2010

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 Progress
Dear Esther WIP - level 2
Dear Esther WIP - level 2
Dear Esther Level 2 Progress
Dear Esther Level 2 Progress
Dear Esther Level 2 Progress
Dear Esther Level 2 Progress
Dear Esther Level 2 Progress
Dear Esther Level 2 Progress
Dear Esther Level 2 Progress
Dear Esther Level 2 Progress

I also have more screens as well as some High-res wallpaper over on the blog so be sure to check it out!

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 looking great though, 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!

Post comment Comments  (0 - 50 of 72)
Chain_the_Warforged Mar 5 2010 says:

*Head explodes*

+15 votes     reply to comment
Zlandael Mar 5 2010 says:

My god, this is reality.

+1 vote     reply to comment
BoredGunman Mar 5 2010 replied:

like the whole avatar depression?

+3 votes     reply to comment
nopushbutton Mar 5 2010 says:

I just want to go out there... and have a picnic, or something.

Videogames as Art

+2 votes     reply to comment
MrMattWebb Mar 5 2010 says:

Holy. Crap.

This texture work is unbelievably unbelievable.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Armageddon104 Mar 5 2010 says:

Amazing stuff here!

+1 vote     reply to comment
SirMordred Mar 5 2010 buried:


Cryengine? This rocks, so atmospheric.

-27 votes     reply to comment
HellsHigh Mar 5 2010 replied:

Its source.

+13 votes     reply to comment
Centaur1um Mar 5 2010 replied:


+1 vote     reply to comment
sneakymcfox Mar 5 2010 buried:


this is porbably the best thing i have ever seen done with the source engine (except deleting it obviosly)

-12 votes     reply to comment
awesomepossum Mar 5 2010 says:

well... I'm jealous of your skills!
excellent work

+1 vote     reply to comment
NullSoldier Mar 5 2010 buried:


Who ever mapped this would you please <robotvoice>sit on my FACE.</robotvoice>

-5 votes     reply to comment
SinKing Mar 5 2010 says:

Really cool and thoughtful mapping! I like the sense of depth of canyons and ocean (even without a high viewing distance). When I see something like this on Source I have problems defending what I don't like about the engine. You obviously brought in some talent and made the best out of Source. This is good advertisement for Valve, and I can't wait to replay Dear Esther.

Will you expand some areas, perhaps? For example the ship actually looks like you can walk around on it. One thing I wished for DE was to have more scavenging and exploration abilities. The story can be the same, but there could be some "side" discoveries apart from the main plot.

+1 vote     reply to comment
jjawinte Mar 5 2010 replied:

Agreed SinKing. The whole setting and mood of DE just begged for more expansive exploration ( Even with little to find ) and this will be even more so. Let's hope.

+1 vote     reply to comment
weroper.GX Mar 5 2010 says:

Please make many many little secret things to find!
Very awesome stuff! Keep it on!

+1 vote     reply to comment
LORDDEREX Mar 5 2010 says:

very impressive work!

+1 vote     reply to comment
vfn4i83 Mar 5 2010 says:

Just lost my jaw, for good.

Thats the single most impressive piece of work I've see.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Spiffy664 Mar 5 2010 says:

Ever heard of the artist Nathie over at DA? your rock technique reminds me of a 3D version of his rocks. (how the rocks are regularly disperse by little "lines" of sand

you have captured the randomness of nature very well, keep it up with the disp maps

+1 vote     reply to comment
ariehl Mar 5 2010 says:

Wow, these really look fantastic!

+1 vote     reply to comment
ALIENwoods Mar 5 2010 says:

Extremely looks good ! :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
Tharapita Mar 5 2010 says:

Wow, just wow.

+1 vote     reply to comment
pedro0930 Mar 5 2010 says:

This is almost like a tech demo

+1 vote     reply to comment
Radu_IceMan Mar 5 2010 says:

Ladies and gentlemen! The winner of this round, Robert Briscoe who managed to knock out his opponent, Vavle.

+5 votes     reply to comment
Aaagreen Mar 5 2010 says:

Pff, and people say Source is getting outdated.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Squiggers Mar 5 2010 replied:

Outdated methods for getting stuff in engine, and technology wise? Certainly, compared to Unreal3 and CryEngine2.

However, in this case.. Its hard to believe its Source technology. Outstanding work, I love it.

+6 votes     reply to comment
jjawinte Mar 5 2010 replied:

Well said " Aaagreen " and " Radu_IceMan " and " Squiggers " !

+1 vote     reply to comment
ghostings Mar 5 2010 says:

TTATT, Now I know for sure my computer can't handle this awesomeness.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Hendrix Mar 5 2010 says:

As usual, absolutely stunning work.

+1 vote     reply to comment
altercuca Mar 5 2010 says:

looks absolutely awesome!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Adude Mar 5 2010 says:

Dayum, It barely resembles the original version it has improved so much! I'm really looking forward to the release of this. =)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Gman366 Mar 5 2010 says:

Wow... didnt know that the Source Engine could be that beautiful...

Amazing work dude. Keep up the good work : )

+1 vote     reply to comment
`DarcK Mar 5 2010 says:

Oh god... Simply magnificent!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mr.John Mar 5 2010 says:

All we need now is some guns, explosions and multiplayer!

-4 votes     reply to comment
Ekonk Oct 5 2010 replied:

Get out of here, Micheal Bay.

+1 vote     reply to comment
NNihad Mar 5 2010 says:

Absolutely amazing! I think there is no way to discribe it!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Master_Of_Hiddenry Mar 5 2010 says:

Gotta be the most realistic grasswork I've seen in a game. Ever. I swear, you gotta make valve jealous.

+2 votes     reply to comment
SiPlus Mar 5 2010 says:

I got shocked.

+1 vote     reply to comment
DazJW Mar 5 2010 says:

There are no words.

+1 vote     reply to comment
chsignal Mar 5 2010 says:

Amazing. Cant believe that u made this in source. Good work.

+1 vote     reply to comment
jjawinte Mar 5 2010 says:

This work is a perfect example of why I love following this modding community.

Seeing such masterful manipulation of an engine to transform an artistic vision into this caliber of awe inspiring and visually stunning work should serve as an example of inspiration to current and aspiring modders everywhere.

+4 votes     reply to comment
freredarme Mar 5 2010 says:

Awesome !

+2 votes     reply to comment
zonbie Mar 5 2010 says:

i thought the big black Valve van might have come by already to snatch you up and whisk you away to Success Island.

This island, however, already appears to fill that role. It looks like a Half-Life 2 concept artist's wet dream.

This project is explosively impressive. Keep up the good work. Don't get lost in the tunnels.

+4 votes     reply to comment
DreamOo Mar 5 2010 says:

are u kidding me? that´s not the source engine...
just being puzzled ... 0.o

-4 votes     reply to comment
Erwaitin Mar 5 2010 says:

Thank you.

+1 vote     reply to comment
KEEP_IT_UP! Mar 5 2010 says:

best (!) source pictures i EVER saw!!! respect.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Held Mar 5 2010 says:

that's just amazing

+1 vote     reply to comment
Danboe Mar 5 2010 says:

I've never played DE yet, I was just going to but I've decided to wait now, tremendous stuff!

+1 vote     reply to comment
SolidFake Mar 5 2010 says:

very cool
although I would like to see some more ligthing in some parts, like at the parts where the sun breakes through the sky, that looks incredible

+1 vote     reply to comment
Xiox Mar 5 2010 says:

Wow.. at least you're pushing the source engine somewhere! It's a relief to see something like this in comparison to most maps :P

+1 vote     reply to comment
Resin213 Mar 5 2010 says:

Like Danboe seeing this in development is causing me to wait to play DE.
Awe inspiring. just beautiful.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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