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RIVEN: THE SEQUEL TO MYST was a massive undertaking for Cyan - they pulled in a new art director, Richard Van Der Wende, from ILM, along with an extensive team of talented young artists.

The project cost $10 million, massive compared to Myst's $650,000 budget, including a bunch of then top-of-the-line SGI Workstations which the studio now refers to as 'our old $50,000 door stops'.

Even with a high budget, a bigger team, and newer hardware and software (Softimage, the same 3D animation software used for Jurassic Park's dinosaurs) they still struggled to get the game made given their ambitious creative vision.

The project lasted four years, from 1993 to 1997, and the result was arguably some of the best adventure genre content ever developed, with more rusted, dirty, worn down and all-around detail-rich and believable graphics, compelling ambient audio and sound design, a solid story with a top-notch turn by John Keston as Atrus's father Gehn, a sprawling gameworld with a degree of cultural and ecological depth that made it impressively credible.  The puzzle design, while extremely difficult, was always plausibly integrated into the gameworld and the story and pretty much everything in Riven was amazing, save for the now-dated 640x480 pre-rendered interface, and the fact that given such a large gameworld and puzzles spread all across it, it was often tricky to make connections between scattered details and realize how they all fit together.   As with any Myst title, there was a lot of wandering around feeling rather stumped and unclear as to what was going on.

Riven, the sequel to Myst   Riven's sunners

But even when you had no clue what to do next, the world was extremely compelling just to wander around in, observing every nook and cranny.  Riven ended up selling over 3.5 million copies and was the best selling PC title of 1997, but even so barely half the phenomenon Myst was on the sales charts.
Riven is usually regarded as one of the top adventure-game titles of all time; it's a true classic in the point-and-click puzzler category even given the massive difficulty level of the puzzles.

Riven PC game box art

The game is now showing its age badly as there has been no string of substantial updates as with Myst, only ports - Riven is available on Steam and other PC game download services, and as an iOS game, but either way it's still the same game as it was in '97.

There is a group of fans backed by Cyan attempting to rebuild the entire game in full realtime 3D but this is a slow process, especially with a smaller team than the original four-year production, and likely it won't be until perhaps 2019 or so until we see that fan rerelease (the Starry Expanse project, aka RealRiven) reach completion.

Here's the DVD edition documentary on the making of Riven:






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