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.
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
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
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
point-and-click puzzler category even given the massive difficulty
level of the puzzles.
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:
Myst series and Obduction are creative works by Cyan, Inc.
copyright infringement is intended as this is a non-profit
informational fan page.