If there is ANY game series that encapsulates my pre-to-mid adolescence, it would be the Myst series. Though I would have to say I was introduced during the 2nd installment in the series, Riven was probably one of my favorite games of all time, and though it wasn’t much more than a basic slide-show with interesting puzzles, and a unique visual aesthetic, the game felt alive to me, and gave me an interesting story and setting to boot.
I won’t say that the fanbase is large, nor will I say that Cyan was elementary in creating a generation in point-and-click adventures, as N oft reminds me that Tim Schaeffer is more the icon of that era, I will give Robyn and Rand Miller the benefit of the doubt. They created a cult classic that people still talk about today. Unfortunately for Rand, these days, Cyan is a shadow of it’s former glory, it’s latest release being an iPad version of realMyst.
It seems though that the community has been wanting more, and with that said, it’s only natural that with today’s free to create market place, filled with various companies releasing shareware versions of their dev software, it only seems natural that the fan’s would begin working on their own edition of a quote/unquote realRiven. The interesting part about this though is that Cyan likes what they see, as they themselves could not hope to accomplish such a feat in this day in age.
Dubbed The Starry Expand Project, a team of independent devs are looking to recreate Riven: The Sequel to Myst in every way imaginable, within a 3D space, with the use of the Unity 3D engine. So far what this particular writer has seen is quite interesting, if not a little awe inspiring, as the visuals that would have taken a full YEAR to render back in the mid 90’s are now being realized in a real-time space, with more effects layered on top as icing on the cake, proving just how far technology has gotten in the past decade, plus so many years.
59 Volt Entertainment, the 8-member team behind this independent incarnation of a classic, has been reported to say that they were in the midst of creating a polished first-impression of the game, before showing it in full to Cyan Worlds personally. Word slipped though and it was only a matter of time before an email was sent from Cyan to 59 Volt about their work… and how Cyan was very pleased at what they saw. Afterwards, 59 Volt went through the motions of legalization, and was given access to the original Riven assets.
There are, of course, many questions being asked of 59 Volt about their approach to creating a 3D Riven game. Mainly in the logistics of a game that was created in a 2D format, now being moved over into a 3D environment. The devs at 59 Volts have stated that they will be looking into a balance of exploration as well as constraining players to a path at various areas, giving a little bit more exploration while still maintaining the necessary viewpoints critical to clue discovery for various puzzles. The game will feature very few changes by the devs, mainly adding various aesthetic elements to the game that were otherwise left out due to time constraints on the part of Cyan during Riven’s original development, like a night-and-day cycle, weather effects, and added animals and fauna. For the sequences using actors, the team has said they’re looking to created 3D models of the characters, animating them based on the live-action footage available.
The team has already has a website and dev-blog up for your perusal which you can find here, as well as various YouTube videos showing off their progress on various parts of the game. From what they’ve shown so far, it seems the crew has managed to get a lot of work done already, having been using camera matching techniques to recreate the landscape and structures in the game, and moving them into the Unity Engine proper.
Keep an eye out for more dev blog posts as their website, and if you’re generous and able, be sure to donate to their cause! I, for one, am hoping to see this all come to fruition.