Jun 10 2017

Stacking Shelves: Gehn’s Lab

There are several areas in Riven that give players a look behind the curtain, allowing them a fuller glimpse into antagonist Gehn’s personal goals and motivations. One of these is his lab on Boiler Island. Its tables and shelves are full of objects that, if examined closely, will provide answers to many of the player’s questions.

Over the last few weeks, our artists Francois Hurtubise and Nathaniel Grove have been hard at work bringing this area to life. Here are some examples of work currently in progress.

A disassembled Ytram trap

Tools for preparing poisoned dart cartridges

We’d also like to extend a big thank you to all those who contributed to the discussion last month! We were overwhelmed by the response, and enjoyed reading through your suggestions. The passion and attention to detail our fans bring to this project continues to motivate us to do our best possible work. We’re looking forward to discussing other important topics with you all soon.

Drawer contents coming soon!

Welcome to our new team members:
Paul Petre (3D Artist)


May 1 2017

realRiven: Special Edition?

One of the most common questions that we get asked is “Do you plan to put anything in the game that wasn’t in the original?”

As such, we have a large collection of your suggestions. Candidates range from minimal impact additions like easter eggs (similar to those which already exist), significant alterations like weather variation, to whole new areas like Gehn’s 234th age (an area referenced but never actually seen).

The Moeity Village in Tay

The ability to explore the Moiety village on Tay is one of the most popular recommendations.

The number of these requests that we receive is not surprising, as the Myst series has set a precedent for bonus content. When realMyst was released, fans were surprised to discover Rime, a whole new age to explore which expanded the story and helped it dovetail into the sequel.

We’ve always maintained that we will not consider any additions to Riven until the original game has been re-created in its entirety, and we still stand by that. However, there are always grey areas. Here are two examples:

The book press, an object that was removed at the last minute due to playtesting issues, and a hidden corridor to nowhere that seems to have been cut late in development. These things are not in the original game, but were clearly intended to be at one stage. Could these objects be reworked back into the game? Perhaps they could!

Bookpress and hidden corridor

We are interested to hear what you think. Would you add these objects into realRiven, and if so – why or why not? Are there better examples of content that could be added first?

Add your thoughts in the comments — we do take your opinions seriously.


Apr 2 2017

Solid Materials

Our artists have been hard at work adding to the material library, our collection of commonly used surfaces that can be used in combination to recreate the detailed environments of Riven. Here are some recent examples, all created by texture artist Jacek Kalinowski!

Red dirt and basalt rock, Boiler Island

Our material system allows us to blend these surfaces together based on a texture mask, which gives our artists a lot of control over the fine details of each asset.

Deposited limestone, Survey Island

Riven is a world of stark natural beauty contrasted against intricate machinery, and our material system allows us to reproduce it in the highest possible detail. From the fine sand on the shore of Boiler Island’s volcanic lake, to the wear and tear on the Fire Marble Dome.

Rough brick, Survey Island

 

Welcome to our new team members!
Brandon Kouri (3D Artist)
Nathan Grove (3D Artist)


Mar 8 2017

To Divide and Conquer

Last month we shared some of our recent camera-matching work on Temple Island, and we noticed that there was some great discussion regarding  the coloured region map we used to place the SuperDome. To answer your questions, we thought we’d go into a bit more detail about what those maps are and how they help us reconstruct such a large and complicated environment as Riven.

Temple Zone Map

We have a similar ‘area map’ for each island.

We have made extensive use of a detailed top-down map of Riven’s five islands (you can find it in the Prima Strategy Guide) to break each island into what we call ‘areas’. This helps us organise ourselves, allowing us to group objects and tasks by area and making it much easier to visualise what needs to be done next. Breaking up an island into sections also means multiple people are able work on it at the same time without getting in each other’s way.

Old Boiler Zone Map

An earlier version of Boiler Island’s area map.

Unfortunately, the map isn’t always trustworthy. We suspect that most (if not all) of the interiors are just inventions based on a best guess, and there are other parts of the map (especially on Jungle Island) where the map clearly deviates from the actual game environment. This can be very problematic, as in the past we’ve tended to over rely on it for placing objects in a scene. This is especially prominent in areas that are mostly indoors, like Survey Island’s interior.

The ‘camera-matched’ environment compared to the area map below.

The ‘camera-matched’ environment compared to the area map below.

As you can see, not only is there a significant scale disparity between our camera-matched geometry and the overhead map, but the map even gets the shape of the pentagonal elevator shaft backwards!

To solve these difficulties, we have a simple rule. Whenever there is a conflict between the original game and the overhead map, we will always defer to the environment as represented in the original stills. They remain the best possible reference.

The overhead map has also had other benefits that directly affect how the game will be played. We use the same area layout as the foundation of our level streaming system, which will let the player traverse the entire age of Riven without needing to see a single loading screen (or switch disks!)

That, however, is a topic for another day.

A big welcome to our new team members:
Jonas Becsan (VFX Artist)
Jordan Cain (3D Artist)


Feb 4 2017

Monthly Update: February 2017

Last month, our art team worked hard on two primary tasks: creating assets for the greybox scenes we presented last year at Mysterium, and camera-matching new ones. Here’s a sneak peek at some examples that have been shared by various members of the team. Remember, all of this work is still ‘in progress’ — and we welcome any comments or questions you may have!

Objects in Gehn's Lab

Some objects you may recognise from Gehn’s lab on Boiler Island. These were created by the latest addition to our art team, Francois Hurtubise!

SuperDome on Map

Shots from the current “camera-match” of Temple Island’s SuperDome™

SuperDome Exterior Camera-Matching

Camera-matching the exterior of the dome. The red and green wireframes shows the work our artists are doing on top of the original Riven images.

Dome Interior Camera-Matching

Camera-matching the interior of the dome. Note the yellow wireframes.

As you can see, there’s lots of important work being done! And it highlights the benefits of the new pipeline we instituted last year — we have different areas in various stages of development, so we can move forward with camera-matching new areas while our artists start filling in more detailed assets in previously-matched ones. Looking forward to sharing more soon!


Jan 11 2017

Looking back, moving forward

Happy new year, Riven fans!

What a year we had! We welcomed seven new immensely talented people to the team, we were able to ‘greybox’ several large areas of the game which we proudly presented at Mysterium in Salt Lake City, and we even started exploring areas of development that we’ve not attempted previously — like motion capture solutions for our character animation.

Survey Island: Garden

We’re all aware that this update has been a long time coming, and we apologize for the radio silence since August — we’ve all just been so busy! To make it up to you, here is our new year’s resolution: We will be providing at least one update per month for the duration of 2017. We’ll keep you informed — and we trust you’ll hold us to it! And a special thanks to all those fans who reached out to us during this time to ask about the project; your support means a lot to us.

Survey Island: Lower Level

2017 is going to be a fantastic year for the Starry Expanse project. We can’t wait to continue sharing this journey with you.

Welcome to our new team members:

Chris Mumford – Developer

Ignatius Reillius – 3D Artist

Kyle Hovey – System Administrator

Leonard Schölch – 3D Artist

Liam Smyth – 3D Artist

Matt Laskowski – 3D Artist

Ryan Jung – System Administrator


Aug 5 2016

Mysterium 2016 video feed

UPDATE: Watch the recording of the presentation here!

Original Post:

Today’s the big day! Follow Mysterium along with us at https://www.twitch.tv/mysteriumcon — presentation will start at 3:30 Mountain Daylight Time.

 

Twitch Stream Thumbnail

 


Aug 1 2016

It’s that time of year again!

Upon us in the month of August are potentially many events that may make or break the future of humanity. The most critical of these events, of course, is the 19th annual occurrence of Mysterium (the Myst fan convention). This will be our seventh year presenting at Mysterium, and our show this time is going to be quite the departure from previous years — so be sure to tune in!

We’ll post a link to a live video stream when the time is closer. For now, though, be sure to mark your calendar with the following details:

Date: Friday, August 5th, 2016
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Local Time (MDT / Mountain Daylight Time): 3:30 PM

Time zone conversions for your convenience:
Eastern USA Time: 5:30 PM
Pacific USA Time: 2:30 PM
UTC: 9:30 PM (Friday August 5th)

See you there! And if you’re bored in the meantime, take a look at some content from our previous Mysterium shows.

 


Jul 14 2016

July

Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it! Sorry about that. Rest assured, the last few months have been extremely active for us, and we have a lot of cool stuff to show for it! Our camera matching has come along really really well, and we’re in the process of loading our matched assets into Unreal now.

We’ll be presenting as usual at Mysterium this year in Salt Lake City, so we don’t want to show off too much just yet. But as a taste, here are a few shots of the fruits of our labor since April:

Boiler Island

The woodchipper on Boiler Island

Gehn's lab
Camera match of the Gate Room from above

Gate Room block-in model perspective shot

Survey Island

Survey from the sky

Keep in mind that these are stand-in models, the first step in creating art assets for our game. They’re definitely a work in progress, but having them done gives us a template to follow when sculpting high-poly models, and allows us to start work on interaction programming. Pretty soon we’ll have a fully playable game! Then we just have to make it look pretty.

That’s all for now, we’ll see you in August!

Zoom.


Apr 21 2016

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a Match

We’ve pulled together a few more images to share with you guys of the work being done by our various art teams.

The ytram cave on Boiler Island

The maglev station on Boiler Island

The beginnings of our wahrk model

The lower level of Survey Island

Not much else to report, other than that things are progressing very well around here, and that we’re looking for more help!