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Riven Improvements Thoughts on new Riven stuff

#1 User is offline   debrotam 

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:56 PM

If Riven was done again (Well, maybe not so much "if" anymore thanks to Starry Expanse), I'd say:

  • If any of you guys have played the game Doom 3, you would know that it's a pretty high-definition 3D game. It's run off of the id Tech 4 engine. It's real time, first person movement. I think that if Riven were redone, it would be based on id Tech or a similar engine. Free-looking with the mouse, WSAD or mouse click to move. I don't think third person would be very good, because the identity and look of the Stranger is supposed to be unknown.
  • In the village, a greater exploration area (maybe be able to enter a hut or two) and maybe have some of the villagers not freak out when you walk to the village and run away (i.e. have some villagers actually walking about, some of which you can talk to, who might tell you things about Gehn, and subtly giving you little hints every once in a while.)
  • 3D world created directly from the old stills of the game (hard to do, but would be an AMAZING game)
  • More visual and audio effects (maybe slight motion blur, linking animation, footstep sound when walking/running, 3D view of old AVIs)


What do you guys think of these? Tell me what you would add! Which of these do you support/not support?
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#2 User is offline   Talashar 

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 09:24 PM

Realtime Riven would be great, and it would be interesting to have signs of Riven's instability, random tremors and so forth.

Communication between the player and the villagers wouldn't fit with the story (the Stranger knows neither Rivenese nor D'ni at this point) and I think would detract from the atmosphere of the game. But something I do want to see is Rivenese as a full-fledged conlang like D'ni, rather than an obscure real language.
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#3 User is offline   Capella 

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 10:01 PM

Starry Expanse is using the Unity engine, which allows for a ton of advantages (realtime, multiple navigation modes, and most importantly cross-platform availability). Did you play the little preview/demo?

I love the idea of Rivenese as a conlang. You could redo the old dialogues (done in a language from Papua New Guinea if I recall right) in it and have it learnable.

I disagree that we should be able to talk to villagers. I can't think of a way to talk back without breaking the Stranger immersion. You'd have to give the Stranger a voice, which means either assigning a preset gender or having to pick gender at the start of the game. And would the Stranger's questions be pre-recorded? A dialogue wheel like from a BioWare game? A popup with questions in text which you'dhave to select your way through?
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#4 User is offline   Gehn, lord of ages 

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 07:43 PM

I agree that talking with the villagers wouldn't work that well. I think Rivenese is good as it is - it sounds nice and is obscure enough to not really seem immersion breaking, and it is learnable and useable without the odd quirks or limited vocabulary that conlangs can have.


- realtime looks pretty nice with what the Starry Expanse team is doing. Weather and more opportunities for movement (not just big things like tremors, but more swayings of leaves, flying birds, ripples in the water, etc.) are nice extras.
- Some things could use a little enlargement, like the village. Being able to explore a few more areas (233rd's exterior in the end, Prison Island, the further shores and forests of Riven) would be nice too. A few more villager interactions would be nice, but short/distant and one time only things (like the scribe). The loneliness is part of the atmosphere, although the village should perhaps have more sounds even when everyone is hiding.
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#5 User is offline   Capella 

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:00 PM

How did I forget 233 exteriors? Shoot me now for being a terrible person.
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#6 User is offline   Gehn, lord of ages 

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:35 PM

View PostCapella, on 27 February 2013 - 08:00 PM, said:

How did I forget 233 exteriors? Shoot me now for being a terrible person.

Okay

Think of 233rd... with weather. Day/night, storms, etc. It would be pretty awesome - a short but nice treat for the player after nearly finishing the game. Perhaps even put some lab style notebooks out there (in some kind of cover) with some instruments of Gehn's research - no need for much more than a glorified balcony, but it would be nice to have some little details. Maybe even make it possible for someone else to link in while you're there if you wait too long (as long as you have the cage down or the books powered, so they can reasonably get away when they see you're not Gehn).
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#7 User is offline   Shinkansen 

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:12 AM

I think that realtime graphics have gotten to the point where the quality of original Riven could be replicated. Having little realtime effects such as day/night cycles, dynamic weather, tremors, more animals would all help to make the game immersive. Though I would really prefer not to have the 5-minute day/night cycle of RealMyst; that was just absurd. I actually really like the 15-hour cycle of Eder Gira. Keep the game first-person, but maybe add gloved hands to give you the sense that you're playing a person rather than just a floating camera with telekinesis.

Adding more explorable areas to Age 233 and Tay would be very nice and interesting, though how to make them relevant to the storyline could be a bit difficult. Still, there is nothing wrong with eye candy.
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#8 User is offline   Gehn, lord of ages 

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 10:06 AM

View PostShinkansen, on 28 February 2013 - 09:12 AM, said:

I think that realtime graphics have gotten to the point where the quality of original Riven could be replicated.

Yeah, I used to be fairly anti-realtime-Riven when it came up in discussions some years ago, but technology has advanced a lot.

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Having little realtime effects such as day/night cycles, dynamic weather, tremors, more animals would all help to make the game immersive. Though I would really prefer not to have the 5-minute day/night cycle of RealMyst; that was just absurd. I actually really like the 15-hour cycle of Eder Gira.

Yeah, a realistic day/night would be needed (otherwise - just sticking to day only would be better). It might need some changes to add more lighting to places (or even just give the player a lantern that they automatically use when it gets dark) since you'd be around for long times in the night.

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Keep the game first-person, but maybe add gloved hands to give you the sense that you're playing a person rather than just a floating camera with telekinesis.

And some boots, to avoid the Exile spiderman effect? They could even be explained away as Atrus' spare stuff, so that it doesn't pin down anything about the identity of the Stranger.

You could also make these slightly customizeable. Have an Uru-esque clothing reward here and there (except more realistically picking up and taking the item in question), with outfits that would switch out your gloves/boots (a Scribe's or Maintainer's outfit in the village, a Moiety uniform in Tay or the prison somewhere, Gehn's uniform in 233rd, etc.)

[on that note, a camera and journal of some kind - like in the later games - would be a nice addition. Not sure why I thought of that now, but it would be nice.]

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Adding more explorable areas to Age 233 and Tay would be very nice and interesting, though how to make them relevant to the storyline could be a bit difficult. Still, there is nothing wrong with eye candy.

233rd is easy to justify story-wise, since you basically have free reign in the place after Gehn is taken care of. Puzzle-and-gameplay-wise (to avoid a huge empty area with no effect on the game) it's trickier, though - and Tay is hard to justify in any way (although people seem to really like it).



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#9 User is offline   Shinkansen 

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 04:52 PM

View PostGehn, lord of ages, on 28 February 2013 - 10:06 AM, said:

233rd is easy to justify story-wise, since you basically have free reign in the place after Gehn is taken care of. Puzzle-and-gameplay-wise (to avoid a huge empty area with no effect on the game) it's trickier, though - and Tay is hard to justify in any way (although people seem to really like it).

Expanded Tay actually might be a good place to explore more of Katran's backstory. After re-reading PlantPerson's Riven retrospective, I figured that Katran's backstory really needs to be explored more to give the character justice. Additionally, it might also be nice to establish that Tay is a bit more than a rocky crater with a giant dead(?) tree in the middle. Given that in the ending the Rivenese are moved there it would be good to know that they are going to live someplace nice.
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#10 User is offline   Gehn, lord of ages 

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:02 PM

View PostShinkansen, on 28 February 2013 - 04:52 PM, said:

View PostGehn, lord of ages, on 28 February 2013 - 10:06 AM, said:

233rd is easy to justify story-wise, since you basically have free reign in the place after Gehn is taken care of. Puzzle-and-gameplay-wise (to avoid a huge empty area with no effect on the game) it's trickier, though - and Tay is hard to justify in any way (although people seem to really like it).

Expanded Tay actually might be a good place to explore more of Katran's backstory. After re-reading PlantPerson's Riven retrospective, I figured that Katran's backstory really needs to be explored more to give the character justice. Additionally, it might also be nice to establish that Tay is a bit more than a rocky crater with a giant dead(?) tree in the middle. Given that in the ending the Rivenese are moved there it would be good to know that they are going to live someplace nice.

I'm not sure I agree. [SPOILERS ABOUND BELOW - I figure everyone in here has played Riven and knows it and whatever other media I might end up spoiling, but just in case you haven't, you have now been warned]

1. I don't think extended exploration of Tay fits in well to the gameplay/story.

Of course, making the dock area larger, perhaps with a few early-settlement huts or something would be nice. Maybe even allow the player to climb the crater some, get a better view. The weather could change (always starting as a gloomy, ominous night the first time you link in and get ambushed, but from there syncing up with its own day/night cycle and weather effects). The room in the tree could be more interesting as well - perhaps with more of a balcony or window to get a better view of the village.

But to explore around the village or do anything major (with new puzzles or just large new areas) seems odd. The Moiety should be suspicious of you, as established. They're a mysterious and threatening unknown [1]. They have their own agenda, and it doesn't fit that well with you just roaming around (due to suspicions and due to how you have a job you should be doing for them).

2. I don't think it would be best to explore Katran's backstory through Tay.

- For one, Katran is also a bit of a mystery in Riven. Is she reasonable? Is she tricking you? Too much backstory (especially stuff which clears up recent history better) might clear up these answers too easily. Exile or Revelation would perhaps be better places for untangling her backstory and character (but of course, it's nearly entirely ignored there, and cringe-worthy when it's not), just as Atrus gained a lot more depth in Riven, after being the unknown variable in Myst.

- It's hard to justify anyone in Tay speaking English, much less writing it. Gehn, Atrus, and Katran are established as the only sources which can really communicate to you [2]. Katran can't speak to you in Tay (unless we have her version of the school imager message Gehn has - but that would be in Rivenese, most likely), so any direct storytelling would be by a journal. This journal would basically just be the journal you get anyway in Tay, and could just be appended into that [3].

- As for indirect storytelling, Katran is not really at home with the Moiety. It isn't her upbringing or culture (aside from being Rivenese), and most of the time she spent with them is already recorded down in the journal. The Moiety doesn't reflect her.

Instead, something in Prison Island (although if it's a journal it would have to be carefully concealed - perhaps there'd be a small puzzle even to find it) or the Village (she still has family there, and it was where she grew up) would likely work better for indirectly or directly telling you about her character.

[1] This is the only case Gehn has going for him, and it's played rather weakly. The Moiety are toothless. I think it would be better if they are more unknown and more worrisome (not necessarily more violent or edgier - just that the fact that they basically go around and terrorize the Rivenese [based on enigmatic agendas from unknown and untested leadership] should be better emphasized). Katran is even disturbed by them in her journal, and Gehn's case is that they are dangerous and uncontrolled (and that Katran is at best a puppet, at worst now influenced by them - and this case should be one of thinking out why Gehn's argument doesn't ring true, why Atrus and Katran know what they are doing, and why the risks of Moiety dangers is better than the imperialism of Gehn... not just a shrug that the Moiety are the good guys).

[2] Keta doesn't count, okay?

[3] One way to avoid this (and other issues with revealing too much about Tay, the Moiety, and Katran early on) would be to have some reason to return to Tay and gain new access after defeating Gehn (but before the end comes, because then it should be full of NPCs, which would cause issues). This could also help relieve fears of Tay being too inhospitable, by showing the nicer and more welcoming sides of Tay when you returned. It would have to be quick, though (to avoid just stretching out the endgame with a random side quest). Perhaps in place of the puzzle of Gehn's watch (or to supplement it), you need to return to do something to help break out Katran?


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#11 User is offline   Shinkansen 

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 08:36 PM

View PostGehn, lord of ages, on 28 February 2013 - 07:02 PM, said:

I'm not sure I agree. [SPOILERS ABOUND BELOW - I figure everyone in here has played Riven and knows it and whatever other media I might end up spoiling, but just in case you haven't, you have now been warned]

1. I don't think extended exploration of Tay fits in well to the gameplay/story.

Of course, making the dock area larger, perhaps with a few early-settlement huts or something would be nice. Maybe even allow the player to climb the crater some, get a better view. The weather could change (always starting as a gloomy, ominous night the first time you link in and get ambushed, but from there syncing up with its own day/night cycle and weather effects). The room in the tree could be more interesting as well - perhaps with more of a balcony or window to get a better view of the village.

But to explore around the village or do anything major (with new puzzles or just large new areas) seems odd. The Moiety should be suspicious of you, as established. They're a mysterious and threatening unknown [1]. They have their own agenda, and it doesn't fit that well with you just roaming around (due to suspicions and due to how you have a job you should be doing for them).

I agree, actually. I was actually trying to think of a way of including an expanded Tay, given that seems to be a perennial fan request. I don't really care about it; I think it would bog down the gameplay to have another whole Age to explore at that point in the game.

View PostGehn, lord of ages, on 28 February 2013 - 07:02 PM, said:

2. I don't think it would be best to explore Katran's backstory through Tay.

- For one, Katran is also a bit of a mystery in Riven. Is she reasonable? Is she tricking you? Too much backstory (especially stuff which clears up recent history better) might clear up these answers too easily. Exile or Revelation would perhaps be better places for untangling her backstory and character (but of course, it's nearly entirely ignored there, and cringe-worthy when it's not), just as Atrus gained a lot more depth in Riven, after being the unknown variable in Myst.

- As for indirect storytelling, Katran is not really at home with the Moiety. It isn't her upbringing or culture (aside from being Rivenese), and most of the time she spent with them is already recorded down in the journal. The Moiety doesn't reflect her.

Instead, something in Prison Island (although if it's a journal it would have to be carefully concealed - perhaps there'd be a small puzzle even to find it) or the Village (she still has family there, and it was where she grew up) would likely work better for indirectly or directly telling you about her character.

[1] This is the only case Gehn has going for him, and it's played rather weakly. The Moiety are toothless. I think it would be better if they are more unknown and more worrisome (not necessarily more violent or edgier - just that the fact that they basically go around and terrorize the Rivenese [based on enigmatic agendas from unknown and untested leadership] should be better emphasized). Katran is even disturbed by them in her journal, and Gehn's case is that they are dangerous and uncontrolled (and that Katran is at best a puppet, at worst now influenced by them - and this case should be one of thinking out why Gehn's argument doesn't ring true, why Atrus and Katran know what they are doing, and why the risks of Moiety dangers is better than the imperialism of Gehn... not just a shrug that the Moiety are the good guys).

[2] Keta doesn't count, okay?

[3] One way to avoid this (and other issues with revealing too much about Tay, the Moiety, and Katran early on) would be to have some reason to return to Tay and gain new access after defeating Gehn (but before the end comes, because then it should be full of NPCs, which would cause issues). This could also help relieve fears of Tay being too inhospitable, by showing the nicer and more welcoming sides of Tay when you returned. It would have to be quick, though (to avoid just stretching out the endgame with a random side quest). Perhaps in place of the puzzle of Gehn's watch (or to supplement it), you need to return to do something to help break out Katran?

The problem is that we are expected to take it without doubt that Atrus and Katran are Good and that Gehn is Evil. Now, Gehn is presented as a fairly complex character, but at the end of the day there are no shades of grey present. It all really comes down to how complex of a plot you want. Riven has a fairly deep and complex back plot, but the plot of the actual game is rather sparse. Now, it might be interesting to have the player involved in an actual conflict between a morally conflicted Gehn and the brutal but well-meaning Moiety, but that would probably necessitate extensive player/character interaction, and that would be out of the style and spirit of the Myst series.

But anyway, we already get quite a bit of the picture from Katran's journal and Gehn's monologue, though it might be interesting to see a confirmation of Katran's and Gehn's claims that the Moiety have "gone off the deep end" as it were. Perhaps a little Katran effigy to go along with the Gehn one...
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#12 User is offline   Gehn, lord of ages 

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 08:40 AM

View PostShinkansen, on 28 February 2013 - 08:36 PM, said:

The problem is that we are expected to take it without doubt that Atrus and Katran are Good and that Gehn is Evil. Now, Gehn is presented as a fairly complex character, but at the end of the day there are no shades of grey present. It all really comes down to how complex of a plot you want. Riven has a fairly deep and complex back plot, but the plot of the actual game is rather sparse. Now, it might be interesting to have the player involved in an actual conflict between a morally conflicted Gehn and the brutal but well-meaning Moiety, but that would probably necessitate extensive player/character interaction, and that would be out of the style and spirit of the Myst series.

But anyway, we already get quite a bit of the picture from Katran's journal and Gehn's monologue, though it might be interesting to see a confirmation of Katran's and Gehn's claims that the Moiety have "gone off the deep end" as it were. Perhaps a little Katran effigy to go along with the Gehn one...

Wouldn't it be a brutal but "well meaning" Gehn and a morally conflicted Moiety?

Anyway, I don't think there needs to be shades of grey or the ambiguous moral decision moment at the end - I just would like Gehn's case for himself to be a reasonable one. He's wrong, he's deceiving you, etc. - but you wouldn't know this for sure unless you paid attention to the journals and environment. Exile is the best at this - the bad endings are all sensible mistakes you make if you don't understand Saavedro well enough. Myst has elements of this as well (with the argument "I'm the trustworthy brother. Thus you should do what I say." - although one look at the green book tends to dispel that rather quickly*), and Myst V as well (Esher has a reasonable plan for tricking you, since it is evident that Yeesha is crazy and it's reasonable for the explorer to feel the need to go somewhere safer - which is Esher's plan, after all. He's not directly saying "Give me the Tablet, I love it.", which would be unreasonable - but "Yeesha cannot be trusted. I know how to help you break from this always failing quest of hers." which is perhaps the best argument he can make to benefit himself). Riven and Myst IV have more issues (okay, the end-game of Myst IV has this - but the first time you meet Sirrus, you aren't even able to follow his argument).

Gehn's argument is that the Moiety compel his ruthlessness, that Katran is corrupted, and that he and Atrus have to work together - that he's the safe one now. This would be more compelling (although still wrong - and debunked by good observation and consideration of the environment) if the Moiety actually were a dangerous thing you were uneasy with (but all the references to how the Moiety are troubling - including their actual violence and their love of terrorizing the villagers - is buried in journals far deeper than the evidence that Gehn is still evil). Maybe the Katran effigy you suggest, or some more interaction between them and the village. Perhaps some villager sketches depicting the Moiety from their view (sure, they might not like Gehn - but the Moiety doesn't have good PR either), or more obvious references to the Moiety's actions (perhaps in Gehn's lab journal), or some interactions that make you wonder if you're being followed and watched by the Moiety as well as by the ever present Gehn.


*If the Green book was just static or a picture of K'veer - then maybe it would be more compelling (the puzzle would have to be tweaked to make sure people didn't just always link in without getting the page, though). That's another discussion altogether, though.
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#13 User is offline   A'Reandal 

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 08:54 PM

I’m having a hard time thinking of a way to improve Riven. There are certainly some but they’re not coming to me at this time (except a real-time version.) ;)

But I do have an off-topic question:

View PostShinkansen, on 28 February 2013 - 09:12 AM, said:

I actually really like the 15-hour cycle of Eder Gira.

When did they change it from the original 10 earth hour day in URU AMB? ???
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#14 User is offline   zib_redlektab 

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 12:05 AM

View PostGehn, lord of ages, on 01 March 2013 - 08:40 AM, said:

...or some interactions that make you wonder if you're being followed and watched by the Moiety as well as by the ever present Gehn.


This would be ideal, I think. It took me a really long time to realize that the Moiety were sinister at all, because of the fact that they freed The Stranger at the beginning. I dismissed their poisoning of Cho, because he clearly recovers from it. Gehn was clearly exaggerating to gain The Stranger's confidence.

It really wasn't until I read Katran's journal (and then re-read it a few times) that I realized that Gehn wasn't entirely lying about them. It'd definitely be cool if there was some way to give the player a better sense of the whole picture. Because really, when you think about it, The Stranger really knows nothing about Atrus and Catherine at the beginning of Riven. You go in with the assumption that Atrus must be the good guy, and Gehn must be the bad guy, but that's really only because of metagaming (Atrus is the first guy you see in the game, he must be the good guy, right?) It'd definitely be more interesting if there was more of a question of who you should really trust.
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