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Riven’s upcoming remake is only happening because Cyan can do it justice

The observatory in the remake of Riven.
Cyan Worlds
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

A remake of Riven: The Sequel to Myst, a PC puzzle game classic, comes PC, Mac, Meta Quest 2, and Meta Quest 3 later this month. Recreating such a beloved game is a daunting task for any developer. In an interview with Digital Trends, Rand Miller from Cyan Worlds, the studio behind the original Riven and this remake, explained that the studio tactfully waited to revisit Riven until they could get it right.

Riven is such a special part of Cyan’s history. We knew we would remake it for real-time 3D at some point, but not until we could really do it justice,” Miller tells Digital Trends. “We have done several remakes of Myst, along with several other new games, which allowed us to test the 3D engine waters and get better and better at our real-time 3D skills. The stars seemed like they would align a few years ago so we began design.”

Ahead of the Riven remake’s release later this month, I spoke to Miller, Cyan Worlds’ CEO, over email about it. Our conversation about the remake encompasses why Cyan Worlds decided to revisit this classic, the pressure the team felt while modernizing Riven, and lessons the team learned from its remake of Myst and newer original games like Firmament. It’s an insightful conversation about what it takes to revive a beloved game many are nostalgic for over 26 years after its original release.

Riven | Official Launch Trailer | Available June 25th | 4k

Digital Trends: Why did Cyan decide it was time to remake Riven

Rand Miller: Riven is such a special part of Cyan’s history. We knew we would remake it for real-time 3D at some point, but not until we could really do it justice. We have done several remakes of Myst, along with several other new games which allowed us to test the 3D engine waters and get better and better at our real-time 3D skills. The stars seemed like they would align a few years ago so we began design.

How much of the development team of the original Riven is working on the remake?

I, Richard Vander Wende, Mark DeForest, and Robyn Miller all worked on the original Riven and have all had some role in this new version.

A screenshot from the Riven remake
Cyan Worlds

Did the team feel pressured to modernize any aspects of Riven’s design in order to make it more appealing to younger gamers unfamiliar with the original?

I think the only pressure we felt was the pressure to critique our work fairly. We have wanted to look at the external critiques over the years but combine them with our thoughts about some of the inconsistencies in the original. Any changes we made we felt needed to be thoughtfully justified.

Some puzzles have been redesigned. Can you walk through how puzzles were picked to be changed and what the process of redesigning them to feel fresh was like?

We looked at every puzzle in the game. Almost all of our changes were related to difficulty adjustment, narrative clarity, or interface accessibility. For example, we adjusted the marble and waffle iron puzzle to reduce its complexity. We changed the sub-puzzle to be more consistent with the narrative. We changed the animal icon puzzle to be more accessible.

A puzzle in the remake of Riven.
Cyan Worlds

Prior to remaking Riven, you also remade PC classic Myst. What learnings from working on that remake is the team applying to Riven’s remake? Similarly, what learnings did Cyan take from its newer adventure games like Obduction and Firmament and retroactively apply to Riven for its remake?

Remaking Myst over the years and building Obduction and Firmament were instrumental in developing our skills and tools for the Riven project. Not only did we learn how we wanted to build things and the techniques to use, but we also tried our hand at a few different 3D engines. But the most important aspect of all of those projects leading up to Riven was learning what not to do.

The remake of Riven launches for PC, Mac, Meta Quest 2, and Meta Quest 3 on June 25 for $35.

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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