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February 22, 2006

Early Riven


Very few of the Tinselman posts are Myst related. This one is. It's one of our earliest design maps of the five islands of Riven. If you're familiar with Riven, you'll be able to tell right away that this first attempt was only a rough stab – by the time we'd finished, our design had dramatically changed.

I'll try to post more of the maps in the future.


See the drawing in three sizes:
Small (cc)
Medium (cc)
XL (for a comfy fit) (cc)

(Using firefox? Don't forget to magnify the larger images.)

More Myst Links:

Five Riven islands
Original Myst Game Design Proposal

Reader Comment: Scott Elyard says, "I think I recognize the unused CG garden set that was shown in the Myst to Riven book." You can see a rendering of the Garden Island "east path" on Richard Watson's website.

Images licensed under a creative commons license. Some rights reserved.

February 22, 2006 | Permalink


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I wonder...did the grid/marble puzzle evolve out of the fact that the maps you drew while designing the game were on grid-lined paper? Or was that a specific gameplay decision to get players to think about mapping the islands, and the kind of power that comes from being able to do so?

Posted by: iain | Feb 22, 2006 3:32:31 PM

Yeah! And as long as we're talking about Myst stuff, why was Sirrus addicted to drugs? I wondered if there was a back story for that. I always imagined Sirrus probably started with gateway drugs when he was a teen and moved into the heavier stuff later on, like when he started hanging out with street toughs. I bet Sirrus was in a gang, I bet he had Droogs, kinda like Clockwork Orange, but without Malcolm McDowell...Sirrus was cool, he always had way better rooms than Achenar...

Posted by: Adam Wilmer | Feb 22, 2006 3:54:33 PM

I suppose Sirrus just couldn't take the pressure of being such a genius. He had to find a fault in himself, thus the drug addiction (Ha!).
But yeah, Sirrus was the best one - he had a very noble-ish decorum about him. You gotta love a good bad guy. Well, he was the best next to Atrus(minus the bad guy part), although the ending of Riven definitely made Atrus lose some major brownie points for me. Achenar was just....unnerving...
Thanks for posting the maps, Robyn. The games are awesome! I love playing them over and over again. I'm in the middle of Myst IV now, as a matter of fact.

Posted by: Alli | Feb 22, 2006 5:59:28 PM

Robyn, these are gems. In fact, I just finished replaying Riven about a week ago. Am not sure how many times this makes. I just like to re-visit, especially jungle Island and Tay.

Thanks again.

Posted by: BW | Feb 22, 2006 7:15:13 PM

Myst and Riven will be remembered when the coming apocalypse has been long forgotten!

My wife visited Myst for the first time late last year, while I watched. We then got a copy of Riven, which - lucky me - I had not yet played, and this we explored together. (It was possibly the first thing we had done together since discovering sudoku...)

Amazing. Brilliant. Not created, linked to.

Posted by: Mark | Feb 22, 2006 8:40:17 PM

I don't care what you say about new technology and better rendering techniques. The mental ray work in Riven is gorgeous considering it was made in what? 1996? None of the other myst games come close to the graphics and the quality of Riven's photorealism. Beautiful.

Posted by: Mark | Feb 23, 2006 7:36:29 AM

I find prototype drawings the most exciting and this one is no exception.

Posted by: Chris G | Feb 23, 2006 2:00:40 PM

Iaian, yeah I think the grid did have something to do with the grid/marble puzzle. To be honest, I don't exactly remember. And the game design very slowly evolved. It would be difficult to pinpoint it. Maybe someone else could. I should ask Richard (Vander Wende) or Rand.

I have all the design maps from Riven. I've already scanned them at full size and I'd love to post them; I'll do it as soon as I can. It just takes a fair amount of time to prepare the maps for lower res. (they're mega-big).

Most of them are specific to individual islands. We'd draw one, set it aside, draw another, set it aside. The most interesting thing about them is the evolution that takes place from one to the next.

Posted by: Robyn | Feb 24, 2006 11:54:56 AM

I do love maps. I have quite a collection (inlcuding three of HPL's Dreamlands by various artists).

Interesting to see evolution of the game's geography. I think I recognize the unused (but apparently generated CG garden set) that was shown in that big Myst to Riven book.

Riven is a cool place to go to on occasion. The music is haunting, the atmosphere is thick with mystery, the women are good-looking, and the children are above average dontcha know ya sure you betcha.

Posted by: Scott Elyard | Feb 26, 2006 1:07:59 AM

Scott... I don't know about the women being good-looking but yes, that pathway you see on the map is the very same one you see on the early renderings on RAWA's website... I should have pointed that out. I will in fact!

Posted by: Robyn | Feb 26, 2006 12:05:16 PM

Awesome thanks so much Robyn for sharing the Riven drawings, beautiful and haunting how the concepts evolved from the origin to the completion, and the power of the idioms and ethos continue to expand in the
way the player feels during and after the experience. Thanks again.

Posted by: CrisG | Feb 27, 2006 9:59:38 AM

Never was a better game - still the best of the series. I still feel like I was really there...thanks for the great work, Robyn and all!

Posted by: Joe Smith | Feb 27, 2006 9:26:27 PM

It's so cool that you have posted maps of the best computer game _ever_ created! Thank you so much!

Posted by: TMaster | Mar 3, 2006 8:43:27 AM

Wow, this is way cool, and I'm really looking forward to the other maps! (Please post them soon... please! :D )

I don't know if i'm just imagining things, but from this map I get a feeling that this original concept of Riven had many more connections to the surrealistic feeling of Myst, could that be correct? It would be interesting to see what the game would have been like if the design hadn't developed further after this; it probably wouldn't have been anywhere near as good as it is now, I think (I mean, what are the odds of making a better game than what Riven became? Very low).

Now, Robyn, when will you start making games again? ^^

Posted by: Tbr | Mar 4, 2006 11:01:27 AM

Yes, it is really quite fascinating to see all of these design sketches. Thank you so much for sharing them! It's been a long time since I've been back to Riven. I'm definitely going to have to go back and fire up all 5 CDs.

And I'd certainly have to agree that Sirrus is way cooler than Achenar. Achenar was just plain creepy. You just knew he had to be pure evil.

Sirrus wasn't quite so obvious. As to Sirrus' drug paraphernalia, my crazy theory is that Sirrus was not an addict, but rather, that stuff was actually for his lunatic brother in some way . . .

Sirrus probably had to keep him on tranquilizers or sedatives to keep him at least somewhat under control. Achenar seemed to like to kill everyone else in sight, so it's quite possible that he may have, at some point, tried to kill Sirrus on one of his sprees of destruction. Just a crazy theory--I might be way off.

And to top it off, Sirrus had an awesome theme song. (I actually did a harmonic analysis on it.) Maybe it should be considered a candidate for national anthem of the Republic of Tinselman.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 4, 2006 1:39:25 PM

I had never thought of that before - the whole thing with the drugs being for Achenar and all. But despite all Sirrus' problems, addictions, imperfections, etc., ...he is still very cool. Like I said, you gotta love a good (and I do mean good) bad guy!
I'm in the process of finishing Haven right now, and I still find it hard just because it's so creepy to have to listen to Achenar. Those games have the uncanny ability of really sucking me in. It's even worse when you play in the dark.

I forget - when did Sirrus' problem become apparent? Which game, I mean?

Posted by: Alli | Mar 5, 2006 6:07:34 PM

As far as I remember, Sirrus' problem was shown in the first Myst. It was most obvious looking at the contents of his drawers in the Stoneship Age.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 5, 2006 7:33:56 PM

Thanks, Alex. I'll have to go back and look.

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Posted by: condoms | Mar 19, 2006 3:40:23 AM

Thank you Robyn and Rand for Myst. I can't think of a more fully-immersive experience I've had except for the two-hour blink of seeing a good movie in a theater--and Myst has gobbled up whole summers for me. I have a special love for cartography based on excititing topography, and for me that doesn't get any better than the Myst worlds (Uru especially). So, again, thank you.

I find Sirrus more unnerving than Achenar.

Posted by: Jello Belt Jen | Mar 22, 2006 11:09:36 AM

Do you want to sell your copy of riven mine ir corrupted

Posted by: Zylla | Dec 11, 2006 3:44:19 PM

I am a longtime Myst fan who just yesterday ran across this posting for early Riven design maps. This posting is now over a year old and the links to the larger images no longer function. I sent a message to MYSTcommunity (http://www.mystcommunity.com/board/index.php?showtopic=29252 ) asking if I could find them elsewhere online with no luck. Can I convince you to repost them??

Posted by: andrww | Dec 18, 2007 8:35:47 PM

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