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The process of developing the look and feel for Riven was a long and arduous one. The following interview with Cyan Computer Graphics Production Director Josh Staub chronicles the process, the approach, and the journey that designers and art directors traveled in order to complete the product. With Riven anticipation building daily, the folks at Riven had quite the task of compiling images, textures, and shapes to use as the foundation for Riven. The result, as we now know, was one of unparalleled quality and seamless composition. The ultimate juxtaposition of the surreal and the real.

Where Did you travel during your "Riven" research expedition? And who came along?

Technically, there was only one official "Riven" research expedition. Robyn Miller, Richard Vander Wende, and I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico during the initial stages of production.

Why did you choose those places?

We chose Sante Fe because we knew that we were going to use a lot of adobe in Riven for huts, paths, etc. For anyone who has been to Spokane, WA there isn't a whole lot of adobe around here, and you're lucky if you find something that is a hundred years old.

Richard So-And-So steps up to get a close photo of the old skull for use in Riven. People who saw the Riven team on their Santa Fe expidition often stared at them with confused looks while the team looked so closely at such small objects while such incredible vistas surrounded them.
One of the things we pride ourselves on is trying to make things look real, and to do that we feel like things must look as though they've been exposed to the environment, weathered. Santa Fe has a lot of old wood, metal, that really fit nicely with what we were doing. (I can't answer this without adding that the food alone was worth the trip!)

What kind of methodology did you apply to your research?

I don't know if there was a methodology to it, so to speak. The overall design called for a particular style, but I think it evolved somewhat when we were exposed to different elements that we found intriguing. It's tough to have a real method to your research when your subject keeps adapting and changing.

Specifically, we took pictures in two ways. Most of our shots were close-up shots that we could scan and manipulate to create actual textures for the objects that you see in Riven. Along with those shots we would often take photographs of the area surrounding our close-ups, to give us a better understanding of why our close-up shot looks the way it does; why it was weathered the way it was. People probably thought we were lunatics walking around these beautiful areas taking pictures of walls, the ground, doors, dirt, etc. It could have been my imagination, but I'm sure I got some strange looks from the people around me.


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