Hole 3: The Cyan Building (downstairs)

We finished our tour of the upper level of the building near the elevator, when our two guides, Al Carlson and Richard Watson, insisted we take the stairway down to the lower level. Because of the embankment in the front of the building, this lower level is not actually underground. Robyn's music equipment The rear doors on this level exit on the ground level, near the waterfall in the back.

Much of the equipment on this level played a direct role in the technical creation of Riven. The first area we visited was the sound studio, which included MIDI keyboards and other audio equipment where Robyn recorded the scores for the Riven soundtrack. Apparently, Robyn would often refer to the actual images of Riven when writing the music for a specific area of the game. He tried to capture the same mood as was depicted on the screen.

High quality microphones This soundroom contained microphones, (which can be seen through the window in the above photo) which were used in the recording of voiceovers and various other sounds used in the game. Some Riven fans might not realize that Catherine's voice is that of a different actress than the one seen on screen. The voice heard in the game was dubbed in afterwards.

Many of the other sound effects in Riven were completed by Tim Larkin and Broderbund at Mike Salvatori and Marty O'Donnell of O'Donnell/Salvatori Studios.
Next we visited the shipping room. This area is where all the Myst and Riven merchandise is stored, and where orders are processed and shipped. The merchandise room As expected for a mail room, this area had plenty of boxes, envelopes, a postage meter, and other items needed to ship the merchandise to fans around the world. As seen in the photo, some of the Cyan gear we saw included the Myst novels, T-Shirts, mugs, posters, and mousepads.

It was interesting to see all the Myst and Riven merchandise available. We also saw special items such as the limited edition prints, Gehn's Crest Artifact, and copies of the Myst novels personally signed by Rand Miller.

The ping-pong table Our guides didn't point this out specifically, but the fact that this ping-pong table is directly beneath the "Cyan World Headquarters" must be of some significance. Apparently, winning a good game of 'pong was both a welcome stress relief for the Cyan team, as well as winning "bragging rights". (It's a good thing Doug didn't bring his paddle.) The door seen in the background leads into a small kitchenette in the rear of the building.

The production area The final area we visited on this level was the digital production area. This is where the artists modeled, texture mapped, and arranged the "3D sets" to generate the visual imagery of Riven. There were about ten individual work areas, most of which were equipped with a High Impact Silicon Graphics (SGI) Workstation, as well as a Macintosh Power PC. The SGI machines were for running SoftIMAGE|3D software, which was used for the actual 3D work, and the Macintosh computers were running Photoshop for texture creation and manipulation. There were also separate computers with both slide and flatbed scanners which were used to scan in photos used for texture mapping.

The central feature of this production area is the lounge, which is a circular area The production area which can be entered from only one side. Around the inside of this lounge is a long, single couch which is formed into a large oval shape. Directly above this couch is a replica of the ceiling of the Gate Room on Temple Island. The stars in the blue firmament even sparkle and are also accurately positioned into miniature constellations. One thing we didn't expect while we stood under these stars is that the echo was extraordinary. The curved dome of the ceiling acts like a perfect acoustic parabola if you stand in just the right place.

Near the production area is the server room, where two multi-processor Silicon Graphic Challenger servers worked around the clock for weeks in order to render the complex scenes of Riven's landscape.

Robyn's office Adjacent to the production room area are two identical offices previously used by Robyn Miller and Richard Vander Wende. This photo shows Robyn's office. Although it was practically vacant at the time, Robyn's office still seemed to somehow have a very creative and imaginative atmosphere.

"If the upstairs of the building was interesting, the downstairs was awesome," Doug remembers. "One of the interesting things they told us was that the production area was actually added to the building as an afterthought, which is surprising considering the design. I loved the wooden posts everywhere. The downstairs definitely had a strong sense of atmosphere. We did spend a fair amount of time in most of the areas, such as the shipping room and production area. In other rooms, such as Robyn's office, we were only able to visit briefly. I'm glad I took these pictures, because they capture details which I didn't notice while we were actually there."

"Walking into the downstairs was like finding Noah's Ark - for real" said Gordon. "The total creative atmosphere simply cannot be explained...words don't describe feelings you get. The computers and the incredible technical background behind the game rang home with me when I actually saw the hardware they were working with. I have to admit that Doug's ping pong ( tabletennis to some ) skills would have come in handy with that table in the basement of CYAN. Seeing the merchandise area was pretty cool as well. It seemed everywhere we went, new things popped up followed by more questions. The presence of wood, stone and steel made this one of the best areas in the building."

"I have to say that as I left the lower floor of the CYAN headquarters, I couldn't help but feel that the building was sort of ...alive. The D'ni were calling and this was one place I planned to return to.... " commented Gordon.


All photos 1998 - Doug McBride.


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