The World of Riven Comes to DVD

Computer-game developers have been moving toward the home-theater market for the last couple of years. And with DVD players now catching on with computer buyers and home-theater buffs, the format is ripe for a crossover hit. What is needed, of course, is the killer title that makes good use of both a computer and a home-theater system.

With this in mind, it might be of interest to SGHT readers that Red Orb Entertainment, a division of Broderbund Software, announced last week that the DVD-ROM version of Riven: The Sequel to Myst will ship this August. Riven, the best-selling PC game of 1997 with a sell-through of more than a million copies, will be enhanced in the DVD-ROM version to feature improved audio and video and an exclusive behind-the-scenes video on the making of the game, all on a single DVD disc.

"We're excited to deliver this 'must-see' DVD to the PC software market," says Ken Goldstein, Broderbund's vice president of entertainment and general manager of Red Orb Entertainment. "With the Riven DVD, we're continuing to pioneer great game-playing experiences on emerging platforms. Our objective is to push Riven to do for the DVD-ROM market what Myst did for the CD-ROM market: provide a quality game experience that will drive demand for this new high-volume, fast-access optical technology."

Myst, the predecessor to Riven, has sold nearly 5 million copies on all platforms worldwide since its release in 1993; in many circles, it's regarded as the first "killer app" of the CD-ROM market. Red Orb Entertainment has a strong corporate commitment to the DVD market and plans to upgrade many of its future titles to DVD-ROM.

"Artists are always looking for more ways to perfect the presentation of their vision," says Rand Miller, co-creator of Riven and president of Cyan. "DVD gives us an opportunity to better immerse players in the vast world of Riven. With no interruptions in the flow of the game to change CDs, users will be able to maintain the suspension of disbelief. In addition, better visuals and audio allow players to be totally engrossed in the world."

The huge storage capacity of a DVD relative to a CD-ROM means that the entire Riven game can be contained on one disc instead of five CD-ROMs. According to Red Orb, the more than 4 GB of data available on a DVD-ROM, as well as the higher data throughput of DVD technology, allow for more detailed images, enriching the overall sensory quality of the game. The hundreds of movies in the game have been recompressed at higher data rates---in some instances, as much as twice those on the CD-ROMs---which greatly increases the game's visual and immersive quality. The sound on the Riven DVD is also improved through the use of MPEG-2 audio for the ambient effects heard throughout the mysterious world.

The Riven DVD will also feature a 14-minute behind-the-scenes look at Cyan's four-year effort to create the sequel to the best-selling CD-ROM game of all time. "The Making of Riven" takes full advantage of MPEG-2 video and Dolby AC-3 surround-sound audio. The video can be watched on home-theater DVD players as well as DVD-ROM drives in PCs. MPEG-2 video encoding for "The Making of Riven" was provided by Dvant Digital, the company also responsible for pre-mastering the Riven DVD.