If you've read the site for any length of time, you probably know I'm looking forward to Cyan's latest game, Obduction—the one that started as a spiritual successor to Myst and has, by Cyan's own admission, started looking more and more like Myst the longer development's gone on.
Well now there's one more thing that's looking Myst-like: Cyan will be using live-action NPCs (i.e. full-motion video or FMV recorded with a video camera) instead of more contemporary CG.
Back in September when I talked to Cyan they told me there would be three NPCs in the game, and that those NPCs would be built in-engine. I recently met up with Cyan's Ryan Warzecha and Eric Anderson for a brief, relatively informal chat about the game though and they said they're back to FMV—something that was apparently announced in a recent backer update but which I missed completely.
"One of our bigger expenses was NPCs. We're world-builders. We're not animators or riggers or character modelers or anything like that. So we made the decision—we're doing live-action characters just like Riven," said Anderson.
"We're shooting them in stereo. They work in Oculus. They're integrated into the world and they look amazing," he continued. The pair cited the Senza Peso VR demo as an example of what they're heading towards, though "less trippy."
"Video seemed impossible until we really looked into what it would take and it's actually way cost-effective. We're doing it Cyan-style. We've got a little green-screen studio set up in the basement and it's two GoPros. But it works. It actually works really well," said Anderson. "It also means we can iterate on something more. If we try something and it doesn't work, we just shoot it again."
And the biggest news for longtime Myst fans? "Robyn's playing one of the main characters," said Anderson. That's Robyn Miller, co-founder of Cyan and also the actor for Sirrus in Myst (as well as co-designer, composer, et cetera). As for brother and Cyan CEO Rand Miller? The one who told me back in September that he absolutely hates acting?
"Rand...Rand's doing everything he can to get out of being in it. We're still trying to twist his arm," said Anderson. Warzecha chimed in with, "I think there'll be an easter egg or something."
Other than that, it was pretty standard stuff from Warzecha and Anderson—development's still moving forward, scope's just about locked in, and look for more details (and hands-on impressions) around PAX Prime in August.