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 unrealMYST: a VR experience. *Updated: July* 
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That's right! My first project for the Oculus Rift will be a complete recreation of Myst Island from the classic gaming franchise. As soon as i heard about the Oculus Rift, this game franchise came to my mind. How amazing would it be if I could actually "link" to the ages of myst, exploring them and feeling the way I imagine the stranger who came across those mystical books must have felt the moment he touched the linking page and was sucked into a new world.

The goal behind the project is quite simply, integrate Myst island into unity, or UDK if i can get it to run well enough on my pc. You will be able to walk around the island, exploring everything that was written into the linking book by Atrus.

How will this be accomplished? I think everybody here, who's a fan of the Myst series, knows that years ago, the miller brothers released a supposed heightmap of myst island. And i also think that the more hardcore fans in the audience know that heightmap, though it may have been a starting point, is definitely not the real deal. So rather than relying on a single heightmap I've decided it would be fastest, and produce the best results if I were to obtain an actual copy of Myst Island, in this case, from Myst 5:

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That is Myst Island, granted, it doesnt look quite right... It's considerably more run down. The major elements are all there, the terrain, the architexture, but the flora is decrepid. The goal of this project is to give that Island a facelift, and on top of that, to bring it to the next generation in terms of visual fidelity. I want you to be able to walk around Myst as it was when Sirrus and Achenar were children. Blue skies, birds chirping, buildings clean and new, fish swimming on the shore near the dock.

I'll be using this thread to post my progress along the way, from importing assets, to improving them, to generating the new terrain from the actual island model that i can paint grass and flora onto.

What do you think of this venture, and what would you like to see?

if you have any comments on the legalities of this project, I intend to talk with the Miller brothers about this undertaking, and hope to gain their support as it's intended as a freeware experience with all new assets (derivative however)

UPDATE: here are progress pics you'll find throughout this topic.

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Last edited by IGameArt on Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:46 pm, edited 7 times in total.



Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:41 pm
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Yesssssssss


Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:46 pm
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This sounds interesting, and I loved Myst, but you should watch out for legal issues. You wouldn't want to spend months of your life working on this only to get a cease and desist letter. It's probably better to create your own, original content, but in the same vein as Myst.

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Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:57 pm
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I agree full heartedly, i've already sent of the emails. For now this is just a personal project, but if i get the ok-go, then i'll release it as freeware for other ruft users to play with and to demo their kits with.


Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:05 pm
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I've been playing RealMyst recently. That should have all the models as well. Maybe you can make an add-on that reads the original data files... OR... a DLL injector that either emulates mouse controls for looking around or add a proper neck model and modify the view matrix directly. Might be easier with better results.

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Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:33 pm
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You're probably already aware of it but there's a "realmyst" that was released awhile back that did something similar, effectively transforming the original environments into real time spaces. I like your idea better, as it sounds like you're adding some new artistic touches. If you do get a cease and desist you could always consider implementing Rift support for realmyst. Either way good luck to you, Myst was one of my first "holy poop" moments in gaming when I was a kid, seems like a perfect accompaniment for an equally holy poop piece of tech like the Rift.

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Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:35 pm
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I am a fan of Myst, and would love to explore it in VR if you can deal with the legal issues


Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:38 pm
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Lol of course i'm aware of realMyst, the problem with that is the fact that I want to feel like i'm in a real environment, not just a 3d representation of an environment. Which is why i'm going with Unity or UDK for the best, most realistic visuals I can get. We all know that the UDK has great graphics, at cost of gpu power, but I've recently discovered some really promising unity demos using unity4 that have comparable graphics, and run much smoother. So i'm going to start by developing it with Unity, after tweaking the meshes to get maximum shading quality, and i'll be developing all the textures, and normal maps for the assets for ultra realism. or at least as close as i feel like getting to realism ;)


Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:01 pm
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I wonder if you would be able to avoid any legal issues by claiming it's a mod, and "requiring" that Myst be installed on the player's computer. After all, plenty people have made custom 3D engines that utilized game content such as maps and textures from another game (Quake comes to mind), requiring users to provide that content themselves. So why shouldn't you be able to take it one step further and use a different engine AND content? It's a loophole that just might work.


Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:37 pm
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I agree with MSat. That's probably the best option :) If it can utilize data from the original then it will help it qualify as a mod.

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Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:45 pm
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I was looking at the open source code for uru live. Maybe you should implement rift for that?


Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:48 pm
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Honestly Uru Live would be really cool to have VR support for. I'm actually downloading MOULagain right now for the various dll's and things that is has, that i need in my 3dsmax folder to import files properly. One thing i was thinkig is that this could require the user's to own a copy of classic myst for the audio files, from music to ambient sound. Could be a good way to get around it yea?


Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:55 pm
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IGameArt wrote:
One thing i was thinkig is that this could require the user's to own a copy of classic myst for the audio files, from music to ambient sound. Could be a good way to get around it yea?


I'm no lawyer, but I play one on the internet! :P

If you're using some of the original game's content and require that the user to own a copy of it, I believe you should be able to classify it as a mod. Has anyone ever heard of any mod creators getting into legal trouble?


Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:16 pm
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Hey guys, i managed to get myst island in all it's decrepit glory imported into blender, including architecture and trees/grass. i went ahead and got rid of all the grass as i'll be using the grass that's built into UDK for this. I was originally going to use Unity up until i learned that there is no easy way to cut a hole into the terrain to allow for the structures on the island to go beneath the ground.

Also here's a progress shot of me sealing up all the holes on the island so that i can convert it to a heightmap to load into the udk:
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Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:24 am
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Great idea!


Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:57 am
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The Starry Expanse is a project doing a similar thing with Riven.

They've even mentioned they kinda want to support oculus rift, although since the project has a long way to go, it's not a priority.

Anyway, I dig the Idea, and hope to check out your work on my rift in the future. :)


Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:08 am
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Yea i saw that, in fact i tried out the demo they had but the control scheme left me a bit wanting. or it could have been that i was in a haze suffering from lack of sleep lol anywho, more progress, i got the heightmap into udk. next step is to load in some assets to help me get the scaling right before i start working on the improved assets and terrain.


Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:21 am
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I'm a bit skeptical about how this will all turn out too, but I appreciate your initiative! There's a ton of content required to make this work, and making it super realistic is another huge issue. It may be a long road, so good luck. I've still got RealMyst sitting in my Steam queue, just begging for some sort of Rift support!

Looks like the co-creator will be at GDC this year, and although this may be the busiest show yet for the Rift, maybe there's a chance he and Oculus can get in touch? /wishful thinking


Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:30 am
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Damn, I haven talked to Robyn in years. I had a convo with him once through email about 3d artwork I was doing back in the day.

I also understand just how uch work this will take, which is part of the reason why i decided to go with the cleaner version of the island predating even the first game. When everything was still fresh. Making things look old and broken takes much more time. And the fact that i now have the official assets to draw from will ensure that I dont miss a single detail, at least in the parts of the island I actually intend to cover. For now much of the island will be locked off until I feel like adding to it :P


Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:37 am
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druidsbane wrote:
I've been playing RealMyst recently. That should have all the models as well. Maybe you can make an add-on that reads the original data files... OR... a DLL injector that either emulates mouse controls for looking around or add a proper neck model and modify the view matrix directly. Might be easier with better results.

The original realMyst is DX7, so I don't think anyone can do anything useful with it, unfortunately. However, last year Cyan released realMyst for iOS (for iPads) which was done in Unity (porting the assets from the original realMyst). I still hope that one day this will show up on PC as well, hopefully supporting the Rift :).
Still, it's a great idea, IGameArt.
The Starry Expanse is approved by Cyan, so I think that as long as you use none of the original assets, you should be fine, but let's wait for an official answer to your mail ;).

As to other Myst games - I'd love to play/experience Myst V and Myst Online: URU Live again (MOULa) with the Rift, and I guess this will be possible at some point (with some of the drivers). I started a discussion at one of the most advanced open-source MOULa shards (it has no 30fps limit, unlike the official MOULa client, as well as many other fixes) for Rift support, if someone is interested they could join the discussion here. Or if they are interested and have the skills - join the development.
Anyhow, good luck IGameArt!


Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:52 am
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Yeah the iOS version of realmyst was done in Unity :D

Untiy terrain is pretty old and weak. If i would use Unity to do this then i would create a terrain in 3d application (with tunnels) and then import it into engine.

I once had similar idea but instead of Myst island use a TRON like world. Of course it would not be TRON but the visual style would be heavily inspired from it. Just a huge world where you are the "creator" and it would be a place for you to hang out and play mini games.


Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:02 am
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Hey guys, wip update. Ready to start importing static meshes to get the scaling right!

Image

Edit: PROGRESS!! I've loaded up chunks of the library, broken clock, observatory, gears, the dock is in place, the little well, and the tower on the mountain:

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Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:11 pm
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IGameArt wrote:
Edit: PROGRESS!! I've loaded up chunks of the library, broken clock, observatory, gears, the dock is in place, the little well, and the tower on the mountain:

Image



So odd to see this. My famkly bought a CD-ROM drive in 1993 pretty much to play Myst.
I have memories of standing on that dock which are older than some of my siblings. Can't wait to really be there...


Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:47 am
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Man i know, it is such a surreal experience walking around this island on my 2d monitor. I cant wait for the vr implementation :P

More progress, i have all of the placeholder structures in place, next step is going to be finalizing the terrain texture and shape for maximum realism!

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Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:16 am
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I was 9 when I first saw Myst, being played on two crts housed in white cabinets in front of a Babbages (US software store in the 90s). Blew my mind, even more so actually playing it. If you can get certain elements right like the elevator , linking books etc this will be a hit. Imagine the irony if this helps drive sales of the Rift, just like the original did for the cd rom drive.


Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:47 am
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Right now none of the moving bits of the island are going to be made operational. Right now my main goal is just to create the most visually hi-def/realistic representation of the island we've had to date and make it fully explorable in VR. Maybe a little further down the road, once an okay has been given by Cyan, maybe i'll work it into a fully fledged 3d remake of the first game. But for now, since i'm still new to the UDK, this is strictly static area to explore :)


Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:51 am
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cybereality wrote:
This sounds interesting, and I loved Myst, but you should watch out for legal issues. You wouldn't want to spend months of your life working on this only to get a cease and desist letter. It's probably better to create your own, original content, but in the same vein as Myst.


Cyber what do you think would be the easiest way to make a simple 3d game? I remember crisis used to have a construction kit or sandbox for people to try...

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Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:15 am
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cerulianbaloo wrote:
I was 9 when I first saw Myst, being played on two crts housed in white cabinets in front of a Babbages (US software store in the 90s). Blew my mind, even more so actually playing it. If you can get certain elements right like the elevator , linking books etc this will be a hit. Imagine the irony if this helps drive sales of the Rift, just like the original did for the cd rom drive.


I remember going from sega genesis to myst and timelapse...talk about having your mind blown!

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Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:36 am
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squibbfire wrote:
Cyber what do you think would be the easiest way to make a simple 3d game?

I'd probably say Unity is the best thing to get started with.

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Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:42 am
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Unity is good for simpler 3d game design to start, UDK is good for more complex 3D games with a more triple A apearance. GameMaker is good for starting out with 2d games. I've been using GameMaker for about 13 years now and they keep making it better.


Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:15 pm
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IGameArt wrote:
Unity is good for simpler 3d game design to start, UDK is good for more complex 3D games with a more triple A apearance. GameMaker is good for starting out with 2d games. I've been using GameMaker for about 13 years now and they keep making it better.


I think it's nice to see someone using UDK. I prefer the look of the Unreal engine games by far.

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Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:21 pm
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Yea, I initially decided to start out using unity, but i found that it was really difficult to cut holes through the terrain because it wasnt directly supported, so instead i chose to go ahead with using the UDK, which would give me better graphics without having to upgrade to the pro version.


Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:35 pm
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Any idea when UDK4 will come out? Looks pretty cool how integrated everything is and it would be nice to work with the latest to not have to upgrade later.

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Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:36 pm
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Honestly i really don't know when that's coming out. but I dont really think i need all the fancy new features of ue4 for this since this isnt really going to be packed with particles or a lot of incredibly fancy shaders, so i should be good with UE3 for now :)


Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:07 pm
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IGameArt wrote:
Unity is good for simpler 3d game design to start, UDK is good for more complex 3D games with a more triple A apearance. GameMaker is good for starting out with 2d games. I've been using GameMaker for about 13 years now and they keep making it better.


Now now my dear chap. It seems that you have not enough knowledge and experience to make these kind of conclusions. Unity is perfectly capable of doing AAA stuff. And now with DX11 support it really starts to step up.

http://blogs.unity3d.com/2013/02/01/dir ... mpetition/

IGameArt wrote:
using the UDK, which would give me better graphics without having to upgrade to the pro version.


With non commercial hobby project UDK is better suited for you. But god forbit if it will have some commercial success in future. Then you have to pay UDK a hefty license fee for every sold unit once your income exceeds 50k or smth.


Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:14 pm
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@Hammerbot, i was mainly talking about the free version of Unity. Granted you can get amazing next gen graphics out of unity but you have to pay a chunk of cash up front in order to do so, which you dont have to do with the UDK.


Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:19 pm
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Hey guys, work has begun on creating all new textures for the island. I think its starting to come together a good deal better now. Looks much better than the textures that came with udk, and that i downloaded.

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Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:58 am
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Looking good :)

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Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:33 am
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Thanks guys, here's two of the new grass textures ive done up:
Image

UPDATE: hey guys, after playing around with this for a bit, and generally adding many layers to the terrain, i've discovered that the method i'm using isnt the best. so i'm going to create a custom udk terrain material that blends all the layers together using multiple blend types and can do so with more stability.


Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:25 pm
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Hey guys heres another little update. Actually it's a rather significant one as i've migrated form using the old terrain format to the UDK's new landscape format which allows for sculpting erosion, and for blending textures based on a heightmap value so things like rocks can begin to poke up through my sand material. Very cool looking. Here's an updated screenshot featuring an improved rock material as well as the new sand material i've created. In this area i'll likely exchange the sand for a more moist dirt but it still looks good!

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Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:31 pm
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