WP : What influenced your decision of bringing real-time 3D into the Myst series?
JS : Perhaps the trademark of the Myst series is its immersive quality, achieved through the exploration of fantastic (but believable) worlds. Until now, navigation through these worlds was constrained to still images (sometimes projected onto "virtual bubbles") with dynamic elements over-layed to give the illusion of movement and life. By using real-time 3D, Myst V raises the bar dramatically by bringing the first truly dynamic 3D environments to the Myst series and provides the most immersive experience yet.
WP : Gameplay-wise, what does real time 3D bring to the series?
JS : Real-time 3D enhances the game-play experience by allowing us to integrate dynamic elements into the game-play itself via animated/dynamic object interaction, creatures, and environmental effects. Additionally, navigation is un-tethered and fluid which provides unique (and sometimes unpredictable) player perspectives and views that open up game-play opportunities as well.
WP : How alive will the Ages be compared to previous Myst episodes? Can you give examples?
JS : Utilizing real-time 3D allowed us to abundantly populate the Ages with environmental effects - rain, snow, ocean water, day/night cycles, moving clouds, wind-storms, shooting stars, etc., which would have been difficult (if not impossible) to incorporate using the technology used in previous Myst products.
WP : Will the characters also be in 3D or live-action like previous Myst games?
JS : In order to seamlessly integrate the characters into our real-time 3D environments we decided early on to create them as 3D models instead of using live-action video. To this end, we used a technique we call "face-mapping" - a process by which video captured sequences are "mapped" onto the characters faces thus providing more realistic character expression and emotion than we could have achieved otherwise. In addition, because the characters are physically in the environment, they can affect and be affected by that environment - for example, they are dynamically lit by the lights in the scene, and also cast and receive shadows. To further enhance the realism of the characters we utilized cloth simulation techniques to make their clothing drape and flow realistically when the characters move.
WP : People could be worried of higher technical requirements due to real-time 3D? What are they?
JS : Well, the most basic requirement is a 3D-Graphics Card. We've worked very hard to create a game that looks great and runs smoothly on a gamut of graphic cards, but obviously, higher performance cards will be able to run the game at the highest level of quality and speed. Likewise, a good quality Audio card will provide players with the optimum audio experience which greatly enhances the immersive feel of the worlds.
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