There’s a great deal of history that you should know, but I’m afraid that I must continue my writing…
At work, I’ve been doing a fair amount of environment and prop art (especially books), which turned my mind back in the direction of the Myst games. I was thinking of making a model of the Riven Descriptive Book, but there are only two images of the cover, and both are fairly low res, so it’d take a bit of elbow-grease to recreate it. Luckily, I could get around that by opening the book (and avoid the problem of not having an appropriate environment for it with virtual macro photography).
A long time ago, I saw someone had examined the opening sequence of Riven and realized the Linking Panel in the book wasn’t just random blue-and-yellow static, but distorted versions of specific frames from the game. I couldn’t find the original analysis, but knowing what to look for made finding an appropriate frame easy enough. I distorted it in Photoshop (probably the same way the original artist did, though I probably should’ve made the distortions larger), and voila.
The texturing for the book still needs work. The cover is only barely colored, and my quick-and-dirty attempts to capture the grain of the paper didn’t end up showing. I’m also still getting a feel for using reflections and HDR maps as a replacement for old-style specularity.