Game That Changed The World
Arriving at a time when PC games were barely established, Myst rapidly found favour among early adopters, library users and the kind of people who keep the plastic sheeting on the back seat of their cars. While the gaming world went crazy for Sonic and Mario, it was a brave gamer who would boast of solving lateral thinking puzzles on his dad's home computer'. An acquired taste it may have been, but the original game has shifted a staggering six million copies, arguably proving the viability of the PC as a gaming medium and helping to establish the healthy scene that we have today.
The equivalent of Stonehenge (both aesthetically and in terms of pace), Myst involved a bizarre story about two brothers being imprisoned for crimes against literature. Not entirely coincidentally, it was the work of two brothers, Robyn and Rand Miller, who began working on the game in 1991 following a modicum of success with a pioneering series of childrens' titles. A big fan of text adventures such as Zork, Rand was the driving force, having dabbled with games ever since somebody hooked me on a timeshare system and I would steal passwords out of the trash to play the games.
You Know, For Kids
According to Rand, the partnership began when he wrote Robyn a letter. I told him we needed to write a new kind of children's software - like a good quality children's book that adults actually want to read too. I wanted to do that for software, but I had to convince him. He's an artist and a musician.' Robyn started on the first page of this book, which held a picture of a fire hydrant. I thought it'd be somewhat interactive and you'd turn the page and go to the next interactive stage and tell a story. However, what actually happened somewhat set our future - Robyn never turned the page. There was a manhole in the street, the manhole cover slid away, a vine grew out of it and you could go down the manhole or climb the vine. Once you did that there was no need to turn the page, there were no other pages. It became a world instead of a book and that really defined our future for us.
That game became The Manhole, and was followed by the likes of Cosmic Osmo and Spelunx, each refining the template for what would be the breakthrough of Myst.
However, as Rand concedes: We didn't know what we were doing at that point. There was nothing defined - Robyn was just drawing pictures as he was going and the world was defining itself. He went down in the manhole cover and said, 'I'll put an island here and then a sunken boat there'. So it was just whatever was in his head - there was no rhyme nor reason to it." But the concept did eventually evolve into Myst? Yes. To cut a long story short: after a few childrens' games in between, a Japanese company approached us and asked us to do something for an older audience. We were ready - we'd been talking about this for a while, about building much more story and building a goal, because previously we never had one.
Money Money Money
Having wangled $280,000 out of SunSoft (development on Myst eventually cost double that), the Millers began work on their opus. A world away from the arcade action of the consoles of the era, Myst represented something of a gamble.
As Rand says: We were looking at things a little bit differently. Our games were based on the worlds and the stories around them. They wanted something for CD-ROM and we said, great, we're going to build a big thing and we think it'll be appealing to a lot of people'. We had no idea it would be as successful as it was, we just thought we'd build another world. It was an evolution for us more than a revolution."
Developing a PC game in 199I was a very different process to that of today. However, the technical constraints played an integral part in the evolution of Myst.
\Ne knew we had to use CD-ROM, says Rand. We knew that memory footprint was a problem, so anything we wanted to load would need to be small. We knew that consoles were a possibility, so all those constraints were taken into account too. We also knew we wanted some live action, but it had to be small. All these things shaped Myst.
The pair used still images because they could render them. Meanwhile, the Ages (the levels within the game) were used because they wanted to make sure they had small elements that could be loaded a piece at a time. Even the design of seeing the pictures of the brothers in small pieces of the books was used because they could only do postagestamp movies at the time. Any good development takes into account what the technology can do and pushes the envelope past the limitations, adds Rand.
One of the first games to appear on CD-ROM, Myst was undoubtedly a pioneering title for the format. It was far from plain sailing though. The brothers had to try and squeeze everything down to the smallest amount so that it would load faster, and making the movies as small as possible was the challenge. We pushed it to the absolute limit for what we had at our disposal, but it worked."
It certainly did. Indeed, Myst was inevitably described as photo-realistic' by editors of magazines such as the perfunctorily named CD-ROM User. Nobody had ever seen anything like it at the time, but as Rand concedes: If you look back now it's pretty poor, but we had a lot of things working to our advantage. The success wasn't just because of what we did - the timing was right, CD-ROMs were coming out and it had a certain freshness to it."
Brothers Gonna Act It Out
For all the technical grappling with Myst, Rand admits that the craziest stuff was just us being in it", referring to the Miller brothers impromptu acting debut.
At some point along the way we knew we had two brothers in it. And we're two guys working out of our homes in Spokane, Washington State, so we're thinking, there's no way we're going to pay people to do this'. We didn't have any money to pay people. The brothers didn't think twice about this DIY method:
We just went in the basement and didn't let anybody watch us. Then we set it up and after getting over the giggling and thinking that this is ridiculous, we put a piece of blue paper behind us and tried to act like these crazy insane brothers that were in the books. It was very unique."
Despite the unusually hands-on approach, Rand is adamant that they wouldn't have done anything differently. Given the constraints, I think Myst is everything it could have been. I mean, if we'd have had another six months we could have done a few more things here and there, but we did everything as efficiently as we could for what we were trying to do. Because we had some history doing some of these kind of games with the childrens' products, we weren't surprised at what we had at our disposal. We knew what the technology would allow us to do."
It's In The Game
However, what the brothers can't have expected is the massive success of the game, and Rand admits that it's still hard to believe. As for his biggest achievement, he cites the stories the pair got from people saying that they felt like they were really there, that it began to feel like a real place.
That's what I'm most proud of, because I still remember Robyn and I both talking about doing everything we could to try and make it feel like you were really there when you were working out how to solve a puzzle or what to do next. The fact that we got letters from people saying I turned down the lights, I put up the sound and I felt like I was exploring this place' was really satisfying.
Unsurprisingly, the sequels followed, beginning with Riven, which Rand claims was one of the best things the duo ever did. However, he's big enough to admit that it was also too tricky and the puzzles too hard. The gameplay in Myst was actually better than in Riven."
As for Myst III, with its innovative 360-degree view, Rand says: It wasn't our development per se. but it kept the same Myst feel. A different - specifically online -approach was taken for the ill-fated Uru: Ages Of Myst, of which Rand wistfully muses: It's almost a spin-off - it was very different from all the Myst games. We wanted to change the world, but primarily for resource reasons, we didn't get a chance to see what it could do. There was some amazing potential there."
Bringing the series up-to-date, Rand reckons Revelation is an amazing piece of work: It opens up the story and does things we've always wanted to do."
Send In The Clones
Given the amazing success of the series, it's remarkable how few Myst clones there have actually been.
As Rand comments: That really surprises me. There's a genre of games that are based on stories and exploration, typically they're called adventure games, but it's a dying breed in some regard. Because of Myst's success, we thought there'd be a whole huge evolution of those games, people pushing it further and further and further. However, I don't think we've gotten there.
Contrary to many people's belief that adventure games are a dead genre, Rand believes that they're actually the final frontier in interactive gaming right now: The gameplay systems we're working with now are all very well known, we're just doing them better now. There's nothing wrong with that, but to me the last vestige is this one, the adventure game, and I think it's waiting for someone to make another innovation."
So does Rand reckon that he'll be the one to revolutionise the genre in the future? I don't know that it'll be us, but it'll be done by someone who brings innovation to storytelling. It needs someone to base a game on exploring and storytelling that will then bring in a whole new generation of people, making them say, *1 felt like I was really there'. I hope it happens - that some game somewhere touches that nerve again. There's so much potential there, it feels like it's still the infancy of that part of the industry. There's something inherent in human nature, the desire to explore. I think we touched on that a little bit in the Myst series..
Myst is yet another cd game that has had rave reviews for the Apple Mac version and, consequently, been given a new lease of life on the pc. As cd adventures go, it's closer in style to what you would expect from a normal adventure game than most of the others. Titere's no hanging about watching endless video clips only to click the mouse a few times at the end of them. In Myst, interaction is the name of the game. Jolly good! So what about the rest of it? Well, it all begins when you stumble across a tatty old book.
According to the intro, you have just found a book entitled Myst. As you flick through the pages, you read about a distant island world. Just as you lay your hand on the last page, your own world dissolves into blackness and you find yourself in the island world described in the book. With nothing else to do, off you go to explore the island. Er, that's about it for the plot really.
You see the world of Myst from a first-person perspective viewpoint. Before you get all excited and start imagining super-smooth, 7th Guest type, multi-directional scrolling, I think there's something we should get straight from the start. Myst uses the static flick screen scrolling more common in rpgs than the freedom of movement you would expect from your average adventure game. If you want to move somewhere, you click the mouse where you want to go and, just like magic, you are instantly transported to a completely new screen. You don't really feel as though you've moved at all. It's just like blinking and opening your eyes to discover you are somewhere totally different.
As you can imagine, this doesn't do much for the game in the way of realism. As for the game itself, you spend your whole time wandering around the island solving lots of puzzles and unravelling the plot (with the help of all the clues left lying about everywhere). There are numerous switches to be activated and lots of loose pages with helpful info to be read. You have to work out pretty quickly what all the clues mean and start making progress or you'll just get hopelessly stuck and, as a result, bored to tears. The main reason you'll get bored is because there isn't anyone to talk to. Zipping about trying to work out how what you do in one place affects what happens in another is all very well, but it would really help the flow of the game if you could converse and interact with other characters. You sometimes feel like giving the game a good kicking just to liven it up.
Books, books and more books
It says something about the game that the most interesting location in it is probably the library. Hidden maps and switches are all over the place. There are also several books to read - if you have the patience. When you click on one of the books in the bookcase it opens up for you to read. You will find several accounts of the island's history in these and much clue-gathering can be done here. There is also a secret passage to be discovered which leads you to the tower. One of the objects in the library can be manipulated to affect the position of the tower. You then find yourself running back and forth, trying different things out and checking out what effect they've had on the tower. This is typical of the trial and error puzzle solving in Myst. It's not particularly irritating, it's just downright, bloody boring. The one thing I read about in the library that got me marginally excited was the existence of'monkey' people and an ancient old man. 1 never found them, but that's only because 1 couldn't be bothered to play it for more than a few hours to find out where they were and how to get there. There are other things which threaten to capture your attention too.
There's a smart-looking black leather chair that looks as though it doubles up as a time machine and a passage that leads to a rather decrepit-looking space ship. I'm sure I got the clues to make both of these work but they wouldn't. It's probably something simple I would have worked out if I'd persevered, but in the end I just lost all interest and gave up.
Much ado about nothing
Much has been made of this game in its Apple Mac incarnation. Reviewers from Mac magazines went positively potty over it: 'The most fascinating new game I've seen.' raved one mag, 'Adventurers are in for a visual and aural treat.' piped up another. Well, I don't know what games these guys have been playing, but they can't have been much cop if they're foaming at the mouth about this one.
Sure, it looks good. It looks great, even. And it has a reasonably good plot and clever puzzles. There's just no sensation of movement and the whole thing feels a bit bland and one dimensional. Looking back at the criticisms that were hurled at 7th Guest when it first appeared (ie limited gameplay), it seems ironic that most of the games which have attempted to emulate it have turned out to be worse. Myst will probably keep your attention for about an hour or so, but once the novelty of the pretty graphics and atmospheric sound effects has worn off, you won't find much else in it to have you coming back for more.
Two years ago. when Myst first appeared on computer platforms, people were going nuts over its amazing graphics and effective portrayal of a fantastic fairy-tale world. But now that photo-quality graphics have become the industry standard, a reevaluation of the Myst phenomenon is very much overdue. It's high time someone took a stand and admitted in print what people have been saying behind closed doors for months: Myst's time has already come and gone.
This Saturn version of the game is a near-perfect replica of its predecessors. By pointing and clicking with a cursor, you explore a strange, timeless island and try to solve an undetermined mystery. Myst comes with very few instructions, so goals are initially vague and must be discovered through the solving of puzzles. Sadly, the puzzles are for the most part poorly conceived, and after the thrill of seeing pretty pictures subsides, the game quickly becomes tedious and frustrating. Cracking many of the Mysts essential codes can require literally hundreds of tries and hours of viewing the same series of images over and over. Don't get me wrong--I've got no problem with puzzle games, I just prefer it when the puzzles can be solved through methods other than dumb luck and lab rat-style repetition.
As good as Myst's still pictures are, they're just that: still pictures. I had kinda hoped that the game's designers would take some advantage of the Saturn's hefty graphic potential and finally add some movement between shots, but no such luck. Each static image simply dissolves into the next one. Yawn.
Nothing incredible in the way of sound can be found here, either. The game's ever-present selection of gently rolling tides and simple ambient noises would be...Yawn. Oops! Excuse me. I nodded off for a second there. (Hey, if nothing else, Myst might just provide a safe, effective cure for insomnia.)
Just like Grandpa's always yammering at you, the world today moves too fast. But like it or not, videogames have evolved significantly since the original Myst was introduced. Compared to the new batch of interactive CD adventures, this clunker of a game stands more as an odd milestone than as a timeless, always-playable classic.
Myst is a good adventure. If you missed it on the computer, this a good place to try it. Myst leaves you hanging with many riddles whose answers aren't very apparent. Most players will have to buy a hint book or something. The aimlessness is something I really don't like. Myst looks good, and the sounds are nice, too. The world of Myst is gigantic, although it may not seem like it at first. If you want to go exploring, this game will give you something to hunt for.
This game was all the rage when it debuted on the PC, and that excitement should follow through on the 3DO. While the game is really nothing more than nicely rendered still screens with some full motion thrown in here and there, the story alone is what made this game so hot. One minor gripe is that it's very difficult to read papers and books because of the weird script font. It's a worthy purchase and a game you'll have no trouble getting into.
This is one of the better games for the computer format and is nearly identical to its PC counterpart. One problem: Even though this has a very interesting story line, I had a difficult time trying to maintain any attention to this game. Most of the game consists of just still pictures of various spots on a rendered island. It kinda makes me wish for more full-motion video, which is very few and far between in this game. Sorry, this game just bored me.
This port from the PC version is done relatively well. The graphics and sounds are decent but the game never really appealed to me on the PC. The game is huge but still manages to have difficult puzzles to keep you stuck at almost every turn. For a CO title it could have used a bit more animation or video screens rather than just single shots of a location. Adventure fans who want a challenge will really dig it, but it got boring after a while.
Myst's success last year captured the imaginations of lots of PC gamers. Identical gameplay and almost perfect graphics make this BDO translation utterly absorbing.
In a Fog
Myst defies description because it has created something of a new genre. The gameplay is closest in style to that of graphic adventures like The 7th Guest and Mansion of Hidden Souls. No text boxes or pull-down menus mar the view. In fact, where you go and what you do is entirely up to you. And you can do it in any order.
To play, you explore Myst Island to gather clues and information as you progress. Write down everything you see, and gradually you'll assemble the facts you need in order to learn how to travel to different worlds or unravel the story line.
The game's controls are limited to a simple point-and-click hand icon. You point at where you want to go or what you want to open, and click. Once you get the feel for the island, navigating around it is simple enough for even a small child.
Pretty as a Picture
Myst's graphics are absolutely mesmerizing and gorgeous -a true work of art. As you roam across the island and through different ages, the first-person view is idyllic. Buildings viewed from the inside and outside possess a photorealistic quality that combines still shots with artful full-motion video. This quality brings the island and other locales to life more fully than almost any other game. Add to that the realistic sound effects-water lapping on the shore, clocks ticking, the turning pages of the book-and Myst becomes an experience that immerses you squarely in the game.
Myst's puzzle-solving elements flow naturally with the story line, so this game is for those who like to think while they play. Rapid-fire thumbs don't solve Myst.
If you have the opportunity to play Myst on a PC, that may be the way to go because of the slighly better graphics. On the other hand, a large-screen TV, a pair of headphones, and Myst 3DO make for a memorable adventure. Either way, don't Myst out.
- Read every book that you can in the library. They provide you with vital clues.
- At the beginning of the game, look for the hidden room to the left. Enter the room and begin your adventure.
You have stumbled upon a most intriguing book titled Myst. You have no idea where it came from or who wrote it. As you reach the end of the book, you lay your hand on a page. Suddenly your own world dissolves into blackness, replaced with the island world the pages described. Now you are thrust into the world known to you only as Myst.
Myst is a graphically intense adventure in which you have fallen into a strangely exotic land. You must use all of your adventuring imagination and puzzle-solving ability to escape this unusual world in order to find a way back home.
The game's interface uses a point-and-click style with directional movements. A small hand with a pointing finger rotates while it is scrolling around the screen. Clicking chooses the direction you wish to travel along with inspection of interactive objects such as books, papers and usable objects. Travel is restricted by keeping you to the scheduled paths, in turn not allowing you free movement around the island.
The challenging aspect of Myst comes from its many puzzles and riddles. Here the player gets an opportunity to search through the hundreds of rendered scenes looking for clues and other hints to help him/her through.
For players expecting a solve-and-go style game, be forewarned that the riddles in Myst overlap and intertwine like no others. You will be fighting to finish not only one puzzle but a group of puzzles at one time. With ongoing riddles, a notebook will be your best friend as you gather information around the island. There are objects to be read as well as objects to find and use. The most important feature to remember is to touch and inspect everything within reach.
Myst's main audience draw is the perfectly rendered 3-D scenes. These pictures combine a natural outside landscape with futuristic man-made objects to form an eye-catching balance of visual effects. For the load time-hating players who despise the normal slow transition period in graphic adventures, there is no need to worry; the PlayStation handles with little difficulty.
- MANUFACTURER - Psygnosis
- THEME - Adventure
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Japanese gamers get to try their hand at this great interactive adventure game ported directly from the PC classic. The quest takes you on a first-person jaunt across mysterious Myst Island to find the mystical Ages of Myst.
Mystic travelers will interact with myriad weird devices and machines under the guidance of charts and journals just like in the computer game. Don't even think about this version unless you're fluent in Japanese.
Imagine...you are walking along a beach and find an old battered book. You pick it up, read it, and realize you have been transported into the world in the book, the world of Myst.
Myst, the best selling PC game of all time, is here for the PlayStation. Myst's classic graphic adventure action leads you through a series of different worlds where you must uncover clues and figure out a variety of mind-absorbing puzzles.
True to the Mac original, Myst for the PlayStation emphasizes the game's eerie, exotic locales, beautifully rendered in ultra-high resolution graphics, as well as a haunting soundtrack that will mesmerize you. It's the blue book....no, the red book...no...you'll have to figure it out for yourself.
This version of Myst doesn't add, improve, or change any of its puzzle elements.
You search for clues to find out what happened to a professor and his two sons. As you gather info, you uncover a mysterious chain of events.
The game's gorgeous backgrounds are outstanding. The sounds are also a treat with New Age-style orchestrations and eerie mood music.
There are tons of books that will get you through Myst in no time. Rent Myst and try it out. Or, if you're willing to spend the time, buy Myst and solve the puzzles yourself. Either way, first-timers will have a blast with this great game. Former Mysters need not apply, though.
Snapshots and Media
- Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
- Grim Fandango
- Myst III: Exile
- Riven: The Sequel to Myst
- Crystal Mines 2
- Drowned God
- Forced Alliance
- Multiwinia: Survival of the Flattest
- Nostradamus: The Last Prophecy
- The Escapists 2
- L.A. Noire
- Mata Hari
- Portal 2
- The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
- Tricky Towers
- Baku Baku
- Lazlo's Leap
- Seal Of The Pharaoh
- Tricky Kick