GWJ Conference Call Special Interview Episode 1

Conference Call

Special Content - April 10th, 2008

A Special Interview With Rand Miller, Co-Creator Of The Myst Series!

Rand Miller is the co-creator of one of the most successful video game titles of all time: the Myst series. Until Will Wright decided to own the space with endless SimVariants, the franchises 12 million copies sold proved that serious games could sell. Myst remains one of the seminal titles of video games on any platform. It taught a legion of game designers how to make photorealistic settings and CD-quality sound design matter at a time (1993) when the world was just discovering how to use 3d textures in Doom. It exposed millions of gamers to the joys of unashamed exploration at a time when blowing things up was what the cool kids were doing.

This morning at 12:01AM, the Myst saga came to an end, at least for the time being, when the Myst MMO URU Live was turned off but Turner's GameTap service. Unwilling to let sleeping dogs lie, I caught up with Rand Miller to ask him about the fate of URU, his hopes for MMOs, and what he's looking to do next.

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Comments

Thanks for this Rabbit. Myst is really my original PC game. I used to sit in 7th grade science class drawing my own ages while I was supposed to be taking notes. I dreamed of working at Cyan, which was only 3 hours away from my childhood home in Montana.

With Uru, I was unable to get into it for any length of time, probably because of other shiny's around me. I feel like I turned my back on my original pc love affair by not absorbing all the iterations of the series. Good night for now Myst.

I thought the interview was great, it was really interesting.

I do have 1 point of constructive (hopefully) criticism. I subscribe to the feed for the show in iTunes, after I dropped this onto my iPod this morning, hopped into my car for my commute, the interview just started. I didn't have any context for the interview going into it. Perhaps a little intro added at the beginning of the interview to let us know who exactly is being interviewed and why we should care would be helpful. When I pulled up to the first stop light I took a look at the iPod to look at the notes, so it was all good. I just thought it would be a bit helpful.

I think they should do another novel. I loved the books.

I liked Uru, but never did the MMO thing. And I still like the stories of Myst in general. I hope they don't go away for long.

I must have lived parallel lives with Druidpeak, though I'm somewhat older. I dreamed of joining the Myst team - having lived just 4 hours south of Spokane in Oregon. While I was bitten by the game bug early on (2600, 5200, C64, C128, DOS - Wing Commander, Eye of the Beholder, Betrayal At Krondor) - Myst was the game that made me fall in love with games. It was the first game that really made me realize the power they had in terms of storytelling, transporting the player to a truly unique world.

I wrote those guys a letter after finishing the game, asking if they were looking for a young aspiring composer/sound designer. Their team was about 9 people I think...

I'm pleased to be able to give at least part of the credit to my current existence as composer and sound designer to the folks at Cyan. I'm completely overwhelmed and delighted to actually have spoken to Tim Larkin on a number of occasions.

Pioneers - all of them. Thanks for this interview!

excellent point on providing context in the intro. Didnt even occur to me as I was just trying to get it posted as soon as I could. I'll keep it in mind for the future.

Interesting fact: My father was on the construction crew that built Cyan's building in Spokane.

Wow, Rabbit, that was quick! Now to listen...

A great interview. I am saddened that the Myst series will be cut from our lives. Anyone else think that gaming will destroy itself by leaving the complex and opting for the more simplistic? The intrigue is lost in the simple things.

I've never played Myst. I should probably hand in my geek card.

If I were to play Myst now, is there a "best" version? Any particular platform that it plays best on? Is Riven better than Myst? How important is it to play them in order? How do you nail jello to a tree? Will Myst even play on a modern operating system?

Thanks in advance

Lu -

The best version is Myst - Complete Chronicles.
It has the lot - Myst, Riven, Exile, Revelation, End of Ages all for about the cost of the original Myst game.

It has been remastered for a WinXP system, although I cannot vouch for them all as I have yet to install all of them and test them all out. Myst certainly works, which is a considerable improvement on having to set up a computer with Windows 98.

now - your question - is Riven better than Myst?

My take on that is - the puzzles in Riven are a lot harder than Myst but the story works better, the whole thing has a logical sequence and the graphics interface is much better. BTW, don't bother getting RealMyst IMO, the 3D interface is not too good and the detail is too fuzzy for my liking.

I think that the best one of the lot is Exile, as the story is absolutely riveting, all of the puzzles have a real purpose to them and the puzzles are tricky but possible. All you have to do is understand that there has been some deliberate sabotage, and work it out from there.....

The last two games would be very confusing if you didn't know the story, but since you will be buying all 5 (**you will, won't you**) that won't give you a problem.

So, don't tackle Riven until you have played Myst, best to get the lot and please don't do what a (presumably) young acquaintance did when I was chatting in the last days of Uru.
Quote: "I read the walkthrough and there doesn't seem to be much to do. Where can I go and what do I have to shoot?"

Sigh.

I will admit to playing with a cheatsheet nearby. I found some of the puzzles in Riven simply too hard to be enjoyable. Especially the kinds that involve running back and forth and back and forth...

I think Myst is the one to start with FOR SURE. It's not that long either.

I remember playing Myst when I was in Junior high. The game came with a journal to keep track of clues and whatnot. I meticulously recorded every scrap of information I came across, sketched out the Island and the various ages, and jotted down my own musings on the puzzles. I had never before been so invested in a game.

I seem to remember a tagling on the box: "The surrealistic adventure that will become your world". That could not have been more accurate.

I'm with you, OldMud. I was so fascinated by it all, I carefully mapped and plotted the whole of the Riven islands and drew them up in Autocad - only to find that while it was overkill, it certainly made the firemarble puzzle easier to solve.

There are several hint systems about that are excellent guides to solving the Myst series of puzzles. The UHS system is the best in my oppinion, they give you just a snippet of a pointer that doesn't spoil the whole thing and you can ask for more hints if you need them.

What are people's favourite puzzles/ graphics? I liked the 3d nail model of the islands in Riven, and the journey through the water. I think my favourite sequence is the ride through the ice ball puzzles in Exile, when you finally see the point of all those wierd puzzles you've been solving. I have that as a permanent save game to remind me why I find the Myst series so engrossing!

scribb - thanks for the info; Myst is certain worth putting in the pile o' games.

scribb wrote:

The best version is Myst - Complete Chronicles.
It has the lot - Myst, Riven, Exile, Revelation, End of Ages all for about the cost of the original Myst game.

There's no arguing with that! I wouldn't say that Exile was the best one, I didn't like Exile much but loved Revelation. It doesn't matter. You'll surely be playing them in order. I'm a little weird in that I honestly don't like the puzzles, so I never had a favorite one. I liked the atmosphere, and the feeling of being lost, but whenever I solved a puzzle I thought, "finally, let's get out of here" rather than "I am so smart, good job!" or "what a devious puzzle!" What I always loved about the Myst series is the imagination and creativity that went into each game. There are a few decent Myst clones out there, but it's immediately obvious that they're not quite Myst. Some people really hate Myst, which I can understand, because there's no big sign with an arrow saying This Way to the Fun. For some people, there isn't any fun, and nothing could be more disappointing. If it does happen to latch on to some explore/solve/wonder section of your brain, it latches on real tightly.

Nyles wrote:
scribb wrote:

The best version is Myst - Complete Chronicles.
It has the lot - Myst, Riven, Exile, Revelation, End of Ages all for about the cost of the original Myst game.

There's no arguing with that! I wouldn't say that Exile was the best one, I didn't like Exile much but loved Revelation. It doesn't matter. You'll surely be playing them in order. I'm a little weird in that I honestly don't like the puzzles, so I never had a favorite one. I liked the atmosphere, and the feeling of being lost, but whenever I solved a puzzle I thought, "finally, let's get out of here" rather than "I am so smart, good job!" or "what a devious puzzle!" What I always loved about the Myst series is the imagination and creativity that went into each game. There are a few decent Myst clones out there, but it's immediately obvious that they're not quite Myst. Some people really hate Myst, which I can understand, because there's no big sign with an arrow saying This Way to the Fun. For some people, there isn't any fun, and nothing could be more disappointing. If it does happen to latch on to some explore/solve/wonder section of your brain, it latches on real tightly.

If you like the atmosphere of Myst, I have to say that the most atmospheric Myst-style games I ever played were Zork: Nemesis and Obsidian. I loved both of those games.

nsmike wrote:

If you like the atmosphere of Myst, I have to say that the most atmospheric Myst-style games I ever played were Zork: Nemesis and Obsidian. I loved both of those games.

I should find a copy of Nemesis sometime. I played Return to Zork twice and really liked it. "Want some rye? Course ya do!" I hear Nemesis is darker, but that's fine. Return to Zork isn't very Myst-like in tone, but has a first person perspective, and the puzzles are challenging in that they don't make much sense.

Nyles wrote:
nsmike wrote:

If you like the atmosphere of Myst, I have to say that the most atmospheric Myst-style games I ever played were Zork: Nemesis and Obsidian. I loved both of those games.

I should find a copy of Nemesis sometime. I played Return to Zork twice and really liked it. "Want some rye? Course ya do!" I hear Nemesis is darker, but that's fine. Return to Zork isn't very Myst-like in tone, but has a first person perspective, and the puzzles are challenging in that they don't make much sense.

Nemesis is much darker than RTZ, but if you're looking for something with the humor of RTZ, go for Zork: Grand Inquisitor.