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Cyan Worlds To Open-Source Myst Online: Uru Live

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the how-thoughtful dept.

Role Playing (Games) 39

644bd346996 writes "Cyan Worlds, Inc., creators of the Myst franchise, has decided to make their unsuccessful MMORPG Myst Online: Uru Live into an open source game. They will release all the source code for the client, server, and tools. They will continue to host the data on their own servers. Uru was originally intended to be an online-only game. The publisher, Ubisoft, requested that a single-player version be made as well. They then canceled the online version in February 2004, while it was still in a closed beta. Cyan allowed fans to run their own servers as part of a completely unsupported service known as Until Uru. In February 2007, GameTap picked up Uru as one of their biggest games, only to cancel it a year later."

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It's a interesting idea. (1)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100021)

I wonder any code base was reused from the older games? And if so, how would that affect those games? It's not uncommon for a company to reuse old software if its allows them to get farther and faster then they normally would if they had to write it from scratch. Even if only in part, Could that code allow others to port Myst to other platforms?

Re:It's a interesting idea. (4, Informative)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100103)

The engine Uru is based on (Plasma) was acquired by Cyan from a startup that hadn't released any products with it yet. Cyan bought it expressly for building what eventually became Uru. Along the way, they did make RealMyst, a fully 3d remake of the original Myst.

RealMyst and Uru were the first Myst games that weren't all pre-rendered graphics. The previous games (Myst 1-4) were built with various technologies, and by various 3rd parties. Myst 5, however, was built off the Plasma engine, because the content of the game had originally been planned to be part of Uru.

Re:It's a interesting idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26150835)

Cyan didn't make RealMyst, get the facts straight. It was made by another company.

Re:It's a interesting idea. (2, Interesting)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100117)

Isn't the original just a hypercard stack? It certainly could be written that way. I'm sure it needed some emulation doohicky for the Windows port, but nothing that can't be done.

If it is a hypercard stack, I doubt there is any leftover code. But the game is basically a sequence of hyperlinked image maps with some quicktime vids thrown in. You could implement the whole thing in HTML and minimal JavaScript.

Re:It's a interesting idea. (5, Informative)

- r (136283) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100231)

yes, the first myst was a hypercard stack, which is why it came out on the mac earlier than the pc. and why, if you had the developer/s hypercard, you cou find out different things (not that i remember that far back - i *do* remember deleting hypercard and seeing myst die a horrible death).

Re:It's a interesting idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100365)

You could implement the whole thing in HTML and minimal JavaScript.

Which is why it's so disappointing that the DS port was so badly fucked :/

Re:It's a interesting idea. (1)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104219)

The original was indeed just a Hypercard stack. And, if I recall, Riven as well was done solely with HC and Quicktime (its fundamental difference was with the quality of the images, rendering, and QT/audio integration). Both of those were built by Cyan.

Myst III: Exile was done by (now defunct) Presto Studios under license (and with consulting by Cyan). I'm not sure what technology they used, but it allowed for full 3d-look at the node points. Kind of QTVR-ish, but not using that.

All three of those (along with RealMyst, a reimplementation of Myst built with their new-purchased plasma engine, as someone wrote above) are playable on GameTap, if you're interested.

Myst IV: Revelation, was built by Ubisoft (under license again) up in Canada. It's actually what I would consider to be the pinnacle of the pre-rendered+interaction+cinematics style of content creation. Absolutely beautiful interaction, and if it weren't for some bone-headed production design concepts (super-annoying intro puzzle before the story even starts, unfathomably lame post-climax concerns, Peter Gabriel integration in a hard-to-swallow way) it would be the perfect realization of how Cyan was originally trying to portray the interaction back in the late '80s, early '90s.

Myst V was built from pieces of work that was going to be introduced (slowly) into Myst Online. The content was designed around the realtime engine, so it's not pre-rendered... you're basically playing a single-player version of settings from the MMO. (They had to modify camera angles to ensure that you "the player" is never visible from any of the third-person shots, for example.) There were a few nifty changes, though. Like pre-filmed recordings of faces integrated seamlessly onto 3d-rendered bodies to make for a more realistic interaction with them. I wish LoTRO or someone else would do that!

Although a probably a sound business decision at the time, since Uru Live was dead and not being funded, and Cyan had only one option for its continued funding - using content it had already basically created; retooling and releasing Uru Live content into Myst V really doomed the revitalized version of the Myst Online project from the start. Gametap was only going to fund it for a year to see how interest/growth went. However, combined with license issues that required Cyan to replace the physics engine, virtually all of the "continuing story" that Cyan had planned out for the first year or two of operation had already been seen by the population -- it wasn't "new".

If the number of locations in Myst V, along with the story revelation that went along with them, had been implemented during the first year of the GameTap-hosted Myst Online, it would have succeeded. While Cyan was building interest and continuing the plot, they would have had the time and resources to develop new ages and extend things. They had to spend so much time retooling existing content, which wasn't 'new' for the players, with so little staffing, that it became a glorified chat room once again.

They did the best they could, I think. The design flaws and philosophical issues behind the Uru Live concept would have worked themselves out if they'd been able to have a solid year of strategizing about the long-term story. But they didn't. We got very powerful individual episodes, but not a clear sense of what our purpose was any more.

Side note: Was anyone present for the death of Willow? That was harsh, and something I doubt any other company would have done. Without NPCs, all of the story characters were under live dev. control. They introduced the daughter of one of the characters, had her interacting and chatting with the population over a period of months in public areas, and then had her die an ugly, "off-stage" death, yet with live communications over a global communication (text) channel after a wall collapse trapped her in with, well, something we'd thought we could trust. That was a 10 hour trip through emotional hell as the "restoration staff" were drilling, trying to rescue her and her friend...

If you've ever been a part of something like an ARG, you can imagine how it felt to the people participating in it... [] [] []

Alas... Who knows what the future will bring?

Bravo (2, Insightful)

eggman9713 (714915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100143)

As Atrus would say, "Sometimes the past is painful to remember..." "I've opened the door for my dreams to escape." That is esentially what Rand Miller has done. Bravo, Atrus, bravo.

License? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100159)

Anyone know what terms this will be released under? GPL? MPL? BSD?

Good news (2, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100187)

This is very good news. Myst Online has an amazingly dedicated fanbase consisting of people who have patiently waited for years for the game to come back up after it went back to a coma. This is now the third time it will rise from the ashes. Like a phoenix it keeps coming back. A big 'hurray' to all the Cyan people out there for doing their best for their dedicated fanbase! I will be very happy indeed to be able to roam the Ages again.

I realized the moment I fell into the fissure (3, Insightful)

saladpuncher (633633) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100285)

To me the best thing about Myst was that you were alone and trapped in a mysterious place left to discover what happened to the world and its inhabitants. In a way it reminded me of Planetfall. You "crash land" onto a world and have to fix what is wrong and find out what made it that way. I don't know how you could extend that to an online MMORPG. I never played it though so it may be the best thing since free cake...but the original with its isolation, loneliness, and haunting music is what made it fun.

Re:I realized the moment I fell into the fissure (1)

Mr. Jaggers (167308) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103725)


I had hoped this would be the future of interactive fiction, as it has the potential to be way more deeply immersive than the original Infocom engine, given the fully-rendered real-time aspect of gameplay.

Of course the best tools in the world for creativity are no good without well-written stories, which Infocom provided in abundance.

My previous experiences with Myst and Riven, began to convince me that my conjecture would be borne-out in the future.

As a full-time Linux desktop user (no, I'm not twitter, I'm not twitter, I'm not twitter!!! I'm a real dude for heaven's sake), though, I'd basically given up ever seeing Uru on my machine. Now, I have a new hope. I doubt, by any means, that the porting will be an easy task, nor any guarantee that it's possible. However, it's probably quite possible that it will be ported into future Windows and Mac machines. This means an active development community and active user-base. That, I'm hoping, will keep Uru alive long enough for a porting effort, or a re-implemented compatible client.

Exciting stuff!

One Word.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100297)


This is seriously one of my favorite games ever because for all the blood guts and gore games out there, there are very, very few games that are not inherently violent nature. I played Uru Live when it started and it was a lot of fun. I was very sad when it died. This is amazing news! hopefully other MMOs that have died over the years or may in future years might follow suit!

Re:One Word.... (0)

.Bruce Perens (150539) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100309)

Shut up or I'll cut a hole in your belly and pull your intestines out.

Re:One Word.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100347)

Go back to 4chan ye sewage of teh internetz.

Myst mostly sucks now (0, Troll)

sw155kn1f3 (600118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100369)

Guys totally ran out of ideas and made boring games.. Open-sourcing this MMORPG won't do a thing because without resourceful company any decently sized MMORPG is doomed to fail - there's to much to consider and develop.

Re:Myst mostly sucks now (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100513)

You'd be surprised how resourceful fan communities can be.

Re:Myst mostly sucks now (3, Interesting)

kiyoshigawa (844575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100589)

On that note, you might want to take a look at the Guilds [] already in existence. These are all fan-run groups that are working on the future of Uru and have been since before the servers were even shut down.

In particular, the Guild of Writers [] has made many fan-created ages already using Blender and a custom plugin for Myst. I have no doubt that with the release of the Myst Online source from Cyan their tools will become even more refined, and lead to much greater development from the fans.

If the Uru community has shown anything, it is that they are resourceful, determined, and refuse to let Myst die no matter how much time or effort they need to spend.

Myst in the clerance aisle. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26101547)

"If the Uru community has shown anything, it is that they are resourceful, determined, and refuse to let Myst die no matter how much time or effort they need to spend."

Good. Now all they have to solve is the same problems all MMORPGs face. Who pays the bills?

Re:Myst mostly sucks now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100575)

So i guess you must be a struggling MMORPG developer then?

Im curious as to why you think they "totally ran out of ideas and made boring games." From what i remember the myst games were all fun and entertaining.

I also dont really see why you think open sourcing this wont do a thing. Plenty of people enjoyed playing this game, and im certain they will get it up and running again in no time. Not to mention the fact that now people can use the code for other things.

There are plenty of MMORPGs that are run and maintained by a small number of people. A quick look around the net will reveal them. While they arent quite as popular as WoW, they're still "decently sized."

Seems to me like you just dont like the myst series? Maybe you just dont like puzzle based adventures?

Are open source games doomed to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100383) limited to only ones that were completely and totally rejected by their original copyright holders?

I'll consider it a victory for Open Source when we'll have games which are supported by, and are commercially profitable for, their creators, WHILE (or should I say DESPITE?) being open source.

Not when we only see open source games which are either dusty abandonware with every drop of cash squeezed out of a long time ago, or utter commercial failures where profits won't even cover maintaining the cost of owning the brand.

(analogous to me preferring to eat food which isn't either so bad the original eater puked trying to eat it, or has been previously consumed by the original eater and left their body though the other way).

Re:Are open source games doomed to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100609)

1. Make a fully open-source game.
2. ???
3. Profit!

Re:Are open source games doomed to... (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26101227)

I agree, and there are lots [] of them as well.

Re:Are open source games doomed to... (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26101213)

[Are open source games doomed limited to only ones that were completely and totally rejected by their original copyright holders?

It's kind of funny that you use the word "doomed". You do know that id has open sourced their games? I don't think any of those games were failures. There are heaps of examples from other companies as well.

How does that differ from anything else? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103855)

Are open source games doomed to be limited to only ones that were completely and totally rejected by their original copyright holders?

That's what people say about Open Source as a whole, even though there are exceptions.

So far the only exception I know of in the game area is Second Life, but I can see other service-based games following the same model.

I beta tested this one (2, Informative)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100389)

I actually had the pleasure of beta testing this one. It was quite fun (if you like the complex puzzles that Myth/Riven presented you).
One of the best beta-testing experiences I have had and if I remember correctly, I'm actually in the credits on the retail CD.

Besides all that, it's a great game and I'm pleased they are open sourcing it!

Re:I beta tested this one (1)

75th Trombone (581309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26100643)

Were you in Choru, Ubiru, Cyan internal, or other? (If you don't know what any of that means, that's answer enough. :) )

Perhaps the ending has not yet been Written. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26100975)

This is great! The fanbase is dedicated enough to pull this off. I've spent most of my freetime since MOUL was shut down learning, and I'm getting close to the point where I could start working on a replacement, from the ground up. There are others who've been walking this path, too.

To corrupt a Yeesha quote: we still need to make a home, but at least now we're gonna get blueprints.

How about some data? (1)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26101853)

They will release all the source code for the client, server, and tools. They will continue to host the data on their own servers.

So, I'm guessing they won't open source their data/models/resources?

This is a good initiative, like id releasing their engines, and who knows what will come from it. However what would really be interesting is if the resources to a game like this were open sourced as well.

I've been fooling around with a game of my own, and although there are plenty of open source engines there are very few collections of open source resources (3D/2D/sfx) available to help bootstrap my own. I have a couple I'm using atm, but does anyone know of any others, preferably GPL/CC-SA licensed?

Yeah yeah, I know, stop whining and go back to blender.

Re:How about some data? (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104467)

Cyan's the kind of company that might actually attach a free license to their textures and models. One of the major settings in Uru is an underground city. Only a small portion of it is accessible, but Cyan's already tacitly endorsed fans building more areas of the city. (So far, they've prohibited fans from modeling any part of the city that's important to Cyan's plot.) It wouldn't be at all surprising if Cyan decided that fans should be able to build new areas of that city in the style of what we already have, using existing assets.

Yippee (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102585)

I have the standalone game, and have tried on and off to get it running under WINE. Never success, but varying degrees and types of failure, and I was hoping for maybe one of these days. A native version will obviously be better, and I know that members of the Uru crowd have been asking for this.

Uru is my last reason to dual-boot Windows.
The Eddie Bauer website doesn't format/view under Linux, but does work OK under WINE. (My wife's need for Windows)

Re:Yippee (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103965)

I am looking at the Eddie Bauer site under Firefox 3 on Linux right now, it displays just fine.

Re:Yippee (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104747)

Heck, it works in Konqueror as well (kthml didn't try webkit.)

Re:Yippee (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26104799)

I get overlays that go right over the pulldowns to select size, color, etc. It displays, but is unusable for ordering - or at least it was a month or two ago. Did you just look, or did you try to go into the detail selection process for an item?

Re:Yippee (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106373)

I went all the way to checkout, seemed to work fine.

Re:Yippee (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26106939)

Still doesn't work for me. I picked a sweater at random - the left side of the frame is an oversized blank that should probably have a picture. Pulldown fields are hidden, can't see the picture, etc.

Maybe I should try "export HOME=$HOME/emptySpot firefox" and see if it's my settings.

so... where is it? (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26107873)

If they're going to open source the game where is it? All I see is plans to open source, they could turn around at the last minute and change their minds.

Wrong Info on URU story here (1)

CrisGer (1433179) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137147)

Sorry you have the information incorrect. Cyan is going to allow access and to share some of the source code but not total open source. Fortunately they will oversee and keep the rescources protected from wild and chaotic exploitation, something a small minority of the game community for URU have tried to do for years. The URU story is a wonderful one and one of the best Multiplayer games developed yet for there is no killing, no violence, no greiefing, no faction boring resource grinding, and a wonderful and deep story line and beautifully created 3D world. It is really a work of art. This move by Cyan will allow the very large international community to return to the game world and for the chance to add some new content that will be regulated internally by the Guilds that are part of the game world. This is NOT open season free for all or a model for such for other games. Any mod work should reflect and continue the intent of the original game and honor the effort put into it. Most modders know this and honor it. You can find a good summary of the first year of MOUL Myst Online URU Live here: []

Four Years Too Late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26141241)

Really, this is years too late. The technically capable members of the community have long left Uru behind. What remains are fans without much skill, which is why they stay with it.

Members of the fan community pushed for this years ago and were vilified - several of whom received cease and desist letters from Cyan and GameTap for their efforts to negotiate.

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