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Myst Was Supposed To Change the Face of Gaming. What Is Its Legacy?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the i-still-don't-know-where-i'm-supposed-to-go dept.

Classic Games (Games) 374

glowend writes "On 24 September 1993, computer users were introduced to Myst. Grantland takes a look at the game's legacy, two decades on. Quoting: 'Twenty years ago, people talked about Myst the same way they talked about The Sopranos during its first season: as one of those rare works that irrevocably changed its medium. It certainly felt like nothing in gaming would or could be the same after it. Yes, Myst went on to sell more than 6 million copies and was declared a game-changer (so to speak), widely credited with launching the era of CD-ROM gaming. It launched an equally critically adored and commercially successful sequel, and eventually four more installments. Fans and critics alike held their breath in anticipation of the tidal wave of exploratory, open-ended gaming that was supposed to follow, waiting to be drowned in a sea of new worlds. And then, nothing.' Why didn't Myst have a larger impact?"

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The graphics were simply brilliant (5, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year ago | (#44942525)

And turned brass was everywhere. I loved the puzzles, the incredible transport monorails, the sheer quiet brilliance. And quiet it was, and cerebral. Still looking for something quite that good again.

Re:The graphics were simply brilliant (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942593)

Myst created a visionary world with its own unique interface systems. Other great games have done this since. Half Life, Halo, Dungeon siege. None in the same way as that would be copycat, But all with a Visionary world and story.

Re:The graphics were simply brilliant (5, Informative)

Cali Thalen (627449) | about a year ago | (#44942835)

What happened was they tried to go online more, and Uru happened.

Wonderful graphics and levels, with online bits and pieces (I don't know if it was really multiplayer, but there was some social component to it). But all this before most internet connections were capable of dealing with it (5 minute load times for zoning between sections was a really serious deal breaker).

It died, hard, and I think that took the wind out of their sails for a bit. Not sure they ever recovered much after that.

(I was in the early beta and stuck with it pretty much through that, and it was never ready for prime time at all. Last I checked I was still listed in the credits, I'll have to check that again some time).

Re:The graphics were simply brilliant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942625)

I am with you on this. I actually found Riven first, for some reason. I think the puzzles in that game are slightly too obscure in places, but playing it again on my iPad, I still jumped when the little girl appears and trips over on the forest path, and I still got a thrill from the cable cars and the amazing submarine train.

Re:The graphics were simply brilliant (4, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44942651)

You might try "playing" "Dear Esther." It's not a game and it's very very short, but it struck me as the most Mysty, er, program I've encountered since Riven.

Re:The graphics were simply brilliant (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942771)

FWIW, in the same genre I preferred Obsidian.

What? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942545)

Myst? Didn't interest me back then. Doesn't interest me now. Never played any of the Myst series.

Better games came along right after? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942549)

Doom, then 3D acceleration happened. Myst type games looked pretty antiquated after that.

Re:Better games came along right after? (2)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#44942587)

It was at least half a decade before real-time 3D graphics were able to match Myst's pre-rendered ones.

Re:Better games came along right after? (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44942679)

Good enough happened.
While Myst had superior graphics... It is pre-rendering made the world feel less immersive. Compared to Doom and Quake, while the graphics were primitive, you were more immersed in the game.

Re:Better games came along right after? (4, Funny)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about a year ago | (#44942961)

It is pre-rendering made the world feel less immersive.

I've seen way too many people write "it's" instead of "its". But changing "its" to "it is"? That's a new one.

Re:Better games came along right after? (4, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44942689)

and that's the thing: pre rendered just isn't that fun, breaks the immersion. flat shaded realtime can be more immersive.

basically "oh why aren't games like myst??" can be answered with a simple line: Philips CD-i sucks ass.

heck.. what I want the answer to is what the fuck happened to under a killing moons promise of good games?!?

Re:Better games came along right after? (5, Informative)

thesameguy (1047504) | about a year ago | (#44942803)

Yes, exactly!

I worked at a software store when Myst came out, and we sold MOUNTAINS of it. That at the 7th Guest (and Encarta, LOL) were the go-tos when people added a CD-ROM to their system and wanted something to do with it. But the feedback was universal - after a couple hours in Myst and the visual excitement wore off, it turned out there wasn't much game. It wasn't much more than a graphic Choose Your Own Adventure book.

Doom came out shortly later, and everyone forgot entirely about Myst. We sold mountains of Doom, and then we sold mountains of those *terrible* compilation CDs that had bazillions of maps downloaded off the internet. And then Doom2, and then more add-on maps (and not long after we started selling NICs and 10Base2 terminators ;). Being able to go anywhere and engage anything was what Myst didn't do, a step we had *expected* Riven to take... but it didn't.

Under a Killing Moon was also a big seller - and there were other games in the vein, too. All very interesting to play, but like the LucasFilm-style games they got murdered by FPSs and RTSs. I never quite understood why - Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island were great games with broad appeal. Strange they didn't survive longer.

heck.. what I want the answer to is what the fuck happened to space combat, and the X-Wing & Wing Commander promises of good games!

Re:Better games came along right after? (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year ago | (#44942833)

"That's the second largest duck I've EVER had in my pants."
    -- Monkey Island

Re:Better games came along right after? (1)

neiras (723124) | about a year ago | (#44942943)

heck.. what I want the answer to is what the fuck happened to space combat, and the X-Wing & Wing Commander promises of good games!

Star Citizen [robertsspa...stries.com] will hopefully answer that question.

Re:Better games came along right after? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44943273)

but roberts is the dude that personally through sweat, tears and money took away the fun from wing commander..

Re:Better games came along right after? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44943259)

Crappy cheap joysticks happened to space combat.
If you didn't have a good one. Space combat was a bad joke.

If you had a good one. You spent a TON on it. And had a whole what... 3 games to play with it? Maybe 4? If they even supported your stick at all.
This got old really fast. And you didn't continue.

It was another decade before we got the half assed console controlers. Cheap + good enough for space combat.

Re:Better games came along right after? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942643)

I blame Doom for unintentionally being the spark responsible for the stagnation of the entire video game industry for many years, spawning an ever-increasing multitude of insipid, uninspiring, mindless FPS where the only thing that ever improved were the graphics the video card could pump out.

Re:Better games came along right after? (5, Insightful)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about a year ago | (#44943001)

And me without mod points... dammit. If I never see another FPS game it'll be too soon. It seems sometimes they're *all* the industry produces.

Re:Better games came along right after? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44942665)

Indeed, I thought the real revolutionary part of Myst was "Hey, so good graphics look nice." I didn't think anyone thought that there would be a flood of games where you explored islands created through books.

Re:Better games came along right after? (4, Insightful)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year ago | (#44943025)

Indeed, I thought the real revolutionary part of Myst was "Hey, so good graphics look nice." I didn't think anyone thought that there would be a flood of games where you explored islands created through books.

I'm seeing a lot of comments here about how the most revolutionary part of Myst was the graphics, and I'm actually surprised. That's not why I like Myst at all (and I still think Myst and Riven are fantastic games). To me, it's about the style of gameplay. There are puzzles, hard puzzles and a story that you're trying to piece together with very little exposition. It was great to just explore without worrying about time limits or things trying to kill you. Every time you discovered something new and progressed, that discovery was its own exciting reward.

I do agree that "doom happened" is the answer to what happened to Myst-style games, and the adventure genre period. I forever curse the rise of FPS games for that reason. I know adventure games are still made, but 3D killed them, for the same reason Myst III isn't as good as Myst or Riven. I don't want a 3D environment. I want the static adventures of old.

Speaking of old, that's what I am. Get off my lawn and whatnot.

Re:Better games came along right after? (4, Insightful)

zhrike (448699) | about a year ago | (#44943261)

I agree with you entirely. The environment was a big draw - and by that I include the sounds and the music, but the puzzles themselves were, at the time, all encompassing. Why didn't it have a bigger impact? Perhaps because creating something so original and unique is rare. The mechanisms of the game were the framework around which the story was wrought. The story, and the puzzles and the way they were integrated, was the thing (IMO).

as it turns out... (3)

penguinstorm (575341) | about a year ago | (#44942571)

because for teenage boys shooting things and blowing stuff up is a lot more fun over the long hall

Re:as it turns out... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942623)

because for teenage boys shooting things and blowing stuff up is a lot more fun over the long hall

I see.

Given the obvious similarities here, I'd say we know what kind of "man" runs the country.

Fucking kids.

Re:as it turns out... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44942731)

People hate on hipsters and their musical preferences, but I find videogame hipsters to be the most annoying.

Not only teenage boys like shooters. And if you're right, then that only goes for AAA titles from big studios. Where are the myst-like games from indie developers?

Re:as it turns out... (4, Funny)

xevioso (598654) | about a year ago | (#44943029)

Stop with the hipster hate. It's the cool thing to do now, so hating on hipsters makes YOU a hipster.

Re:as it turns out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44943293)

That's very true. Though, since he's a hipster, and you are hating on him, and hating on hipsters is what made him a hipster... *head asplodes!*

Re:as it turns out... (4, Interesting)

electron sponge (1758814) | about a year ago | (#44942977)

because for teenage boys shooting things and blowing stuff up is a lot more fun over the long hall

For the long hall, you'll need to haul the sniper rifle with you. For the short hall, a shotgun or assault rifle will do.

Speaking as someone who was a teenaged boy when Myst came out, I can honestly say no game interested me less than it did. I saw demos of it at the video game stores, and all the clerks would gush over it being amazing, groundbreaking, etc. I'd nod my head, say "okay dude, yeah, do you even know what you're talking about?" and go home to play Ultima VII. To me it looked like the Sierra * Quest games without the things that made those games fun.

The game that I believe was the most influential from that period in time was Wolfenstein 3D, which was the seminal FPS game in my opinion. As a shareware game, it reached an audience of "anyone who had a modem and the number of a BBS with a halfway-decent files section." It was over the top, just a bit camp, and a thousand percent fun. You can even play it on Facebook now. [facebook.com] I got banned from my high school computer network for installing Wolf3D on the server. A teacher walked in and our entire Turbo Pascal class was slaying Nazis. My only defense was that it was more useful than learning Pascal. They were not amused.

I agree with the parent poster that the attributes of FPS games are very alluring to teenaged boys, but I wouldn't necessarily consider that a bad thing (or a good thing, either). It is what it is.

Re:as it turns out... (1)

basecastula (2556196) | about a year ago | (#44943081)

because for teenage boys shooting things and blowing stuff up is a lot more fun over the long hall

As a child who played both Myst, Riven, Doom 1 and numerous Janes Combat Simulation games. They all had their time and place. Once you beat doom a couple times and blowing the same buildings up got boring, Myst provided something more challenging. I don't know how old you were when you bought the game but I was at the age where puzzle games still had value. And for everyone who played Myst and not Riven. Check it out.

Obligatory (3, Interesting)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#44942575)

It lives on in minecraft . . . :D

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44943189)

How are these two things remotely the same?

On one hand, you have a minimally interactive graphical "text" adventure game. On the other hand, you have half a game that pretty much forces you to do all the work building the levels. With shittier graphics than Myst. How the hell are these related?

Probably because it was a sort of mediocre game... (5, Insightful)

seebs (15766) | about a year ago | (#44942577)

I mean, yeah, it was gorgeous at a time when games weren't, and it had "new" gameplay.

Only. The gameplay, once you get over the "new", sort of sucks. Yeah, you're supposed to experiment with things to find out what they do, except you don't even know what experiment you'll be trying. There's no way to predict whether clicking on something will try to pick it up, or push it, or turn it, or whatever, so you can't perform interesting experiments to learn about things. And ultimately, it just sorta never gets past that. The writing was interesting, but it worked better as a book than as a game.

Basically, it's like a text adventure with a much worse and stupider parser, but it has graphics.

Re:Probably because it was a sort of mediocre game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942797)

Right, it's basically a text adventure. That said, I love a good text adventure...

Re:Probably because it was a sort of mediocre game (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44942829)

There were not-quite-real-time games before Myst. Myst just exploited the available hardware of the time. Of course a newer game is going to look better than an older game.

The same goes for everything that followed Myst.

The not-quite-real-time aspect just got buried by games that were real-time.

Re:Probably because it was a sort of mediocre game (3, Insightful)

GrpA (691294) | about a year ago | (#44942919)

This is something I agree with. It did feel like a "graphic adventure" game, but the puzzles were made somewhat frustrating. I might have enjoyed the puzzles if they were something I could have played with outside of the game.

I never quite got into myst. Being a FPS player from far earlier than Myst ( Ultima Underworld ) - the openness of a vast free-form 3D world had already demonstrated far greater appeal, but only on the PC platform. The Mac was, at that time, very poorly supported and had none of the games that the PC players were experiencing at that time.

As such, I recall the "excitement" of anyone who had a Mac and could play Myst and while the graphics were pretty for the era ( look at the old screenshots ), the gameplay wasn't very exciting and took too long. Still, people played it, because those of us who had CD rom's needed something to show others that was different to the floppy-loaded games of the time. And at the time, it really was "eye candy".

The 7th guest was similar ( we used to call it the "7th guess" because of the guesswork in solving puzzles ) and arguably more enjoyable, but the concept of being alone in a 3D world was probably recaptured beautifully by the game "portal" which introduced a dynamic element to the puzzles, so if anyone is looking to what happened to games like "Myst" and "Riven" and "The Seventh Guest", they finally came of age in "Portal" in my opinion.

GrpA

Re:Probably because it was a sort of mediocre game (1)

sdinfoserv (1793266) | about a year ago | (#44942953)

I couldn't agree more. People raved about the puzzles. After about an hour of running around not knowing the context of anything, how to handle it, what to do with it, or why even it may or may not be important, the "new" scenery wore out and it just sucked. I couldn't complete any of the series without reading how-to's and that detracted from the spirit. Stopped being shiny really fast.

Re:Probably because it was a sort of mediocre game (1)

Soporific (595477) | about a year ago | (#44943037)

The game Syberia was a bit like Myst but the puzzles weren't quite as bizarre, although I did end up having to look for how-to's I wasn't as stumped as I was with Myst.

~S

Re:Probably because it was a sort of mediocre game (5, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#44943053)

Nonsense. I'll grant that it wasn't always clear what interactions were possible, given the choice to use a minimalistic interface in order to produce the most immersive experience possible at the time, but what separated Myst from contemporary point-and-click puzzle games, as well as most of its created-by-other-companies sequels, is that the puzzles actually did have a logic to them that removed the need for guesswork. The gear puzzle that's accessible right from the start is a prime example. It's there in front of you, the mechanisms for controlling the puzzle are simple, yet the actual solving of it is not so trivial. You need to actually figure out how it works and what result you're trying to produce from it, since otherwise brute force and guessing won't do you any good.

There were a handful of "here's the key, now go use it" puzzles, which generally are a cop-out in place of a well-crafted puzzle, but in this case, those puzzles were a part of the larger puzzle: figuring out how the world itself was put together. Each of them had a logic to them that made sense in the context of the world as a whole and contributed to your understanding of how each of the parts fit together with the rest. Sure, figuring out that you need to turn the water on to power equipment in one of the worlds in the game is just a matter of finding the right spot to interact with, but there are clues all over pointing you to the fact that such an interaction must exist (e.g. pipes all over, obvious ways to direct the flow of water, etc.), as well as more clues pointing you towards where you can find that spot (e.g. the pipes all lead to it).

Riven was much the same, though it was even made its puzzles an even more fundamental part of the world. In contrast, Myst III (developed by a different studio) was filled with numerous puzzles that made no sense at all (rather than having the puzzles be a natural part of the world, it relied on the idea that the worlds had been created specifically to be filled with puzzles as a training ground for some of the characters in the story, which the developers used as an excuse to shoehorn in all sorts of nonsensical stuff) and relied on simple brute force or happening to look in the right direction at just the right time to solve. I even recall hearing a quote at one point from the CEO of the company that made Myst and Riven, talking about how he wasn't a fan of the fact that some of the puzzles in Myst III required random guessing to solve. Myst IV was marginally better. Myst V was created by the original company, but it suffered from various issues as well, though it was still better than either III or IV.

If you don't think that the puzzles made sense, then I'd suggest that you simply didn't explore the world as fully as you were meant to. I've found similar opinions in the past from folks that opted to use walkthroughs, usually because they see the puzzles as obstacles keeping them from the story, rather than recognizing that the process for solving them is how you learn about the story most fully.

Re:Probably because it was a sort of mediocre game (0)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#44943093)

QFT. Myst sucked. It was like getting lost in the maze in Zork II, where everything you did got you more lost, until a grue ate you. The only people I knew who played Myst were suckered into it because it was 'cool', nobody actually played/won it.

Re:Probably because it was a sort of mediocre game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44943257)

I'd argue the opposite. It was what made us despise the closed worlds in the mid-era of FPS, where you couldn't go the direction *you* wanted to go.

This isn't the history I remember. (5, Insightful)

Derec01 (1668942) | about a year ago | (#44942579)

I don't accept the premise of the question.

For one, Myst had a large impact, as admitted in the question.

For another, when did critics imply that Myst heralded an era of "open ended" gameplay? It was not itself some intensely open ended experience. It was definitely leisurely, but it effectively replaced a game on rails with a game on a Gantt chart. You could approach a few things in any order, but there was usually a limiting factor elsewhere in the world.

Finally, there are numerous games with hugely developed background worlds and interaction with that world that far exceed the slowly expanding maze of puzzle locked doors that made up Myst. I read the Myst books as a kid and loved them, but some LucasArts games of the same era had worlds with a more cohesive character.

Re:This isn't the history I remember. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942705)

It's an intentionally inflammatory title, precisely aimed at bringing people to the comments section and increasing ad revenue...yes, I know I'm not any better by responding :P Seriously though, you're absolutely right, the question itself is ridiculous. Myst was never "trying" to be a revolutionary game, that's what its charm was coming from a software developer's perspective. It was deceptively simple, the artwork was fantastic and the music was on par with some of the best movie soundtracks that I can remember...very atmospheric, every small part of it drew you in. But no one part of it was trying to be "revolutionary" in any way, it wasn't promoted as being a new "type" of game...hell, what it really amounted to was just a very clever use of HyperCard and Quicktime.

Re:This isn't the history I remember. (2)

Derec01 (1668942) | about a year ago | (#44942711)

I should have mentioned this in my post above, but I actually do treasure Myst as my first introduction to a deep storyline in a game (I was 10). It was *the* game that got me into serious PC gaming, thinking about gameplay and design, and keeping up with game news. I was so excited for Riven that I had bookmarked this silly webcam that had a view of the offices where it was being developed with a countdown timer.

And yet while it was *a* high water mark, there is no question that it's been surpassed. It had a sense of place and an aura to it, but in the end its gameplay was simply wallpaper over a puzzle. It had nothing on a game like Ultima VII. That is a game that I wish had made a greater splash.

In a lot of ways the move to 3D was a damn shame. In a gridded or hex based world, the number of possible objects is manageable, and you can really do some exciting things in terms of interacting objects and a viable game world. Once 3D gaming took over, it felt like far more development time went towards basic things like collision detection and pathfinding that were trivial in 2D. Even today, something like Skyrim feels clumsy because our ability to interact with the world is so miniscule compared to the open set of 3D object positions and details.

Re:This isn't the history I remember. (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year ago | (#44943245)

Yes. I want to bake some motherfucking bread. Not because I have to for some shitty quest, but because I can. My biggest fear is that there are still minute little things that exist in that game I've not yet discovered you can do.

Re:This isn't the history I remember. (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year ago | (#44942743)

That was more or less what I was thinking. Did the various people associated with the article and making this post never hear of "The Elder Scrolls" games? Those are all rather open ended. Of course, on the other hand, they answered their own question when they compared the hype to "The Sopranos", as far as I can tell, "The Sopranos" changed nothing about television shows. "The Sopranos" was to TV shows what "The Godfather" was to movies, nothing more.

Re:This isn't the history I remember. (1)

AdamHaun (43173) | about a year ago | (#44942809)

Of course, on the other hand, they answered their own question when they compared the hype to "The Sopranos", as far as I can tell, "The Sopranos" changed nothing about television shows.

I don't know; it sure seems like there are a lot more serial dramas on American TV in the post-Sopranos era. In the first few years of the millennium it was almost all sitcoms and reality shows. (Not that there's a shortage of those today, but when I was a kid, it seemed like *every* TV show as purely episodic.)

Re:This isn't the history I remember. (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44942859)

Serial drama? Sounds a lot like Babylon 5.

There's probably a lot of stuff in between too...

Plus there's the King (or rather Queen) of all serial drama. Beats them all to the punch by decades. Probably shouldn't call it out by name.

The hipsters will spontaneously combust.

Re:This isn't the history I remember. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year ago | (#44942865)

There may be more serial dramas on TV since the Sopranos than there was immediately preceding the Sopranos, but I do not perceive that there are any more than there were in the late 70s/early 80s (remember Dallas, Dynasty, etc?).

Re:This isn't the history I remember. (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about a year ago | (#44942885)

Well, it's clear that they never played "Myst".

Myst was basically a "click on things until you figure out what the puzzle was" game. Its legacy is the Flash game variant of "escape the room".

Go drive around in GTA V for a while (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44942581)

Drive around in GTA V. Visit the beach. Go swimming and dive underwater. Check out the beach walk. Climb the mountains. Fly the blimp. There are about 20 square miles to explore, all with considerable detail.

That's the legacy of Myst.

Re:Go drive around in GTA V for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942589)

I gather from that comment you never played Myst.

Re:Go drive around in GTA V for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942707)

Drive around in GTA V. Visit the beach. Go swimming and dive underwater. Check out the beach walk. Climb the mountains. Fly the blimp. There are about 20 square miles to explore, all with considerable detail.

That's the legacy of Myst.

Why? This was the obvious path for video games for a long time. Myst didn't cause people to want to build open world games.

Re:Go drive around in GTA V for a while (2)

thesameguy (1047504) | about a year ago | (#44942937)

Indeed. That's what Doom did. Doom made that suggestion, albeit indirectly. Doom suggested Quake and Quake suggested Half Life.

Myst was a genre more or less to itself, a genre aimed at non-computer game players. A low-stress "experience" that included no real failure, and no rules for success. If you clicked enough, you'd eventually get it. I think more aptly, Myth's legacy is Bejewelled. Or Diablo. :*)

My $0.02, YMMV.

Re:Go drive around in GTA V for a while (2)

SQLGuru (980662) | about a year ago | (#44943101)

Myst was the end-goal for the point/click adventure games.....Doom was near the beginning of a genre.

At this point, point/click adventures aren't going to get a whole lot better than Myst, but FPS games continue to get better.

Re:Go drive around in GTA V for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942915)

Don't think so buddy. If you want to attribute modern games to Myst, you would do better to name The Sims, The Walking Dead, even World of Warcraft.

Aside from having a beach, GTA is everything that Myst was not; a functional world full of interactions, not just pretty backgrounds to hide the fact that the entirety of gameplay consists of a few obtuse puzzles.

Myst was a definitive game in the adventure genre, and its legacy is that, outside of maybe one company (Telltale), the adventure genre is basically dead.

Re:Go drive around in GTA V for a while (1)

electron sponge (1758814) | about a year ago | (#44943051)

Drive around in GTA V. Visit the beach. Go swimming and dive underwater. Check out the beach walk. Climb the mountains. Fly the blimp. There are about 20 square miles to explore, all with considerable detail.

That's the legacy of Myst.

I disagree. There were several games that predated Myst that were much more open. The Ultima series comes to mind, especially. Play any of the Ultima 7 games (which you still can do, search engine search "Exult Ultima," and be prepared to find a torrent for necessary data files). You could go so far afield, nowhere near where your plot-driven objective was, and find crazy mysteries and adventures (and if you were crafty enough, the Hoe of Destruction). There were dungeons that had nothing to do with the plotline scattered all over that ridiculously huge map. It's still worth a look, IMO. YMMV.

Re:Go drive around in GTA V for a while (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#44943117)

"That's the legacy of Myst."

But the question was: "What happened?"

What happened was this: the laptops finally came of age, and later Myst versions were distributed via Ubisoft. Ubisoft, in turn, implemented DRM, requiring the CD to be in the drive whenever you played.

Back when, I sent an email to Cyan, complaining about the DRM. A programmer wrote back, saying he, too, thought the DRM was BS but there was nothing he could do about it, because it was the distributor insisting on it, with his bosses' consent.

I vowed never to buy another Myst release. End of story.

I know why (1)

pongo000 (97357) | about a year ago | (#44942597)

No explosions. No strippers. No guns.

Not that I don't like my GTA fix. But I also thoroughly enjoyed the Myst series as well. Just making an observation.

Re:I know why (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year ago | (#44942649)

Not really much else to play on your brand new Mac Performa.

Great game. Wish there were more like it. (3, Insightful)

ClassicASP (1791116) | about a year ago | (#44942599)

I remember other similar games "The 7th guest" and "Monkey Island". Good games that make you think instead of just running around shooting. Wish there were more like that. Leisure suit Larry was pretty good too I think.

Re:Great game. Wish there were more like it. (1)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about a year ago | (#44942775)

Iirc, the last lesuire suit larry had you running around naked.

Re:Great game. Wish there were more like it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942869)

Except that thinking didn't help you solve the puzzles in myst.
It was mostly about random luck.

Re:Great game. Wish there were more like it. (3, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#44943075)

You must be thinking of later games in the series which were developed by other studios. Every puzzle in the original game was solvable without brute force by either applying simple logic or making use of the clues available to the player. That's actually a large aspect of what set it apart and continues to set it apart.

Re:Great game. Wish there were more like it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44943015)

What would you consider Portal? You run around in that shooting :)

Re:Great game. Wish there were more like it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44943201)

You mean like Portal?

Not a money maker (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about a year ago | (#44942611)

Open-ended gaming has open-ended playability. Linear progression games, have a definite ending and a limited re-playability factor. There's only so many times you will want to complete the same maps, run the same quests, kill the same bosses. You will inevitably be driven to purchase new games to solve your boredom. Buying new games is good... Replaying old ones bad.

Multimedia upgrade kits (5, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#44942613)

Asking why Myst is no longer relevant is sort of asking like why people stopped buying Encarta. The reason Myst was such a sleeper hit is that it coincided with the start of the "multimedia era" in the 90's. Once you went out and spent $150+ on a soundcard, speakers, and a CD-ROM drive, then what?

Multimedia features are no fun without software, and Myst managed to be family-friendly and take advantage of your computer's new features. It was the right game at the right time.

Myst DID change the face of gaming... (2)

Delusion_ (56114) | about a year ago | (#44942617)

...its legacy lives on in the strength of game sales to casual gamers who aren't looking for real-time stress, true open-world experiences, or multiplayer competition.

I don't intend this as a general argument, but in my own experience, Myst was incredibly popular among people who didn't play a lot of computer games, but none of the people I knew who were regular computer gamers played it at all. Again, just an anecdote, but it wouldn't surprise me if there's a wider truth in it.

Re:Myst DID change the face of gaming... (1)

electron sponge (1758814) | about a year ago | (#44943159)

...its legacy lives on in the strength of game sales to casual gamers who aren't looking for real-time stress, true open-world experiences, or multiplayer competition.

I don't intend this as a general argument, but in my own experience, Myst was incredibly popular among people who didn't play a lot of computer games, but none of the people I knew who were regular computer gamers played it at all. Again, just an anecdote, but it wouldn't surprise me if there's a wider truth in it.

This is, anecdotally, my experience as well. I knew people whose parents played Myst. I didn't know anyone who was a gamer who played it. There were plenty of better titles out there for the gamer crowd.

I loved those games (2)

neiras (723124) | about a year ago | (#44942627)

As far as I'm concerned, Riven was the pinnacle of the series. The art was incredibly detailed, the music and sound work top-notch. Scene construction was incredibly dense with story - everything had meaning, everything was a clue. It was obsessively detailed. I remember reading somewhere that the artists didn't do any low-poly models at all; single frames took days to render back in 1996 on then-top-of-line SGI hardware.

I bought the GOG version [gog.com] a few months ago in a fit of nostalgia. It's kind of sad how low-resolution and overcompressed the in-game renders are by current standards. I'd love to see a modern take on Riven - even re-rendered high res stills would be sweet.

You can play with the remnants of the Myst Uru MMO for free here [mystonline.com] . I think you can even download and run a server if you want.

Re:I loved those games (3, Interesting)

WMD_88 (843388) | about a year ago | (#44943197)

It's kind of sad how low-resolution and overcompressed the in-game renders are by current standards.

They actually aren't compressed at all; they are stored on the CD as uncompressed 16-bit images. Perhaps what you notice is the dithering? Myst was the same way, but 8-bit. Computers of the day weren't fast enough to decompress images during game play with decent speed.

I have the original CD version, which still works on XP with a few tweaks. Have loved it since day 1. :) There is a project that is attempting to re-create the game in a real-time 3D engine: Starry Expanse [starryexpanse.com] . They have a small tech demo available.

Graphics were great, software, not so much (1)

Black Art (3335) | about a year ago | (#44942631)

The biggest problem with the Myst games is that to run it on Windows you had to install the buggy Quicktime software. It was always breaking, either because of upgrade issues or just plain bugs. I think a lot of people gave up on it because of how hard it was to keep running if you had other games on the system.

The game was ahead of its time. It would have been much better with a 3d render software engine like Unreal. (Which did not exist at that time.)

Also, you did not get to kill anything. Modern gamers need a body count.

Re:Graphics were great, software, not so much (1)

mdenham (747985) | about a year ago | (#44943009)

I'm not so sure that they do (need a body count, that is) - in fact, I'm pretty sure that Portal and Portal 2 are basically what Myst's legacy are at this point, and neither of those has you racking up a body count (other than deaths by failure, ha ha).

It Did (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942639)

Myst spawned entire genres. There were a ton of copycat games that came out soon after. And today there are lots of escape games, machine games, hidden item games, and point and click puzzle games inspired by it. You just have to look for them. They are often found only on 'casual' game sites or online game portals.

The production quality of these games varies a lot, but for a high-production values recent game in this genre, see The Room: http://fireproofgames.com/the-room

Of course, none of these games looks exactly like Myst. Some focus on a high-quality visual look. Others on open-endedness. Still others take the written-clue and machine manipulation paradigm that it established.

It has had a HUGE impact (1)

THERetroGamer (2882865) | about a year ago | (#44942641)

How many people went into game design, seeing how awesome graphics and sound could be in a game - an actual, legit career choice - far more than can be counted.

Changed Gaming Forever? (0)

zippthorne (748122) | about a year ago | (#44942669)

More like "one of the worst games ever"

It was a pile of photographs (they literally used photo-like borders for the images) that you click through. It was like a web-based choose your own adventure novel, without the novel....

There weren't even very many of them. I'm not sure where people are getting this "huge, open-ended world" bit.

I suppose you could consider it a precursor to the FMV click-adventures that they had so much trouble giving away during the "try to fill a CD, but compress the hell out of it anyway, because no one has a quad speed yet to read it or a graphics card to show it" mid 90s...

No killing (2)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#44942691)

Myst sold incredibly well because it was a novelty and people had never experienced something like it before. Unfortunately it lacked anything to retain people's attention. Sure it had puzzles, but the puzzles weren't part of the environment, and puzzles could be solved with cheap games that didn't require the then expensive hardware. Myst lacked anything that would lock you into engaging within the environment itself. The result was that it became nothing more than the pretty picture that may as well have been a background picture.

Because Myst never did take advantage of what it had and as a result the novelty quickly wore off. However other people in the industry quickly realized that what the beautiful scenery needed was guns, swords and zombies. The net result was that you had something to engage your attention in the beautiful scenery and adding pretend violence was the perfect recipe. The result has been years of first person shooters that have all been wildly successful by using open environments, beautiful scenery and violence.

Re:No killing (2)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about a year ago | (#44942855)

Yeah, I never really saw what the appeal of Myst was myself. It wasn't a new genre, really, it was just Zork with pictures. It was STATIC, that was the whole problem. The pictures were pretty, but lots of pictures are pretty. The puzzles were OK, but Zork had equally intricate puzzles, that wasn't new. The story line was somewhat better than that of other games of the same vintage, but given the static nature of the game state (nothing evolves without player interaction) there's not a lot that you can do with pushing the story. In fact the story is just a slow reveal of something that happened in the past, the player isn't participating in the REAL story, just uncovering it.

Honestly, I think Myst was influential in some respects, but it was FAR too limited a game format to really spawn a vigorous genre. I think you're right, John Carmack came along and added guns and monsters to nice graphics and the world never looked back. NOW the player was in the middle of the story, MADE the story. It was a thinner and less interesting story, but you were part of it.

Of course now with Internet and very much faster machines maybe there's something to revisit. Honestly though, I think the labor involved in world-design is always the limit on games. You can only afford to create so much world. The next stage has to be computer generated and managed world content so that games can truly become virtually infinite in size and complexity.

Didn't age well (1)

oic0 (1864384) | about a year ago | (#44942693)

Sure myst looked great, but modern games have much better graphics. Sure Myst had intriguing puzzles, but puzzle games are dime a dozen in the bargain bin. Sure it had a good story, but lots of games have had good stories. The properties that made it good at the time did not age well and now days the audience for such a game would be minuscule. Perhaps the gaming demographic has changed too. The games that have aged well are the games that allow a sense of advancement or that allow a lot of creativity. Pokemon, Diablo II, minecraft (for sake of argument I am saying it was born old).

Let down (2)

warrior389 (314070) | about a year ago | (#44942713)

I remember being excited waiting for it to come out, then it turned out to not be a real 3d game. I was so disappointed. Doom and Duke Nukem 3D were the ones that changed gaming.

Plastic guitars (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44942741)

It's legacy was that people enjoyed it intensely for a game or two, then wanted something else. Same as guitar hero. The novelty isn't the only thing either game had going for it, they were both well made, it's just not something you want to play forever.

Myst had an incredible impact on computer science (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942749)

Myst required a CD-ROM drive, and a bunch of RAM. This meant I had to put a CD-ROM drive and RAM on my credit card. This led to my having so much credit card debt that I had to drop out of grad school and get a real job to pay it off. This kept me from finishing my Ph.D. This is why P=NP hasn't been solved, and why we don't have flying cars.

Thanks a lot, Myst.

Oh the grey market of old. (1)

basecastula (2556196) | about a year ago | (#44943221)

Should have gone to the Computer Show and Sale at the Vallejo Fairgrounds.

It was a casual game (3, Insightful)

AdamHaun (43173) | about a year ago | (#44942757)

Why didn't Myst have a larger impact? The answer is in the article:

Much of the game's popularity was thanks to casual players who found themselves drawn to its evocative, violence-free world; many hard-core gamers found it obtuse and frustrating, its point-and-click interface slideshow-esque and stifling. Maybe Myst wasn't for hard-core gamers. Maybe it wasn't even really a game.

It also explains the distinction and the draw:

I was about 11 when I landed on the island for the first time — a couple years late; CD-ROM technology took a few years to come to our house. NES and Sega were more or less verboten throughout my childhood. That didn't stop me from playing hours of Zelda at my friends' houses, but because I didn't have nearly as much time to practice getting "good" at console games, I remember having a bit of anxiety about navigating a virtual world, feeling painfully inept in comparison with my friends, for whom a controller felt as natural in their hands as a no. 2 pencil. But now, here I was in a world where video game aptitude was irrelevant: rather than a mastery of timing and hand-eye coordination (ah, remember that old argument to get your parents to buy you a Nintendo? "It'll improve my hand-eye coordination, Mom!"), Myst required little more than your eyes, your ears, and a healthy sense of curiosity.

To that I would add that the pre-rendered graphics looked much nicer than most other games available at the time.

I was a gamer when Myst came out. I remember it being sneered at by the hardcore crowd. The people talking about it changing the face of gaming were the ones salivating over its sales figures. But casual games don't seem to create new genres so easily. For a while it was Myst, then it was The Sims, then Angry Birds, Farmville, Plants vs. Zombies, and who knows what else. And they're all different! Whatever makes a casual game popular, it doesn't seem to be easy to clone. At a guess, I'd say it's personality.

(Why did we sneer at Myst? Because every gaming executive secretly wants their company to be a casual gaming money machine. When they start talking about "the future of gaming" being being point-and-click slideshows, it sounds very threatening to us. The modern version of this is "the future of gaming is mobile", i.e. games with a terrible touchscreen interface. But since gaming happens across so many different platforms now, it's less scary. Plus, we're older, so we've seen this pattern a few times.)

(Also, I was 12, so I sneered at everything.)

Re:It was a casual game (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44942881)

> Why did we sneer at Myst?

We don't sneer at Myst. We sneer at hipsters trying to put it on some kind of pedestal. It's the mindless hype machine we sneer at.

No love for Return to Zork and 7th Guest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942791)

Both far superior games IMHO that came out at the same time. I think that Myst appealed to the nontraditional gamer a little more.
Having it not really be 3D kind of turned off the gamer crown, who was hungry for a real open world.
I don't think we really got something like that until far far later... I'm thinking around half life 1.

Myst was just the latest iteration. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942821)

Was it ground breaking? Yes. It had an amazing immersive quality. The fact that it didn't try to bludgeon the gamer over the head with over the board sound, is in the age of over stimulation, very laudable. It was also the next iteration of the scummvm style games. If it wasn't for space quest, dragon's lair et al, it would have never happened. But consequently it's difficult to say if any other game would have not have been made in the same way.

Game changer in people. Not in gaming. (1)

briancox2 (2417470) | about a year ago | (#44942843)

It was a game that became talked about at a water cooler. It changed to game of "who gamers are".

In other words, it allowed gaming to be considered on level footing with books, movies and tv shows because it was something almost anyone could relate to and find interesting. It made gaming a respectible type of personal entertainment. Where as, prior to Myst, gaming was a very very niche market.

I was a teenager back then... (1)

Falkentyne (760418) | about a year ago | (#44942861)

.. and Myst was pretty damn boring. Oh look, a picture you can click on. You go north, you are eaten by a grue now in full color! That about sums up the level of enjoyment for me.

I also don't like dungeons and dragons and tabletop war games.

Because of the Web? (4, Insightful)

binarstu (720435) | about a year ago | (#44942873)

Wow -- it has actually been 20 years since Myst came out?? That seems unbelievable. I haven't done any "real" computer gaming in a long time, but I spent many hours working my way through Myst and absolutely loved that game.

I wonder if the popularization of the World Wide Web had something to do with the eventual decline of Myst and games like it. I remember that a big part of the satisfaction of playing Myst and other puzzle-based games, such as the King's Quest series, was that you really needed to struggle through the challenges until you figured them out. For example, a staple of those games was a maze that you had to traverse at some point (remember the little subterranean train thing in Myst?). To solve them, you had to spend considerable time exploring and mapping until you finally figured out how to get where you needed to go. If you were stuck, there wasn't much you could do except try harder until you got it. Sure, the game companies had "hot lines" that you could call for hints, but they charged you for it, and nobody I knew ever used them. As a result, the game was much more rewarding because you had to do it all by yourself. This environment also was conducive to playing the game with others, because two (or more) heads are better than one. My brother and I worked through a number of these games when we were kids, and playing them together added to the fun.

Once the Web became mainstream, the situation changed very quickly. Suddenly, game "walk throughs" were widely available for free, and much of the mystique that led to these games' success disappeared. You need to solve that maze? Just look it up on the walk through and you can be done with it in about two minutes. Once the entire game solution was readily available, the sense of accomplishment from solving the puzzles was greatly diminished, in my opinion.

So, imagine a world where there is no quick, easy way to look up game solutions. It seems terribly quaint now, but that was the environment in which Myst and similar games before it became popular. Once that changed, I think the days were numbered for the puzzle-based games, at least as far as their ability to become blockbusters.

I haven't done any research to compare how well actual market trends correlated with the rise of the Web. This is just my recollection of how the gaming world changed during that time.

Just a game in the middle of changing OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942887)

First: It was a good game but it was just another game. It was not the story or the novel of the era!!!
PROS: graphics, sound, interesting story and puzzles. CONS: No interaction with NPC

Second: At that time windows was changing versions very fast. The problem with Myst as with many other games was quicktime, quicktime changed with every version of the OS , rendering unplayable many good games, Myst was unplayable with "new" OS and computers for a long time....

Third: When Myst tried to re. released the game.. the graphics were outdated

fourth: The internet began to conquer the world so gamesbecame social. Nerds like me were playing MUDS, The lack of social interaction inside myst, not even NPC felt lonely and empty. who wants to be lonely in this world?.

Personally I feel that the very thing that make myst a hit, (quicktime) was its death.

Myst's impact is everywhere... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942891)

You know how Bioshock gets so much acclaim for its world building and details that rely on players to discover? Well, Myst did that first...and Myst created a game environment that treated its players with enough respect to allow them to piece together a story on their own.

Myst's impact goes far beyond just an open world and artwork.

Modern Descendents (1)

JabberWokky (19442) | about a year ago | (#44942917)

I would say that games like Trauma and (I believe, as it hasn't actually come out yet) The Witness tap a similar vein from the player perspective.

As I don't often play video games, I would imagine that others could find plenty of other examples that fit. Of course, then I fear (this being Slashdot) you would have to deal with pendants who ignore subjective "feels like" perspectives... which are actually relevant in this case, as we are dealing with art. Still, there are spiritual successors out there that do comprise part of the legacy.

Anyone Remember Strata 3D? (3, Interesting)

maxbash (1350115) | about a year ago | (#44942921)

It's claim to fame was that Myst used Strata 3D for the scenes. It had a good begining, on its way to become a known name like Maya is now. Then in about 1996 their new multiplatform version became an unmangeable mess with them trying to add too many features at once. Their bank forced them to release it uncomplete and they quickly got a reputaion for releasing buggy crap. Suprisingly they are still around, but after some research I found their company is registered to a humble residential home. The company may be only be a side project for its founder now.

I got frustrated and quit (1, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about a year ago | (#44942955)

Personally I found Myst to be the most frustrating video game I ever wasted money on. There were virtually no clues for the puzzles it presented, which made them an exercise in futility rather than an exploratory challenge of thinking or creativity.

While the graphics were beautiful for the time, they're quite primitive compared to modern games.

Personally I think Half-Life and Deus Ex were far more groundbreaking and open-ended, despite the fact that you could attack the Myst puzzles in virtually any order you liked. Sometimes a bit of direction to the plot improves the story.

Pre-rendered graphics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44942987)

Saying the game will change the future of gaming was a pretty stupid thing to say. There's no way pre-rendered images would become the norm. It was popular because it was the first time people saw pictures looking that good in a video game.

WTF? (2)

sharklasers (3047537) | about a year ago | (#44942993)

Myst was a breakout game for its level of atmosphere, immersiveness and pre-rendered graphics. I still enjoy it and boot up ScummVM (development build) every so often to get a hit of nostalgia. Riven's even better in that regard, since it's fun to see if I can finish both games (particualryl the latter) without referring to a walkthrough.

But wtf is this article going on about? New worlds and open-ended gameplay? We have tons of sandbox games now such as GTA, Saints Row and Skyrim. The article doesn't make it clear what it's suggesting we don't have. Myst was a bit unusual in that violence wasn't a focal point of the game (you don't kill things to accomplish tasks), but apart from that they were atmosphere-full games with some interesting puzzles. They weren't out to change the world.

Myst was boring (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#44943031)

It was visually impressive and had voice acting and actors... but was the game play great? Not so much. There were some puzzles and some mysteries. But it was a point and click adventure game. And from a gameplay stand point, most of its competitors were better.

Which would you rather play again... Myst or Monkey's Island? Exactly.

Myst was pretty. That was what it was... And since there have been prettier games. So yeah... no one cares about myst anymore.

Myst was an adventure game ... (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about a year ago | (#44943071)

... and adventure games died out because they depended upon puzzles to regulate the flow of the game.

If you thought like the game designer, that was great because you could explore the world and think your way through the puzzles that you encountered.

If you didn't think like the game designer, it was a nightmare because you would be trapped in a small part of that world without being able to figure out how to escape. In some cases you didn't even know that you could escape. In other cases you knew exactly how you should be able to progress, but the game designer didn't think that way so you had to figure out the game designer's solution.

Since different game designers thought in different ways and different gamers thought in different ways, buying a game was always hit and miss.

Other than that, I'm trying to figure out how Myst was different from prior games. You certainly had adventure games before Myst (Infocom being the classic example), and you had graphical adventure games (Sierra Online was famous for them), and you had sophisticated rendered graphics in games. About the only difference that I can think of is that Cyan tried to make it photo-realistic, within the obvious limitations of technology back then, and they threw in video clips. It required a CD-ROM in order to conveniently store that much data, which was uncommon for games of that era.

I think you've got your games a bit mixed up (1)

The_Revelation (688580) | about a year ago | (#44943309)

Myst was, at least to many of my friends, Return to Zork's slightly retarded cousin. The presentation was very similar, yet somewhat more isolated due to a lack of other characters in the world. Elements like Zork's sound recording puzzle were brilliant, and aside from a brutally challenging second last puzzle (if you had dropped any items throughout the game, it could not be beaten) the level of challenge would not be seen again until Access released it's Tex Murphy series with Under a Killing Moon in 1994. For a time adventure style games lulled, but with the rise of companies like Telltale the format is being somewhat revived. 2014 will see a new Tex Murphy instalment

It was not just the unique puzzles that made RTZ a brilliant title, but the inclusion of FMV in a way that rewarded the player but didn't sacrifice to much content at the expense of their inclusion. FMV, at the time, was quite popular, but was often an 'all or nothing' affair. On top of this, video codecs were in their infancy, meaning a minute of data ate up a considerable chunk of a disc. So for RTZ to offer hours upon hours of gameplay in addition to FMV, all on a single disc, was simply remarkable.

So what was Myst's legacy? Beats me. It did nothing that hadn't been done already.
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