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Uru Live Cancelled, Expansion Packs Promised

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the crying-shame dept.

PC Games (Games) 49

Datasage writes "Announced today on the UbiSoft community boards. Uru Live, the online part of Cyan's PC title Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, will be closing down. They were not able to get enough subscribers (even within the free Beta) to sustain the world. Instead Cyan has refocused its efforts, and will be putting out expansion packs for Uru, the first of which, due out a couple months, will be freely downloadable." Andrew Plotkin has written an informative FAQ regarding Uru Live, explaining the now defunct collaborative online part of this single-player PC game from the Myst creators.

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huh, wha? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8186101)

Had anyone here ever heard of this product? The head line should have read:

Product nobody heard of gets cancelled because nobody knows about it

There's this thing callled "advertisements" that let consumers know about products. I have never seen a single ad or article about anything to do with a version of Myst that has an online component.

Re:huh, wha? (2, Interesting)

Mattcelt (454751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186435)

No one heard about it because really, I don't think anyone cared. After their great big fuckup [slashdot.org] with the previous version of Myst, the Myst series became unimportant when most of its user base was alienated and frustrated and like me, decided not to buy anything more from Cyan.

I couldn't care less about a company that distrusts its users, releases alpha code as a finished product, and doesn't respond to those who take the time and energy to write to them.

Hmm. This story may be 'news for nerds', but I'm hard pressed to think it matters.

Re:huh, wha? (0)

harves (122617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186644)

You made a mistake when you suggested that Cyan made Myst III. Presto Studios (http://www.presto.com/) created it.

If you wrote to Cyan complaining about Myst III, you can't really blame them for not giving a response - it's not their game.

Re:huh, wha? (1)

Mattcelt (454751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186783)

Oops, sorry, didn't do my research carefully enough before I posted. (Like that never happens on /.!)

I wrote to whomever was in charge at the time. It was almost three years ago, after all...

However the post - and the sentiment - are still valid.


Re:huh, wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8189427)

Blah blah blah...Whine whine whine...

We all know SafeDisc sucks. And you know what? When I got the game to review, it played fine on both my desktop *AND* my laptop.

And you know what else? DaemonTools works fine with SafeDisc, and makes it perfectly playable for anyone *having* SafeDisc issues. SafeDisc wasn't even Presto's call - that was UbiSoft's. They put it on all their other games, after all.

And I played through the game perfectly fine, *twice* (once on each machine). It was fabulous.

Your incessant prattling makes you sound no better than Michael.

Re:huh, wha? (1)

ajax0187 (615355) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186757)

I think part of the problem is that the game is mostly marketed by casual gamers, who by their very nature aren't going to fanatically follow the game's progress and immediately go out and buy a copy when it becomes available. The casual gamer may see the box when they're in their local Wal-Mart, think, "This looks interesting," and might buy it. The casual gamer sees most of their ads through television or mainstream magazines, sources where I've never seen ads for Uru. If Cyan wants to reach these people, those are the areas they need to advertise in, not on devoted videogame websites or magazines. Granted, once people start hearing about the game, they start telling their friends, their family, etc, who also get the game. Then they start playing the game, and eventually realize that computer games are actually fun. Pandemonium ensues.

Suggestion... (3, Interesting)

Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186174)

Ubisoft ought to consider opening the source of the online component. Open source MMORPG's (or MUD's anyway) have been around forever. It would be cool to see what a few thousand of us could come up with.

Re:Suggestion... (2, Insightful)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186403)

There's a couple of open source upstart MMORPG style games being worked on. Currently they're anything but impressive however.

Having said that, anyone who can put together a successful mostly free MMORPG in open source will pose a real serious threat to the big guys. MMORPG is really begging for a "free" approach. O/S games development sadly lags way behind the rest of the industry however.

Assuming they can find some kind of paypal/wish/donation system to keep up servers and pay for bandwidth, anyway.

Uru Live (1)

KaLogain (319907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186271)

Maybe they should have waited to release it before it got out of beta, or made the "Prolouge" or in other words player's beta non laggy and such.

More stuff I've written about Uru (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8186425)

The FAQ is pretty much historical interest now, but I also have some observations [eblong.com] about online game design and the progress of Uru Live.

You can probably tell I'm a raving Cyan fan, and this is a crying shame. The game could have taken off, if they got through the technical problems -- it would have been a slow process certainly, as word got around what they were building. There must have been far more planned than the beta/Prologue phase could show off.

But it's hard to argue when the guy with the wallet says he's tired of the money drain. Sigh.

--Andrew Plotkin

Crying shame indeed (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 10 years ago | (#8190375)

They certainly could have had one more paying subscriber if it hadn't been Windows-only: me.

I see that they've now started the Mac version of Uru. Bittersweet news.

And people would've payed for this why? (4, Interesting)

shoptroll (544006) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186434)

Ok, while I applaud Cyan Worlds/Ubisoft for making the bold attempt to take Myst to the Internet, who in their right mind would've thought it would've worked...?

1) The Myst series has been and will probably remain a series for the casual player. A lot of people who are turned off by the blood and action of fast paced FPS and involving RPGS and RTSes typically enjoy Myst.

2) People aren't going to pay for a service that they won't make use of.

3) Casual gamers don't usually have a whole lot of time to commit to a game for an extended period of time.

4) Since the user base for the Myst series isn't "hard-core" they most likely will not have the time to justify for paying for something like Uru (which was to ultimately become a pay-for service)

5) Finally, think about it. Myst by myself is cool. Myst with other people no longer sounds like a game anymore? How would puzzles work? What would be the objective of the persistant world? What are people supposed to be doing in this game?

When you think about it that way. Would you honestly want to pay to play what would most likely become a 3D chat room? (Granted that MMORPGs seem that way sometimes, but the Myst franchise does not lend itself to an MMORPG easily)

If they had gone through and done something like Battle.net with this (where the service is free), then maybe it would've worked. But I know if I buy a single-player game, the multiplayer had better be free.

Maybe if Ubisoft/Cyan had did this as a free online thing, maybe it would've ended up doing better. I really can't say though.

Re:And people would've payed for this why? (4, Insightful)

ajd1474 (558490) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186629)

I was a Beta tester for the game, and the concept DID work. Basically you were on a mission to solve the riddle of what happened to a long forgetten civilisation. The puzzles were cool, and the grpahics and everything were great. Basically you had to interact with others to find new places and things to do. It felt alot like Second Life or There, but looked a lot nicer than both of them. I thnk it suffered from a real lack of exposure, and while i dont think it was ever commercially viable as a "pay to play" i think it did add an interesting new dimension to the Myst series...and i am sad that it didnt survive. Having said that.... i got pretty bored with it, as the online component didnt have THAT much to offer me to keep me logging back in.

Re:And people would've payed for this why? (1)

shoptroll (544006) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186849)


That sounds pretty cool having the social aspect in there though.

I haven't really played any of the games since Riven, however the books were very cool, and I've been wanting to make a return to the series at some point (especially once I get a DVD drive and Uru and the 10th anniversary edition containing Myst, Riven, and Exile).

Cyan has created a really interesting game-world, and I hope they continue it even without the Online play as a deterrance. I would not scoff at downloading additional content.

Re:And people would've payed for this why? (1)

Urox (603916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192059)

It wasn't a lack of exposure. I signed up to Beta and they didn't choose me so I don't know where they get off saying they didn't have enough people to Beta.

The only reason I bought the game this early was to participate in the early on-line, else I would have bought it later down the road for a fraction of the price. And as most Myst fans would know if they looked into Uru, you get different options on line once you complete the game. I haven't had the time to complete it (employed) so I didn't make the leap yet, but I had definitely planned to use it.

Re:And people would've payed for this why? (1)

Prior Restraint (179698) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192084)

Maybe I'm not understanding the social aspects of the game, but I fear what you describe would quickly degenerate into people pestering you:

"dood, i need the aswner to this puzzel"; and ruining your attempts to figure things out yourself: "just click the btns in this order: 5 4 2 6 1 3".

Re:And people would've payed for this why? (1)

Tomcat666 (210775) | more than 10 years ago | (#8187179)

For me, it wasn't about the "online" part of Uru Live that I cared about. And in that light your views are beside the point.

Uru Live was advertised to me much less as an MMORPG, but rather as "new content for the game delivered via the Internet", and that's what I would've liked.

The Myst world in single player mode is great to look at, has great puzzles and overall an amazing feeling and atmosphere. The single player portion got pretty good reviews everywhere. And that's where I wanted Uru Live to step in.

I didn't want to wander around the worlds together with a bunch of sidekicks. I wanted new "ages", new adventures, new puzzles. That's what I wanted to pay for.

With the upcoming expansion packs, I guess I'm getting everything I wanted out of Uru Live. :)

Re:And people would've payed for this why? (2, Informative)

skirch (126930) | more than 10 years ago | (#8189287)

Ok, while I applaud Cyan Worlds/Ubisoft for making the bold attempt to take Myst to the Internet, who in their right mind would've thought it would've worked...?

Uru, at the very least, was a great idea. One of the most original games to come along recently, and hey, no guts, no glory. It's easy for you to see in hindsight that it was destined to be a flop, right? It didn't fail because it was a bad idea. It failed because Cyan made some poor design decisions and some mistakes implementing the multiplayer aspect of the game.

1) The Myst series has been and will probably remain a series for the casual player. A lot of people who are turned off by the blood and action of fast paced FPS and involving RPGS and RTSes typically enjoy Myst.

Download the demo and play the game. Uru doesn't have anything to do with blood and action, except for the occasional deserted torture chamber. Uru was poised to appeal to the same players that Myst did with one glaring exception, which I'll get into later.

2) People aren't going to pay for a service that they won't make use of.

The service was free to start with. The reason people didn't play was not because of the cost. It was because the online part of the game didn't work. Read the Uru Live forums, and you'll see that probably more than half of the posts have to do with unbearable lag, authentication glitches, and other problems with multiplayer that basically made the game unplayable. Those customers that did sign up knew what they were getting into for the most part. Those that didn't were most likely waiting until the word was out that most of the glitches were solved.

I've played Uru Live twice in about a month since I've been registered. Both times, the game was frozen, feverishly transmitting network data, more often than it was running smoothly. It was decidedly not fun, and there was not much to see or do. It failed to deliver on its promise, and Cyan knows that.

3) Casual gamers don't usually have a whole lot of time to commit to a game for an extended period of time.

I know a lot of "casual gamers" that spent several weeks on Myst and Riven. Those games suck you in and keep calling your name. Get someone into an online game for a couple weeks, and I think it's a good bet that they'll be hooked for a while. As long as the content keeps coming and the quality is high. People make time for things they enjoy, but Uru Live was not enjoyable in its current state.

4) Since the user base for the Myst series isn't "hard-core" they most likely will not have the time to justify for paying for something like Uru (which was to ultimately become a pay-for service)

The casual gamer is the holy grail of the video game industry. Myst and Riven were so successful specifically because non-hard-core people invested so much time and money into the games. I think part of the vision of Uru was to do the same thing with a multiplayer game.

Cyan made the mistake of alienating a lot of their fans by focusing a large percentage of the game on dexterity. Part of what made Myst and Riven so accessible was their simplicity. The technology at the time probably felt restrictive, but it provided the perfect interface. There was no way to walk somewhere you weren't supposed to, nothing to click on or move that wasn't supposed to be clicked on or moved. In Uru, you have to jump at the just the right time from one moving platform to another. You have to bump into objects on the floor and move them into the appropriate places. Keep in mind that you have no use of your frickin hands, so you just have to slide things around on the floor. Little interface issues like that only get in the way of the fun for experienced gamers, but they make the game unplayable for novices.

Uru didn't fail because it wasn't a good idea. It failed because multiplayer was broken, and the interface alienated users that otherwise might have given the game a shot.

An important part of the good news... (1)

tm2b (42473) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186569)

Reading the announcement, I saw that to me was the most important part:
I'm pleased to officially announce that the Mac version of Uru is finally under way.
It sucks that the Uru Live is going bye-bye, don't get me wrong. But this is some good news.

Re:An important part of the good news... (1)

lowmagnet (646428) | more than 10 years ago | (#8188020)

I wonder if they would have done better were there a Mac version available. I mean, come on! Myst started on the Mac platform, and there are a lot of loyal fans here.

Re:An important part of the good news... (0, Troll)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 10 years ago | (#8188220)

Tell me something Mr. Anderson. What good is a Mac version if you are unable...to right click?

Re:An important part of the good news... (1)

tm2b (42473) | more than 10 years ago | (#8202395)

I can right click. What's wrong, are you missing a finger or something?

Not shedding any tears. (1)

sean_r69 (621600) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186719)

I played through the single player part of URU. It was an excerize in frustration, the game controls are absolutely shocking. Making it 3d world is great - yay - woohoo! Trying to move your character around in that 3d world is frustrating at best - and at it's worse well, fuck this, let's play sommit else. Also played URU Live. Same control issues, but add to that painfully slow and buggy servers to deal with. Cyan won't be getting any money off me for expansion packs, not when the basic game is so severly (for lack of a better word) fucked. Cheers, Hose.

Re:Not shedding any tears. (1)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192610)

Control issues? Uru has the simplest and most elegant controls you can have in a 3D game. You can basically move around, jump, and click on hotspots. 75% of it is also reconfigurable. Sure, there are minor camera issues when dealing with the third person perspective, but optional first person perspective exists for a reason. Don't knock the games controls just because you don't know how and/or refuse to take advantage of their full capabilities.

More users? (1)

MrLint (519792) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186732)

Well i dont want to stereotype here, but i would have played extensively had they had a macintosh version. Myst has always been cerebral, and with all the 'twitchy' games out there for windows in retrospect it seems to have been doomed to failure.

Non enough players for Beta? really... (1)

jungd (223367) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186738)

Perhaps they messed up their signup system or something.

I applied to get into the Beta months ago and was never accepted (not a peep).


Re:Non enough players for Beta? really... (1)

Urox (603916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8192094)

I'm inclined to agree. I didn't get picked either.

Re:Non enough players for Beta? really... (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 10 years ago | (#8193863)

What they meant is that they didn't have enough players in the Prologue. Everyone who bought Uru got into the Prologue.

Re:Non enough players for Beta? really... (1)

jungd (223367) | more than 10 years ago | (#8194031)

Nope. I bought it and didn't get into the Prologue - so that's one - how many more?.

bull (-1, Troll)

rwven (663186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8186804)

this is a bunch of bull if you ask me. Ubi didnt kill live because of lack of interest. there was a HUGE interest going on. PC Gamer was highly impressed with it. the real reason it was killed was most likely because the morons who coded the network side of the game couldnt hack it. Having a maximum of 30 people in a city in a MMO game for instance. Anyone who played it new that the netcode was POORLY written. There were tons of people interested in, and playing, this game. Theres a much deeper story to this if you ask me. The live aspect of it was so plagued with issue after issue that they must've decided to just can it... i think going with UBISOFT was the worst thing the dev team ever did. they made them come out with the single player aspect of the game in the first place and that hopelessly complicated the development process that was going on. Had they gone with a different publisher that wasn't so friggin ignorant they would have had a really fine live product here. Everyone deep in the community should know this stuff. just ask Arnium...

I call bullshit on YOU (4, Interesting)

FireChipmunk (447917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8187052)

Ubi didnt kill live because of lack of interest. there was a HUGE interest going on.

It is a simple case of economics. If there aren't X number of customers Cyan couldn't cover the burn rate of Y. If you aren't making enough money, isn't it better to change early, instead of going [url=http://www.enron.com/]bankrupt[/url]?

PC Gamer was highly impressed with it. the real reason it was killed was most likely because the morons who coded the network side of the game couldnt hack it.

That makes me [corelands.com] a moron?

Anyone who played it new that the netcode was POORLY written.

I am afraid you should stop speaking out of your ass now. If you looked at the auctual use of in-game bandwidth, URU uses signifigantly less than most common First Person Shooters. I should know, I wrote an Ethereal [ethereal.com] plugin while I worked at Cyan [cyanworlds.com] . This plugin would disect our own protcol. We closely examined every byte that is sent over the network.

The True cause of the lag lies mostly with the Client. Improvements to this were being made. But since the online part of URU has been stopped, they will never see the light of day.

URU Might of come before its time, and I am deeply saddened to see a project I worked on go down this path.

-Paul Querna

Re:I call bullshit on YOU (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8227688)

as i said below to the other guy, i wasnt speaking of bandwidth usage. I was speaking of how the server is keeping track of everything going on. When you have 30 people in a world and everyone in there is getting pings of 2000+ because the server can't keep up....there's a problem. as far as you being a moron.....if the shoe fits.

Re:bull (3, Insightful)

Mark19960 (539856) | more than 10 years ago | (#8188857)

your an idiot.
do you even own the game?
this game uses... NO BANDWIDTH.
the fact that it needs to be on a broadband connection is due to content download, not because it chews bandwidth, you idiot.
this game uses almost nothing! stop talking out of the side of your neck!
if anyone is to blame, its ubisoft. they are imcompetant assholes to say the least.
if there was any server issues, or inadequate bandwidth, it was their fault. keep in mind cyan didnt run the servers, ubi did.
blame them for the problems, dont flame the developers. they did their best against the bunch of idiots that ran the servers.

Re:bull (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 10 years ago | (#8227632)

netcode isnt all bandwidth moron... the serverside code just plain sucked. The servers couldnt handle the load of everything that was going on in the game with the players...

Re:bull (2)

oceanclub (654183) | more than 10 years ago | (#8199895)

I'm not sure which PC Gamer you're referring to, but the UK edition panned the game with 33%. My own experience bears this out; the opening scene where you cross a desert to meet a stranger outside his caravan is quite well-done - cinematic and enigmatic. Then it all goes pear-shaped as you try to manoeuvre your character around a chasm, continuously falling off ledges and bridges as you try in vain to find an object that f**king does something. After several minutes of this, I uninstalled the demo and went back to playing "Deus Ex".


Generic Response (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8187001)

Here's my response to just about everything that's going to be posted here:

1) Myst sucks, why would anyone pay for an online version?

Everyone has different tastes. Just because I think that 90% of the shows on TV are crap, doesn't mean that there aren't millions of people that watch them. The Myst series has millions of die-hard fans, and they are the major portion of the target audience here.

2) They were doing just fine up until Myst 3. That game was buggy as hell. Why would I pay for anything else they made?

Myst 3 wasn't created by Cyan. It was created by Presto Studios. And while the initial release of the game was riddled with bugs, the patched game is one of the most beautiful and well-done adventure games out there. If you don't agree, then you're just one of the people that disagrees. Like I said in #1, people have different tastes.

3) I was in the beta/I already own it. It's buggy as hell.

You're right, it is very buggy. Ubisoft, like 99% of video game publishers, pushed the product out into the market before it was finished. And now Cyan is scrambling to catch up. Unfortunately, it just wasn't good enough to support the online version.

4) The whole idea of the game is broken. It's just a pretty chat room.

Anyone who says this hasn't even seen the game. Aside from the single-player version, you can play with your friends online. Future expansions were going to include puzzles that would require more than one person to solve (easily). The built-in voice chat, while broken at this time, worked great during the beta, and really made you feel like you were there with the other people.

5) Myst is just for people who can't take REAL games like FPS and RTS.

Wrong. Find me a Myst fan who just sits around staring at their computer screen waiting for the next one to come out. These people are GAMERS, they just have a slightly different taste than your average CS-junkie or Evercracker.

May I Point out the Obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8188710)

Maybe, just maybe, whenever you release a game that's billed as online, the customer shouldn't have to wait a week to play it...um...online. Just an idea Ubisoft.

no Mac version (2, Insightful)

log0n (18224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8188755)

which is a shame because Uru/Myst is the only monthly charge game I've ever been interested in playing.

I'm only one person so my $$ wouldn't do much, but the fact that they left out an entire game community (Mac gamers) that tends to enjoy more the Myst style gaming experience was a real shotgun-to-the-foot kind of mistake.

Re:no Mac version (1)

EMR (13768) | more than 10 years ago | (#8220559)

They finally annouced there will be a Mac version of the game..

As a BETA tester for URU Live... (2, Interesting)

cjmnews (672731) | more than 10 years ago | (#8190751)

I'll start off by stating I am a huge fan of the first 3 games. I really enjoyed them.

I felt there were a few issues with the service. Yes I realize that it was a BETA, so the service may not have been complete.
  • The download of new ages was slow
  • The download of new ages was not always error free
  • The download of new ages was impacted by ad blocking software since it went through HTTP
  • There was no compelling reason to solve the puzzles.

The prior games did not have most of these issues, obviously because it was not online. The lack of a compelling reason to play was a big thing for me. This is why I did not buy the game.

Other issues I saw with the online version is that in order to play with others, you had to go to the age solo, then share the age linking book. This seems an odd way to implement multiplayer interaction.
Then there was a compelling reason to not share your age because the other person could come in and solve the puzzles for you, whether you wanted them to or not. I can just see the guy with the strategy guide coming in to solve a puzzle for me with out giving me the chance to solve the puzzle.

Also some of the puzzles were exceedingly difficult. Lack of "hands" was a problem at times.

I am a Myst fan, and I refused to purchase the game, and if someone gave it to me, I would not pay for an online service unless the value was worth the cost. In my opinion the online service was NOT worth the cost in the state it was in at the end of the BETA test. Not to mention this was the only application that caused my 256MB XP machine to increase the size of the cache file.

Why online? (1)

EvlG (24576) | more than 10 years ago | (#8191838)

From the accounts I have read, it seemed like the problem with the game was it provided no compelling content for the online gamer.

That is, it was basically a single player game that happened to have other people running around in it. That's not compelling, that just MMO tacked on to a single player game.

The only reson I didn't subscribe... (1)

Beolach (518512) | more than 10 years ago | (#8194561)

Was because I couldn't get it to run under WineX. I bought the game & planned on subscribing, but when I couldn't run it...

Also around that time my M$ Windows partition ate itself for the umpteenth time, and I decided to stop dual-booting. Not worth the pain. So no I couldn't just reboot into Windows.

Why I didn't play the demo, buy the game, etc... (1)

emarkp (67813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8196024)

The first time I tried to play it I got the BSOD. I don't give programs a second chance once they do that. Period.

another block: only broadband allowed (0)

catphile (316499) | more than 10 years ago | (#8196452)

I seriously thought about buying this game, but didn't because I didn't have the required broadband spec. I know complaining about high specs is fruitless, but there's still a huge % of us on dial-up, and i can play plenty of other online games with no problems.
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