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Myst Was Supposed To Change the Face of Gaming. What Is Its Legacy? 374

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-still-don't-know-where-i'm-supposed-to-go dept.
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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Myst Was Supposed To Change the Face of Gaming. What Is Its Legacy?

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  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @05:57PM (#44942525) Journal

    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.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:14PM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      FWIW, in the same genre I preferred Obsidian.

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @07:51PM (#44943357) Journal

      But the the reason why nobody makes those anymore and why very few "Myst style" games came out is really simple and its the same reason why FMV "games" also died, and its the simple fact that graphics caught up.

      The reason why Myst was so amazing back in the day was....it was 1993. Remember what PCs were like back in 93? You average game back then was a side scroller, Wolfenstein was less than a year old and you had to have a pretty beefy PC to run it. Now look at Myst...it was simply amazing to look at, much more like a movie than a game as far as graphical quality goes and in an era of levels that looked like paper cut outs? Its really not surprising it blew so many away.

      But then something truly amazing happened,..the rise of the graphics card, or as many called it back in the day the "graphical accelerator". Suddenly games went from cut outs to crude 3D shapes to incredible depth...just compare No One Lives Forever 1 & 2 to see how far games came in just a few years, hell I still play a few games from a decade ago online and stuff like Freelancer still can immerse me in this galaxy hopping universe. But Myst just didn't translate well to the fully realized 3D world, like Dragon's Lair and the whole FMV craze what once wowed us just didn't really work in a fully 3D world.

      So I would say the legacy of Myst was to give us back in 93 a brief taste of what the future would be like, a world where these fully fleshed out worlds are taken for granted...I mean how many of us here have fired up a recent game and just marveled at how fricking HUGE and fleshed out these worlds really are? I mean when I fire up Just Cause II with islands large enough that it would take the better part of an hour to drive across it, or fire up Borderlands II and look at how many hours I have sunk in and haven't even got to see all the game has to offer? Its pretty fricking amazing, just as Myst made our collective jaws drop back in the day. If you asked me to list the biggest jaw dropper moments of early gaming it would have to be Myst, the first time I played Quake, and that opening with the castle on Unreal.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @09:32PM (#44943905)
        Unfortunately all those rich, well-developed worlds and rendering power have been wasted on shoot-shoot-shoot twitchfests full of videorealistic gore, for spastic teenage boys and aspergic middle-aged men. Myst and Riven interested me, but every popular game I've seen since then has ranged from pathetically stoopid to offensively violent. (Note: I don't believe that violent video games create people obsessed with violence ... but they sure as hell turn off those of us who aren't.)
        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @09:54PM (#44944097) Homepage Journal

          It's really too bad that Grand Theft Auto doesn't have a pure sandbox mode, where you could diddle some sliders to make it only, say, as violent as the real world. And where you had access to everything from the get-go. Because there are probably people who would buy the game solely to get access to its sandbox. I personally eagerly awaited a new story in the GTA universe, so beating the game to get access to everything isn't an arduous task for me. I understand not wanting to play a violent game, sometimes I don't want to have to mug people just to street race too. Or whatever.

          • by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:41AM (#44945391) Journal

            Try Just Cause II as it has EXACTLY what you are describing. You can start a new game and after the first mission? You can just drive through the countryside if you desire and as long as you don't go running down cops or blasting people nobody will bother you. You can drive to the airport, pick up a plane or chopper and just fly around without being bothered, you can go down to the docs and get anything from a speedboat to a Junk and just go cruising, or if you buy the parachute thrusters DLC (just 99c) you can just jump into the air and fly your parachute all across the place, even use the grappler to grab onto boats and cars and go parasailing.

            Anyway as long as you have Vista or better (requires DX10) and even an average gaming card (it plays over 30FPS on my HD4850, a card you can get for less than $40 on Amazon) you can go where you want and do whatever you want, the entire world from the mountain tops to the ocean is 100% open from the get go. Sounds like exactly what you are looking for....but you really should go apeshit in that game at least once, nothing wilder than riding on the hood of a car going 165MPH+ and grappling a pursuing cop car to the ground and making it do the T3 car flip, tying a cop bike to a lamppost like Jedi, or blowing out the tires of a jeep and watching it cartwheel a dozen times before becoming a fireball, VERY cool.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Myst was more than just graphics though. What was also different, or at least very rare, was the emphasis on puzzles and non-combat within a world simulation. Ie, it's genre would be an explore the world and figure out puzzles to find more area to explore game. So games like The Longest Journey would seem to be descendants of Myst (even though Myst puzzles weren't adventure style puzzles). That genre is still around though it's dwarfed by the "shoot it if it moves" 3D games.

        • Agreed about the 3D shoot-em-ups.

          Myst-like games still live on with some changes [I've played Myst/Riven and all of the following]:
          - 7th Guest/11th Hour (historical) -- lots of puzzles
          - Lara Croft series -- shoot em up, but that wasn't the whole game
          - Nancy Drew series (20+ games) -- solve a murder mystery
          - Art of Murder series -- be a female FBI agent and stop a serial killer
          - Yesterday -- play various characters (including one with no memory) with a progressive mystery storyline

          All of these have tough pro

        • by bickerdyke (670000) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @04:14AM (#44945655)

          I never got the hang of Myst. Partly because the puzzle weren't adventure style. They were completly detached from the story! The graphics were great, but I never had any motivation why I should open these valves or turn that sundial. And finding out what the story is about at all by reading those text fragments at a 1995 monitor was a PITA!

      • One of the things that I found most delightful about Myst - and continue to marvel at - is that the core of the gameplay had nothing to do with killing things. I find Minecraft increasingly appealing because the emphasis is more on building and exploring. Myst really gave the impression of a bigger world around you and used the literary technique of "show, don't tell" to exhibit it. I guess I can admit to being a little bit jaded. There are quite a few "show, don't tell" elements hidden in a game like G

        • by Balinares (316703) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @08:06AM (#44947013)

          Oh, then this is probably my cue to turn up and point you to Mystcraft [binarymage.com]. Mystcraft is just as the name implies: a mod for Minecraft that adds Myst-like mechanisms for creating and exploring Ages. Yes, it's just about as fantastic as it sounds. (And by God, don't forget to bring a linking book if you don't want to get forever stranded.)

          And to answer the question raised by the article, I just spent my lunch break playing Mystcraft. Today, in 2013, 20 years after the release of Myst. So I'd say, pretty relevant indeed.

      • I think a bigger problem is that the "Game made me lose" crowded out the "I lost to the game" mindset and people are just too goddamn thick to enjoy a game that *hard*.

    • Have you tried Journey on the PS3? It's the closest that a game in the last few years has come to the original spirit of Myst, I think. Beautiful graphics, beautiful music, a series of puzzles, a world to explore.
  • by penguinstorm (575341) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:01PM (#44942571) Homepage

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

    • 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?
    • by electron sponge (1758814) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:58PM (#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.

  • Obligatory (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mitchell314 (1576581) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:01PM (#44942575)
    It lives on in minecraft . . . :D
  • by seebs (15766) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:02PM (#44942577) Homepage

    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.

    • by GrpA (691294) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:47PM (#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

      • 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.

        Right!

        I remember back when Maniac Mansion was all the rage! We solved 80% of that game outside the actual game during breaks at school, mostly by discussing the individual progress we made the evening before. That was fun I never had again until later at university, the whole dorm joined "Planetarion". Most of the game didn't take place in our browsers, but on the kitchen table and in the local pub where we would discuss strategy. I still remember the pub owner taking that one phone call... A message for th

    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @07:11PM (#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.

      • by seebs (15766)

        I think you're responding to a criticism other than the one I made. And radically so, given that I am pretty much on the opposite end of the game-playing spectrum from the straw man you're arguing with.

        My complaint has nothing to do with the logic of the puzzles. The puzzles aren't even remotely, in any way, a factor in what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the interface.

        Your mouse pointer is over an object -- say, a box, or a book. If you click on it, will you:
        1. Open it.
        2. Pick it up.
        3. Throw it.

        You d

  • by Derec01 (1668942) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:02PM (#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.

    • by Derec01 (1668942)

      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

    • 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.
      • by AdamHaun (43173)

        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.)

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          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.

        • 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?).
      • 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".

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:02PM (#44942581) Homepage

    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.

    • 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 plo

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @07:18PM (#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.

  • 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.

  • by ClassicASP (1791116) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:05PM (#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.
  • 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.
  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:07PM (#44942613) Homepage

    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.

  • by Delusion_ (56114) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:08PM (#44942617) Homepage

    ...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.

  • by neiras (723124) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:10PM (#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.

    • by WMD_88 (843388) <kjwolff8891@yahoo.com> on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @07:26PM (#44943197) Homepage Journal

      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.

  • 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

    • by mdenham (747985)

      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).

  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby AT comcast DOT net> on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:18PM (#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.

    • 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 wi

  • 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. Pok
  • 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.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:23PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:24PM (#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.

  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:25PM (#44942757) Journal

    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.)

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > 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.

  • 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.
  • by binarstu (720435) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:41PM (#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.

  • 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

  • by maxbash (1350115) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @06:47PM (#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.
  • 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 o

    • by Hatta (162192)

      No, you just didn't pay attention. All Myst took to beat was a notebook. Go everywhere, write down everything unusual, use the clues in the obvious place. If anything it was too easy, I beat it in one sick day home from school. You want frustrating? Try a Sierra adventure game.

  • 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 i

  • 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.

  • ... 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

  • by Goldsmith (561202) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @09:29PM (#44943875)

    Anyone who thinks modern games are all dumb shooters should take a stroll through some of the independent games on Steam. We're in the middle of a great period in video games. If you're not having fun, wake up and smell the Kirbal Space Program.

  • by Sigma 7 (266129) on Tuesday September 24, 2013 @10:47PM (#44944463)

    As much as everyone may like Myst, it's not technically special. The only thing going for it would be the use of multimedia/FMV. Even if FMV appeared in other games, it doesn't mean those games are any good.

    Gameplay-wise, Myst takes an Alpine Encounter [textfiles.com] approach to the puzzles - you can bypass most of the game if you already know what to do.

    The puzzles themselves are mostly control-room puzzles - click on something, and something happens some distance away. The back and forth travelling, although a good way to examine the landscape, isn't good for those who want to get along with the plot.

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