No Longer Sadly Myst: Myst Online Returns

By Kieron Gillen on February 9th, 2010 at 2:33 pm.

RPS probably won't be playing, we admit.

Lots of people wrote about this, but Vertelemming was the most appropriately obscure, so gets namechecked. He said “You are returning. The stream in the Cleft is returning. The cavern is returning. Uru is returning.” And so it is. It’s a free server, so you can just go play and donate if you wish. “We’ve opened all the Ages, and added most of the goodies in MO:UL. We’re referring to it as MO:ULagain—feel free to explore and enjoy,” as they say. And here’s three videos made in tribute to the game when it closed. Lost of footage of – er – stuff. Also, things.

Any Myst fans out there? I ask, because it’s one of those nagging games which, despite its enormous success in its day, you never find a games journalist who’s into them. Except Richard Cobbett, who probably likes one of them, because that’s the sort of thing he knows. He’s like that.

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52 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    P7uen says:

    I found Myst installed on my PC when I was a kid, no manual, story, no information except the name Myst. Was sucked in, I truly felt like an explorer, having played nothing but Mario and Bomberman before that point, and have been into PC gaming ever since.

    Looking back at it, it is a ridiculously obtuse game, but it’s responsible for me ending up here reading RPS with all my useless but valued gaming skills garnered over the years, so it can’t be that bad.

    Tugs on the heart/memory strings, I will give it a go.

    • Haywire says:

      I had the same experience with 7th guest. those were the days

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Don’t give a damn what anyone says, 7th Guest is a classic. Bought that when I first got a PC. Had plenty of experience with gaming as I’d come to it from six years of Amiga use, but 7th Guest was just so unique. Loved it.

    • mastrblastr says:

      7th guest was also the game that dragged me in. will admit that i have never played any of the myst games, but everyone seems to say they actually aren’t that good and involve a ridiculously copious amount of notetaking. honest opinions on if any are worth attacking?

    • Wulf says:

      They do require some note-taking as you’ll find clues to puzzles around which you’ll have to jot down if you want help with the puzzles (rather than just tackling them by your own wits alone). However, Uru includes an in-game diary/notepad thing which is very, very helpful indeed.

  2. Benjamin Finkel says:

    I adore Myst, and am ecstatic that the Cavern is open to us again. I had some great times in MO:UL.

    Ben

  3. Helm says:

    Back a decade I was vehemently anti-Myst, now I can see sorta what was being attempted and I guess I could at some time try this and perhaps enjoy it. The game seems to work much better in true 3d and I guess I won’t feel that stupid if I never manage to solve any of the puzzles if there’s other people failing alongside me on the server.

  4. LimeWarrior says:

    I’ve been a PC gamer since 4yrs old, but Myst was the first PC game I loved. I enjoyed Civ and Descent, but Myst opened up the idea of games with stories. Loved it ever since. Bought every copy I could. The DVD versions of the game were BRILLIANT when they first came out. No more switching between 5 CDs.

    Riven was the best of the series. It took the immersion, maturity and realism to a new level. Myst III was good, even thought it wasn’t made by cyan. Myst IV was horrible (damn you ubisoft). Myst V was a good finale, but still not as good as Myst and Riven.

    I played the single player versions of URU, but never checked out the multiplayer. Myst was always about the single player to me, but maybe I will check out the resurrection of uru live.

    • Premium User Badge

      phlebas says:

      Interesting. I quite enjoyed V but saw it more as a bridge to Uru than a finale to the original series, and loved IV. If you hadn’t said Riven was the best I’d have guessed the difficulty was the reason you didn’t like it, so I’m left wondering – why horrible?

    • Wulf says:

      Uru can have sort of the appeal of Second Life done right, if that makes sense.

      Players can sit around and chat (even voice) in a wonderfully alien environment, and when a new player comes along and tries the puzzles, we all get to watch and throw hints, it can be a pretty funny experience, and providing the player is social it can be enjoyable for all. What amazes me is the immersion of it, because one actually plays oneself, or at least a derivative of one’s RL self, it feels like helping others to understand the game is… sort of like actually being a tour-guide to alien dimensions. It’s bizarre, surreal, abstract, and maybe a little meta. And it does a much better job of feeling like an alternate reality game than those AR games ever have, at least in my opinion.

      That’s where the draw of Uru Online comes from. It’s a blast. And then you have people forming groups like the Guild of Greeters, who actually do act as tour-guides and such, and even better you sometimes have the developers and other people with the ability to do so putting on events, and because it’s sort of like one stumbled upon this situation as a real world entity, the experience itself feels all the more real too. It’s a hard thing to explain, but you might have felt some of this in the single-player game, it is, however, amplified to great degrees in the multiplayer version. It’s marvellous to stumble upon someone reading DRC reports and actually have a chat about the content of the report, maybe even elucidate upon some of the questions the reader might have.

      It’s great stuff, and it makes me feel a bit like Indy… leaping around alien dimensions, and then coming back to have very high-brow chats about it with other players. It’s just something you can’t find anywhere else, within the entire scope of gaming.

      Uru is a singular thing.

    • Helm says:

      You’ve convinced me to take a little tour with friends soon, Wulf. Thanks for the considered post.

    • Wulf says:

      Glad to, Helm!

      I just hope a lot of the old guard are still around, and old guard doesn’t imply elitism like in other games. In this case, it would imply being approached by a ponderous, casually dressed hippie who’ll ask if s/he can illuminate you on your surroundings, and will provide company and give you all sorts of information about where you are, and what all these curious things around you do.

      Uru is kind of like being in the middle of a really fun alien museum, and no one knows what’s going on when they first step in but given a little time to do some reading by themselves, or talking to other people, everything begins to make sense and the fog lifts, and the scale of what you’ve gotten involved with really hits you. And there are so many fun minigames and things to do, too.

      I still miss marker runs, people getting together to see who could catch the most markers in a set amount of time. That was loads of fun. And the wall! Oh, haha, Gods… the wall.

      I’m very much looking forward to getting into my old Maintainer suit and having some fun with the wall. I hope they’ll have the wall up and running anyway. Is anyone here in yet? Do they have the wall up or is it locked off? I know it was buggy but some Until Uru servers had it running perfectly.

      /ramble

      I knew I’d be eager to get back to Uru, but I’ve actually surprised myself as I’m terribly excited about this. Perhaps because it’s official.

    • Helm says:

      sadly the servers are down right now :(

  5. Premium User Badge

    phlebas says:

    I loved the Myst games (especially the fourth, Revelation) but never really got into Uru – it seemed a bit unnecessarily obscure (yes, even compared to the originals), the timing and jumping puzzles didn’t seem to fit and the whole thing felt a bit unfinished – it was full of clues to point you to things that hadn’t been implemented (yet), which made it extra frustrating both for the holes and the misdirection from where you were supposed to be headed. The bold design decision only to let you manipulate objects with your feet didn’t seem to pay off, either.

  6. HexagonalBolts says:

    Played my dad’s copy of Riven and one of the later Mysts when I was younger, I remember be confused a lot but I still very much enjoyed them and was drawn in.

  7. Kevbo says:

    Also have very fond memories of playing Myst when I was very young along with Lesuire Suit Larry and Dark Castle. Never tried the online games so I’ll check it out.
    Thanks for the heads up

  8. Nezz says:

    So… what exactly IS this? What do you do? How does it play?

    • Kirrus says:

      @Nezz: It’s an online immersive puzzle game. Kindof MMO, some puzzles require you to team up to complete. Tells a story about the city Myst, based off of the myst series of games.

      if you’ve not read the books, and you enjoy reading I would strongly recommend you read the Myst Reader: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Myst-Reader-Rand-Miller/dp/1401307817

    • Benjamin Finkel says:

      It’s actually about the city of D’ni. Myst was an island world that was once the home of Atrus, the center of the series’ attention. The Cavern is, in the story, actually on Earth, in New Mexico.

      But, yeah. It’s a city from Myst, and is an integral location in the cannon.

      Ben

  9. MadTinkerer says:

    Is this the same one that was recently re-released on Good Old Games? Because if it is, I might get it.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      That’s probably the classic game (and first of the series) called Myst. Or one of it’s successors. Unlike URU, which is a puzzle MMO, these are single player only puzzle/exploration games.

    • Wulf says:

      Actually, this is Uru. It’s almost exactly the same Uru that’s on GoG as Uru: The Complete Collection. In fact, having the Complete Collection around will save you about two days worth of downloading with the patcher. >.>

      You’ll note the ‘UL’ part, that actually means Uru Live. The first online version of the game was called Uru Live. Then it was UU. UU was Until Uru, a bunch of player run shards that had most of the functionality of Uru Live. I know this is confusing but stick with me! The next version was the one released on GameTap as Myst Online: Uru Live, or MO:UL. This was basically Uru Live, but it was remade slightly to make it more online frendly. This eventually died off, and then the plan became MO:RE, the Myst Online: Restoration… something orother, the open source news came after that, and the community came up with about a billion acronyms for the game, some of which were utterly insane.

      They’re still on track to open source Uru, but because that’s going slow they wanted to give something Uru-related back to the players, so they’ve started a server themselves (run by donations) and they’re calling it Myst Online: Uru Live Again (or MO:ULagain).

      I had to explain all of this for the next thing I’m going to say to make sense. Uru was a single game with an offlilne component and an online component. After the various online versions failed, Cyan released a number of expansion packs to add some of the online content to the offline game, thus giving people something to play around with. And this is why it saves at least a little download time by having the Complete Collection (Uru + both expansion packs) around.

  10. Puroi says:

    Just 260days to go on the download.

  11. Wulf says:

    My reaction was something along the lines of…

    eoagihea
    geehg
    ihgie
    agihw
    pgihe
    aghai
    egheag
    ????
    !!!
    ?
    :o
    !!!!
    pdajgaeh???
    /faint

    >.>

    I’ve been playing The Dark Book (unofficial private server thingy) for a while now, but to see an official one makes the heart glad.

    Kieron, if you’ve ever trusted anything I’ve had to say… ever, trust me when I say you’d love this. If only for the environments alone, but then moreover for the lore, there’s LOTS of reading to be done here, books and reports left lying around, and then there are some particularly brain-bending puzzles. It’s glorious stuff. But you need to SEE it, if only once.

    Ha… Myst is back.

    Myst is back?!

    /faint

    • Wulf says:

      More coherent, this time…

      I’M GOING BACK TO THE CAVERN AGAIN! :D

      /downloads

      I’d be happy if as many RPSers as possible joined in on this, and not just the Myst fans. Believe me, there’s something here that would gladden the heart of the most jaded gamer. That and it’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful. It’s bloody Guild Wars beautiful and even beyond in some cases. Where else can you see a planet with a two minute day/night cycle? It’s magnificent!

      Join us!

  12. ShadowNate says:

    Much of the content is the same, but there certainly are quite a few differences from the URU – Complete Chronicle which was re-released by Good Old Games.

    For one, the Complete Chronicles is not an online game, and it lacks some of the Ages, some locations on some Ages and some mini-games that were released for the URU Live.
    Moreover, if I remember correctly, some of the Ages in CC (mainly from the Path of the Shell chapter) could not be ported to the Live version, as well. Also, the way you solve some of the puzzles might differ.

    The most interesting part of the announcement is that they still intend to release it as open-source.

  13. Jad says:

    A couple of days ago my girlfriend got Myst on her iphone and we spent an enjoyable hour clicking around and getting lost in nostalgia (Myst was basically the only video game she had played until she met me and I introduced her to Monkey Island and Penny Arcade Adventures and Machinarium. I’m working her through adventure games until we get to Grim Fandango, then trying to push her into RPGs. Its for a good cause =).

    Anyway, what struck me is how incredibly weird it was that this was such a popular, mainstream-breakout hit. Sure, its got beautiful visuals and a streamlined interface, but it’s a game that is at its core a series of highly abstract logic puzzles and hardcore math problems. The kind of stuff that I would expect to have a small but passionate community, not a massive mainstream audience.

    Which I guess is what eventually happened with the later games, which resulted in the failure of Uru Online, which leads us to this story …

    • dadioflex says:

      I played it for the first time about six months ago and the maths type puzzles you mentioned and the maze puzzle both had me annoyed rather than perplexed.

  14. Carda says:

    Having played Uru Live since “Prologue” (back when the vision was far, far too grand for the state of network tech at the time), and rejoicing every time it was rereleased… yeah. I’ll be back in a heartbeat.

    Incidentally, this game looked absolutely beautiful even back then on low-end machines. I can’t wait to see how good it looks now on my newest hardware!

    • Wulf says:

      Having played it recently I can tell you that it still looks as amazing as ever, it’s because of the whole art-over-polygons attitude that ArenaNet also has, Cyan has the same kind of attitude and it shows, there are so many little details that make it feel lived in, real, and just beautiful. Even seeing fish in the streams makes a difference from most games. It’s just jaw-dropping stuff when one stops to take in all the detail. Every planet has so much life, and it’s all so alien and different. Those breathing trees still creep me out. >.>

      So, yep, still amazing.

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    Riaktion says:

    “No longer sadly myst”… sigh. I applaud your commitment to making the headline relevant

  16. Cynic says:

    If only the DS re-release of Myst wasn’t so awful, and Myst or “real Myst” ran on modern PCs. I was always inclined to agree with one UK PCGamer’s point of view on the Myst games:
    If you find yourself doing something with no clear indication of why, what it does, or if you’ve done it right but only the semi-certain knowledge that *this* is what you have to do, then the game’s doing it wrong.

    I’d love to love Myst, it reminds me of some of my favourite text adventures from way-back, but it’s such a hand-wavy experience.

    • Wulf says:

      That’s not really quite how Uru works however, though I am aware that that’s how earlier Myst games worked.

      If you stop to read the DRC reports and other bits and bobs through the game, and pay attention to the environment, the game gives you no end of information about the puzzles you’ll encounter.

      I just hope you won’t dismiss Uru based on earlier Myst games, the puzzles were much better explained in Uru.

  17. Max says:

    I’m a big Myst fan though I never really got into the Uru thing. It seemed strange to create an MMO for a series that has always accentuated the isolation of the player.

    I also think that the move to full 3D was a mistake. Myst IV nailed the technology so perfectly that Myst V felt like a huge step backwards – even though it was in full 3D. At times Myst V managed to be quite beautiful but that hardly made up for the times that it simply didn’t live up to the jaw-dropping visuals of the previous games.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Myst I-IV, V was horrible and I never finished it. Uru does not interest me.

    • Wulf says:

      Uru does take a different mindset to enjoy. It’s a shame you’d dismiss it for the arbitrary reason that because X has been X, X must continue to be X in a constant way in order to be good. They branched out and tried something new, it worked. Though I think you’re just being a bit jaded in regards to Myst V as it was quite beautiful in general, not as much so as Uru or Myst IV I’ll grant you, but I think limited development time and resources had more to do with that than anything else. Still, it’s nowhere near as bad as you’d make out. At least, I don’t think so.

      /shrug

      Still, it’s up to you, really. But I can certainly understand the notion of vilifying a game because it isn’t direct fanservice to every previous game, I’ve seen many games that innovated over their prequels but were hated because they were different, regardless of whether that difference brought a better kind of game or not.

    • ShadowNate says:

      Myst IV might have had some very interesting new features, but it retained the movement through bubbles, and most importantly the story was crap. Yeah, sorry, but retconning the original Myst and Riven story and mechanics of its universe and adding a lot of magic and spiritual nonsense doesn’t qualify for a Myst-series worthy game. (mind you, URU’s story is also filled with holes and bad choices – but URU was never a complete game to begin with)

      Also, about URU puzzles. There’s a good number of them that are smart, and the player can deduce their solution. But, then, there are certain puzzles that require huge leaps in logic or just plain guessing (and the Path of the Shell had most of the worst of those).

    • Wulf says:

      Oh, the Path of the effin’ Shell… SO MUCH HATE. But after I figured it out… so much love, too. It’s just one of those Veni, Vidi, Vici scenarios where you want to both maul (like a rabid werewolf) and hug (like an old friend) the person/people responsible at the same time.

      Even the ones that did require some guesswork were clever, to an almost Machiavellian degree.

    • Wulf says:

      [Spoilers!]

      Also, weren’t there DRC logs as well about the folks who tried to figure that out and simply couldn’t, and even a section of D’ni society that all had a go but couldn’t figure it out either?

      As I recall, the whole Path of the Shell thing was designed by a guy who thought he was the second coming of the D’ni, had a bit of an ego, and thought he was the bloke the Traveller spoke about… actually managed to fulfil a few of the traveller’s prophecies. And then he goes on to create this puzzle that no one can solve, despite the efforts of so many people trying. That’s what made me feel so good about getting it, they made it seem like an impossible puzzle, and they made me–the player–feel smarter than a chunk of the D’ni upperclass.

      That was kind of neat.

  18. Tweakd says:

    Great memories of playing Riven with my Dad back when I was a wee nipper. I’m certainly going to give this a shot as soon as they recover from their bombardment :)

  19. Baf says:

    Another old Myst fan here. I’m glad to see Uru is getting another outing; I never had the time to get into it the last time it was live. I’ve played the “Uru: Complete Chronicles” compilation, which is a standalone CD-ROM containing the content from the original Uru, but (a) it doesn’t have the content created during the Gametap era and (b) it’s pretty clear that this stuff is really meant to be played as a team. Playing it solo involves a lot of running around: you flip a switch here, it has an effect way way over there on the other side of a series of tunnels and airlocks or something. If you have a friend standing there waiting for you to flip the switch, things go a lot more smoothly.

  20. Rikard Peterson says:

    Regarding the Richard Cobbett comment… I seem to remember him disliking Myst *a lot* back in the day. (On Usenet.) Or am I confusing him with someone else?

  21. Wulf says:

    Oh, and before I forget… for anyone who’s not yet excited about Uru, watch this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQFDO36KohI

    That’s an embed for the first post if anything is!

  22. Batolemaeus says:

    The two embedded Links in the Article don’t play in germany. Sony having rights to the music or whatever.

    Wulf’s video plays, but the music if AWFUL. Why do people always use the most unfitting music possible?

    • Wulf says:

      The music might be awful, but the video editing was surprisingly inspired for that sort of thing, and I love how it assailed the senses with many of the memorable moments from Uru, and that’s what I’m usually paying attention to rather than the music. Even better is that it was all surprisingly in order, so it was sort of like the entirety of Uru, abridged, which was impressive. Just ignore the music and it’s much better.

    • Wulf says:

      So many memories in that video though, especially right at the end there… The Great Zero! :D

      I want a D’ni supercomputer.

  23. malkav11 says:

    Uru has some really cool elements, and as usual for the series is gorgeous. I never understand Myst puzzles, though, and Myst in multiplayer never quite clicked for me as a concept. Also, I wish they’d acknowledged more frequently that human beings actually have hands and can pick up and manipulate objects with them.

  24. Dean says:

    Didn’t think much to Myst (though it was fun playing a game like that on the Amiga).

    Riven I think has some of the most beautiful puzzle design in games ever. It’s stunning. The interface doesn’t do it justice, however. I think a full 3D “Real Riven” would get a lot of critics to re-assess the series.

    The problem with the games was that so often many of the puzzles were very spatial, involving figuring out what links to what and how. And the flip screen interface just made that really hard. I liked Myst IV well enough but those re-directing water puzzles at the end were 10x harder because you kept getting turned around…

    Uru being in full 3D solves this somewhat. Myst V didn’t because the areas were too small and it was too caught up in that awful drawing mechanic.

  25. DavidK says:

    Best gaming news all year. MO:UL was fantastic in ways that other games aren’t. Look forward to seeing some RPS bods on there.

  26. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I remember getting and playing Myst. It’s been.. how many years? It was wonderful and frustrating, but mostly wonderful.

  27. PC Monster says:

    Another long time Myst fan here. I first played Myst on the Playstation, of all places, and instantly got sucked into the imagination, story and world-building on display. It has always grated how many respectable Games journalists treated the series like the proverbial elephant in the room, despite the shockingly muscular sales of the first two games; I vividly recall certain PCG alumni putting the boot in on several occasions! For all their cries of “It’s not even a game!” I was always raring to respond with a “No, your definition of “game”, is too narrow!”.

    Myst and it’s sequels were like the first steps towards true Game Tourism. Imaginary places where you could go and simply ‘be’. So what if they asked you to use your brain to progress? The true joy of each – apart from proving how clever you are – was in visiting places you’d never seen before and revelling in the details. I recently bought RealMyst from GOG and had a blast revisiting all those places I remembered, now in fabbo spinney-rotatey 3D-o-vision.

    • Wulf says:

      “Now in fabbo spinney-rotatey 3D-o-vision.”

      Ahahahaha…hahahaha… oh Gods, they need that as an advertising slogan on GoG.

      “Real Myst! It’s like Myst, only better, because now it’s in fabbo spinny-rotatey 3D-O-Vision™!”

    • Wulf says:

      On a more serious note, you’re right. This is why I made an allusion to it being sort of like an alien museum in an earlier reply, but I’ll elucidate on that.

      The dimensions are actually ‘books’, a form of technology used by the D’ni to link to other dimensions, I’m still not quite sure whether their Art actually creates these dimensions or simply finds dimensions that are similar to what they write about, it’s a bit of an ongoing debate… but regardless! Alien dimensions, straight from the imagination of the writer, brilliant, impossible things, they are. It’d be like wandering through a museum of truly alien paintings, and you could touch one and actually enter into the painting and explore a part of that painting’s world, as if it were a real place.

      It’s magical in ways I find hard to describe, and yes, it’s tourism. I was happy that my KI (little D’ni iPhone-like device) actually took photographs, because then I truly was like a tourist, especially in the online version where people would crowd around and take snapshots of each other against alien backdrops. It was like some mad dreamscape, possibly a well-travelled imaginative tourist on drugs would hallucinate something like this. I remember pulling faces at Maintainer suits, dancing, booting a beachball around an old alien city (that actually felt like a city!), sitting on a bridge with a number of people and peering down at a lake filled with such bizarre forms of flora and fauna, talking about life “topside” (RL) as if we were actually there. Oh, and I remember putting a great deal of effort into getting a strange creature to show itself on Teledahn just so I could take piccies of it. It was truly memorable, much like a real vacation is.

      It’s something everyone needs to experience, and it’s even better if you take friends with you.

      I still smile just thinking about it.