"Myst" co-creator, Rand Miller, tells "War Stories" about pushing the hardware envelope while developing this classic 90s computer game

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/02/02/myst-co-creator-rand-mill.html

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My Son & I ran / played this “Myst” on Windows 95, we had a blast! I witness a 3 year old kick ass on his first video game, fond memories.

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Somehow, I “Myst” this one… :thinking:

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When I first picked up my first computer, a Quadra 660av, this was the first game I purchased. I can’t tell you how many late nights I spent playing this and feeling so immersed in something.

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I can still hear the sound effects, if I just sit and think about the game.

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Myst absolutely blew my mind with the quality of graphics and immersion of the game play. Good times!

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What is up with that 8-bit chart? Am I missing something or is it totally wrong?

i’ve still got the Mac CD-ROM. too bad it won’t work on a modern Mac :\

Prior to Myst, the Millers did a thing called Manhole, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s stuff, also in Hypercard - and that (along with lesser titles like Inigo The Cat) prompted us to make our own interactive storybook in Hypercard called Ali Baa Baa & The Forty Winks. Got 4 1/2 mice out of 5 in a MacWorld review. W00t! 1989. Fuck, I’m old.

Every once in a while I stumble across it again in my files and fire it up in a Mac SE emulator. It was fun.

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It’s getting hard to remember what it’s like to program for a computer without enough speed or storage.

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Wow. This was super interesting. Myst has always been one of my favourite. The game seemed so smooth and well constructed…and just large (for its time). I’d assumed that it was developed by a large group with lots of resources behind it. I never thought it was just a couple of guys who had no idea what they were doing.

The genius, though, is obvious in this video.

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It’s funny how, even though there were successors to Hypercard that had similar functionality, none of them ever really took off, or so it seems. It was just so ubiquitous back in the day.

Sure, a lot of the functionality can be duplicated in web pages, but the HyperTalk language offered a surprising degree of unusually accessible flexibility. (As I took my high school’s “computer science” course the year after the Apple ][ lab was retired, the course wound up using Hypercard rather than BASIC. Not a lot of useful information carried on from that course, alas.)

ETA: Never knew the game was funded by Sunsoft. Apparently they were only interested in publishing the console versions? A raw deal indeed.
http://www.defunctgames.com/28years/16/1993-despite-sucking-myst-is-a-hit

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There is a really neat “Brief History of… Myst” by Ludodrome, more about Cyan studio. And it’s a really interesting studio, far from the AAA video game industry.

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Myst was revolutionary. Not just because of the way it was done, but because it was one of the first games to draw in people who otherwise had no interest in playing video games. My first wife at the time disliked video games and had no interest in playing them until she saw me playing Myst. After that, it was a bit of a friendly competition to see who could finish it first. We kept trading advice on puzzles across the living room. I remember she got seriously hung up on the subway maze, which I brute forced using the tried and true “always turn right” technique.

Glad to hear the company is still around and still producing titles. And I absolutely agree, we’ve gone back around the circle to where it’s relatively easy for a tiny group of people to produce a really cool, unique game and sell it on Steam.

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I only worked in retail once in my life and it was as a ploy to get customers for my it consulting business by working at an Apple store (Apple computer selling store not owned by Apple way before Apple Stores). All the other sales people would tout this or that spec or this or that business software. I would ask the prospective buyer if they had kids. If the answer was yes I would sit them down in front of one of the new macs with CD ROMs and have them play Grandma And Me by Mercer Mayor. If the answer was no I would sit then in front of Myst. There were 6 of us on various shifts and I sold more computers than all the others combined and I’m 100% sure it was due to the absolute wonder people would experience with those CDs. Another huge hit in sales was when I convinced the owner to let me set up a Mac // ci with three monitor cards and three large screens to play FA/18 Hornet during work. We sold a ton of video boards and screens because of that game and I got to play video games at work!

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For the nostalgia, and I must admit the goose bumps arose on the back of my neck watching it, harkening back to the time when I had never seen a computer game anything like this at that point (1993).

(and then the sound of the CD drive spinning up and loading a ton of stuff for about 45 seconds)

I recently bought realMYST on Steam, because I had a pang of 90’s PC gaming nostalgia. It was great to go back and try the puzzles again, with better graphics and no long load times. Riven is still my favorite game in the series, and Brad Dourif’s performance in Exile is neat, but Myst is special for being the first. I remember getting one of the bad endings, and being surprised, though they made it pretty obvious that I was about to do something I shouldn’t. It’s cool to see part of the process of getting the game made.

Same here. I picked up a 660av right as they came out with the idea that I’d do all this freelance production work. Nope, just played a lot of Myst.

If you’ve still got your CD, there’s a “making of” QuickTime video in glorious 240p just hanging out on the disc that’s mostly just Rand and Robyn talking about their process. There are a handful of clips from it in the Ars video. It comes across as fairly professional, but also very clearly as a handful of guys in their garages (and bathrooms) cobbling it together from whatever they could come up with.

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Ah Riven. I’m so glad you can get that on GOG now. It was an amazing game, but the memory still burned into my brain is the desperate hope I could solve something without having to move to a different island and change the disk again.

Still the five disk set with the artwork from Ghen’s temple room is really cool. I actually used the disk envelopes as wall art at one point. So there was an upside, I guess.

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