Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ


Transcript:

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

I’ve talked about my love for today’s game numerous times on this show. Today’s game is one of my formative gaming experiences and I still remember trying to play it as a really young kid and being scared by the dark imagery and sound effects. As I grew older, I appreciated the puzzles more and managed to complete the game on my own and while its not perfect, it remains a highlight of my gaming collection. Today’s game is Myst, developed by Cyan and originally released on Mac in 1993.

Myst is a first-person point-and-click adventure game where the player has accidentally discovered and entered a linking book. Linking books are books that can transport people to other worlds of the author’s creation. This linking book in particular brings the player to the island of Myst. They soon find two books, a red and a blue book, which each contain a person trapped inside. The player is tasked with finding more linking books scattered throughout Myst and gathering the red and blue pages to release one of the trapped individuals.

Game consoles and computers in 1993 were typically forced to use pixel-style graphics or text based game design in order to compensate for the lack of computing horsepower at the time. Cyan got around these limitations by developing the game around pre-rendered backgrounds. Each screen of the game is a static image and the player simply points and clicks around the image to determine where they want to go and what they want to investigate. During the development of Myst, Apple developed a video program called Quicktime which allowed Cyan to place various small videos into Myst as well. These videos would become the basis for the linking books, showing fly-overs of each world as well as the brothers trapped in the books.

Because of the simplistic game style, Myst was able to demonstrate graphical power far beyond what people at the time thought was possible. The island looked like a fully realized 3D area to explore. Myst also focused on the puzzles and thus, the game has no way for players to lose or die. The puzzles serve as the obstacles and players can keep trying until they figure out the solutions. Both of these factors made Myst a huge hit with adults and people who have never played games before. Both Apple and, later, Microsoft would use Myst as an example of the capabilities of CD-ROM technology, which was new at the time and had yet to fully replace floppy disk drives.

It’s difficult to overstate the impact Myst had on gaming. First-person adventure games would become big business with many games attempting to use the same technology to make their own games. Myst would go on to be ported to a massive number of consoles and platforms including Windows, Playstation and the Sega Saturn, all the way up to the 3DS and mobile devices. Myst even held the title of best-selling PC game ever up until it was finally beaten out by The Sims in 2002, nearly 10 years after its release. The Myst series would continue for a number of games, spin-offs and remakes both with and without Cyan’s involvement. It wasn’t until 2018 that Cyan would re-obtain the full rights for Myst and was able to re-release every game in the franchise, including the spin-offs Uru and realMyst, for Windows 10. Cyan held a Kickstarter to gauge interest in porting the Myst franchise, with a goal of $247,000 US dollars. They received $2.8 million with over 19,000 backers. Cyan is still developing new games to this day with Obduction receiving a number of awards in 2016 and a new game, Firmament, planned to come out in 2020.

Thank you so much for listening! For more fun facts about Myst, follow me on Twitter @vg_oftheday. Archives and transcripts for every episode are available on videogameoftheday.com. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.