19 votes

“Myst” at 25: How it changed gaming, created addicts, and made enemies

9 comments

  1. time
    Link
    I've always loved the Myst games, and played them all several times over the 23 years since I became aware of them. For me, this was pretty true. My first exposure to Myst, I was at a friend's...

    I've always loved the Myst games, and played them all several times over the 23 years since I became aware of them.

    Despite its largely static nature, its groundbreaking pre-rendered visuals (which many people called photorealistic at the time) made Myst feel like the first convincing virtual reality experience, at least in the sense of feeling physically present in a fictional world.

    For me, this was pretty true. My first exposure to Myst, I was at a friend's house, and he led me to his dad's office where the computer was, turned out all the lights, turned the volume up, and it was like we really did get sucked into the linking book and transported to another world. It wasn't just the visuals, but the sound design for the game was amazing in it's time as well. Ever since that day, I was hooked.

    Even now, I still look back fondly remembering how the game was able to do such a good job of making me feel like I had left the real world behind and gone somewhere completely new. It was an experience unlike any my young self has ever had, and that level of immersion has rarely been duplicated.

    10 votes
  2. [7]
    dubteedub
    Link
    I remember my mom played through Myst in our old mac computer when I was younger. I remember trying to play it at one point around then and could not grasp what I was supposed to be doing. It is...

    I remember my mom played through Myst in our old mac computer when I was younger. I remember trying to play it at one point around then and could not grasp what I was supposed to be doing. It is one of those games that I regret not playing and want to sit down soon with a pad of paper and pencil. Maybe it's on gog or something.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      balooga
      Link Parent
      It's a game for attention spans from another era. I fondly remember playing it as a kid but every time I sit down to recreate the experience I get frustrated by its pace and cognitive demand. Not...

      It's a game for attention spans from another era. I fondly remember playing it as a kid but every time I sit down to recreate the experience I get frustrated by its pace and cognitive demand. Not that it's particularly hard — I still remember the conceits of most of the puzzles today — but you do need some kind of notebook or way to keep track of things outside of the game. Whereas modern games tend to include maps and logs that keep themselves updated in an easy-to-use menu system, Myst doesn't hold your hand and expects you to keep track of what you need to know. There are no neon arrows pointing the way to what's important. If you missed something you need later, your only option is suck it up and backtrack across the island to find it.

      Or google the solution. For all intents and purposes the web didn't exist when Myst came out. Apart from expensive printed strategy guides, the only solutions for most people were perseverance or asking someone you knew who had played before you. I can't understate the degree to which the internet has changed the way these sorts of immersive puzzle games are experienced. I'm so accustomed to answers being a click away at best, or just given to me in-game at worst, that it's hard to muster the patience to appreciate Myst in the deliberate, immersive, frustrating way it was intended.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        kfwyre
        Link Parent
        I agree with you. I always wanted to play Myst back when it was big, but I never did get a copy. Rather than forgetting about the game and losing it to time like so many others of that era,...

        I agree with you. I always wanted to play Myst back when it was big, but I never did get a copy. Rather than forgetting about the game and losing it to time like so many others of that era, however, it ignited a low-burn curiosity about the experience that stayed with me for years.

        I finally indulged my curiosity and tried to play through the game recently. Surprisingly, I found that I didn't really enjoy it--despite being a fan of other adventure/puzzle games. I wanted to like Myst, but I never got past a feeling of tedium. Because it no longer has immersive graphics and a novel landmark experience, much of the game's magic was gone. Modern sensibilities have moved past Myst. I don't mind taking notes in games (I usually enjoy it, actually!), but something about the design of the puzzles and player actions just didn't click with me. I ended up not having the patience to finish it, particularly in light of the repeated trial-and-error puzzle solving it demands.

        That said, my failure to actually enjoy Myst after decades of putting it off left me with an unscratched mystery-puzzle-island-game itch. I looked for more modern interpretations of the genre and landed on a game called Quern, which I absolutely loved. It's not exactly the same as the Myst formula, but it's close enough to be called a sibling.

        6 votes
        1. fifthecho
          Link Parent
          There's actually very little trial-and-error puzzles in Myst...though the hinting system isn't always immediately apparent.

          There's actually very little trial-and-error puzzles in Myst...though the hinting system isn't always immediately apparent.

          2 votes
    2. [3]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      It is!

      Maybe it's on gog or something.

      It is!

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        rkcr
        Link Parent
        As someone who recently went through the rigmarole of trying to get Myst running again, let me warn you - the version you linked is not so great for newer versions of Windows. What you probably...

        As someone who recently went through the rigmarole of trying to get Myst running again, let me warn you - the version you linked is not so great for newer versions of Windows.

        What you probably want to get is realMyst. It actually runs on modern PCs fairly well.

        It doesn't use the pre-rendered scenes, so if that's a must, then you may want to struggle with the other edition.

        2 votes
        1. unknown user
          Link Parent
          No need! All available versions of Myst, on GOG and on Steam, have been recently updated to work on Windows 10.

          No need! All available versions of Myst, on GOG and on Steam, have been recently updated to work on Windows 10.

          3 votes
  3. nonesuchluck
    Link
    I've always hated Myst. Not because it's bad or anything, just because in its world-conquering popularity, the entire industry rushed to copy Myst and completely killed graphic adventure games....

    I've always hated Myst. Not because it's bad or anything, just because in its world-conquering popularity, the entire industry rushed to copy Myst and completely killed graphic adventure games. Sure, there were a couple more Monkey Islands, a couple more King's Quests, but my childhood favorite genre was quickly killed by a mob of terrible Myst clones.

    2 votes