In the 1990s, a little Washington-based developer called Cyan made children’s games, then started work on an ambitious project: a sparse adventure game called Myst. It took a long time to finish, but it ended up becoming the biggest-selling PC game of all time, spawning sequels, novels and imitators.
In many ways, Myst changed the way people played video games. It was a slow-paced, intellectually challenging game that eschewed the traditional adventure elements of verbal interactions with characters, inventory use and puzzles, and focused on logic instead.
The game’s gameplay resembled that of an animated movie, with the game worlds appearing on hypercard stacks. Players navigated through these stacks, which were arranged into levels and a world-wide map.
What’s more, the original Myst didn’t rely on prerendered graphics like most video games at the time did; it was rendered in real-time using a technique known as dithering. This was done to take advantage of the graphical capabilities of the computer’s then-standard 256-color palette. This allowed for a much wider range of colors, which in turn enabled it to include more detailed images.
One of the most interesting aspects of Myst’s dithering was that it allowed for different colors to be rendered in the same area of the screen at the same time. This helped to give the illusion that different sections of the world were actually different places, rather than the same world with different shades.
Another interesting feature of the dithering was that it prevented a player’s eyes from glazing over as they saw the same areas repeatedly. The dithering also helped the game to avoid “flying bugs” and other visual jarrings, which would often cause players to pause to try to figure out what was going on.
For this reason, Myst is considered a pioneer in the field of graphical fidelity. It has been praised for its visuals, and the original version is widely considered to be the best-looking adventure game of all time.
Nevertheless, it has been criticized for its lack of depth. The main difficulty with Myst’s puzzles is that they require the player to have a good understanding of logical and math concepts, which is difficult for most players.
It is also notable that the original Myst was a major influence on the development of other adventure games, which largely adopted its slow-paced, logic-based gameplay. Although many of these games have since matured and have improved, the meditative, logic-based style of Myst remains popular among fans.
While Myst is not a “perfect” game, it has been acclaimed for its visuals and puzzle design, and is seen by many as a defining piece of the genre. It is a staple in the history of adventure games, and is now the third-most downloaded game on the PC platform.
But while Myst is a cult classic and the most successful video game of all time, it hasn’t exactly been a happy ride for the developers at Cyan Worlds. The company went through a hard time in the 2000s, and hasn’t released a new Myst-style game since 2010.
However, Cyan recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for an unreleased spiritual successor to Myst called Obduction. It’s the perfect fit for this small studio that has been unable to make big games in recent years, and it offers a chance for the company to show off its nimbler side again. the myst