What’s the hardest puzzle in Myst? What’s the secret to making a satisfying puzzle? Is Myst sequel Riven coming to VR? Almost 30 years after first envisioning Myst island, what’s it like seeing that world at night and visiting it with others?
I put those questions to Cyan co-founder Rand Miller along with development director Hannah Gamiel and creative director Eric A. Anderson as they joined me for a round of mini golf playing Mighty Coconut’s Walkabout Mini Golf version of Myst island. I recently played through a near-final version of the day mode of the Myst course with Mighty Coconut founder Lucas Martell, but the night mode offers a far bigger challenge.
In the edited recording embedded below Miller joined the round from the original Quest headset while I recorded from Quest Pro and we played until his battery nearly died. To put the focus on the developers, I only included my microphone for a few moments later in our playthrough. Though the hard mode course crushed us, we covered a number of subjects ranging from the market size of AR vs. VR, Tilt Five’s tabletop AR system, Apple VR, Riven VR, user-generated content, what makes a good puzzle, how well the Quest & Steam versions of Myst VR sold, and how VR relates to the evolution of technology over the last 30 years.
Is Riven Coming To VR?
Riven, Myst’s sequel, originally released in 1997 spread across five compact discs. Cyan just announced a remake is in active development and “will be fully traversable in 3D space” while few other details have been confirmed.
“What we have said so far is there clearly is a pattern with the way that we’re releasing our games and remakes and that folks won’t be disappointed,” Gamiel said of Riven.
“If you were satisfied with the Myst remake, you’ll likely be satisfied with what we’re doing with Riven,” said Anderson.
“Let’s just say we’re getting pretty good at VR,” Miller added later.
Other portions of our discussion revealed how for the VR version of Myst, Cyan maxed out the Quest’s guardian system while clearing out a basement area, Miller said, and “it was almost big enough that you could walk from end to end without hitting the wall. So it was, it was like a real space adventure….you could walk around and just go from wall to wall in the library in real space… It was so interesting to do that.”
Miller, Gamiel and Anderson also covered the challenges of puzzle design and world-building as we played through our 18 holes, ending with a view of Myst island at night.
“We design puzzles, that in the end, even if they’re hard, once they’re solved, the player says ‘Oh, that was my fault. I should have seen that. I should have gotten that. I should have understood that.’ We’ve done our job. If at the end of it…they go, ‘well, how was I supposed to see that?’ Then we haven’t done our jobs,” Miller said. “So much of this computer game stuff is the same as any other kind of entertainment where it’s about this right balance of frustration and relief.”