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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 3:41 am 
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Playing a lot of MouseHunt and Legends of Zork just lately has gotten me to thinking about how a Web-based Myst/Uru casual game might look. Understand: I'm not advocating this as a replacement of OSMOUL, but as an adjunct -- a way to tie into/lead into Uru, possibly a way to finance it.

First off, I'm picturing a game that has an original-Myst level of graphics and animation, which should be easy enough to manage. Once you logged in, you would materialize in a small, sealed-off room with a desk and a linking book on a stand (serving as the logout). The desk would have a laptop that, when opened, would let you read the forums, contact the developers, message other players, etc. Also on the desk would be a journal of your explorations, mostly automatically kept by the software but possibly with a provision for notes you could add. At the back of the desk, between two bookends, would be the linking books for the ages you explore; initially there would be just one.

The ages would start out small and their puzzles relatively simple, then get larger and more complex as the game progresses (though some areas in earlier ages would be inaccessible until you found the key in later ages). Some ages would open up straightforwardly, by finding their linking books; for others, you would find a partial book, for which you would have to accumulate the missing pages until it was completed.

One age would be a plaza whose main purpose was chat and socializing (perhaps with an ahyoheek table?) This could also be the bridge point to the main Uru game, with screens giving news from the main game (and possibly a way for main-game players to keep up with events while away from the game -- more on this in a bit).

What I haven't figured out yet: 1) Monetizing. Most of the games I've seen seem to combine ad sales and selling extras that give a boost in the game -- extensions on daily play limits, more powerful cheese, whatever. I've no idea how you'd work this sort of thing into the Myst format. One thing: Buying/subscribing to (however it eventually works out) the main Uru should automatically get you at least some premium content in the Web game. (Possibly this would include a bridge into the Ki system, so you could chat with players currently in the main game?)

2) ... lots of other things that I've suddenly run out of brain to write about. I'll come back to this tomorrow, when I'm awake (and when I find where the mods have moved this, since it's probably not on topic for this section).

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:13 am 
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Wow...Well...Nah..I'll stay with the original thinking....


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 11:15 am 
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A casual Myst doesn't seem like such a good idea to me, but a casual Uru might be more feasible. The plans for DIRT, Uru's predecessor, were (as far as I know) to have players start in the volcano and work their way to D'ni as Anna did, encountering mini-Ages along the way. A similar system might allow casual players to come into a hub of sorts and explore/figure out very small Ages (Delin and Tsogal-sized, perhaps).

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 12:52 pm 
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A casual Uru is more what I was thinking of, but what to call it would be another issue that would need sorting out, especially if main Uru is running alongside it.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:33 pm 
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Your suggestion, Myst casual games, is actually a pretty good idea as far as I'm concerned.

Maybe not in the form you're suggesting, but in some form.

I've always held the suspicion that one of the reasons sales of Riven were lower than sales of Myst, and sales of Myst games after Riven were lower than sales of Riven, was that Myst tapped a huge market of people who, when they played the game, couldn't solve the puzzles and gave up in frustration.

Riven was harder than Myst was, and managed to alienate people who hadn't given up on the first game.

Myst games are nicely tuned to the desires and capabilities of adventure gamers and serious puzzle solvers, but adventure gamers are a niche market. “Myst” caught the attention of lots of people who had never played an adventure game before and who weren't a part of that group.

It was a Myst opportunity; had Myst games been easier they maybe could've maintained their mainstream market hold instead of dwindling into a small cult phenomenon.

I've seen far too many people who hate Myst on the basis of its gameplay. They feel the puzzles are too hard, too confusing, and that they slow the progression of the game down to the point of tedium and frustration.

These people liked the idea of exploring worlds, they liked the visual and sound design – but they got stuck somewhere in the game and never finished it. They even like the idea of puzzles – note how massively popular “Bejeweled” is, for instance – but they want to be able to solve them and get past them without them taking too long.

Note the fact that Telltale Games is doing well. They're probably the clearest success in the adventure game genre right now. What is their design strategy?

Their games are:
-Short and small (3-4 hrs. gameplay)
-Cheap ($8 per game, roughly)
-Fairly easy, especially with the hint guide options embedded in the games.
-Strongly story-driven
-Family-friendly

And of course, they have a sense of humor, which is nice.

I can definitely imagine Cyan taking this route. It makes sense for them at this time. Given their small staff, they can't make large games anyway; so making a small one seems reasonable.

If Cyan's Myst port on the iPhone is a big success, they could seriously consider all of the following, which should cost about $1,000,000 or less each:
-Giving us Open Source Uru, of course. Which we really want!
-Porting Riven to the iPhone.
-Rerendering Riven and releasing a new edition in higher resolution with panoramas, on DVD, for current PC and Mac systems.
-Making a new Myst game for iPhone aimed at the casual market according to a cross between the “Telltale formula” and Cyan's original “Myst”:
2 or 3 small prerendered worlds about the size of original “Myst” ages, with about the same modelling/texturing effort as in Myst, albeit with better, more efficient modern 3d production tools, less need for obsessive polygon efficiency, and nicer rendering effects. They'd each have 2 or 3 easy puzzles. There'd also be story development and good sound design. The whole thing might be 50% the size of “Myst”, it'd be a garage-type production the way the first “Myst” was. And it could be done maybe in 6 months with 4 or 5 people for $450,000 or something like that. It'd be good quality but small and short; it'd contain 3 hours of gameplay, give or take. And it'd be sold for $4.99 or so on the App Store. And it should be advertised a bit; try to make iPhone users aware of it! That might mean Cyan giving press releases to every relevant game news source, setting aside a $5,000 ad campaign budget and saturating every major iPhone-related website with ads for the game, or something along those lines.
And then, hopefully, the fact that it's a new game, not a port of an old one, and that it looks good and is cheap and accessible to a wide market, will result in millions of sales. By the end of 2009, there may be over 60 million iPhone users, so if 10% of them buy a $5 game, that's $30 million in sales. Enough to propel Cyan to the ranks of top-tier developers again, perhaps. (And maybe entice them to release a few more games like the first one, as well as a bunch of creative experimental new ideas)

This is an idea I'm pursuing myself, with Isola Gardens. Only mine is not Cyan-grade quality, of course, and is only going to be a 99-cent easy tiny mini-adventure game slightly larger than Myst Island in explorable area. And it's not even in full production yet, until after the final work on some other stuff I'm doing. But I'm toying with the idea at least.

But anyway, I'm going to try making a little iPhone adventure game myself. Because I think the idea of iPhone adventure gaming has potential.

And of course I'm trying to promote Cyan's iPhone Myst with banner ads I placed on a couple of iPhone games sites, little banners that link directly to their official page for the game. 40-odd clicks last I checked.
It's cost me, like, $4 or something to grab the ad space. And obviously I'll also buy their iPhone version of Myst when it shows up on the App store. Two copies, even. Cyan needs that app to do well so they can get in better financial condition.

Hmm. Hope a lot of people actually buy Cyan's iPhone Myst. And hope I don't get screamed at for doing this and realize I made a terrible mistake. But if I do I won't really be surprised because everything I do is wrong and I'm stupid. I'm a horrible freak. Please hate me.

Why am I posting messages here again? I need to leave.

Anyway, just some more inane thoughts from the guy who is nuts.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:34 am 
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Matt and Fax, I think your ideas are some of the most sane ones I've seen around here lately. I would certainly play this type of game. Go for it and good luck! :)

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:56 pm 
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Fax Paladin wrote:
A casual Uru is more what I was thinking of, but what to call it would be another issue that would need sorting out, especially if main Uru is running alongside it.

I think that Uru is quite flexible. For example, to use Cyan's (potential) idea, players would start in the Cleft as usual, but casual players would walk to the volcano and go along the path to D'ni with the small casual Ages along the way. Or a "Quick Play" feature could be added which gets a person (and/or other invited people) to a more casual area.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:29 pm 
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I kind of like the ideas. I'm what you would call a casual game player and ( :shock: ) really enjoy playing them. To the extent that I have an account at Big Fish games. :lol:

Anyhoo - I like both of the ideas presented. I'll be sending thoughts to Chogon or any other Cyantist to read this post. The ideas definitly have potential. Thank you for posting them.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 1:51 pm 
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matthornb wrote:
Note the fact that Telltale Games is doing well. They're probably the clearest success in the adventure game genre right now. What is their design strategy?

Their games are:
-Short and small (3-4 hrs. gameplay)
-Cheap ($8 per game, roughly)
-Fairly easy, especially with the hint guide options embedded in the games.
-Strongly story-driven
-Family-friendly


I can't see myself letting kids play Sam & Max. :P


Anywho, a browser based Myst like game might work, but the biggest problem, as I see it, would be how you put enough content and stuff to do in to it to keep people coming back each day? Do you do like Legends of Zork is and limit the amount of stuff you can do to a certain amount each day? Do you make it so that people advance levels in an endless grind by murdering bad Bahro?

Such a game would have a very low level of interactivity, so there'd need to be something in it to keep people coming back, especially since, without a 3D world, it'd be greatly lacking in nooks and crannies to explore. One of the great things about Uru is that you can come back to an age every so often and maybe find something new. In Myst and Riven, once I've clicked through all of the slides, I've seen it all.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:20 pm 
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Frankly, the reason I liked the Myst series was that they weren't easy. I would be kind of sad to see it go the way of point-and-click adventures, like the Sam & Max series. It's funny, sure, but it's not puzzling. There are very few good puzzlers around, and I don't think Myst should be dumbed down just to attract people to what will have to be a community driven enterprise ANYWAY, whether or not it's a big hit. You know what I mean?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:56 am 
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M Kaze wrote:
Frankly, the reason I liked the Myst series was that they weren't easy.


I couldn't agree more. They were challenging but not stupid-hard (the kind of game where you have to get something almost by accident or mouse over exactly the right pixel or something). The solutions always made sense and fit in with the game environment - though some were more elegant than others and nothing beats Riven for world/puzzle integration. They do take a lot of patience, determination and thought. I can see why that would put some players off.

Over the years I've been trying to figure out why some of the smartest people I know never "got into" the Myst games and abandoned them without finishing. In most cases it was because they liked other kinds of games and were in the habit of playing those kinds of games and just couldn't be interested. In other cases, though, it seemed to be a matter of not understanding the expectations of Myst and its successors.

The idea of clicking on things and trying things out, for instance. More than one person with whom I had this discussion had no idea that they were expected to "explore" in more ways than wandering around. Or the idea that there was no set sequence of actions, no one thing the player was supposed to do next. They expected a linear process and were baffled by the absence of one.

So there seems to be something about the "way" Myst games are played that is obscure to many people. Perhaps they could be led into this world of ours by taking small steps. Good ideas here!

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:47 am 
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Just giving my two cents ... much of the draw of Myst to me is the mystery and the artwork. Some of the puzzles are tremendously difficult and frustrating and I end up scratching my head and saying "How the heck would anyone ever figure that out?". Most times, when I got the solution (either by chance or by walk thru) I'd be able to back track and see how it made sense, but the pod ages thing just floored me. We were supposed to know the opening of the portals by the map on the table and some mathematical formula ... well, there we have it ... me and math don't mix.

Another thing is, especially with the on-line game, certain of the precision or timing based games have to function better than they did. I have been replaying URU and it blew me away how easily I was able to get into the Teledahn basket for the ride into the control room, I clicked the right button and "avie" was on her way climbing in before I even realized it. When playing on-line, I literally spent hours and hours trying to climb into that thing and never quite making it and having to go back and grab that switch and run back to the basket. I thought I was the one who was off, but now I know it was the way the game played on-line. I had the horrible experience of hours of trying to get through that hole in the gear room .... again, it was a problem that needed a patch. If I was "casually playing", I would have given up and said ... "I hate those Myst games." But alas, I am hooked :-)

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