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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:36 am 
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mszv wrote:
WoW is a huge install and millions of people play it. I think a huge install isn't necessarily an obstacle. You load WoW and then there is hours and hours of patching. But, once you are in, WoW leads you along nicely. I'm not disagreeing with you, Natales, in that people might pefer less in the way of downloads, but many people play MMORPGs all the time and put up with long downloads. While not optimal, it's not a showstopper. I think what happens when you get in the game is the showstopper.

On Uru designed to be "hard", from what I've read, Cyan designed a game that was supposed to be popular, not a game that only a small number of people want to play. There's hard, and there's hard. Fighting the interface doesn't seem like a good idea.. That abysmally designed KI (in my opinion) -- bad choice and you got it too late in the game for me. How is that helping the story? Then there's the multiplayer part. I think dropping people alone in the cleft to wander around was a bad way to start, even if it was supposedly good for the story. Making the cleft multiplayer, and perhaps instancing the puzzles in some way -- I think that would have worked.

Perhaps Aloys is suggesting something. Perhaps Cyan wasn't clear in their own minds, if they wanted to make a solo player or a multiplayer game. We know that they wanted to make a popular game, not a game for a tiny number of fans. I think Cyan didn't quite get why most people played Myst. I don't think most people played it for the puzzles, or even the story, though the Myst story was intimate, personal, a family drama, something I can't say about Uru. The worlds were beautiful and there wasn't a whole lot of that around, when Myst came out. But that really is the past.

I think Uru became a mostly social world because there was so little to do. It's a credit to how beautiful the worlds were, and how much people liked being in them with other people that they found something to do in Uru. So, perhaps it bacame a different game from what it was supposed to be when it started out. And it's the game we'll get if Uru ever comes back, legally, the open source thing.

Getting back to the topic -- from everything I've read about gameplay, you start a player off clearly, easily. You make it easy for the new player to learn a little something, accomplish something, get rewarded, and keep going. If it's a multiplayer game, you let them interact with people early on, if they want to. Putting someone in a 10 year old game setting, a Myst setting, and expecting that to work, that doesn't seem good to me. If you want people to find stuff in the cleft, I think you should have put the first thing right in front of them when they landed, had them click on it, and somehow told them to find more -- also tell them that they won't see people until they get past the cleft, make it part of the story. That Yeesha voiceover should have been right after they clicked on a hand. That's one way to do it. I'm sure there would have been other ways. A multiplayer cleft with a KI, that would have been nice.

This is fun talk, but, if and when Uru comes back, I don't think we are going to ge a radically different Uru - the Uru we currently have to start. I think that's OK. It will be Uru and we will be in it.


Quoted for truth.

Basically, I agree totally. Game design, and Uru IS a game, or was intended to be one, at least.. is about getting the player in easy, rewarding early, and then making them come for more. You tell the player what to do, and how to do it, and reward them for it. The trick being, to make them know how to do it subconciously.

You'll all hate me for mentioning this, but, Valve's Portal does this perfectly, and comes with handy-dandy developer commentary that somewhat explains how and why they did it the way they did.

Uru seems to be designed if the same "formula" Cyan has used since 1993 worked in 2003/2004, and then, after uru flopping the first time, as if it still somehow worked in 2007.

It seems as if Cyan chose to ignore a good 10 years of game design evolution between Myst and Uru. And to be honest, the game has suffered for it.

If at all possible, the beginning of Uru, among other things desperately *needs* to be fixed. One of those "other things" is the KI. You and I know how it works, but if we're ever going to have new blood in the Uru community, its going to need to be understandable to complete newbies. As mszv says, I'm pretty sure Cyan wanted Uru to be popular, if they wanted it to be a small niche market product, I'd have to say they're out of their minds, and I really don't think they are. And, on that note, we do indeed *need* new blood.

Let me add a personal experience to this talk of game design.

It was... 2006, I'd just gotten my invite to D'mala, and I was using a borrowed copy of Uru, from a mate from a tech college I was going to.. I logged into Uru, for the first time, linked into the cleft.

I'd played realMYST, Riven, Exile, and Revelation up to this point.

I linked in... and I had no idea what the bleeding hellfire I had to do. None. No idea. I looked around... and.. then, confused, and annoyed -- I quit. I had no intention of ever returning, until a friend who had been urging me to play the Myst games convinced me it was worth playing, and told me how to solve the puzzle, well, more like hinted me in the right direction, *multiple* times, until I got it. Once I got into the game, and met people, I was hooked. But, had someone not actually tried to /convince/ me that it was worth my time to struggle through the cleft, which was absolutely horrible for a 1st timer... I would not be here, today. While I'm sure some of you would be perhaps happy about that, I'm sure that my fiance would not be, since I met her in MOUL.

And yes, I had to be convinced, not just "oh, here's a hint or two" said friend actually had to make me believe it was worth my time. And, I *LOVED* the myst games up until that point.

Personally, I'd love to see a feature not unlike the hint options in Revelation, etc, for Uru. It'd be the least we could do, but, it might be a good stop-gap or indeed full fix while other ideas are planned.

No one can realistically expect the Guild of Greeters to be available 24/7 for every explorer on every shard, this is coming from a guy who's fiance is a Greeter, and knows a little of what it was like, only partially, mind you, but, I know a little.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:06 pm 
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Sometimes it feels like people have forgotten that one of the core philosophies of the Myst/Uru games is exploration.

Now you say you logged into Uru and are presented with a situation where you don't have a clue where to start, the same premise is presented in all the Myst games.

Myst - The worst culprit here, you start on an island with no clue why or how or what you need to do, no sense of the story at hand until you start exploring.

Riven - Not as bad, you get told why you're sent to Riven but after the initial cage episode you don't know where to go or what to do.

Myst 3 - Lesser still, you know you have to get the Book back, you follow Saavedro to the tower and so you know you have to get in there, the hows of it come later from exploring but are not readily apparent.

Myst 4 - Follows in the same suit of Myst 3, perhaps there is a pattern here given they are not Cyan games as such, who knows. However whilst the game technically starts with you visiting Atrus it doesn't really start until Yeesha goes missing, the premise is to get her back, but then you're left trying to find out how and where, which again exploration reveals.

Myst 5 - Is actually an exception to the others, Yeesha pretty much tells you (in her round about way), what you need to do, and you are helped on the way by Esher. This is probably the one game you're actually walked through unlike the others, but when you run up against a wall exploration gets the answers so the exploration premise is still there, albeit lost somewhat.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:41 pm 
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Tweek, aye, the difference being, only two of the 5 was really succeeded, and they did that in the 90s. The things gamers expect now is vastly different. Note that Riven is usually considered the best of the 5, and it did at least give you a clear goal from the offset, it didn't tell you how to get there, but, you did have a very clear goal.

My point, however, is I logged into Uru, didn't have a clear idea how to start, but kept on, until I'd exhausted the methods that did just fine in the Myst games. Such as look for journals (there are none), look for environmental clues (what clues? the only one that is of any note, is the one on the wall for the imager, that doesn't really explain much at all, if you're already at the "wtf?" floundering stage.

The core philosophies are indeed exploration, but also logical puzzles, as well.

If you can tell me with a straight face that all the puzzles in Uru were even the slight bit logical..
For one, the Eder Gira/Kemo puzzle wasn't logical... I can't really say /any/ of the Kadish puzzles were at all "logical", Teledahn was logical, so was Gahreesen, but the Cleft, the cleft was nonsensical, "find the journeys, then... enter the tree"

Let me just ask how one is supposed to identify the journeys? I suppose the yeesha speech *might* explain that. But, yes, the cleft throws the explorer in the deep end, with little to no "clues", which you can't say about Myst, or even Riven.

Myst, likely one of the first things you're going to come across is Atrus' note to catherine, and that leads you to marker switches, and their role, which leads you everywhere else. If you don't come across the note, you'll come across the marker switches first, in which case, that'll still lead you steadily down the path to learning the Things You Need To Know.

Uru doesn't have that. And that's possibly why Myst was a huge success, and Uru flopped not once, but twice.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:06 pm 
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Nalates wrote:
aloys wrote:
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if WoW can be run in a web browser… it may not be all that overwhelming.
Well; no. When you have litterally dozens of millions at hand and you can afford to hire the most proficient developpers in the world then there are not too many things that are overwhelming.. :) I'm afraid Cyan isn't Blizzard though.

Actually several games have been made available in browsers by third parties with limited funds. Reference: Elitist mean person/people and Opera team up for WoW browser And some with not so limited funds. Reference: InstantAction Puts 3D Gaming Into Web Browsers... for ANY game...


Actually, zero current games have been made available in browsers. First of all, did you even read your references? The WoW browser doesn't allow you to play WoW in your browser; it is just a themed and heavily modified version of Opera that gives a WoW player easy access to various online WoW resources. As for InstantAction, they make a lot of claims in the articles referenced, but so far all they have is a set of games that they have developed, or some older games that have been ported to their plugin system, none of which are much different than other 3D Flash games available elsewhere. No graphics-intensive current games, no WoW, no Gears of War.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:03 pm 
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kaelisebonrai wrote:
Tweek, aye, the difference being, only two of the 5 was really succeeded, and they did that in the 90s. The things gamers expect now is vastly different. Note that Riven is usually considered the best of the 5, and it did at least give you a clear goal from the offset, it didn't tell you how to get there, but, you did have a very clear goal.

My point, however, is I logged into Uru, didn't have a clear idea how to start, but kept on, until I'd exhausted the methods that did just fine in the Myst games. Such as look for journals (there are none), look for environmental clues (what clues? the only one that is of any note, is the one on the wall for the imager, that doesn't really explain much at all, if you're already at the "wtf?" floundering stage.

The core philosophies are indeed exploration, but also logical puzzles, as well.

If you can tell me with a straight face that all the puzzles in Uru were even the slight bit logical..
For one, the Eder Gira/Kemo puzzle wasn't logical... I can't really say /any/ of the Kadish puzzles were at all "logical", Teledahn was logical, so was Gahreesen, but the Cleft, the cleft was nonsensical, "find the journeys, then... enter the tree"

Let me just ask how one is supposed to identify the journeys? I suppose the yeesha speech *might* explain that. But, yes, the cleft throws the explorer in the deep end, with little to no "clues", which you can't say about Myst, or even Riven.

Myst, likely one of the first things you're going to come across is Atrus' note to catherine, and that leads you to marker switches, and their role, which leads you everywhere else. If you don't come across the note, you'll come across the marker switches first, in which case, that'll still lead you steadily down the path to learning the Things You Need To Know.

Uru doesn't have that. And that's possibly why Myst was a huge success, and Uru flopped not once, but twice.


I agree with Kemo and Gira, a simple flashlight (which any decent explorer in D'ni would have) would have solved that instantly.

I disagree however, Uru does have clues in the form of Zandi. You appear at The Cleft, in the distance you see the Airstream (which in a sense could be the Atrus letter on the floor in Myst) you head over and find Zandi who gives you some clues and from there you progress.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:47 pm 
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The basic Myst paradigm is "Atrus, what do you see?" I enjoyed that aspect of Myst when I played it, although I didn't yet have those specific words. By the time I got to Uru it was quite natural to go where I could, and look around. That I missed clues was partly my fault.

Whose fault was the other part? The designers of Myst 3 and 4, neither of which worked as the earlier games had. Perhaps it's a fault in the way I look at things, but the multiple clue paths in Myst and Riven inspired my exploration. When I got stopped on one path I could bumble around and find another path. In 3 and 4... there was only one path. The same is true of Uru: if you're working through Kadish and get stopped, you simply can't go any farther. There is no other source of clues, like Riven's journals and multithreaded puzzles.

So... I had to use hints and walkthroughs. Nothing destroys a game like having to look up hints, and once that path is started it's very, very hard to ignore hints. I call it "puzzle fatigue" and this still affects me.

What I really want is another game that works as Riven did: a world I can bumble through, picking up and recording clues that will eventually build enough of a model of the way things work that I can figure it out for myself. Until that happens, games will be only a distraction from other things for me. When I need distraction, I'll play.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:17 pm 
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Geeeez, there's a lot going on here...and it's interesting too. Thank you all

I've got two cents so here it is;
A lot of folks who came to MOUL, came from earlier Myst games and, whether they were consistent with each other or with Cyan's original intent or not, there is a familiarity with the basics. How to, where to, what to, so MOUL wasn't so strange or different, that everyone threw it back. The hard core Myst fans, some cussing as they went, kept going. New initiates either left in frustration or slogged through until it payed off or they finally met someone who had a clue and got help. One other option was to like MOUL enough to search the web and find places to get clues and maybe even get lucky and find a MOUL/GoG/UO/whatever forum.
And now we have this forum and OpenUru to collect all the changes that are needed to make the open source game better for brand new, don't know, never heard of Myst before gamers. The rest of us will jump in and keep playing.

The thing that needs to be kept at the front of our new open source game is that there will be no official advertising, no glitzy trailers, or anything else that will draw 'new' explorers. Everything has to be created, coordinated, screened, reviewed, published by the existing community and offered up through firendships, word of mouth, websites and blogs, facebook and youtube pages et al.
Any time a 'new explorer' shows up to start this new game, there could be a lead in vid, with 'snippets' of how the game looks, what it is about and how progress is made through exploration and puzzle solving. If the vid piques no interest then the 'cancel the download' button could be pressed. The 'Game Help' vid should invoke the K.I.S.S principle i.e.no spoilers.

I've seen enough 'MOUL' vids in youtube to know one could be artistically crafted as the 'front end' to our new opensource game and further changed to include snips of UCC when it becomes part of the whole experience. (this goes for any other 'shard' that wasn't running the 'original' + UCC)

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:36 pm 
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Nalates wrote:
On OU it has been suggested that perhaps a multiplayer area on the surface like a small town just outside the fenced in desert area would be a good place for these things. It would give Greeters a place to hang.


This. Starting in the Cleft gave us immediate grounding and re-enforced the "do what you would do naturally" ethic upon visitors. New people being dropped onto Relto had little connection, and even less of a clue what to do. If it means making the cleft a non-puzzle age (how often do we have to fix that windmill?) in order to eventually get people to the Relto, so be it; but having the start be grounded is vital for any future version.

If I had to guess, I'd wager the cold Relto start was one of the biggest mistakes of the GT era =(


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:23 pm 
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I did not like starting in the cleft. For a multiplayer game, I thought it made no sense. If the cleft had been multiplayer, then I think that would have been a great starting place, though it still would have needed a good tutorial, and a functioning KI. I'm sure they could have found a way to instance the puzzles.

As for assuming that the people who played Uru were going to be primarily Myst fans and fans of the other games -- frorm what I've read, most people who bought Myst did not finish it. Yes, you can't know for sure, of course, but in my personal observation, that seemed to be the case. Riven -- I suspect even less people finished Riven, but of course I have no way of knowing, for sure. Since Uru was supposed to be a big bestseller, I don't think it should have been designed to appeal to the relatively small number of devoted fans.

On the other games, I'm quite fond of Myst III and Myst IV, both of which have excellent stories, because they are personal stories. I always have to use a walkthrough for the puzzles, so the linearity was fine with me. I'm also one of the few Myst series game fans who dislikes Riven -- proves that there are all kinds of fans! Then again, I don't have much patience with puzzles. After awhile, I just want to get going, and I don't like writing stuff down.

Ah well -- if we get Uru back (the open source thing) then we can enjoy it again.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:28 pm 
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Herohtar wrote:
Actually, zero current games have been made available in browsers. First of all, did you even read your references? The WoW browser doesn't allow you to play WoW in your browser; it is just a themed and heavily modified version of Opera that gives a WoW player easy access to various online WoW resources. As for InstantAction, they make a lot of claims in the articles referenced, but so far all they have is a set of games that they have developed, or some older games that have been ported to their plugin system, none of which are much different than other 3D Flash games available elsewhere. No graphics-intensive current games, no WoW, no Gears of War.

Your right, I blew the links. OnLive is the big kid in this field and the one I should have pointed to. Their web site makes my point. :P I grabbed the wrong shortcut. Here the WoW folks are discussing it: OnLive and Blizzard. MSNBC is writing about it: Can OnLive really revolutionize gaming? CNet ponders whether Onlive can threaten Xbox, PS3, etc.

Kaelisebonrai’s initial experience in games sounds much like my experience too. Valve’s Portal has a short description on this page: Games As a new way to present a game environment Portal has made some news. I’m guessing this article describes the game well; GameSpy – Review Portal

I think much of the recent development in game play from the last 10 years is not in MOUL. It needs some updating, which is my point.

On Tweek’s point of forgetting exploration… I don’t think we have forgotten nor are we trying to make it too easy. We do want some puzzle fatigue. But some hint of where one can look for answers would be good. Since we all have different levels of puzzle fatigue (Lord Chaos’) that sends us for hints, we need something. I am interested in changing and improving the INITIAL experience not so much changing the entire game.

Whether or not the clues in MOUL are adequate, is less of an issue than the initial orientation. Myst players knew about the complex language, numerical system, base 5 number orientation and other things never explained in Uru as best I can remember. A way to figure it out is there. That base knowledge lead to lots of hints being much clearer. I don’t want to explain those systems to new players just that they are there. Otherwise, I think the game is a magnitude harder. How do we write an introduction without it being a spoiler? I think we can creatively do it.

I’ve heard several people that agree with ja'pheth. The Relto start was not good. The little town outside the Cleft allows us to change the game start and not change the Cyan content (Cleft). It also gives us a place to branch to immediate group play or solo play. If we put all the game intro stuff there we can minimize the impact on immersion too.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:36 pm 
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mszv wrote:
As for assuming that the people who played Uru were going to be primarily Myst fans and fans of the other games -- frorm what I've read, most people who bought Myst did not finish it.

Indeed, besides the standard reasons (e.g. too hard, or the sort of person who just likes playing a game for a little while), many copies were never even opened, as it came bundled with new "multimedia PCs" ;)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:12 pm 
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This is an interesting thread. I haven't posted much since MOUL went offline, but this one has lured me to post, not lurk!

I think there are lots of complexities here - mostly arising form the fact that we're all different, and we all had different interactions with the Myst games. I did get my first version of Myst bundled with a multimedia PC as ddb174 described. I liked playing a game with no instructions. I've enjoyed all the Myst games in their own ways. With that background, when I first played Uru (standalone) it never crossed my mind to expect real instructions or guidance. I just explored.

I can see that won't suit everyone. Particularly some of those who haven't played any of the other games. But it may suit others, and I wouldn't want to spoil it for them. That solo first phase at the cleft was special to me. The loneliness was part of it. Conversely, I love the idea of a town by the cleft. It has the air of goldrush about it - what might really happen if the world discovered the cleft. However, for me that would be a later thing. Later in the narrative (what narrative? I'm not sure). Maybe it's just a different shard in the OU multiverse.

Maybe the easiest way is to have a simple selection box for first time entry into the game where we explain to people very simply that Uru is a complex and cryptic game and offer them the choice to either dive right into the solo cleft if they are inclined that way, or alternatively offer them an option to start in a multiplayer opening like the town by the cleft, which would offer more guidance. That way everyone would be happy

Actually strike that last bit out. There's never an option where everyone's happy :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:19 pm 
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Game design, and Uru IS a game, or was intended to be one, at least.. is about getting the player in easy, rewarding early


Not really. It doesn't have to be that way. Remember Myst? it wasn't easy, and it didn't reward that early. Yet it was a huge success. No one says that this formula still works, but we can guess there's still a market, even if it's not as big as during the 90s.

Look at Shadow of the Colossus for example: exploration in this game was awesome. There were ruins, forests and deserts, vast, lonely places, and people LOVED it. And it was a success as well.

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It seems as if Cyan chose to ignore a good 10 years of game design evolution between Myst and Uru. And to be honest, the game has suffered for it.


They tried to check up with the 10 years during MOUL. They made the game a lot more... easy. Sort of free-for-all thing, even in cost of the storyline. Did it work? no. Because the game is for people who love difficult stuff. No market? I don't think so, I just think Uru had other things which made it fail. But if it's doesn't worth the risk, open source is the best way.

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I logged into Uru, for the first time, linked into the cleft.

I'd played realMYST, Riven, Exile, and Revelation up to this point.

I linked in... and I had no idea what the bleeding hellfire I had to do. None. No idea. I looked around... and.. then, confused, and annoyed -- I quit.


You quit at the cleft? after playing all 4 games? well it seems odd to me but if you did it than I can't argue. Still, I don't think that's how most Myst players would act. Maybe people who are not used to puzzle games...

And thinking about it, maybe the key to keep people at the beginning is a deeper world. Riven did that very well. More interactives, more journals and notebooks, which sadly weren't there, at the cleft.

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My point, however, is I logged into Uru, didn't have a clear idea how to start, but kept on, until I'd exhausted the methods that did just fine in the Myst games. Such as look for journals (there are none), look for environmental clues (what clues? the only one that is of any note, is the one on the wall for the imager, that doesn't really explain much at all, if you're already at the "wtf?" floundering stage.


True. But it doesn't have to be about clues and hints (we had zandi after all): just a deeper world. More notes, books, and so on. Give players the idea of what this place is a very important thing.

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only two of the 5 was really succeeded, and they did that in the 90s.


Well the 2 others were relatively successful, considering puzzle games market was already getting smaller and smaller. Thinking a puzzle game these days can sell millions on millions like Myst did is dreaming- but it can sell well enough. That's not saying Exile and Revelation had the same quality as Riven- it's just that I don't think these 2 were that bad.

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Uru doesn't have that. And that's possibly why Myst was a huge success, and Uru flopped not once, but twice.


Not the only reason, for sure. A more complex game world is a major reason Uru failed, but not the only. For example: the move to 3D was also something which drove many people away from the game.

I'm not a big believer in one reason for failure. People are not that picky, I believe. Most players won't quit Uru only because they saw less hints. It's comes from many reasons: different graphics, a shallower world, easier puzzles, less hints, and more. Usually it's not one thing.

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I did not like starting in the cleft. For a multiplayer game, I thought it made no sense.


That's why I personally think that multiplayer should not be the main feature in Uru :P .

The best way Uru can work, I think, is a multiplayer game where you are able to connect with friends, however you don't have to. Everything in the game is singleplayer, unless you decide to talk/adventure with a player.

I would like to see Uru as a singleplayer puzzle game with the ability to hook up with a friend.

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On the other games, I'm quite fond of Myst III and Myst IV, both of which have excellent stories, because they are personal stories


Agreed :P .

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OK..I tried to make a funny earlier....I'm fifteen going on sixteen..I realized, at 8, that Myst was Myst...I've seen all the Myst games since..when my Dad introduced me to URU..I loved it...Then came URU LIVE through GameTap...Wow..Glorified Chatroom...If a Virtual World (i.e. SL) is going to do nothing more than give the opportunity to chat during/after the game is done..what do I do when I turn seventeen?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:04 pm 
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Obduction Backer

Joined: Thu May 25, 2006 12:55 pm
Posts: 9852
Location: Luton, UK
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That's why I personally think that multiplayer should not be the main feature in Uru .


I think that The Stranger should go and look up the story of King Knut (Canute). :P


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