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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:59 am 
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Gehn, lord of ages wrote:
Al'Kaera wrote:
UruLOOS Uru Live Online Open Source... It's really better with an E at the end to make it LOOSE, E is for Experiment, btw, but hey....one can over think anything.

isn't the "live" and "online" somewhat redundant? And really, do we need yet another reference to toilets?
:lol:

No toilets (loos) gehn, I promise, so it DOES need the E but.... I did say "....one can over think anything" :roll: So
thanks for standing in that line.
Oh! ...Yes 'Live' and 'Online' are kinda redundant. Did it bother as much when Cyan did it? Myst Online: Uru Live :twisted:

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:04 am 
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I suspect that maybe, the "Online" part was more of a locational term that indicated that Myst was now located on the Internet, while the "Live" part was more of a description, like "live action" -- even though, both Myst & URU are considered computer generated. To most people, URU is still considered real life, while Myst was only a game. That's just my attempt to over-analyze it.

DP

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:38 am 
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Uru is a game whose lifeblood was always intended to be the involvement of its playerbase in bringing life to an empty and dead Cavern, both in a literal and conceptual sense; Cyan, being game designers (and not all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent Gods before whom there can be no others), presented a space that was to be inhabited by the players, to be transformed by their presence, to be in some sense remade in the image of those who now lived within it. This transformation was to be influenced by the D'ni, but if you ask me that was just the hook; Uru was a story of modern people reacting to the remnants of an ancient and endless world, and how they chose to react was really the point (not the ancient world itself).

The consequence of this is that whatever anyone does is whatever anyone does, the reigns being passed firmly from the developers to the players for better or for worse; in short, you are you; and the fact that the game is to be made open source represents another in a long line of hints from Cyan that religious idolatry is perhaps misguided in this case. If you argue that Cyan's work with Uru is to be regarded as infallible, to be kept in some display case or cloistered away, I believe you do so (and have always done so) in spite of Cyan.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:05 pm 
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Does any one remember what Miller and the Cyan crew had in mind originally for Uru Live, what was their dream of what Uru was supposed to be? I am curios

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:45 pm 
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That it could essentially act as 'Saturday night entertainment' (not necessarily on a Saturday) but to entertain the masses with Uru and the Myst universe and act as a popular TV show would.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:06 pm 
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They intend and continue to create a world that changes dynamically and has both an individual experince, You as YOU and a group shared one. It would be persistent, ie you would see any and all changes in the shared areas, share in a story line that develops thru characters and real life interaction based on the D'ni universe and set in a lush and beautiful graphic world with your own avatar and home area and large new ages introduced every month or so, new content each week and new and small changes occuring all the time so that it would be alive. And I continue to look forward to this possiblity guided by and containing content that relies solely on the orignal URU concept created by both players and cyan but within the URU Canon.

here are just some of the many great comments on this by Rand.....obiously they and he have thought about this in great depth and with great creativity and genius.....and there is every reason to see and feel URU is alive and real as ever and has no need to rest in peace....anyone has their opinions but to have such a defeatest opinion or even thought shows a fear and a hesitation that denies much joy in life to any and all of us. It has taken time and much dedication but the hope and promise of URU remains, not as a sandbox for graphic projects but as a living and breathig world that is evolving and deservs our respect, and support and a world that is allowed to retain its integrity and not be pulled apart or killed by fears or individual desires to use it as play field for their own visions. This is Cyan's and it is a grand and worthy one.



Rand Miller himself on the philisopher of URU Live

http://media.libsyn.com/media/gwjcc/Ran ... 041008.mp3


http://pc.ign.com/articles/747/747605p1.html

Rand Miller: There are things that will resonate and things that are different. Uru is a spin-off from the Myst storyline. The family from the original storyline had a very definite beginning and end interacting with this amazing culture. What was always left open was what the culture was. What was that culture? How did they have books of such power? How did that affect them? Can I go there? In many ways, when we decided to do Uru, we were throwing back the curtain that kept things hidden for so long. Let's not do this in the past. Let's not tell a story that's already been told. Let's make it now. This is what would happen if the story was absolutely true, an underground empire was there just as the story laid it out. Now you can get there and find that things are still alive and things are still happening. Instead of being portrayed as history, you're part of what happens.

In the very first game, when you get to the end, the main character says to you, "Don't come here to D'ni." Now that we're finished, it's ironic that he says that when we're going to plunge you right into the place he mentioned. At that point, you didn't know what he was talking about. D'ni meant nothing to you. There was no explanation of what that was. You didn't know if it was a building or a cave he'd explored. We knew what it meant but we wanted him to say it to build that historical precedence. Now, in Uru, you can not only go to D'ni but you're going to the place that was in the original game. You can see that place and walk around and explore it from a whole different perspective.

We have two problems approaching MMO development with the Myst series. One is that when people explore in an adventure, they don't necessarily like the M part of MMO. If I'm working out puzzles and doing things in these Ages and leaving lights on and doors open and elevators up or down, I don't want thousands of other people coming in and doing it at the same time. The essence of what we've built on Uru is that it's MMO by default -- the servers have thousands of people but as far as you're concerned, it can be a very solitary experience.

At the very core of Uru is the idea of ownership. As you explore Ages and places, you become the owner of an instance of that Age. In the initial Myst you found books and they felt like yours. they'd be in the state you left them. The same thing applies to Uru. Every time I use a book, it appears on a bookshelf in a very personal space. I start to collect them and they almost become trophies. I can invite people to go with me, and have a team of people who explore them on a regular basis and share them but they are mine and I control access to them and can explore them on my own if I like.

Beyond that we have places that are meant for more community minded things -- we have neighborhoods and cities where you run across strangers -- but we've set it up so that it's very under the control of the player whether he wants to explore with thousands of players or just by himself.
The other challenge that we had is the aspect of storyline. The Myst series is a little different from other games. We take a story arc and write gameplay around that. Typically games take mechanics and attach story to the mechanics. We do things differently. We have story arcs that reach out for years from now. We've laid out grand story arcs and sub-story arcs that get down as small as a monthly start and finish. What we've also built into Uru is the ability for those things to change based on what individuals do and what groups do. They'll actually affect where the story goes and where it branches.

It can be something as trivial as an example from the beta. Somebody from importance in the storyline crosses paths with you and you alone get a message from you. You can choose to bring the message to the people. You can choose to do what the person says or not. Your choices will control where our storyline goes. It could be as grand as having everybody in the game take some part in lighting the cavern. The cavern is very dark and, rather than lighting it up and having it controlled, we'd like to say it's lit by a mechanism. If you want it light, go do it. The story will change based on that because some things will change based on how much light there is in the cavern.

The play mechanics work a little in our favor. Myst mechanics aren't typically balanced the way other MMOs and leveling games are. We've specifically stayed away from economies and trading that would have added that difficulty and shifted the emphasis of what we wanted the game to be. Since we don't have those, it works in our favor. Balancing is more about the individual experience in gameplay than about having too much stuff and throwing things out of balance.

The other part, storyline, has a lot to do with perceived control. There are two ways it works for us. Number one is just being smart designers. We do our job right and get the perception of a lot of paths of choice. The player thinks he could have done lots of things. In our mind, there are two and those two choices lead to one thing or the other in the future. We can collapse things from there. It's a little behind the curtain and I don't want to diminish the sense of control. I admit, some of it is smoke and mirrors. But then, a lot of it isn't.

We had a character in the beta who was very strong (we have a few celebrities who are part of the storyline and are played by actors, not by bots). This character went out and coerced or convinced a group of people to join him in his agenda. As designers, we know that this agenda is going to be accomplished but we don't know who it is who's going to help him. The branches are very small from a design point of view but not from the players' point of view. They feel like they're the ones making this happen. So much so that in journals written by this main character, he actually mentions the names of the people who helped make this happen. They're locked in the storyline forever.

A bit of it is being smart on our part. That's not that hard. That's what game designers do all the time. You want people to feel that they have infinite options but in the end you have to collapse those to realistic options.

The other part that works in our favor is what we like to call the cat in the microwave. We can affect a lot of people by only affecting one or two. The levels of connection collapse very naturally by human nature. We use our storyline to touch as many people as we can but the players tell the story beyond that. Suddenly many people are affected with not a lot of effort on our part. Little events can affect a great number of people

Uru's definitely got a different feel for an MMO. We're convinced that the pipeline that we're providing is not just limited to letting people play together. It's that we control the world. We can add to it, we can take away from it, we can change it. It remains dynamic and under our godlike control. That's a very substantial part of what Uru is and what I think a whole new kind of entertainment it. Whether Uru succeeds or fails, the concept is very powerful. We provide two things with that: content that's playable in an interactive way and storyline that flows through the sets that we've built.

The essence of what we're starting with in Uru is to provide what people like in Myst on an ongoing basis. Basically it's a never-ending Myst. When a new book appears a week from now in an obscure part of the city, suddenly I have a new adventure I can go on. We've started with gameplay that's very similar to Myst. We don't want to shake things up too much at the beginning. You want to see what's around the next corner of this world and I need to figure out the dots and solve this puzzle and get this door open to see what's beyond it/. It's a similar experience in Uru to start with but we want to expand that in interesting ways. Suddenly, we're not limited to that gameplay. We have plans for competitive Ages where players can work against each other. We have specific puzzles coming up after launch that require multiple people to solve, sometimes against time.

We've also built in our version of leveling -- you collect elements that prove how far you've gone. You get rewards, treasures, trophies, clothing, and all the things that make you feel like you're progressing.

You have to encapsulate it, to psychologically set apart a part of the game that feels like it has a start and a finish. At the same time, add threads that link to the story that starts the next section. We do that a lot with symbolism or specific characters who are associated with a specific goal or set of Ages. You start, you finish, you get a reward, find a few things along the way but you feel psychologically that you've wrapped up that section of the game. You can't just have it ongoing. People get bored of that. We know from normal media that storylines do that very well. We do the same thing with episodic storylines. It's a little easier and more fluid with storylines on an ongoing basis. You watch Lost and you know that. You want to give some endings now and then but people will be engrossed if you have enough complexity and enough depth.

We poured everything we had into Uru back in the day. We worked on Riven and consulted on other projects but our main focus was Uru. We were convinced that providing content on a regular basis would keep people coming back. It took a lot of time and money to make that happen. We didn't have enough to do it by ourselves so we had to hook up with somebody bigger.

So we partnered. Whenever you partner, there are risks. Companies' directions change. We ran up against one of those. At one point there was a great partnership and then just prior to our launch, directions changed and things fell apart. Failure doesn't crush us. It's not getting a chance to fail that demoralizes you. If you've got a great idea and you get it out there and it doesn't fly, you gain some insight from that and can move on. It helps a lot of people including yourself. But when you don't even get a chance to launch, that's tough, especially when you're so close. 40,000 people signed up for beta and we're ready to go and we don't take a dime from anyone. That just hurts.

It's not what you know; it's who you know. We had a relationship with Turner for years. Never did anything with them but there were people we knew there. Oddly enough, the failure of Uru and the launch of GameTap by Turner seemed like an interesting combination. Talks began. They started getting smaller games and began toying with the idea of doing something larger and more exclusive. We fit into that very nicely, filling holes in both the MMO category, the exclusive category and the episodic category. It seems like a perfect match.






http://www.justadventure.com/Interviews ... iller.shtm
Interviews

Interview with Rand Miller

By Jennifer Miller


With the release of Uru Ages Beyond Myst, Rand Miller – CEO of CyanWorlds - is once again attempting to achieve what he and his brother Robyn accomplished almost ten years ago with the original Myst – change the way adventure gamers play their games. Only this time, instead of hundreds of thousands of gamers purchasing cd-rom drives so that they can explore the lush worlds of D’ni, with Uru Live he is attempting to drag adventure gamers into the bold, new world (well, at least for adventure gamers) of online gaming.

It is a bold experiment and one not guaranteed to be successful, but if anyone can pull it off, it would be Rand Miller. We would like to thank Rand Miller for agreeing to this interview with Just Adventure and Jennifer Miller – the biggest Myst fan I have ever met – for her wonderful questions.

(Can I just add this editorial comment on HOW COOL IS THIS?!!!!!)

Uru is a whole new animal when it comes to gaming. What were the biggest challenges in developing this kind of multi-player, online adventure game?

One of the largest unexpected challenges was just building persistence into the world. The word “persistent” is tossed around rather nonchalantly in the MMO genre. But when you build working doors and elevators, and movable cones and rocks, and switchable lights and machinery, you have to make sure that it all works across everyone’s computer. If I leave the elevator down, it should be down when you see it a week later. If I turn on the light, everyone in that age needs to see the light turn on. If I kick a beachball everyone should see it roll across the screen and end up in the same place, where it stays until someone else kicks it. That stuff all seems so natural, but it is extremely difficult to coordinate everything that is going on in the real-time 3D world to make that work even somewhat naturally.

How far do you think Uru can go?

That’s a big question. If it refers to how long Uru can continue, there aren’t any built in limits. The story is big and the technology is adaptable, and it will last as long as we’re interested in presenting it and subscribers are interested in living it. Like a sitcom, or soap opera – it’ll go as far as the interest goes.

Uru is quite a change of pace from Myst and Riven. I know it’s taken some getting used to for all the fans. How do you feel this game will fair compared to its predecessors?

I’ve given up trying to predict this kind of stuff long ago – actually after Myst. There are too many unknowns. We just build worlds that seem like they are worth exploring and wait to see how people will respond.

Gehn was rumored to have written over 250 Ages, all of which were flawed and most of which died. Any chance in Uru that we might get to explore some of the remaining Ages?

I don’t think the DRC has run across any of Gehn’s works yet. But I would think that there is a good chance that they will at some point. I just hope they’re stable enough to explore, because I know they would be interesting.

We learn in Uru and in The Book of Ti’ana that the D’ni are not an idyllic people, that even with all the technology and cultural advancements they had, there were still many unsavory things underneath. The Age of Teledahn is the best example of this. How important was it to you to show that even the D’ni were not perfect?

Without getting too philosophical, choice is an amazingly complicated gift. The selfish choice comes naturally. And power is simply a choice effect amplifier.

I have always felt that Myst is like a high tech, much more intelligent version of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that I read in elementary school. Was the inspiration for the series something similar?

I never got into the CYOA books because I always ended up trying to read all of the possibilities simultaneously. I was too curious about the other options, and I was afraid I’d miss something. Needless to say it got rather cumbersome. I’m sure that that infers some deep psychological neurosis that I would just prefer to ignore.

I’ve read on the boards that some fans compare the huge mythology surrounding Myst and the D’ni people to Tolkien’s Middle Earth and The Lord of the Rings. How do you feel about that? Was Tolkien an inspiration at all?

Absolutely. He built massive worlds, and then created small windows to view them. The worlds were much larger than the books, and that was the key to their success.

We’re as people, are used to complexity that goes beneath the surface. The reality of our world allows us to keep digging deeper and deeper. So when we build a story that allows for deeper digging, it feels real.

When realMyst came out, I remember you saying that this was finally how you had wanted Myst to be originally presented, as a world where everything could be examined and explored, but that technology hampered you back in 1994. Do you think something similar could be said about Riven?

realMyst moved closer to being real, and that is what I’m looking for. Technology allows us to keep moving closer and closer to reality, so I’m always interested in using it. I would love to explore Riven in real time.

Any chance for a realRiven?

No, too many other things to do. :-)

Do you play other adventure games? What are your favorites?

I have very little time for play these days. But I cut my teeth on the Infocom stuff. Couldn’t get enough of ‘em. I’m sure those early experiences influenced me.

I read over a year ago that Cyan and struck a deal with the Sci-Fi Channel to produce a mini-series based on the Myst world. Is that idea still in the works and what can you tell me about it?

My only comment is “don’t get your hopes up.”

Can you give our readers any hints on future projects coming out of CyanWorlds besides UruLive?

Right now we are consumed with Uru. Building the content that is months away.

But we have a few possibilities for the future that we’ll keep to ourselves for now.

Any chance we’re going to get another GAP ad?

Only if they’ve started selling stuff for old men! ;)


Joystiq interview

http://www.joystiq.com/2006/09/28/joyst ... an-worlds/

Myst Online: Uru Live will let thousands of players convene in Myst ages to solve puzzles. Touting the persistence of the world as a major feature -- light switches and doors stay how you leave them -- Cyan Worlds thinks the collaborative nature of Myst will make a unique Massively Multiplayer Online game.

Two years ago, Uru Live was canceled just before its initial launch under Ubisoft. Now, after developing it for a total of six years, Cyan Worlds is working with its new publisher, GameTap, to prepare the game for a "holiday" release. Uru Live will be offered as part of the monthly $10 GameTap subscription for the U.S. audience, but GameTap will release Uru Live as a stand-alone subscription in other parts of the world. (GameTap is not yet offered outside of the U.S.)

We recently spoke with Myst co-creator Rand Miller, while Producer, Mark "Moke" Dobratz demonstrated the game. They talked about how Uru Live supports the collaborative sensibility of Myst players, how the game will let you have individual experiences within its MMO structure, and plans to let users build their own ages.

[Update 1: Fixed ship-date error.]
The Myst series has been about immersing a single player at one time. How have you tuned that to a wide audience at a single time?

Rand Miller: You're falling right into our trap [laughs]. No, this is one of the things that we've talked about as part of demoing. Interestingly enough, even though Myst is thought of as a solitary experience in the world, we've found that it's not really.

Most people who played Myst played it as part of a community, it was just out of the game. They would call their friends, they'd talk about it in school, they'd talk about it in work, you know, "Hey I got to that age. ..." They'd find someone else who was playing and touch base with them to expand the experience. And there were a few that were solitary, but we found these middle grounds -- even people sitting in front of the screen together playing. So it's just natural to connect and build the sharing experience into the game itself.

Now with that said, we also didn't think that a massively multiplayer online experience was what Myst players wanted at all. They didn't want thousands of people traipsing through their experience and turning their switches on when they wanted them off, and closing their doors when they wanted them open. So we have gone to great extremes, great lengths, to build our engine technology to provide hierarchies of a personal experience. We think it's one of the highlights of what we've got -- what we designed in the whole Uru experience.

The very first [example of a personal experience in the MMO] is where we're at right now. It's an age that's sitting in the clouds. Are you familiar with Myst mythology and all that?

Yes.

So this is an age that's much like a Myst age -- in fact it's almost reminiscent of Myst Island -- but this is one that you own. This is your real estate in the game. Everybody gets an instance of this, and as you go through the game, it begins to shape and form and grow, and conform to reflect where you've been and what you've done and what you've seen. Say for instance there's an age in one of the first episodic gameplay structures that we go through that we find a page that's rather mysterious. And when you pick it up and put it into this age book, it suddenly begins to rain in this age. So you suddenly have the control like, "Oh, I want it to rain now in my age. I like that."

You have the potential for inviting people in one-at-a-time -- they can't just show up -- and what you experience is this is your trophy shelf. This is where people come in and go, "Hey, how'd you make it rain in here? No way! Show me how you did that." And you can take them on the journey then, and show them where that piece was or how you achieved that. But instead of a trophy on a shelf, it's something that's a little more personal to you. So beyond that, we actually expand this whole idea of exploring on a personal level in an MMO to other [areas] as well.

We go from the personal age into our little hut, which is just another little space here. You'll notice that we have a library shelf in here. Well, the most valuable things in Myst mythology are books, because that's your transportation, that's how you get from place to place. Well what if when you went to another age, you just didn't go there once again and see thousands of people trashing the place, you went there and it became your instance of that age? When you went there, you got that book on your shelf as your version of that age. It was a place you could share with other people, but it still was your space; it was just the way you left it, and no strangers are going to be there unless you know.

[The age] becomes yet again another trophy. "These are the places I've been and they're just the way I left them, and can I go show you what I found that you may not have found? You may not have explored and found this detail that I found in mine." Instead of what we think of as inventory, it feels like, I am getting ownership of some stuff, I'm customizing it, it's becoming mine.

The place we're in right now by the way, to get back onto your point, is the second tier of that personal experience. This is what's called the Neighborhood. It feels like it's part of the city and and a very specific spot in our Myst mythology -- in this ancient cavern that we're rediscovering. [The Neighborhood] is an instance that I share with whoever I want, just like you would a neighborhood.

Anybody who wants to can have a new Neighborhood and can share it with people of like-mindedness. Families can have a Neighborhood. People who like the same thing ... We have a group of greeters who like to greet people who've formed a neighborhood. You can have it either public or private. If you have it private, it's just going to be you guys who can meet here. And you can shape it a bit. You have some ability to customize it and make it yours.

And then from there, the community goes outward, and we finally reach what essentially is the massively multiplayer aspect of this -- which to me mimics real life -- which is the City; it's this place that I walk down the street and I see strangers, and I don't know who they are. I may ask them who they are, and they may completely ignore me cause it's like, "Whoa, who are you? You're weird." But also, there's some action that takes place there. Some of the things that are going to happen are going to happen there. And we use it for that aspect as well.

So how many people will you be interacting with on these different levels?

Rand Miller: On the personal age --

--It's whoever you control.

Rand Miller: You'll invite one or two people, well one person at a time really, it's your home. You can invite more people, but it's still very personal space.

The Neighborhood itself can be 150 people, 200 people if you want it to be. You can have a Neighborhood that's just you if you're a loner and you really don't want to be with people.

The City you can't control. It's only one instance, and everybody goes to the same instance, to the best of our ability that's what will happen. In fact, this is the City. ... It's this giant, underground cavern that's been deserted for 200 years.

Essentially the story behind Uru is all of the mythology of Myst, we've brought right into your face and said this is current day; we've discovered the connection underground in an archeological find where Earth is connected to this whole mythology. And that's why you see traffic cones, and that's why you see a girl in tennis shoes and a t-shirt.

This is now, this is really happening right now underground, and you can go see this restoration of this underground city. So as we wander around, there's a tent that's been set up by this restoration council that you're helping. They have rules. They block off certain sections of it and say, "No, no, that's not safe yet." They're restoring this. You hear generators and people working in certain buildings that are scheduled to open up.

So is that how you control the content that gets added?

Rand Miller: That's one way.

In addition, they find books every now that then link to whole new worlds. The most powerful part in all of this is, I think other people look at online as let's let people communicate with each other. We're looking at online as yeah, people communicate with each other -- that's just natural, people will form communities. But we have this constant connection to the content. Instead of just releasing content once, we have constant ability to shape that content and all make it new and fresh and changing and exciting. Whether it's a new age that has new puzzles to solve, whether it's a new age that even seeds competitive gameplay, or whether we're actually playing the storyline, we have a multi-year story-arc that will play out through all these sets and places and actually people that we've introduced into the world itself.

It becomes a very, almost new -- well this term is used too much -- but "new media" platform where the storyline starts to be something that's both soap-opera and a game, and an interesting way of how that all combines on its own.

We've had really cool experiences along that line as well.

Will you have actors playing some of the characters?

Rand Miller: Yes. That's the stuff that's been almost the most exciting because you're never sure where that line blurs. In the previous beta that we had a couple years ago, we actually started to blur that line on purpose. We would have some of our actors recruit people and say, "I need your help. I need you to go get other people to do this." And the people who we recruited, it's like, you can have a t-shirt if you join in with me.

And this [player] got so involved in this that at this point, he has a permanent spot in the game. His name is Brian, and in one of the journals that the actors wrote, Brian's name is there as helping, as that part of the history that will live forever. So there's an ability to become part of the story and actually shape it. We have our small story arcs. We have a lot of details upfront and we know where it's going, but a lot of it is actually dependant on what people will do.

What's your schedule for releasing new content?

Rand Miller: That's a good one. A decent sized release every month. If you're going to be paying the bill every month, you're going to want something new every month. So we would love to release a huge age every month, but that's too much to bite off right now.

Basically [we'll release] something big enough that we can to tease you with it, and you don't want to miss it every month. But beyond that, we're going to make changes every day. There are little things: little switches that we'll throw on and off, little story elements, little content elements go that will happen on a daily, large ones on a weekly, and big ones on a monthly [basis]. Where our self-contained episodes will probably be almost like a quarter-based thing.

We'd like nothing more than to have huge budgets and large numbers of subscribers where every time somebody comes in they're like, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh it's bigger and bigger!" But the intriguing thing to us is that we're constantly adding content. You realize what that means to a game that two years from now when a person comes in for the first time? We've collected all that. Nothing goes to waste. It's all set aside in some mechanisms we have so we can serve all that gameplay to new people.

That's just pretty exciting. It's like we can show the video, putting it another way, we can show the video when it's first-run, if you're there where you're living it. But we can also put it on the shelf, and people who are new can see the history that led up to this and can experience it as well.

One of the things that we associate with these mutiplayer games is the ability to customize your own world. Can you explain that in more detial? Will there be ways to build structures or change your appearance?

Rand Miller: We've got pretty stout avatar customization stuff. It was actually probably some of the best when we announced it, and it continues to be petty interesting stuff. You know -- facial shape and hair and clothing -- and you have complete control to add to that. A lot of [games] are doing that, and we're doing that as well.

So you start and make it look like you, or what you want to look like, or what you don't want to look like. Whatever. [Mark Dobratz] wants to look like a girl named Alison, well there you go. [Laughs.]

Beyond that, we have smaller ways to customize our space, which I mentioned before: almost predefined ways to add rain or plant a tree in our age, or even change the shape of the island and add more real estate so it grows as my experience grows. So beyond that, and this is forward looking, we've already started plans to allow people to do much more customization, but that stuff's going to be very complicated to begin with. ...

I should get into the mythology just a bit because the idea behind Myst is people writing books that link to their own ages. Our goal in this is to let people do that very thing. We want people to build their own age, to write their own ages. It's a very complex thing to do. It was in the mythology and it is right now, but that's the path that we're taking.

Explain how players will build ages. How far along are you to making that happen?

Rand Miller: Well to begin with, we want to give people the same tools we have. We've got a lot of expertise and experience, so our ages can get pretty sophisticated, but it doesn't mean that we can't make those same tools available to some people.

We're always amazed at what our fans are able to accomplish, frankly, and by making those tools available, I think we'll be even more surprised. We've held back on that because we want to make sure we've got the final version of the engine, so we're not switching those tools up on people so they don't lose their work. But that'll be the first step. Essentially what we're creating in the mythology of all this is a writer's guild.

People can learn to write ages using the tools, and they'll write ages and become better and better at it. And then we even want a guild that facilitates that, that lets them explore their own ages and keep them somewhat separate from ours but with ways to get to them.

But eventually while they're doing that, we want to improve the tools as well, so you don't have to be quite so sophisticated to build the worlds. And later on down the line, it's much easier to say, "I can take this piece of this world, and this one of this one, and this one of this one, and make my own space that feels much more personalized." And that's the stuff that we'll work on as well.

When will people be able to start building ages?

Rand Miller: Some of it is resource-based. We would like to release those tools after the first six months -- and there are pieces of that that are already being put in place behind the scenes. We're trying to set up some structures with people, and there are some fans that already kind of know about that.

Yeah, that's a very exciting aspect of all of this.

Mark Dobratz: There might be some smaller pieces we can put in place before that, too, clothing design, or something a little simpler that's a little more straightforward for people who have bright ideas to bring to the game.

The Myst technology has traditionally seemed to interest gamers, and the gameplay has seemed to attract the non-gamers. How will this balance play out in Uru Live?

Rand Miller: It's kind of weird looking back, because when Myst first launched, we had a huge gamer following. You know when we launched, my brother and I were in the forums chatting with all of the gamers who were into it, so it was kind of cool. It was unique, it was different, it felt fresh.

So we feel like we've got our roots with gamers, but as the technology changed, it changed without us. We stayed with the slideshow kind of format and went about as far as you could go with that, as far as making that feel real, but the technology-oriented gamers moved on to real-time.

I feel like making the move to real-time is one step in bringing people who weren't interested back into it. Myst was a little bit before real-time, but because the images were so striking, it had its own appeal technologically. But now that we've moved back to real-time -- albeit we're not doing a first-person shooter -- we're using real-time to do some pretty striking, out-there kind of places that provide an alternative to the frenetic pace [of shooters].

I see this in my own family. I've mentioned this a few times, but I have a few daughters who play Halo -- both my youngest daughters play Halo. The youngest one in particular, you know, they beat the guys at Halo. So she likes that pace da-da-da-dum -- they love to play it.

When she got into Uru, she called her friends and they go in, and she spends hours and hours exploring. It's not that she likes one over the other, it's like, "Hey, this is a whole different feeling." She's getting this real sense of satisfaction instead of by killing things, it's by opening that next door and revealing, like, "Oh, my gosh, this is awesome."

And I don't think one precludes the other. I think people are entertained in a lot of ways and this one has been left behind for a while. But we're going to be surprised at how many people cross over from hard-core first-person shooters who just would enjoy exploring in a technologically advanced MMO like this.

What is the balance between that sense of exploration and community interaction?

[Uru] is not just about exploring with no reason in mind -- pretty places that I don't really have anything to do. When you start the game now, you have one of two paths you can take. One is -- the introduction is very clear on this -- take the path that starts the journey in the desert, and it's a very Myst-like environment. It's a very Myst-like experience where you're going to get ages and explore those ages. I think we've toned down the puzzles a bit because we get tired of the hard ones just as much as everybody did. [Laughs.]

Or, I take the second path. ... Join the community. There's a community just waiting for you. Go to your Neighborhood, go to your City, and depending on what you're intrigued by, you're going to go one way or the other.

It's interesting because people have come in and said, "Aw, I'm going to the community," or, "No way, I'm going to the desert." Frankly, I would go to the desert. I want a lone experience for a while. I'm going to feel out of place in an MMO. Like, am I doing something wrong, can I talk to people? Just let me go figure out how to move my guy around and explore a bit first. I'd go right to the desert and start exploring.

And then at some point -- any time you want -- you can jump over to the community and ask a question and then go back on your journey, or even invite someone to help you on your journey. But we wanted that path to be very clear because we think there's two groups -- at least two groups -- two main groups who've been very intrigued by the myth. One is the community who's been around for so long and supported us so much. We wanted to make it clear that you can go that way, and they'll bring you right in and show you what to do. And the other is the puzzle achievers who are like, "Cool, show me the spaces and beautiful places, and let me try and figure this out."

It's a different direction but frankly for an MMO, I think people might be ready for a little bit of a different direction. We don't want to compete with World of Warcraft. They've done a great job. We're playing [the other MMOs]. I've played Dark Age of Camelot or World of Warcraft. That's fun if you're doing them, but at some level, that online connection can mean something else, and we want to pursue that avenue.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:00 pm 
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Thanks for posting all that, Cris. (I hope you don't get in trouble for it; but a lot of people never bother to click links and go read the original.) Sometimes you can recover more of a sense of where you're going if you turn around and look at where you've been. It's good to take a look at what the vision actually was, as opposed to what we think we remember it was.

Of course, anyone who feels Myst and Uru should be left to rest in peace is perfectly free to let them rest in peace. They're even free to tell the rest of us, or Cyan, they think everybody should let it all rest in peace, and to make their case. And everybody else is free to cooperate, or not. Or make the opposing case. Or even say "fiery abyss, no." Or ignore the issue entirely and keep doing whatever they're doing.

NURU gave me a good chuckle, too. :lol: That's the best one so far, in my humble opinion.

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The story behind the events I participated in while playing the games is what has always attracted me to Cyan's projects. They Cyan people are the ones who know the foundation and bones of the story they wanted us to build upon. I still want to know this background.

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thanks for posting the text, cris - made it much easier (altho, i'd have clicked on the link anyhoo :) ) i don't remember seeing this article before...

so, 40k signed up for beta and that wasn't enough??? for start-up figures as well as for a beta as well as for something that is a completely different format than anything else that was out there, i think that's pretty darn decent. especially when you consider those that couldn't sign-up due to being on dial up (and no option for broad band) and those that were waiting for full launch (some would rather wait until all the bugs are worked out) - so the real interest would have been/could have been at least another 15k to start (maybe a bit more; maybe a bit less - i'm just guessing on it). still, just the 40k - that's not too shabby at all!!

wow, 40k at $25 a month each is $1 million and times that by 12 months is $12 mil - not to mention additional people that would have gotten in after the initial beta format as well as complete newbies. i can't believe that wasn't enough for ubisoft.

i mean, really, cyan is who spent all the time and effort and money to develop the game/engine/storyline...all ubi had to do was get it out there after it was handed over on a silver plate.

i really can't believe that 40k for start-up for a BETA situation wasn't enough. wow.

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LOL! The game wont die. And I like Nuru...very cool.

This is just a wee bit different than MASH re-runs. (please, no spamming from you die-hard mash FANS)

Myst is Myst, and will continue to be an entity, at least because of the history. A lot of people got their first cd roms because of the Myst games. There just wasnt much reason to need a pc with a cd rom, outside of the ultra-pc-nerd-world, most people had pc's without a way to play cds.
The set up and world of Myst affected so many other games. The game was THE NUMBER ONE game for 1993-1998. There was NO competition.
I also feel that, if given the opportunity, that Myst could be the basis for a revival of adventure style gaming. As the USA gets older, players are not going to want the usual shoot the zombie, just one more level, style of playing.
Myst cant be killed, cause you cant kill a Legend.

Uru is separate from Myst. An online game set in the [i]style[/i] of Myst, it is still an ongoing effort. An effort that has not always been given enough opportunity to be "hugely successful",yet Uru has survived in one form or another. I cannot think of one other single game that, once it was cancelled, then was revived. And that is even for games that were given MUCH more opportunity than Uru ever was. (Think of the Sims. Huge launch. Huge buildup. Where is Sims online now?)

Uru is an online game still in search of the proper launch. Uru can not be killed, because Uru hasnt even started yet.

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The beta was free. A lot of people sign up for online multiplayer game betas, even if they never intend to pay morney for them. I don't know what the conversion rate is, generally, but you can't assume that everyone who signed up for the beta was going to pay money.

You also need to track who played and when and how often - I suspect that's more of an indication of who will buy. I can't imagine that 40,000 people played online Uru - it always seemed much, much less to me, both in the Ubisoft days and in the Gametap days. There were probably a decent number of people who signed up and never even logged on.

Rand Miller is also a "positive spin" kind of person - that's his job. I'm not saying that Uru wasn't special, it was - but it makes sense that those articles aren't going to talk about what didn't work. In my opinion, the instancing thing (our own private, persistent ages) was brilliant, but story, and live events and the whole psychology of group behavior and online gameplay - that part needed work. The great thing about those articles is that it gives one an insight on what Cyan tried to do.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:00 am 
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Karkadann wrote:
Does any one remember what Miller and the Cyan crew had in mind originally for Uru Live, what was their dream of what Uru was supposed to be? I am curios


A quote from the article "software is hard", written by Kyle Wilson
Sunday, August 19, 2007 :
Quote:
Myst Online started out as a single-player game of modest scope called D'ni In Real Time, or DIRT. By the time I left Cyan, it was planned to be an MMO with a million subscribers, a driving application that would convince casual computer users to sign up for broadband Internet connections.


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Please check out the Who is this guy? for more information over Kyle, who left Cyan in 2000 and more over Dirt/parabel/mystonline.

This also answers the question why 40k people where just not enough.


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joclyn wrote:
so, 40k signed up for beta and that wasn't enough??? for start-up figures as well as for a beta as well as for something that is a completely different format than anything else that was out there, i think that's pretty darn decent.

40K, even before accounting for beta signup inflation, is very small when you compare to the sort of retail box sales you would expect for a traditional 3D game sold at a retailer when you want to break even. Generally you need millions of sales to make money.

Of course, many of the MMOs out there have been able to get funding that Cyan couldn't, and they can abuse slightly dishonest high subscriber numbers like 3,000,000 total subscribers (over the life of a project, including people who were signed in for a day and quit). On some MMOs many of those accounts are generated by people playing in Net Cafes overseas, and in some cases a single person may be responsible for 100 "accounts" over multiple sessions. In other cases more serious players will use two or more accounts - a primary "yay I am a hero" account plus other accounts ("mules") to grind out money for that main character.

Cyan can't leverage these hopeful statistics but the other guys could. On many MMOs you actually only have about 50K people playing at peak times - but the comparison would be apples-to-oranges. How many people were actually playing the GT beta at any time? If it was on par with the MMOs, we would've heard it. And from what I could tell it wasn't on par - there certainly weren't fifty thousand people split between the public and private Ages.

And many of those MMOs are actually struggling, even if they don't admit it. Ones that have survived for an incredibly long time, like Star Wars Galaxies, only did so because they had a lot of money coming from big names; I can't imagine SWG has yet broken even, but if they did so it was because the playing field was rather uneven (also, despite content problems, the game is really, REALLY big compared to Uru). Myst is cool, but Cyan isn't Sony and Myst isn't Star Wars for name recognition.

There's also some gameplay differences: Uru's rather friendly game design doesn't give people initiative for paying for running multiple paid accounts simultaneously - nothing to sell.

It's not really Cyan's fault, but the structure of this particular MMO erased the sort of "grinding" barrier that has traditionally been used in MMOs to limit player progression and keep them from exhausting the content too soon. Everybody found a savvy player to lead the multiplayer puzzle Ages, a concept which holds promise but in reality was troublesome as even simple single-stage puzzles were causing bugs, and as a result you start going back to not having new things to do...once again. Uru Stereotypic Behaviors.

Part of the draw of Uru was the allure of regularly updated content; but even after collecting everything that has been done for Uru so far (meaning boxed Uru experience + To D'ni, PotS, and the GameTap released Ages), you're looking at content that was quite sparse. Indeed, from what I can tell, it isn't more content than has been made available for many other MMOs; rather it is significantly less if you're going at virtual square footage although the structure is different. On top of that, the last content added didn't seem epic in scope - rather you had one-shot cool idea Ages, which were fun but underwhelming for replayability. For example, the pods: I was rather surprised when I finally loaded these that there was so little player-navigable space, and the area outside was rather flat and small. I found that surprising in a negative way, unfortunately.


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This is part of why I feel Uru should never have been marketed as an "MMO", in any market. When Uru was on the drawing board, MMOs were a thing of the future, and high speed internet was shiny and new. By the time ABM hit shelves, there was an expectation of what 'MMO' looked like and did**, and Uru wasn't like any of those.

Uru should have been marketed as a virtual world, or an online ARG, or something different, so that it didn't get compared to the WoW standard of what an MMO is 'supposed' to be.



** There was also a glut of them, and few of them were doing well, which explains part of why Ubi suddenly pulled out.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:26 pm 
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Todoni wrote:
LOL! The game wont die. And I like Nuru...very cool.


Not to be a downer, but the Myst Online: Uru Live invite-only beta was already called Nuru.

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