Energizes the Computer Game Market Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The adventure game Myst revolutionized the computer game industry when it introduced an entirely new kind of interactive experience in which a single player, immersed in various surreal worlds, had to interpret clues to solve puzzles and complete the game.

Summary of Event

In 1987, brothers Rand Miller and Robyn Miller founded Cyan Worlds, Cyan Worlds a computer game development company based in Spokane, Washington. They created a children’s game, The Manhole, that brought them a publishing deal with Activision. This was the first entertainment product on the new medium of CD-ROM. Cyan then released Cosmic Osmo and Spelunx and the Caves of Mr. Seudo, an educational game. These children’s games won awards and praise for their whimsical, nonviolent, and nonthreatening exploratory environments. Myst (game) Computing, applied;games Games, computer and video Computers;games [kw]Myst Energizes the Computer Game Market (Sept. 24, 1993) [kw]Computer Game Market, Myst Energizes the (Sept. 24, 1993) [kw]Game Market, Myst Energizes the Computer (Sept. 24, 1993) [kw]Market, Myst Energizes the Computer Game (Sept. 24, 1993) Myst (game) Computing, applied;games Games, computer and video Computers;games [g]North America;Sept. 24, 1993: Myst Energizes the Computer Game Market[08690] [g]United States;Sept. 24, 1993: Myst Energizes the Computer Game Market[08690] [c]Computers and computer science;Sept. 24, 1993: Myst Energizes the Computer Game Market[08690] [c]Trade and commerce;Sept. 24, 1993: Myst Energizes the Computer Game Market[08690] [c]Travel and recreation;Sept. 24, 1993: Myst Energizes the Computer Game Market[08690] Miller, Rand Miller, Robyn Carter, Chuck

In 1991, with some funding from Sunsoft of Japan, Cyan began work on Myst, its first game aimed at an adult audience. Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island (1875; originally published in French as L’Île mystérieuse) inspired the game’s name and the general dreamlike, lonely, and mysterious qualities of the island setting in Myst.

The Miller brothers were the creators and designers of Myst; they also did the video and film editing for the game. Robyn Miller and visual artist Chuck Carter created the graphics and animation, and Rand Miller and Rich Watson did the programming. Sound engineer Chris Brandkamp Brandkamp, Chris created the audio and sound effects, and Robyn Miller produced the musical score.

The development team used relatively simple tools to create Myst. The entire game was created on Apple Macintosh Quadra computers and constructed in Hypercard. Modeling and rendering were done in StrataVision 3D and Macromedia MacroModel. Image editing was done in Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere was used for video editing, compression, and compositing. QuickTime movies with Cinepak compression constituted the animation.

In creating Myst, Rand and Robyn Miller aimed to provide an alternative virtual environment that was not linear, flat, or shallow; they wanted to offer a three-dimensional, interactive world in which a lone player could explore, collect clues, and solve puzzles. They spent hundreds of hours making the preliminary sketches for the worlds in Myst.

Unlike other computer games, Myst has no set story line, inventory, antagonists to fight or kill, icon-controlled movements, time limits, violence, arbitrary punishments, or threat of death. The player can move around in Myst by mouse clicking on the desired locations or areas. To examine, use, or pick up an object, the player can click on it or click and drag it. The player can also move levers and other objects by dragging them.

The game begins with a falling figure and then a linking book titled Myst, which opens to show aerial views of a distant island. Touching the image page transports the player into this isolated island world. In exploring the island, the player discovers many objects, buildings, and sounds. For instance, there are levers to manipulate, buttons to push, doors to open, stairs to climb, and wheels to turn. Eventually the player enters a library and discovers books that tell the stories of a mysterious man named Atrus (the owner of Myst Island), who wrote special linking books that could transport readers to other worlds. Atrus is the father of two feuding sons, Sirrus and Achenar, who have disappeared. The books contain drawings of maps, buildings, and other clues to their whereabouts. Red and blue books contain videos of the two sons, who are trapped in the books and beg for help from the player.

The goal of the game is for the player to explore the island, as well as the other worlds and periods of island history called “Ages,” and analyze various objects and sounds for clues. The game is completed when the player returns to Myst Island from these mysterious worlds with all the necessary information and pieces of the puzzle to solve the mystery of the vanished people of Myst Island.

Robyn Miller and Carter developed beautiful graphics for the rich, detailed scenes and objects in Myst, down to the tiniest nails and screws. They mapped textures onto three-dimensional models and then rendered these to develop the game’s landscapes and terrains. Sequences of camera shots were used to give the player the sense of actually being in the game’s world. Miller and Carter created more than twenty-five hundred photorealistic images and more than one hour of video animations. These labor-intensive, time-consuming methods helped to create more depth and reality than had ever been seen before in a computer game.

In 1993, after two years of production, Myst was released to much critical acclaim. Broderbund, a software company based in Novato, California, published the CD-ROM. A Microsoft Windows version followed in 1994. The disc also included a fourteen-minute QuickTime movie titled The Making of Myst. Word of mouth, enhanced by the speed of communications on the Internet, quickly spread the news about this exciting new game, which was unlike any other computer game available up to that time. The success of Myst provides an early example of the use of the Internet as an important communications tool in promoting products. Myst became the best-selling computer game throughout most of the 1990’s and one of the most commercially successful and popular computer games in history.


Myst and its sequels sold more than twelve million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling computer games of all time. In 1997, Riven, the first sequel to Myst, was released. This five-disc game included four thousand photorealistic images, two hours of music and sound effects, and three hours of video animation. Riven was followed by a whole series of related games, up through Myst V: End of Ages, the final game in the Myst saga, released in 2005.

Myst was important because it generated an entirely new genre of computer game entertainment: a three-dimensional interactive adventure and mystery game for a single player who could explore, discover clues, and solve puzzles. Myst also set new high standards for the CD-ROM medium with the game’s simple intuitive interface and realistic, detailed, and rich environment. The incredibly beautiful graphics, intriguing sounds, and dreamlike world had immediate, widespread appeal, and Myst soon became a classic game and a lasting part of popular culture. Dark Horse Comics published two comic books in a series called Myst: The Book of Black Ships, and Myst enthusiasts developed Web sites as well as an annual event called Mysterium, where Myst fans from all over the world could gather and share their love of the game. Myst (game) Computing, applied;games Games, computer and video Computers;games

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Barba, Rick, and Rusel DeMaria. “Myst”: The Official Strategy Guide. Rev. ed. Rocklin, Calif.: Prima Games, 1995. Best-selling complete source for information and puzzle solutions. Includes an interview with the Miller brothers. Illustrated.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Kadrey, Richard. From “Myst” to “Riven”: The Creations and Inspirations. New York: Hyperion, 1997. Provides an in-depth look at the development and design process of the best-selling games, with sketches, maps, and photographs. Includes a foreword by Rand and Robyn Miller, profiles of the games’ creators, and behind-the-scenes stories.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Miller, Rand, and Robyn Miller, with David Wingrove. The “Myst” Reader. New York: Hyperion, 2004. One-volume literary companion to the game contains all three volumes of the best-selling Myst trilogy: The Book of Atrus, The Book of Ti’ana, and The Book of D’ni. Illustrated.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Ryman, Anne. “Myst”: Strategies and Secrets. San Francisco: Sybex, 1995. Essential guide provides hints and tips for playing the game, troubleshooting help, and puzzle solutions. Beautifully illustrated.

Intel Introduces the First “Computer on a Chip”

Rise of Video and Computer Games

IBM and Apple Agree to Make Compatible Computers

Intel Introduces the Pentium Processor

Release of Netscape Navigator 1.0

Rise of the Internet and the World Wide Web

Categories: History