realMyst Interview with Cyan Worlds
Last week Cyan Worlds released their PC adventure classic Myst for the iPad. Titled realMyst, the game now features a fully explorable 3D world that retains all of the brain-bending puzzles and mystery of the original game.
We got in touch with Cyan Worlds Founder and CEO Rand Miller to talk about the development of the game, porting Riven to the iPad, and bringing new games to the App Store.
What was the impetus behind releasing Myst for iPad now and how long has it been in development?
We really wanted a version of Myst that shined on the iPad's larger real estate. The problem for us was that the original Myst images were rendered at 544 x 333. That size works on the iPhone, but really looks pixelated on the iPad.
We originally thought we would re-render the Myst still-images in a larger size, but our programmers proposed trying a conversion that would take the realMyst 3D data from our old proprietary 3D engine and convert it to the Unity engine which works on the iPad.
Anyway, long story short, within a week we could walk around a pretty raw version of Myst Island. But it took months to actually convert, rebuild, tune, and polish the entire game. It was a labor of love.
What challenges did you face in porting the title over to the iPad?
Processor speed limitations, memory limitations, graphic processing limitations, video limitations, interface redesign...you name it. This was a monumental task. And everything you see in realMyst was a delicate balance to make all of that work. We're very excited about how much we were able to overcome.
What's the reasoning for the game being restricted to second and third generation iPads? Is it purely down to technical limitations?
We would have loved to release realMyst on all the iOS devices, but the challenges above made that unrealistic. Primarily it was a combination of the speed and memory of the new iPads that allowed a game of this magnitude to actually work without compromising the experience.
What does the future hold for Myst sequels? Are you working on any other ports at the moment?
The most obviously hole to fill next is Riven on the iPad. The original Riven images are high enough resolution to look great on the iPad, so we're hard at work on a Riven for iPad. I have a version on my iPad and it looks incredible.
One project that seems logical on the surface would be realRiven, but that won't happen anytime soon .We would love to see it too, but Riven is massive, and converting it to real-time 3D would take years of work.
What are you thoughts on how Myst has stood the test of time in gaming?
We're incredibly excited that the mobile platform has given new life to our older titles. Myst was recently on display at the Smithsonian as part of the Art of Video Games exhibit. It would be sad to relegate our titles to a museum where they can't really be experienced. The mobile platform has given new life to our games, and the touch interface has made them even better.
We've recently seen two PC classics release on the iPad, Uplink and now Myst, to a very enthusiastic audience. Do you think this reflects negatively on the current state of games development?
Not at all. I love the current state of game development. It's a rich and diverse environment where large blockbusters, innovative indie titles, and ports and re-releases all have potential platforms to flourish.
Are you interested in creating new IP for mobiles and tablets? Are you working on any at present?
We're a very small shop at this point. We're trying hard to pay the bills, and that involves balancing our ports and re-releases with our new IP. We've done a couple smaller mobile apps that we're really proud of, but new IP has to get traction up against all the competition.
Our Bug Chucker title is kind of an "Angry Birds Space" puzzler that we released months before they did. In our humble opinion, it has much better gameplay than "ABS", and it got incredible user reviews, but it ain't Myst. It's a risk for us even to do a simple title like that, because even if it's incredible it will be compared to our legacy products.
With all that said, we still have some great ideas for new IP, both large and small. We'd like nothing better than to bring them to life."