Happy 15th Birthday, Myst!

Fifteen years ago today, Myst was released. It’s been a wild ride since!

Myst Island

While there are a small assortment of titles I can point to, the largest influence in my career as a game developer and artist is Myst. Now that I am employed as a developer at Telltale Games, I wish Cyan Worlds a happy 15th anniversary of their landmark title. Thank you for all of your quality work through the years and inspiring me as an artist.

Mini History Lesson

While 7th Guest was released prior to Myst, 7th Guest was highly restricted due to adult content. I remember purchasing a Packard Bell which included 7th Guest, but wrapped in paper marked “ADULTS ONLY” before revealing what was inside. Myst on the other hand was all ages in the sense that any age can enjoy the title, not dumbed down for children nor exclusive to adults.

Myst really was the killer app for optical disks for data. While there were certainly CD-ROMs prior, they were mostly storing large amounts of data and the occasional postage stamp of video and audio.¹ Or (as the case of 7th Guest) restrictive in target audience. Myst was the first widely distributed entertainment product that fully utilized the space to make an enriched experience not emulated on other media.

It was also a time where a new generation of computers as multimedia centers were available. However, being able to watch non-interactive video was not as attractive on the computer when you have a TV and VCR. Myst was a new experience entirely, so consumers wanting a new computer would want their standard word processing and spreadsheet work, but also a computer that ‘played that Myst game’. Thus CD-ROM drives were quickly became a standard issue on a computer. The rest trickled down from there.

While a case could be made that something else may have come along, Myst was the app that got optical disk drives standard in all computers, which lead to DVD as well.

¹ Yes, Myst’s video was also postage stamp size, but it was embedded into full screen of photo, not a small window in the Windows UI. Thus the framing of content was full-screen.