was conceived as a 'multiplayer Myst' - an MMO with puzzles as the core
mechanic, and with players working together in groups forming
friendships and figuring the gameworld's obstacles out together.
in 2000, had been disappointing in its boxed sales run, but Cyan
continued developing the engine and adding new shaders and features
from the glossy water effects, to multiplayer functionality and
The game was launched as a singleplayer
part that could easily open up into multiplayer for those players with
cable or DSL internet, and by the time of launch the project had burned
through $12 million - what was involved in making a pipeline of new
worlds, puzzles, collectible items, story developments, and content
designed by the launch date in fall 2003.
The game - as a
realtime 3D Myst spinoff - wasn't quite as detailed as the pre-rendered
titles like Riven or Myst 3, but easily a few notches above the
original Myst, and the team of 50 ramping up development of new content
intended to add new areas and new story developments every month,
keeping players engaged through a fresh flow of actual new content
instead of a long grind. The story was set in the present day;
explorers wandering off the beaten path in a desert would discover a
pasage underground - the Cleft - which led to a large underground city,
long abandoned, where Atrus's ancestors and the D'ni race had lived
quietly for centuries until their society was wiped out.
links to other worlds strewn about from this city would be monitored by
an organization called the DRC (D'ni Restoration Council) and the DRC
would attempt to explore, somewhat cautiously, the strange
archaeological site and attempt to learn about the past residents of
the city, their culture, history, technologies, etc, and they also
tried to keep visitors from the surface of Earth safe while they
explored it. The DRC was counterbalanced by Yeesha, Atrus's now
aging and fairly cryptic daughter, who insisted that rebuilding the
city and the civilization that had wiped itself out would be a mistake.
third faction, the Bahro, were slaves of the D'ni who now no longer had
their masters' yoke forced upon them. Bahro, Yeesha, and DRC reps
appeared intermittently in the cavern and its connected worlds, and
would converse with players. They weren't AI bots; they were
actual Cyan staff playing roles. About a dozen characters existed
and were operated by three or four Cyan staff part-time, usually in
public areas. Notable story figures would often be rapidly mobbed
by players and appeared at random times which meant while most players
would catch a handful of events, the rest would have to be relayed to
them verbally or through screenshots/screen recordings after the fact.
Art direction, as with Myst V later on, was handled
skillfully by Stephan Martienere, and the music was composed well by
Tim Larkin. The online part of the game was shut down in a broad
sweep by a decision high up at Ubisoft (the publisher) only three
months after opening day.
A lot of what was partially developed
for the game when the shutdown hit, was converted into a singleplayer
expansion pack or restructured for use as part of the Myst V content.
online game, which ran from early fall 2003 to the end of that year,
would be reopened by Turner, as an exclusive part of their Gametap
online game service in 2006, and it ran there with a slightly slower
stream of new content releases until early 2008, when Uru shut down a
Finally, Cyan reopened it in 2010 in a largely
stagnant form, with no new content or story, as-is, for free on
MystOnline.com. While the original run had a Cyan dev team of 50
and the second run had 37, nowadays Cyan has only 2-3 people working on
it part-time, releasing an occasional patch and maintaining the
existing online servers.
It's free and open to basically anyone
and everyone who wants to try it, but players who wish to support it
and help Cyan cover the cost of keeping it online do have the option of
donating a few dollars to the studio's Uru operating fund every once in
a while for that purpose.
Arguably, in terms of sheer number of
worlds and sheer explorable area, it's the single biggest Myst game
ever made. Fans continue trying to develop new content to keep
the game fresh but these fan ages are very, very slow in coming along,
as there are only a few fans doing this who have real enthusiasm and
relevant skills, and the few who are working on new Uru worlds are
doing so part time as a hobby. It has been an agonizingly slow
process for all of these reasons, especially when we consider the fact
that at first when the game reopened we had no viable way to even
output fan content that was functional in multiplayer. As time
passed Cyan handed us their own toolset but it was built into 3DS Max,
and few fans can justify buying software that costly for a mere hobby.
Nowadays those tools are being reverse engineered by Adam Johnson
into 'Korman' - a toolset that is not as stable or complete as the 3DS
max equivalent but which is built into Blender and can export content
for multiplayer. Korman is still inching forward and it is hoped
that soon enough fans *might* get a first few ages output from that
plugin to Uru and approved by Cyan, then added as part of a patch or
Objectively, that could be good news, but the
fanbase is eroding and has become fairly demoralized when it comes to
Uru and has had to cope with a long string of disappointments and
delays since 2003. The game is already limping along and is now
very, very out of date technologically. It's debatable at this
point whether Uru is ever going to be successfully revitalized or if
it'll just continue to languish until donations dry up and it shuts
down one final time.
Myst series and Obduction are creative works by Cyan, Inc. No
copyright infringement is intended as this is a non-profit informational fan page.