Uru: Ages Beyond Macs? - Myst Developer May Blow Off Mac
May 27th, 2003

My first Mac was a Performa 6115. I bought it at Best Buy.

I've had a strange relationship with Best Buy over the years; it's a place I never really liked, but I wind up going there anyway because it does have a lot of stuff I want. Best Buy does have a decent rebate system, and you can often find what you are looking for. For some reason which is personal, I just hate giving them my money, but that's beyond the scope of what I want to talk about.

Back when I bought my 6115, there was a new game out that was all the rage: Myst. Myst was simply amazing. Cyan, the company that developed Myst, used Apple technology, namely QuickTime and Hypercard, to create a world that was so immersive that millions of copies of the game was sold. If you had a Mac, you had Myst.

Cyan also produced sequels to Myst; Riven and Exile were not as popular as Myst but they were no less amazing to play. Actually, you didn't 'play' these games, you got involved, you interacted with the game. The photo-realistic quality of the graphics and the little QuickTime touches, such as fireflies dancing before you or a startled bird taking flight, drew you in and held you captive. It was like becoming the main character in an engrossing novel.

All three games have been available for the Mac. True enough, Cyan likely sold far more PC versions than they did Mac copies, but one could always believe that if there was a Myst game there would also be a version for the Mac. When realMyst came out there was a delay in the release of the Mac version, but it did show up.

Now there's a new addition to the Myst lineup and, this time, the Mac version may not show up at all.

Uru: Ages Beyond Myst is the latest undertaking by the folks at Cyan. Uru is a bit different than the other Myst games, however; while there will be a single player component of Uru, the big attraction will be its online capabilities. Here's what the Folks at Cyan say about Uru:

Ubi Soft Entertainment, one of the world's largest videogame publishers, and Cyan Worlds, Inc., developers of the legendary Myst and Riven, today announced more details about Uru: Ages Beyond Myst , the eagerly-awaited game for the PC that combines an all new addition to the legendary Myst franchise with the power of the Internet. Uru is the latest chapter in the Myst series - one of the most widely recognized game brands in history, with more than 12 million units sold worldwide. It is scheduled to launch for Holiday 2003.

Uru , from the creators of the original Myst and Riven, represents a new generation of adventure games. In Uru , you'll not only spend hours discovering vast, visually arresting worlds and solving mind-challenging puzzles, but by subscribing to Uru Live , you'll also take part in a unique social experience within an ever-expanding world.

"Uru is a revolutionary adventure game that takes the best qualities of the Myst franchise and makes them even better. The single-player experience will eclipse the beauty, grandeur and mind-challenging elements of previous titles. Plus, with the option to join a constantly updated, online universe, the adventure never has to end," said Rand Miller, founder of Cyan Worlds. "From new machines and puzzles to special events and entirely new Ages, players will find more to do, more to see, and more to explore each time they return - and this time, they can discover everything with old and new friends."

With Uru , players will have the opportunity to explore and interact with meticulously crafted 3D environments in, around and beyond the newly discovered underground D'ni empire that predates human civilization on Earth. Intuitive and easy to play, Uru will appeal to gamers of all ages and skill levels. An intriguing storyline unfolds as players explore surreal environments, gather clues, solve puzzles, play mini-games, and unlock new areas to investigate. In addition to the single-player experience, subscribers to the online universe will be able to join and create small neighborhoods, embark on adventures with friends and join the crowd in the sprawling D'ni city - while using real-time voice chat to communicate with each other.

"Ten years ago, Myst brought gaming to the masses. By using cutting-edge technology to reinvent adventure gaming, we're making sure that Uru will appeal to a broad audience that includes long-time fans of the series, casual gamers, and devotees of both single-player and online games," said Tony Kee, vice president of marketing for Ubi Soft Entertainment. "And just as Myst broke new ground when it first appeared, Uru is a revolutionary adventure game that combines the amazing features of the more traditional single-player game with a stunning, surreal, 'never-the-same-thing-twice,' persistent online universe."

Cool, huh? Before you get too excited read this bit from the Uru FAQ:

Will Uru be available on the Mac?
Currently Uru is only planned to be available on the PC. But we are exploring options to expand to other platforms. Check back with the Uru Web site for updates regarding additional skus that may become available.

While I'm sure that if the game is really popular it will eventually show up on the Mac, it is a bit distressing that Cyan, for the first time it seems, is ignoring the Mac. Yeah, I know this happens all the time, but I honestly believed that many of the problems developers had with including Macs in their initial development plans went away with the burial of OS 9. And I never would have believed that Cyan, a company made by the Mac platform, would abandon the platform that gave them their start.

Spare me the business diatribes; not everything is about the bottom line. If that were so, Apple should have folded a long time ago. It does seem, however, that loyalty is a commodity that is becoming scarcer everyday. Companies no longer feel that they are part of a community or should be concerned about the parts that make up its customer base. True, the Mac community would likely only contribute a small share of Cyan's total profits, but the Mac community is a loyal group. If Uru is anything like Myst Mac owners will buy it.

I'm not saying that Cyan should ignore profits. It's OK by me if the company develops Uru for the PC first as long as they as intend to create the Mac version at some future time.

I intend to write Cyan and voice my opinion. It will likely make little difference, but at least I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that they know of at least one Mac user who is disappointed in the decision to only "explore options to expand to other platforms." We're not just talking about another platform here, we're talking about the platform that helped create Myst in the first place. We're talking about Macs.