I realized the moment I fell into the fissure that the Book would not be destroyed as I had planned. It continued falling into that starry expanse, of which I had only a fleeting glimpse. I have tried to speculate where it might have landed, but I must admit that such conjecture is futile. Still, questions about whose hands might one day hold my Myst book are unsettling to me. I know my apprehensions might never be allayed, and so I close, realizing that perhaps the ending has not yet been written. -- Atrus

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fan Stuff I Found During Random Google Image Search

Lately, out of the blue it seems, my fingers have been itching to pick up The Book of Ti'ana to read for, gosh, I don't know, the 10th time?  That's probably lightweight for some.  I haven't read the book, or even thought about it, in years, but suddenly I've become possessed by this desire to reread it.  It will be quite dangerous because my obsession with Veovis will reawaken and I will end up roaming my apartment in complete and utter despair.

On a whim I began Google image searching for drawings people have made of him.  The fan art is amazing (see below), but I imagine my Myst husband quite differently.  I think Shoomlah comes closest.  Some people give him white hair, many people give him long hair.  No, he's a hot, tall man with pale blue eyes and short, jet-black hair in a style akin to Christian Bale's.  Hmmm...He looks like Christian Bale with black hair and pale blue eyes.  Yes.  This is certain.  It is a fact!  If I could draw (which I can't), I would be able to express myself more clearly.  Hélas!  Here are the excellent drawings that I found:

Fan's art page: http://icedwingsart.deviantart.com/art/Lord-Veovis-282492444

Fan's art page: http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/11286297?view_mode=2

Fan's art page: http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/artists/200611547?view_mode=2
Fan's art page: http://artoveli.deviantart.com/
Shoomlah's page: http://shoomlah.deviantart.com/
That's what I have found so far.  I particularly like Shoomlah's stuff, as well as Artoveli's.  After Veovis, I started looking for some Aitrus stuff.  I'm really anxious to see the first generation I guess!  There were a lot of cute Aitrus-Anna ones which I thought were great.
Cute Aitrus and Anna pic...I don't know who made it, though

I was disturbed by this (I guess the D'ni do not make pretty babies!):

Fan's art page: http://nosferatu-iddi.deviantart.com/art/1657-Aitrus-is-born-40677286

But this stuff that had me howling with laughter:

And my ultimate favorite, which has a number of hilarious and fabulous cartoons is this one.  The art is quite recent, so I look forward to more!  Here's an example:

Sirrus kinda looks like Flynn Rider from Tangled.  That's definitely not a bad thing.  I'm so jealous that so many people have such amazing drawing skills.  I wish I could draw these guys!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


This post had begun as something completely different, but now I am hijacking it to celebrate Thanksgiving and discuss one of the things I am thankful for.

Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving when American families and friends come together to feast! and also to remember everything we are thankful for: having roofs over our heads, having a hot meal, having our families around us.  Basically we humble ourselves, regardless of how wrong the fairy tale story is of the Pilgrims and Native Americans.  History and politics aside, Thanksgiving is, today, about family gathering together, and inviting friends to celebrate with you if they are unable to visit or don't have their own families.  It's a singularly North American tradition and one I wouldn't trade for the world.  All sorts of things go on.  Eating, of course, is the main event, and this happens in the afternoon.  Why?  Because you need loads of time to digest before going anywhere or doing anything other than lying around in a soporific state with your pants unbuttoned until you have room for at least 3 different pies, and yes, you eat a slice from each one in succession, completely guilt free.  The day starts with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade which ends with an appearance by Santa Claus (which marks the beginning of the holiday season), and then it's cooking and preparing for the rest of the morning with particular attention paid to the turkey.  I haven't hard-core celebrated Thanksgiving in years, but I remember the hunts through the grocery store for that amazing 18 lb. turkey!  So bing! the turkey is done at 2-3 pm, the table is set, grace is said (if you adhere to any particular religion), and devouring commences.  The general foods tend to be mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, cranberry sauce, some form of vegetable, traditionally I guess that would be corn (we always ate peas), stuffing, and yams/sweet potatoes.  Drinking is by the gallon.  And finally, after an hour or more, you fall out of your chairs in a stupor and crawl in front of the TV to watch the football game.  After football is PIE: traditionally pumpkin, pecan, and apple.  My mom always made cherry pie as well, and currently I am chugging along making my key lime pie for tomorrow's feast.  A friend of mine invited me over to gorge with her mom and roommate.  YAY!  Sometimes people take the time at the end to set up their Christmas trees, because Thanksgiving, as I stated above, marks the beginning of the holiday season, i.e., Christmas.

What follows this day is a nightmare that I never have nor ever will participate in: the infamous Black Friday.  All the humility of the day before is purged from the system and people, en masse, set siege to stores and plunder all the sale items.  This day is for Christmas shopping, while expensive items are cheap.  So that is Thanksgiving, from my perspective.

I am thankful for a great many things, but since this is my Myst blog, my intention is to express my thanks to Cyan for adding such great things to my life, for creating worlds into which I can escape and allow my imagination to run free.  I have spent a lot of years enjoying their work and it has even led me to engaging with other fans either in Uru or on the various forums that have come and gone since I debuted in the internet world.  While I have no prominent role in the community, I still am so happy to be involved in my marginal way.  I never knew how much I would invest in the Mystverse, and now that Obduction is coming, in the Cyanverse.  So I have decided to post here some images and things that show all the weird stuff I have been inspired to do of late.

I have a pretty sweet collection of stuff.  Alas, I brought only a teeny-tiny fraction of it with me to New York when I moved here.  The rest is sitting in boxes in my mom's house in Illinois.  But I hope to be reunited with it soon.  So here are the various ways in which I have Myst here with me in New York City.

Let me begin with the map of D'ni!  I despise white walls, so I try to cover them up as much as possible.  Unfortunately, in my first NYC apartment, we were not allowed to paint, so I covered the walls with everything and anything else.  My bedroom was a cool 49 sq. ft., so I had a loft bed with a desk underneath. It was terribly cramped and I don't ever want to live like that again.  But anyway, front and center is my D'ni map!  And you can see how messy my desk is.  Desks tend to get messy anyway from time to time, but it just couldn't be helped in that small space.  Despite my unhappiness there, I was able to enjoy my Myst surroundings such as they were.

My desk in my first NYC apartment
My map traveled with me, of course, to the Bronx where I now live.  It's waiting for a new desk over which to be hung.  I have printouts of maps and charts from Uru that I want to frame and hang up as well.  In my new place, I am painting and I don't care what anyone says!  There are too many white walls!  I feel like I am going insane!

Some of my art, plus D'ni map, waiting to be hung on the wall.  Oh, and one of Bagheera's toys.
The other physical pieces of my collection that I managed to bring with me are below.  The story behind bringing so few items is a. because my bedroom was so tiny and not much would fit, and b. I moved my carefully selected property in only a van.  My friends and I tetris-ed my stuff into the van, I sat in the rear passenger seat, unable to move, with my cat in his carrier on my lap, while my two friends had the freedom of movement in the front seats.  We drove from Chicagoland to NYC with a stop at Gettysburg along the way because I love the Civil War.  All I managed to fit was this stuff (minus the Myst IV game, which I bought not too long ago):

The tiny amount of Myst stuff I brought with me when I moved to NYC
Where the tangible items fall short, I have made up for on my computer!!!!  I have four screenshots of how Myst is everywhere on my PC.

Start menu!
As you can see, games, particularly Myst, are the majority of items I allow on my desktop.  I like it to be clean and orderly.  RealMyst Masterpiece is going to mess up my solid column of Myst games, but because it is a Cyan product, it can do whatever it wants!

Ever since convincing local_character to play MOULa with me, I have been fiddling about with game recording software.  I had recorded a test video a while ago and was disappointed to see the watermark taking up a large portion of the video.  I realized that it goes away when you buy it and activate with the key haha!  Yay!  So I took the time to make a silly, and probably boring, video of a re-enactment of when I discovered for the first time that the Cleft was littered with Riven remains.  THAT WAS SO COOL!!  Realizing that that was where the Myst book had landed, and that it was also the place where I would land after falling into the star fissure following the successful completion of Riven (I had always wondered how Atrus could leave the Stranger so high and dry!), really made things come full circle.  It was a subtle yet powerful addition to the game.  Here is my video haha!  I spell the word homage incorrectly in it.

Lastly, I have been aching for a Riven shirt like the ones we can wear in Uru.  There was a similar Riven shirt on ebay for a while, but then they all disappeared and I was so upset.  But then I just made my own!  It's not very well-crafted, but it's fine with me hahahaha!!!!!  But seriously, Cyan, can you please find a way to make some official Myst gear?  Or maybe make Steam do it!  Do they do that sort of thing?

I love Riven!!!
Thanks Cyan!  I'll be thinking of you all while I devour turkey tomorrow!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Congratulations Cyan!! Obduct Me!

The Kickstarter has ended and Cyan has met and exceeded their funding goal!  They achieved this earlier in the week, actually, but we all know that I am not avidly posting every day.  I can't describe how excited I am!  And that old feeling of waiting in glorious anticipation has returned.  Somehow, this fills me with enthusiasm for life in general.  I think it's psychologically healthy!

Congrats, Cyan!  Excited for Obduction!
I was playing around with stuff, being completely silly.  Such as the above, being very excited for Cyan's success, wearing my Whoba shirt to convey the Cyan spirit.  What is the story behind that, by the way?  I'm completely clueless about these things.  Anyhow, I also amused myself by putting this together:

Imager advertisement for Obduction
So so so silly.  Other people have been coming up with great stuff, such as carving Myst and Obduction pumpkins.  That sentence is grammatically incorrect, but I am too lazy to hit backspace and rewrite it, so instead I am writing a sentence about it because that makes total sense.

In another fit of artistic energy and while waiting for Cyan's second hangout to start, I drew this:

And finally, I have a special message for the folks at Cyan who have really made a deep impression on my life.  Your work has enraptured me for almost as long as Myst has been around.  It's been great to see you all "in person" (via videos, that is!) and I am so grateful for how much you include us in your work.  While I doubt this will actually come to your attention, here's a little something for you below.  It's from an ancient Egyptian story and I felt that it suits you:

sw3ḥ mnw.k m mrwt.k
Make your monuments endure through love of you.

I love you guys!  Thanks for everything you have done for us.  And congratulations on your success -- you deserve it!!

First Foray into Kadish Tolesa

Wow, so yesterday totally did not turn into a day of posting.  In the middle of writing this one, my internet cut out for the rest of the day (which we know is akin to the universe imploding)!  But today, it was fine and dandy.  Today, however, is very nearly tomorrow.

Back again with local_character.  It's certainly been awhile, but finally we both had some spare time to visit a new Age, well new for him anyway.  Last time he had cheated through finished Eders Gira/Kemo and then introduced himself to Teledahn.  However, somehow I found myself visiting him in Kadish.  He seemed to like it from what I could tell, but it's hard not to.  All that purple and trees and falling leaves.  He did ask me if there was anyone else in the Age. I told him of course not, why do you ask.  He responded that it was because it is lonely there.  I told him, yeah, welcome to Myst.  A theme of this journey was local_character discovering all the commands to make his avatar do things.  Also he experimented with his KI by taking pictures and ki-mailing them to me:

Local_character's picture of me in Kadish Tolesa.
And of course, once you discover something new, you feel the need to keep doing it over and over!

Local_character's picture of me looking at the picture he just sent before this one.
It reminded me somewhat of this:

Which of course is awesome!  That's one of the most hilarious movies in the history of film, by the way.  I recommend!  French flick called Les Visiteurs.

Anyhow, it was a fruitful venture, as he passed the first puzzle, which was excellent.  I told him that when I played for the first time, that was the only puzzle in this Age that I was able to solve by myself.  That's when you know it's an easy one!

He found the first two cloths really quickly, but he never made mention of the Bahro stone.  He ran between the first and second machines that open the door to the beyond, fiddling about with them and then seeing if anything moved.  He wanted me to mess around with the machines to see if anything moved, but I had not read his message correctly and didn't realize he wanted me to do that until after he didn't need me anymore!  

Local_character figuring out the first puzzle in Kadish Tolesa.
When he was at the place where the first telescope is, running around all over the place, he fell into the abyss hahaha!  I told him yes, you have to be careful here!  He will learn soon to step carefully in this Age.  Agility is useful, indeed even required, here.  It took him a little while before he decided to venture to Kadish's gallery, but after he went (he forgot to take me with him) and wandered around for a bit, he noticed the stained glass clues.

Local_character finds the Kadish Gallery book.
At first, he took a KI picture of the clue and when he came back to use it to guide him through the puzzle he asked me "Hey can you zoom in on the pictures?"  Ah no, you must draw it!  This game requires external tools!  Back he went to draw the proper settings and after some trials and errors:

Victoire!  It's a really good thing he is somebody whose curiosity provokes him to push buttons without knowing what they do (in real life, I mean) because it really helps him to succeed quite quickly.  It's been really neat to watch the progress of a newbie.

By the way, as a favor to me, local_character backed Obduction!  He also thinks the game looks pretty cool and he was particularly impressed to see that the engine they're using is Unreal 4.  He said he hopes that by the time the game is released he will have a better computer.  Let's give him a round of applause: /clap

Within seconds he found the third cloth and I waited patiently while he slowly began to discover he was locked in the spiral staircase/lightup floor puzzle room.

After pressing the blue buttons in a number of random sequences, local_character asked me how he could solve it without any clues, and I asked him where he had found clues the last time.  I knew when he realized he should go back to the gallery that it would be quits for the day -- which it was.  He was intrigued, however, because he asked when we could play next, but alas, I won't be free for a while.  Nevertheless, it was incredible progress!  I have a feeling it won't continue to go as quickly...

Ah and it is now tomorrow.  Which is actually today.  I'm all sorts of paradoxical this night!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ancient Moiety Dagger?

FYI, this will be a day of posting!  This is the first of an estimated three I will be throwing up here today.  For a couple of months I have been wanting to post this and only now have I gotten around to it.

I was paging through a museum catalog on ancient Sudanese treasures when I found this:

Left: Moiety dagger from Riven.  Right: an ancient Nubian dagger, from ca. 1750 BC, Kerma, Sudan.  It was found in a child's (about 2 years old) grave and it is made of copper alloy, ivory, and wood.  Its dimensions are 160 mm blade and 32 mm (diameter) pommel.  Pretty cool, huh?  I won't bore you with the rest of the details, but if you are interested in exploring more of the ancient Sudan and its treasures, please refer to:

Anderson, Julie R. and Derek A. Welsby. Sudan Ancient Treasures: an Exhibition of Recent Discoveries from the Sudan National Museum.  London: British Museum Press, 2004.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


It's been what seems like a lifetime since Obduction was announced.  (I've only just had the time to write.) Currently, Cyan is raising funds for this new (awesome) game on Kickstarter, so if you haven't pledged yet DO IT NOW.  Find link here.

Earlier...much earlier...September 18, we finally got the definitive answer that the new game would not be Myst, and this was news I found disappointing, you know, because of the whole obsession with Myst thing.  I had written a post on it here.

Upon the official announcement/launch I had a facepalm moment and I felt like a moron for having posted that.  So now let me retract what I said about this blog not including anything about this new game -- insha'Allah it flies! -- and I will be all sorts of writing up here in this blog!

I realized that my blind obsession with Myst and all its components has blocked from my memory what it was that drew me to these games originally.  I have rambled countless times about how Riven was the first game I played and that it remains today my favorite game and how it was Riven that started the obsession, BUT I forgot the emotion, that first emotion.  I touched on it much earlier in my posts way back when (I can't bloody well remember and I am too lazy to go hunting, anyway it doesn't matter!), writing how my sisters and I were awed and amazed yadda yadda yadda.  While that seems to explain the "original feeling", it doesn't, because I forgot the extent of that original feeling and it was the Obduction trailer that made me remember.

I need to take you back to that first Riven play, well before I even knew there was an original Myst.  Well, I did know because the box said "Sequel to Myst", but somehow my sisters and I never really paid too much attention to that.  Why?  Because we didn't need to.  We already had Riven and that seemed to be enough to grab and maintain our attention.  So let us think of the time before Uru, Exile, Revelation (ugh), and End of Ages -- pretend none of those have happened yet and no one knew they were going to happen.  Let's forget that there were novels based on the games.  And let's imagine that Myst only existed because the Riven box said so and we neither knew nor cared what that meant.

Two teenagers and two preteens.  My sisters and I.  My dad had a computer room that we called the den.  Christmas 1997, my brother gave us Riven for Christmas.  What on earth was this thing?  We certainly didn't know.  I vaguely remember seeing it at a computer store.  This is where my memory gets cloudy -- when did we actually start to play it?  My current memory places our initial gameplay in summer 1998 because I remember playing it on Windows 98, but I think my dad may also have installed it on the older computer that had Windows 96.  I remember seeing it after he installed it, when he started it up.  I think the whole lot of us were called in to watch the magic of a computer game.  He sort of jumped around here and there and then exited because he was more concerned with seeing if it worked than actually playing it.

The first time I remember seeing it being played was in the summer (before or after Windows 98).  My oldest sister was seated at the computer, hogging all the computer time (she was about 16 at the time wow), and I wandered in to see what she was doing and I found this exact image:
Huts on Jungle Island, Riven
Well color me mesmerized!  Another sister or perhaps two of them came in to watch as my oldest sister tried to figure out the submarine and apart from seeing how cool it was to be "in" a vehicle, we were really scared about what would happen.  What if she did something wrong?  What if she pulled the wrong lever or pressed the wrong button?  The fear increased when she entered the school and fiddled about with the hangman game.

The dark lighting, the creepy music, the fact that you're alone in this world.  We were possessed by this game.  We nearly had heart attacks when we encountered people, such as that little girl, and Gehn's comrade who takes off in one of those trams.  And the trams!  The rides!  These were absolutely amazing.  We felt as though we were actually riding on them!  The room with the animal shapes puzzle was for us a terrifying moment.  And seeing Tay for the first time took our breath away.  That moment when you enter Gehn's temple to himself and his hologram appears and starts talking loudly -- we nearly peed out pants!  That spider chair -- the original spider chair, Revelation! -- was a terror also if only because we were caged within sharp spiky railings.  Catching frogs was so much fun!  Learning how that boiler worked felt like an accomplishment.  Reading Gehn's journal was terrifying because we were afraid he would walk in on us.  When we were able to put in CD 5 when we approached the Golden Dome from the back, we danced with joy!  We were also mostly frustrated because, for instance, our computer was so slow that we had trouble getting the fire marble domes to stop.  One of my sisters was an expert at it, so we would have her come down to open them for us.  We enjoyed sneaking up on the Sunners, pissing off the wahrk, poking that beetle (which I found creepy also).  Another feeling of accomplishment was when we finally gained access to that wahrk totem and when we closed the floor on that horrid wahrk gallows.  I could go on and on and on.

Moiety dagger
We weren't really in it for story then.  That was completely secondary.  We were entranced by the atmosphere, getting stuck on and working through the puzzles -- which were really hard!!  The game was so amazing to us because you really had to keep everything you saw and did in mind as you went on.  You had to take notes.  You had to read journals.  Clues were in there.  Also, the puzzles weren't random.  You didn't catch frogs for no reason.  You didn't piss off the wahrk for no reason (well, maybe not at first haha!).  Everything co-mingled.  You had to learn your colors in D'ni, remember to which island the color code belonged, map it on a grid.  I mean, truly, this game was perfect.  Even that map on Plateau Island was creepy because of the sound it made.  It was like the alien noises from Contact.  Being stuck in that cage when Gehn talks to you is also chilling.  I think we always died and so we had to use the cheats haha!!!  It also had to do with our computer being slow.  But seeing 233rd Age was a beautiful experience as well.

That original feeling had nothing to do with allegiance to Atrus or Catherine.  For us, it was some guy who made us go into a book to pick up his wife, leaving us to face danger and death.  We saw beautiful things, walked uncertainly through gateways, into buildings, into machines.  We followed the trail of a dude who was careful (though not careful enough) not to leave trails.  It was dark, scary, dangerous, and we liked it.  We played the game over, and over, and over, and over because we liked the way it looked and the way it felt, we even liked (in hindsight) how slow our computer was because it drew out the suspense.

When I saw the trailer for Obduction, all that "original feeling" came flooding back.  It's a world, or  worlds, that I know nothing about, I have no knowledge why I am there, I don't know what to do unless I find something--a contraption or lever of some kind what will do something--and I will meet people I don't know, and don't know if I can trust, and I am going to do everything to figure it out.  That's exactly what the original feeling is.  And that's what Cyan is about.  I understand why it is that there won't be a new Myst game.

Playing the other Myst games for me was more about story.  I already knew the characters, so it was more about "I'm going to see what lovely new thing they've made" or "OMG we're going to D'ni!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  But it wasn't that "original feeling".

I'm really looking forward to seeing Obduction get off the ground, but it's only going to do that with your help!!!  Pledge now!

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Last Friday, that is, September 27, local_character and I met up for another game session.  He was intent on finishing Eder Gira/Kemo within the hour we were able to spend at that time.  He succeeded in obtaining his pillar, but we both left the game feeling rather annoyed.  This was because of bugs.

For me, Eder Gira/Kemo always irritated me because of the going back and forth because of all the accidents that end up chasing away the fireflies that are necessary to make any progress in Eder Gira.  As usual, it was the fireflies that caused all the grief during our game play not only because of the going back and forth but also because there were so many frustrating glitches.

It didn't help that every time we linked to Gira it was at night...as though the Age weren't dark enough!  Patience and perseverance is a significant necessity in these two Ages and at first I was amused by his slow discoveries as to what should be done with the fireflies.

Unfortunately, there were several times the fireflies didn't accompany him from Kemo to Gira.  Another time, the fireflies linked to another location (at the link spot to Kemo from Gira, right in front of the book) while local_character appeared at the link spot from Kemo to Gira.  Most of the time, the fireflies didn't accompany him, but the glowing still did, but then he would thrash about in the water and would have to go back and get more fireflies.

Trouble with Kemo fireflies
A couple of times, I could see his avatar, but he couldn't see mine.  I had him log off and then sign back in again, but the glitches continued.  I grabbed fireflies for him, but faced the same problems.  I went into the caves to turn on the lights, but they were un-turn-on-able in the nighttime darkness.  He was frustrated, I was frustrated, and by then he was complaining about the game in general:
local _character: this game is very glitchy
Baladria: it's not normally
local _character: theis is the first time the flies followed me
Baladria: i don't know why this is happening to you
local _character: i dont want to lose them
Baladria: i will let the Guild of Writers know so they can fix it
local _character: so lets get thes part done, is what mean
Baladria: well, unfortunately, you will have a lot of going back and forth to do in this Age
Baladria: that's why it drives me crazy
local _character: because if i lose them, i don't know if they'll follow again
Baladria: grr
local _character: thats why you need to walk me throught thid part
Baladria: if you don't want to finish this Age you can come to mine and that will make it easy for you
Baladria: so what would you like to do?
local _character: idk
Baladria: do you want to start a new Age?
Baladria: until this one gets to be daytime again?
local _character: sigh  forget it  
local _character: this is really annoying and not impressive
Baladria: you want to stop playing?
Baladria: like i said you can come to mine and i can show you
Baladria: this was a bad choice for the first Age lol
local _character: i think its dumb that i invested so much time
local _character: and because of glitches, i cant finish it
local _character: lets go to yours

We ended up going to my Age where he was able to finish, but even there I was invisible to him even though I could see him.  He pissed the pith hat as well as the Kemo Relto Page, and he was disappointed that he couldn't get past the glitches to do everything himself.  He expressed interest in going back and completing his own Gira/Kemo, now that he knows what to do.  However, he was happy to get a pillar and to jump into the "starry expanse, of which [he] had only a fleeting glimpse," from the Bahro cave.  In a sense, he felt some degree of accomplishment.

I recommended he try Teledahn next because it is miles easier than the Eders.  I was highly delighted when he asked if those were the hardest Ages, to which the answer was a resounding NO.

local _character: is it ever nighttime here??  [Teledahn]
Baladria: no
Baladria: thankfully
local _character: :(
Baladria: they did that with the last age to make it hard
Baladria: that was the only place that has a day/night sequence
local _character: ah
local _character: is it the hardest?
Baladria: no
Baladria: haha
Baladria: there are 2 others which are the two hardest [for me, anyway: Kadish Tolesa and Ahnonay]
Baladria: but they are also the most interesting
Baladria: actually there is another hard one with a day/night sequence [Minkata]
Baladria: i used a walkthrough for that one for the whole thing because it's difficult [yes, I admit, I often need a lot of help!]
Thus our adventure for the day ended.  I never did inform the Guild of Writers about the firefly trouble.  Perhaps they know about it already; they are pretty on top of things there.  The whole "day" (of game play) was frustrating and disappointing and I was a little upset that he was so unimpressed based on this small problem, but I am glad that he is willing to continue.  When he found the first Journey Cloth in Teledahn he felt a lot better for having accomplished one thumb, as it were, of the journey so early in the Age's puzzle-set.  I hope when we meet up again we won't have to face issues similar to the above-mentioned.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

realMyst Masterpiece Edition -- a Present from Cyan!

*Update 2/8/2014 -- this game has been released, check new post HERE for links to places where you can purchase on Steam or Mac App Store*

At last I can come up for some air!  I am a little behind, but finally I have a minute to respond to the news Cyan has recently publicized while I listen to the Myst soundtrack.  As soon as September 24 hit, we fans were sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for any news we could get on Myst's official 20th anniversary.  While our amazing game was not blessed with a Google Doodle, as Tai'lahr on the Cyan forums was hoping for, Cyan did give us a little something for our Platinum Jubilee.

(Traditionally, fine China was the 20th anniversary gift -- but apparently this gift has been demoted [or promoted?] to the 2nd anniversary in our modern era.  I suppose it makes sense because eventually one would want to eat off plates without having to wait 20 years.  First year is now clocks, which definitely beats the traditional paper, so we are able to await the good gifts to the music of the tick-tock.)

It appears that Vector Cramp wins the prize for speculating "an updated version of realMYST for Mac and PC.," because that is precisely what we are getting!  Yay!  Color me content!  (I just realized I didn't pay very much attention to the first page of he Kickstarter thread on the forums and in my excitement I posted in a great deal of haste haha what a dork!)

Cyan announced their present to us on Facebook as well as in the news section on their website, complete with teaser screenshots, followed by a clarification after several people bombarded them with very important questions.

The new addition to our lovely family is realMyst Masterpiece Edition.  I was concerned that this was just another iPad release, but NO!  It's going to be available for PC and Mac, and through Steam.  Whether we are getting hard copies I am not sure, but my wallet is willing to buy anything and everything that comes out.  Rent what?  We're getting day/night Channelwood (so excited!) and some updated water effects, and other stuff.
Image of the new and improved Channelwood for realMyst Masterpiece Edition
Furthermore, I can praise my Myst cohorts more for their brilliant ideas -- some have suggested a realRiven.  That would be mind-blowing, I think, but also I don't know if it is manageable?  Would the actor cut-scenes prove an obstacle for a project like that?  Still, can you imagine creepy Riven girl at night?  Yikes!

There are a few disappointed folks, naturally, as well as some skeptics concerned with the finished product, but I think this is quite a good nod to the anniversary celebration.  I think that this is more of a "let's give our fans something" rather than a "let's try to get some profit off another Myst game," which is more applicable to the whole jumping on the "let's make everything in the universe available on Apple products" train.  Because, really, Cyan didn't have to do anything for the anniversary.  For this I am grateful.  These guys really care; they are really in touch with their fans, which is really unique.  George R.R. Martin is the same way with his fans.  But with Cyan, they are truly invested in their Myst project, even though they want to move on to Something Else (and now I am much more open to it since we are getting a Myst present after all).  I mean, think about it.  They hired a guy to invent a new language for which they made a grammer/dictionary (came with EuroM5EoA).  And some hardcore linguists in our sub-culture have built websites/databases to help us all learn a fake language.  If and when I finally set to study it, it's totally going on my CV.  Those of us who are in the archaeology field tend to be known for being wackadoodles anyway, so why not fit the bill?

Talking of archaeology, one of my Egyptologist colleagues directed me to an interesting article, "Lost to the Ages" (published 9/24), about Myst's legacy (or lack thereof?).  Maybe it has already been posted elsewhere -- I tend to be that person who is the last to know.  It's concerned with the rise and fall of adventure games, how Myst played a "John the Baptist" role, preparing the way of the adventure genre, except that the genre kind of got trampled on not too long after by shooter games.  Or shall I say it got shot down...

I suppose that for many people, at the end of the day they just want to shoot something without really having to think about it.  I understand this sentiment, truly.  I spent many a year trying to study and read for my French literature classes while several of my guy friends gathered at my apartment not so much as to visit but to play Halo 3 on my TV whilst devouring pizza and Coke.  They weren't having the whole wander around aimlessly until you find something scenario.  Recently, I divulged to my supervisor my Myst obsession and he admitted to being convinced to play Myst, even though he wasn't a gamer, because he had heard good things and it looked interesting, but he couldn't get beyond Myst island without more blatant clues and thus didn't continue the game.  I guess this was a drawback for many.  I have a friend who doesn't want to hear about Myst at all because she had heard too much when it first came out.  So there is that side as well.

As far as Myst's legacy...it definitely has one.  I mean, enough so that the above article discussing its legacy exists.  Also, let's not forget -- and I know I mentioned this a dozen times -- it's at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York City.  I was there, man!  I've seen it!  Add to that the apps for Apple platforms which has awoken some nostalgia in many who did not continue on into obsession mode and for whom Myst is more of a memory of something that they participated in in the early 90s.  The game has made a lot of mainstream news this year due to its impact 20 years ago.  I don't think this was done for any other game.  I could be completely wrong on that score, however.  I don't remember any official articles discussing anniversaries of SimCity 2000 or Super Mario.  People do dress as Mario and Luigi at conventions and kids still play the games, but somehow Myst is garnering a bit more sophisticated attention.  That's really interesting.

I don't think this will have people who haven't followed the series after original Myst rushing to buy realMyst Masterpiece Edition.  For this reason I doubt any hard copies will be made and those of us who have crazy collections and multiple copies of everything that has ever been published on the series will have to deal with not having something to add to our shelves.  I would love to be wrong about this whole paragraph, though.  If something tangible does come out, I am prepared to buy the hell out of it!  Cyan can be sure of that!

So after all of the above, I'm not quite sure if I kept to a main idea, but that's my stream of conscious on the matter.  In the time it took to write all of that, I am now on track 12 from the Myst III: Exile soundtrack ("Theme from Edanna").  Haha!  Wow.  On that note...Shorah!

Baladria (me!) jamming to Myst: the Soundtrack [edit: I flipped the image so that "MYST" wouldn't be backwards haha!]

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sad :'(

I skipped off to the "kickstarter" thread on the Cyan forums and saw this:

And on our anniversary, too.  I guess I won't be writing very much about the new project after all, not that that ruins anyone's day or anything.  I was just really hoping.  Myst shouldn't have been alluded to because it caused us to misinterpret and now I am sad.  Why'djya do it, man?!  Anyhow, I'll be lurking to see what it's going to be.  (And seriously folks, how the fish do you solve this stuff?  I had no idea what you all were talking about in the last 8 pages of the thread! *amazed*)

On another note, regarding what the other folks were talking about concerning Android...yes please, can we have (real)Myst/Riven for Android?  Because that would rock.

Live Action Myst

I'll be quick because I have SO MUCH to read.  Ah grad school.  Let's start with this:

Good ole classic Riven mine cart ride.  Remember how fun that was the first time you experienced it?

Yesterday, I was on the subway, and for a good while because I'm living way up in the Bronx now, and I had the privilege to be in the front car and look out the window to see where we were going.  I might have compared a Myst ride to the Dublin Luas train (skip to about 1:00):

I remembered thinking about that when I was in Ireland summer 2012.  But no, forget it.  NYC subway wins.  I was going to try to record it myself.  I even pushed my way into the front car.  But, the window was dirty (no surprise) and there was no way I was going to get a video.  However, it seems that there are YouTubers who are geniuses like me and someone captured my point very beautifully:

That's pretty much all I have to say.  It was just one of those "Live Action Myst" moments...or shall I say "Real Myst" moments?  Either way, I am going to view taking the subway in a whole new light now, and it's going to be fun!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Things I Do for You...

Now that things seem to be shuffling along among the Cyan team, fans are getting back into the swing of things, namely speculation on what Cyan is doing next.  Or rather, what Cyan is doing now, because we don't know.  I might have written "because we don't have a clue", but in fact, according to greydragon, we have been given enough clues to figure out as much as they want us to.  We've been given a picture, or I guess two pictures, and some replies in the "speculation thread" on the forums that obviously are clues, but I sure as hell haven't been able to figure anything out (apart from that reply that incorporated the color cyan, which obviously means it's related to Cyan -- I see what you did there).

As I paged through the replies that have been posted since I last visited the site, I realized two things: 1. I forgot how stupid forum puzzles make me feel, and 2. I need a Twitter account.

Regarding #1, allow me to explain.  Here's the way things work.  We fans are given a clue about something that requires some intense technological expertise (or brain power superior to my own) to figure out.  Then some very computer-savvy fans -- with excellent time management skills -- post replies pertaining to computery stuff.  Then one of these geniuses (because they truly are geniuses, damn) figures it out and I am left stunned.  It's pretty cool to see them work it out, though.

As for #2: much of the speculation thread contains links to stuff on Cyan's FB page and Twitter account, and a zillion other links.  How do you guys find this stuff?!  I've noticed that I have been missing out on a lot of things, which makes me extra proud that I am able to be among the first group of folks actively participating in the new Cyan forums.  As I posted earlier, I am usually well behind.

I don't like the idea of being part of more than one social network thingy, and so up till now I have not even been curious about Twitter.  However, in hopes I can better keep up with the goings on at this most exciting time, I finally caved and created an account purely for Cyan.  At least now I may have a better chance at being as up to speed as my fellow fans, who are by far more intelligent than I am.

Tweet, tweet!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ready, Set, Action!

In the previous post, I mentioned my desire to record the screen during gameplay.  I tried using CamStudio only to discover it is shite for recording games.  I browsed the internet for recommendations and found Mirillis Action and I acquired it.  I highly recommend it!!  I'm sure I am behind the times with this discovery, but for anyone else looking for a software that performs this excellently and hasn't discovered Action yet, then here is my recommendation to you.

local_character did in fact log on to play yesterday morning and he explored a great deal more of Eder Kemo and made even more progress in terms of finding all the Cloths and discovering that fireflies stick to you and can be transported to another Age.  Unfortunately for him, when he linked to Gira the fireflies stayed behind in a somewhat aura fashion right in front of the Linking Book.  That was really weird!  I will post more about his exploration later when he returns to Kemo/Gira.  This post is more about my experimentation with recording.

I also had the bright idea that I should record a video of me giving commentary, and stuff that in the corner of the recording of the game play.  The first trial didn't go so well because it recorded the game sounds, too, and you couldn't hear a word I was saying.  I will have to think some more about how I want to do that.  Perhaps record separately, after gameplay.

My first foray into game recording was with pellet dropping.  I figured that was routine and simple enough to use as an experiment.  So here is my video:

I'm still trying to figure out how to get that Action header off the video.  Any suggestions?  I ask this of my audience that doesn't exist haha!

Friday, September 6, 2013

local_character Finally Returns

It has been two whole months since local_character logged in to Uru.  While we played for less than an hour, I was happy for it.  He made some great progress in that short amount of time, also.  Last time, we left off at nighttime Eder Gira.  He had figured out the steam vent puzzle and touched the first Journey Cloth of the Age(s).  After this he didn't know what to do and there he left it for two months.

So today we returned to Eder Gira, and it was daytime.  He said he liked the daytime a lot better because it wasn't as "depressing".  Lets see how much he likes it as he progresses!  This Age drove me crazy.

When I arrived to his Eder Gira, he told me he may have found another cloth and I asked him where.  I was pleased to discover he found this one:

local_character finds second Journey Cloth on ledge in Eder Gira with Baladria
After this he leapt to the other mini island where the lonely steam vent is located and the following signature local_character dialog ensued:
(09/06 09:24:17) From local _character: i can see up your skirt
(09/06 09:24:26) From local _character: aye
(09/06 09:24:50) From local _character: come down
(09/06 09:25:16) From local _character: helllllooooooo!!!!!!!
(09/06 09:25:42) To local _character: whoops
(09/06 09:25:50) To local _character: a little too far aha
(09/06 09:26:01) From local _character: can you see up my skirt?
(09/06 09:26:09) To local _character: yes
(09/06 09:26:14) To local _character: not a pretty sight
(09/06 09:26:23) From local _character: hahahaha

Just a touch earlier we had the following conversation:
(09/06 09:19:12) To local _character: let's do screenshot anyway
(09/06 09:19:43) To local _character: hahaaha hello?
(09/06 09:20:30) To local _character: are you there?
(09/06 09:21:29) To local _character: knock knock
(09/06 09:22:38) Baladria drums fingers on her desk
(09/06 09:23:02) To local _character: hey
(09/06 09:23:21) To local _character: haha thanks
(09/06 09:23:21) From local _character: sorry afk
(09/06 09:23:31) To local _character: once more, yes?
(09/06 09:23:33) From local _character: had to move my car
(09/06 09:23:51) To local _character: good ok
(09/06 09:24:03) To local _character: hahaha you had to move your car

So much time was wasted!  It was frustrating, for sure.  But at least he found that Cloth.  Next, after a bit more consideration he finally understood how to use the steam vents a second time to make the jump to the other side of Eder Gira.  He glanced at the Eder Kemo Book, but then found his first sparkly:

local_character finds his first calendar spark
He started exploring more when I got the idea to look up how to record my screen for demos and such, thinking it would be cool to record as well as to make chatlogs, screenshots, and KI images.Of course, during this time local_character ran around finding all sorts of things and I completely missed that he had ventured to Eder Kemo without me.  I was chatting to him, but again was receiving no answer, and so I returned to trying to download CamStudio which was having a fight with my antivirus software and then the roles were reversed because he was talking to me and was receiving no response:
(09/06 09:44:02) To local _character: where did you go this time?
(09/06 09:47:31) To local _character: are you moving your car again?
(09/06 09:47:32) To local _character: lol
(09/06 09:51:35) Baladria hums a song from Brigadoon
(09/06 09:53:08) From local _character: hey
(09/06 09:58:59)  local _character: that wasn a nic eplace
(09/06 09:59:08)  local _character: it was raining
(09/06 09:59:20)  local _character: what are you doing???????
(09/06 09:59:32)  local _character: it was a nice place
(09/06 09:59:44)  local _character: hey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(09/06 10:00:50) To local _character: sorry
(09/06 10:01:06)  Baladria: let's go!
(09/06 10:01:06)  local _character: :(
(09/06 10:01:15)  Baladria: why didn't you have me come along?
(09/06 10:01:21)  local _character: where?
(09/06 10:01:27)  Baladria: to the raining place
(09/06 10:01:41)  local _character: i went  you didnt go
(09/06 10:01:52)  Baladria: you didn't tell me that you went there

Apparently this is a recurring theme.  However, calling Eder Kemo "the raining place" was highly amusing to me.  Newbies, man.  Newbies.  We considered returning to Eder Kemo, this time together, but we both realized we had to go: him to work (and apparently to get his car fixed), and me to two meetings.  We, hopefully, are going to play again tomorrow morning when perhaps I will do some screen recording!  That could be fun!  Anyhow, here were the last bits of our conversation:
(09/06 10:05:04)  local _character: i have to go soon
(09/06 10:05:08) To local _character: me too
(09/06 10:05:11) To local _character: :(
(09/06 10:05:15)  local _character: :(
(09/06 10:05:23) To local _character: so call it a day?
(09/06 10:05:40) To local _character: dude 15 minutes every month isn't very rewarding haha
(09/06 10:05:55)  local _character: what do you mean?
(09/06 10:06:20) To local _character: i mean it's not fair that a month goes by and we only play for like half an hour
(09/06 10:06:33)  local _character: i know  
(09/06 10:06:49)  local _character: i need better time management
(09/06 10:06:53) To local _character: yes
(09/06 10:06:57) To local _character: hahaha
(09/06 10:07:18)  local _character: i have to go get the check engine light fixed on the car
(09/06 10:09:18)  local _character: lets see if we can playn tomorrow
(09/06 10:09:25) To local _character: ok goooooooooooooood!
(09/06 10:09:28) To local _character: yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay
(09/06 10:09:31)  local _character: how do we save?
(09/06 10:09:44) To local _character: it's saved with touching cloths
(09/06 10:09:49)  local _character: ok
(09/06 10:09:55)  local _character: later
(09/06 10:09:59) To local _character: toodles
So, some progress, but hopefully tomorrow will bring more adventures.

local_character touching second Journey Cloth in Eder Gira

Saturday, August 10, 2013

We Have Been Called -- A Return to the Forums

I first joined discussion with fellow fans of the Myst series when I was...well how old was I?  It was not long after we were allowed to start using the internet at home and after my dad bought our second computer.  Maybe I was 13 years old.  Anyway, I can't quite remember how I came upon it, but I discovered Cyan Chat!  I had only begun to hear about the whole instant messaging concept.  One of my classmates was always talking about the tiffs she and her friend were having via AOL.  I had no idea what AOL was because I was new to the internet and didn't even have an email address.

When I came upon Cyan Chat I felt quite rebellious and I started chatting, very timidly at first, but then with more confidence.  Someone asked me where I lived (just the general state and city thing like we do in Uru) and I became very cautious and told them I did not want to divulge that information.  My mom always warned me against these sort of things, you see.  I felt rather foolish later on.  I'd forgotten that whole thing until five years ago (WOW!  I was trying to remember when this next event happened.  I thought it was two years ago, but after counting it came to FIVE years ago!!)...anyway, five years ago I was helping an explorer in Uru when I asked the same question I had been asked, "Where are you from?"  The explorer responded that he was not allowed to divulge this information because he was 11.  It was an immediate flashback to circa 2001 and I remembered my first steps into the Myst community.  I am currently smiling and shaking my head as I write this, bathing in the nostalgia.  It has been so long.  I can't believe it.  Truly, my eyes are tearing up.

With the revamp of the Cyan site, I saw there Cyan Chat.  Specifically titled "Cyan Chat Room".  Chat Room!  It's so retro!  Now I am not sure whether this had been there all this time; I hadn't been very attentive lately, but seeing it there again, big and bold as you please, I was flooded with emotion that I cannot express.  This is the Cyan Chat homepage here.  And the fact that the server is called Cho and that it is referred to as "he" (e.g. Cho had a loose cable for a few days but he's securely plugged back in) makes me giggle.

Cho in Riven checking out the Linking Book given by Atrus to the Stranger
Also, "CHO is still going through some recovery pains."

The new Cyan forums, which connects to accounts on the Myst Online forums, are still in Beta mode, which is pretty cool because I've never been able to participate in a Beta stage before.  This is very exciting for me!  Also, it has allowed for my account at Myst Online to be rebooted after a few years of not being able to log in and complaining to the people in charge to no effect.  (You are now forgiven).  Then again, it looks like Myst Online has gone through a revamp also.  Interesting, interesting.

Looking back over the years, I observe my obsession with the game.  I was even a member of the now deceased UruObsession forums which I liked very much!  I foresee a return to this state of being as we progress further along the surprise route of new Myst.  A lot of keeping up with the community, a lot of friends to make, a lot of many things, but mainly a lot of sharing our enthusiasm and ecstasy with one another (and also our friends who don't really care and will come to hate us in the months--maybe years--ahead).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Happy Anniversary? Something More!!!

*wild screaming*

Something is coming!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Review and Defense of the Video Games Collection of the Applied Design Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art

I am not a scholar of Modern Art; I study ancient Egypt.  However, I am very fortunate to be a student at a prestigious school, New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, and I have presumed that at some level it qualifies me to write a review on the new and, in some ways, controversial exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City: Applied Design.

The exhibition first became known to me via the CyanWorlds website, Cyan Worlds being the company behind the Myst franchise.  Yes Myst, that game from the ‘90s.  Founders -- and brothers --  Rand and Robyn Miller first released the best-selling adventure game Myst in 1993 on CD-ROM, the first time that medium was used for computer games.  It was a pretty big deal.  This year marks Myst's 20th anniversary during which time a Myst "sub-culture" has emerged.  I could not have been more ecstatic to see it acknowledged before the world that Myst is more than just a game.  Myst is now displayed in an eminent museum -- a sign of world-wide and world-recognized cultural impact.

Myst Island from the computer game Myst (1993)
What made the news all the more exciting to me was the fact that the exhibition is in the Museum of Modern Art of New York City, a city I am lucky enough to be living in currently.  The game is part of an exhibition called "Applied Design", curated by Paola Antonelli, senior curator of Architecture and Design.  She had selected 14 ground-breaking (in their time) video/computer games to display as part of the other pieces already on display in the Architecture and Design collection.  Now, when I first read about this I thought the heavens had opened and that hitherto unrecognized forms of art were elevated overnight to sophistication.  "It's about damn time," I told myself.  SimCity 2000, Pac-Man, Tetris, Portal, to name a few, are also part of the collection, an interactive collection at that, and as I passed among the museum audience as they listened to the games via the available headphones or played the games (I watched one little girl no older than 9 play Portal -- that was cool!  See image below), I felt nostalgic.  

Girl playing Portal (2007) at the Applied Design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Photo by Briana C. Jackson
A memory floated back to me that I didn't realize still lingered in my brain of how in Middle School we were rewarded after finishing our typing lesson with time to play SimCity 2000.  Summers at home were spent building cities, feeling a sense of satisfaction when I could finally build that airport and see airplanes zooming across the computer screen.  Then I remembered another summer I played SimFarm and how I would allow myself to devour a Pixy Stix only after I harvested a good crop of strawberries.  I was quite moved by the display of SimCity 2000 because a huge wall displayed tiles of screenshots while beside it a video screen played segments of gameplay.  To me, this was a beautiful thing.

Cell phone photo of the wall featuring screenshots of SimCity 2000  (1994), part of the Applied Design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Photo by Briana C. Jackson
View of the wall featuring screenshots of SimCity 2000 (1994) with the video of the game, part of the Applied Design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Photo by Briana C. Jackson
A better, brighter image someone posted online is below (sorry for stealing, but also thank you for producing such a wonderful image):

View of the wall featuring screenshots of SimCity 2000 (1994) with the video of the game, part of the Applied Design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
This wall draws your eye immediately you step into the collection.  It's not right in front of you, mind.  In fact, it's rather tucked away, but amid all the white you catch this flash of color in the corner of your eye and you are drawn to the display.  I then, of course, made a beeline for the Myst display.  Like SimCity 2000, you can't play Myst, probably because of the narrative aspect with Myst and the strategy required for SimCity 2000.

Like a shining beacon, Myst lured me.  I had to wait and hop around in anxiety while a man listened to the music (accessed by means of headphones) and watched the video of the game.  Finally, I had the game all to myself and hogged the display while my roommate very graciously submitted to my pleas for photos.

Briana C. Jackson beside the Myst (1993) display as part of the Applied Design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Observe in the above image the two pairs of headphones, the video screen (in this photo the Blue Book in which Achenar is trapped appears in the middle of the screen.  "Bring the blue pages!"), and the label.  And myself, of course.  I would have dressed more fashionably, but I decided to "cosplay" a bit and dress like my Uru avatar:

Baladria and Briana at the Myst display at MoMA
The soundtrack that plays through the headphones is the music of the game.  The video begins with the Myst introduction, and carries on until the Myst Book falls to the ground and the Stranger is able to open it and travel to Myst Island.  Following this are various screenshots of the Ages as well as views of the brothers Sirrus and Achenar who are trapped in a red and blue Book respectively.  The video is set to repeat continuously.

Pac-Man (1980) and Tetris (1984) go way back, if you can call the '80s way back.  Actually, these two games were released before I was born.  I apologize to anyone who suddenly felt old after that sentence.  Imagine, therefore, people who were born in 1990, 2000, 2010.  How many of these people have been exposed to these two games in their original format?  With that in mind, we may consider this collection as a preservation of the video gaming vein that has been heavily absorbed into our culture.  It is difficult now for many to think about what life must have been like without video games.  People like to tell me how well off my generation is for being able to write papers using a computer when they had the more arduous, and therefore better, task of using a typewriter.  Likewise, my generation can tell those born in the 2000s "back in my day we played games only with the up, down, right, and left arrow keys on our keyboards!"  

Girl playing original Tetris (1984) at the Applied Design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Photo by Briana C. Jackson
The MoMA exhibition allows these generational boundaries to open up a little.  Furthermore, without the hard work and brilliant idea of curator Paola Antonelli and her participating colleagues, games such as Pac-Man and Tetris are no longer in danger of being relegated only to fond memories of the past and modern comedic references that soon may not make sense to the younger generations.  Museums are responsible not only for granting us access to the creative minds of today but also for preserving culture throughout history.  Recently, I have tried installing SimFarm on my Windows 8 OS, but there was no way for it to work.  The future looks grimmer and grimmer for games that turned heads in their days, and how many more will suffer the extinction?  This is why the video games collection is so brilliant.  It's the original computer code that is preserved, and with this computer code forever in the archives of MoMA, we have aspects of our culture, however insignificant it may be to some, that will continue to survive.  I applauded the installation of this collection with great enthusiasm because I was proud that at least one person in the exalted world of art was able to see beyond the entertainment value and instead see the imaginative and creative quality in a series of binary numbers.

With all the above in mind, I was completely taken aback when I found negative reviews so aggressive that it seemed as though Antonelli was being accused of committing an egregious crime and besmirching the foundations of art.  An article in the New York Times briefly covers this collection and some other things that are going on the the Design world: And to Think I Saw It @ MoMA! I still haven't decided if it is a negative or positive review.  Antonelli has this to say in response to critics:

She was also on the Colbert Report, which says an extra something about the controversy of this exhibition.

Before I went to the exhibition I had already planned to write up a post about how excited I was to see Myst exhibited in a museum as opposed to just another tech geek convention (not that those aren't great).  However, after reading a very negative review, as well as seeing the rest of the museum's collections, I was feeling a bit protective of the games I grew up with, particularly Myst, and I knew I had to go a bit further in my ramblings.

This article, MoMA Has Mistaken Video Games for Art, very clearly argues that video games are only code and that "just" code is not anywhere close to being equated with art.  Here is where I have a problem.  Yes, at the most basic level of video games, they are code, but not "just" code.  And yes, Antonelli states that the fundamental purpose of the collection is to preserve the code, that is the idea of the medium and how it leads to extraordinary visuals.  Her entire Applied Design exhibition is meant to move toward the theoretical, throwing in a bit of physics and really engaging the audience, encouraging them to look beyond the superficial and into the heart and soul of design.  The stuff you don't see that results in something truly creative and inventive, even utilitarian.  Mistaken Video Games for Art?  I have made a laundry list of things I have questioned as being of artistic value.  For instance, observe these two images below:

If I were to tell you that these are artworks acquired by a museum at a great cost, would you believe me?  Well it is true.  I saw these pieces.  The first is by Donald Judd, the second by Carl Andre.  Look it up if you don't believe me.  Now, I already stated that I am not a scholar in Modern Art.  BUT, if a snooty scholar is going to argue that video games cannot be construed as art, then I am going to pick on the stuff I have a problem with.  The Judd piece, Untitled (Stack) makes a supposed minimalist statement, but, and I put this in bold, the museum label reads that it is "a geometric form Judd favored because he felt it carried no symbolic meaning."  To me, it looks like Ikea furniture glued to a wall.  He has several of these same displays in various museums, and the only difference is the color.  In my opinion, and it's an opinion don't forget, he pulled the wool over many eyes and got away with making these absurd shelves and making a killing out of them, perhaps just because he can.  I saw my first Judd piece in class once and then saw the students around me nodding voraciously to each other as though there were some inside secret.  My first thought about the piece was "What the hell is that?"  And then: "I'd put my coffee on it."  I can understand the people who crowded around Starry Night, but not the people who stopped to ponder a series of shelves on a wall.

The second one, a piece by Carl Andre which is similar to the one at MoMA (unless it is the one at MoMA? it's difficult to tell.) is what it is.  Two layers of bricks.  At MoMA the bricks are in the middle of the floor, quite the impediment in case of fire in my opinion, that is if people would still be aware of artworks when there is a fire.  I nearly stumbled over the piece as I was passing through, but caught myself on a dime when I realized -- wait there's art there.  It would better serve a construction site somewhere.  The bricks reminded me of the mudbricks the Egyptians make at Abydos for the conservation project of the Shunet el-Zebib monument there.  Someone should let them know they can make some sweet cash if they stacked them up in the middle of a floor.  I am truly missing something, I admit this unreservedly.  Is it another minimalism thing?  I'm not quite sure what that means.  I have a friend, Israel Mateos, who is into minimalist comic books by an artist/writer known as Jason.  For example, try his book I Killed Adolf Hitler.  These comic books are extremely limited in their textual narrative and rely almost entirely on the pictures to tell the story.  I've tried these books, and while I can see the appeal among comic book readers, I must admit that even there I am perplexed.

Now, allow me to turn to other art.  There's a plaza that runs between 56th and 57th Streets near the intersection at 5th Avenue, where last week I nearly bit the dust when a driver ran a red light.  In this roofed plaza are various comical-looking sculptures that line the walls.  They are all chocolaty brown in color and have globular, voluptuous shapes.  At passing glance they look like cartoons that children might enjoy.  One day as I was passing through, I actually looked at one and to my horror realized it was a swan having sex with a woman!  This morning, on my walk to the IFA, I decided I would look for some sign it was actual art.  I put my bag down and looked all over the sculpture, inadvertently drawing a lot of attention to myself from people standing around, and, upon crawling as far back as I could go, I found near the floor a museum label.  The piece is called Leda and the Swan (2007) by one Fernando Botero.  I took a picture of it for you.  The guy on the phone was one of the people who stared at me while I crawled on the floor.  And oops, by bag is in front of Leda's face.
Leda and the Swan (2007) by Fernando Botero, Marlborough Gallery, New York
It is interesting that what I thought was mere decoration suddenly became in my mind Art, merely because it had a title, a Classical reference, and a museum label.  It begs the question of how much art we miss simply because we don't realize it's art.  Another interesting artwork is the LOVE sculpture on 55th Street and 5th Avenue.  I know that people like to have their pictures taken with it, but I don't think people stop to think that it is Art.  It falls under the Pop Art category, whatever that means, and you can read about it on good old Wikipedia.  People know that the LOVE sculpture bears significance, and so they take pictures with it.  Now Love and Art.  That struck me quite strongly because it inspires one to think of two abstract ideas.  What is Love?  What is Art?  Is the contemplation of these two concepts part of the intention behind the design?

Below, these weird and creepy sculptures that appeared one day at an entrance to Central Park are an obvious artwork.  You don't have to sit there and wonder whether it is meant to be art; you know it is art because it was obviously erected to be perceived as such.

"United Enemies" (collection) by Thomas Schütte, Central Park, New York
One final questionable artwork is what I like to call the Giant E.  I found it one day last year while walking home and immediately thought of my sister, Erin.  When she came to New York recently, I hunted down the Giant E again so that I could have her take a picture with it.

Erin Jackson and the Giant E on 57th Street, New York
This sculpture is a bizarre case because it is multifaceted.  Is is a lower-case "e"?  Is it a 9?  Is it an upside-down 6?  Or maybe even, as commentary on linguistics, an upside-down schwa?  It's all a matter of perspective.  Also, is it Art?  Can we break this down even further as "intentional art" or "unintentional art"?  I discovered that it is actually a 9, designed by one Ivan Chermayeff of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv graphic design firm.  To me, the innocence of it makes it all the more artistic, but still--is it Art?

This brings me back to the video game collection at the Museum of Modern Art and that cruel title of the article MoMA Has Mistaken Video Games for Art which leaves no room for considering an alternative view that maybe video games are art.  Liel Leibovitz, the author of the aforementioned article and an assistant professor of Digital Media at NYU, implies that the collection is merely a demonstration of code.  But, as Antonelli argues, it is the idea that she is more concerned with.  If it were mere code, surely we would see mere code printed on a wall.  No, the code is displayed in its visually creative form.  What we see on the screen is the effect of the code which is hidden to us.  I have a small feeling that Antonelli is holding back a little in terms of the statement she is making about computer code.  If it were just code, why display only games?  Underlying is a bold statement that video games ARE art.

Consider what goes into the making of a computer game.  I know, because I have all the "making of" CDs that come with the special editions of the Myst games.  There are orchestras involved, conceptual artists, actors, etc.  The creators of Myst invented a whole new language, script, and numerical system, all of which one encounters in the games.  Observe an example of Myst concept art:

Concept art for Myst IV: Revelation, "Nighttime Tomahna"
I remember the first time I saw that concept art as I waited impatiently for the release of the fourth installment of the single-player series.  There is a website of some other concept art from the game Riven here that reveals the extent to which landscapes, geographies, and architecture were designed.

I have criticized some art very strongly here, but, while I personally don't find some works appealing, I do not think it is fitting to disregard their artistic value compared to other works, now that I find myself defending MoMA's video game exhibition.  Always in courses we are asked to consider what "art" is.  It seems no one ever has a clear definition.  Furthermore, who determines what is art and what is not?  Art Historians are trained to be discerning in their appraisals, but does that make them the only judges of art?  Video games are technological inventions that manifest images, ideas, and narratives.  Paintings and sculptures do the same, but with different media.  Who am I to say Judd's works aren't art, and who is anyone else to say video games aren't art?

"Pac-Man alongside Picasso", to me, is one of the most innovative installations I have encountered in museums thus far.  This little bit of code has impacted our culture worldwide since at least 1980.  This little bit of code displayed at MoMA is not only a visual addition to the museum but also it is a conservation project that preserves a broader spectrum of art.  Perhaps it is not as exalted as Picasso in the eyes of some, but art isn't meant to be exclusive.  That's why we have museums.  Just code?  I am just happy that I have lived to see Myst, in its 20th year, achieve enough acclaim to be exhibited in one of the most prestigious museums.  It's a reward most deserved.  Sixteen years of solving all of Atrus's problems seems to have paid off!

And to the little girl I saw playing Tetris, it may have been just a game to you when you visited a museum your parents dragged you to, but you have linked yourself culturally to your parents' generation.  And maybe in the future, when your kids are playing the latest video game, you will remember playing the original Tetris, a game your parents used to play at home as kids, at the Museum of Modern Art, thanks to the vision of one woman named Paola Antonelli.

For the future of video games, perhaps the ending has not yet been written...