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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Obduction

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!

6 comments:

Darke Adventures said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darke Adventures said...

What a fantastic comment, sums up my feelings (and I am sure, many others) when first playing Riven - 16 years later I am still playing it and have my own Riven site (and a licence from Cyan to produce). Great piece, great writing, love your style. Oh, and yes, I have already pledged Obduction - for the same reasons... Kind regards JD

Briana Jackson said...

Oh wow thanks very much! I'd love to see your Riven site. I just checked out your Uru blog, too, which is fab!

Darke Adventures said...

www.rivenworld.com - still work in progress (Been caught up with the decorating), it is an ongoing work so will be updated as more information comes to light. I am no web designer so it is not perfect but I just want to keep Riven alive - at least for my lifetime lol.

Darke Adventures said...

Hmmm, looking at my 'URU Blog' which is slightly worrying as it isn't mine but the user profile is... Really weird that...

Briana Jackson said...

Hahahaha! That is a bit worrying :P And wow your Riven site is pretty awesome!

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