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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Crimault again

crimault is Rivening now!  Go watch!  It's slow-starting at the moment only because he's having loads of technical difficulty.  Happily, it's not getting him down!

Sadly, however, I do not have any more coffee creamer.  I didn't find any at Rite Aid when I stopped by.  I can't do black coffee.  I am also out of milk, so that doesn't help matters.  I am also running out of k-cups.  This is a huge problem.  I do still have my wonderful loose teas, however.  My favs: jasmine, Moroccan mint, and Earl Grey.  These will have to serve for coffee.  The mint tends to be really zippy.  I was jacked on mint one night and wrote an impromptu essay on Egyptian cosmology and sent it to my saint of a professor to read.  Why am I talking about this?  Well, because I usually watch crimault's videos during breakfast or nighttime tea (which is usually something herbal like chamomile or hibiscus, which apparently helps maintain blood pressure).  It justifies my watching YouTube when I really should be doing other things.

Go watch!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YltAkk-BJz8

Egyptian and Narayani Hieroglyphs

There's an Egyptian hieroglyph that always makes me smile when I see it in a translation exercise.  As an ideogram it means "lasso", but it is also used as a phonogram (i.e., to "spell out" words) which sounds like "wah" (official transliteration = w3).

Though it may be only vaguely similar, it always makes me think of the Narayani symbol for nature!!

Observe:

Egyptian hieroglyph "lasso" or "w3"
Narayani hieroglyph "nature"

Right?!  (Shut up, yes it does look like it!)  I will keep my eye out for more!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Myst Newbie Plays RealMyst Masterpiece Edition

Via Twitter I came upon a YouTube channel of a guy named "crimault" who decided to record his gameplay of RMME.  He'd never played a Myst game before and bought RMME from Steam because of the aesthetics of the screenshots.

I recommend watching because his commentary is hilarious.  I watched his videos over morning coffee and night tea.  They don't take long.  I think a couple of times I choked, most of the time I laughed, and also I talked back with stuff like "Noooo!" and "Bravo!" and "You completely forgot that switch!  Please notice it!"


He actually really enjoyed himself, which was quite refreshing to hear, given that so many people today think the game is lame (as a person recently told me).  He has been convinced that he should play Riven, so by all means stick with his channel.  It's going to be so exciting (as I laugh evilly).

It's providing me with loads of entertainment since I haven't been able to explore more of RMME due to the various research projects I am working on, my language training, and my job which has recently resumed.

I hope you also enjoy his videos!  I provided only the link above instead of embedding the video so that you will have a list of his uploads.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

RMME Review #2: Mechanical Age

Standard disclaimer: Spoilers abound herein.  If you have any problems, dial information, thank you for calling.


Onward and upward!  To Mechanical Age we go.  The suspenseful music at the clock tower was really creepy, which I liked very much.  I'm trying to find it on the soundtrack, but I can't.  Which tune is it???

Anyhow, I finally figured out what that invert look feature is.  In Classic Myst mode you can bring up a screenshot of original Myst which is superimposed on your current realMyst view.  Just hold the Shift key for comparative study.  It's pretty interesting, actually.  In certain areas in Mechanical, well, namely INSIDE the fortress, there is a clear difference.  RMME is considerably shadowier whereas original Myst is rather bright.  But that's ok, because we have a flashlight!  

Example of "invert look" feature in Classic Myst mode
In one review, the reviewer (I can't remember which, sorry) didn't like the invert look feature.  True, the feature is just an extra gadget without any real purpose other than to show exactly what changes have been made, but hey, it's a game, so we're not supposed to take everything so seriously.  I did find, however, that I was unable to switch to this mode from Free Roam when I was on the top floor.  I wanted to check the differences in lighting between old and new, but couldn't manage it.  The flashlight really came in handy, but it wasn't NECESSARY to use it since there is nothing there except gears.  This is of course when you don't drop the elevator down to access the controls.

Top floor in darkness, behind elevator

Same view with flashlight.  See how much fun this is?
Top floor sans elevator = bright, flashlight not necessary
When you drop the elevator you can see it is bright enough to see what you need to see.  What I am trying to indicate here is that the flashlight is not integral to puzzle-solving.

As to the real-time effect here.  I think we are all guilty of thinking realMyst automatically means day/night cycles everywhere.  Clearly, this is not true.  In Mechanical Age, the sun has a horizontal orbit, much like in Teledahn in Uru (love that Age!!).  I think there may be some disappointment among folks about this, BUT, I found that the movement of the sun in Mechanical is entirely congruent with the theme of the Age.  Think about it.  The whole rotation thing, you see.

Ok, I have to say something about the difficulty people seem to be having with looking around.  You don't have to hold down any mouse buttons!!!!  Just stop walking, and move your mouse to any edge of your screen and ta da you are looking around.  Isn't this how first-person shooters work also?  I played Halo 3 once for two minutes while tripped out on Vicodin immediately after oral surgery so I may have my facts wrong.  I'm not understanding how the controls are a problem.

I was fishing around in Sirrus' room and I poked the chess board and I found something fun!  Was this always here?  I can't remember at all.  Maybe someone will confirm somewhere.


Hehehe it's cute!  I was also amused...or re-amused I guess...by how polite Sirrus is in his letter to Achenar, where he signs it "Regards"!


I should start signing that on emails to my sisters and see what they say hahaha!!  :P

It took me a minute to figure out the tower rotation because I completely forgot how that whole thing worked.  When I made it to the third island, I saw in my left-hand view something interesting -- was that always there?  A Blackship!


Holy Blackship!
It did not take very long to complete this Age since I didn't need to wait around for any day/night cycle.  So I grabbed my pages and crammed them into their respective books.  I'm really impressed by how Rand could play calm and wise Atrus AND freakazoid Achenar.  When I first played this game I had no idea they were played by the same guy.

So Mechanical is complete and Stoneship is next.  I have to admit that I am miles more excited for Selenitic and Channelwood, which is why I am getting the other two out of the way first.  But Mechanical was nice.  Again, the water is breathtaking.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

RMME Review #1: Myst Island

Spoilers abound herein.  If you have any problems, dial information, thank you for calling.


So I have begun a thorough inspection of realMyst: Masterpiece Edition as well as keeping an eye on the Cyan Forums to see what others are saying.  It seems like some (or many?) people are having technical problems with their copies.  I don't seem to be having any, personally.  Also, there are some criticisms about the look and controls, but again, I am not finding issues there.  I am also not a computer genius who can pick out stuff like something about geometry (?) and call it a problem.  Part of the issue of waiting a long time for something is that people become quite critical of what they've been waiting for.  It's the waiting syndrome.  The longer the wait, the higher the expectation.

It's like the new season of Sherlock, which is unlike the previous two seasons because there's a lot of stuff to unpack and it is more character-driven.  People had been waiting two years for season 3 and their expectations were higher than ever.  Thus, many were disappointed.  I on the other hand had a blast with it.  I about threw a fit when I saw that Sherlock [SPOILER] got himself a girlfriend, but then I remembered that one story (in the original books/stories!) that Sherlock becomes engaged for a case and I grinned at yet another nod to the source material.  Fandom is a scary relationship.  Sometimes you own them, sometimes they own you.  I'm not sure if that is something I'd be able to navigate so well.

So let's begin our review, shall we?  The opening is lovely with an updated falling Atrus -- now I haven't played realMyst (2000) in a long while, so I can't remember what is new and what is old.  I also haven't played Myst in a long time and I only glanced at it on the iPhone app, so again, it's like a new experience!  Which is a good thing!  It brings back the mystère.  (Screenshots made available via Fraps.)

Do do DO (that's me singing the opening music.  I agree, I am a regular Renée Fleming)
We now move on to the technical stuff.  The controls, the settings, and whatever else is technical.  There are two basic options for moving around.  There's Classic Myst mode and Free Roam mode.  Classic Myst is the point-and-click mode, but it's much more zoomy than original Myst.  I can't remember original realMyst, but I think it's like that too.  I played that all of once a long time ago.  Notice that you can change the speed.  There's an option for inverting the look, but I'm not sure what this is.  I toggled it on and off, but I didn't notice anything.  Perhaps someone could tell me what it does.


I selected Free Roam which allows you to look all over the place as in Myst Online: Uru Live.  Unfortunately you can't do this unless standing still.  To move, you use keys and to look around you use the mouse.  Clicking with the mouse is unnecessary because all you need to do is move the cursor to the side, top, or bottom of your screen and your view follows.  It's quite nice, I find.  However, it takes some getting used to in combination with the walking controls because you have to stop to look around.  Cyan has some bases covered here, though, and has made things easy for sinister folk (i.e., left-handed -- I'm not being mean, look up the Latin haha!) because the walking keys are both the arrow keys and the WASD keys, which, if you have even a small degree of ambidexterity, you can alternate between keys and mouse more efficiently.  For instance, if you are right-handed, use your mouse with right hand for looking and WASD keys for walking.  For left-handeders, the opposite-ish.  Cyan seems to promote equal opportunity.  Except for when it comes to translations -- so far.  Perhaps this will change in the near future?  You can also hold down the Shift key to run, Forrest, run in case you are in a hurry and have to leave for work in five minutes but not before you have gotten that blue page from Selenitic.

In settings, there are two tabs.  I will take a glance at tab one farther down, but here is tab two.  You see that you can adjust pretty much everything in the game.  I didn't bother touching this, and you can see where my settings are (the default).  Perhaps that's why I haven't faced any problems yet.  I'm in no hurry, and I like balance together with good quality.  I think it's a personality test!


Assistance is extremely available in the game.  I think if this had been the case in original Myst, the Field Director for the excavation project I participate in might have stuck with the game when he decided to try it 20 years ago.  The not knowing what the hell to do discouraged him from continuing.  RMME does not shy away from giving you as much as you could possibly want:


In the game there is a little interactive guide when you click on stuff you can move.  For example, when you turn on a Marker Switch two white arrows appear that indicate the directions in which the switch can move.

Helpful arrows for those who perhaps are concerned about moving stuff they shouldn't.
This feature is turned on by default, but you can easily switch it off in settings for a more traditional exploration experience.  So keep your pants on, and don't be so hasty to disapprove of new features like this.  For some it makes the game more play-worthy to have access to help like this.  Cyan lets you turn them on or off according to your taste.


The main page shows your save games.  You save by dragging the top right frame (your current game) to one of the boxes on the left, much like you do in the iPhone/Pad apps.  Very simple, easy, and basic.  Now, one of the features, which seems to have some people in knots, is the flashlight.  Yes, there is a flashlight!


At the bottom of the ESC screen, to the right of the volume control you see a little icon in the shape of a flashlight.  You can use it in dark places when all other lights go out.  I discovered in my two hour exploration of Myst Island that the flashlight automatically turns on at a certain point of darkness, but all you have to do is press ESC and click on the flashlight and turn it off.  I know some people do not like this feature because darkness is part of the gameplay and puzzles.  Personally, I think it's freakin' awesome and hilarious, so don't listen to the nay-sayers!  It's optional like the interactive guides, so you can choose not to use it OR you can close the door in the cabin, turn on your flashlight and pretend you are a jewel thief -- you know, because of the safe.

Shhh!  I think I heard a noise!
Ok, so the actual island and day night cycle.  Segments of the cycle are hourly.  I began playing at around 10am and it was daylight.  Then after a while I wandered off to make more coffee and got entangled in a conversation with myself and when I returned at around 11:00, it was sunset.

Sunset
I decided to wait around for daybreak and read through the journals and read my emails, just to get the times right for the day/night cycle.  The moon is pretty amazing, and it's really cool to see it make its progress across the sky.



Daybreak occurred an hour later, so I guess sunrise-sunrise is approximately two hours.  (*sings "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof*)  With daybreak I noticed there are two horizons.  The dual horizons are visible in all liminal stages (sunset, moonrise), but especially here.

Sunrise


It's brief, so I don't think it detracts from the beauty of the cycle.  And look at the water.  It's brilliant!  The reflection grows as the sun rises.  That's some attention to detail if ever there was!

There are two new (?) cool things I noticed.  One is you can see the window in the tower and two is you can see a reflection in the rocket ship!

Check out the reflection!

The window in the tower.
The tower made me laugh because it was clear that I haven't played Myst in a while.  I went to the elevator and pressed the button to go up, but it didn't go anywhere!  I kept pressing it, wondering why, until I realized I had to close the door myself first.  Uru has spoiled me!  It reminded me of when I rode the Luas in Dublin for the first time.  When I had reached my stop I waited for the doors to open.  They didn't and the tram continued its journey to the next stop with me in it!  I discovered I was supposed to press the little green button to open the doors myself (Ireland likes to conserve energy; they are very energy-efficient there).  I, of course, am used to NYC's subway and Chicago's L-train systems where the doors magically open for you (the conductor controls the doors).

Anyway, next stop is Mechanical Age.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

/end experiment

I regret to announce that local_character has decided to discontinue participating in my experiment and stop playing Myst Online: Uru Live (again).  Earlier, in 2013, I had begun a study to see how a person who has never played Myst before approaches the game and puzzles.  He did an excellent job in the small amount of time he played.  Unfortunately, he disliked his experience and we had differences of opinion over the appeal of the game, and I faced some hurtful remarks.  But the concept of Myst is for some very difficult to understand.  MOULa I guess is particularly so because of the interaction with other players.  Maybe it is the option of just hanging out and chat that is strange to some.  He was in D'ni just this weekend and was turned off by the chatting going on and the mere presence of others.  He believes that Myst has seen its day and now is no longer relevant.  This conversation began when I brought up RMME.

I had some time to mull over this while heading home this evening.  When RMME was released, I posted it on Facebook and a friend by the name Loshem who I met in MOUL when it was thriving commented and then we simultaneously stated that we missed each other.  I sat there for a moment staring at my comments and was overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness, loneliness, and emptiness.  I'm not a person who takes kindly to change and so when things I care about end it is painful to recall the good ole days--MOUL had been very special for me circa 2007/8.  I was going through a moment of unhappiness in my life and MOUL had given me relief where I could find like-minded people who didn't mind obsessing over the game as well as simply chatting.

I suppose what I had aimed at with my "experiment" was to in some part revisit playing the game with someone.  But, as I had read someone write on the forums somewhere, MOULa just isn't MOULa anymore.  Having dedicated more than half my life to the franchise, that is a hard pill to swallow, true though it may be.  Sometimes I think I have come to the party too late, that this blog should have been done years ago when it may have provoked interest, but that this is a new activity of mine shows how continually dedicated I am.  Just because Myst ends doesn't mean my love for it does!  Besides, I shall be including Obduction in my future discussions!!  And I've been having loads of fun droning on and on to myself about this obsession!

But with regards to the above I guess we can just file this away under the category "nostalgia sucks".  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

realMyst: Masterpiece Edition IS HERE!

At last!  realMyst: Masterpiece Edition has been released on Steam at $17.99.  Apparently for owners of original realMyst (purchased through Steam, of course) there's a 33% discount with an adjusted price of $11.99.

CLICKY!

Also, it is now available on the Mac App Store HERE!

I just bought it, downloading now.  I'm very uberly excited!  So much Myst has occurred this month!  Baladria is a happy camper!



I just did another check for the Mac app store, but I still don't see it there.  Wonder why.  Unless the issue hasn't been taken care of and Steam, like Apple, will remove it.  Well we shall see.  If that should happen, I will just update in this post.

Now I just have the pesky problem of rearranging my desktop icons since the Myst shortcut icons have exceeded one column.  Should I remove the original realMyst icon?  I suppose I could.  I could still have it as a tile on my start menu.  Choices choices.

First Impression

I opened the game to take a peek at the improvements.  OH MY GOD.  I wasn't expecting such a HUGE improvement.  Blimey!  The opening title is beautiful and then moves into a very real-looking falling Atrus.  The Myst book is completely different and looks, well, like a book!  And the wait screen has a Falling Man figure as the cursor.  I think we can safely say this is freakin' amazing!  

As for the play itself, it's a matter of conforming to the controls.  Switching between all the Myst games is a challenge in terms of managing the controls because they're all different!  I've been wandering around on Riven with my iPhone, and I've been roaming around on Myst Online, both of which require different mouse/keys/touch skills.

This is great.  I think I will have to do up a review for this, Myst for iPhone, and Riven for iPhone when I finally get around to playing and finishing them.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Myst for Academic Reading

Some time ago, I found a book Myst & Riven: the World of the D'ni by Dr. Mark J.P. Wolf on Amazon.com.  It confused me at first...is this something distributed by Cyan?  It didn't matter!  It's about Myst, so in it went into my Wishlist folder.  I finally ordered the thing and it arrived today and made me a happy person for the remainder of the day.

It's published through University of Michigan Press, so it's an official academic piece, and I will be treating it accordingly.  After reading I will post my review.  I read the first chapter, which was really short, so that's not really an accomplishment, and it seems a quick read and one that is geared toward a large audience, much like Myst itself.  However, I can't imagine many people would pick this up for light reading.  Anyhow, it looks promising.  I'll probably read it a couple times before I tackle a proper review, but hopefully I will finish it in a couple of months or less.  Or more.  You never know.

I was also super elated today because I started a game in Riven on the subway.  I don't think I have ever been so happy to ride the D train in my life!

Also, realMyst Masterpiece Edition is very nearly out!  It was a close-but-no-cigar situation today, but the tiger is almost out of the cage.  Some people found it on the Mac App Store, but I think it has since been removed since Cyan's released statement that it still has some kinks to be fixed.  Or maybe I just fail at navigating their site.  A comparison screenshot of Mechanical Age was posted on Cyan's forums, and it looks great!  Pretty soon the earth will quake with the squeals of delight heard 'round the world.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hardest, Stupidest and Craziest Puzzles in Myst History? -- a response

I was reading comments on the Cyan forums and I saw a link in someone's signature that led to this very old topic on the MOUL forums, titled "Hardest, Stupidest and Craziest Puzzles in Myst History?".  This is probably one of the funniest things I have ever read on any Myst-related forum.  I would say it is the funniest thing I have read on any forum in general, but the IMDb boards are a scream!  If you're ever bored, go find a movie on that site and page through the topics.

First, I shall give my opinions:

Hardest: 
I will have to agree with others and say the Riven fire marbles puzzle.  I have others to add, however.  I know they have one answer for each, but this is my game now and I will play how I want.

1. Riven fire marbles -- and it's not so much that the single puzzle of putting the marble in the right box is hard, but that the ENTIRETY of the games puzzles culminate in that little grid.  I think it is Cyan's greatest achievement in terms of puzzles.  Ahnonay is second place.
2. Ahnonay in general (all iterations)
3. Mangrees in Myst 4
4. Minkata in general
5. Spider chair in Myst 4

Stupidest (I will translate this as Most Infuriating)

1. Mangrees in Myst 4 (those monkeys are lucky they're cute!)
2. Serenia in general
3. Collaborating with Atrus on that blasted machine in Myst 4.
4. Fireflies in Eder Gira/Kemo
5. Markers in Uru -- I know lots of people enjoy this, but I can't bloody stand it
6. Esher popping up out of nowhere.  Constantly.
7. Jumping in Gahreesen -- I Relto'd out so many times playing that Age.

Craziest

1. Serenia in general
2. Mangrees in Myst 4
3. [crazy cool] Ahnonay in general (all iterations)
4. Drawing pictures for the Bahro...I still am confused by Myst 5 (I like the game a lot, but seriously -- what?)
5. [crazy cool] Amateria's ride!

Favorite Puzzles
1. Riven in general
2. Water channels in Channelwood
3. The sounds of nature in Selenitic
4. Orchids in Edanna
5. Color-telescopes in J'nanin
6. Shooting rocks in Teledahn
7. Ahnonay in general
8. Roller coaster in Amateria

I'm probably forgetting stuff, but that's what I have for the moment.

Some people have condemned the Pod Ages and the Watcher's Sanctuary, but I find myself indifferent.  This is probably to do with my impatience and lack of immense intelligence needed to figure out these puzzles which led me to consult walkthroughs rather than piece it all together myself.  Happily, some excellent people arranged a calendar for the Pod Ages and I could plan my day around when the portal would appear.  Set some pellets in Er'cana to bake, vacuum, read a book, watch a movie, etc.  It was rather a comfortable set of puzzles for those of us who cannot dedicate much effort.  As to the Watcher's Sanctuary, I do admit I was bored during those approximate 15 minutes, but I was so nervous that I would miss my window of opportunity and I kept my eyes glued to the screen and my hand poised over the mouse the whole time.

It seems like everyone is especially hard on Myst IV: Revelation.  It's a good thing Cyan didn't make it!  I can't say enough how much that game fails compared to the others.  Why do you play it then, you ask?  Because it must be played -- there's essential story.  Also, it does have some things to recommend it, for example the visuals and the majority of Haven and Spire.  Perhaps if they removed the magic necklace, the priestesses in Serenia, Dream, and the elaborate monkey puzzle the game would have been excellent.  Several people have also ripped on poor Atrus and his ever-famous quote "Try moving the slider!"  Ah Rand, you'll never live that one down.  I am pleased to announce that when I played Myst 4 (again) over the summer I calibrated that machine with relative ease and Atrus didn't yell at me.  I felt more accomplished then than I did throughout the rest of the game.

A few of the comments concerning the color clouds in Dream are particularly amusing.  Strangely enough I found that puzzle enjoyable.  For me, it's like that happy feeling of popping bubble wrap.  I think anthropologists and psychologists need to get together and study the emotional effects of bubble wrap popping.  Why do we like it so much???

Moving on to the fireflies -- HA (see LuigiHann's amazing post on p. 1 of afore-linked forum topic).  I think enough is said in my earlier post Bugs where poor local_character was enduring immense strife not only with the fireflies but also with glitches in the game.  It was dreadful and he nearly quit the game altogether!  But if I could add one more bit of criticism, I hate trying to get that damn Relto Page in Eder Kemo!  It takes me FOREVER to make that jump and I HATE it.

Anyhow, I spent an hour reading all 7 pages of that topic.  It was fun!  It also makes me miss the Myst Online days ca. 2007/8.  Those were wonderful times.