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

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A New Newbie!

Oh happiness and glee!!!  I have been able to recruit a new player to Uru, one who will actually appreciate the game because she played Riven so long ago and read some of the books (not sure how far she got).

This amazing person is none other than my own big sister! <3

I am so excited about this.  We played for a couple of hours last Saturday and she finished the Cleft.  So soon we will be playing again tonight and I am looking forward to exploring with her.  I'll be documenting as we go along.  She lives a couple of time zones away, so the going will be slow.  But that's great!!

She is the one my other sisters and I used to watch play.  And it was when she was playing that I saw my first ever image of Riven:

First scene of Riven I saw
Her name in-game is iota nmblebottom (not exactly sure what that means, but whaddya gonna do?).  Ah well sheesh, who knows where the heck "Baladria" came from.  Made it up when I was 13 years old for a character for a story, but somehow I made it my internet name hahaha!  If you google it, you will also find information on a creepy insect Strumigenys baladria.  Not exactly sure how I feel about pictures of me and pictures of a bug appearing together in Google images.  Oh gosh, and apparently there's an AntWiki, the tagline for which is "Bringing ants to the world."

Along with my documentation of iota's adventures, I will be exploring Riven on iPhone next weekend on my flight to and from Portland.  So much fun to be had next weekend.  Riven, Hannibal, Cosmos, and Game of Thrones!  Is there any felicity in the world greater than this?

RealMyst Masterpiece Edition Review #5: Selenitic, End Game, and Rime

Right-o, so finale!  It has only taken a century!  Real life was taking center stage.  As with the last post, I had already played this portion a while ago, but I only just now had the time to write it up.  I doubt it will be very eloquent or interesting.  But it will be long.

Side note, I had noticed that Steam wasn't clocking my gameplay which I found annoying because I like getting those little prizes.  Honestly, I have no idea why because it is entirely unnecessary, but I want prizes!  Hehe!  Then I realized that you can play the game without having to go through Steam.  Nevertheless, I went through Steam so I could get stuff that doesn't matter.  While I was there I noticed Rome Total War 2 was marked down 50%.  I still don't have funds to spare for it, though, so not yet, RTW2.  Also with Steam I didn't realize there was a screenshot feature, but I do now!  Happy times.

Once again, it had been so long since I have played this game, so getting to Selenitic took some time.  I'm pretty sure other people would get a better combination of voltage in the little room that powers up the spaceship, but I came up with 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 10 to make 59.  Something I notices in the volt room is that the panes of glass distort the images of the machines behind them as you walk back and forth.  I found this very cool and realistic!

I love the metal texture!

I also love the rockiness.

And I also love the glass distortion.
The keyboard did not pose any problems for me.  I know some folks have a lot of problems with it because of the whole hearing and applying the appropriate notes, but, all you need to do is count the keys!!  And ta-da! you're in.  Why is it a spaceship/rocket though?

Just count the keys and then count the notes.  Listening is hardly necessary
Funny thing, I gave a presentation last December on the unusual "helicopter hieroglyph" and "spaceship hieroglyph" that appear in an ancient Egyptian temple and I was so excited because I used a screenshot of the Myst spaceship for comparative purposes.  Those who know me well were rather amused that I managed to squeeze in something Myst-related.  Where there's a will there's a way!

Now in Selenitic, which I always liked best, it's is a touch disappointing not to see a day/night cycle here because the journal praises it so much.  Of course, that is before Atrus stabilized the Age, but even so.  I also noticed that the water isn't as impressively rendered, but maybe that is because you are seeing it under a layer of fog.  When the fog parts as you move around it is very nice to see the landscape emerge -- again, quite realistic.

Da journal discuss day/night colors!

The water isn't as impressive as elsewhere, and also compare it to the realistic looking rock of the platform.

This is a gorgeous image.
And the landscape is extremely beautiful.  It's hard to take a bad picture of this place.  It reminds me of a less mind-blowing version of Ahnonay, that is is you look at the shape of the island and that structure in the center.  Let's just pause and appreciate Selenitic:

Pink tree garden

Pink leaves falling

Pink tree garden and its pool

The fiery chasm of Mordor!

I want a Myst clock!  This shot with the lighting is gorgeous!

Colorful crystals in the sunlight

A bridge to nowhere
You can zip around this island very easily because the puzzles are rather straightforward.  Maybe that's why I like it best HA!  But what's most fun about this Age is while you are wandering and enjoying the scenery such as the garden and the crystals, when you enter the underwater cave you are completely surprised by BATS!  I shrieked when those things flew at me and it took me a couple of seconds to calm myself before proceeding!  I quickly aligned the sounds to the frequency thingy, took the combination, and hurried along to the door at the beginning of the Age so I could head back with my pages.

One thing I noted about the Myst series is its brilliance with respect to the final door, which is usually at "the place which you came from."  Bonus points if you know the origin of that quote.  But did you notice this?  Uru seems to be a bit more linear though.  Eder Kemo is, of course, an exception.  Likely there are others.  Which would prove this entire paragraph wrong.

When I first played this game I found it to be the easiest one, at least until I came to that little car at the end.  For some reason it didn't strike me that I needed to know the sounds associated with the directions.  It's pretty obvious, though.  I mean, the entire Age and even unlocking the Age has to do with sound.  There was a bug where two of the directional sounds were opposite of the ones you hear in Mechanical.  I'm not sure if this was fixed or not, but it is not imperative that you need the clues from Mechanical to solve the Selenitic puzzle.  Eventually you get it because the tracks set you up pretty well.  Anyway, this was my path: N --> W --> N --> E --> E --> S --> S --> W --> SW --> W --> NW --> NE -->N --> SE

Back on Myst Island, I listened to the two brothers: Achenar, the weirdo and Sirrus, the silver-tongued liar.  And then I ignored them, typed in the code in the fireplace/panic room (which Yeesha uses it as) and listened to Atrus.  I then ran out to get the white page and I spent a great deal of time turning the marker switches off before I remembered they are all supposed to be on!  I passed the white page along to Atrus and happiness ensued.  And then it was time for


I had only visited Rime once in my life, so it was really like playing for the first time.  It was pretty simple going about things.  Getting there is fun.  The Rime journal is actually on the library shelf the whole time, but when it's knocked on the floor it is quite obvious that there is more to the game!  Finding out what that button on the back of the viewer in the dockside room is quite interesting -- the Miller brothers' ability to hide things in plain sight never ceases to amaze.

Topographical map displays Rime, not Myst like I always thought.  Durrrr!
Rime is so beautiful with its snow and its crazy lights.  In the journal, Atrus writes that Sirrus was especially at home there: "He seems to enjoy the ice and the cold weather."  With that in mind, he is a lucky duck for having chosen to enter the red book (Spire) instead of the blue book (Haven).  Spire is right up his street.  But isn't it unfair that he should find himself in an environment he knew he had the potential to control at the outset?  Achenar really got the raw end of the deal.

It's snowing!
Once I got to the crystals room it took me forever to realize that you have to click and hold for the crystals to change color.  Just clicking changes the shape.  When I input the color/shape code, though, nothing happened!  I kept fiddling about until finally I discovered that the final crystal, which is purple on the sheet, is actually supposed to be dark blue.  An intentional mistake?

The code to view Riven: red, green, cyan, yellow, purple.
Anyhow, even though I've played Riven countless times, when I saw Riven in the viewer I got chills!

Peek-a-boo, Jungle Island!  (And the actual code: red, green, cyan, yellow, and NOT purple.)

Overall, I thought this game was revamped beautifully!  I am quite happy with the result and I am pleased to count it among my collection.  Recommended.  (Of course it is; it's a Myst game!)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

RealMyst Masterpiece Edition Review #4: Channelwood

First things first, some news: the first weekend of April I will be able to get into Riven for iPhone which will act as my "something to do on the plane" on my way to and from Portland.  That is, of course, if I can stay awake because I have a talent of falling into a deep sleep when I fly, from take off to touchdown.  But I think this time my excitement for Riven will keep me awake.

Anyhow, onward and upward to Channelwood!

I haven't played RealMyst Masterpiece Edition for a while so I had to get used to the controls again.  I have been watching crimault play Riven all this time so I have been in point-and-click mode.  Of course, you can do that mode in RMME also, but I do enjoy free roam immensely.  However, getting the hand of the controls again while in the middle of getting the tree elevator functioning is stressful!

I didn't go to the tower to get the combination for the safe because I thought my memory would serve.  It didn't.  I knew the numbers were 2, 4, and 7, but I forgot the order and tried every possible combination until I finally got that thing open.

At last, I arrived at beautiful Channelwood.  Just look at these amazing effects!

Refurbed lake in Channelwood
You can really see how much work went into this Age.  I am of the opinion that you can always tell which character is a writer's favorite in their books from the extent of that character's development.  Perhaps the same holds true for  Cyan and Myst!  Channelwood was their first promo pic after all.

The thing that makes Channelwood so challenging is remembering where you are when you everything looks the same.  Moreover, when you click on a gauge to change the direction of water flow the game turns you around to face a different direction.  A wise person would make a map -- or better yet, use the map that was in the journal that I completely forgot -- but since my cartography skills are nonexistent I go by memory and mind map alone and hope for the best.

Unrelated, but can anyone tell me what this lever does?  It didn't seem to have any effect.
I just remembered what else was in the journal for this Age that discussed monkey-like people.  I'm kind of glad they're no longer here because that would be creepy.  It calls to mind the mangrees from Myst IV: Revelation and I don't think I could handle mangrees anywhere outside of Haven.

They're lucky they're cute.
It got dark rather quickly here and the changes in light are absolutely stunning.  I have a lot of stuff below:

Channelwood at sundown 
Channelwood at sundown

Channelwood moon

The problem with nighttime is that it is constantly nighttime.  I believe frustration about this has been raised elsewhere.  While it is really excellent and exciting to have a nighttime Channelwood, I don't think we were so in love with the idea that we would never see daytime Channelwood for longer than 5 minutes.  Having to take out our in-game iPhone 5's and use that the whole time takes away a little bit from the aesthetic experience of this most excellent Age.  It made the upper levels a bit more difficult to navigate, as if it wasn't difficult enough!  All those blasted huts look the same.  At this moment I thought of that song from the Lion King "Endless Night."  I had a soundtrack running through my head the entire time.

I remember the first time I played this Age.  I was so lost, both "physically" and mentally, and all because of the ever-elusive lever that unlocks the stairs to get the elevator to the third level to function.  It seems so obvious in retrospect because it's only in the central hut!

Switch that opens the stairs
And those stairs.  That is a dizzying process if ever there was one, especially if you "run" (hold shift key).  Check this out:

Coming upon Achenar on the third tier is always a disturbing experience, and I remember the first time I played it I shrieked when I happened upon his hologram.  He's such a freak, but I do like his tribal masks.  I wouldn't mind having one for my apartment to go along with my others.

Achenar's foyer
And what the heck are these things?  Houseplants?  Candles?  Houseplant candles?

What are these things?
Some thoughts on Achenar: Knowing where he is, that is, in Haven, and having been there myself, I really feel quite awful for him.  Sirrus not so much because Spire is at least safe.  But Haven, damn.  That's a terrifying place!  And the first time I played that game, and even the second time, it very nearly gave me a heart attack, more so that Achenar's hologram here and Gehn's hologram and the creepy little girl in Riven.  (By the way, I am so looking forward to crimault finding her.)  It's funny that Achenar, who is very much insane now becomes sane after being trapped in an insane place.  Myst IV has some redeeming qualities.

While on the subject of Revelation, tromping around in Sirrus's bedroom is a relevatory experience.  I have no idea why I chose him when I played this game the first time.  Clearly he has issues: alcoholism, anger management problems, lust for money.  Throughout the game it is not as blatantly obvious as Achenar's weapons and psycho recordings, but here at Channelwood it strives very hard to get the message across.

Anger management problems

Alcoholism and sneaky concealed weapon
What I find most amusing about this Age is Sirrus's toothbrush:

Sirrus's toothbrush
That is actually something that I find interesting: how did people brush their teeth so long ago?  In the movie Lost in Austen gives a clue as to how tooths were brushed ca. 1840 (?), but I don't know if that is reliable information.

Anyhow, Channelwood is complete and there is only one Age left to explore -- Selenitic-- before I free Atrus and visit Rime!  Oh and also while playing through Channelwood I had a brilliant idea for a Myst perfume: Chanel-wood.  Get it?  Get it?  Hardy har har, oh I make myself laugh.

On another octave, I was very excited to discover Rome: Total War II on Steam!!!  But, gasp!  It's $60!!  I haven't finished playing through Rome: Total War I, however.  Also, my game is not connected to Steam, so maybe I will purchase it on there in case there are updates I need, but that is for the future.  I'm still working on Pharaoh (which totally needs to be added to Steam!!!  maybe I will write a letter) and have been for years, on and off.  I've made it to the stage before building the Great Pyramid under Khufu, which means I have only just begun the 4th Dynasty (and there are over 30 Dynasties).  I wish there was more time.  Then again, I'd probably waste it doing other things.

Also, I think SimFarm should somehow be added to Myst.  That was my favorite game when I was a kid, before Myst took over my life.  I had a farm going for over two years and I had over $2,000,000 and owned nearly all the plots of land that one could own.  I miss that game.

Brain hurts too much to edit for the moment.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

RMME Review #3: Stoneship Age

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

I realized that for some reason I kept writing Black Ship (see Mechanical Age post below) as one word!  What a dork!  

Anyway, I finally played through Stoneship but I haven't got very much to say about it.  It was never my favorite Age.  I do remember that it was the one that stumped me, but after playing it again I have no idea how I could have found it difficult.  It's so easy!  Well, I get stuck on puzzles all the time because I'm not the brightest crayon in the box, so I guess it's no wonder I get stuck on something in Myst.

I played this on a day that was cold and sleety, which doubled the depressing atmosphere of the Age.  Also, it just so happened that my apartment building's boiler broke and I had no heat or hot water!  The environments in these excellent games seem to penetrate your real life!  I would rather that it had been something similar to Myst Island, though.  That would have been nice.

The thunderstorm effects were pretty nice, at least to me.  The lighting affected only certain areas when it lightninged and the thunder was heard either loudly or softly with respect to your location on the island.

Hmmm...do I have screenshots of this?  The time between playing it and writing this post is kind of long and I can't remember much.  Aha!  I just found some notes I took.  

Ah yes, and to address an earlier comment: I apologize if my screenshots are not up to standard compared to what other people produce, but I'm not really posting these to provide wallpapers or whatever else one may want to use them for.  My blog isn't meant to be taken too seriously.  Well, except for my review on the video games exhibition at MoMA.  They're just for glancing at.  But thanks for actually looking through here.  It's nice when you discover you're not talking to yourself.  I don't have anything against talking to myself -- I do it all the time -- but it's cool when there's a dialog.

Lightning flash!
Something I thought was pretty cool was the water that drips down the walls in the hallways leading to the brothers' rooms.  Heh...I guess you can't really tell in the pic.  Maybe I should have taken a video instead. 

Water drippings
Also, I took a closer look at the red page and saw faint writing!  Were the pages that detailed in the previous games?  Either way, it's a nice touch and informs the player that these pages were actually written on and are not just random pieces of paper you stuff into a book.

Scribblings and bibblings
One criticism I do have about Stoneship is that it looks plasticy.  Of course, this is because it's depicting water on rocks, but coupled with the rock surface, it makes it look a little unrealistic.  The rock below is kind of bizarre because it has all that nice molding, but the edge is razor sharp.  But do you see that I mean by plastic?  That sail also does an Uru thing where it cuts into the adjacent post.

Plastic rocks...such as you find  in Star Trek: The Original Series
It doesn't interfere with gameplay or anything, but it's just something I noticed.

On that note, Cyan has made some updates that should fix some of the bugs people are encountering.  Find the list HERE.  I do hope that helps people.

Channelwood will be next!  I am saving the best for last: Selenitic!  Oh gosh, that Vanessa Williams song just popped into my head.  Whoa, early 90s alert!  Yikes!  I haven't heard or thought about that song since probably 1998 -- I'm surprised I remember it.