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, April 25, 2014

Lots o' Stuff

First of all, I am so shocked and humbled by the various positive reviews I have received about my Doom/Myst post, so thanks to all for that!  Truly.  Some responses have just been completely unexpectedly amazing and I am still trying to understand why lol.  It's really great and made this already excellent day/week/month all the more spectacular.  Now here is something far more useful for those curious about what went down at the Doom/Myst event.  And if I could actually add one more line to the end of this article: they discussed the trivialization of video games in the context of film and music industries, BUT, in terms of financial success, video games blew both the other industries out the water last year

This reminds me of George R.R. Martin's recent frustration that fantasy and science fiction novels are largely barred from the "literary fiction" status.  I have a beef with this also, as I have been writing for the past 10 years a series that I have called, for lack of better genrefication (it's a word now), historical-fantasy -- but even this is insufficient.  It takes place in ca. 1600 BC and obviously has a great deal of historicity but also I insert fantastical stuff and I even purposefully inject anachronistic events/cultures/fashions, etc.  Though I mean for it to have entertainment value, I also intend that people try to analyze, because there's a lot of stuff to analyze.  This = literary fiction.  In my not-so-humble, vehement opinion.

A little tidbit perhaps to look forward to...my museum class met in the Egyptian collection at the Met yesterday and I was sporting a Riven t-shirt that I threw together myself because I wanted one and didn't know where to find one.  My school has this infuriating habit of photographing everything, such as during one of my seminar presentations a year and a half ago when I was so sick that one of my eyes was puffy to the point where it was nearly completely closed.  The photographer was sent to photograph us peering at the artifacts the curator was presenting, so mayhaps one of me sporting my Riven shirt will pop up on the school's website and you all will get to see me at my finest (read most atrocious) on a Thursday morning and trying to bear groups of high-schoolers and hoards of tourists.  I really don't do well in crowds.  In Egypt I was swarmed by children wanting to photograph me and be photographed with me, especially one debonair "tween"-age heart-breaker dressed in a suit.  I admit that I was overwhelmed.

Next, and this has nothing to do with Myst, but I'm so excited that I cannot contain myself -- I was hired for an adjunct teaching position in ancient Egyptian art for spring 2015 at a nearby college.  Oh. Em. Gee.  This will be my first time teaching undergraduates (having taught only 9-13 year-olds before) and I am very excited about it.  They will love to hate me because I will work them hard but also we will have a lot of fun.  I've already begun prep work.

Lastly...

WHOA, WHOA WHOA!

On the Cyan forums, Rivenian introduced a new website which you should check out because it is just wonderful: Myst Revival.  I learned a lot in just the 5 minutes I spent glancing at the new site, such as the various fan projects (I do know about some shards people have created, but I don't understand them so I will leave that alone right now).  But more importantly, the post from 4/24 states...well, this:

Greydragon or Ryan Warzecha , project lead at Cyan, revealed at Open Hood Day today that MOULa keeps coming up in their team meetings.  He added that Cyan has some plans for Uru's future along with many other pipeline projects besides Obduction that they are working on.  News regarding these plans will be revealed at this year's Mysterium at Cyan World Headquarters in Spokane Washington this August.  Stay tuned!
Ryan has also promised to livestream Mysterium.  
(emphasis mine) Need I say more?  Probably not, but I will anyway.  Uru is never over, so this is spectacular news.  What can it meeeeeaaaaan?  We will find out soon enough (actually it is not soon enough).  This is very interesting stuff, guys!  And very exciting.  It seems I can do with a lot more time paying attention to the MOUL forums and less time watching Despicable Me for the 100th time, or any other of my several movies I am constantly glued to or the new ones I am recommended.

I was recently recommended "Kind Hearts and Coronets" which I in turn highly recommend.  It's pretty hilarious.  Alec Guinness plays multiple roles, ah just go watch it; it's brilliant.  And if you're interested in following his career outside Star Wars, also check The Bridge on the River Kwai (which also has some similarities to Thucyidides' History of the Peloponnesian War, but I can' remember how I came to that conclusion so don't ask.  It was 3 years ago.).  Ah I love movies.

Friday, April 18, 2014

DOOM and MYST 20 Years Later: After the Event

UPDATE:
Found a video that Cyan shared.  Thank God someone put something useful together!

GO HERE.

Well, first things first: I think I've finally finished shaking.  It is safe to assume at the outset of this post that this event went extremely well in many ways.

It rocked.

I will not provide a transcript or anything because you should be able to see the recording somewhere.  I think.  I looked myself and didn't find anything, but maybe they'll post it on FB or Twitter.  If you do find the video and are wanting to locate me in the crowd I'm the chick in the second row almost directly in front of Rand.  I should be easy to spot given the paucity of female presence.  At one point Frank Lantz (Director of NYU Game Center), who had taken on the role of moderator at this point. even requested a question from a woman to offset the male-dominated forum.  I had no questions to ask and even if I had I would have left the floor to those more knowledgeable than I.

I have to admit to you that it was all very weird.  Not the guest speakers but the audience.  My brethren.  I have mentioned before that I went to the annual Egyptology conference a couple weeks ago.  That was a weird experience and the first time I had ever gone to a large conference/convention.  Imagine droves of Egyptologists conglomerated together debating over nuances of ancient Egyptian grammar and laughing hysterically at lame jokes and puns.  It was weird.  I mentioned this to my adviser and he told me a story how at one point he felt similarly (although his story was legitimately weird) and his colleague reminded him: "These are our people."  Dear God, he's right!  I'm stuck now haha!!

This is what I was remembering while standing among those of us waiting to stampede the doors for a seat.  I've never been to Mysterium, nor any other game/other convention before.  The closest I ever came was chaperoning the over-night Anime Club sleepover at the library where I used to work.  So it was really bizarre hearing loads of people geeking out, discussing with great enthusiasm computery things.  I was looking about, feeling quite out of place because I have no Myst friends here and I didn't know what to say to anyone else; I'm quite shy when I go places like this by myself, and it definitely answered my question about whether I'd ever go to a Myst convention.  But while lurching about in the line and looking around, sometimes in sheer horror at my deep immersion in nerdiness, I remembered, "Briana, these are your people!"  I tried not to find it all weird after that, but it's a work in progress.  Maybe if I do go to Mysterium in the future someone will hold my hand.  I'm so used to being nerdy all by myself so when I am around others like me I become a little frightened haha.

I did take notes during the event, but they are concerned with art historical matters that I won't bore you with here, especially since I still have to think about them (I was intrigued by concepts of three-dimensionality in interactivity).  So I'll just give you pictures!!!  Sorry if they are blurrier than you would like; mixture of lighting and iPhone camera.  Too bad!

Rand displays his microphone
John Romero and Rand Miller
Confession!  I never played Doom, but I feel like I should now because this guy was so awesome.  I took a zoomed-in picture of him because I have a friend who I know would think he's hot.

John Romero
Frank Lantz, John Romero, and Rand Miller
OMG and now for the moment of giddiness and glee!

Me and Rand!
When all was over and everyone had clapped and then made a bee line to meet these two cool dudes, I got so nervous!  Because I intended to get a picture and autograph!  But I was terrified because I never met anyone famous before.  I met President Obama before he was a U.S. senator, but that's all.  And this is far more important!  I was shaking so much when I went up to him because I was a afraid of him both because of his celebrity and because he's so tall!  I never knew he would be tall.  I was wearing 4-inch heels, which put me at 5'10" (~178 cm) and he was still towering over me.

I had been panicking over what to say because I was flustered before the event even started, so I opened with saying Riven was my favorite and then I told him about crimault who you all know has been playing the Myst games for the first time and posting videos on YouTube of his gameplay.

So content with not being a complete dummy, I asked for a photo with him and commissioned some girl to take it, as you see it above.  My angle could have been better, but who cares because I got my picture with Rand Miller!

I also asked him to sign my first-edition copy of Myst: the Book of Atrus:

Ok!
But guys, I was pathetic: shaking and blushing with eyelashes fluttering.  I become so girly when I'm nervous--so embarrassing.  But he is such a kind, patient man!  Wow!  I would say "I could die now," but since Obduction is upcoming I will have to wait.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Narayan!

Now that crimault has completed Riven (yays!) and has begun playing Myst III: Exile, I have grown suddenly rather intrigued by Narayan.

Gorgeous composite of Narayan images by "Gehn, lord of ages" (see more here.)
I have the Exile soundtrack and I listen to it probably 100 times a month, but for some reason when I saw his video of the beginning it brought up some questions for me.  Well, maybe just one question.  And that is: what are the lyrics of the opening song (which I love, love, love!)?


I inquired and one very knowledgeable gent sent me along to the transcription and the translation for this song.  The language is, of course, Narayani, and goes as follows:
Chorus
Tomahna, Edanna, Amateria, Voltaic, Narayan;
J’nanin, comensanin, expidan revilani erte yan.

Boy Soprano (Saavedro as a boy)
Naray alani;
Naray latiste t’dee;
Nosis Amani azhwa na.
Famina sa,
Havana devote.

Chorus 2 (After brothers visit Narayan)
Tomahna, Edanna, Amateria, Voltaic, Narayan;
J’nanin, apic’Nanin, revilani ero yamani yan.

Bridge (Saavedro swearing vengeance to his family)
Ami malisa pariel;
Memondama ami sule!

Break (Saavedro to Atrus)
Tomahna! Edanna! Amateria! Narayan!
Releeshahn! Nilashahn! Malisa ma Narayan!

Chorus 3
Tomahna, Edanna, Amateria, Voltaic, Narayan;
J’nanin, locusani, degraca soule de yamani…

Translation

Chorus
Tomahna, Edanna, Amateria, Voltaic, Narayan;
J’nanin, where the journey to learn the Art begins.

Boy Soprano (Saavedro as a boy)
Narayan, my home;
Narayan, whose lattice tree is life;
I think of you with joy.
Keep my family safe,
Shelter the ones I love.

Chorus 2 (After brothers visit Narayan)
Tomahna, Edanna, Amateria, Voltaic, Narayan;
J’nanin, use what you have seen to unlock all that my Ages have to offer.

Bridge (Saavedro swearing vengeance to his family)
I will avenge your peril;
Remember my heart!

Break (Saavedro to Atrus)
Tomahna! Edanna! Amateria! Narayan!
Releshahn! Annihilation! I will avenge my Narayan!

Chorus 3
Tomahna, Edanna, Amateria, Voltaic, Narayan;
J’nanin, breeding ground for lost souls…
Now that is cool.  Now that I know this I can sing along!  And if any friends happen to be around when I do (that will never actually happen), I will just tell them it's Latin and maybe say that it's the sequel to Carmina Burana.

In my quest to find Narayan stuff, I came upon another neat thing -- as well, I was ever reminded of how dedicated and unusual we Myst fans are.  My recent discovery was of the D'ni Linguistic Fellowship where you will find a number of excellent resources, INCLUDING Narayan "fonts".  The files have a collection of Narayan symbols as well as other graphic arts from Myst III: Exile.  Furthermore, you will find standard D'ni font, which is easy to find anywhere, but also someone crafted "D'niDings," a collection of Uru symbols.  If ever someone wants to create one of those cryptic messages Cyan for which is so famous, these fonts would certainly do the trick.

Go ahead and take a look at that site for all the other cool stuff it offers.  One of these days I will learn D'ni...would it be wrong to list that on my CV?

(Just kidding.)

(Not really.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Doom and Myst 20 Years After

Recently I saw the advertisements for a promising event at New York University's Game Center (I had no idea there was a game center, but there are a lot of weird centers and institutions at this university): Doom and Myst 20 Years After.  Just wanted to announce that I will be attending this and I will take loads of pictures -- and hopefully I will get to meet Rand Miller!  It will suck if I don't get the chance.  In fact, I will be very angry, but oh well.  So, keep your peepers peeled after Friday, April 18 for a post on this event.  A post with pictures, insh'Allah!!!!!!

Update: I am a lucky duck for getting a ticket because it is already "sold out" (it's actually free).


Sunday, April 6, 2014

On the Go

Well, I didn't get to play as much Riven as I had hoped, neither on the plane nor in my free time, such as it was, during the conference.  One reason was there was not much time, but also I discovered I had left my phone charger at home.  Luckily a friend lent me her charger before she left so I could have a full battery.

I don't think it needs much saying that the Riven app is amazing!  Let's see if I can add screenshots...

Hmm...looks like the Blogger app won't let me.  You know, the YouTube app wouldn't me log in to my primary YouTube account, which is different from this one.  Actually, no I CAN log in but I can't comment with it.  Clearly phone apps are not as useful as they could be.  I guess I will have to continue my Riven exploration when I have access to my computer so I can load all my screenshots there.  So much for that.

But!  One thing I wanted to comment on is how much more accessible the phone version of the game is to a broader audience.  One of my colleagues was intrigued by what I was playing and I let her have a try.  I had her start with Myst.  She got only so far as sitting in the dentist chair in the observatory before she decided she didn't know what to do and gave my phone back to me.  While that seems like it cannot be considered a success, in fact it is.  Why?  If you can put it on a phone, a touchscreen phone, making it easy to cart around a fiddle about with in the go, people are far more open to trying it out.  

I mean, you see how easily entertained folks can be playing that one game with the colored balls (what is that, btw?).  They're much more inclined to try something old-school that looks video game quality on their phone than they are on modern computers.  Myst on phone today holds the same awe as Myst on computer did 20 years ago.

Or at least it can do.

While the game itself hasn't changed, the platform has and thus it has a newness -- not nostalgia, but newness.  Old becomes new with changing technologies.  As a result, attitudes change and now a new generation of game players has been added.

This is all conjecture as I have no clue how sales have gone nor what demographics have been reached, but it seems like this could be the case.

Myst has been given a more "public play".  Whereas before we all wandered around in the confines of our dark computer rooms, now we are playing in the midst of crowds, quietly spreading the word.  People peek over shoulders after all.

Its inexpensive cost is also incentive for a varied audience to purchase it in order that they might pass time on the subway or in the waiting line at the DMV (because we all know how long that takes!).

In a way, of course, the depth of the environment is lost a little, but when playing the game with your earphones on, the creepy music surrounds you and makes up for what is lost in public space.

My colleague did say that she would mention the game to her significant other who would likely appreciate it.  I'd definitely call that a success, wouldn't you?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Egypto-Rivenese Puzzle

In my exhibition practices class today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the curator was showing us examples of ancient Egyptian Predynastic (umm ~ca. 3300 BC, give or take a century or two) cosmetic palettes.  Some are fantastically decorated in relief, but others were molded into animal shapes without any relief or incised decoration.  Actually, on some there is incised decoration to mark the figures of the shapes as a more recognizable form.  There are always exceptions.  It keeps us in business.

So what does this Myst junkie think?  Well, naturally I thought about their ancient Egyptian function as cosmetic palettes, on some of which pigment remains.

But while the curator was explaining them in greater depth my mind wandered away to the animal stone puzzle in Riven, the one that brings us to Tay.

Riven has been much on my mind lately because of crimault's YouTube videos of his game play.  (BTW, he had a four-hour live stream last weekend and all of us obsessed weirdos sat down and watched.  Only Myst fans possess this degree of dedication.  It was awesome!)

Take a look at some examples:

Double-headed bird

Guinea fowl

Elephant!  My favorite animal.

Double-headed turtle

Egyptian tilapia

Figure riding an elephant.

Ibex (probably?)
Now, perhaps you are wondering how I am possibly seeing Riven in all this.

Room of the Animal Stones puzzle.  Sorry I couldn't find a better image.  Would you believe the Internet doesn't have one?!  I googled everything I could think of, but this is all I got.
Here are some details:

Spoiler!  This is the solution to the puzzle.
Do you see where I am going with this?  I was imagining the palettes as inlay for the Riven animal puzzle.  We could make an Egyptian-inspired Riven game!  Perhaps this is something I can create for the next Egyptology conference.  Since it is already too late for this year (as the conference is this weekend!).  Real-life Riven with an Egyptian theme.  I'm really loving this idea.  If I had a backyard I would totally create this.

I feel like it has become self-aggrandizing to be conflating Myst with my Egyptian studies, so I hope it isn't coming across that way.  These are simply things I see on a daily basis so it is in this that I will find most of my comparative imagery.  I promise the moment I spot something that looks Myst-y and doesn't have to do with Egypt I will post it immediately.  Well, I did post that subway one in an earlier post...