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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Obduction Backer Rewards

It was a day of joy when I received my Art Collector tier rewards for Obduction.  Though I mostly cared about the game, getting these awesome goodies reinforced my no regrets (and irresponsible probably) attitude for defaulted by on bills so I could help make Obduction happen.  Hahaha!  I'm kidding about the bills.  I think.  It was almost four years ago anyway.

I've just got to share my stuff.  It's a bit premature to do so because I'm waiting for the frames to hang up my signed poster and three post cards, all of which are beautiful!  I feel guilty about the Cyan team having had to sign everything, though.  That must have sucked.  It makes me think of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry had to sign all the royalty checks and his hand became a claw.

The night I brought home my box of stuff I began to think about how things were going to look on the walls and where I'd put them.  One has only so much wallspace in a New York apartment!  Originally, I had planned to hang the poster next to my D'ni map above the other half of my corner desk.  For some reason I was expecting a 18x24" or so poster, but the dimensions are 12x24".  That meant I had to rethink things.  Finally, at 3am, I had it all figured out.  I put the art print in a frame I had lying around unused, removed the Myst 5 lithograph from the adjacent wall, and hung both next to the D'ni map.  It's always a little difficult to get used to my new d├ęcor, but this is awesome!

The  Starbucks cup is my decoy when I go to Starbucks to use the internet so that I don't have to buy yet another coffee haha!  The upper right is the concept art print, featuring what would become the rotating sphere in Hunrath.  The poster will go on the adjacent wall, and when it's installed I'll share a pic.

The art book is striking, and it also came with a certificate of whatever it's called--can't remember, too lazy to look.  Happily I found a way to display it!  It's hanging out next to my Egypt photo book.

I am also showing my boxed version, which is unfortunately difficult to see in this image.  It's standing next to my laptop which has the digital concept art as a background.  Oh the box.  There was incredible drama over the box.  I mean, really absurd.  Some complained it wasn't of the style we used to have with the Myst games, and because it wasn't extraordinary in that way they wanted their money back or what have you.  Really?   One person said they would sell it for the $75 they paid for it.  Um, no.  You paid for the game.  The amount you donated rewarded you with some extra stuff.  Besides, take away the cost of the game (according to what Steam is selling it for), the box is actually worth a minimum of what, $30?  Come on.  Personally, was think the minimalist design, especially the cutout, makes sense and is reflecting the aspect of the game where things are removed and placed
elsewhere.  Jeez.

There was one thing I noticed when I compared the art book and the game box: the titles are different colors!  I recognized this same problem in the draft of my walkthrough guide (still waiting on an answer.  I know they are terribly busy, but I'm worried my email went to the spam folder!).  The title printed darker than it appear on the computer screen, probably from tinge RGB color format.  When I went through my previous muted version to edit it I had to lighten some of the images and my title reproduction.  I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with my reproduction of  the colors and gradient in the title!  I hope it doesn't make the images look bad.  Here are the comparative images below. 

The frame for the post cards is arriving today, at least it is supposed to.  My mail carriers like to lie about attempted delivery and I have to trudge to the post office half a mile away to pick it up, and then climb a giant hill on the way back.  Anyway, that's going in my entryway.  The other frame should be arriving later this week, and it will go on the wall adjacent to the D'ni map.  An update will be added when that is complete.  It would be great to get poster frames for my limited edition Myst/Riven posters!  In the fall perhaps?  I also need to replace my Riven shirt, which I actually improved.  I'll show you later!  Along with the Narayan scarf I made!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Another Walkthrough Update

I posted images of my Obduction walkthrough printed book on Facebook and I received such startlingly positive feedback.  I was not expecting the amazing compliments.  One person said it was sexy!  So funny!  Also, many people expressed the wish to have a copy.  I really, really want to make this available at least in PDF format for everyone.  And if I am able to make it available as a printed book, and dare I dream, sell it, this would be so glorious.

I have two versions: one is the electronic PDF version that is formatted in such a way that it can be printed double-sided should one wish to print it.  The second is the print-ready format for publishing, which calls for larger margins with a bleed.  All images are 300 or more dpi for commercial printing as well.  The book cover had to be made separately according to a specific format, and the spine took me a while to put in exactly the right spot.  The book was printed as a paperback with glossy pages, which owes to its legit look.

After the wonderful responses I received, I went through and edited the thing again.  Surprisingly I had several to make.  I also researched on Cyan's site the protocol for getting permissions to make things available (at least for free) to the public.  I'm not sure yet how that works with sales.  I know there's a guy on Etsy who sells replica Riven balls for $125 each (ouch!) and he has permissions.  And there's the one fan who made the Journey and Shell cloths from Uru.  And let's not forget Heather Larkin's stunning graphic novel adaptation of Myst: The Book of Atrus, buy here: she signs it too!

Is there hope?

It was recommended to me by another fan that I should wait until Cyan isn't so bogged down with getting Obduction more securely off the ground for some time before I start asking about this, which I think is good advice.  The prospect is so, so exciting to me, you have no idea!

I thought I'd put up images of some of the pages here to whet your appetite a little more -- they're shots of the pre-PDF print ready file, so it still has here the margins.  And also, a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have showered me with compliments and expressed a desire to own this.  It gives me the warm fuzzies and lifts my spirit - which I can really use at the moment.  I appreciate the love and support!

In no particular order (and look out for spoilers; and also be aware these are pages-saved-as-pngs, so the quality is not shown as good as it actually is):

First glimpses of an exciting adventure!

This was aching for a screenshot.  It's been filtered to make it brighter for printing.  The real image is a tad duller

A perfect fit.  I was mighty pleased with my accidental find

The juxtaposition here is hella cool, imo.  And the image on the right was an accident.  I didn't realize I'd captured the other three worlds together until I was choosing from like a hundred screenshots in the end here.

It was SO HARD to choose from my folder of final screenshots.  I never pressed F10 more in my life looking for the perfect image to end the main text of the walkthrough

A winning shot, homage to the marketing images, as well as the first we saw of the game such a long time ago

It was hard to choose just one image for a two-page spread for Kaptar

I was happy to put "boxes" in the text...got the idea from a book on the history of the ancient Near East

The Kaptar temple courtyard is full to the brim of shot-worthy features.  This statue/column is irresistible.

Adapted maps; worlds map was a lot of fun to make!

Adapted maps; Hunrath one is filtered

You've seen my charts before, but now they are vastly improved

The bright colors!  Mesmerizing!

I waited a long time to get that bird in here

Yes, this was a bitch to get right

One of my favorite images

Love the Soria tree.  So photogenic!

My Thoughts on Quern: Undying Thoughts

First of all there are spoilers below, so you know what to do: read or move on. 

Second: the tl;dr version is I generally liked it and I recommend it if you have the resolve to spend a lot of time figuring out puzzles.  Though, I did find some flaws (mostly because I'm a dummy).  Dear Quern, It's not you, it's me!

I played Quern lazily because I wanted to play it to escape thinking and this game really makes you think!  Most of the time this was in a good way, but I admit that some puzzles and non-puzzles annoyed me to pieces because I thought they were outlandish.

Let's start with the positives, of which there are many.  I should state here and now that I give this game a 88-90%.  I admit that I cheated my way through it because I didn't want to be bothered too much with the more difficult stuff, such as finding random objects I didn't know I needed.  Also, I didn't bother taking notes, which likely would have helped significantly.  Like I said, I played lazily. 
I haven't played too many different games in my life, and when I began Skyrim it was something like a culture shock.  Quern began, for me, confusingly because all these objects you're meant to throw into an inventory and carry around until it finally clicks that you need it was a tad overwhelming.  The pine cone bowl was a huge question mark for me and I tried to put it everywhere before I discovered its purpose based on the drawing in one of the buildings.  


1. Anyway, I said I'll do the positives first.  For some reason, one that I really liked was the letters puzzle toward the end.  I thought that was delightfully clever, maybe because it was so simple. 

2. I also enjoyed those panels where you have to make the lines complete, though I don't really count those as puzzles.  They don't require much thought; you just connect stuff and no biggie. 

3. The rotation puzzle of the mechanics building was equally not puzzlish, as, again, it was just moving stuff around.  One may compare this to the gateway puzzle in Riven (as I understand the inspiration was for this game?), but it lacks the "geometry" method of solving.  Down underground where you have to rotate it again is more clever, having to deal with all the crazy numbers.  I needed a cheat on that one. 

4. Inside the mechanics building, the panel with the five cylinders was a good one, though I gave up after a few tries haha!  I told you I was a lazy player.  In all honesty it wasn't a game I was prepared to play for a couple hours and then put away.  I just wanted to finish it.  

5. What I liked best was the blue torch.  That was great, though sometimes I didn't realize I needed it, so I had to consult the internet. I got better about remembering to pull up that torch later on, though.  But yeah, the blue torch rocked.  It helped with knowing when to use the white torch.  

6. It was fun mixing stuff to make potions, and was also fun to drink poisonous stuff.  I needed help with knowing which plant to use because it wasn't clear to me.  The paper said berries, but I didn't know what plant was the berries plant; I didn't exactly pay attention to berry shapes when I was trimming the verge.  Again, my fault.  It never occurred to me to bring it back to the control room and read the numbers.  And talking of, using those same numbers to open the cave door was also clever (and happily for me, quite obvious!  Yay!  I like that he easy ones). 

7. There was that one puzzle--perhaps inspired by Voltaic--where you needed to get the correct number of bars to reach the white line, like the pressure puzzle in Voltaic.  That was a sinch, also.  What followed was more or less straightforward, but I didn't realize how to operate the machine that makes the white torch haha! I found out I was trying to use the dials in the opposite way they were supposed to be used. Which puzzle is this one like in the Myst games? I'm trying to remember. There is one. Seems like one you'd find in Voltaic or Spire.

8. Other good ones were the green light beam ones.  Where you first use the do-dad that opens the windows on the mountain faces that reveal the symbols to insert in the telescope was buggy at first.  It's always a problem with puzzle games when you encounter a bug.  I was on the right track, then encountered the bug which caused the first spot where I pinged the sound stick ( I clearly have no idea what to call these things obviously, so sorry if you're here for hints!!!) not to open.  This was extraordinarily frustrating.  With a restart of the game it worked.  Getting all of that hooked up was really neat.  Time consuming, but quite fun.  I like the ones that don't require me to do too much thinking, apparently haha!  Later on, the second green beam puzzle was a good one, too, but I consulted the internet for that one also.  The third one irritated me for reasons I'll mention below.

9. The story was charming and basic and I had no problem choosing the right answer.  The M guy (forgot his name) was suspicious from the start, and became more so when he was bashing the blue light chick without even saying what it was she did to deserve his hostility.  Plus there's that whole lie about (among other things) no other humans having been there, and yet you have all these Myst fans who had scrawled their names on the wall.  Hmmmm...red flags there.  Or shall I say red crystals?  It was neat that everything led back to the original place.  It was all very tidily put together.

10. Let me finally mention the frequency puzzle.  This is a good one and so Myst inspired it's not even funny.  Sound puzzle (the second in the game) = Selentic, and the crystals = exact replica of the crystals in Rime.  I mean, it's unmistakable. An homage, I'm sure.  I reiterate, it's a good one and contains a lot of parts to figure it out.  One of the good things about it is all the parts to figure it out are in one place, which doesn't always happen in this game (as I'll say more about below).  My hearing is not the best, so matching sounds that sound, to me, the same to drawings of arrows was a disaster.  Definitely looked up the answers to that one.  The cart ride in Selenitic sometimes proved a problem for me also because of the sound, never mind that blasted keyboard.  But those who are tonally gifted must have had a great time with this one.

11. As a bonus: the funny little Las Vegas slot machine was amusing.


I'm sure many of the negatives are due to my dummy-dumb incompetence and inexperience in gaming.  Let's make a list of games I've played since the dawn of Briana time: Super Munchers (loved this one), that DOS apple-eating snake game where they can't run into the wall, pinball, solitaire, SimCity 2000, SimFarm (a favorite!), SimAnt, SimTower, the Oregon Trail, all Myst games, Pharaoh, Rome Total War, Civilization 4 (blah!), and more recently: Obduction, Skyrim (whoa dude!), Predynastic Egypt (strategy), and I touched on Children of the Nile (strategy).  Which of these matches Quern?  To me it's Myst (puzzles) mixed with Skyrim (inventory, carrying tons of crap around for ages).  Remember, I only recently started playing Skyrim, too, so, yeah...  I'm still getting used to having an inventory!  Lolz!  Too many things!

1. The problem with the inventory is you collect a bunch of things and then forget you have them or you forget, because you've been carrying them around so long without using them, can't think of which puzzle they are meant to belong to.  Maybe taking hand-written notes would have made this better.

2. The notebook: every time you open it you have to re-find the page you were using.  Couldn't there be a feature where it stays bookmarked on the page you were using?!

3. The various crystals and telescope: it never crossed my mind in the slightest that I was meant to put the red and green crystals on the metal stick and to put that stick on the telescope in the watchtower.  A diagram somewhere would have been really helpful.  Unless I missed one?  I had forgotten all about that flag you have to burn to get the code for the second code in the cave because it had been so long since I had encountered it.  Also, I had no idea I should've been looking for a green crystal portal in the mountains.  I, for some reason, never found it in the first few times I looked around through the telescope.  Yes, I know it's not the dev's fault for me not knowing how to solve these things. What I'm saying I don't like is how there are so many puzzles to solve at one time that it's not always clear what you should be paying attention to to solve one of them.

4. Opening the mechanics building tower: I'm not quite sure what about this puzzle annoyed me no end, but I know it has something to do with the polygons on the canisters.  They just seemed pointless to me.  They're meant to give an indication of which canister you're using, but I think it complicated it beyond what complication was actually necessary for the puzzle.  I think it would've been better to have the chart inside the control room rather than only inside the mechanics building.  That way you could forgo the polygons.  Or have the polygons indicated in the mechanics room also.  I'm not sure.  There's just something about it I found silly.

5. The first sound puzzle with the jars: again, for those with poor hearing it could have been a good idea to have had some kind of diagram to indicate which pot would make which noise, such as matching the painted bands on the vessels to the lines drawn on the sound chart.

6. The "mastermind" puzzle: I'd never heard of mastermind before until I sought the internet for hints about this one.  I felt it was more trial and error rather than puzzle-solving.  I found it a problem that the number sequence resets entirely after 7 tries with the same number.  This made it unnecessarily time-consuming.  The same holds true for the crystal skull puzzle.  It's not altogether logical.  I mean, you get the idea of what to do (match the patterns in the two columns of circles in the correct way), but I did not feel any sense of true puzzleness.  As I mentioned above, there were other non-puzzles, but those ones were logical.

7. That fourth quarter pie piece for the box with the lock inside.  How the blazes are you supposed to make the connection with the white torch and the globe devices?  The globe devices were a finished puzzle, so why would anyone think to spoil a good thing?  I'm not annoyed they hid it there; I'm annoyed there was no indication to find it there except by dumb luck while playing with the white torch.  It was like the white page in the marker switch in Myst, but in Myst there was an indication it was there.  It's an essential piece in the game, not an Easter egg, so there should have been some guidance.

8. And I'll stop here: my sharp proofreader's eye (unless I'm editing my own stuff--you know how it goes) spotted the wrong use where.  They used where instead of were!  It's a minor point, but I grade my students very harshly on the confusion with these words, so the angry professor in me wanted to mark off points hahaha!  There was a typo elsewhere...in the credits maybe?  Can't remember.

Closing Remarks

Like I said at the beginning, I recommend this game!  But please take your time.  If you do you will appreciate it all the more.  This is a game you want to take slowly to avoid getting angsty about it like I did.  Do not play it to cruise around aimlessly, like in Skyrim (haha!).  It's a really good game and when you finish it you will be very satisfied not only in the game but also yourself.  The graphics are quite lovely, too.  You almost want to set the green crystal and open the portal so that there's a promise for a sequel, but alas, that's not how the game works in the end.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Can We Just Talk About Skyrim?

The title of this blog is Baladria on Myst, and in case you didn't realize, it's meant to be a play on that phrase "This is your brain on drugs."  When Obduction was announced, I added Obduction to the header, which therefore made this blog Cyan-specific.  Another game I spend a lot time playing is the excellent city-building game Pharaoh, which is superior to any other by miles, but I've avoided discussing it here because it wouldn't fit, you know?  I also used to play Rome:Total War but haven't in a very long time.  

Around the holidays in 2016, a friend gave me an extra key for Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.  I'd never played any Elder Scrolls game before, and, after starting it up, have never played a game where I have to fight anyone.  I mean in Pharaoh and Rome you have to send off armies and such, but in first-person fighting I had no experience.  

Another friend told me to be careful with Skyrim because it will take up a lot of your life.  I did not believe this, but then I hadn't yet begun playing it. Oh dear.  

At first I had no idea what was going on.  I followed some random guy who told me to follow him as he decimated enemies, we snuck past a bear, I touched some "warrior stone," and he killed a wolf on the way to a place called Riverwood where he left me. Uh, what?  I wandered around this town, lurking around taking vegetables from barrels.  My only the thought was what is this all about?

I wandered off again and discovered a place called Whiterun.  Eventually I received the directive to go kill a dragon, so off I went and let other people do the killing.  Then, I absorbed a dragon soul. 

I was still clueless as to the main point to the whole thing, but as received more and more missions I came to understand how this game consumes your life!  Staying up until 2am to finish the mission, trying to level up to enjoy a new perk so you can kill more dragons, etc.  my current goal is to smith dragon armor from the enormous pile of scales I have sitting in the chest in my house.  I bought a house, like, really?

My main problem, however, is the zombies.  I have a strong fear of zombies, that is as one encounters them in movies.  I am someone who was terrified by Shaun of the Drad, so...yeah...

Those Draugr.  I had nightmares about them. 

I joined a military group so I could level up smithing.  This is my life goal, people.  

I still have zero idea what the point of the whole thing is, but I have become obsessed anyway hahaha!  And I take having my follower, Lydia, very seriously.  A couple times she died, so I loaded an earlier save to save her ha!

It somewhat reminds me of that creeptastic "game(?)" Second Life, minus the creep factor.  It's certainly an adventure!

But now I want to get Queen and The Witness and Children of the Nile.  Looks like this blog will have an expanded repertoire!  Fun!!!!!  I'm excited, and I hope you are, too!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Walkthrough Update

I have deemed making my walkthrough available via PDF might be a copyright infringement...I'm not sure...  So, alas I won't add it.  However, I did finish it, and I uploaded it to a site that's typically for self-publishing, but I made it available only to myself.  It's being printed now and I'm very excited to see the finished product.  Unfortunately, I already found a couple things that should be fixed, but it's nothing that hinders the walkthrough. It's always when it's too late that you notice stuff like that ugh!!!!

I do believe, however, that I should make a post here about the Gauntlet because I pinned down exactly how many swaps are necessary for each stage: 2, 4, 6, 10.  I've also got all the rotation down on the giant Kaptar sphere.  

As to the Villein number puzzle, I recently asked a friend what he thought about the math.  He said you don't actually need to figure out the number system because there's a path that can take you in the right direction to get to Hunrath.  Can someone point out to me where exactly this is?  I've tried Googling this info, but no one who has mentioned it is forthcoming anout how to find this nifty shortcut. 

I finally figured out what's up with the ending and what it all means.   Also, I discovered why the fish I didn't catch on to that battery...the blue I needed was buried under the huge black bar that covers the bottom of the pages in the journals!  Grrrr!  Hopefully I will one day get a new computer so I can play the latest updated version of Obduction.  

I also realized what happened with all those carts in C.W.'s workroom.  When I played the first time it never struck me that they contained the panels for the tree.  In fact, the first time I played I don't even think I noticed they were there, or if I did I didn't add up the facts.  Surprise surprise!

At the end I finally saw C.W. riding the rail to the tree which is something I missed before. There was a lot I missed before.  I know some people have criticized the puzzles as having no logic, but I have to say--just because you didn't figure out the logic doesn't mean there isn't any.  And once you do figure out the logic, the experience is all the more enriching. I think the game truly is better the second time around. 

On to other important things!  Did I ever mention I got my hands on the rare Myst bundle "Gear for the Journey"?  Well I did!  But to add to that fabulous news, following one of my readers' activities, I've begun a search for all five covers of the From Myst to Riven book.  I've had a copy for eons already, which has the 233rd Age lab on the cover.  Today I just got a beautiful copy of the one with the path that goes under the fire marble done on Jungle Island.  The covers left to acquire are Tay, the bridge to the golden dome, and the striking path through the island shapes on Survey Island (Plateau Island).

Lastly, I was gifted a copy of Skyrim and I've started to play it.  I have no idea what I'm doing. I've never played a game like it before!  It might work best as a console game I think, but I'm no good with those.  I'd love to get my hands on Quern and The Witness, and a couple other games have been suggested to me. One thing I thought I might start doing here is talking about the other games I play.  For the most part I play Pharaoh, a FANTASTIC strategy and city building game.  In the past I've played some Rome: Total War, but I haven't gone back into that for a while now.  I just recently got another Egypt game called Predynastic Egypt which is along the lines of a Rome or Civ game.  I'm not altogether find of it however.  Also, I don't care for Civ, which I know is a horror of horrors to some people.  A game I want to get is Children of the Nile, but something tells me Pharaoh will still be the best!