Tag Archives: uru live

Recent Play: April 2015 Week 1

Lately I’ve played the following small games that stuck out in my mind:

  • Kittens Game is an idlegame from bloodrizer. It feels like a less horrific A Dark Room and it’s probably bad for you.
  • “Saturn V” from Archie Pelago felt like an interactive art gallery, and had the same pleasant ambiguity I experience in actual galleries and museums, where I’m never quite sure where the line is between art and architecture: which of this is exhibit and which is window dressing? I actually suggest playing or downloading it without reading the description/artist’s statement first, like I did, to enhance that sensation. My speculation intensified when I came across the lovingly-rendered beer kegs in the basement.
  • I’m glad I didn’t have an Oculus to play the original game-jam game “SightLine”, despite the creators’ recommendation. Early on there’s a set of physics-y bridges that are all wobbly and bouncy, so much so that several times I physics-ed straight through (maybe thanks to the “tunneling” or “bullet-through-paper” issue, maybe due to the elastic rope of the bridge stretching too far). This is weird; genuinely wondrous misdirection and legerdemain, with stuff disappearing, reappearing, and changing when you look away, mixed with some overwrought Stanley-Parable-aping narration and puzzles requiring mindreading. I’m glad they’re making a new game based on the old one’s mechanics. This sort of vision tracking is presumably ideal for VR headsets.
  • “The Burrow” by Fewer Words is one of those interactive art pieces where I’m not sure if I’m done at the end of it. The artist statement says, “Every exchange is significant and becomes a part of the narrative.” If so, actions aren’t mechanically significant, from what I can tell. The first two sections of three give you minor camera control but no real agency, and the third is an odd exploration mobility puzzle thing that reminds me of some of the more esoteric Ages of Myst Online.
  • “HASTE” by VR-Gamers is a prototype with a really cool concept and style but it feels like a brick wall. “Freerunning and when you go fast time slows down” sounds awesome. “I’m not sure if I can make any of these jumps and if I mess up I have to reload from the beginning of the level” feels really frustrating. The creator says “Be prepared to lose often – this game is for hardcore players only.” But one of the things about games is that they’re teaching devices. A good game teaches you how to use it. This one made me wonder if there was an extra key I didn’t know about that would make me succeed at jumps. There wasn’t. I gave up.

Why Uru Matters

Cyan, now Cyan Worlds, released Myst in 1993. The work became one of the most influential video games of all time. It made the CD-ROM a must-have, led the rise of the atmospheric adventure puzzler, and is the leading suspect in the death of the adventure game. It was the bestselling game of all time until The Sims came along, and is probably, along with Mario and Pac-Man, the game even gaming-illiterate people have heard of.

The magnum opus of Cyan Worlds, however, is a sequel: Uru, now known as Myst Online: Uru Live. It’s a Myst MMO, first scheduled for release in 2003. Before the game was even released, the online portion was canceled. It was briefly resurrected in 2007-08 by GameTap, then canceled again. Recently, it has been revived again in donation-ware form, but it still has all the bugs and issues that helped contribute to its repeated downfall. Why should anyone care about or play Uru? Because it’s unique. It does things no other game does.
Continue reading Why Uru Matters

The Undeath of Uru Live

Myst Online: Uru Live will soon be immortal. Cyan Worlds is releasing the ill-fated MMO as an open-source project. This is great news; Uru always had more potential than its codebase and its funding allowed. However, it’s also terrible news, as it seems likely that Cyan will not be creating new content themselves for quite some time. Still, with the likes of Andrew Plotkin among the game’s fans, I feel confident that at least some quality content will emerge.