Why it matters: Myst is arguably one of the most influential PC games in history. For nearly a decade, it held the record as the best-selling computer game of all time, and rightfully so. The title helped promote the CD-ROM as the must-have PC accessory of the 90s largely through its use of a compelling story and graphics that had to be seen to be believed.
As co-creator Rand Miller recounts in a new episode of Ars Technica’s War Stories, they absolutely pushed the limits of what was possible with the tech of the time.
Miller notes that Myst was the sort of game that simply would not fit on a floppy disk – CD-ROM was the only other option. What’s more, because they had made a game in which you don’t die, level up or start over, the only way they felt they could give customers an experience truly worth their money was through “sheer brute force amount of real estate” to explore.
Cyan’s target audience was consumers with a mainstream multimedia computer – translation, those with a 1x CD-ROM drive. The problem is that the technology was so new that the developer didn’t even know until deep into the project if simple things like transitions between scenes were going to be feasible within a reasonable amount of time.
As you'll see in the video, tricks like image compression and disc layout were key to getting everything to work as intended.
If you are at all a fan of Myst or have an interest in the history of PC game development, I would highly recommend checking out the full episode.
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