Matt Chat#2: Myst is Now Live!

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Matt Chat #2: Myst is now live! Please watch, subscribe, rate it, comment on it, have fun!

I tried to tweak the audio and what not this go round, so let me know what you think.

Related Content:

Trilobyte's "7th Guest" (1993): Matt's review of 7th Guest.
Myst: My various writings on Myst and its sequels.

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Mark Vergeer
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Good video Man!

Love the intro you did - you are a good presenter. Good speaking voice.

Wasn't the original Myst programmed in this special multi-media hypertext/hyperbook like tool on the Mac?

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Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Matt Barton
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Thanks as always for the

Thanks as always for the kind words, Mark! I should mention--the fantastic cover of Vintage Games was designed by Dr. Vergeer!

I must admit, I've yet to play the Mac version of Myst. It's just too hard for me to find and get running on emulation. If anyone can help with that, I'd love to try it out. It is my understanding, though, that it was built with Hypercard or Hypertalk. There was also an earlier game from Cyan made with that; think it was called The Manhole that was a progenitor.

It really shows you just how powerful the creative tools available for Macs were back then (and remain today). It's hard to imagine a small team today creating the equivalent of Myst today. It'd be like Armchair Arcade folks getting together with a cheap set of tools and producing a game that looked vastly superior to the biggest AAA titles available on the shelf. Extraordinary.

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Mark Vergeer
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Hypercard! That's it!

That's it. Hypercard - it is an early Mac authoring system I actually used to create some computer aided courseware for the University way back in medical school.

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Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Bill Loguidice
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Hypercard
Mark Vergeer wrote:

That's it. Hypercard - it is an early Mac authoring system I actually used to create some computer aided courseware for the University way back in medical school.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

I have tons of books on Hypercard and other stuff. I always meant to get around to playing with it, but never did. It's definitely an intriguing, albeit obsolete system.

Vintage Games book!
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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Rowdy Rob
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Again, well done!

The audio was fine on my end (but your previous video sounded fine to me as well). Again, your narrative was interesting, and your voice is superb. If there were "crazy eyes" in this video, I didn't see it (nor in the previous video).

As for the presentation, I saw nothing to convert me that MYST is some alien game that I couldn't conceive of playing seriously. If anything, the graphics looked more primitive than I remembered. It appears to have little, if any, narrative to keep players intrigued enough to keep clicking away. So why was it so popular? What did I miss????

But that's "Myst," and not "Matt Chat." The presentation was again, well done. I was surprised to see "episode 2" so quickly. No complaints, though. : -) I think it's your friendly, easy, animated voice that sells your presentations more than anything, although it helps to see a "cool" guy selling the video, and not some goofus dork. Your presentation adds some legitimacy to what it is we all chat about here.

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Matt Barton
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Wow, thanks for the

Wow, thanks for the compliments, Rob! It's amazing how rewarding it is to put something like this up and then that you guys actually enjoy seeing what I enjoy making!

Okay, I totally know where you're coming from regarding Myst. The first times I played Myst and Riven, I was impressed with the graphics but soon lost interest. It seemed to me that games like Monkey Island and Fate of Atlantis were far superior. Myst just seemed too alien and lifeless to really be appealing.

However, what happened is that for research reasons I played through the entire Myst series and on into Myst-derivatives. The more of those latter ones I played, the more I began to appreciate what Cyan had achieved. In short, I had to see what other people had done with their ideas to appreciate just how great those original ideas had been. Myst broke a LOT of "rules" with Myst. There is little to no hand holding, almost no rails, and the story is told mostly indirectly. A game like Monkey Island gives you the story through dialog and narrations; Myst gives it to you by the placement of objects--i.e., you're like a detective coming upon a strange scene and trying to create the story of how that scene came to be. Indeed, sometimes what you read or hear people say is misleading.

A few nice things about Myst is that there are few (if any) red herrings. If you find a machine or a clue, you almost certainly will find a use for it. Your real "inventory" is the notes you take as progress (I prefer to take screenshots that I can browse when I'm stuck).

If you enjoy Myst, it's because you enjoy solving puzzles involving weirdo machinery in surreal settings. That's it. The story and the characters are good, but not intrinsically interesting like those in LucasArts games. Like I've said many times, LucasArts games are like trips to amusement parks; Cyan games are like trips to Buddhist temples or Zen rock gardens. Both are very pleasurable, but greatly different kinds of pleasure.

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Rowdy Rob
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Enjoyable
Matt Barton wrote:

Wow, thanks for the compliments, Rob! It's amazing how rewarding it is to put something like this up and then that you guys actually enjoy seeing what I enjoy making!

Although I didn't implicitly say so, I thoroughly enjoyed your video. To be honest, I enjoyed it much more than MYST itself, if I recall. Part of my enjoyment might be the fact that I am actually seeing and hearing Matt Barton in the flesh, and not just reading his words. Objectively, though, I would have enjoyed it if I stumbled upon this video on YouTube, as I suspect many other non-AA members will.

Matt Barton wrote:

Like I've said many times, LucasArts games are like trips to amusement parks; Cyan games are like trips to Buddhist temples or Zen rock gardens. Both are very pleasurable, but greatly different kinds of pleasure.

Okay, if I can be "politically incorrect" here, I have been to amusement parks, and I've been to both Buddhist temples and Zen rock gardens (probably more temples and gardens than most AA regulars combined). Let's see: Amusement parks or Zen rock gardens.... which one do I want to go to for fun?

The most obvious answer is A) Amusement park. Which is why the popularity of the obscure "MYST" baffles me. Temples and rock gardens..... if you've seen one, you've seen them all. Of course, there's a "historical" perspective that is interesting, but there's also a pretentiousness about them that says "you must appreciate them, or you're not enlightened."

So what does this have to do with MYST? I say that the "rock garden" analogy cannot possibly explain the popularity of MYST. No one wants to contemplate a rock garden for hours on end (admit it, you don't either), yet somehow MYST entranced people, and mostly Westerners at that. Something else is going on. What is it?

Not too long ago, I visitied my friend's house, and his sister (who he lived with... actually it was her house) was playing some version of MYST that I gave him (it wasn't MYST I). She seemed mesmerized. I still don't get it. I was watching my friend's son play his XBOX360 in one eye, and his sister playing MYST in the other eye. What the heck was she getting out of that game?????

If anything, your video puzzled me even more. MYST looks totally uninviting, alien, surreal, and puzzly, with no story or incentive. What's going on here? And why is it that the only MYST players I've ever known are women? Nothing I've seen seems to indicate a gender relationship....

Ok, that's all for now.

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Matt Barton
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I can think of several

I can think of several reasons why women might be drawn to it. One is that you aren't cast into a male or female role; "you" are the avatar. That might explain some of the appeal. Two, there's no violence or killing. Three, the game revolves around the family (albeit a demented one). I think all those things make a difference.

Also, it's the puzzles that are difficult and complex, not the interface. I think not only appeals to many women but many people who don't play games. They might be put off by something with too many buttons.

Maybe "Zen rock garden" is going too far. The world is actually more like a...modern art museum? Or perhaps some type of modern art sculpture garden? Hard to explain, but it's definitely more "artsy" than most games of this type. Just look at the style of that rocket ship, for instance.

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Rob Daviau
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Bravo!

I am really digging this new series you have given us, I love seeing these games in action!
I agree you are defintely suited for presentation.

If you do not mind me asking, since I make videos for Youtube myself....

How do you create your videos? What software did you use to capture gameplay, what type of camcorder and what settings do you use? I am continuosley experimenting so I find such details interesting thanks.

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Oldschool games, some people just don't "get it"...

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Matt Barton
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Hi, Oldschoolgamer! I'm

Hi, Oldschoolgamer!

I'm using Windows Movie Maker for all the editing work. It's pretty limited, but it came with my system - so I'm not complaining. To capture Myst, I used a free product called Cam Studio. It seemed to do a good job, though granted it took some tinkering with the settings.

To record video, I'm using either a Microsoft LifeCam or a digital video camera (one checked out from the campus library). Admittedly, it's an awkward setup (I had to sit on the floor with a camera perched on a cooler and a CD spindle). I should really invest in a decent digital video camera and a tripod. I'd also very much like a vintage armchair of some sort I could sit in to add more atmosphere to the segments (going with the theme of armchair arcade).

I guess one of the advantages of being poor is that you get familiar with every free and cheap tool out there! :)

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