Although the passage of time serves to make the past seem sweeter in recollection than it might have been in the moment, it’s impossible to deny that there was something special about the gaming landscape of the 1990s. Every year in that decade brought a torrent of titles that were destined to become classics—including the often-imitated-but-ultimately-inimitible Myst.
Myst came to market in 1993, which was a banner year in PC gaming—1993 also brought us X-Wing, Doom, Syndicate, and Day of the Tentacle, among others. It’s fascinating that Myst happened the same year that Doom launched, too—both games attempted to simulate reality, but with vastly different approaches. Doom was a hard and fast shotgun blast to the face, visceral and intense, aiming to capture the feeling of hunting (and being hunted by) demons in close sci-fi corridors; Myst was a love letter to mystery and exploration at its purest.
A few months back, Ars caught up with Myst developer Rand Miller (who co-created the game with his brother Robyn Miller) at the Cyan offices in Washington state to ask about the process of bringing the haunting island world to life. Myst’s visuals lived at the cutting edge of what interactive CD-ROM technology could deliver at the beginning of the multimedia age, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, fitting the breadth of the Millers’ vision onto CD-ROM didn’t happen without some challenges.