In the early 1990s, PC gaming struggled to establish an audience and a niche separate from console gaming – and as profitable. Dominated by Nintendo and Sega, video gaming had largely become a “home television” experience and not one had in front of a computer.
Of course, what PC gaming needed was a “killer app” to bring people on board. And it got several, DOOM among them, but one that we’re going to talk about right now probably did more to bring in normal people to PC gaming than anything else: Myst.
You have probably heard of Myst – the point and click adventure from the prehistoric era for most people – but you probably don’t have an idea on how much of an impact it had on PC gaming, particularly in driving people to adopt CD-ROM gaming.
Now aged and somewhat frayed around the edges, the graphics in Myst were an experience and made people think they were playing a cutting-edge game. Many even compared the original Myst, with its numerous interactive elements and the beautifully rendered world, to virtual reality. Naturally, VR was nascent back then and nothing like what we have now so it should give you some idea of what was going on when people compared Myst or thought of it as a VR experience.
Well, that notion wasn’t lost on Myst’s creators, and now they’re hoping they can bring that same magic to VR with a game called ZED to release Q1 in 2019.
Early screenshots of ZED from Cyan Worlds shows a game very much in the vein of Myst. The world looks fantastical and somewhat psychedelic with an almost carnival atmosphere about it all. This is probably because Chuck Carter, an artist on the original Myst, is deeply involved in the development of ZED, so much so that the dev calls it “Chuck Carter’s game.”
Interestingly, ZED will take advantage of both traditional PC game formats and VR. This makes sense when you look at the pedigree behind it but is a bit of a bummer for those of us that crave VR-exclusive experiences. Nonetheless, if it can capture a tenth of the magic of Myst and have even somewhat of a similar impact, it could be huge for VR games in general.
There will be a full story to ZED with writers who have worked on Bioshock and Metal Gear Solid contributing to it. The story centers around a protagonist with dementia who is trying to create a “book of memories” for a woman named Charlotte. This explains the trailer’s montage of images and their somewhat unrelated nature.
Cyan World co-founder Rand Miller said of the game: “Here we’re talking about some guy who’s got lots of regret in life, and gone through life with some issues that didn’t serve him well…He’s got dementia. He’s starting to lose his mind, and he finds out that he’s going to have a granddaughter he might never see. …The essence of it is, you’re kind of trying to put together the memories of this guy into a children’s book that he’s going to pass to his granddaughter,” he continued. “Which is just sort of a cool idea.”