“I just needed one person to get it.”
In Episode 8 of Humans Who Make Games podcast, host and comedian, Adam Conover, talks with game legend and CEO of Cyan Inc., Rand Miller, in a bonus episode. Miller, known for MYST, Riven, and Obduction, shares details on making his spiritual successor to MYST 20 years after its release.
Listen to Humans Who Make Games Episode 8.
Miller talks about how his studio, Cyan Worlds, has always focused on creating worlds for players to immerse themselves in. MYST, which was launched in 1993 and remained the best-selling computer game of all time for a decade, was created for players to get lost in, but only with the technology that was available in the nineties.
“Myst has this friction and it became more of a game, but we just kept trying to make worlds,” Miller says. “Real-time 3D and VR makes worlds even more potentially immersive. It makes you feel like you’re there. And I think we told people in Myst, sit down in a dark room in front of your monitor…put your speaker next to you and make it feel like it. People said ‘oh it was like I’m in this world’ and that’s a cool feeling. With bigger monitors and real-time 3D where you’re not just quick snapping to other places. You start to convince your head that you are in these places. Which is cool. That’s enough to get you to create something new. That’s what Obduction was about.”
On the connection of MYST and Obduction, Miller says, “When I finally came to the conclusion – let’s just wipe the slate clean. Start with a blank sheet of paper. Nothing. Suddenly, it was right. The cool thing about that, that we realized afterward, was that Myst was interesting because you had no knowledge of anything in that universe. You ended up in that first dock in Myst and you didn’t know why you were there, who was there, what came before that, what came after. Its just a moment in time and the sequels were good but not exactly the same kind of interesting moment.”
“So Obduction gives us the chance to do it again. You’re stuck there and you don’t have a clue. You are again at your wit’s end. ‘Okay, I don’t know what any of this means.’ But then you get the joy of uncovering it and realizing how it all fits together.”
Miller explains why he has kept Cyan a small, indie studio.
I don’t know if people in the industry know how small the team was that did Obduction.
“The most satisfying times are when we are smaller, like a team of people and I feel like I have my hands on what we are doing. And I know the people and we all get a say. There’s not a guy working on a screw-head in the basement. No. Everyone gets to shape the project. With Obduction in particular, we pulled off – I don’t know if people in the industry know how small the team was that did Obduction. There was like 6 artists and 4 programmers and thats unheard of.”
When reviews came in for Obduction, Miller says the first one they saw was a 9 out of 10. “They loved it. And that’s all I needed. I just needed one person to get it.”
The studio has big plans for VR games, and Miller explains how he thinks VR is going to continue to rise and progress over time.
“We’ve got really interesting plans. It’s not just like one game. We’ve got a lot of designs we’ve been sitting on for many years that are in various stages. We are applying them all to VR world and see which ones bubble up and some will be sooner than later. All of the them are VR oriented.”
To find out more of the concept and creation of Obduction from Rand Miller himself and to hear things about the game from Miller that have never been released before, make sure to listen to episode 8 of Humans Who Make Games podcast and subscribe on Apple Podcasts so you never miss any episodes.
Jessie Wade is a writer at IGN and loves the contrast of game development from the nineties to modern day. Chat with her on Twitter @jessieannwade.