|IMG Interview: Cyan's Rand Miller|
May 30, 2007 | Alex McLarty
IMG's Alex McLarty had a chance recently to sit down with Cyan's co-founder Rand Miller. Cyan's current project, Uru Live from on-demand gaming service GameTap, takes the world of Myst into the online, massively multiplayer arena.
Alex Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Rand Well, I'm 6'2" tall, 210 pounds, I like Hatch chilies, Mars Rovers, Macs and taking pictures. I'm not particularly fond of liver, humidity or, at the moment, BMW (long story about a cracked head).
Alex What was your original role at Cyan and how has it changed over the years?
Rand I started at Cyan as the programming guy. I would get images from my brother Robyn, and I would get to make them come alive - visit the worlds for the first time. I really love that side of things. But as time progressed we got much smarter people than me to do the programming and I moved into more of an umbrella position. I've had my fingers in lots of the development process, so it's handy for me to watch it from above. My hands-on work is usually related to design at this point.
Alex Cyan's games from Myst onwards have been thoughtful, exploration focused with no violence, and a lot of history and story. At times, the story seemed to have a life of it's own. What was your inspiration for Myst and how do you feel it turned out?
Rand I think the inspiration for our games is hard to pinpoint. But if I were forced to reduce it to just a single concept it would have to be the desire to explore. That simple desire, which is so strong in both Robyn and me, is what lead us to make alternate worlds, instead of just game play systems. And we found out that we weren't the only ones who enjoyed exploring.
Alex What made Myst so popular?
Rand A lot of it, of course, was being in the right place at the right time. We had a product on CD-ROM that anyone could play, and it was a great way to show off your computer. Beyond that I think it's actually related to the precious question - we found that there were millions of people who enjoyed being entertained by exploring an alternate reality at a not so frenetic pace, without the fear of being killed.
Alex It seems that the golden age of puzzle games are over. Lucas Arts no longer makes games like Full Throttle, The Dig and Grim Fandango. These games were wonderfully pixellated, but telling, interesting and funny. Why has the appeal for adventure games waned? The only puzzle adventure game I can think of thatís remotely popular now is Dreamfall.
Rand It seems to me that even though pure adventure games have kind of drifted away, aspects of them are incorporated into the mainstream FPS. Tomb Raider provided a sense of exploration and puzzle solving - you just had to shoot the dogs and bad guys. And even more recently, Half Life 2, for example, had a slow-paced exploration feel during the first part that seemed very adventure-like. In both of those very different examples, exploring the world at my own pace was my favorite part.