Myst is probably my favorite game series of all time. I’ll never forget my first visit to Myst island; it was quiet, beautiful, peaceful, eerie and unsettling all at once. No adventure game has ever affected me in such a way, because at the time there had literally never been anything like it. Myst created an entire genre of graphically rich point-and-click adventure games.
Now, nearly a decade later, the folks at Ubisoft have brought us Myst IV: Revelation. Revelation is by far the grandest Myst game to date, yet it also feels most like the original from which it evolved. Was this done by design, or serendipity? For such answers, I went to Geneviève Lord, a producer at Ubisoft. So, read on as we discuss the ins and outs of Myst IV: Revelation, as well as the very fiber of the human psyche…
Michael Phillips: First, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Ubisoft?
Geneviève Lord: My name is Geneviève Lord. I was born in Belgium and moved to Montreal when I was 19. I have been alternatively working in the IT industry as consultant and then manager, alternatively at home mother for my 2 sons, and this in 5 different countries.
After my last stay-at home (3 years in Spain) I decided to use my gaming love and experience to find myself a job at Ubisoft. Since I had played all previous Myst games, it was a great thrill for me to be part of the Myst Revelation team.
As a producer, my job is to ensure that the game is ready in time without loosing quality, and help each employee give their best. This is the theory, in reality, we often find ourselves dealing with very difficult situations because the industry is still developing and so are our processes.
MP: How did you all find the process of developing such a large game for both Mac OS X and Windows? Was it at all tricky?
GL: Myst IV was a huge game to create... It required three years of production. It was full of technical challenges:
It was the first time we were creating a high-resolution pre-rendered game and the first time we were dealing with live action in a game - There is more than an hour of footage in the game.
We also needed to build an engine that was able to blend 3D real-time effects with the pre-rendered scenes in order to push the overall feeling of immersion to new heights. We ended up having real-time shadows, glow effects, water and smoke effects, depth of field, etc...
On top of that, since Myst games have always been very Mac oriented, we wanted the game to be on a hybrid Mac-PC version so as to make sure that Mac players would have the same opportunities to play as PC players. Dealing with a hybrid version and double-layer DVDs was also a premiere at Ubisoft.
But the setting up of over a hundred computers to create the "render farm" needed to output the images has certainly been the most demanding aspect of the production.
MP: Can we expect other Myst titles based on Myst IV's engine to hit OS X?
GL: The team is proud of its work and the reception Myst IV Revelation from the Mac community and beyond that there is nothing to share at this time.
MP: To me, Myst IV felt more like the original than any other game in the series. Was this a specific design goal?
GL: Yes it was. When we started the production of Myst IV Revelation, we obviously wanted to add our original touch to the saga and offer to the players the best experience they could find in any "Myst game". But we also really wanted to stay true to the "Myst license". So we analyzed carefully the 3 previous games of the series to determine what were the most successful elements of each game.
Our conclusion was that the atmosphere of the original Myst game was certainly one of the key factors that made that game so fantastic. We hope that every player will feel again that atmospheric immersion in our game.
MP: Of all the Myst games do you have a favorite Myst Age?
GL: Selenetic Age in Myst I