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Myst for iPhone

I just found out that Cyan Worlds released Myst for the iPhone to the app store two weeks ago. Of course I went and bought it, and I thought you might want a short rundown of how it is the same and how it is different.

Myst for iPhone screenshot of the opened gear in a side view

First and foremost: This is essentially the original Myst. This isn't realMyst with a 3D engine, nor is it like the later releases where they used pre-rendered panoramic scenes. You have a simple, fixed viewpoint of pre-rendered 3D, with a few ambient animations in it, and you can turn around in steps of 90 degrees or 120 degrees or 180 degrees, depending on where you are standing. As you remember, this was the biggest criticism about the original Myst, that it was rather dis-orienting that you couldn't rely on how much you turned when you clicked the screen edges.

The graphics are full resolution for the iPhone, and look pretty nice on this screen, though of course the models and textures have essentially stayed the same, so don't expect the added detail from later Myst installations.

However, considering that Myst currently doesn't really run on current versions of Mac OS X, and it's only five bucks and you can carry it along on your phone, this is a decent, if straightforward port of the original first part. Nothing revolutionary, but competently executed. Tapping the screen feels natural in this game, and in addition to tapping the edges of the screen, you can swipe sideways to turn left and right.

Myst for iPhone screenshot of entrance to the Channelwood age

My main nitpick is that you can't play it upside-down, which means during right-hand-only playing my hand covers the speakers and I hear nothing. Also, maybe I'm imagining things, but I think a few of the smaller animations got lost in the port, as the dock anteroom door fades away instead of sliding, and just generally things seem to be fading more that I think used to be wipe effects or actual scrolling animations. There's also a sound in the anteroom that sounds wrong, but I've encountered nothing that would really deter from the game. It's just that this is essentially what we already had in the original HyperCard version of Myst.

While I'm aware that realMyst's and Myst V's 3D engine would have been too demanding on the hardware to port to the iPhone, I would have hoped that they'd at least do an updated panoramic version of the game, with a few of the smaller effects fixed. The original Myst ran on 90MHz Macs with 8-bit graphics and virtually no GPU, so it shouldn't have been hard to improve on that with a 600MHz CPU and a decent GPU like the iPhone has it. All I see is that the graphics seem to have been re-compressed and re-cropped. No compression artifacts in the movies anymore.

But hey: Now that this thing has been ported to what is very likely Cocoa and OpenGL, maybe they'll release a new Mac version as well? Shouldn't be hard to port, and maybe they can do a new rendering run and a bit of polish on the lost effects for that one.

Reader Comments: (RSS Feed)
Ahruman writes:
90 MHz? [Yorkshire]Luxury[/]. I played the Myst demo on an LC (16 MHz 68020) and the real thing on a IIvx (32 MHz 68030), and liked it. Still, they had higher-resolution screens than the iPhone. Oh wait, 256 colours with bad dithering… oh no, it’s all coming back to me now. Aaargh!
Uli Kusterer replies:
Ahruman, it came bundled with my 90Mhz Performa 5300, which is why I used that for reference. Many Mac users probably played Myst that way, I'd suppose. But yeah, technically it should work decently on slower Macs, as long as they have enough power to play movies.
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Created: 2009-05-03 @418 Last change: 2014-11-24 @254 | Home | Admin | Edit
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