If you grew up playing computer games in the 1990s, Myst was practically inescapable. The best-selling PC game of all time until The Sims came along and bumped it from its perch, Myst was an exploration puzzle game that dropped you onto a seemingly deserted mysterious island with almost no information, allowing players to uncover the backstory of the characters at their own pace and through various methods of discovery. It spawned sequel games and novels, and now, according to Deadline, Legendary TV is developing a TV series based on Myst.
Personally, I was a bigger fan of Riven, the sequel to Myst, than Myst itself, but hopefully they’ll be able to pull some elements from that game into this show as well. But how is Legendary going to be able to translate a point-and-click computer game in which players are almost entirely isolated into a compelling series? One could argue that “Lost” drew some inspiration from Myst, dropping characters on a mysterious island after a plane crash and slowly revealing the mythology of the setting over the course of six seasons. But as we’ve seen with shows like “FlashForward” and countless others, you can’t expect to repeat the success of a phenomenon like “Lost,” which was a perfect “right time, right place” show a decade ago.
Cyan Worlds, the game developers, are working with Legendary on the show, and they said that the partnership means “finally being able to express in a visual linear medium the rich story that the Myst franchise is dripping with.” That part sounds interesting to me, but this next part may be a bit more problematic:
Cyan’s goal in working with Legendary is not just to create a compelling TV drama but to develop a true transmedia product that will include a companion video game that extends the story across both media. Seventy percent of tablet owners use their device while watching TV at least several times a week. Cyan sees the potential to push the boundaries of interactive storytelling to a new level.
I may be in the minority, but I think most people use their tablets while they’re watching TV because they’re bored with what they’re watching, or if not bored, at least the show doesn’t require them to give it their full attention. I’d much rather have a series be compelling on its own instead of relying on a gimmick of interacting with a tablet while I’m watching a show to get the full experience. I’m fine with a separate new game coming out simultaneously because that’s how the franchise got started in the first place, but do it right. Make it a full game that works independently from the show, but adds another level of information for fans who want to do both. Don’t make it something where people have to play the game at the same time that the show is on to fully grasp what you’re trying to achieve on a narrative level.
What do you think? Did you play Myst? Are you interested in seeing how it plays out as a TV show?
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