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Deep-dive Q&A: Behind the scenes of Obduction, Cyan's move beyond Myst

Hayden Dingman | Oct. 7, 2014
We visited Cyan's offices in Washington and picked their brains about Obduction, a crowdfunded spiritual success to Myst.

RM: It's big, and there's some good puzzles. I feel like we've got some really good stuff in here. Some really satisfying stuff.

I love the psychology of the puzzles and the story. And I love that unfolding. I like my hands in the artwork stuff too, but let's face it, Eric and Derrick will do a much better job setting that style. Some of it is defined by story and the history of how these people worked and all that, but I just love that...I call it psychology because I don't know what else to call it. It's that "A-ha!" experience you get when you either realize a portion of the story or realize a portion of the puzzles. It's really...I think I take as much pleasure out of doing that sort of stuff as anything.

So Richard and I, we come in every morning and design puzzles for the entire morning. For Myst Online we would do that all day, our creative team would do it all day, and what we realized is it's not useful. We'd be pretty fresh in the morning and do some really good stuff, and in the afternoon we'd be like "Ugh, my head hurts."

Now we work in the morning. Richard then documents stuff in the afternoon. He'll go and document all the stuff and work on other things, on mocking up things or figuring out if we have inconsistencies, and I'll go work on other stuff. And then we come back in the morning and discuss. It works like a charm.

And then going over the puzzle stuff, we have multiple prongs so when we all get together Eric is like, "I need it to look like this," and I'm babysitting the story puzzle and Richard is a consistency guy--No, you can't leave the puzzles in that state because how'd the last guy get out? He wants it to be super realistic so he's managing that. Everyone has that aspect they're watching over.

Are you going really deep again? Are you fleshing out lore and making fake languages and all sorts of crazy stuff?
RM: Yeah. We said we weren't, but we are. Yeah, we're crazy. We're actually trying to manage it a little bit, but one of the changes we just made was this entire system...it's so cool. It's this numbering system. It's hard not to go there because we love it. It gives it depth and makes it seem real. People have systems, so you have to go there.

RW: They really tried to hold back on that at first. They didn't want to do a number system or alien languages or anything like that but...it came to that.

 

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