'Myst' Creator Rand Miller Talks 'Obduction' And VR


Rand Miller is in the habit of creating worlds. Starting way back with 1993’s Myst, Miller and the rest of the developers at Cyan have been creating the most immersive worlds possible. When Miller first saw the opportunities that modern-day VR can offer, he knew he had to incorporate it into his next project.

“VR is amazing. I remember way back 15 years ago when it was clunky and ridiculous,” Miller told iDigitalTimes.

“I went to Valve and tried a Vive early on and the thing that made an impression on me was the touch controls. We love interfaces that are simple and intuitive. Myst was just a mouse and a single click, you could put a kid or your grandma down and they could figure it out,” he said.

Miller is aware that the technology isn’t perfect yet, but described a moment he had while playing Job Simulator to illustrate his point. A sriracha bottle had fallen from a table in the game, and Miller stooped down and caught it before the bottle hit the ground. That ease of understanding how a game worked made it all fall into place.

One of the best parts of working in VR for Miller is that everything is new, and everyone working in VR is helping to build a new medium. “It feels like we’re early on in this and everyone gets to define it a bit,” he said. “It’s interesting to interact in a world with your hands. It takes away a layer of abstraction.”

Cyan’s latest game, Obduction, was developed with VR in mind, but the team is now preparing to add motion controller support. Instead of using a traditional game controller, players can point to where they want to move and teleport there. Players also interact with objects like you’d expect to in the real world, such as turning a wheel by reaching out, grabbing it and moving your arms.

Given the company’s history, it was a natural fit to get into VR development. “We build worlds, we don’t even call them games sometimes,” Miller said. “VR makes you feel like you’re in a place. It feels natural for us to embrace it.” This venture into VR may have also set a new path for Cyan moving forward. “This is just our first step, but we had a lot of cool ideas bubbling up with it.”

Miller describes working on Obduction as an exhilarating change of pace. When looking at what to do next, he starting thinking of something new in the Myst universe, but found himself too bound by his own rules of the world. With Obduction, he was able to start fresh and create something completely new. “I love my house and it’s comfortable and I know it well, but sometimes I need a vacation,” he said. “ Obduction is that vacation.”

At the same time, Obduction also allowed Miller to give players the same sense of exploration that was critical to the success of the original Myst. “We’re dropping you in a world you don’t know again, it’s brand new, and you have to figure it out,” he said. “I don’t know what’s in me that likes that ‘no set-up’ thing.”

Obduction is now available on Steam, with VR and motion controls supported. Traditional monitor and control options are supported as well. Cyan plans a future release for the PSVR.

So what do you think? Are you excited to play Obduction with motion controls? Did you play Myst or any of its sequels back in the day? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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