I actually agree that it is highly unlikely.
That's why I called it 'a long shot'.
Yes, it's a much larger project than RealMyst: Masterpiece Edition. I'd say 4 or 5 times as big, just porting and touching up the already-existing ages. Add multiplayer functionality on top of that and it's even bigger. But while it is certainly very unlikely, it's not entirely impossible. If I had a say in how to tackle it, this is how I might go about trying to make it happen:
Why? Good question. Look at how well the Obduction Kickstarter did - and the fact that if it gets to $1.7 million by the end of February 2014 (it still might, actually, but likely won't at this point) it is set to actually have a multiplayer play mode (albeit more limited than Uru's) called 'Roadtrip Mode', and five worlds (four plus a hub) made from scratch, which would make it about as big as RealMyst. Now, I don't know how much the cost difference is in practice, between making 5 worlds completely from scratch and porting about 20 that already exist to a new engine, with a few minor assorted visual improvements. I'd guess though, and it's a very rough guess, that a straight-up port of Uru as-is to Unity might cost around $3 or $4 million to do. Now as for the name recognition issue, you're right that no publisher will touch Uru again. (No publisher wanted to fund Obduction, either) But the fans are absolutely obsessive in their dedication to all things Myst, and they funded Obduction to the tune of over a million dollars and it wasn't even a 'Myst' title, it was 'Myst-like' and made by Cyan Worlds, heck, we didn't even have any actual in-game footage to look at when we funded the thing, just concept art, descriptions, and an intro cutscene. On Obduction we had relatively little to go on, and it was a new IP so name recognition wasn't just weak, it was effectively non-existent when the Kickstarter began.
Now imagine how thoroughly many of us here would back a relaunch of Uru in a multi-platform format that could actually run on Mac and PC and the next-gen consoles & tablets... we actually *know* what Uru is and love it. There's an Uru server that people can play on for free - MOULa - but seeing Uru have another real chance at life in a solid game engine (as opposed to the largely static condition it is in now) is a dream we pretty much all share, and would buy into in a big way if the idea were put out there by Cyan Worlds in Kickstarter form.
But what about new content? We could barely pull off a $1.3 million Kickstarter, and one that's ABOVE $4 million seems impossible to reach. Yet, presumably, it would have to be above $4 million, perhaps $7 million even, if the plan, the initial launch, called for a year's worth of new worlds. Which is why I'm convinced that the only way to bring down the costs is to trim back the single biggest cost factor in the games industry - salary. My idea is really really straightforward. The in-house staff for developing new worlds would consist of about ten Cyan staffers: a sound effects artist, musician (Tim Larkin?), concept artist(Martiniere?), and a couple of core creative puzzle/content/game designers, along with a couple of quality-control people who could process a lot of the 'grunt work' like objects that need to be modelled, etc. That work - writing scripts in Unity, code... and modelling geometry, creating custom texture art, etc, would be broken into a lot of smallish chunks and basically farmed off to a couple dozen different people, the best talent in the fanbase (Guild of Writers) who could volunteer to do the work for nothing or next to nothing during development. The quality control people at Cyan Worlds would have to process the submitted content, verify that it meets the company's standards, and load the usable stuff bit by bit into the in-development ages. In other words: A collaborative approach towards content development might be able to bring production cost down to 40 or 50% what it'd otherwise be, without any particularly noticeable loss of quality.
So... maybe instead of the whole thing costing $7 million, we would be talking $5 million. That's a lot but not entirely impossible to raise with Kickstarter.
But again, even so, it's still highly unlikely.
And yes, I am very glad we have MOULa, and RealMyst: Masterpiece Edition, and Obduction. Absolutely.
Sorry for hijacking the thread... I was just mulling over this idea (porting Uru to Unity) that popped into in my head when I read the first post, and trying to figure out some way in which it might actually be feasible. I think it still isn't there yet though.