If We Could Re-Design Myst IV...

General discussion about Myst IV: Revelation.

If We Could Re-Design Myst IV...

Postby Yali » Sat May 23, 2015 11:36 am

So my old Myst IV box redesign had me thinking, in a hypothetical situation where Cyan and/or fans have the opportunity to remake Myst IV in a kind Skywindesque re-envisioning, how would you make Myst IV a better game? Myst IV has oft been considered as one of the hit or miss Myst sequels, so what design choices would you make to better the game? This goes for story, plot, gameplay, environments, art-direction, etc.

Here are some ideas I'm jotting down that I think would restructure the core game to be more in line with the Myst saga:

  • Rewrite portions of the story to make Sirrus a more compelling villain:

    • How about if Sirrus reveals in his Spire journal that he is convinced that his grandfather Gehn was mysteriously murdered by his father as Atrus never told him much about his grandfather. As a result he seeked out some information from scattered journals and saw that Gehn had envisioned to rebuild the D'ni civilization. Sirrus would have feared that Atrus had a vendetta against Gehn for attempting in rebuilding D'ni and thus Sirrus sees himself as potentially avenging his purpoted grandfather's death in rebuilding D'ni himself, while killing Atrus. This is why he wants to fool Atrus by taking Yeesha's body to learn the Art before killing him.
    • Tie in other elements of lore from past games to make Sirrus more interesting. The biggest example I have is to add an extra age to the game where Sirrus is concealing his master plan. This is the Mechanical age, only an area we haven't seen before. After Sirrus escaped from Spire he rummaged through Tomahna to find a long lost linking book that Atrus had used during his battle with the Black Ships. Sirrus uses this book to link to a black tower overlooking a massive black ship port and city. Here he reconvened with his warrior brethren in finishing the plans he began 20 years ago of conquering the Multiverse and rebuilding the D'ni civilization as a military empire.
    • His stay on Spire only served to make Sirrus more megalomaniacal and delusional, filled with paranoia that his family is deceiving him about the destruction of D'ni and that they are keeping him from embracing his booklust. This is what cements his insanity and desire to conquer Terokh Jeruth.
    • Make Spire actually make IC sense. Ever found all the metal structures on Spire a little unrealistic to have been built by one man? I propose a story change to facilitate the construction of his massive crystal bomb plant.

      It would be revealed in his journals that after linking to Spire he looked through his bags in search of tools and food, only to find two eggs of an amphibian race he stole from the age of the Tide shortly before his entrapment. Sirrus devises a plan to breed the hatchlings which I've dubbed "Grawls" into his necessary minions. As the grawls can be easily taught and trained due to their average intelligence, Sirrus utilizes them to harvest crystals and metals from the age in order to build his ever expanding slew of machinery. At one point the population of grawls becomes out of control and Sirrus is forced to lock the eggs in a chamber in the depths of the spire. However the grawls keep breading and begin becoming unmanageable, so Sirrus in a fit of rage brutally slays almost all the entire population with a dagger he had kept since his Black Ships days. As the player wanders through Spire he or she uncovers the egg chamber, now filled to the brim with starving grawls clammering for escape. In many sections in the depths below, the player finds glass closets within the walls where dozens of decapitated grawls are strewn about. This shows to the player the mental instability of Sirrus and his violent streak.

  • Rework the Mangree puzzle to be less torturous by redesigning its mechanics. The puzzle is too reminiscent of rubix cube style puzzles. The rotating wheels could be redesigned to make playing notes easier on the reflexes.
  • Completely redesign Serenia while keeping its main plot component. I envision returning to some of the early concept art for inspiration:

    http://www.mystrevival.com/uploads/2/8/ ... ystiv4.jpg

    Image
    Image
    Image
    Image

    Since its an age by Catherine I see it as much more alien/mysterious than the new agey tripe we were given. It would consist of the temple island along with a village section, surrounded by the azure-blue lake amidst a sea of of similar lakes separated by threads of land. Rather than the single blue sky I envision a blue sky that shifts to orange over the course of a day. Across the sky is a series of rings that circle the planet making a giant bow over the land that ends in the far off horizon. Above the player's head fly large amphibian/reptilian bird-like creatures (pictured above).

    The village contains a council of lords (pictured above) who are a separate grouping of races that hold the power on the age. The human inhabitants are a subordinate class that tend to the temples and live in seclusion. During the player's visit to Serenia, the player must speak to the council of lords to gain access to the high priestesses tower in the village. This the tower where Sirrus has hid his book to Mechanical after slaying the high priestess. The tower is locked and a special key must be gained from the lords.

    Serenia should aesthetically show the importance of the dream realm. The buildings are decorated with large mystical eyes, much like Salvador Dali paintings, that cry tears of color. These eyes are painted all over the age, most notably on town and temple walls.
  • The amulet should be redesigned to focus more on its mystical properties. Picture a purple eye encircled by a diamond of silver rays coming out of the edges of the eye.
  • Rather than the Atlantis-inspired spirit guide, the spirit guides take human form as a character from Myst lore. Dream should be a 3d space like an age in and of itself with reality breaking physics like doors that open to various types of landscapes (much like the Nexus in Star Trek Generations) rather the iPhone App-esque dream in in the original game. The characters for each element would be Air=Ti'Ana, Water=Veovis, Fire=A'Gaeris, Earth=Aitrus.
  • Rename Serenia to something cooler sounding. Satha maybe?
  • Haven is pretty solid, but I would recast Rand and Robyn as Sirrus and Achenar.
  • Recast Yeesha with a professional teenage actress, ideally british and with red hair to match her Uru depiction. Also cut out the 2000s linguo like "cool" and "like", etc.

That's all I have for now.
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Re: If We Could Re-Design Myst IV...

Postby KathAveara » Sat May 23, 2015 3:05 pm

I adore the general aesthetic of Spire, so that's one thing I'd want to keep.
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Re: If We Could Re-Design Myst IV...

Postby Talashar » Sat May 23, 2015 5:28 pm

When I played through the games recently, there were two things that made Revelation stand out: first, the amulet, which makes learning about the past a matter more of seeking out flashbacks than studying the environment, and second, a preponderance of "fiddly" puzzles. (The karnak gate is an extreme example: it's obvious what you need to do; the puzzle is fiddling with it until it's arranged the right way). I'd eliminate both of these.

Achenar should be closer to the character portrayed in Myst.

I'd redesign Serenia extensively. Dream would be a kind of mirror to the waking world (possibly with a puzzle involving changes to the canals having reflections in Dream), emphasizing the light/dark duality seen in Catherine's other known Age. I'd also develop the plot point of transferring memories. Achenar's haunted by the memories of his monstrosities, envying Yeesha's unstained innocence. Sirrus envies the knowledge of the Art that's denied to him. Yeesha is insatiably curious about her family's past. The Serenians are (apparently) able to speak with their dead, but Anna is forever gone. I don't have any immediate ideas for how the new plot would work, but it would be more focused on memories and forgetfulness than a simple body-snatching scheme.
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Re: If We Could Re-Design Myst IV...

Postby Magic88889 » Sat May 23, 2015 9:45 pm

I actually liked the amulet mechanic. It gave us a really nice glimpse into what happened. Plus, the girl that played Yeesha was simply fantastic. I would be a shame to only see her at the beginning and the end.

100% agree on the puzzle design though. The rest of the series did so well to incorporate the puzzles naturally with the environment. The mechanics of the puzzle shouldn't be that hard. It figuring out what to do that should challenge you.

As for the story, I actually liked it. I wouldn't change much, maybe add a few things here and there to make things a bit clearer.

For Spire, I think you underestimate how much one man can accomplish when they have absolutely nothing to do. Plus, we're not sure how much of it was already there when Sirrus was sent there. Atrus did write the age, although I forget why. I would expect that at least some of the infrastructure was put in place by him, either when writing the age or later.
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Re: If We Could Re-Design Myst IV...

Postby KathAveara » Sun May 24, 2015 1:18 am

Magic88889 wrote:For Spire, I think you underestimate how much one man can accomplish when they have absolutely nothing to do. Plus, we're not sure how much of it was already there when Sirrus was sent there. Atrus did write the age, although I forget why. I would expect that at least some of the infrastructure was put in place by him, either when writing the age or later.

Plus, Sirrus was there for 20 years. 20! I think it's totally reasonable.
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Re: If We Could Re-Design Myst IV...

Postby Graizur » Sun May 24, 2015 3:16 am

Maybe infer that the brothers are long dead and slowly uncover a trail that you can choose, follow to where Sirrus ended up, follow to where Achenar ended up or make a new friend with the survivors in the wake.
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Re: If We Could Re-Design Myst IV...

Postby Yali » Sun May 24, 2015 6:30 am

Except it would be really hard to forge all that metal for the bomb plant along with all those clear tubes and circuit boards and stuff. At least in Riven, Gehn had the Rivenese to help him. You'd need a whole army of workers to accomplish all that, especially the metal forging.
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Re: If We Could Re-Design Myst IV...

Postby KathAveara » Sun May 24, 2015 1:27 pm

I don't think the Riven::Spire comparison stands up as well as you think it does. Riven is much larger than Spire, and Gehn would only have used those Rivenese he'd trained in his "Guilds". Additionally, I suspect that much of what we see in Riven was already in place before Atrus trapped Gehn, which means it was done in a similar amount of time to how long Sirrus spent in Spire.

There's another issue, though, to introducing "help" for Sirrus. I gathered that the whole point of making Spire the way it is was to instill a sense of loneliness and isolation. How else are you meant to feel, walking through what seems to be the palace of a long-dead civilisation, as you stare out across an endless sea of clouds? If Sirrus had minions to do his bidding, that rather defeats the purpose of having Spire the way it is, and you'd have to redesign the whole Age anyway.
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Re: If We Could Re-Design Myst IV...

Postby Magic88889 » Sun May 24, 2015 11:43 pm

If you want to talk about time frames, let's look at that.

Ghen was trapped on Riven in 1774. Of course, he's already spent lots of time there but that point, having written it in 1761, over ten years earlier. The events of Riven take place in 1807. So that's almost 50 years...

Sirrus was trapped on Spire in 1806. The events of Rev don't happen till 1824. So 18 years. Doing some research, it appears that while Atrus did write Spire sometime earlier, it was only ever meant as a prison age. So the infrastructure would have to all been built by Sirrus. Unless there really was some kind of civilization that lived there in the past, like Sirrus believed...

All that doesn't work very well for my argument. However, as I said before, I think you underestimate what one man can accomplish. Plus, Sirrus isn't exactly what you would consider average. Despite his flaws, he is a genius. Plus, he was obsessed with getting out of that age, getting to the ground and finding that linking book. An obsessed man is capable of a great many astonishing things.
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Re: If We Could Re-Design Myst IV...

Postby Main_Avvie » Tue May 26, 2015 10:33 am

I really like how OP threw Gehn into the mix. Made me recall, back when I only knew Myst IV was a thing, I expected it to be about Gehn since the brothers had been done again already. No. Myst IV (much like its predecessor) doesn't really have much of a reason to exist. But somebody had to do something so they just made it all about the brothers again.

But Gehn's eventual fate still remains uncertain. So he ends up in the trap book (let's ignore Uru retcon for now), but then what? MIV brought the brothers back despite their books having been destroyed (let's also ignore the discrepancies between trap books in Myst & Riven vs MIV), so it is not inconceivable that Gehn couldn't also be dealt with the same way. Did Atrus leave him trapped indefinitely? It would be cruel to do that to his sons, but Gehn is a different matter. He wasn't just an angsty kid on a rampage, he was a cold calculated deliberate genocidal maniac. Atrus coming to terms with his sons was always an eventual given, but did he ever put his father behind him? It would have been good to see that play out in the same adventure. And the return of John Keston is just icing on the cake.

To that end, following Sirrus as he attempts to learn about his grandfather would have made for a good story. It is unclear how much the brothers knew about their grandfather, if they even knew of him at all. Sirrus is a bright and inquisitive kid. He'd want to know what's up. After what his father did to him you'd think Sirrus would want to try to understand Atrus better by uncovering his father's hidden heritage. For lack of the father he and his brother actively alienated, perhaps Sirrus would try to connect with Gehn as a sort of surrogate father figure- and Gehn might even take Sirrus as the son he never had (we all know what a disappointment Atrus was to him). Perhaps Gehn might even try to use Sirrus the same way he tried to use Atrus. Such a trinity of evil (no doubt Achenar would get involved) getting together to plot Atrus' downfall and threaten the future of the D'ni people again would be the greatest threat yet faced. There would be a chance for redemption for all- depending on it plays out.
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