Released in 1993, Myst is one of the most successful and influential videogames of all time. Naturally, it became a series, and a decade after the original, developer Cyan Worlds went all-in on its ambitions with Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, which was meant to feature a small-scale MMO component called Uru Live. Alas, it bombed, the whole Uru Live segment was cancelled, and that was that until GameTap released it in 2007 as Myst Online: Uru Live a few years later. That bombed too.
Eventually, the rights to the whole thing went back to Cyan, who put it out (again) for free. I've knocked around in it a few times and it's cool, but it also feels incomplete and small—a tiny memorial to what might have been. It's a forgotten corner of the game world, a place where a half-dozen or so people can wistfully wander and poke around and, on very lucky days, find someone else to talk to. I get the itch to hop into it every few years, and every time I'm happy to discover it's still there, but also kind of blue to see it left in such a state. So I was very pleasantly surprised—stoked, even—to see Cyan tweet yesterday that a new Age is coming to Myst Online.
A new fan-made Age is coming to Myst Online!Please join us in the Chisno Preniv Library on Saturday October 1 at 12:30KI (6:30pm GMT) for the unveiling..."Fahets: Highgarden is a small garden area in the Age of Fahets and is the first Age that I wrote." - Keith "Tweek" Lord. pic.twitter.com/u5B2GBIcY2September 28, 2022
The addition of new content to Myst Online is a bit like Everquest 2's recently-announced 19th expansion: Unexpected, and kind of weird, because who knew these games were still running in the first place? And, it's fair to ask, why? Particularly in the case of Myst Online—Everquest 2 is awfully old as videogames go, but at least it actually launched and was reasonably successful in its time.
It turns out that this isn't the first new Age added to Myst Online in recent years. Fans have been futzing around with the game for years, but in 2020 Cyan opened the door to fan-made-but-official new Ages, beginning with a Guild of Messengers Pub and a memorial garden called Veelay Tsahvahn, both of which link back to a new central area. As Zarf Updates explained at the time, all of this new content was 100% fan service, which was doubly interesting because the Myst Online fan base "is tremendously loyal and enthusiastic, but it's also small and not really growing."
"About 200 people logged in for this unveiling, which is an enormous crowd in Uru terms; I'm sure it's the biggest we've seen since 2010," Zarf wrote. "But in Internet terms it's not much. And clearly the active Cavern population will drop back off to a dozen-ish in a few days."
Here's a fan-made video from early 2021 that I think nicely captures the spirit of those fans:
I've never seen anywhere near 200 people in Myst Online; I'd call a dozen people at once a pretty good day. But that's what makes the addition of a new Age, and the prospect of more to come, so legitimately exciting and even a little uplifting: Through the efforts of a handful of dedicated followers and a game studio that supports them, this weird little world isn't just persisting, it's actually growing. As someone who was deeply disappointed by the failure of Uru Live 20 years ago (and, quite frankly, angry at Ubisoft for refusing to even give it a chance), I think that's very cool, and I plan on being there for it.
The unveiling of Fahets: Highgarden in Myst Online is set to take place at 11:30 am PT/2:30 pm ET on October 1. If you're curious, you can jump in for free at mystonline.com: You'll need a Pentium 4, 512MB RAM, and a 32MB video card to play.