Thursday, November 30, 2006

URU Live -- The Return

I have been a huge Myst game fan for years. When the game "URU" came out (pronounced "oo-ru" with the "oo" sounding like toot), I fell in love with the game quickly. It had an online component that I got in to briefly, but I decided to finish the single player game first. I finished the game and went back online only to find that in about a week, Ubisoft was going to end the online part. Cyan Worlds, the actual maker of the game, did not like the decision, but what do you do. On February 10, 2004, the server was turned off.

In August of 2004, with the rabid Myst fans still wanting to play online, Cyan Worlds released a version that fans could set up on a server if they wanted too. Cyan Worlds named this version "Until URU". There was no new content, but we still found ways to have fun. We made many friends along the way. Eventually hacks were created with the blessing of Cyan Worlds that gave us some cool, fun options. Still, we had no new content. There were hopes that a full URU Live would come back, but it was a distant hope. Those hopes were squashed further when Ubisoft pulled all funding from Cyan Worlds right after the release of "Myst 5: End of Ages" (EoA). EoA was what it sounds like -- the last part of the Myst series. Much of the story of Atrus and Yeesha was tied up in the end of the game. It truly was the end of the Myst series. With Ubisoft pulling funding, Cyan Worlds laid off almost all of their workers and basically closed the doors. At that time, loving URU as I do, I saw that was available as a URL. I bought it and the .net and .org versions.

URU is set in modern times. The ability to keep the URU game going is easy since it is in modern times. In the game, "you are you" quite literally. You play the game as yourself. Yeesha, the most powerful of all D'ni writers, has transcended the boundaries of time with her writing abilities. She is still around and her presence is strong in URU, though we have not see her physically... yet.

Amazingly, just as most of the Myst/URU faithful had all but given up hope, a merger of sorts was announced. People at Cyan Worlds were called back. Finally, we heard that Gametap had liked the idea of a Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) game. The decided to partner with Cyan Worlds to bring URU back to life again. Testing began is secret at first, and as the Gametap/Cyan partnership was announced there was talk of beta testing for the new game. A link was posted on the new site,, calling for beta testers to register. I did. I wasn't called until just recently. In fact, last night, a major call was made for as many beta invitees to show up and stress the server. It was something else. Just seeing the game alive with people all in the same place was so cool. We have been spread out over about 10 or 12 different servers, but finally once again we were united in the same game.

There is still a long road to go to get the game out of beta, but from what I saw last night, there has been a great deal of progress. The goal is to have the game ready somewhere around Christmas. The game still has some bugs, but it is sweet to be back. Last night Rand Miller from Cyan and David Reid and Blake from Gametap even came into the game to visit the group of explorers there. It is an exciting time for Cyan Worlds and Gametap and I wish them the best.

One great marketing decision was to change the primary name from URU Live to Myst Online: URU Live. The "Myst Online" name will be more recognizable than "URU Live". It is a fantastic strategic decision and I applaud Gametap and Cyan Worlds for making this change. The new web site is now, thought the old site is still active and redirects.

I would like to thank Cyan Worlds for allowing me to keep the web address with their blessing.

"Perhaps the ending has not yet been written." -- Yeesha at the end of URU.

"Again, perhaps the ending has not yet been written." -- Rand Miller, February 4, 2004, announcing the closing of URU Live to the Myst Community.

Myst fans, keep your fingers crossed.