Mysterium 2023

The XXIV Mysterium was held in Spokane, WA on June 30–July 2, with the panels and presentations streamed to both Twitch and YouTube.

Belford wrote a summary in his blog, commenting on Cyan’s announcements.

Friday started at 11:00 KIT with the Opening Announcements with a few words and reminders from the convention chairs.

At the 12:00 panel D’ni Linguistic Fellowship, Christopher “Kh’reestrefah” Gilson discussed word formation in the D’ni language, first showing how words in D’ni can be used to form other words, then looking at known D’ni words to discover patterns that point to historical rules that have not been explained before.

At the 15:00 panel Uru World-building, Patrick “Doobes” Dulebohn gave a demonstration of Blender for Korman, the free plugin currently used to create Ages for MOULa and CC. He also briefly showed the use of ZLZ Age Importer, to get Cyan Ages converted to blends.

At the 16:00 panel Art of Shoomlah, Claire “Shoom’lah” Hummel showed a retrospective of her Myst art over the years, and how the games have impacted her career as an art director and concept artist in the games industry (including hiding a Riven easter egg in Half-Life: Alyx). She runs a “real places that look like Myst” blog.

At the 17:00 panel The Cavern Today Podcast, Dalken Starbyne, Esto Centura, Maurus and Sh’aeri held a live episode right at Mysterium, discussing the convention, D’ni, Cyan, and did a brief audience Q&A. The Cavern Today podcast has been bringing listeners news from the Myst fan community since 2005.

At the 18:00 event Moving the Slider (not streamed), Rayne and m13 challenged the attendees at a group game, working together to solve puzzles, find clues, and trying to figure out what in the world the Thing is for.

At the 19:00 panel Unwritten Character Creation Workshop, Faroguy, Eleri Hamilton, Vee Hamilton and Thomas “Curator” Steele announced the Modern D’ni expansion for Unwritten, and gave tips on how to plan a good character for the game.

Later, Curator and Eleri hosted two parallel Unwritten sessions.

Saturday started at 9:30 KIT with a few words from the convention staff, then the attendees headed over to Cyan HQ. At 11:00 Jeff Lanctot gave a brief welcome talk and order of events.

At the 11:15 Cyan State of the Union, Hannah Gamiel and Eric Anderson discussed the recently released Myst (VR) and Firmament, and gave some updates about the Riven remake; notably, there will be some changes giving more lore details.

Currently all resources are focused on Riven; future projects will likely be smaller, a bit more experimental, and possibly more related to the Myst universe. The presentation ended with a preview of the Riven remake, specifically the Boiler Island area!

Starting at 12:15 the attendees were divided in three groups, alternating between lunch at the Squee Conservatory, a guided tour of the campus at DRC Headquarters, and an opportunity to meet some Cyan employees and guests at Gehn’s Temple.

At 14:30 Mike “RIUM+” Ando showed off another one of his amazing creations: the Andotrope, a recreation of Gehn’s holographic imager from Riven. As RIUM+ put it, he “accidentally invented new technology while trying to make a videogame prop more screen-accurate”.

At 15:10, at the Special Mystery Presentation, Phil Salvador from the the Video Game History Foundation announced they got permission to digitize a huge stack (about 100 hours of footage) of videotapes from Cyan’s vault, recorded in the Nineties, found by Philip Shane while he was collecting material for the Myst Documentary. They hope to finish digitizing the tapes and make them available by the end of this year.

At 16:00 Rand Miller held a Keynote Q&A, discussing a few design choices for the Riven remake, and taking questions from the audience. Cyan is now focused on the remake. Richard Vander Wende has returned as creative leads, along with Rand Miller. The game logic is in place, but a lot is still needed for the visuals. They confirmed they will not use live-action video for the characters. No release date or platforms were announced, but they want to release it by the 30th anniversary (2027).

The remake will expand a bit the lore, under the premise that they uncovered more archaelogical material from the New Mexico desert, and they will incorporate those discoveries into the new game. For the occasion, Rand showcased a metal plate with a relief of D’ni letters (possibly a gahrohev), originally used to cover the Fissure around the telescope.

After Riven, they want to focus on smaller games, with more replay value, going back to the Myst universe.

Wrapping up at 17:30, the crowd headed back to the hotel for the rest of the events.

At 21:00 four parallel events started:

Harley hosted the Gemedet Tournament, a game in which two players take turns placing pieces of their color in a three dimensional grid nine wide, nine long, and nine layers high. The objective is to complete an unbroken straight line of six pieces of the players color. Any direction the line of six can fit will count, including diagonals.

Dan Binder hosted Name That Tune, a competition in which the attendees identified songs and tracks from the Myst games.

Eleri and Curator hosted two more Unwritten sessions.

After some announcements from the convention staff, Sunday started at 11:00 KIT with Cyan Games Completed Rapidly Live, a marathon of Myst games hosted by the Guild of Speedrunners, to show the differences and the development of its various iterations, in celebration of 30 years of Myst.

At the 12:00 panel Uru Demake, Phil R showcased his ‘de-make’ of Uru, a recreation of some of the Ages in a very simple 2D pixel art engine called Bitsy; he discussed the process of translating puzzles from Uru into a minimalist style and redesigning some of the puzzles based on player feedback.

After lunch, at the 15:00 panel Myst Documentary, filmmaker Philip Shane and team members Randy Woods, Joshua Reinstein, Katie Postma and Elana Bogdan gave an update about The Myst Documentary, highlighting how it will be structured and showing a few clips about the Miller family. Attendees were given an exclusive sneak peek.

At 17:00 the Closing Ceremonies were held, wrapping up this year’s convention, running the prize drawing, showing the “Crafting With Watermelon” video, and announcing next year’s location: Montreal, Canada!

Thanks and kudos to the Mysterium Committee, who did a great job at organising and managing the event.

Looking forward to next year!

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