College Books

Yesterday, my brand new books for college arrived. In case you don’t know; I’m going to the NHTV course for International Game Architecture and Design.

Two of the books have indexes. In one of them, I found the word “Myst”. Interesting! I thought I’d copy what the books say about Myst to here for everyone to read. The book is called ‘Rules of Play – Game Design Fundamentals’ by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. The first mention is on page 270:

As game designers, it is important to understand the range of player types that encounter your game, and the kinds of relationships they have to the rules, goals, and magic circle that your game delineates. Some games clearly appeal to both standard and dedicated players, such as Scrabble. Scrabble is often played as casual family fare, but it also supports an international tournament culture of hardcore players. Other kinds of games tend to attract one kind of player over another. The players that enjoy the low-pressure, exploratory pacing of Myst are generally not the same kind of dedicated player audience that would spend the many hours required to understand and master Myth: The Fallen Lords. There is a similar divide off the computer between players of party games such as Pictionary and fans of complex wargames and role-playing games.

I can’t say I totally agree with this piece, as it can take a player many upon many of dedicated hours to understand a single puzzle, let alone understand the complex workings of some of the Ages or the history of the D’ni race.

The next mention is on pages 354-355:

There is a reason why Myst was superior to all of the CD-ROM multimedia game clones that followed it, or why Super Mario 64 is still better than the scores of 3D over-the-shoulder, character-based console games that are released every year. Myst and Super Mario 64, although very different in the experiences they provide, have one thing in common: they both treat the player with a tremendous amount of care. From the moment the game begins, the player has clear directions and purpose. As players explore their expansive worlds, both games provide a satisfying increase in challenge, while never leaving the player feeling lost or confused. There is clarity to the way that these games construct player pleasure.

??? How can the authors say directions are given from the start of Myst? Almost nothing could be further from the truth! The player has no idea whatsoever about what is happening to them, what they have to do or what character they are playing.

The final mention is on page 394:

Although games have been played in real-world spaces for millennia, the appearance of electronic and digital games in the last few decades have provided new kinds of game spaces: playgrounds that exist only on the screens of computer monitors and televisions. These game spaces take a multitude of forms from blocky 2D grids to expansive 3D worlds. One useful taxonomy for describing the range of these digital spaces comes from Mark J. P. Wolf, in his essay “Space in the Video Game.” Wolf lists eleven ways that video games operate to structure and represent space. We paraphrase these categories below, with examples from Wolf’s essay:

  • Text-only space: text adventure games such as Zork and Planetfall
  • […]
  • “Mapped” Spaces: Defender, Myst (both have a seperate radar or map display)
  • Why was Myst listed under ‘”Mapped” Spaces’? Is it because the pictures are ‘mapped’ onto the screen in stead of the player actually walking through it? Or is it just because Myst had maps of the Ages that people could look at? (Myst Masterpiece had them, at least) Either way, it seems hardly appropriate to me that it is listed under this category.

    And that ends our little trip through Rules of Play! There are no further mentions of Myst, Uru or Cyan in the index (well, it is in the “Games Mentioned in the Book” chapter). From these three quotes though, it doesn’t seem like authors had a really good idea of what Myst is about. Or maybe I have a wrong idea of it!

    Now I can go back to reading one of my other books – “A Theory of Fun” by Raph Koster…

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