We are Chuck Carter and Rand Miller, creators of the game Myst. We're releasing a new game tomorrow called ZED. Ask us anything!
We are Rand Miller and Chuck Carter. 25 years ago we worked on Myst together. Now we're partnering again for the first time since to release ZED, a new first-person narrative adventure. Trailer
Chuck Carter is now the Founder and Creative Director of Eagre Games, a small, independent game studio in Ellsworth, Maine. After working on Myst, Chuck went on to do special effects and art for Babylon5, Command & Conquer, National Geographic, NASA, and over 20 other games.
Rand Miller is the Founder/CEO of Cyan in Spokane, Washington, and recently founded Cyan Ventures as Cyan's new publishing arm, here to bring exciting new adventures to the masses. Cyan recently succeeded in Kickstarting their new Virtual Reality project Firmament.
ZED releases Tuesday, June 4th for PC/Oculus/Vive with a release for Mac and Linux shortly afterwards and can be found on Steam, GoG, Oculus Store, and Viveport.
Ask us anything about our careers in game development, our longevity in the industry, our lives outside games, or anything at all! Feel free to address questions to u/chuckmcarter and u/mysterm where applicable.
We'll begin answering your questions around 1PM EDT. Excited to see what you have to say!
EDIT: 3PM EDT: Rand has stepped out to lunch.
EDIT 2: Chuck here, Been at this for three hours now and I've got to take a break. I'm in Manchester, New Hampshire at our sister studio Skymap Games and we're getting prepared for our big launch of ZED tomorrow! Keep in touch with Eagre Games on our Twitter and Facebook to follow along and check out our Steam Page - wishlisting helps us gain traction on Steam too if you're so inclined :0) We'll be checking in over the coming days and doing our best to respond to each and every one of you. We had a great time hearing from all of you. Thanks for your great questions! ♥
We had a good laugh at this :o)
I love Myst. I have many fond memories of banging my head against the desk trying to solve puzzles. What sparked you coming together again?
A common love of telling good stories! And our long history from the Myst Days
My dad loved Myst, when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I think it was the most beautiful game I’d ever seen, up to that point. I played it for hours and hours and got nowhere. But I never got mad. I was experiencing something I’d never seen before and I’ve been an avid gamer ever since. Thank you.
Hearing these stories continues to inspire us after twenty-five years!
Why aren’t point-and-click games the dominate category on touch devices?
Great question. Not one I can answer easily. A lot of the reason why point-and-click was a thing in the first place was that's what the technology could handle. Modern phones can run Myst a million times at once and can accept many different inputs.
I spent a lot of time on my Packard Bell back in the Windows 95 days playing Myst. Will ZED be just as addictive and beautiful?
Hopefully! It's not a puzzle game like MYST - but it's it's own animal. We think it's a beautiful experience and we believe telling a story in the way we've done is unusual and pretty unique in a lot of ways.
Loved myst!! Is there any possibility that you'll bring this game to the switch?
Someone should get on that! Rand?
My name is Stephen Wong and I am the instructor for the Digital Arts and Software Development class at the United Technologies Center located in Bangor, Maine. I encourage literacy in my classroom and try to incorporate it whenever I can. I have asked my students to ask a question directed towards Chuck or his project Zed. Due to FERPA, I can't have them post them so I apologize for the spam! I will ask the questions one by one so other's so feel free to answer any of them u/chuckmcarter. Thanks and I can't wait to play the game tomorrow!
United Technologies Center - Student Question 1:
What inspired the game "Zed"?
Cyan's Manhole circa 1989, an art mentor who unfortunately passed away who had dementia and the desire to tell a story in a hopefully expanded and fresh way.
What is like building a new puzzle game today versus several years ago when Myst was first released? What does your team need to do to take new approaches both in marketing and game design aspects?
This!! So much has happened between then and now, from flat design becoming standard to mobile technology.
Technology!! Technology and the fact this is more about a direct narrative that the technology lets us do stories in a real time first person point of view... Unreal Engine was the tool we used.
We have a restaurant chain in the UK called Miller and Carter, are you behind it?
What? Seriously? I want to eat there. I hope it's good.
I'm with Rand - hopefully they have deep fried hamburgers!
Have you played the game ‘The Witness’? If so, what did you think about it? Also what are your top 3 games of all time (excluding games you contributed to)?
Dear Esther - Chuck Yeagers Flight Simulator, The Dig - to name a few. And yes - not finished the Witness - but it's beautiful! Great game! But I have to mention the original Star Wars Vector based arcade game in the 80s! Actually too many to mention here!
Hi! I'm a proud backer of the original Kickstarter and am so happy you guys have made it this far. Congrats!
Do you plan on implementing index finger tracking support to the game after launch?
We are not set up here for that... YET! :0)
Will the american version be called ZEE?
My dad and I are huge fans of Myst. We used to sit at his computer and play for hours at a time trying to figure out the puzzles. I'm hoping I can buy this game for him for father's day but he can be stubborn when it comes to games that introduce too many new mechanics that he can't wrap his head around. How similar will the feel of Zed be to Myst?
ZED is much easier to play than MYST - It's more of an exploration of a mans life with straight forward puzzles - and the innovations come with how we tell the story as opposed to introducing a multitude of new game mechanics. And the ability to move freely in the game - in a real first person world unlike the shot to shot in the original MYST. Also - we had a 5 year old girl play the game who had never used a computer before and within 20 minutes was already through 3 levels - it was amazing - she played for almost 1 hour and then some. So I'm thinking he won't have any issues.
What does this lever do I've been stuck for 9 hours?
Have you been hearing your toilet flushing mysteriously?
Favorite MYST age?
What programming language would Atrus feel most at home in?
Is the story of Zed inspired by any events in your lives?
ZED - yes, inspired by a lot of things in my life. The story about the dreamer is based on an early mentor - who unfortunately passed away as he was suffering from Dementia. And a lot of the visuals come from a lot of my own childhood experiences - even the house is based on the small house I grew up in. David Chen and Joe Fielder also pulled from their own experiences in the writing of the game... so to answer your question, yes.
Chuck, how are things different for you running a studio versus just creating content? Can we expect more from Eagre Games if ZED does well?
Content is fairly easy as there are lots of stories out there to tell. Running a Studio on the other hand is much more of a challenge. But we're still learning a lot it and plan to grow Eagre and start working on our next project as soon as possible.
This one's for /u/ChuckMCarter - You've worked with veritable living legends of the games industry such as Mark Cerny, Rand Miller, and Louis Castle. Do you have some favorite memories of working with them to share? Do you still keep in touch with any of them?
I have not talked with Mark for years, Rand and I share a lot of things like the infamous RoboCut - ask Rand! And how it lead to my having to shave my head! And as for Lou, I fondly recall the days of driving out to the middle of the desert in Las Vegas and exploring long deserted mines!
as a kid, I hated you guys. Seriously, I got stuck so damn much trying to solve puzzles. As an adult, I still hate you guys for making me think, but thank you for delivering a fantastic game that is timeless. Will Zed have any sort of tie to Myst?
Heh heh heh! :0)
I actually just replayed Myst yesterday, for the first time in decades! All the memories came pouring back, and somehow, I could recall the music and the sound effects (especially the page turning sound) better than some of the visuals of the Ages. It was a helluva nostalgic trip, I look forward to trying Obduction, and then Zed, after I finish Riven.
My question: What ideas or gameplay mechanics are you able to realize today that you couldn't with the technology of 25 years ago? Aside from rendering a real time 3D world, of course!
Well simply put the Engine tech available now lets us seriously put you into the world's we design and make them become more alive than we could even imagine back in the original MYST days. The VR aspect is an entirely new animal too - we have so many things we can do that are only now becoming possible - ask me again in a year! :0)
It's been 25 years since the two of you worked together on a project. In coming back together on this, were either of you surprised in how the other had grown during that time? Were there any instances where you thought to yourself "Wow, this isn't the kind of decision or choice that he would have pushed for last time I worked with him!" Or was it mostly more like "Yup, I should have guessed that that's what he'd say!"
Chuck has more gray hair, oh wait, so do I. But seriously, there is only one captain on the ZED ship and that is Chuck. He’s been really good at listening to suggestions from various people and implementing stuff that he feels fits the vision. Chuck’s openness to suggestions allows for great discussions, which I think is vital in any project. Most of the best creative people I know are always open to hear critiques or counter opinions and make choices as to whether to add those items into the project or not. But in the end it’s very important that ZED is Chuck’s vision.
With Rand and CYAN we've opened a great dialog, and it's become a very productive collaboration. Everybody has been open to ideas that improved the game. As for how we're grown - my mid section is a tad bit larger while Rand has not changed a bit! ;0)
Will this game also feature a puzzle that the tone-deaf can't solve?
Because that's where I gave up 25 years ago- when I was trying to use a tape recorder to match notes, and a friend mocked me from the other room saying that I was wrong.
LOL! Nothing quite that complex!
One thing I remember about Myst, was how incredibly beautiful it looked, given the standards for graphics have changed so much, was aiming so high graphically a consideration when making the new game?
Personally it's kinda of my standard now for producing art. I tone it back a bit due to lack of time and resources.
Just dropping by to let you know that I know your games, I've seen them and tried them and I'm one of those that loved the concept and the idea and thought I was good at this because I played Monkey Island but then I couldn't understand a single puzzle of yours :(
Sooooo my question is, is ZED gonna be as hard as the myst series?
Our goal with ZED isn't to make the puzzles get in your way, rather to add to the experience. You won't need to go across the map to search for an answer. We feel the puzzles really reward you at the end of the game - play and find out!
Rand & Chuck, have you ever explored mines before? I need to know.
Yes we have - Rand was lost in one for more than two years, eating rats and dead canaries...
You've said the advent of the CD format was a huge catalyst to Myst being created (in the book Replay by Tristan Donovan). Is there a similar technological catalyst that led to ZED being created?
Real time technology with the Unreal Engine - (Unity and others too) and downloadable content.. that is perhaps the biggest change that is changing things IMHO. And the way these technologies allow us to tell stories in new and novel ways.
Thank you for years of enjoyment and wonder!
Is ZED ever coming to console? Chances of a PSVR port that is a little more faithful to the content than Obduction?
Depends on how well we do - but I would love to see it go to console personally. And of course - PSVR!
United Technologies Center - Student Question 24:
What does the game development process look like?
Work work work! Concepts, ideas first - prototype and design and finally production.
United Technologies Center - Student Question 25:
What is the best advice you can give for an aspiring 3d modeler?
One way is to get a copy of Blender and follow the youtube tutorials or take online classes and learn by doing. And learn to see the world around you - take your time and break down shapes into things you can later build in 3D.
United Technologies Center - Student Question 31:
What is making a game like?
A lot of work, a lot of sleepless nights and one heck of lot of passion for you do!
What is a good way to survive making something that is not an exact science? The way people perceive things can be very different, so do you try to make what the audience wants, or continue with your vision?
I like to make games that I want to play. I have stories I want to tell. And people strangely enough work with me on these things... go figure! :0)
Are ZED's dead jokes appropriate?
ZED's dead baby, ZED's dead!
What is your favorite game you've played that was influenced by Myst?
(The Nancy Drew Series, the Stanley Parable, etc).
Anything with compelling graphics and a compelling story line... Dear Esther is a personal favorite though.
Can I get a free copy?
How much did the process of building and realizing a new game cost? How long did it take you?
About 4 years with a lot of revisions and on a real shoestring.
Chuck, what were you doing before you were hired to work on Myst?
I was working as the chief artist for the Spokane Spokesman-Review newspaper. And working on early animations and interactive projects for newspapers and early game designs using very primitive 3D software.
How different did the game become after you partnered with Cyan?
We subtly changed the focus on the game design to work with VR along with PC. We made more smaller, highly detailed worlds to play and tell the same story, and in many ways we've made the game a much richer experience.
WTF have you guys been doing the past 25 years?
LOL! Work! 25 more games, Babylon 5, co-authored a geology textbook, worked for NASA... making ZED... Just a couple of things. :0)
I noticed there a few links scattered around your post. Can you make every word in your post a different link so people can't tell what's a useful link and what isn't, so they have to try clicking on absolutely every part of it to find the information they want?
I'm feeling nostalgic.
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