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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cyan agrees to ‘Myst’ TV deal

“Myst,” the popular Spokane-made video game that became a cultural icon, will be turned into a live-action TV series.

Cyan Worlds, the maker of “Myst” and several later versions of the game, announced it has signed a deal with Burbank, California-based Legendary Pictures to make a video version of the time-traveling story on which the game is based.

Rand Miller, CEO of Cyan Worlds, said his company will not be directly involved in the production.

“We’re willing to give up (some control) of the project. We realized we are good at games, and Legendary is good at what they do,” Miller said.

In 1993, Miller and his team produced “Myst,” which became recognized as a breakthrough form of CD-ROM interactive entertainment. Instead of shooting villains, game players had to sort through clues and uncover a complex history about two feuding brothers who once lived on an island.

Since then, the game and several later versions have sold more than 15 million copies. Its sequel, “Riven,” was the No. 4 best-selling computer game of the 20th century, and both games are still in the top 10 best-selling computer games of all time.

The game’s story line involves a series of discoveries connected to Myst Island. In the games, a player uses a number of “linking” books written by an artisan and explorer named Atrus to travel to several worlds known as “ages.”

Clues found in the ages help to reveal the backstory of the game’s characters.

Miller said Cyan Worlds will get some revenue if the TV series is produced. “We don’t get much up front. What we get will depend on Hollywood accounting,” he said.

If it happens, the real payoff will be introducing the story to a new generation of entertainment consumers, Miller said.

“It can be a great way to bring life back into the games,” he said. There’s discussion about using “transmedia” so that viewers of the series will also be invited to use their tablets or smartphones to interact and further explore the story, Miller said.

The idea of turning to Legendary came from Blake Lewin, who worked at Turner Broadcasting a decade ago when Miller signed a deal to produce an ambitious online version of the game called “Uru Live.” The game was launched in 2007, but Turner closed it down within a year.

Lewin said he found a number of people at Legendary Pictures who are passionate “Myst” fans and who see it as a great vehicle for an ongoing entertainment project. He added it’s not yet clear if the result will be released to TV or developed for a paid service, such as Hulu or Netflix.

The first step will be finding a director and screenwriter, said Lewin, who is now director of business development at Cyan Worlds.

Legendary has been a successful production company for a decade, and has established itself with major film versions of classic comic books – “Watchmen,” “Dark Knight,” “Man of Steel” and “300.”

It has also produced several notable feature films, including “Pacific Rim” and the forthcoming December release, “Unbroken,” based on the best seller by Laura Hillenbrand.

Cyan’s loyal fan base has voiced strong interest in the deal with Legendary.

Many feel the game and its mythic history are a rich source of material.

“It is one of the most interesting deep multimedia stories to have come out of the revolution of storytelling in digital game form,” said Chris Gerlach, who lives in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

He said he felt that the story of “Myst” needed more sophisticated technology in order to tell the story in a way that allows fans to feel the different layers of background and history.

“I’m excited because now we have a chance to give the story the range and breadth that it deserves,” Gerlach said.