‘Myst’ creators partner with Texas company to adapt classic game to virtual-reality mini golf
April 7, 2022 Updated Thu., April 7, 2022 at 10:05 a.m.
The next birdie you see on the iconic island from the video game “Myst” may be at the bottom of a cup.
Mead-based developers Cyan Worlds will partner with Mighty Coconut, a company out of Austin, Texas, to adapt the world of the classic 1993 puzzle game into a virtual reality mini-golf course. It’s the second licensed adaptation for Mighty Coconut, developers of the popular “Walkabout Mini Golf” game released in 2020 for virtual reality headsets.
” ‘Myst,’ definitely, has been on our super short list of, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if we can do this?’ ” said Don Carson, senior art director for Mighty Coconut. The company plans to release this summer its first collaboration on an existing intellectual property within the “Walkabout Mini Golf” world, an adaptation with the Jim Henson Co. of its classic film “Labyrinth.”
Carson said Mighty Coconut, which was founded by animator Lucas Martell in 2014, approached Cyan uncertain whether they’d turn over the keys to their groundbreaking software. He’d bought “Myst,” like millions of others, in the early 1990s, along with a color monitor to bring the photorealistic setting of the puzzle game to life. He also bought the recent virtual reality release of the title.
“I think that probably while I was doing it, I was always thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to do this with somebody?’ ” Carson said of progressing through the island through a headset.
Little did the team in Texas know, the indie developers working in Mead were also fans of their game.
“We’ve had meetings in there before, it’s pretty funny,” said Hannah Gamiel, development director at Cyan.
Cyan provided Mighty Coconut with the digital models they used to create the virtual reality version of the titular island, Gamiel said. It was clear in early meetings that the Texas-based developers had an affinity for the original game.
“They had ‘Myst’ lore and history and story at the very forefront of their minds,” Gamiel said. “Which is always a good sign, it’s always very comforting to know.”
Carson credited the original game with charting his own professional path. “Myst” released while he was working as a senior show designer, or “imagineer,” for the Walt Disney Co. His job included bringing Splash Mountain to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Mickey’s Toontown attraction to Disneyland in California.
Both Cyan’s game, and the worlds created within the mini-golf title, involve visual storytelling, Carson said.
“Half the time I’m working on theme parks, and the other half of the time I’m working on video games,” he said. “And to me, it seemed like an obvious choice.”
The courses in “Walkabout Mini Golf” are their own little worlds, each based on some type of classic motif or archetype. Its most recent expansion, “Sweetopia,” is as its name implies an 18-hole trek through a dessert smorgasbord. In addition to the holes, players can search nooks and crannies for hidden golf balls that they can then use while playing.
The same will be true of the “Myst” course, and Mighty Coconut has hinted that the series’ signature puzzle-solving may be involved in locating the hidden collectibles.
“It’s such a rich puzzle environment, and its legacy is puzzle-based,” Carson said.
“I don’t imagine anyone will need to take a notebook out and fill out information,” he continued, laughing, in a reference to the original game’s demand on occasion for players to sketch or make notes in order to progress. “It will be much more impactful, intuitive and playful.”
The very idea of mini golf, lining up shots to get around obstacles and solving puzzles in a three-dimensional space, dovetails nicely with the idea of the original game, Gamiel said.
“It’s like the unlikely duo, but it’s also just the duo that makes so much sense,” Gamiel said of the partnership.
The course is scheduled for release this fall for all the platforms the mini-golf game currently supports, including the Valve Index, the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows mixed reality headsets. The game supports cross-platform multiplayer play, which means if a friend is using a different-branded headset you can still play together with up to four other people.
Carson said he expected the cost of the “Myst” course to be in line with other downloadable content available for the game. New courses have been released in recent months for $2.99, on top of the full game’s $14.99 price tag.
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