MYST Junkie: Confessions of a Game Addict
The first one was free

Hardsdisk   2/6/06

I'm a Macintosh user, writer and web designer in my late 40s. I've used Windows on occasion when necessary, but for me and my needs, Macs are just a better fit. They don't require anything of me so I can just get straight to the work and I love the work.

I did know when to shut the computer down and attend to my life, that is, before "the problem".

I can be very disciplined when I need to be but I have a character flaw. I can be a little compulsive... Well, maybe a lot compulsive. There are traps waiting in unexpected places for people like me.

MYST Junkie

Several years ago, I got a very good deal on some used Macs and equipment. The seller had also thrown in a generous helping of vintage Mac software and game CDs. Along with various older flying and shooting games was a case that just said "MYST" on the insert. There was an image of a human figure apparently falling through the air above an island with some strange structures on it. There weren't any heavily armed helicopters or helmeted infantry in the picture. On the back was a facsimile of a note from someone named "Atrus". He talked about books that lead to worlds and explained that he suspected one of his sons of destroying his "creations".

"What is this?", I wondered. I shrugged and tossed it in the pile with the others.

A few days later, as I was deciding what, amongst this lot, I was going to keep, give away or sell on eBay, I picked up the "MYST" CD again. On a whim, I loaded it in the CD tray of a Mac Quadra 950. I followed the simple instructions to drag two items on the CD to the hard drive, then I launched the game.

I just wanted to see what it was like. I wasn't going to play it or anything.

My wife didn't see much of me for the next two weeks. I had been absorbed into the beautiful intricate Ages of MYST, like a sailor lured onto the rocks by sirens. I only emerged from my office to get food, go to the bathroom and sleep a little. Every now and then, she would appear at the door and ask me something. My replies were something like: "What? Um, yeah, uh... Wait! The sounds! Those different sounds have to have something to do with it. Don't they?" She would leave shaking her head, without the answer she wanted. She could only observe the change in my behavior and worry.

I had become hooked instantly, like an addict with a genetic predisposition for a particular drug. It had caught me off guard. I'm not a gamer. I didn't ask for this!

When I had completed MYST, I felt an indescribable kind of satisfaction followed soon after, by a strange depression. I needed more.

I went online to see if there were other games like MYST. I found "RIVEN" and "MYST III EXILE". I purchased them and while I awaited their arrival, I tried to hide my anxiety. I was ready this time. I told myself that I would just use MYST games recreationally. I thought I knew what was coming and could handle it. Even as Rand Miller as Atrus, appeared on the screen and prepared to send me to RIVEN, I honestly believed I could practice moderation this time.

I was wrong.

What MYST was, RIVEN was more. Cyan had found a way to refine the substance and get it to the brain faster. Unlike MYST, you knew why you were in RIVEN. You arrived with a purpose and right at the beginning the plan starts to crumble. You have to figure out how to get back on track. There's an urgency to the situation, underscored by Robyn Miller's minor key soundtrack.

Again, I became immersed in a MYST game, to the exclusion of all else. Every new turn in the game made me marvel at the minds that conceived it. Who thinks like this? How do they know exactly how to suck me in?

By the time I finished RIVEN, I had passed the denial stage. I knew I had a problem but just knowing didn't help the situation.

Before I started EXILE, I purchased realMYST. Yes, it was the same game as MYST but now there was a new way to get high, a seedy user hack called "MYST Flying". I spent many hours flying in realMYST. There was much to experience in this 3D environment, that wasn't available in normal gameplay.

MYST III EXILE was not a Cyan game but Cyan had just enough of a hand in it to maintain my dependency. It starred the talented and versatile character actor: Brad Dourif, who gave an outstanding performance. I got through EXILE in record time. It was both a quick mild fix and a chance to withdraw a little.

MYST IV Revelation was the next offering and non-Cyan game. Cyan's influence could be seen throughout the game, however. The problem solving was more challenging than EXILE and the story behind it was more compelling than usual. The graphics were unbelievably beautiful.

MYST III and IV also had something the others didn't: Amazing soundtracks by Jack Wall. This captivating music was integrated into the gameplay perfectly. It almost magically described the mood of each setting with a beautiful main theme and several sub themes. Here, you would hear an underlying reference to a previous MYST game. There, you would hear foreshadowing of an emerging plot development, all packaged in the perfect blend of classical, contemporary and world styles. These soundtracks went far beyond ordinary background music for games. I replayed these games again and again just to hear the music. Jack Wall had taken the addiction to a new level.

Then, I learned about a new pure un-cut Cyan game. I needed this badly. The interim games were good but not Cyan good. It was called URU: Ages Beyond MYST. But there was a catch. The delivery system for this game was Windows only. What was Cyan trying to do? They had promised a Mac version and then backed out of the promise. They had turned me into a game junkie and cut off the supply!

I bought URU the Complete Chronicles and read the manual. It was all I could do. I didn't have the money for a suitable PC. I started to eye other people's PCs. What was I coming to? PCs now? How far would this go?

Thankfully Cyan came through with a solution. It was called MYST V End of Ages. I bought the limited edition version, that came with the soundtrack album, a print, a "making of" DVD and a game guide. I was ready to mainline it all!

I noticed the words: "THE LAST CHAPTER" on the box. What's that supposed to mean? They can't be serious. Does End of Ages mean the end of the MYST Games?

On finishing EoA the correct way and then choosing an alternate but wrong ending, I could see that Cyan was serious. They truly had put an end to MYST. I wondered if they really hated the original game that had brought them success and acclaim, to do what they did to it. After all of the time I had spent exploring MYST Island, it was heartbreaking to experience this but somehow I felt released.

After MYST V, I began to put my life back together. It was a difficult withdrawal but there was no choice. The substance I was abusing was gone. Although I now have a PC that will run URU, it remains in the box. I keep the unplayed URU as a reminder of my personal demons. If you see any URU content on the site, you will know that I fell off the wagon.

As part of my recovery, I don't go to conventions and you won't find me on any MYST-related message boards. I created The Hardsdisk MYST Pages so that others can see what I have endured and won't have to make the same mistakes.

I thank The Make... ah, that is, I'm thankful that I found the strength to quit. I'm sure I can just say no to more Cyan games, pretty sure.

May you find the strength you need. If not, just remember to "think of what you would do if you were really there"...


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