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Interviews

 

Myst IV Revelation Q&A
Genevieve Lord, producer

Interview conducted by Jennifer Miller & Randy Sluganski

We first met the enchanting Genevieve Lord at the 2004 E3. Though an interview had been planned once Myst IV Revelation had been completed, a recent positive article in Time Magazine made the occasion even more timely.

We hope you enjoy our chat with Ms. Lord as much as we did as took the occasion to ask Ms. Lord to provide some details not only on Revelation storyline, but also Ubisoft’s marketing plans for their newest entry in the Myst franchise.


JA - In a recent Time Magazine article about Myst IV, Gamespot Executive Editor Greg Kasavin described the Myst series as representing "an antiquated style of gaming." How do you as an adventure gamer interpret such a remark and how do you as Myst IV producer respond to such a remark?

G. Lord - As a fan of adventure games, and of Myst in particular, I can only say that I love adventure games and I know that I am not alone. As producer of Myst IV Revelation, I’m very proud of our team in that we’ve been able to create beautiful artwork, integrate extremely dynamic animations where Myst “comes to life” and incorporate a “help” system so that this will be the Myst game that everyone will finish. I think the collaboration of these elements, the immersive soundtrack, composed by Jack Wall with a song by Peter Gabriel, definitely push the Myst franchise in exciting new directions.

Myst IV Revelation screenshot - click to enlarge

JA - Hardcore action gamers claim that adventure games are too slow paced and the puzzles are too hard. Lead Designer Patrick Fortier in Time Magazine promises a faster paced, more immersive game where “The whole idea is about living an adventure, not solving a particular puzzle. ”While this sounds interesting, are you not then just designing the game for a demographic that won’t purchase it regardless of any innovations?

G. Lord - We’re designing the game for a large audience of both traditional videogame players and non-videogame players. We feel that we’ve created a game, in Myst IV Revelation, that will appeal to both of these important audiences – they need not be exclusive. In other words, our foremost goal was to create the best Myst game we possibly could.

In fact, we did what any good videogame developer does before they create a new game - they research, they compare, and they try to look for ways to make the game more appealing, exciting, dynamic, and entertaining.

JA - Time states that Myst: Exile and Uru combined have sold only 450,000 copies. Is this because of game quality or do you believe that the Myst franchise can be better marketed?

G. Lord - Both of those games were highly acclaimed, so quality definitely wasn’t an issue. In regard to how each was marketed, I can’t really speak about that since as a producer, my job is mainly to make Myst IV Revelation a great game. I will say, however, that the marketing team has been quite responsive to the team suggestions on that matter.

Myst IV Revelation screenshot - click to enlarge

JA - What would you suggest be done differently to market the Myst series? Whereas it’s easy to market a sports or fps game as the male 15-25 year-old demographics are clear-cut, the adventure genre appeals more to the intellect and appeals to all races, sexes and age groups.

G. Lord - Well, we’re excited to have been part of a Time Magazine article, which is obviously an extremely well known weekly magazine; we will feature the game trailer in movie theaters in October; and we feel a strong push by the Myst/adventure community will help spread the word.

JA - What type of reviews are you anticipating for Myst IV? More of the “This is the same old game with fancy graphics” or “Myst IV sets new standards for adventure games?”

G. Lord - Well, early indications from the journalists lean more toward your latter statement that, “Myst IV sets new standards for adventure games.” We’re excited about reading/hearing from everyone who plays the game.

Myst IV Revelation screenshot - click to enlarge

JA - Do you think that Myst IV being DVD only will negatively affect sales?

G. Lord - Our research shows that using a CD format would have simply ruined the gameplay experience for Myst IV Revelation – swapping up to 12 CDs during gameplay. Last year, Ubisoft released the Myst 10th Anniversary DVD Edition and the number of support calls were extremely low as most computers now come with a DVD drive; DVD is the way of the future just like CD was when the original Myst title launched.

JA - How involved has Rand Miller been with Myst IV?

G. Lord - Rand plays again in his role of Atrus in Myst IV Revelation, so from both a direct in-game and from an overarching perspective, Rand Miller’s definitely involved.

Myst IV Revelation screenshot - click to enlarge

JA - Do you feel that the recent success of games like Syberia 2 and Schizm have influenced the creative decisions you made on Myst IV?

G. Lord - We started development of Myst IV Revelation more than three years ago, so in many ways we were working within a “Myst-bubble” so to speak. In other words, we know the Myst franchise and fans very well and we wanted to make sure to address their needs first and foremost with this title. The adventure genre is one of which game makers must always take a new spin and/or push the envelope in order to stay a step ahead. Some other types of games are more patterned similarly to each other than dissimilarly – take the FPS as an excellent example, once someone introduces a particular feature or technique, everyone else plays catch up to incorporate the same thing in their own unique way. Adventure games wouldn’t be successful if they simply tried to “mask” other types of previous adventure games – much like a mystery novel.

JA - The integration of the "living" element into the worlds of Revelations provides an unprecedented amount of realism not previously found in any adventure game. You can even "touch" things (which I love!). Will these new technologies feature heavily in the puzzle solving process?

G. Lord - The way we incorporate the technology with the storyline and puzzles is something we’re extremely proud of and we’re very confident players will find them enjoyable. More details on this would be spoiling.

Myst IV Revelation screenshot - click to enlarge

JA - Ubisoft has really given themselves a huge challenge in developing the Achenar/Sirrus story from Myst, perhaps even giving it a more satisfying end. In many ways, it's like someone trying to write a new volume of Lord of the Rings. Were you nervous at all going into the writing process of such a well known story? Where did you begin?

G. Lord - I’m not sure we’d classify it as “nervous”, however, we were anxious about working on Myst as a franchise in general. In fact, we enlisted Mary DeMarle, script writer/contributer to Myst: Exile, so she would be a better source to answer this question.

JA - In both Myst and Exile, the brothers were portrayed as moral-less, power hungry tyrants. Will we see more of (if any) the humanity in Sirrus and Achenar?

G. Lord - Without answering that question directly, I can say this … you will find out a lot about each of the brothers, including many things you might not have expected.