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Myst III: Exile

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Mattel Interactive Designer Diary
Welcome to the first entry of the Myst III: Exile designer diary. In this entry, we talk to Dan Irish about his role and how the project came together.

GameSpot: How did you first hear about the job at Mindscape/Broderbund/Mattel Interactive? Did you know what the job was going to entail and which product lines [you might be working on]?

Daniel Irish: I first met Bret Berry, VP of product development at Mindscape, at the Game Developers Conference in March 1999. We talked about the product line and the state of the industry. Was there really a market for more Myst products? Both he and I agreed that there was. Though cautiously optimistic, I was excited by the challenge. I remember thinking to myself, "Do I really want this job?" In our continuing discussion, we both agreed there are nine million ways in which a product can fail, and about one or two ways that bring clear success. The challenge was identifying the ways in which we could continue to breathe new life into the Myst and Riven product line. It was a challenge I was ready to accept.

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The first step was identifying the talented groups that we thought would be able to pull off such a challenge. Bret had already identified a number of groups, but we both agreed that Presto Studios' experience, its existing relationship with Mattel, and its demonstrated talent made it the clear choice. Presto had prepared an awesome proposal, which included several different options for new directions we could take the property. All the ideas were very strong, which clearly demonstrated to us why they were the right team for the challenge.

They had about five weeks to develop and present the initial story concepts. In that time, [Presto Studios writer] Mary DeMarle authored three distinctly different storylines. After Presto showed us that they were talented and capable, it was somewhat surprising that we decided not to develop any of the initial storylines that they had presented. Instead, we had a meeting with Cyan [the original Myst developer], Mattel, and the Presto team to discuss the direction the product should take. After that meeting, there was no doubt in our minds: Presto was in fact very capable, and the right team for such an opportunity. They presented a new idea to us, and it was the best one yet. Cyan approved, and we were off to the races!

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After meeting with Presto Studios, Greg Uhler, Michel Kripalani, myself, Bret Berry, and Cyan (Rand Miller and Tony Fryman), Mary DeMarle jumped on the challenge of writing a story which could be a true Myst sequel. Not only would it involve Catherine and Atrus, but it would also explore some of the loose ends that were only hinted at in Myst.

Since Cyan did not resolve every story element in Myst or Riven and had hinted at many future possibilities of what would happen, we were provided a framework, or canvas, as it were, for Presto to paint on. All that had to be done was to keep the paint directed at the easel.

Next: Find out about Cyan's involvement

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