Thursday, February 21, 2008

Formal Blog #6 Eric B.

Myst is an interactive fiction game that was released in 1993, thirteen years after the release of Zork 1. The degree of interactivity in relationship to Zork has increased greatly. The increased interactivity can be attributed to the use of visual images and sounds, which include background noises and sound puzzles. The story is what sets Myst and Zork apart. Unlike Zork which lacked a deep underlying story, Myst presents the player with an epic battle between a father and his sons. Myst’s story makes it feel much more like a choose your own adventure novel, then other games in this genre.

Gameplay is quite different from Zork but still retains some similarities. This is because the keyboard is never used; all movement and interaction is with the mouse. The player sees large images of one perspective and left to analyze what to do by visual cues. This is unlike Zork where the player must imagine the world from the short text descriptions that are given. Movement is Myst is based on clicking piece of land in the distance to travel to that area. Like Zork movement is not always straight forward, because of the visual basis of this game, the direction in which an area is entered plays a role in what is seen. Like in Zork moving west then east won’t always return you to the same place, when you move to a new area in Myst the direct way back will typically not be available. When this aspect of games is analyzed it can be seen that by not being able to return immediately to where you just recently came from, resembles interactive fiction. In interactive fiction every choice has a considerable amount of weight applied to it, with only a few choices resulting in being able to return the reader to where he once was.

Myst unlike Zork has a deep story that is unraveled as the game is played. It resembles many CYOAs because as choices are made, little bits of the story are unraveled. As pages are collected for the various worlds in Myst and returned to their proper book, a brother tell you more of his story. Like A Night of a Thousand Boyfriends, Myst has three different stories that can be told. The player has the choice to take either the blue or red page from each world; the color of the page corresponds to which brothers book the page will be returned to, and ultimately whose story will be heard. Two of the choice are whether to complete the blue book or the red book. The third choice results in finding the fathers book and experiencing a completely different story. In A Night of a Thousand Boyfriends by going out the reader is present two dating stores, but a third choice exists; staying home.

Myst is a good example of a game that contains many important aspects of an interactive fiction novel while still sharing similar roots with games like Zork. Using sound in Myst makes use of another sense, engrossing the player even deeper into the fantasy world. By providing an environment that isn’t so open to interpretation by providing pictures and sound, a more in depth story can be told. Like in some CYOAs the illustrations help emphasize what the character is going through. Interactive games inherently have more interactivity than CYOAs because of the puzzle solving involved in the gameplay; but Myst stands out as having both the aspects of an interactive game, intense problem solving, and aspects of a CYOA, a few endings that develop according to the choices made while playing.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

There's a push-and-pull here; some of this entry leans towards overly basic summarization, and some of it is very solid analysis. To me, the line is drawn between your Zork/Myst discussion (which is overly vague) and yoru Zork/CYOA discussion (which is detailed and precise).

I especially liked your discussion of the consequences of decisions in Night of A Thousand Boyfriends as compared to Myst, and while the 3/3 correspondence is presumably a coincidence, it's a very nice one.

Mostly I had questions re: your discussion of Zork, though. I can understand, for instance, why someone might find the addition of sound and images to be enjoyable, but how is it interactive? I feel like you're implicitly defining "interactive" as something like "more fun" here - not that you mean to do that, but I think you do despite yourself, at least in the Zork section.