Mysterium was the weekend of August 5th in Orlando. I didn't go, and I had trouble with the Twitch stream so I couldn't watch the presentations either. Happily, the team has gotten the videos up on Youtube, so I've been able to catch up on the Cyan Q&A.
Every year Rand Miller makes himself available for a chat with the fans. This year he was joined by Ryan Warzecha and some of the other art and production people at Cyan.
These Q&A sessions generally don't produce earth-shaking announcements, but there's usually a few interesting bits of company background and hints of what's to come. I've transcribed the niftiest; you can watch the whole 90-minute video if you want. Just remember that it was recorded a month ago.
First, egoboo for the old-school IF crowd:
Q: What games have influenced your game-making the most?RM: They're old games. ...I think probably games like Zork. ...It was those early text adventures, because I felt like I was going to another place. The graphics there might even be better.
There were of course many questions about Obduction.
Q: (Material which was planned for the game but cut in production:)RM: Kaptar had some other areas in it that were visually going to be pretty stunning, and a cool puzzle associated with it. But it was easy to cut, we didn't need it. ... That puzzle is going to find its way into something we do in the future.RM: One thing that wasn't done as well as it could have been ... the Villein control panels. Originally it was going to be a real training exercise to go through those panels, learn the digits, learn the elements of how that numbering system worked, learn that they could be both individual digits and combined digits. Until at the very end, you were going to have to put all that together in this massive puzzle that you people should be very happy got cut. ... But it did leave a little bit of a [design] hole at the end of those control panels.Q: What part of Obduction generated the most internal disagreement?RM: Oh, that's an easy one: the Russian box. The Russian box changed over time, ... but RAWA [Richard Watson] and I stumbled on that and we're like yeah, we're doing that. In the "big bucket of ideas", everyone else would have dumped that one out, and I had to pull rank to keep that one in.RM: The idea was that you'd come up to this box and you'd be so discouraged [by the complexity] you'd be like "I'm not even going to try this." And then later on, you'd inadvertantly do something with it and it basically just gets crushed. We thought that would be very satisfying.
(The box mechanism wound up not being totally destroyed in the released version, because it was part of an Easter Egg sequence. This was another design flaw, most fans agree.)
Q: Was there outside funding for the Obduction PS4 port?RM: Yes.Q: (Xbox port or other ports?)RM: Anything's possible... but nothing firm.Q: (Linux?)RW: No, not at this time.RM: The big problem with Linux... it would be for one specific variation of Linux, because there's so many SKUs, it's hard to QA that.Q: Will there be supplemental materials like books or comics?RM: No, probably not.Q: (How are Obduction sales?)RM: As you can tell, it's been enough to keep Cyan going. ... Which is fine, I don't think we're expecting to make some huge profit on every project as long as we can keep going and keep trying a little bigger. ... Obduction sales have not been quite what we had hoped for.RW: It keeps us going and now we're going to be coming out on PS4, another SKU that will help us.RM: We look at Obduction in some ways like another Myst, where there's a slower burn. ... We haven't sold as much as the big dogs like Firewatch or The Witness, but we've done better than some of the ones lower down the ladder.
I note in passing that the PS4 version of Obduction shipped this week, but the PSVR feature is stuck in certification hell with no ETA.
Q: (On the fate of the Myst TV series, about which RM made optimistic but noncommital comments last year:)RM: We've had a weird year with the TV series. We're probably not up as high as we were before. Some things have slowed down and fallen through. So don't hold your breath.
And finally, the big question:
Q: Do you know what you're going to work on post-Obduction?RM: Yes. In fact those guys [the art team] know what they're working on already. We're pretty small and there's a lot of room for wiggle, but the art team are already working on something new. ... The current stuff they're working on is not Myst-related or Obduction-related. It's a whole new IP that I think we're pretty excited about. ... We'll see what happens. Actually I will tell you one more thing...RW: No he won't.RM: ...We had some big meetings about this next project, and what we decided is that one of the features of this next new project is ... we're going to reveal almost nothing about it until it ships.RM: If we did a Kickstarter for this next thing, we're going to make a video that goes, "We're not gonna tell you what this is. You're going to have to trust us on this one." ... This title lends itself really really well to that. You don't want to know anything about it when you play it.
So that's simultaneously exciting and frustrating.
On to next year and, apparently, a complete lack of news until some kind of game appears.