Kalamee: a Myst Online Intangibles Age

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Tagged: intangibles, kalamee, eder bahvahnter, myst online, guild of archivists, cyan, myst

Over the past month, two large fan-built Ages have been released in Myst Online: Eder Bahvahnter and Kalamee.

A garden spanned by a stone bridge under grey skies Eder Bahvahnter

This is good news, not surprising news. (It's good that it's not surprising!) The MOUL community has been popping out new areas regularly since 2020. But Kalamee is something novel: it's based on unreleased content from Cyan's earliest Myst Online plans.

A garden with trees and blue-green foliage Kalamee

Just about two years ago, Ryan Warzecha posted an announcement in the Cyan Discord:

We are happy to announce that the MOULa Intangible assets are being released to the public. Lore on these “Unexplored branches” will be rolled out at https://guildofarchivists.org/. If you want to know more about the development of these spaces, check out http://openuru.org/index.php and https://www.guildofwriters.org/.

The "Intangible assets" were seventeen Ages' worth of concept art, planning documents, and (mostly incomplete) 3DS Max models. The timestamps range from 1999 to 2006 or so; everything is under Creative Commons. You can find more about the files, including a link to the asset archive itself, in my post from June 2021.

Naturally, fans started picking over the files with eerie speculative grins on their faces. And now that's starting to bear fruit.

The Kalamee released yesterday isn't Cyan's original design. It's not meant to be. Cyan's notes describe multiple puzzles: water-channeling dams, hydraulic mechanisms, a catapult, animal behavior, animal riding -- a whole lot of gameplay. A gigantic map, too. They never got anywhere near completing it.

Semjay, the developer who picked up the project, has given us a moderately large area with a couple of puzzles, a dusting of backstory, a lot of dramatic visual vistas, and a final "reward" room. Exploration is the fun part; you'll want to navigate all the paths and crannies of the landscape. By no coincidence, that's what the puzzles are about too.

(I'm not entirely sure how much of the map derives from Cyan. Only the opening section matches Cyan's vast maps, but Cyan went through many revisions, trimming out wild early ideas. I am told that Semjay's layout comes from a Cyan "mass model", which would be rough landscape shapes without texture or detail.)

In other Intangibles news, developer Doobes has posted a few video clips showing off the Great Shaft and Descent mechanisms running in the Uru engine. These areas are familiar from the opening of Myst 5 -- the spiral shaft and elevator that descends from the surface to D'ni. Slowly, slowly we approach being able to take that journey in Myst Online.

And, of course, Firmament in two weeks and Mysterium in two months! More posts to come.