A Cyan Worlds developer profile has popped up on the Unity website. The post details Cyan's progress in porting realMyst to iOS using the Unity Engine. Maybe this was what Rand Miller meant when he said they were looking into new game engines in the Mysterium Interview. Here's a chunk from the article detailing the process of the port and the relative ease of creating a Unity proof of concept:
“Our biggest hurdle was getting our original assets converted to import correctly,” says realMyst programmer Karl Johnson of the process. “When we first started, we knew that our source assets were going to be a problem; they were in an old format, and Plasma (our internal engine) required custom plugins for most everything.” After creating a few Unity Editor scripts, they were able to retrieve their meshes, materials, and correct problems from the old set of data. “It took some time to figure out this process and it's not perfect, but we were really impressed with how much control Unity gave us,” says Johnson. Once the team had successfully imported a scene into the Unity editor, they were able to quickly come up with a proof of concept. “Looking at our repository log, it looks like we had checked in the scene on a Monday, and had a partially functional scene by Friday morning,” says Johnson.
The team also knew it needed to start with preexisting art data if it had any chance of making the project a reality. “The source data for realMyst is now over a decade old, so we needed to convert that data into something that was usable by a modern day engine,” says programmer Jason Calvert. “We had great hope that if we could take the source assets, and convert them to something Unity could use, that Unity would take care of the rest.” Though they were working with data from a very old version of 3ds Max—with a customized plugin system for the original Plasma engine—that was essentially what happened. “We were able to recreate the scenes with around 90% accuracy, by dumping the data from Max, and writing custom wizards in Unity to process it and recreate the scenes,” says Calvert. “Once we [we did], it was a simple step to setup a basic walkthrough of Myst island, which showed us that we could do this. With that prototype in hand, and knowing the ease of which we could script everything, we just kept on rolling with it.
Though the game has changed in a variety of ways in its shift to mobile, the first thing that comes to mind for Miller is its water. “Every age in Myst is an island, and that means that there is a lot of water,” he says. “Our programmers have managed to make the water look better than ever. With all the trees and water in Channelwood, I sometimes just go there and marvel at how realistic it looks.” He also points out that the original realMyst varied a bit from the lighting and textures in Myst. “It moved away to a different feel—in some cases improving and in some cases… well...not so much. We're revisiting some of the more blatant variations, and moved them back to the lighting and texture of the original.” The final, and perhaps the biggest change, comes in the game’s primary form of interaction. “The cursor for Myst was a hand with a pointing finger that made it look like the player was touching to interact,” says Miller. “The next step is to remove the cursor and just touch directly! Moving through the world without a mouse or gamepad is so natural for exploring the worlds of Myst. The player touches to move forward and swipes to turn around—how much more intuitive can it get?”
From the information that can be gleaned now, this sounds very much like a remake of a remake. Because it's based in the Unity engine, expect HD resolutions, sharper model quality, and more vibrant environments. There's also the possibility for this to be multiplatform if all goes well. No word yet on a release date. Stay tuned to the Guild of Messengers for the latest breaking news!
Special thanks to P-K-V for the tip!