By AaronAKAAtrus and Doobes
Note from the Guild: This interview was conducted over a year ago by AaronAKAAtrus. Part of this article was written by him. Due to the cancellation of GO! Magazine and the introduction of The Cavern Post (as well as lack of free time on his part), the completion of this article took an indefinite back seat. For the occasion of the new online version of The Cavern Post, Doobes has finished this article for Aaron and now presents it for all to enjoy.
Ryan Miller is a very familiar face in the cavern to people who played URU during the Prologue and Gametap eras. The younger brother of Myst co-creators Rand and Robyn Miller, fans may have recognized him in cavern as the avatar of Douglas Sharper, a persona which he expanded and deepened with his explorer interactions until eventually he became a real personality to many in cavern: the “grumpy, mean and arrogant” explorer with a little bit of a rebel streak who was able to draw many explorers to follow him during his disagreements with the DRC.
However, that is only a small part of the story. Life started out for Ryan in New Mexico, where his family lived until soon after he was born. “I left New Mexico when I was an infant so my memories are pretty slim, if at all. I have returned for some great trips and the Hot Air Balloon races are pretty hard to forget. Great time.” While he was not there long enough for the local culture to have an influence, it may have for his brothers, which may explain why the D'ni cavern was eventually located in that particular state.
Ryan’s history with Cyan and the Myst franchise goes back a long way before URU. One of Ryan’s first contributions to the company was writing the journals of Atrus in the original Myst, which, amongst other things, gave him the unique task of naming the character of Catherine. “I tried to do well, of course,” he said. “But I had no idea what I was writing at the time. Who did?” He also did some “more technical” work on the sequel, Riven, as well as appearing in the game itself as a masked Moiety scout. One of the first drafts of the Book of Atrus was written by Ryan, with some of his ideas making it into the final print version. His contributions to the in-game writings, the Myst story, and to the Myst/D'ni mythology overall show the quality and care he puts into his work.
And the Douglas Sharper character? “I loved playing Sharper,” he said. “Sharper was a character that allowed us to do whatever we wanted which made him very fun. He was grumpy, mean, and arrogant - all things that aren't really that great in real life but were okay in a game. Sharper had an edge to him and a little bit of a rebel streak. We were able to create stuff on the fly which is a energizing feeling.” As for Sharper's appeal to explorers, Ryan said, “People were drawn to Sharper for various reasons but he did bring a bit of something special to the game... most of the time...” Ryan also wrote Sharper's ongoing journals found in the Baron's office linked to via Teledahn.
After the second cancellation of URU, he continues to be active in his life outside of Myst, URU and Cyan Worlds as a pastor at a church in Spokane called Branches. "The life of a pastor -- at least in my circumstance -- is pretty great," he said of his current profession. "I think being involved in Myst was a creative process... it's why I enjoy being a pastor -- the creative parts." The sometimes unfavorable light that religion has received in recent years is of concern to him. "I realize people have a lot of negative opinions about church and/or religion and that is one of the reasons I didn't want to be a pastor. Now that I am one, my fear is that I create something that contributes to more of those negative opinions. That's a big fear, honestly, because I don't believe this religion or this God that I follow is anything but beautiful and good."
He approaches his role as church pastor as such: "As far as what kind of a pastor I want to be, I just want to be authentic and honest. When something is weird, I say it. When something doesn't make sense, I say it. When something makes God seem unfair and harsh I want to say it. I also want to remain humble. I never want to pretend that a) I have all the answers or b) that anyone else does either."
With that same sense of honesty, Ryan has also written a book called The Naked Fruit, which explores the sometimes taboo subject of sexuality. "We're all affected in some way or another by sexuality. It's obviously a big topic and there are lots of opinions on it. At the end of the day, I guess I have some passionate thoughts about it and wanted to write them down and get them out. If those thoughts were able to change the affect sexuality has on a few people, for the better, than that was frosting on the cake."
As far as getting into any of the professions he's had, Ryan had this to say: "If you aren't passionate about something than don't do it. And by passionate I mean you enjoy even the dirty parts of the job. Don't be afraid to try stuff. Don't think that everyone else has it figured out and you are the only one who doesn't. Take a risk. Don't become trapped by an education (or lack thereof), expectations of society, or money. Yes, you might not succeed (as defined by education, society, or money). Not everyone does. But you might find life and energy and joy in failing and that's just as good in my book."
The Guild of Messengers thanks Ryan for his time with this interview and wishes him the best of luck in the future!
Pictures courtesy of Mystlore.com