Cyan Worlds

Cyan, Inc.
Industry Computer and video games
Founded 1987 (1987)
Founder Rand Miller
Robyn Miller
Headquarters Mead, Washington, United States
Key people
Rand Miller (CEO and co-founder)
Products List of Cyan Worlds video games
Number of employees
40 (2005)
Website Official website

Cyan Inc., also known as Cyan Worlds Inc., is an American video game developer, founded as Cyan Productions by brothers Rand and Robyn Miller in 1987, and best known as the creators of the Myst series. After Myst and its sequel Riven sold several million copies each, Cyan went on to create the massively multiplayer online adventure, Uru, which was cancelled and re-opened several times. After the departure of brother Robyn Miller from "Cyan, Inc.," a second company, "Cyan Worlds, Inc.," was started. Both companies are located in Mead, Washington, just outside Spokane.


Cyan Worlds front entrance


Cyan was founded in 1987 by brothers Rand and Robyn Miller, operating out of their parents' basement in their Spokane, Washington home. Rand had been programming games since a junior high school student in the 1980s, while Robyn studied music and arts in high school. The two found a common ground through the Macintosh Hypercard development program which allowed them to mix their talents together.[1] Cyan originally produced adventure games for children. The company's early titles, The Manhole (1988), Cosmic Osmo and the Worlds Beyond the Mackerel (1989) and Spelunx (1991) were whimsical fantasy adventures for a young audience. The games offered numerous graphical screens with puzzles, mini-games and activities. Some of these titles were early forays of Cyan into both construction of interactive worlds using HyperCard and the CD-ROM medium, both of which would later be used for Myst.

Myst franchise

In 1993, Cyan shot to worldwide fame with the release of Myst, a "steampunk" 3D pre-rendered adventure game aimed at an older audience unlike their previous games. Myst was one of the earliest CD-ROM games, in a time when CD-ROM drives were beginning to become mainstream. The title sold more than six million copies,[2] and was the best-selling PC game ever until The Sims exceeded its sales in 2002.[3]

With the revenue from Myst, Cyan quickly moved to a new headquarters to accommodate a bigger staff, where they remain today. During this time, three novels set in the Myst universe were co-authored by the Millers and David Wingrove. The sequel to Myst, Riven, was released in 1997. After its release, Robyn opted to leave Cyan to pursue other interests, primarily working on independent film production.[1] In a 1999 interview, Robyn stated that the reason for his departure was "Two people can't pilot a ship – someone must be in charge...The parting gave us each a ship."[4]

The next eight years saw a huge amount of expansion in the Myst franchise, both from within and outside of Cyan. While the publishing rights were transferred from Brøderbund to Mattel, and then to Ubisoft, Cyan prepared for the next game in the Myst universe, which was to be a massively multiplayer online game, and not a direct sequel to Myst. During this time, a second company, "Cyan Worlds, Inc.," was started. Partly as a test of their new real-time 3D engine, Cyan released realMyst in 2000, a complete recreation of the original Myst game. At the same time, the next Myst game, Myst III: Exile, was developed by Presto Studios and published by Ubisoft, and released in 2001.

In 2003, Cyan announced that their multiplayer adventure, Uru, formerly known under the working titles DIRT ("D'ni In Real Time"), Mudpie ("Multi-User DIRT – Persistent Interactive Environment"), Parable and Myst Online, would be split into separate single-player and multiplayer components, at the request of the publisher Ubisoft.[5] The single-player component, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, was released later that year. The multiplayer component, Uru Live had a short beta test, but was cancelled before being officially released.

In 2004, Cyan released two Uru expansion packs (To D'ni and The Path of the Shell) that included content originally intended for the online component. The same year, Ubisoft independently developed and released Myst IV: Revelation, the second game in the series not developed by Cyan. In the following year, Cyan developed the final chapter in the Myst series, Myst V: End of Ages. After Myst V, the company laid off most of its employees due to financial difficulties,[6] but shortly after rehired almost everyone after negotiating a deal with Turner Broadcasting. Prior to this, the company was working on an as yet unannounced project (reportedly named Latus by Richard A. Watson) and negotiating with an undisclosed publisher, but its status is now unclear, though Rand Miller made mention of it in August 2011 and confirmed its name as Latus.[7]


Cyan Worlds logo (2003 - June 2013)

After Uru Live closed, fans began developing their own server software. In response to this demand, Cyan Worlds released Untìl Uru in late 2004, a modified version of the client and server software of Live. This version of the game was unsupported – servers were owned and operated by fans, and no new content was provided. Later, through funding by GameTap, Cyan managed to offer the "D'mala" shard, an official game server. Fans also began developing new content for the game, in an unofficial context.

In 2006, Rand Miller announced that Uru Live would return in full capacity using GameTap-hosted servers and funding. Cyan staff were re-hired and production of new Uru content began.[8]

Myst Online: Uru Live launched officially on GameTap on February 15, 2007, after being available through GameTap as an open beta for a few months. This was the most successful incarnation of Uru, finally achieving the original goal of supported online play, with ongoing content releases. Despite this success, GameTap announced on February 4, 2008, that it would be closing Uru Live. Game servers remained online for 60 days following, and were finally shut down on April 10, 2008.

On June 30, 2008, it was announced that Cyan Worlds had regained the rights to Uru, and had plans to relaunch it under the name Myst Online: Restoration Experiment. Cyan no longer has funds available for further development on the game, and instead intends to release the code for the servers, client and tools as open-source software,[9] and rely on user-generated content for expansion.

In November 2008, "Cyan Test" (a third "Cyan" company created to provide testing services) laid off about 50 game testers. The layoffs came as a result of the acquisition of their primary customer Gamecock Media.[10]

In February 2010, Cyan took steps towards opening up Uru, with the launch of a new Myst Online: Uru Live server (dubbed "MOULagain" by fans) with access to all of the Ages of Uru. They made the client software available free of charge and began accepting donations.[11] As of April 2014, over 128,000 accounts had been created.[12]

On April 6, 2011, Cyan released the source code to the URU client as well its development tools.[13]

Other properties

On November 30, 2007, Cyan released Cosmic Osmo's Hex Isle via the online service Fanista. This marked the return of the Cosmic Osmo character after 15 years.

In August 2009, it was announced that Cyan Worlds would be working with Creative Kingdoms to create an online version of their MagiQuest virtual reality game.[14] MagiQuest Online makes use of the Plasma engine used in Myst Online: Uru Live.


On October 17, 2013, Rand Miller announced a new video game designed as a spiritual successor to Myst and Riven called Obduction.[15] The game received $1.3 million in funding from Kickstarter support.[16] Obduction takes place on an alien planet where humans and portions of their environment have been transported, and features puzzles that involve the combination of human technology with alien ones. Obduction's world is fully rendered within the Unreal Engine and explorable from the first-person view, though uses full-motion video for some non-player characters.[17] Rand was able to obtain Robyn's help to create the soundtrack as well as act as one of the non-player characters in the game.[1] The game was officially released on August 24, 2016 for Microsoft Windows and OS X, along with planned support for Oculus Rift.[18] Obduction received favorable reviews from critics, comparing as a worthy successor to Cyan's Myst games.[19][20]

Games developed

Most of Cyan's titles (those in the Myst and Uru series) tell the story of a humanoid race called the D'ni, who have the ability to write linking books. Linking books teleport the user into other worlds, limited only by the imagination of the author. These worlds are referred to as "Ages." Cyan's games are known for their intricate plots, exquisite graphics, and immersive sounds. They focus on exploration and storytelling, presented by a simple, elegant interface that appeals to gamers and non-gamers alike. Related to the storyline of the D'ni are three Myst novels: The Book of Atrus, The Book of Ti'ana and The Book of D'ni.

Game Name Release Year Publisher
The Manhole 1988 Brøderbund
Cosmic Osmo and the Worlds Beyond the Mackerel 1989 Brøderbund
Spelunx and the Caves of Mr. Seudo 1991 Brøderbund
Myst 1993 Brøderbund
Riven 1997 Red Orb Entertainment
realMyst 2000 Mattel
Uru: Ages Beyond Myst 2003 Ubisoft
Uru: To D'ni 2004 Ubisoft
Uru: The Path of the Shell 2004 Ubisoft
Untìl Uru 2004 Self-published
Myst V: End of Ages 2005 Ubisoft
Myst Online: Uru Live 2007 GameTap
Cosmic Osmo's Hex Isle 2007 Fanista
Myst for iPhone and iPod Touch 2009 Self-published
MagiQuest Online 2010 Creative Kingdoms
The Manhole: Masterpiece Edition for iOS 2010 Self-published
Riven for iPhone and iPod Touch 2010 Self-published
Stoneship for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad 2010 Self-published
Bug Chucker for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android 2011 Self-published
realMyst for iOS 2012 Self-published
Riven for iPad 2013 Self-published
realMyst: Masterpiece Edition 2014 Self-published
Obduction 2016 Self-published

List of people related to Cyan

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Newman, Heather (July 7, 2016). "How Brothers Behind 'Myst' Reunited to Create Mysterious New VR World". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  2. Guilofil, Michael (May 22, 2001). "Beyond the Myst". The Spokesman-Review. Archived from the original on November 2, 2013.
  3. Walker, Trey (March 22, 2002). "The Sims overtakes Myst". GameSpot. Retrieved March 17, 2008.
  4. Silberman, Steve (October 1, 1999). "Mystery Man". Wired. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  5. Herold, Charles (March 4, 2004). "Tackling the Mystery of the Missing Game". New York Times. p. G5.
  6. Myst Creator Cyan Worlds Folds
  7. Mysterium 2011 Video Stream Chat
  8. TXT: Cyan Worlds trying to reach the last age, or Myst, The Final Offer
  9. "Cyan makes it official: "Myst" now in the hands of its fans". Spokesman Review. December 12, 2008. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  10. Radd, David (November 5, 2008). "Cyan Lets 50 Game Testers Go". Spokesman Review. Retrieved November 14, 2008.
  11. "Myst Online: Uru Live Again". Myst Online: Uru Live. February 4, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  12. "CAVCON Meter". Retrieved May 4, 2014.
  14. Kushner, David (August 24, 2009). "Real-Life WoW for the Chuck E. Cheese Set". Wired Magazine. Retrieved November 29, 2009.
  15. Chalk, Andy (October 17, 2013). "Myst Studio Brings Obduction To Kickstarter". The Escapist. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  16. Farokhmanesh, Megan (November 16, 2013). "Obduction Kickstarter draws to a successful close". Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  17. Dingman, Hayman (October 4, 2014). "Exclusive preview: This is 'Obduction,' Cyan's spiritual successor to 'Myst'". PC World. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  18. Moss, Richard (August 24, 2016). "Obduction let Cyan experiment with VR in a non-Myst universe". Gamasutra. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  19. Hughes, William (August 24, 2016). "Obduction is the perfect reminder of what made Myst so great". A.V. Club. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  20. Caldwell-Gervais, Noah (August 25, 2016). "Obduction Review". Polygon. Retrieved August 26, 2016.

External links

Coordinates: 47°47′27″N 117°21′15″W / 47.7907°N 117.3542°W / 47.7907; -117.3542

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