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Innovation & Design

Myst Developer Cuts Staff; Future in Doubt

Although not officially closed, with most of the staff being laid

off at Cyan Worlds it would appear that the developer's days are

numbered; only a few "skeleton crew" members remain.

According to publisher Ubisoft, however, only the production

unit is being closed, and Cyan will still live on as a company. For

now, its future is unclear, though.

Myst developer Cyan Worlds laid off the majority of its staff late

last week and appears to be facing closure in the near future.

The developer has yet to issue an official statement, but several

employee blogs reported the news over the weekend, and

Ubisoft has issued the following statement:

"For the past 4 years Ubisoft has been proud to work with Cyan

Worlds on the Myst brand, and we are saddened by the decision

to close the doors of their games production unit. While this

event is a sad day for Myst fans and gamers everywhere, it does

not in any way affect the upcoming launch of Myst V: End of

Ages which is already in manufacturing at this time. Ubisoft is

continuing full steam ahead with the launch of Myst V: End of

Ages, the Grand Finale of the Greatest Adventure Game of all


"While the production unit has been disbanded, Cyan will

continue as a company, pursuing new endeavors for the future.

In the next few weeks, Cyan is expecting to provide more

information about their plans. Other than this, Ubisoft has no

additional information about Cyan or their future plans."

Only Two Remain

Ubisoft's statement seems to be relatively optimistic, given the

sheer size of the layoffs. Cyan founder Rand Miller and President

Tony Fryman are reported to be the only employees left, acting

as a "skeleton crew." The company previously employed 40

"artists, programmers, designers, and support personnel,"

according to its website. It is believed that following the

completion of its contract with Ubisoft, Cyan was unable to

secure another publishing deal.

"Over the last few weeks leading to this point many of us had

the hope that something would come up, but it didn't happen,"

Cyan employee Ryan Warzecha stated on his blog.

"I've heard horror stories of how things like this go down at

other companies, but they're being very generous here. It's

obvious it breaks Rand's heart to let everyone go,"Myst V

Production Director Bill Slease wrote on his.

The popularity of the Myst franchise has waned in recent years,

with a particularly low point coming when publisher Ubisoft

decided to scrap Uru: Ages Beyond Myst's ambitious online

component, citing "a lack of potential subscribers" in 2004. The

game was essentially a critical and commercial failure.

Unmatched Popularity

1994's Myst was the best-selling PC game of all time until The

Sims finally dethroned it in 2000. 12 million copies have been

sold alongside its sequel, Riven. The original gained special

acclaim for its ability to capture the attention of those who had

never previously taken an interest in the medium, thanks to its

slow pace and focus on storytelling. Myst remains the only video

game played by a large number of middle-aged Americans.

Cyan was founded in 1987 and released such PC titles as Cosmic

Osmo and Spelunx, which both featured mechanics that

foreshadowed the impact the company would later have on the

point-and-click genre with Myst. According to its official

website, Cyan's first game The Manhole was "the first

entertainment product ever on the new medium of CD-ROM."

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