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 time."

"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 RemainUbisoft'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 Popularity1994'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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