9 Things You Didn’t Know About Myst

Twenty years ago, brothers Robyn and Rand Miller released their seminal adventure game. Six million copies later, here are the secrets of how it was made.

1. Robyn Miller had played a grand total of one video game before he made Myst.

That game? Zork II. Says Miller, “I didn’t like games.”

2. The budget of the original game was $256,000.

Miller says they arrived at this figure by estimating how much money they needed to make the game, doubling it, and adding a little more.

3. Each static shot in the game took between two and 14 hours to render.

The entire game contains 2,500 shots.

4. The Miller brothers came up with the name “Myst” during a 30-second phone call.

Robyn Miller says the conversation went like this: “What should we name it? How about Myst? Ok good.”

It took months to name the sequel, Riven.

5. The Miller brothers originally planned to hand draw the game.

6. The creators were highly opposed to a soundtrack.

Robyn Miller wrote a soundtrack for part of the game to demonstrate to publishers Broderbund how poorly music would fare in the game. “Instead it worked really well,” Miller says.

7. The single speed CD-Rom drives the game was designed for were really, really slow.


So slow, according to Miller, that they had to plan very specifically where to put related data on the game disc. Otherwise, says Miller, “we wouldn’t have been able to pull from the drive fast enough to play this game.”

8. When the Miller brothers started Myst, they had no way to display video.

Those famous static-heavy videos of the trapped brothers only became possible halfway through development, with the release of Quicktime.

9. Original playtesting of the game was done without playing the game.


The Miller brothers asked testers to imagine certain scenarios, like being washed up on a dock with a door to the left and a staircase straight ahead, and respond by asking questions about the environment. Says Robyn Miller, “It worked incredibly well.”

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