Myst Online's slow-motion move to open source finally appears to be getting somewhere, as the MOULA client engine and development tools are officially ready to go.
It was back in late 2008 when Cyan Worlds first announced that Myst Online would be made open source. It had the appearance of a developer finally giving up on a long-troubled project that just never caught fire, but then in early 2010 Cyan jumped back into the fray with news that Myst Online: Uru Live was back once again as a free-to-play game running on an open source server. And now, more than a year after that, it's time for the next step.
"Today we are announcing that the sources for the MOULA client engine and development tools (CyanWorlds.com Engine) will be made available as open source. At the same time, MOSS, which is a MOULA server replacement (written by a'moaca' and cjkelly) will also be released. Both open source projects will be hosted on OpenUru.org," Myst co-creator Rand Miller wrote. "The goal of the open source CyanWorlds.com Engine and the MOSS server is to provide a 'playground' where new writers can learn their craft, and new maintainers can inspect it, and new cartographers can map it. The Cyan Worlds MOULA servers will continue to provide a (relatively) safe environment for the D'ni faithful to mingle and share."
Miller said that releasing the development tools as open source will allow new writers to create new books, which will hopefully be vetted by some kind of as-yet unestablished "maintainers guild" and then added to the server to once again open up new worlds for players to explore. But he offered a few words of caution as well.
"These are exciting times, but not without risk. The tools and skills are new and need to be sharpened. There will be disagreements and strongly expressed opinions. And there will be decisions and mistakes," he continued. "But keep in mind that the big picture is a lot like rebuilding a long dead civilization - and the forest of common goals far outnumber the few trees of differences. Let's keep it civil."
Myst Online is quite possible the most successful unsuccessful videogame of all time. It's been hanging around since 2003, when Ubisoft released it as Uru: Ages Beyond Myst and then immediately put a bullet in it by killing the online component, which was the game's big hook. Players kept it alive with unofficial servers as Until Uru, until a deal was struck with GameTap to bring it back for real in 2007. But that arrangement fizzled too, leading to the open source decision in 2008.
The way I see it, any game that can survive almost a decade of being alternately kicked around and ignored deserves a little love, or at the very least a quick look to see why some people just won't let it go. Surely you must be curious! Find out what's so freakin' amazing about this thing at mystonline.com.