It’s no secret that I’m a huge Myst fan. Cyan crafted some beautiful worlds with an equally immersive backstory. I couldn’t get enough of the D’ni and their civilization, and of Atrus’ family. Okay, Uru and the last couple numbered games weren’t that great but I loved the first three games. Which is why when they went to Kickstarter to get funding for a Myst-inspired science fiction game I couldn’t throw my money at them fast enough. Obduction was the return of the Miller brothers and I wanted to see another game by them.
Unfortunately, while they make great games Cyan doesn’t seem to have a great grasp on making business decisions. Which is why, in one of the latest backer-only updates they came clean about a months long silence on development. I tried to reach out to them but since I have yet to hear back I’ll just post the facts and my feelings on what has transpired. And I’ll be honest. I have mixed feelings about this news. As have the backers who’ve commented on the update. At the time I only read the first hundred or so comments to get a feel for the community’s reactions and since then it’s exploded to over three hundred comments. Which I won’t trudge through because I’m sure it’s more of the same. The reaction has been roughly evenly split, as far as I know, between those who understand and are willing to do what they can to help out and those who have questioned Cyan’s thinking.
Here’s the story on what’s been going on behind the scenes with Obduction as far as I know it. About a half year ago Cyan approached an as yet unnamed publisher to help put some extra money into the pot to make a game with a much grander scope than they could with the money they got from the Kickstarter. Things apparently looked good, so without getting the deal signed then and there they waited. And while they waited they started working on this extra content with money that they haven’t gotten yet. Not a smart move without getting the agreement in ink first. Just before the update was sent out to backers the deal fell through. Said publisher reneged on their unwritten promises and so Cyan is back to where they were before the deal was struck.
Which means that months of work has now been scrapped. Without the publisher’s money they had to scale back to their original vision for Obduction. Which, honestly, is fine with me. What I don’t like is that myself and over 22 thousand others gave our hard earned cash for a game as promised. And we should have been told about this deal when they were in discussions about it. Because that’s one reason why people use Kickstarter…to cut out the middle man and strike out on your own. My other major issue with this is that they went to work on the extra content without said funds when they should have just kept chugging along with the original scope while they waited instead of hanging on the hope that everything falls into place.
I still have faith that Obduction will be released and be a great game, but at the same time I worry about Cyan’s decision making behind the scenes. I’d support the ongoing development of the game, but I’d also love a bit more transparency in matters concerning the use of my donation. That the development has been pushed back months because of scrapped work also doesn’t sit well with me. Like the rest of those commenting on this news I have mixed feelings.