If you played Myst, chances are you’ll remember the absolute agony that the Maze Runner puzzle. It was a nightmare involving a cart, four directions, and some weird sounds that initially didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
At the time, it was one of the game’s most heavily criticised puzzles. And yet Myst creator Rand Miller loved the hell out of it.
If you haven’t played Myst, here’s the quick rundown. After travelling to the Selenitic Age (which is like a different level) and completing a whole suite of puzzles, you come across a mine cart designed to travel through the underground caverns.
Problem is: the caverns are designed like a maze. On top of that, you have bugger all vision, there’s no visual hints or guidance on where to go, and the only hints you get are some basic audio cues played every time you stop.
People hated it. But in an interview with The AV Club following the launch of Obduction, the spiritual successor to the Myst series, Rand Miller declared that the Maze Runner puzzle had a special place in his heart.
“I think the implementation was slightly flawed, but I love it, and it’s the crazy Maze Runner from Myst,” he said. “I know that was a hated part of Myst but, frankly, I loved it.”
“There was a certain elegance to that puzzle that I think people don’t understand. I love the fact that people play through an entire world that has everything to do with sound. And then they go down to this vehicle at the bottom of the world, and they forget about it. And we’re still giving them sound clues for what to do.”
It was initially thought that you needed to remember sounds played to you in a previous age, although that was later proven to be false. (And you can always stubbornly brute force the puzzle, as so many players in Myst did back in the day.)
It’s fascinating reading how Miller really appreciated the puzzle when most players held it in complete disdain. I suppose that’s the difference between building the puzzle from the ground up, as opposed to having to deconstruct it as a player.
The entire interview with Miller is fantastic, so I’d suggest you read through it all. You’ll especially want to check out the part where he talks about creating a real-life Myst island with Disney, which part of me would still love to see happen given how big escape rooms are becoming these days.