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Making of Uru

Uru: Ages Beyond Myst was a computer game developed by Cyan Worlds and published by Ubisoft available on a single CD-ROM, featuring several diverse D'ni Ages designed in the style of the Myst game series. Although Uru and the Myst series share the theme of the D'ni civilization and culture, Uru takes place in the present time. Unlike previous games, where you play the role of a stranger who lived 200 years ago, in Uru you actually play yourself. The gameplay is more sophisticated than in previous Myst games, and the graphics are now in real-time 3D (cf. realMyst) rather than being pre-rendered stills. According to the creators Uru was inspired by Snow Crash, a book by Neal Stephenson that featured a virtual reality-based successor to the Internet.

Codenamed "DIRT" ("D'ni in real time"), then "MUDPIE" (meaning "Multi-User DIRT, Persistent / Personal Interactive Entertainment / Experience / Exploration / Environment") or "Parable", and later "Myst Online", Uru takes its players to "The Cleft," Atrus's childhood home in New Mexico, and invites them to "take the journey" to D'ni, and help the D'ni Restoration Council (DRC) rediscover the ancient civilization and its remains. As planned, Uru would not only feature a complete offline game ("Uru Prime"), but also an online component ("Uru Live") that would be constantly expanded. Alas Uru Live was cancelled shortly before it would have been launched, although it survives in part as Untìl Uru.

Uru uses the same engine as realMyst, known as Plasma. Cyan purchased this engine as part of the acqusition of Headspin, but the version in Uru is much more advanced than the one in realMyst. Plasma renders almost all objects on the screen, including most of the terrains and the avatars (which made it essential for Uru Live). In addition, Uru makes use of the Havok physics engine. Its use is especially noticeable when moving around objects on the floor, such as stones or pieces of wood. The use of the Havok engine apparently made it impossible to port Uru to the Macintosh platform, as Havok is currently not available for that system.

Uru Live

Uru Live was taken offline due to a lack of subscribers in early 2004. Cyan Worlds founder Rand Miller made the announcement to the Myst community on behalf of Ubi Soft and Cyan Worlds on February 4, 2004.

From the features it was meant to end up having, several — such as voice chat with fellow explorers or jointly-solved puzzles in new Ages — never saw the light of day in the public version, as the failure had already became apparent in the last of the several more or less public test runs, which took off much slower than planned in late November 2003.

Probably due to the preceding Ubisoft-run beta test from January to October 2003, the Uru Live idea created a massive following, causing many web sites to be launched, most of which are still very active trying in various manners to preserve what, in their eyes, made Uru Live unique and great. The sense of community was not just one of Uru Live's strenghts, but also the reason for the outcry and amount of anger amongst the fans after it had officially been put to bed.

Uru Expansion packs

Instead, two expansion packs for the Prime game were made: Uru: To D'ni, which mostly introduces the (formerly) online content to those who never had a chance to join Uru Live, thus focusing mostly on the City of D'ni, and Uru: The Path of the Shell, which extends the story of Prime and consists of multiple Ages that had not been seen before.

Uru: To D'ni

To D'ni tried to fill the gap created by the Uru Live's end by giving players — especially those who didn't manage to finish Live's content — access to the Ae'gura, Bevin, and Kirel neighborhoods, and the Great Zero which was used in much the same fashion as a GPS receiver when in the D'ni cavern. All had a damaged, incomplete feel, possibly as an Uru Live farewell message from Cyan to its fans. The story of To D'ni was very limited, although it featured some fan treats, like the many report notebooks about the kings of D'ni, and also journals by Douglas Sharper and Dr. Watson, in an attempt to finish off the idea of the D'ni Restoration Council.

Uru: The Path of the Shell

"The gathered will tell the Path of the Shell"

Unlike the first expansion pack, Uru: The Path of the Shell was not free, but instead sold in two ways: as a boxed version in stores (either separately, or bundled with the Uru as The Complete Chronicles) as well as via paid internet download. All versions included To D'ni.

Shell was much more comprehensive in terms of new content than To D'ni. Also, instead of continuing directly where To D'ni ended, it picked up Yeesha's story, and featured several new Ages, such as Er'cana and Ahnonay, which were previously slated for a later introduction in Uru Live.

Untìl Uru

In August 2004, Cyan in cooperation with fan-based communities opened up Untìl Uru, where privately-owned, fan-run servers could be used to meet as if they were in Uru Live. Cyan stressed, however, that this was not Uru Live: there was to be no new content, bug fixes, or updates of any kind. In fact, Cyan has revealed that "untìl" was actually intended to be two separate Sumerian words: "un," meaning people or community, and "tìl" (with an accented i), meaning to live or keep alive. Thus, "Untìl Uru" means roughly "the community keeps Uru alive."

Untìl Uru provided the same content and errors as the public beta test (known as the Prologue), with two exceptions. First, server administrators have additional access (for example, cones and barriers in the style the DRC had put them up can be positioned inside the caverns). Second, voice chat, which was unavailable in the Prologue for technical reasons, has been re-activated. Other than that, the same content is available — Prime, the Ahyoheek and Gahreesen Wall mini-games, and the ability to access large parts of the city together.

Edited from original source: Wikipedia