Brandon Boyer

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At the latest Austin Game Developer’s conference, Turner VP Blake Lewin made a prescient observation when he noted that URU, the beleaguered MMO based on Cyan Worlds’ franchise Myst, “lasts longer when the fans run it than when publishers do.”

Dropped quickly and unceremoniously by Ubisoft on its 2003 release after a beta that drew some 10-40,000 users, fans kept an unofficial server live for two years before being re-released by Turner’s GameTap service in 2006. After just a year in operation, though, it was shuttered again — Lewin noting that while successful for the service, the cost of operation was too much to maintain.

So, according to a note sent out by Cyan CEO Tony Fryman, the company is going to put the game back in the hands of its dedicated base for operation and expansions, and hope for the best. Said Fryman on the release:

Cyan has decided to give make MystOnline available to the fans by releasing the source code for the servers, client and tools for MystOnline as an open source project. We will also host a data server with the data for MystOnline. MORE is still possible but only with the help from fans.

This is a bit scary for Cyan because this is an area that we have never gone before, to let a product freely roam in the wild. But we’ve poured so much into UruLive, and it has touched so many, that we could not just let it whither and die. We still have hopes that someday we will be able to provide new content for UruLive and/or work on the next UruLive.

This is also a bit scary for the fans. We realize that this could turn UruLive into the “wild west” and lead to many fractured and diverse MystOnline servers. But it is our hope that with the help of dedicated core fans (if you are reading this, it probably means you) that a safe and secure MystOnline server set (many servers from around the world working together as one) can be created that will let people explore and live in UruLive.

TXT: Cyan makes it official: “Myst” now in the hands of its fans

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