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Rand Miller, CEO

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Rand Miller answers our questions about URU Live's return, future and partnerships

Rand Miller, CEO of Cyan Worlds, talks to us about how URU Live was reborn. Originally developed a few years ago, the online portion of this Myst sequel was canceled by UBISoft before it ever got off the ground. Recently, Miller and his company announced a partnership with Turner and GameTap to bring it back.

MMORPG.com: How has URU LIVE evolved from the popular MYST series?
Rand Miller:

Uru Live represents what would happen if all of the story and back-story surrounding the Myst saga was discovered to be true, and the D'ni cavern - the very hub of the ancient civilization - was discovered deep beneath the New Mexico desert. Now we can go see for ourselves. And discover what happens next.

Of technologically Uru is state-of-the-art. The slide-show still images of Myst have been replaced with rich real-time 3D environments.

MMORPG.com: MYST was a very immersive game for players, how well do you feel it will translate to an online experience?
Rand Miller:

Uru is even more immersive. Think of ever expanding Myst ages that can be explored in real-time 3D with friends. In a live online experience there is opportunity to offer a much more "real" experience - the world itself comes alive. That living aspect happens in two primary ways. First is the idea of other real people that bring an unpredictable aspect to the adventure. There are other people taking the journey that I can share the experience with. And secondly (and just as important) is the idea of this world being dynamic. Because we have an online connection, the world is changeable and alive. New places can be added, old places can change.

The key is that every time I visit the worlds of Uru, I'm excited about what I might find

MMORPG.com: Explain how the game was revived with the help of GameTap and Turner Broadcasting System.
Rand Miller:

Uru Live never really got a chance to go "live". It was cancelled before it officially launched. But there was a huge amount of interest from the community. Long story short - Turner and Cyan have had a few opportunities to work together in the past that didn't pan out. The chance to resurrect Uru under GameTap seemed like a perfect fit for everyone.

MMORPG.com: What game features from the classic MYST series can players expect to find? Will there be lots of puzzles?
Rand Miller:

Uru of course will have puzzles that follow the Myst legacy. But because it's so vast and dynamic there is room to add other forms of gameplay and entertainment. There is potential for competitive play, as well as skill-based, and even simple social oriented games. In addition there is a story that flows in and around everything in Uru.

MMORPG.com: How will characters be able to customize their avatars as well as islands? Will they have a creation screen and housing options?
Rand Miller:

Yes. Uru has a very rich character customization area. The idea is that this is all really happening and you have stumbled on it. You live this amazing adventure. You are you. U.R.U.

And while Uru provides a community area where people can meet and explore, it also has a very personal aspect that provides a private age to every player. Over the course of exploring the ever expanding worlds of Uru, you have the chance to take little pieces "home" with you, providing for a unique customization of your own age.

MMORPG.com: MYST was very much an immersive single player game. How will players grouping together enhance that style of game play?
Rand Miller:

In Uru it's up to the player whether they want to explore alone, with a few friends, or with a larger group. So the experience can be whatever the player wants. With that said, we've found that even in our single-player games, most people usually explored with friends - either sitting together in front of the computer, or via phone conversations throughout the adventure. Sharing the adventure definitely enhances the experience.

MMORPG.com: Will avatars have classes or careers to choose from? Will players have the option to raise their characters abilities in certain areas?
Rand Miller:

Uru is oriented around players real choices. The more you explore the more you understand things and you hone your actually skill in Uru. The D'ni culture was organized around a guild system that will certainly provide options for players to choose from in the future as well. But the idea is to provide enticing places and story-line to explore rather than to provide a mechanism for leveling a character.

MMORPG.com: Do you have to be a member of GameTap to play URU LIVE?
Rand Miller:

We're still working out the detail with Turner and GameTap to make Uru as accessible as possible.

MMORPG.com: The URU LIVE Web site mentions the possibility of fan created content. Can you elaborate on that for our readers?
Rand Miller:

The worlds of Myst have always been based on the idea of writing books that link to ages. One of our goals with Uru is to provide more and more tools that allow fans to "write" their own ages. It's not an easy task to write an age, but it is a direction is very exciting.

MMORPG.com: Are there any enhancements being made to the game from its 2003 beta release?
Rand Miller:

We've been fixing a lot of stuff that we didn't get a chance to fix when Uru was cancelled. And we're building more places for people to explore, and some surprising story elements that people never got a chance to experience.

MMORPG.com: What are your plans for a launch date? Will there be a beta?
Rand Miller:

All we know now is that we will launch during the 2006 holiday season, and there will be a beta.

MMORPG.com: Can you give us some history on the D’ni civilization and how they will play a part in the game?
Rand Miller:

The D'ni arrived at earth 10,000 years ago and set up shop deep underground. It was their contact with a woman from the surface that altered their history and destroyed their civilization. That woman was the grandmother of Atrus - the main character in the Myst series. Atrus learned from the D'ni and his entire family was affected. Now the D'ni are gone, but their grand underground city remains - haunted with the legacy of their power and their destruction - and ready to be rediscovered.

MMORPG.com: Player will get the chance to take part in an epic story line; will there be side quests or stories for players to explore as well?
Rand Miller:

The Uru story is ongoing and involves anyone and everyone who happens to be there to watch it and affect it. There are characters that take part in the story that even somewhat blur the line between players and actors. In the course of exploring the vast ages, players may find themselves in the middle of Uru history.

MMORPG.com: Does Cyan Worlds have any other games lined up for development?
Rand Miller:

Cyan is always coming up with entertaining new ideas. Many of them will never see the light of day, but we hope at least a couple will grow into entirely new products.

MMORPG.com: Do you see MMOs becoming more immersive in the future?
Rand Miller:

Absolutely. Interactive world development continues to mature - allowing developers to offer more and more diverse ways to be immersed. We'll just have to remember to step out into the real world and breathe every now and then. :)

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URU was also just added to our game list. To hype it click here.