Spokane’s Miller brothers venture out of the ‘Myst’


After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Cyan plans to release “Obduction” in mid to late 2015.

By Nick Thomas


2013 marked the 20th anniversary of “Myst,” one of the best selling computer games of all time, created in Spokane by brothers Rand and Robyn Miller.

This fall, the dynamic duo has re-emerged to present the world with two new works. They continue to prove it possible to create successful entertainment in Spokane, though the road has not been easy.

Upon completing “Riven,” the critically acclaimed sequel to “Myst,” the Miller brothers parted ways in 1998 to pursue separate creative projects. Robyn Miller made the move to cinema, while Rand Miller pursued real-time 3-D games, like “URU” and “Real Myst,” as well as converting former titles to keep them playable on modern devices like iOS.

Now Robyn Miller has released his first feature length film, “The Immortal Augustus Gladstone,” and Rand Miller has announced that his company, Cyan Worlds, has officially begun development of an all-original game called “Obduction.”

Robyn Miller’s film is a faux documentary about an eccentric, odd-looking southern gentleman named Augustus Gladstone, played by Robyn Miller, living in an elaborately decorated, secret apartment in an abandoned hotel.

After Gladstone releases a series of quirky, mysterious YouTube interviews, a documentary film crew attempts to get to the bottom of the mysterious, toupee wearing man.

They learn that Gladstone claims to be 150 years old and possesses a curious thirst for blood, specifically, blood plasma.

Set in Portland, Ore., the film features many scenes filmed in Spokane, including the abandoned Otis Hotel where Gladstone lives, and The Donut Parade, his favorite coffee shop. There are also a number of informal interviews with Spokane pedestrians on subjects like the afterlife and vampirism.

The film, like its main character, is eccentric and surreal, leaving the viewer with possibly more questions than answers. It aims to leave you pondering for days. “A happy ending is a little like eating ramen I think,” Robyn Miller said. “It’s great going down and then it’s gone. I find that ambiguity stays with us because we’re forced to think about the thing. Digest it. There is more multi-tiered meaning there when ambiguity is present.”

“The Immortal Augustus Gladstone” is being presented by popular-culture website Boingboing.net. It is available for immediate, DRM-free download for $5.59 at the official website, http://www.theimmortalaugustusgladstone.com.

According to the Cyan Worlds website, Rand Miller’s new project, “Obduction,” is a real-time, first-person “adventure game for the new millennium that stays true to the concepts that made the genre great.”

Robyn Miller announced that he would be acting in the new game, marking his first return to a Cyan Worlds project in 16 years.

Though still in the planning stage, the Mead, Wash., based game company made waves all over the Internet recently with their newest game. After slowing at the midway mark, the Kickstarter campaign suddenly started climbing again and reached its fundraising goal of $1 million on Nov. 13, after Hollywood star and “Myst” fan Neil Patrick Harris tweeted to his 7 million followers that Rand Miller needed their help making a new “Myst” game.

The story begins with an abduction, specifically, your abduction. A spinning, flashing orb appears above, and you awake by a farmhouse, surrounded by a white picket fence, plunked amidst an alien landscape. You then set off to discover your part in the unfolding story.

The budget, small in comparison to games like “Riven,” which took $10 million and four years to make, is enough to cover “Obduction’s” production expenses, according to the “Obduction” Kickstarter webpage.

Most importantly, crowdfunding via donations from individuals allows Rand Miller’s small team of developers to effectively sidestep the big publishing houses responsible for canceling Cyan World’s previous game, “URU,” which the company had spent years developing.

According to the game’s website, “Obduction” is slated for completion in mid to late 2015.

For more info on either project, visit http://www.cyan.com and http://www.augustusgladstone.com