Myst Book Plays Myst, Doesn’t Transport You To Other Ages

We shouldn’t have to remind you, but back in the early 90s one of the most popular computer games was Myst. Despite having the gameplay of a PowerPoint presentation, Myst went on to become one of the best-selling video games of all time and the killer app that made a CD-ROM drive a necessity rather than a luxury. [riumplus] loves Myst, and after 6 long years he’s finally completed his homage to his favorite game. It’s a replica of the in-game Myst book that is able to play every game in the Myst-iverse.

The build started off by searching for the same book used as a model for the book object in Myst. It’s a 135-year-old edition of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Volume LIV, Issue 312 from 1877. In keeping with the in-game assets, [riumplus] made dies for the spine and cover, embossed the word ‘MYST’ on the book, and filled these letters with 24-carat gold paint.

Inside the newly hollowed-out book [rium] added a very small x86 motherboard running Windows XP on a 32 Gig Compact Flash card. This tiny computer is able to run every Myst game ever made on a very nice touchscreen display.

It’s a work of art in our humble opinion, and a fitting tribute to the last great hurrah of the adventure game genre. After the break you can see [rium] interacting with his book, or just check out the build pics on [rium]’s Google+ page.


58 thoughts on “Myst Book Plays Myst, Doesn’t Transport You To Other Ages

    1. Nah, looks like the perfect size to me!

      Perhaps the cover could be the trigger to wake it from sleep. That way, by the time one gets to the screen page it’ll be ready!

      I’m thinking a magnet in the cover with a reed switch in the body would do the trick nicely.

      1. Hi! I made this. stevo’s right; I matched the screen size to the one that’s actually in the game, so it had to be exactly that size. For what it’s worth, it’s 1.5″ larger & twice the resolution of the iPhone 3GS’s screen. And people have no problem looking at or playing games on their phones, hehe

        I wanted to keep the power switch separate from opening the book, so that way it didn’t have to boot up every time you closed & opened the front cover. :)

  1. Amazing (:
    I thought of having a pc with a vr head set and using a kinect to navigate/interact. And a small loading program for the journey. But I think I like this better. Subtle and it seems to run very smoothly.
    There is an app for the iPod touch/iPhone that contains a free and full version of Riven. One of the largest apps I have ever seen however it might be a conveniant option for anyone with the hardware.

    1. I have wanted to do this ever since playing Uru Live.
      Eagerly awaiting the Oculus Rift, in conjunction with my p5 glove it might be close to the VR Myst I’ve been waiting for :)

    1. I thought that too. But then there were a lot of books published in the 19th century, it’s better than it ending up in landfill. Most old books aren’t worth anything, there are dealers who sell to interior designers, books by the metre.

      There was a nice pub I once drank in that did this. I dug up an old guide to electronics from the 1920s. All about wiring up power plants and mercury arc rectifiers, it was fascinating!

    2. I don’t think losing a copy of “Harper’s New Monthly Magazine” is the end of the world. Would it be preferable to use a book less than 130 years old? Sure, but other than a book of tax code I think he picked the right century+ old book to use.

  2. “The space inside is tiny, nearly half the size of a netbook, so I spent a long time sourcing the absolute smallest parts you can buy that met all of my requirements.”

    That’s nice, but what WAS the board you settled on? I can see the processor and power specs, but what mainboard are you using here? An XP system that compact could be massively useful.

    1. Hey there! I made this. The main page is a little lacking in details since it’s meant for the internet at large and most people wouldn’t care about what specific components I used. You can find more details in my Google+ album HaD also linked, all the juicy details should be in there :)

      ChalkBored’s found the board I used; BCM’s NX530Z. That was one of the smallest boards I could find at 12cm*12cm that still had all the features I needed. You can buy even smaller Via boards, but there’s very poor support for Via GPUs in the more recent Myst games so I was stuck with an Intel integrated solution.

  3. Am I the only one that is annoyed to see, as the author puts it, not just one but at least two difficult to find 135 year old books destroyed and stuffed with electronics that likely won’t last for the next 25? Not only that, the primary donor book had been restored to pristine condition?

    I usually respect the lines that are drawn when people restore antiques and those who tack in new technology to get broken things working again. There’s also a certain amount of…. patience when seeing someone drill holes in LP’s or turning them in to lame candy bowls.

    But destroying a 135 year old book for a pc game? Not a good hack dude. Not for Myst not for any game.

    1. There’s millions of em about, and I bet you could get them for nothing or next to nothing. Why not adopt a few worthless old books yourself? Give a few cubic metres of your house over to books you’ll never read, so that people of the future will be able to ignore them too, and curse their ancestor for cluttering up the place.

    2. My feelings were the same until I did some Googling for similar books. It seems you can pickup similar books for about $50. Maybe not this specific book in such good condition, but it’s not like these things are rare. My outrage is minimal.
      Although, if I were making one, I would probably make a completely new book and let it age naturally.

      I wonder if he’s got the 3 Myst Books in there as eBooks!

    3. Do you go library to library every year scouting their book sales and pick up every old book you find before it is deemed no longer worth the space it takes up and burned?

      Appreciating and restoring old things is fantastic, but you will never be able to do it fast enough to preserve all the garbage our culture creates on a daily basis.

      There is simply not enough interest in antiques. So rather than complain about how awful it is someone “destroyed” something that served no other purpose than ornamental, either change how our culture treats its heritage or appreciate the fact that someone found a new use for an old book instead of throwing it away or just using it as another decoration to make themselves look educated and cultured.

      1. Hi there! I made this. Yeah, I had to essentially destroy the old book to make this but there just wasn’t any other way to do it while remaining authentic. For what it’s worth, this book really isn’t that historically or culturally important – it’s a cross between an antique reader’s digest and a gossip magazine, but importantly it often with only contains snippets of the complete articles. It’s literally a hardbound collection of their weekly magazine. The largest value in old books like this is for interior designers, who buy them literally by the metre (not even caring about their contents or even the title). It has more value these days due to its spine decoration than as a book – and it cost me less than a dollar once I finally found a copy.

        Even still, I have more than one copy of this book and when I get time I plan on adding it to Project Gutenberg :)

        Also, I have more than one source book but only one was destroyed for this project.

        And Max – yes I do ;)

    1. I agree, if you want an old looking book you make or buy a replica. This really bugs me.

      But the hack looks really nice, maybe also fun to use with a tiny keyboard for other purposes?

      1. …yes, it’s an old book. But aside from the ‘old book’ factor this wasn’t any real loss. It’s basically just a collection of short stories to introduce people to new authors.

        All in all it’s only slightly more disturbing than destroying a tax law book.

    2. Not all books inherently have value just because they’re old. In this one’s case, its contents were deemed so worthless it was for sale to interior designers who just needed an old book for some purpose – completely irrespective of its contents or its title. Books like this are normally sold by the metre, not individually.

      Really, its contents are a cross between a Reader’s Digest and a gossip magazine. It’s a hardbound almanac of their weekly publication, printed on one of the cheapest paper types available at the time and bound with essentially scrap off-cuts from other hardcover books. Even in its day it was deemed low-value.

      Having said that, I have more than one copy and when I get time I plan on adding it to Project Gutenberg :)

    1. I may be wrong, but I believe that is meant as a joke. Lop off the $15k, and you’ll probably have the build cost (not counting labor/time of course). I can see it going for $1000 to a Myst fanatic, which may be what he was getting at with the “(1000 in D’ni numerals)”.

      Then again…

      1. I’m not seriously trying to sell it, basically the price is there because I’ve had a lot of people say “I want it, I will buy it off you, how much do you want, I’ll give you $200, I’m doing you a favour so you’d better accept it, that’s way more than the book is worth” (which has seriously happened, many times). Having said that, if someone wants to pay me $15k then sure it’s theirs. :p

        That figure is actually close to reality when you consider the many hundreds of hours I spent on this project, minimum wage and the costs of the materials involved. $600 wouldn’t even cover the motherboard, there’s a lot of specialised components in there. Plus quite a bit of trial-and-error you aren’t seeing. If I’m going to sell out, I’d expect at least minimum wage :p

        1. I guess I should have looked up the price on that motherboard before throwing that out there, sheesh! But as you said, you had to find just the right board for the job and I know from one-off projects at work how expensive that can get.

          As much as I loved Myst and Riven (I even recently bought a physical copy of Myst at a thrift store for nostalgia’s sake) I couldn’t afford to build something like this, much less buy it from you. But it’s an amazing build, that’s for sure!

  4. Since MYST is basically a limited set of still pictures, i thought someone had printed all the stills, made a book of them and added page annotations so you could play the game by choosing a direction and flipping to the indicated page.

    That would be a fun thing to do with MYST.

      1. ^This!!!! CYOA!!!! Seriously, I loved these books when I was young, but cannot find them in the used book store. The owner of the local book store tells me that these books are in very high demand, and people come by several times daily to buy up any books that have been donated or bought….

    1. Yeah, that jumped out at me too. Myst came out September 24, 1993. A crapload of major adventure games came out later:
      1993 (later in the year) – Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
      1994 – Quest for Glory 4
      1995 – Space Quest 6
      1997 – The Curse of Monkey Island
      1998 – Grim Fandango
      1999 – The Longest Journey

      1. Don’t forget The 7th Guest. Another adventure game from 1993, which predates Myst by a few months, and makes use of much of the same technologies that Myst is usually credited for.

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