Myst was one of my favorite first excuses for procrastinating during university.  It’s been nearly 10 years since I’ve played or followed Myst news.

The original creators of Myst, incorporated under Cyan Worlds company, have been facing financial difficulty.  The company writes:

“As you may be aware, Cyan’s situation has not improved on the “resources” front.

So, 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.”

Cyan explains their understandable angst about this decision:

“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.”

But Cyan, trusting in their loyal fans, hopes for the best:

“We also are pretty sure that releasing MystOnline will result in some pleasant surprises for us. Our fans have always been so innovative, creative, and resourceful!”

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.  I’m not sure how large of a fan base Myst has at this point.  Will it be large enough to mobilize and save Myst Online?

We all know that open source isn’t a panacea.  Typically, open source projects that grow out of proprietary projects are most successful when the product (whose IP forms the project) was in a pretty strong market position to begin with.

What do you think?