‘Myst’ Hands & More Update Adds Hand Tracking, In-Game Journal, Classic Videos, and More

Oculus Blog
July 28, 2022

Anyone who played Myst in the ‘90s likely filled a notebook full of esoteric scribbles—dates, diagrams, a piano, maybe even an entire subway map. But it’s pretty hard to keep such detailed notes with a VR headset on your head.

Rejoice—the long-awaited journal for Myst releases on the Meta Quest Platform today. No more need to rely on your memory, and no more peeking out from under the headset to jot down a few reminders. You can now take screenshots of important puzzle keys (or just your favorite tourist spots) and reference them again later, all in-game.

And that’s not all. The journal is just part of the larger “Hands & More” update coming to Myst today, and as you might expect, that includes support for hand tracking. Interact with Myst Island like never before—pull levers, press buttons, read books, all with your actual hands. For longtime Cyan fans, the “More” also includes a new Classic Videos mode that restores the original full-motion videos of Rand and Robyn Miller in most situations.

All that, plus myriad other tweaks and fixes. We sat down with Cyan Development Director Hannah Gamiel to talk about today’s update, what it entails, and what challenges cropped up along the way. Read on for more details—and if you'd like to read about the technical feats involved, Gamiel wrote a piece for the Developer Blog as well. Check it out!

The “Hands” part of “Hands & More” is pretty obvious, but what else is in this (apparently massive) Myst update?

Hannah Gamiel: It’s a hefty update for sure. Here are some major features/fixes that went into this update for Myst:

  • Hand tracking is now supported.
  • Highly requested: Journaling (in-game screenshots) feature is now supported.
  • Cloud saves are now supported.
  • Polish and Russian localization has been added.
  • Classic videos mode is now supported.
  • Motion controller orientation-locked movement (for smooth movement) is now supported.
  • Myst’s app size is now about 4GB smaller. (It was about 9.5GB, now it’s about 5.5GB.)
  • Tons of fixes and other improvements.

What made hand tracking a good fit for Myst?

HG: Implementing hand tracking in Myst seemed like an exciting technical challenge and a cool new feature to bring to players. Additionally, it’s one of those things which makes sense for Myst—we already have a ton of options to make the game accessible to folks, and this is just one more way that people who otherwise couldn’t experience Myst can now play the game.

Hand tracking in Myst isn’t just a gimmick—you can play through the entire game using only hand tracking if you’d like, and are able to interact with every object in the game that you normally can with a controller. Additionally, you have the option to switch between hand tracking and controllers any time you’d like, which could come in handy if the room you’re playing in loses enough light in the evening/night to make for a less-stable hand tracking experience.

What were some of the challenges you encountered in implementing hand tracking?

HG: Once we figured out what sort of hand/finger gestures we wanted to control input in the game, a lot of the challenge was in making sure the hand tracking system was able to pass along appropriate events or triggers to our input system for Myst. For example: when you have all of your fingers curled up into a fist, pointing with your pointer or index finger, making a “thumbs-up” gesture, etc.

We actually modified Oculus’s hand tracking component in Unreal to make sure everything worked consistently, but it did take some finagling. For those who are interested in more of the technical specifics, I’ll have another post up about this soon!

What’s your favorite thing to do with hand tracking in Myst?

HG: Personally, I like to press every button in the game with my pinky finger, just because I can. I curl every other finger up and shove my pinky finger into every button. I even play the in-game piano with my pinky fingers.

I know that is very weird, but I just imagine myself like some fancy person who refuses to press buttons “the normal way.” Who knows, maybe this will encourage someone to start a “pinky fingers only” run of Myst on Quest. I’d watch that!

You mentioned the update includes “Classic Videos Mode.” Does that mean we’re getting FMV Rand-Miller-as-Atrus back?

HG: It does! Our “Classic Videos Mode” option allows you to watch the original Myst videos (with original sound) with Rand and Robyn Miller for most character interactions in the game. Without spoiling too much, there are some scenarios where videos aren’t substituted in—but for the most part, you can watch the original performances in the game once you enable that option in the Display settings submenu.

It’s a nice little nod to folks who are big fans of our FMV (“Full motion video”) in prior games.

Fans have been asking for an in-game journal basically since day one, and it’s finally in this patch, right? Can you tell us more about it?

HG: Yes, journaling has been a highly requested feature! The journal allows you to take in-game screenshots and then view them from an in-game photo album later. This way you can reference important visual information that you come across in the game without needing to take your headset off to draw or write something down manually.

There’s also another movement option included in this update—can you tell us more about it?

HG: Motion controller orientation-locked movement is another feature that’s been highly requested by our fans on Quest for some time now. Basically, it’s a movement mode where your smooth movement direction is dictated by the direction your free-roam dominant hand (also modifiable in the menu) is turned toward. Some folks find this more comfortable than movement dictated by the direction you’re looking in-game.

If you’re interested, you can enable it through our Controls submenu!

What’s next for you and your team? Any future plans? Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

HG: This definitely isn’t the end of updates for Myst on Quest! Keep an eye out for more to come, and please stay tuned for some surprises we have in store next year to help celebrate Myst’s 30th anniversary.

Time to visit (or revisit) the starry expanse—you can find Myst on the Meta Quest Platform and Rift Platform. Best of luck!