The Dock. The Library. The Clocktower. The Spaceship. That massive gear embedded in a hilltop. Myst Island is iconic and has captivated players for almost 30 years now—but never quite like this.
Today marks the launch of Walkabout Mini Golf’s new Myst course, a brilliant crossover between two fan favorites. And while Atrus’s famed island has been covered with bright green turf to mark the occasion, the Myst influence here is more than just aesthetic. Walkabout Mini Golf developer Mighty Coconut integrated puzzles into the course, mimicking some of the point-and-click play of the original Myst via mini golf.
To discuss this collaboration and how it came to be, we sat down with Mighty Coconut’s Executive Producer (and Walkabout Mini Golf creator) Lucas Martell, Lead Walkabout Level Designer Henning Koczy, and Senior Modeler Edward Felix, as well as Myst developer Cyan’s Creative Director Eric Anderson and Development Director Hannah Gamiel.
What drew the team to Myst Island? Was Myst formative for many of the members of the team? Why do you think Myst Island has remained such an iconic setting for nearly 30 years now, and do you think it’s uniquely suited to mini golf-ication?
Henning Koczy (Mighty Coconut): For the portion of the team who are middle-aged, Myst was one of the first video games we played, and a career-bending experience. Some of us cite it as the reason for going into animation, games, and world-building in the first place.
Lucas Martell (Mighty Coconut): I think one of the things that makes it so iconic, is that so many people have spent so much time on Myst Island in particular, that even people who played it 30 years ago remember exactly where everything is at. It’s like how you remember the layout of your hometown. Except in this case, everyone shares the exact same memory.
Henning Koczy: Rand [Miller, co-creator of Myst] has said a few times that all they wanted with the original island was to make an interesting place, and the puzzles were an excuse to spend time there. Walkabout shares the same inclinations. First, build an interesting place—the minigolf is an excuse to slow down and play in it.
Edward Felix (Mighty Coconut): Myst was the first gaming experience that felt like you were truly transported to a new world, a location that felt real, where you could spend time even when you didn’t want to solve puzzles. Myst Island has endured not just because it was technologically groundbreaking, but because it was a place that you held onto, like a beach you went to with your first love. The location was important to people in 1993, and has remained that way ever since. You would be hard pressed to find a more perfect place to spend time with your friends. With Walkabout, the experience is being with people you care about in environments that welcome you all together, and Myst is a flawless fit.
Did the Walkabout team collaborate on this course with the folks at Cyan?
Lucas Martell: It was very collaborative, and we were surprised at how open everyone at Cyan was with the changes we wanted/needed to make. I remember we were pretty nervous going into the first playtest, because we were in a multiplayer room with Eric, Hannah, and Rand, and the course was in an early state. So we got to see first-hand the reactions to our “renovations” which was a little nerve-wracking.
Henning Koczy: Cyan was so down for it! We were putting Myst on this pedestal and felt so reverent toward it. But Rand [Miller] especially was encouraging us to have fun and go silly if we had to. When we showed them what we had done to their island, thankfully their reaction was joy at someone else’s interpretation. Not “No, we can’t do that.”
Hannah Gamiel (Cyan): The Walkabout team has taken really good care of Myst Island here. It was especially awe-inspiring to see what they did for the Challenge course, which may be my favorite part about all of this, even though it arguably is the most “different” from what Myst Island usually looks like.
Most Walkabout courses are completely fictional, and the ones that are based on something (Labyrinth, 20,000 Leagues) have so far pulled from mediums other than games. Myst is already a game world people are familiar with though, and have even walked around in VR. Did that present any unique design constraints?
Lucas Martell (MC): Unlike other courses, Myst needed to feel like the same place. We even got the models from Cyan so everything feels extremely authentic, even though we remodeled it all in our low-poly style—and added a couple of surprises...
Henning Koczy: The first challenge we ran into was laying out the path and progression. We knew we had to start on the dock, but how do we proceed from there? On a linear walking path around the island that doesn’t dead-end, but still hits all the iconic places we want to see and golf on? We had to blow a few holes in a few mountains to make it work and hopefully Myst fans will forgive us!
Eric Anderson (Cyan): Hey, if you’re going to make an omelet, you’ve got to crack a few eggs. I love that new tunnel—in fact, I love all the modifications to the island made to accommodate the golf holes! I think it presents a great opportunity for Myst fans who are already very familiar with the island to explore some new spaces, and see a different interpretation of the place.
Edward Felix: Making sure the island felt like Myst, while still clearly being in the Walkabout cinematic universe was a difficult balance to achieve. It needed to be welcoming for people who know Walkabout and not Myst, while also being a great experience for even the most hardcore Myst fan. We ended up leaning into more of the 1993 look, while still keeping our favourite elements from the 2022 version. This way it feels like a tribute to the entire Myst legacy, while also firmly Walkabout.
It wouldn’t be Myst without puzzles. Can you talk about designing puzzles for mini golf? Is there a single puzzle mechanic or a variety? And how prevalent are they?
Henning Koczy: It was a tough balance to strike: between feeling like you’re solving an intricate Myst-style puzzle with every hole, but still keeping the pars low and having fun and replayability for the mini golf players.
Lucas Martell: We played around with a few different approaches, but the ultimate direction is almost like a mini golf version of a point-and-click interface, where hitting triggers with your ball will affect the course itself. What that means is there’s a consistency to the gameplay, but how it affects the course varies widely from hole to hole as those interactions could open a door, activate a ramp, or any number of mechanical actions in the spirit of Myst. I think that every hole uses that interaction, but many feel like more traditional mini golf holes with a unique twist, while a few are full-on puzzles very reminiscent of the original game.
What’s your favorite hole in the Myst course, and why?
Lucas Martell: I think hole #11 in the generator room, because it harkens back to the original puzzle in a very clever way which Myst fans will appreciate.
Henning Koczy: Mine is #9, across the gear bridge. It was a hole that I kind of needed to happen, and I was excited when it just worked the first time we played it. Of course, to make it work consistently (beta-proof) it ends up being the most complicated rat’s nest of triggers, and timings, and special-case colliders we ever came up with, but…I’m glad it’s in there.
Hannah Gamiel: I agree with Lucas with regard to hole #11. I love how creatively it connects back to the original generator room puzzle in such a whimsical way!
Eric Anderson: For me, it’s hole #18, the top of the observation tower. I really love Mighty Coconut’s reimagining of the tower space itself, and love the open, industrial nature of it. You get this amazing view of the entire island, and it’s notably different from the original tower (which was all closed-off from the outside, except for a tiny little viewing slot). In the Walkabout version, I just want to hang out up there.
Edward Felix: Mine is #3. It’s so simple, yet such a clever way to use the space that feels so much like Myst and Walkabout at the same time.
Obviously there will be Myst fans that buy this Walkabout course—but do you expect it to go the other way as well? Do you think Walkabout will serve as an introduction to Myst for some players?
Lucas Martell: Absolutely—in fact, we’ve already heard from several people who played Myst for the first time after we announced the course. One of the things we talked about early on with the folks at Cyan, was that this would ironically be the first Myst experience for some people. We’re not pulling back on anything that only the die hard fans will appreciate, but we’re also making sure that everything is accessible and can be enjoyed by people who don’t know the original game. It should be both a fun experience on its own and one that only gets better the more you know about Myst. I remember someone commenting that it was the first time they had ever been “on” Myst island with anyone else, and the most surprising thing was just how different that felt for it not to be a solitary experience.
Please tell me the Fox Hunt this time around will involve gathering Red and Blue pages…
Henning Koczy: Oh for sure, we had to get Sirrus and Achenar in there.
Lucas Martell: And even a few other colors as well, which we won’t spoil.
Eric Anderson: I’m a big fan of what the Mighty Coconut team did for the Fox Hunt. It had me chuckling and smiling, and I think it’s going to be a hit with people familiar with Myst.
What’s next for the Mighty Coconut team? I know you have two more Jules Verne-themed courses lined up—and then I imagine there are some exciting courses lined up for later in 2023 as well.
Lucas Martell: We have a whole roster of new courses in the works, including new series, more partnerships, and gameplay features coming next year. It really feels like we’re hitting our stride and can’t wait for what’s coming in 2023, and even some things we’ve started for 2024. There may even be a holiday surprise dropping before the end of this year…
Edward Felix: The real question is what are we not working on? We’re working on so many courses at the moment, I don’t have enough fingers to keep track of them all! The only downside of doing so much, is that we have to wait so long to share them with everyone, but I can assure you, they’re absolutely worth the wait. Yes, that includes the things for 2024!
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Edward Felix: We’ve been so lucky to have such a wonderful community of Walkabout players, and it’s been a great experience to bring so much of the Myst community onboard, as they have been just as brilliant. Can’t wait to see you on the course!
Ready for your island getaway? You’ll find Walkabout Mini Golf: Myst on the Meta Quest Store today for $2.99 USD. And if you enjoyed this and want more detail on how Walkabout Mini Golf’s courses get made? Be sure to check out our interview with Mighty Coconut’s Senior Art Director Don Carson covering the recent 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Labyrinth courses.