"It may feel like an ending… but it never really is. It is always a new beginning as well."
So said Rand Miller in his recent interview with Adventure Gamers. At the time, he was referring only to the end of the Myst saga with the upcoming release of End of Ages. Now, however, the quote has become sadly prophetic for the renowned company itself.
As first shared through various sources in the Myst community, including the blogs of now-former employees Ryan Warzecha (better known as "Grey Dragon") and Bill Slease, Cyan Worlds has laid off all but a few employees, retaining only Miller, company President Tony Fryman, and a small skeleton crew.
Athough there has been no official announcement from Cyan, Myst fan site Uru Obsession has posted a short summary of the factors leading to this move, stating that the developer "failed to gain financial backing for their future projects." Bill Slease has since confirmed that "the move is purely financial, and Rand has told us he wants to hire back anyone who hasn't moved on if Cyan can secure funding for another project."
It may seem unfathomable for the company whose Myst and Riven games have exceeded 12 million units sold worldwide to fall on such troubled times. Unfortunately, the company risked many years and millions of dollars to develop the ambitious Uru, which ultimately failed to capture the massively-multiplayer audience it hoped to reach, leaving Cyan with financial burdens too deep to overcome.
Founded in 1987 by brothers Rand and Robyn Miller to create The Manhole, Cyan followed with two more children's titles before doubling its staff to four people and beginning work on Myst in 1991. As Cyan describes on its own website, "the goal was to create not only a new world, but a different way of seeing environments, puzzles, and in a bold move, the way people viewed computer games as a whole."
From such humble beginnings to a staff of 40 at its peak, the impact of Cyan on the adventure genre has been undeniable over the years. Spawning numerous third-party clones, Myst almost singlehandedly created a sub-genre of its own that continues to spark passionate love-or-hate responses throughout the community. Regardless of personal preferences, though, Cyan Worlds is deeply respected for its vision, quality, and innovation in creating "fantastic places of exploration and challenge for adventurers of any age."
Although the company is not officially closed, and the long term future unknown, a talented and dedicated team has disbanded on a dark day for the genre. As perfectly expressed by two departing Cyan employees in this photo, "thanks for the memories", Cyan.