Mozillas in the myst


Beyond the embarrassing confession that I don’t own a Playstation or Gamecube or even an Atari, there’s the issue of me and splatter gaming in general. While it’s great to stick a game controller into the USB port of my laptop and have the Max hi object do the rest (with a tip of the hat to the perspicacious Ben Nevile), I’m just not into fragging my way out of dungeons. I suppose I don’t mind driving or flying, but body fluid as a wall accent isn’t my ball of twine. At first I thought that it was just Lara Croft anxiety, but my therapist assures me that’s not it.

Some part of me–my museum gland, maybe?–is a sucker for games that involve wandering around abandoned poorly lit faux-ancient places solving bizarre puzzles as a form of virtual relaxation.

And virtual is right. There’s no one sniggering at me while I try for the umptyninesquillionth time to twist the cleverly inlaid tree rings so that the glyphs spell out the word “kohlrabi”, and the places, though they be some kind of twisty Celtic baroque interior mash-up, exude a decidedly unthreatening oddness. The mysteriously vanished peoples left no appreciable trash, no rumpled duvet, no coffee cups. Who are these people, anyway? Come to think of it, there aren’t any toilets or teacher’s lounges, either.

Come the end of September, I get to do it all over again (just in time for the Fall airport-passenger-lounge-while-en-route-to-the-trade-show gaming season). The fourth (or fifth, sixth, or seventh, depending on your count) installment of the Myst franchise is coming. If you click here, you can stare at it and mess around, solve a few easy puzzles, and look at screenshots, and download demos. Thanks to the technology improvements introduced in Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, I have an old bald goateed avatar with glasses and a semi-non-ectomorphic physique wandering around in the ruins on my behalf. He can even dog-paddle. It’s so immersive, yo.

If you prefer less geeky and more decidedly worldly forms of browser immersion, I would be no friend to you at all were I not to direct you to the mother lode to end all mother lodes for remote tourism (and one of the best possible answers to the question, “Where did my afternoon/evening/day go?”)–Hans Nyberg‘s panoramas.dk site. Just the thing if you’re looking to load your Jitter objects with Mount Everest or Mars.

Either way, adventure is a point and a click away, cheaper than a plane ticket, and you won’t be wondering what that funny smell is.