A real Myst book

This is a project I’ve been working on for six years – a replica linking book from the video game Myst… Aka, a real Myst book.

An open book with a small computer screen inside it showing a view on a dock(click to embiggen)


This is a “working” replica of a Myst linking book. It’s made out of a copy of the same book Cyan originally scanned as a texture reference.

Inside the book is a full desktop computer, completely self-contained without any external wires or hardware. In the above photo, the embedded screen isn’t just showing a still photo or a video: it’s running a full copy of realMyst PC edition. On board is a copy of all the Myst games. It’s fast enough it plays all of them smoothly (even End of Ages at ~30fps). You play the games by touching the touch-screen.

A brown book with black edges and the word MYST embossed on the front in gold(click to embiggen)


The book in question is Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Volume LIV, Issue 312, December 1876 to May 1877 (roughly equivalent to an antique Reader’s Digest)… 140 years old & still in this condition. Finding the book’s exact edition is difficult – my years of research have revealed what looks like at least 14 different bindings of the same book. But there’s lots of close matches that appear on second-hand auction websites.

Unlike Cyan’s well-worn copy, this one is almost pristine. The cover has been beautifully restored & the cracked hinge has been repaired. Custom embossing dies were made for the individual MYST letters, then the embossing was filled in with 24-carat gold paint.

(Yes I essentially destroyed this book to convert it into a Myst linking book, but I like to think that it’s cooler now. At least 20% cooler.)

Two views inside the Myst book showing that it's completely filled with electronics(click to embiggen)


Inside the book is a full, hand-assembled desktop computer. The space inside is tiny, nearly half the size of a netbook, so I spent a long time sourcing the absolute smallest parts you can buy that met all of my requirements. It’s a 3-dimensional electronics version of Tetris – this is what it looks like with both the motherboard & battery removed, plus with everything installed.

Some technical specs:

  • The screen is a 640×480 5.0-inch LED-backlit display. This provides 1:1 native pixel mapping on the original versions of Myst, Riven & Exile. There’s a matching 4-wire resistive glass touch-screen overlaid on top as the main input method, which updates at 160 samples/second with a touch resolution of 2048×2048.
  • The power supply is a 3-cell Lithium-Ion battery capable of delivering 60A of current (but the book uses nowhere near that much). The power supply converts its voltage to the 12V & 5V required by the computer. Power consumption is around 12 watts & the battery life is around 1.5 to 2 hours.
  • The CPU is an Intel Z530P running at 1.6GHz, and the GPU is an Intel GMA500 chipset capable of running DirectX 9.0C graphics. The system has 1GB of RAM (less RAM = less power consumption & heat). The motherboard was a custom order from Broadcom’s Advanced Research division.
  • The system is entirely passively cooled and waste heat conducts out through the book. The CPU & GPU hover at 48°C. The only way to deal with heat in this book is to just avoid creating it in the first place, so all the components are ultra-low power.
  • The Operating System (Windows XP) & all software are loaded directly from a 32GB CompactFlash card that reads at 22MB/s.
  • Included software is Myst Masterpiece Edition, realMyst, Riven DVD edition, Riven Elementary, Myst III: Exile DVD edition, Myst IV: Revelation, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst & The Path of the Shell, Myst V: End of Ages, The Manhole Masterpiece Edition and Crowthistle. Bonuses include a copy of the Book of Atrus e-book, plus shortcut copies of some extracted Myst Island flyby videos/linking panel images. Also, when you first turn on the book a video automatically plays featuring Atrus writing at his desk, then he looks up at you & mouths the words “who the devil are you?”.

For those whose eyes just glossed over reading all that, consider this – it can run Half-Life 2 at a 30fps+ & it contains the best editions of all the Myst games plus some extras.

An open book showing a blue page, a white page and a red lining(click to embiggen)


Also included are some additional props – a blank white page and a blank blue page. These were sourced from additional copies of the exact same book Cyan used as a texture reference, meaning they’re as “proper” as you can get. With the book’s red interior lining, this makes a complete set of the three page colours used in Myst. They are their original hues & have not been dyed, so the blue is slightly more turquoise & the red is slightly more brown than they appear in the game. You can’t be too picky with original 135-year-old paper hues.

A bookshelf filled with science, engineering & fantasy books with the Myst book in the middle(click to embiggen)

“And it was real.” – Catherine, realMyst trailer

(YouTube link in case the above video doesn’t work for you)

What’s more, when Cyan decided to create their new high-definition 3D re-release of realMyst Masterpiece Edition, their original book texture was too low-resolution and their original prop is in very poor condition. So, they used a scan of my book for the in-game asset of the Myst book and as a basis for the red & blue linking books. Which would make this not just a fan-made replica Myst book any more, but now the actual real Myst book. You can see it in the intro video below, plus my name has been added to the opening credits.

(YouTube link in case the above video doesn’t work for you)
For more information on its construction, view my presentation video or the presentation’s slides.

For sale. $15,625 (1000 in D’ni numerals).


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