About Clat:

I am old enough to have started working before computers were a common consumer item. Though I once had a three-year stint as an aviation journalist, my trade was - and still is - comics. I live in Italy, where comics have quite a unique and longstanding tradition. No super-heroes here!

I work for a monthly series that - for its realism and unusual length, at 126 pages per episode - can only be defined as a graphic novel. I write stories, the same way screenplays are written, and sometimes I also make art (the ratio being 90% writing and 10% drawing). In short, I can say that storytelling is my life work, and this may give me a different viewpoint of URU.

This illustration started as a simple pencil line drawing,
with all colours, light and shadows being added with Photoshop.
A large 23" drawing tablet allows effective painting by hand.

In ancient times, when dinosaurs ruled over planet Earth, I remember writing my early stories with an Olivetti typewriter, using carbon paper for copies. I also remember my very first Macintosh, with no internal hard drive... Those were the years Myst hit the shelves to become an international success, but I was unaware of it, and the same is true for Riven. The first title in the series I met was Myst III Exile, when the Myst franchise was already old. I found it in a supermarket at bargain price: four cd-roms, floating in an otherwise empty box whose cover illustrations attracted me.

I found the gameplay intriguing and the sceneries gorgeous, but what really struck me was the story, or to say it better, the way the story was told. During most of the gameplay, you interact with Saavedro - a really brilliant villain - in a peculiar way, as he leaves messages behind him. But these messages are not really for you, as Saavedro talks to Atrus, and this requires a much-refined narrative technique, to be effective. It was immediately evident to me that adventure games had - and still have - an enormous potential as a narrative medium.

Having completed Myst III, I looked for other titles in the series, finding Riven first, and Myst later (also in the RealMyst version). Then, it was time for URU.

Kodama's message in Kirel

Being always late, I missed both Ubisoft's online servers and Until URU shards, and played Ages Beyond Myst, to D'NI and TPOTS offline. As good as the first three Myst series' chapters were, URU was - in my opinion - clearly superior. I found Zandi's character absolutely brilliant, and the way his answers are synchronized with gameplay. The ABM ages are visually impressive, and the glorious finale with the rain in the desert is simply unforgettable, as good for a game as for a great movie. The same can be said for the end of TPOTS, with the monumental Great Tree. In the middle, To D'ni has probably a little less magic, but contains a little gem, what I still consider the highest point in Cyan's Worlds' narrative technique: the message left in Kirel's classroom.

Later on, I joined Gametap's MOUL. Here I had the opportunity to meet many new friends, and ultimately it's thanks to URU Online that I ended up in an age building team and I'm writing these lines now. The possibility to explore D'ni worlds "together", in the company of fellow explorers, adds a new dimension to URU gameplay... but I feel mixed emotions about it. It can be a lot of fun, it gives opportunity to meet new friends, but it can also interfere heavily with the story any age should tell. Adrael is fully multiplayer, and we had lot of troubles exactly with this issue: to ensure that all players would be present in all key moments.

On balance, I prefer to play alone, as when I read a book. I like puzzles, but sometimes they defeat me. I took a small revenge by designing a series of puzzles for Adrael, one of these being somewhat complex, but fact remains that puzzles are not the main reason for which I played URU, and still come back to visit URU ages now and then. I like places to explore and stories to discover. And, with the help of my age builder friends, I like to tell new stories.