"Things are never what they seem", says the first and only law about writing, according one the greatest writers ever: Jim Thompson. If you think a little, it's a law that applies well to the whole Myst-Uru series. If there's a difference, it's that in a book you read on until, in the last pages, the truth is told you by the writer. In an Uru age, you must reach the truth by yourself, solving puzzles and enigmas through observation, deduction, and intuition.

In reality, telling a story within the technical boundaries of an Uru age means accepting a lot of limitations. Simply, many things cannot be done, many others can be done with great difficulty, and the really manageable situations are relatively limited, resulting in often-similar story scenarios and situations. But there's always a powerful tool to build interest in any story: the characters. It's often said that a story is as good as its own characters… particularly the evil ones.

Before going on reading, be warned: this feature contains hints and spoilers, and you may prefer to read it after having played and solved Adrael.


As many of you know, Cyan allows us to freely use the D'ni universe, with two mandatory limitations: the story so far told in Uru, from ABM to MOUL must be respected; original Uru characters, such as Yeesha, Zandi and Doctor Kodama, cannot be used. Not surprisingly, Adrael began from the characters, the very first being... a dead tree, or actually a tree that looks dead ("things aren't what they seem").

Everything in Uru ages rotates around the lost people of D'ni. This means that we explore empty cities, deserted caves and abandoned gardens, though they look surprisingly in good shape after centuries of neglect. To have contemporary, living characters, Cyan created the D'ni Restoration Council, a group of mainly American adventurers, and chose to place Yeesha out of any time-line. Because of this basic set of limitations, I also chose to adopt an out-of-time character...even if it's not a D'ni, but rather a nameless Spirit with a curious way of communicating.

Some contemporary humans were needed too, and for this I thought of an organization not dissimilar to DRC, but with important differences: the D'ni Research Association. The main difference between these two entities is that DRA is mainly European, and has a completely different approach to "restoration". As real-world archaeologists, DRA scientists see restoration as preservation. In their view, works of art, machineries and other artifacts must not be repaired, but preserved in their original condition, even if incomplete. You can learn more about the DRA by reading Adrael's documents and by visiting their official site,, which they hope to open soon.

The main DRA characters in Adrael are Director Toscanini, explorer Aral Dahl, and scientist Irena Stromberg. Of course, you learn of them only through letters, reports and journals, but we will manage to have both Irena and the Spirit appearing at the end of the age.


Oddly for a computer game, all Uru characters communicate by using obsolete systems such as typed or handwritten letters (with some laser printers here and there). Journals are also well represented, both in the Baron office and in Adrael. When building for Uru, however, journals and letters are made in different ways: journals are template-books with self-compiling fonts rendered on the player's screen as needed, while letters are generally pre-made as a graphic image. In order to keep the file size of these images small, they must be of fairly low resolution. This means that a journal can contain long texts, up to dozens of pages, but letters are limited to very short ones, a dozen lines at most. As any writer will tell you, writing a short text is more difficult than a long one, and the length available in Uru is challengingly short.

If that's not difficult enough, I imposed another limitation on myself (always respected in good old times, but less frequently these days): a character should never inform another character of something that is known to both. "As you know, I married your sister" is a good example. This is an obvious thing told only to inform a third person – the reader – in an implausible way. If I want to inform readers (or age players) of this marriage, I must use some indirect way. In the limited space offered by Uru, I was forced to some interesting acrobatics in Irena's journals, but resorted to a fake magazine feature to present DRA to explorers. It's perfectly acceptable that a journalist writes in an informative way.

I think that we scattered Irena's letters along the explorer's path in a moderately realistic way. This departure from likelihood is accepted because of the very nature of Uru game playing. Information is discovered along the way, often after a puzzle is solved and a new area is reached. Moreover, this offers a degree of relationship between player and character. As a player accomplish some feats, and progresses through the age, the character tells (writes) something new, up to the final choice and solution. In the specific case of Adrael, we use Irena's last letter to suggest players "exploring together", in company of friends, to gather before entering the story's final areas.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed writing Adrael's story and texts, challenging as it was. I learned a lot of new tricks, and the experience confirmed my feelings about the narrative potential of Uru-type game playing. It's not simply gaming, it's not quite reading a book or watching a movie, but in some way it's all these things together - and more.


Adrael is a collective creation, and we always considered it only fair that each contribution, big or small, must be recognized. To this end, we added to the age's end something that's completely OOC: a Credits Book, accompanied by a title song. As far as I know is something that's new for any Uru age, but I believe that it'll become common, with the growing number of fan ages. It's something that could break a player's immersion, but on balance it's a fair reward for people that worked to expand the Uru and D'ni universe, for the benefit of all.

If you're considering learning age building, join an active group or form your own. Someday your name can appear at the end of a brand new age!

- Clat, June 2011