Time Travel to Play Myst

Computer games are not a big draw for me.  They’re interesting but there are so many other things I would rather be doing.  But my wife and I played Myst in the late 1990s and since upgrading her hardware substantially, I thought it would be fun to give her the Myst 10th Anniversary edition.

Which doesn’t run on Windows 7.  Or in our case, it ran until you get to a certain location – a clock tower, where you have to pull down a handle – and then the system freezes.  That is not really surprising, since it is a 16 year old game with a 5 or 6 year old version of Apple’s Quicktime installed.  I took a couple of different tries at fixing it within Windows 7, including making the program run as Administrator, which can sometimes get around program issues.

To be fair, it is hard to expect a 1995 era game to play on 2011 operating systems, but, fortunately there is a way to travel back in time!

We finally got it running by doing the following:

  1. Installing Oracle’s free VirtualBox virtualization tool.  Before you instinctively recoil in horror, it is an incredibly easy and powerful product to use, it is free, and it is easy to get rid of when you are finished.  What it does is allow you to create a virtual computer and run whatever operating system you want on it.  I took all the defaults.
  2. Next, you need to create a virtual computer.  I chose to make a Windows XP computer and it prompted me for additional settings.  Again, I took the defaults except for going with a fixed size rather than dynamic sizing, since I am not going to be storing any content on this computer.
  3. Once you have created the virtual computer, you get your Windows XP CD and put it in your CD drive.  If you don’t have a Windows XP CD or CD drive, you can boot with a bootable medium with whatever operating system you do have.  I have used Ubuntu on a USB before.
  4. From VirtualBox, start your Windows XP machine and it will try to boot from your Windows XP CD.  If it doesn’t fail, it will begin the installation.
  5. When Windows XP is installed, you are ready to installed Myst.  I installed DirectX 9 and it required a restart.  Then I started the Quicktime 6 installer from the CD.  Then I installed Myst.

That’s it.  We immediately navigated to the clock tower, pulled the handle, and no problems.  I transferred her saved game from the Windows 7 attempt at running the software over and she was able to pick up where she left off.  This being a cold day off for everyone – and we spent the required hours outside in the sun, flying kites and walking the dog – we hooked her full size Dell Inspiron to our flat screen TV, and the kids have been hollering out suggestions and enjoying watching her play!