There is an interesting thread going on over at MystObsession. At first, it wasn't interesting at all, since it was merely yet another Exile bashing thread. But in the discussion there were some focus on Mary DeMarle, who wrote the story for Exile and also for Revelation. Some people were shouting some pretty mean things about her. And eventually she gave a very interesting answer (shortened, important stuff in bold):
Mary DeMarle at MystObsession, on Jul 27, said:
The game’s publisher (at that time it was Mattel, not Ubisoft) wanted a Myst game to come out sooner than that, so Presto was given only 18 months to create Exile. Cyan told us not to tell the story of Releeshahn, so we couldn’t expand the mythos in that direction. Nor we could we tell the full story of the brothers, since that one was being developed by Dreamforge. To complicate things even further, we had to be very careful not to create a story line that might conflict with anything Dreamforge put in their game – the details of which were still being worked out and not known to us when our development of Exile began.
A very interesting challenge, you might say, but one that all of us at Presto were committed to accomplishing.
I am sorry that Exile’s graphics made you angry, but the assumption that your statement makes is flat out wrong. The creative team who made Exile were some of the most dedicated people I know. They routinely worked over 20 hours a day trying to perfect the game – one of the artists worked so hard that when Exile was finally released, he literally didn’t know what to do with himself. After spending more than four months of his life never leaving Presto’s offices for more than 4 hours at a time – literally eating and sleeping at work every day (and weekends too!) just to get everything finished on time – he was almost afraid to go home because he didn’t remember what his life had been like before Exile began. He had lost touch with almost all his friends and family, and he didn’t know how to restart relationships that had lain fallow for so many months.
So you see, the team definitely did have the dedication and commitment to create something that would raise the bar over Riven; they just didn’t have the time. Riven took 4 years to complete. Presto had only 18 months and a limited budget in which to do it. As it was, they practically killed themselves doing it.
The result was Exile – which admittedly does have its flaws – but it’s still a game of which I’m proud to have been a part.
Now, of course they haven't been able to tell the fans about Dreamforges cancelled game until very recently, as Myst 4 has basically been a secret. So, since the fans didn't get to know the whole story, they naturally thought that the flaws were due to incompetence/lack of dedication/whatever. But this post at least changed my view of the game, because given those circumstances, it is fantastic that they managed to pull it off at all, I'd say.