Myth and Myth II were developed and self-published by Bungie Software between 1997 and 1999. As a result of Bungie's sale to Microsoft in 2000 the company lost the franchise rights to Take 2 Interactive. Take Two would release Myth III: The Wolf Age in 2001. The game, developed by MumboJumbo, was met with good reviews, many of which cited a number of bugs in the initial release.
The Myth games were a departure from established standards laid down by titles such as Warcraft and Command & Conquer in that resource retrieval and unit construction were entirely removed; in their places were squad- and soldier-level tactics. Some have argued that this has given the game a far greater sense of realism than its contemporaries. Reviewers have cited the series' (at the time) revolutionary use of 3D environments, its use of weather effects, and its realistic physics engines as reasons for this. To many, Myth set the standard for the type of strategy that the Total War series of games made popular.
The games were also remarkable for depth of free multiplayer support, intense and continuing fan activity on the web (including a wide range of fan-created mods), and simultaneous Macintosh and Windows development and release.
Players control small forces made up of a number of different units possessing their own strengths and weaknesses. In the single player game, these were limited to units representing 'The Light'; but multiplayer allowed players to control units from both sides of the conflict.
Unlike many other strategy games available at the time of its release, Myth's combat does not focus on the collection of resources and the building of armies. In contrast to the "meat grinder" style of some games - it is possible for a skilled player to defeat a much larger force with few or no casualties. This is, largely, due to the advanced physics engine the game employs. Physically modelled environments, unit interactions, and diverse unit behaviours combine to create a gameplay experience in which realistic battlefield interactions can and do occur.
Myth employs a sophisticated physics engine which greatly affects gamplay. Nearly all objects on the map, even the remains of dead units, are potential projectiles. These objects react with one another, units on the map, and terrain with nearly all expected physical behaviour; including rolling, bouncing, and crashing. Projectiles, including those fired by ranged units, have no guarantee of hitting any target; they are merely propelled in the directions instructed by the physics engine, based on the actions of the players. Arrows may miss their targets due to a randomly small degree of simulated aiming error that becomes significant at long range; or the target may simply move out of the way if the arrow’s flight time is particularly long. This aiming error may cause the arrow to hit the attacker’s own melee unit instead, causing the same amount of damage as friendly fire is a permanent aspect of the game at all times.
Formations of units are tactically important in Myth because individual units occupy physical space, and thus no two units can occupy or cross the same physical space at the same time. When placed together in formation, units can provide an effective defensive front; block an enemy force’s escape route; or exploit bad positioning of an enemy force by surrounding it. Since healing is a rare ability; units do not regenerate health; and there is no way to construct new units, hit and run skirmishes are effective and unit conservation is essential. In light of this, each point of damage can be significant.
Terrain and environmental factors are also important. Rain or standing water will put out some fire or explosive based attacks. Archers on the high ground are able to shoot farther than those on level ground. Most units will flinch when damaged, interrupting actions such as movement and attacks. This has many strategic implications: for example, if two or three melee units gang up to attack one enemy melee unit, it may flinch too frequently to have the chance to attack or escape.
Each unit has a name and gains individual experience for each kill it makes, with some monstrous units being worth more experience than smaller units. Experience increases attack rate and accuracy, as well as (for units with shields) the probability of blocking an attack. All else being equal, an experienced army will destroy a comparable force of fresh units.
Blood permanently stains the terrain and bodies do not decay. This blood-ground-smear gives battles in Myth a gritty, gory, unsanitized feel. The events of battles can be deduced from battlefield detritus, which is important in multiplayer free-for-all games and some single-player missions. Explosions and fire also scorch the landscape, and any blast may launch any debris outward, possible causing damage to nearby units.