The bad about Sierra online’s Quests

Disclaimer – I LOVE Sierra for their quests!, I love most of them and I played many of them and will still replay them in the future, but…

Sierra wasn’t perfect.

Sierra photo

In this post I will address eight disturbing factors in Sierra’s quests.

Originally Ken & Roberta Williams began their Sierra Quests while trying to invent a new Genre – Interactive books.

Roberta loved the idea of having kids play a fairy tale book thus King’s Quest I was created.

Her inspirations were text games which were games without any graphical trace, so on the screen you would see a description of where you are now and you could try doing things using your imagination and the text parser.

Roberta thought to upgrade these games by adding graphics and having the player move the main character over the screen (yes, without a mouse) in order to move between screens or moving in the same screen getting to various objects, while still sending commands using her text parser (move rock, climb tree [Spoilers?] etc).

Sierra quests were massive success and actually were a beginning of a genre, but as with many genre inventers (except Steve Jobs as he was perfect) she tried her hand in inventing these types of games, and many game design decisions were done using trial and error, I just want to emphasize this point as I want to talk now about the things they did wrong  🙂

 wrong photo

What went wrong with those games?

1. In King’s Quest, for example, Sierra built an open world where you could go around and see all of it, but while you had your specific mission (for example: Find the Shield, Mirror and the Chest) you could wander around for hours over hours having no clue what to do next.

As a kid I wandered for days in beautiful CGA Daventry, but I can’t imagine many kids these days having so much patience for it – Are you kidding me ?, After a minute or two they will ask where should they go and if you don’t have an answer ready within one minute tops they will go out of the game and fire up any other shooter / flash game or whatever.

2. Dying frequently – This is not an action genre, but still there were many places where for no apparent reason one could die, a wolf, a witch or many others would appear randomly and kill you unless you fled fast enough from the screen.  Not only that but there were many places where one could fall to his death easily, like stair cases, cliffs, ponds, or even just touching some items could get you killed like poisenous flowers and others. As Sierra had created quests and wanted to make them longer to play they put those death places but IMHO, to make a game longer you should put more puzzles or other goodies, not random places where one could die and will need to load the game IF HE REMEMBERED TO SAVE!

3. Dead Ends – These are one of the most horrible aspects of Sierra games – dead ends!

What do I mean ?  Well, if you didn’t do something (which sometimes looks optional) in an early stage of the game you will get stuck on a later stage without any way to retrace your steps and do that thing (unless you have a good save game you didn’t delete already).  For example, on King’s Quest I you take a carrot which you need in order to lure a goat to follow you (so it will kick the Troll), but there is nothing preventing you from eating the damn carrot, and then how will you move that goat?!

Another example: In Space Quest you need to take a crystal shard at the beginning so later on you will be able to use it in order to finish a puzzle, but if you fail to find it (which is easy) you might still take that one way elevator and get stuck on the other puzzle forever!

4. Treasure Hunting – Some of the items you need to finish your quest aren’t given to you by any character in the game but randomly appear on random screens along the game, so as the game goes you just wander around trying to find an object which might appear on a random scren – frustrating as you don’t even know what you need you just try to take anything which isn’t nailed to the wall..

5. Pixel hunting – Some of the items you need to take along the game are so small , so they literraly are a single pixel big (in those days when the game resolution was so low), and it is frustrating to death to just miss one of those (the whistle on kq4 ?) because of that factor.

6. Damn hard puzzles – Most of the puzzles are good and reasonable, but there are some puzzles along the game which are totally unacceptable, like spelling Rumplestitskin’s name in cypher mode !?

7. Timed scenes – I personally hate this one, when a timer appears on the screen and you must accomplish a task in a timely manner, It happenned alot on King’s Quest III, where you needed to accomplish tasks between Memnnon’s appearances, walking that cliff fast without falling then searching for ingredients and coming back in time was just frustrating for me, not challenging.

8. Text Parser – The early games had no option for a mouse so I understand that a text parser is a must, but still more work should have gone into it (And I know that it is complicated) In the text-parser quests I had to just try any combination of things I could think about, for example, I see a rock so what should I do with it? “Pick rock”, “Push rock”, “kick rock”, “Shove Rock”  you get the hang of it, I remember myself as a kid trying so many things on so many objects which was sooooo frustrating.

Lucasarts on the other hand took the idea of quests from Sierra, but they have built their engine and had an upgraded philosophy which was meant to fix these flaws, well, not on the spot but they fixed their gaming philosophy quite fast.

Although I said from the beginning that Sierra is not to be blamed for the above (IMHO) flaws as they were the first to invent this genre which means that they couldn’t get those games perfect on the first releases, I still think that they could have learned better and changed their game’s philosophy much fastre than they have.

 

Click here for one of the best articles about these points by Ron Gilbert himself

Merry Christmas from Sierra

Sierra have released nice holiday cards in years 1986 till 1992

Here they are in one beautiful video – Enjoy

 

1986 – A Computer Christmas
1988 – Merry Christmas from Sierra On-Line!
1990 – The Seasoned Professional (VGA version)
1992 – Sierra On-Line Christmas Card 1992

 

 

I want to thank DosNostalgia for creating this video

Trailer to the new King’s Quest game by Sierra

Hi all,

kings quest photo

Activision has recently decided to revive Sierra.

One of their first attempts is recruting “The odd gentelmen” game studio to build a new King’s Quest Game!

The new game will focus on King Graham telling the King’s Quest story to his granddaughter Gwendolyn.

 

They will probably create this game in episodes (selling and distributing this games in parts), and as it seems from the trailer the graphics look amazing, the gameplay much more fast paced and my guess from the trailer is that the game will focus on the plot of the first King’s Quest game.

 

So without further ado here is the trailer

Today is a very sad day for all King’s Quest fans

Hi everyone,

 

Today is a sad day for me and I assume for all King’s Quest fans.

Today I saw Magic Mirror’s post about stopping the development on their remake of King’s Quest IV – the perils of Rosella 2D.

 

Magic Mirror Games were the first group to go for a remake of KQ4, they planned of doing two remakes, the first one was planned to be a “True” remake which means the same good old game but with beautiful graphics, and they planned also another game – another KQ4 remake with plot and puzzles enhancements.

 

As a matter of a fact, our talented graphic designer was one of their main graphic designers till she decided to remake the game in beautiful 3D graphics – thus creating our group and game.

But their 2D game’s development stopped its development “indefinitely” since 22/07/2013.

 

It may seem to some of you that our groups are at war with each other, but the truth couldn’t be farther away, as yourselves, we also are fans of the King’s Quest series, and we want them to be revived, we created a full project for that purpose and we rejoice with any other group which holds this cause true to their hearts.

 

And so we “mourn” for the loss of this remake.

 

But this event only makes us take our work more seriously, now that one remake is down, we can’t depend on it, so we must continue our quest knowing that fans need us now more than ever.

 

 

On the bright side – they did mention in their post that if any other group wants to take over they are willing and able to pass it on, so if you are enthusiastic about The Perils of Rosella – Then take the lead, try and group yourself, use the existing resources and continue from there.

We promise to help as much as we can!

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by the Quest for Glory designers Kickstarter project

Hello All,

 

We are in the process of remaking King’s Quest IV!

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have any other favorite games or hobbies.

 

One of those (and I am sure that at least our graphic designer will agree) is the Quest for Glory series.

Rogue To Redemption

The quest for glory series was so much fun and very unique as it mashed (very successfully) an RPG with a Quest.

The result was a highly addictive game (which then turned to five addictive games), these games had several unique features, I will write several of those:

  • Mashing of RPG into a quest
  • You could choose which character type you want to be: Mage, Fighter, Thief
  • You could do different things (had a slightly different story) according to the character you chose
  • You could continue with the exactly same character in the next game!!

 

I can say many good things about these series, but this is not the time nor the place.

I want today to recommend a new game which I didn’t play yet, this is a game which is still under development, so how can I recommend it?

I know the creators of the game: Corey and Lory Cole – This couple (married couple) have created the Quest for Glory series for Sierra back in the days, now they are back and want to create a new game: Hero-U Rogue to Redemption!

They don’t have any development money so they want to kickstart this new game using crowd funding – you can see it as a pre-sale which will enable the development of this game or you can see it as a donation for a great game to be created or just as an encouragement for these great developers which gave all of us tens of hours of entertainment.

As of now, this project is 68% funded (273k$ out of 400k$)

To get the game when it’s out you can fund 20$, unless you want some of the other goodies.

Please feel free to go to the Kickstarter and help them out by clicking on this line

Goodluck to the Coles from Daventry,

Rosella.