(re: What did Sierra do first?) I believe Sierra was the first company to publish hintbooks that required a special viewer in order to actually read the hintbook. The hintbooks for the first couple of KQ games were small handbooks that were typed in black ink for puzzle titles and other headers and a 90% transparent ink for puzzle solutions that was only legible when the reader used a piece of cardboard with a rectangle-shaped “window” made out of red celophane (same material used to make those wierd 3D glasses u get when u see a 3D movie).
The size of the “window” was only big enough to show one line at a time, so you could get hints/solutions for the puzzle you are stuck on without seeing the solutions to other puzzles (unless you moved the “window” down).
Other hintbooks at the time did not utilize such an innovate process. The Universal Hint System (UHS) program is based around the same concept.
I will also issue a correction on what others have said about Alkalabeth being the first computer game to feature “graphics”. Mystery House was indeed the first computer game to feature graphics. Alkalabeth was created by Richard Garriot as part of his Computer Science curriculum and did not hit shelves until July 1980 (Mr Garriot speaks about this in an interview on the Ultima Collection CD-ROM as well as a book published in the mid 80’s about the Ultima series from 0 to 6). Mystery House, on the other hand, was on shelves in May 1980.
As for the first game to feature VGA graphics, that paticular honor goes to the game “The Colony”, published by Mindscape in 1988. It’s easy to overlook this game, as most times when you think VGA, you think 256 color graphics. While the 256-color palette is awesome, you also have to remember that VGA was lightyears ahead of EGA in terms of resolution. While “The Colony” did not feature 256 color graphics, it was the first game to take advantage of the higher resolution options VGA gave.
As a note of trivia, Sierra’s VGA games ran at a resolution of 360×300. I believe Sierra didn’t switch to 640×480 resolution until the Windows 95 version of KQVII was released.
-David “Oberon” Reese