Reply To: 7 Questions for Ken


Answers preceded by ***

1) I’ve heard that KQ7 was originally much larger than the final released version, and that there were several lands and plot points which were cut, such as a Rubber Jungle, amongst other things, and that KQ8 was a much different game than the one that was released. Is this true?

*** Roberta would have to answer this one… That said, here’s what I know:
*** There was no controversy on KQ7. The game that released is the game that Roberta designed and intended.
*** KQ8 is another story. Roberta was not happy with the game, and fought its release. Prior to the sale of the company I “protected” the game designers, such that the game they wanted released would be their design as they intended it. After the company was sold Roberta felt like she lost this support, and lost control of the game. Her ability to make the game what she wanted was diminished. Ultimately, a game was released that represented the bare minimum that she was willing to put her name on, as opposed to something that she was proud of.

2) I’ve read that many Sierra designers wrote detailed biographies and facts of and about their characters to aid in the patenting process. In fact, I’ve read these bios and fact sheets were so detailed that Roberta could ”undoubtebly tell you what Rosella’s favorite color is” and that Lori Anne Cole could ‘tell you about the Bookwyms childhood’. Is this true, and if so, does Roberta still have any of her old character bios and would she be willing to allow the fans to see them?

*** A lot has been posted on this site, and much of it lost as different people reorganized this site. Over the next month or two I want to completely redo this site (saving the message board contents) under Talkspot’s new technology. At that time I’ll try to hunt down all of the “lost” postings to this site. There are plenty of examples of game designs that have been posted here at various times.

3) At this point, even though it’s been a long time, do you ever contemplate jumping back in to the gaming business or at least buying some Sierra stock? Activision Blizzard, the company which now owns Sierra, is once more a publicly traded company.

*** Recently I contacted Activision about them funding a small research team for me, that would try to do something “small but cool”. My hope was to experiment with “out of the box” ideas and see if I could invent something different. Activision was receptive to the idea, and their CEO said “Let’s have lunch.” As he said it he was leaving the country, and now I’m leaving the country for a few months. I do think we’ll pull something together sooner or later — but, later appears more likely than sooner.

4) Another thing I’ve read is that some designers would use up and coming designers as ”ghost writers”, and to help groom them into say an ‘A-List’ designer, they would be assigned to write or design part of an ‘A List’ designer’s game. Is that true?

*** Yes. That was how we found our new designers. It was a program with mixed success. Asking one creative person to ghost write for another usually led to creative differences and mediocre games. It would be like asking someone else to ghost write a Steven King novel, under his direction. It just doesn’t work — but, we did try it.

5) Has Roberta changed her mind at all on letting her Design Documents be seen by the public?

*** I think she has always been open to this.

6) Do you have any old Design sketches or any nifty old Sierra stuff still around? Or perhaps any interesting tidbits or stories about Sierra or the creation of some of the games, like KQ5 for example, that you’d care to tell?

*** As I think of things, I post them here. There is more hidden away deep in these message boards than I think people realize, or can get access to. The software behind these message boards is five plus years old and buggy. I’ll do something much better soon, and it will hopefully unlock a lot of cool stuff.

7) Would you be interested in getting together via Radio, Chat or other form of distant communication, with some of the other Sierra veterans, like you did in 1999?

*** Sure .. I’m almost always open to this kind of stuff .. unless I have to go somewhere. Our problem is that travel dominates our lives, and we are usually on our boat in some third world country.

And a last, non-Sierra question: Have you played any games lately, new or otherwise?

*** Neither Roberta nor I EVER play games. I think that after 20 years of building games, you get kind of burned out on them. That said, Roberta does play Scrabulous sometimes with our son Chris. And, I played internet Chess virtually every day for years with my dad, until he passed away earlier this year.