Reply To: Would you Ken?


Ahh what great nostalgia! I have very fond memories growing up with these games. For me it was Kings Quest V that started it all for me, I’d just turned 13 when it came out and 256 colors was a big deal, then we heard the game with a Sound Blaster! woo hoo sound baby (not being sarcastic, I thought it was the coolest thing ever seriously). No game before or after ever captivated me in the same way, the whole family would get together a few hours a day to try and solve the puzzles, I’d say (IMO) that was very close to the peak of quality from Sierra (KQ6 was excellent as well). I never really cared for the SCI 32 engine used later on in KQ7, just didn’t have the same feel went too far off into another direction, wasn’t KQ to me anymore and the animated style just didn’t work for me. Although I think the SCI 32 cell animation did work with LSL7, which to me was a good fit with the style/feel of the series.

I completely respect Ken’s decisions and even have more respect for the fact that he actually disclosed the fact he was offered a chance to buy the company back (he could have easily just not said anything, but for respect of his fans perhaps he doesn’t want to give us false hope). All good things do come to an end sometimes, we always want to hold on to the good things in the past and perhaps change what we might think were previous mistakes. We all know things got real ugly in the years following the original sale of the company to CUC. I think things started back when they went public (yes it was good for the growth of the business, but the core of the company started to unravel). It was the end of a great time in the gaming times have changed and we have to remember the good times.

Capitalism is what happened! Things change technology changes, the markets change. I don’t believe Sierra could ever come back to the size it was before, perhaps a much smaller niche gaming company/project that would start off with one small project and then stay small.

The price was probably not right for this (sale of Sierra to back to Ken) and as Ken says the timing is not right for him or the economy. You have to take a step back and think Ken is a human being just like the rest of us and more than entitled to enjoy his life and family as he sees fit. I’d like to see anyone take themselves out of retirement and risk their life savings on a 2nd chance, there are more thing to life than a 2nd go at it . Another thing we might overlook is how much time and effort it takes to run a successful business, it took years for the Ken and Roberta to put that workforce together and build that goodwill.

Don’t get me wrong I would absolutely love it if they made some form of a comeback. My pitch on a comeback would be to stick with what works and the simple beauty of the original games, forget all the latest and the greatest software rendering technology (I hated KQ Mask of Eternity even thought it seems to have been a commercial success) . Come to a licensing agreement with no upfront fees (lowering initial capital cost) to use one of the original IPs (i.e., Kings Quest). Then work your magic to raise some capital and put together a team that can do it as a side project. Now the target market is very niche, id say its mostly men now ages 30-50 who enjoyed the original games. What do they/we like the originals, text is ok, 2d is fantastic, pixilated even better, old school, the real magic is the story and the puzzles. You can leverage today’s technology to come out with fantastic retro tittles that I think could be economically reasonable to make (bad analogy, but think how South Park cartoon creators use software engines similar to those used in the making of Jurassic Park to make cut and paste looking animation – what used to take them days before to animate now only takes hours). I know I love the old school, I recently started playing KQ5 again and tried out the Roland Midi sound and the CD version and actually didn’t like it, reverted to the good old original and loved it. Even in these tough economic times I would dish out the cash to buy good old Sierra magic.
Basically the simple classic ingredients model, no fluff. Simple and cheap, not looking to make it rich just pay for itself and maybe a little extra without killing yourself putting it together.

I wonder if Ken would give me an informed opinion if a project like this would/could ever happen in today’s world you being expert (me the BS speculator).