Reply To: Sierra Game Remakes

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As a remaker, rather than a ‘continuer’ of the KQ series let me reply to some of the points you’ve raised, Barry.

* Why I care about a release date : I’ve seen so many pretentious announcements for fan games that afterwards slowly withered and died that I am highly sceptical about any fan game that doesn’t have at least an indication of a release date. Even though KQ9 has stuck around for quite a long time now, I believe that without a release date (or a release) even the most hardcore groupie will eventually lose interest and the project will just fade away.

Most fan game teams (and even many commercial ones) make it their policy not to estimate release dates, as customers will then hold them to their word and cry foul if the game isn’t released when they specified. In the world of game development anything can happen. Things often end up running over schedule and taking much longer than was originally anticipated – even when you get a good run and things go smoothly. Sometimes things have to be redone from scratch, redrawn or reprogrammed. Beta testing itself always takes up an indeterminate amount of time, because by that point in development, you’re searching for bugs that even the developers aren’t aware of. There’s no telling about the severity of bugs that may be found, nor how long they may take to fix. All of these things factor into releasing a game, and make it near impossible to give an accurate estimate. KQ1VGA took 6 months to make. KQ2VGA took 1 year. I originally expected QFG2VGA to take about 2 years to finish, but it’s been in development for 4 now. Even judging by past experiences, predicting release dates doesn’t get any easier.

“…* Why I do not like fan games : I believe that only the original author may decide what happens next in the story and world of a game. No matter how hard you try you can never continue the story in the way that the original author intended. Consider it this way, maybe you can paint just as good as Van Gogh but no matter how good you are, your painting will never be a real Van Gogh, at best it’s just a really good forgery….”

I’m not going to try and alter anyone’s opinion here. Believe me, we’ve had our share of dissenters over the years and doing so is an act of futility. So instead, let me give you the information, straight from the horse’s mouth. 🙂

In many cases, the original author often fails to live up to the expectations of their fans. (And I’m NOT speaking about Roberta Williams here; this is just a general comment about many writers/designers.) Take for example, Dawson’s Creek. Halfway through, the original series creator (Kevin Williamson) quit writing for the show because he didn’t like the way things were turning out. They hired new writers and carried on for another few years. When the producers finally wanted to end the show, they decided out of respect for Kevin Williamson as the original writer, to ask him to pen the story so he could finalize things the way he wanted. He did so, and basically undid everything that had been covered in the series up until he stopped writing. He tried to cram everything that he would have liked to have done (had he continued writing for the series) into a double episode! The result was a very awkward series finale that stood out like a sore thumb and was not a very good ending in most fans’ opinions. And although I don’t personally agree with this one… look at what the overwhelming majority people are saying about the Star Wars prequels – despite the fact that George Lucas is behind the helm.

I believe it to be false that only the original author can continue their own story in a believable way. That’s like saying that there’s no writer on earth talented enough to emulate the original writer’s style. The Curse of Monkey Island wasn’t written by Ron Gilbert, author of the first 2 Monkey Island games, but it’s still accepted as an unforgettable part of that series, and does a fantastic job of matching the previous games’ humour. I think some people take issue with the ‘legitimacy’ of fan sequels masquerading as an official continuation of the original author’s work (rather than the fact that the writing has been taken over by somebody else).

That said though, AGDI will never make any Sierra game SEQUELS. Personally, I do believe that in order to forge new destinies for the characters (and story) it should be left up to the original designer of the series (or at least they should have dibs on the opportunity). This is why we at AGDI stick only to remakes. That way, even with an overhauled remake such as KQ2VGA, the defining events of the original story are still left in place. So, for example, if a person who’s played only KQ2 AGI talks to someone who’s only played KQ2VGA, they could both have a lucid discussion about the skeleton plot elements and understand what Roberta intended regarding Graham in his travels through Kolyma.

Now, this certainly doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t PLAY a fan-made sequel like KQ9. Like any form of fan-fiction, these works exist for us to peruse if we desire. They can easily be ignored if one doesn’t believe in them. Each of AGDI’s remakes credits the original designers and carries several visible disclaimers that the game is NOT an official Sierra product, and also that we don’t receive any money (nor even true credit, due to the whole anonymity thing) for our many years of hard work. Really, if someone hasn’t tried a fan game, then they’re in no position to complain as this information is made known to anyone who downloads and installs the game. Everyone else can sleep easy, ignoring it without fear that the original product’s image is being tainted.

“…* Why I read about fan games, even though I don’t like them : Pure curiosity. I visit the same forums as the people who make fan games (because we both share an interest in Sierra games and adventure games in general), so when a new game is announced I take a look….”

AGDI’s remakes are fan fiction. Nothing more. They are merely interactive fan fiction in a different form. There are a plethora of sites on the net where fans have written their own stories based on the KQ, QFG, SQ universes. The people who write these stories and create fan websites are the very fans who sustain a public interest level in these vintage Sierra adventure games. This is why they’re still popular today. You say that you enjoy visiting such adventure gaming sites and forums to discuss these issues… consider that without these various forms fan fiction, or fan games for that matter, the legacy of classic Sierra may have died out years ago and you might not have this luxury today.

“…* Why I feel that we need original adventure games : The adventure genre has been declared dead by many. For the genre to get back some of its mainstream appeal you need to attract new gamers. A game such as KQ9 has a considerable back-story and this makes it virtually inaccessible to new gamers. A new game with a fresh story doesn’t have this problem. “So what?” you may think. Well, keep in mind that you need to keep running to stand still. If you’re only developing games for the in-crowd then eventually there will be no one left to play those games and the adventure genre will have truly died….”

Today’s fan