“… (by Johann de Waal) Slightly off topic, but Sierra’s AGI games TOTALLY ROCKED in CGA compared to what the competition was doing.
Usually CGA games are limited to displaying only four “colours” on screen at once (the techies among you are free to correct me on this) from a total palette of seven (white, black, turquoise, pink, red, yellow, green. Sierra however used a nifty trick whereby its games had access to the full CGA palette. Meaning all of these colours could be displayed on screen at once, whereas a Lucasarts (or anyone else for that matter) title, when running under CGA, only had access to four colours at a time (and they always had to use one specific combination meaning either black, white, turquoise and pink; or black, yellow, red and green). As an example, compare Maniac Mansion (or what have you) to Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards or any other AGI game (DOSBox has a CGA mode, though I’ve never tested it).
Now, a question: why didn’t Sierra continue using this trick for its SCI games?
You are correct about the palette of a CGA adapter, but the early Sierra games didn’t use CGA – they were exploiting an extended graphics mode that was specfic to the PCjr. That is 320x200x16c (http://mail.magnaspeed.net/~mbbrutman/PCjr/pcjr_hardware.html ), which is pretty much the same as EGA. If you played the games on anything other than one of those adapters you’d get the game in “glorious” 4-color CGA, a total nightmare to behold. The AGI engine actually painted the screens at 160x200x16c. I think this was done for size/memory considerations rather than an actual limit on the display adapter. The Tandy also had this adapter and also supported the same 16 color modes.
The PCjr got this special treatment because IBM approached Sierra to make a game that showcased the capabilities (16 color graphics, 3 voice sound) of the PCjr.
***Sidenote: DOSBox (http://dosbox.sourceforge.net ) is capable of emulating the old 3 voice sound generator in the PCjr. So if you want to hear your old AGI games in all their 3 voice musical glory, check them out in DOSBox.**
IBM pretty much financed the development and marketing of the game, which was called King’s Quest. Eventually, the PCjr and Tandy dropped by the wayside and the AGI engine was updated to support the industry-standard EGA adapter. Sierra didn’t use the CGA “trick” for SCI games because they didn’t need to anymore. The EGA display was industry standard and Tandys and PCjrs didn’t have enough memory to meet the requirements (512K!!!!) of the new engine anyway.
I remember when that happened. I was cruising along with my PCjr and read in a mag that KQ4 was coming out. I got pretty excited until I found out my computer would need a ton up upgrades to play it, if not outright replacing. Money wasn’t exactly coming out of my ears since I was 12 or 13 at the time, so I wrote a letter to Ken. Much to my surprise, he responded, but sadly did not feel like changing the course of the company for me so as to keep making games that would run on my PCjr. He did say that they were rolling out an AGI version of KQ4, but come on – SCI was what I wanted. So I bothered my dad until be shelled out for a 386/16 with 40MB HD, 256K VGA card, and 1MB of RAM to the tune of $2500. Not much has changed in that games STILL drive the hardware market 🙂