Reply To: New interview with Scott Murphy!

HOME Forums Open Discussion New interview with Scott Murphy! Reply To: New interview with Scott Murphy!


Hey Ken,

Thanks for your quick response.

I notice you’ve picked holes in my more contentious points, which is fine, I rant too much- but have missed other bits altogether.

Firstly, here’s what Scott said which was critical of you/how you ran things:
‘The bitterness I posses is at what Sierra and Ken Williams had become as they became more and more successful, and how the Space Quest 6 abortion came about after broken promises and the just plain fucking over I got from the people I’d worked so incredibly hard for. The more successful each game became, the worse they treated us and the less they wanted to pay us. I’m not talking about us demanding more money like some sort of prima donnas. They seemed like they were actually penalizing us for being successful for them. They didn’t want to pay us as much, which wasn’t a lot anyway, as they had for each of the previous games. We’d done well for them despite the fact that they spent virtually no money advertising the games, especially when you look at how much they hyped the King’s Quests. I’m quite proud of how we sold despite that. ‘

‘On Space Quest 2, I worked fourteen months and had only TWO days off during that period, but that wasn’t good enough for them. I got called in and chewed out after that one and SQ3 for taking too long to get them shipped. SQ4 showed how dark we’d become as a result. SQ’s 5 and 6 were abysmal in my opinion and I’ve felt some guilt about 6, even though I inherited a game primarily designed by someone else based around that person’s game design around a lame joke on a title of another company’s game series, which was about as stupid an idea as I’ve ever heard of. What a nightmare that was, but that’s another story for another time, like maybe after the sweet angel of death comes to take me away. And I didn’t even work on SQ5, so comments on “Roger Beamish” might be a little unfair, even though I didn’t know it was even being made until I accidentally saw a beta version that had been sent down from Dynamix to one of the Oakhurst producers.’

This last one’s a full quote, since it would be unfair to quote only half:

‘Here’s a little tidbit about how the parser interface went away and how management worked us. One day when we’re literally halfway through SQ4, Mark and I were called into Ken’s office. We were asked what we thought about using the (dumbass) point-and-click interface that they were using, in I guess it was King’s Quest 5 then, and what we thought about putting it in SQ4. We said we wanted to keep the parser. Ken and Bill Davis asked us to talk about it together and then tell them what we wanted to do the next day. After the meeting, Mark and I agreed without hesitation as we walked out Ken’s office door that there was absolutely no way we wanted the point-and-click. The next day when we came in, Bill Davis tracked Mark down and asked him what we’d decided. Mark told him that we’d decided to keep the parser, to which Bill instantly replied something to the effect of, “But you can’t do that. Ken has already decided that you have to use the point-and-click!” Apparently they figured they had a fifty percent chance that we would make the decision and wouldn’t realize that they’d already made the decision for us. That kind of mentality was another straw on the pile of last ones.

I feel it only fair that I should note that, having said that and some other things in this interview I want to point out that I have some good memories with Roberta, mainly because I didn’t have to work for her. She was the only person I knew in the early days that understood what the pressure was like to pull a game out of one’s ass on demand. We had some really good talks and she was quite supportive. She even took time out to do a cameo in a little video that Leslie Balfour and I put together for inclusion in the first Space Quest Collection, for which I was grateful. She was the only one I could talk to about certain feelings involved in the creative process of adventure game design. That mattered a lot to me and I consider her a friend to this day as oddly, based on certain things I have said here, I do Ken. Away from work Ken was a completely different person and we enjoyed some good times together not to mention some fun and very interesting parties. There were times when we had to blow off some steam from the pressure that we were all under in our various roles. If any of this is taken in, say, not a good way by them or anyone else I mention, then the only thing that comes to mind is one of my favorite song lyrics by Don Henley, “Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge.” ‘

As far as I’m concerned, those comments are pretty damning. I really do wonder how good Sierra could’ve been if it had been less embracing of some of the new techs and more embracing of people’s ideas and funded sequels better.

Moving on, but on the theme of comments made of you- I’m curious- what would you say to the following comments usually said about you? :

1. Too much money was spent on developing KQ
2. Too little money was spent promoting non-KQ series and developing sequels to popular games
3. Too little consultation was made between you (or a delegate) and the game designers about changes you were implementing
4. You ran Sierra in the mid 90’s like a divisional business, where each Quest series (as a main example) had to compete with each other for resources, with a pro-KQ bias, meaning other series had an immediate disadvantage, and quality of those series was damaged
5. You sold Sierra under bad circumstances, and let to the untimely death of the company, when sequels should have been made for series and instead a very shoddy couple where made. (Although I think everyone understands you were entitled to compensation for years of work, I also think most people are unhappy you sold the company as far as timing goes and as far as the game series went).

I mean, let’s not beat around the bush. Could you honestly tell me, Ken, that you’re pleased with what happened to Sierra with disasters like Chainsaw Monday? Are you happy with Vivendi’s decision to almost sue AGDI/QuestStudios/others?

<shrugs> Almost every ex-Sierra employee I’ve spoken to has a very happy, but very, very tainted way they remember Sierra. Usually tainted by claims of unfairness and being screwed around. I get the feeling you have a much more romanticised, possibly even inaccurate version of what happened while you ran the company. I’ve heard other stories (won’t name names just yet) similar to Scott’s, which gives me faith that some of it’s true.

But, good reply. Some of what I said was inaccurate and I apologise, and it’s also unfair to use you as a scapegoat. Directors can’t control everything, nor can they make everybody happy all the time. I understand and get that. But I also get the feeling, somewhere along the line, you really lost interest and made some decisions (or high-up subordinates of yours did) that really made the company lose direction and churn out rubbish like King’s Quest 5, bring in point/click interfaces (though I enjoy the interface, there are issues, etc), et al.., instead of potentially investing in well, better stuff.

Anyways, that’s enough for now. Sorry to give you a headache Ken, I’ve probably had this on my mind for years now, and