Ah the good ol days.

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    • #25381 Reply

      Ken (and readers),

      I stumbled across this site during a google search for some old address informaiton and it brought back a lot of memories. I doubt that Ken remembers me but I did have the opportunity to work for him (and Roberta) for several years at the Oakhurst facility.

      I was there during the latter years and left about 1 year before they shut the facility down completely. I had worked myself through college at Radio Shack and was very familiar with Sierra games. Then one day in the paper I saw the add for employment in the LA times. I couldn’t resist and kept calling every two weeks until I eventually landed a job.

      Oakhurst was one of the nicest places I’ve worked and I miss those lazy summer days in the forest of the Sierra Nevada. What a great place to have spent 5 years of my life. It was a lot of hard work (some of the longest hours I’ve ever put in) but we had a lot of fun at the same time. Hacky sack games in the parking lot, beavers working in the river out front, kids playing in the school yard out back, company picnics up at Bass Lake or the all night Descent (Interplay) tournament that my wife nearly killed me over. Interplay you say? Hey, it was market research!!!

      Originally I joined the tech support department working for Liz Jacobs (pole dancer in PQ SWAT) and Ken’s brother John Williams (not the composer). It was a very family oriented facility and for most of the time I was there my wife worked oppoite the wall behind my desk. Quite a few others wokred with their spouse as well. On one support call, even got to talk to Robin Williams who was playing Space Quest IV. Well, at least he said he was “THE” Robin Williams and it sounded like him. He was originally supposed to have been the voice on SQ4 but had other obligations “Hook” and thus Gary Owens did the voice for the game. Personally I think RW would have been great on that game.

      One day while doing the tours of the facility (yes, the building was open for tours) I got a peek at a game called Outpost that was starting up. I was so impressed with the artwork that I bugged the artist to let me at the program they were using to make the art. For those interested, that was 3D Studio and I later went on to work for the company that made the software (Discreet/Autodesk). After many late nights playing with the program I finally made it up to the art department and got to do some pixel pushing on King’s Quest VII. After KQ7 I moved to Phantasmagoria. It had already been in production for nearly two years! Seems Roberta’s vision was well ahead of the technology and the technology wasn’t cooperating. I spent a little over a year and many, many hours working on Phantas (as we called it). There were a number of things I did but the main thing was to comrpess those movies down to where they’d play on a 1.5x CD. It was almost impossible! We got a lot better at doing that by the time my next game (Gabriel Knight) came along. Gabriel Knight is still one of my favorites of the adventure games. Professional actors make a big difference. Don’t you think?

      Following Gabriel Knight I also worked on Lighthouse as a 3D artist and gave a helping hand on RAMA, Police Quest SWAT, Space Quest VII and several others. There were of course some tough times but I have to say in retrospect most of my memories of the time are fond ones. I sometimes wish I could have stayed longer but other things called.

      My experience as an Artist for Sierra On Line led me to work on a number of ohter creative projects and to have my work published nationally on the cover of the rock album Boston – Corporate America. http://www.liquidmoonlight.com/gallery/boston/bostongallery.htm 

      After Sierra closed down the Oakhurst facility, many of former employees who were fond of the area tried to start up a new gaming company and some games were published but it never regained the fame it had when Ken and Roberta were heading things up. It was in some ways a magical place to work.

      Last year I parted with many of the Sierra games I had collected as I was running out of space. But I did keep a few. I still have my Sierra Sound Track CD. Favorite song was from the Quest for Glory soundtrack. I’ve kept all my original artwork from Lighthouse. And have this really cool HUGE Space Quest embroidered iron on patch that someone handed me when they left the company.

      Ken, if you read this, please tell Roberta and Chris I said Hi. Roberta may remember me from Phantas as she spent many hours at my desk going over the art. Not sure.


      Darvin Atkeson
      Original Art and Photography:

    • #25382 Reply

      Wow Darvin, those are some really cool memories – thanks so much for sharing those with us! I’m sure Ken will respond to your post. Perhaps some readers of this site might also ask you questions about your years working at Sierra. I’ve emailed you about the ex-employees area and about our archive projects.

      Brandon Klassen, archivist ~ SierraGamers.com admin/dev team ~

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