September 24, 2003 at 12:24 am #24944
Hello. This is my first posting, so I hope I am doing this right. Anyway, I am a TI-99/4A Computer collector and am in the process of creating a big web site dedicated to the video games of this machine. There are a few Sierra On-Line Titles for the TI-99/4A and was wondering if you would be interested in commenting on their development (anything you can remember), etc. Here are the titles:
– Jawbreaker II
Hopefully you will be able to recal some info on the TI-99/4A conversions of these games. Also, I did find a 1984 article where you said Sierra and Disney were teaming up to produce 5 titles for the TI-99/4A. They were, “Von Drake’s Molecular Mission”, “Pinocchio’s Great Escape”, “Peter Pan’s Space Odyssey”, and two others I forget at the time. I know one involved Winnie the Pooh, any chance you remember the title of the Pooh one and the 5th one? Anyway, I would love to hear anything you might remember on these games as it would be a great addition to the page! BTW, do you remember any of the names of the people who programmed the TI-99 conversions? on the page I plan on having the programmers names when possible, to give them credit for their work. Thanks for hosting this great site!
Ooops, almost forgot to tell you: I have screen shots of all these titles if interested in viewing them for old times sake. Hey, maybe you have some pictures of the TI titles too you could share? Thanks Again!
September 24, 2003 at 9:07 am #24945
(re: Games for the TI 99)
Sorry to tell you this, but I have no idea what games we produced for the TI-99. I’ve been trying to remember, but, honestly, had you posted this message and just asked if we ever did games for the TI-99 I’m sure I would have said no.
I’m curious if we did the conversions ourselves at Sierra, or if we licensed the product to someone else who made the games. Do the boxes have another publisher name besides Sierra on them?
There was a strange time in Sierra’s history that occurred in around 1983, that is chronicled in the book Hackers. At the beginning, we did only software for the Apple II. We were an immediate success, and had grown from just Roberta and I up to 120 or so employees. Then, we raised a bunch of venture capital, and decided to expand. We did cartridges for the TI-99, Com-64 and Atari 800 – and, even toyed with the idea of the Atari 2600 game machine. Unfortunately, just as we were receiving our inventory (cartridges in those days were very expensive, and had to be ordered in large quantities), the whole market for cartridges just ended. We had millions of dollars of cartridges in our warehouse, and no place to sell them. It almost killed Sierra. We laid 100 people off, which was the most painful thing I had ever done, and got a loan on the house, with which to make payroll. We also borrowed all the cash we could on several different credit cards. Luckily, we made it – but, most of those cartridges literally wound up being thrown away.
September 24, 2003 at 1:26 pm #24946
(re: re: Games for the TI 99) Thanks for your reply. What TI did back in the early 1980s was make all the software houses have to publish through them, except for the few that get a GROM licence from TI or used cartridges only with ROM. The Sierra games were put out in TI packaging, so it is possible development was done there. This would have been 1983.
What did happen in 1984 was TI left the computer market and then there were two comanies that signed an agreement with TI to continue production of the TI-99/4A conversions TI originally put out, but under their own label. Apparently, Imagic and Sierra/Disney signed up to do this. I wonder what was in that warehouse, would have been neat to know. Any chance some people took one of everything for their own use before the stash was thrown out?
I’ll have to include this great info you gave me on the Web Site. Here’s a quote from you in a TI Users Group Newsletter from 1984: “We look forward to serving the large number of 99/4A Home Computer owners with this new software, and we hope to continue providing this and other software for the 99/4A,” said Ken Williams, president of Sierra On-line”. (February 1984).
Maybe I can put some screen shots here for you too, since I saw the TI Title Screen screen shot.
September 24, 2003 at 5:25 pm #24947
(re: re: re: Games for the TI 99) Bryan:
Here’s another piece of the story –
The President of Imagic was a gentleman named Bruce Davis. When Sierra went through their problems, Bruce was hired by our venture capitalists to “evaluate” what to do about Sierra.
Bruce’s goal was to advise the venture capitalists as to whether the company should be shut down, sold or ??? The venture capitalists decided to sell us, and I had to meet with several other companies who were considering to buy us.
There was a VERY famous meeting (or, at least famous at my house) where the VCs (venture capitalists) were trying to sell us to a company called Spinnaker. We had a board meeting in San Francisco, where the Spinnaker management presented their rationale for why the two companies should merge. Roberta disliked (a mild word) the idea, and decided to revolt. She came to the board meeting VERY late, dressed VERY casual (blue jeans and a t-shirt) and asked “So, what are we discussing today?” Her goal was to send a message to everyone that Sierra wasn’t in panic mode, and didn’t need to be sold. She was trying to tell the VCs: “Relax, and leave us alone. We have the situation under control. We certainly don’t need sold to these guys”.
Roberta carried the day. We were also helped by Bruce, who after studying Sierra, said “This is a good company, and worth backing”. I spoke with Bruce about working for Sierra, but he was hired by Activation as their CEO, and then immediately made his own effort to acquire Sierra- for $1 million!
I was so depressed by having to do all the layoffs, I was ready to take the deal – but, Roberta said “no way!” The VCs figured that we were in such bad shape that their investment was gone one way or the other, so they left the decision to Roberta and I. We did do a deal under which they loaned the company a small amount of money for a big piece of the company. Within a few months we turned it around, and repaid the loan. However, we had permanently lost a BIG chunk of the company, and the VCs made a huge amount of money on that short-term loan. And after that, the rest is history….
Anyway … there was a bit of a relationship between Sierra and Imagic around that time. Perhaps Imagic did the conversions???
You are right – I should have, or, someone should have, tried to hang onto at least one of each cartridge we produced. I don’t have any of them.
PS Feel free to post here any pictures you want, and to repeat what I’ve said on other sites. I just wish I had better memory about this topic….
September 26, 2003 at 9:26 pm #24948
(re: re: re: re: Games for the TI 99) Dear Ken,
I own some great Sierra cartridge games, most mint with mint boxes, Some Sierra PCjr cart games, the King’s Quest for the Sega Master System, and King’s Quest V for the Old Nintendo. Would you like me to scan these for the site? If so, what section should I put them in?
Also, did you ever play the King’s Quest for the SMS?? I would like to post some screenshots here to show everyone how vastly different the KQ for the SMS was! (It’s awful) It has the Parker Brothers logo only on it, so I am guessing they did the terrible port, you guys must not have wanted the Sierra name on that one!
I also have thexder cart for the Tandy CoCo3. Hope these will bring back some memories!
September 27, 2003 at 7:05 pm #24949
(re: Games for the TI 99) ooh, please do post those screenshots! i’ve seen shots of KQ5 for the nintendo and was amazed at how different they were.
September 29, 2003 at 7:42 pm #24950
(re: re: Games for the TI 99) Hey emily!
I will do my best to get those screenshots soon. Any ideas what would be the “Best cheapest” way of getting screenshots?
Also, I ordered a flatbed scanner today, so I will be posting some awesome pics of my many Sierra Cartridge games, as well as varoius scans of my massive Sierra collection! 🙂
P.S. You may be able to find an emulator for the SMS, and find the rom to play for yourself!!
I wonder if Ken can verify this, but I read on some site long ago that only 900 copies of King’s Quest V were made for the NES, and like 700 of the Kq1 for the Sega. Sounds wrong to me, do you have any recollections Ken? Also, did Parker Brothers do the port of Kq1 for SMS??
September 29, 2003 at 9:21 pm #24951
(re: re: re: Games for the TI 99) in general, the easiest (and free!) way to take a screenshot is to use the print screen button on your keyboard, and paste into Paint or some other graphics program (i use Photoshop, but i’m sure there are some free programs available for download that let you save .gifs and .jpgs). i don’t know how you’d take a screenshot from a console… unless you did it in windows using an emulator like you said.
September 29, 2003 at 11:42 pm #24952
(re: re: re: Games for the TI 99) I wonder if Ken can verify this, but I read on some site long ago that only 900 copies of King’s Quest V were made for the NES, and like 700 of the Kq1 for the Sega. Sounds wrong to me, do you have any recollections Ken? Also, did Parker Brothers do the port of Kq1 for SMS??
I have no idea how many of each type of cartridge we made. My guess is that we took the minimum order quantity, which would have been around 25,000 cartridges – at around $15-20 EACH! It’s possible the numbers you have represent how many we sold, not how many we bought. Argh….
I have no idea what an SMS is. Is this what they called carts for the TI-99? You have me stumped….
September 30, 2003 at 2:52 am #24953
(re: re: re: re: Games for the TI 99) Ken–
I could be wrong about this, but I believe the SMS spoken of is the Sega Master System: the 8-bit system Sega had out to compete with the Nintendo Entertainment System.
September 30, 2003 at 2:58 pm #24954
(re: re: re: re: re: Games for the TI 99)
Yes, you are correct. King’s Quest 1 was released in a version for the Sega Master System by Parker Brothers. In 1989 I think. The game has entirely redrawn tile-based graphics and naturally no text interface. The story is intact though.
September 30, 2003 at 3:40 pm #24955
(re: re: re: re: Games for the TI 99) Hi Ken!
Sorry for the confusion, the SMS is the “Sega Master System”, Sega’s answer to Nintendo’s original system, the NES.
I think I remember in an old interview you joked about how awful the cartridge business had been. I had no idea how terrible indeed!!
Nintendo found that out the hard way with the Nintendo 64, expensive medium, horrible storage space, and essentially they were trying to control developers with a format….
I will post up some nice pics of the Sega Master System game and hopefully some screenshots of the actual game. This version of Kq1 is VASTLY redone for the Sega system!
Can you remember ever dealing with Parker Borthers or Sega around 1989? That’s the copyright date on the box.