January 19, 2004 at 5:49 pm #24723
I have always been curious about your relationship at the time (and views) with Infocom and its text only adventure games. Of course you were a way farther in foreseeing the future evolution of computers and you had a vision which allowed Sierra to last long (I am sure it would be here still and in good shape if you were running it), but did you ever play say “enchanter”, of “Hitchiker Guide” ?
With love for old Sierra AGI games,
January 19, 2004 at 8:42 pm #24724
(re: Ken and Infocom) I was a HUGE fan of the Infocom games, and played them all. I always wanted our parsing to be as good as theirs, but there are a thousand reasons why its easier to parse complex expressions in text than in a graphic world. I was disappointed when Infocom failed — for those who don’t remember, they decided to go into business software and failed at it. Had they maintained their focus on games, they may have still been doing games today.
Their Hitchhikers Guide was an awesome game. I loved the books (at least the first ones) and always wanted Douglas Adams to do a game for us. A few times, I had him giving me a firm “maybe” but we could never quite get him to commit, and then, it was too late…
January 20, 2004 at 4:15 pm #24725
(re: re: Ken and Infocom)
first of all, thank you for such a fast reply. I know this is meant to be normal since this is your site, but I’ll never get used to be able to dialogue with the founder of Sierra ! It’s really great.
Well, back to the issue: you have my 100% agreement on all.
Thanks to eBay I was recently able to get some Infocom adventures I never played before and maybe not all, but most are indeed great. As per Douglas Adams (never tried to read the first “Dirk Gently”, it made me laugh out at the electric monk my friends thought I was gone nuts), I’m sure you know that he died a couple of years ago, so sad, sic.
Infocom failure hit me too. I have copy of a very clear case study called “down from the top of its game” which is very interesting and informative. I don’t want to be tough, but their biggest mistake was the fact that they never believed fully in the power of their games, they considered them as a bridge to the business software. From a management point of view though I do understand their willingness to differentiate in a world so fastly evolving towards graphic (Sierra docet too), but I will never be able to forgive them for not having separated their business project financing from the rest: you cannot drain money from adventures like this damaging beyond hope the chance to evolve and stay alive (maybe moving vs Magnetic Srolls like advs…, who knows).
I live in Italy and at that time it was really hard to get adventure games: english language was still a barrier for many people. It went improving though and I must admit that I improved my english thanks to Sierra and Infocom.
To close this message, I was glad to read your reply also because I remember having read somewhere that there was a big rivalry between your two companies: so it was a fair business rivalry, with mutual (I believe mutual) esteem, and this is great.
PS: don’t worry, my collection of original boxes of AGI games is complete too.
January 20, 2004 at 6:37 pm #24726
(re: re: re: Ken and Infocom) “… I remember having read somewhere that there was a big rivalry between your two companies: so it was a fair business rivalry, with mutual (I believe mutual) esteem, and this is great….”
I only met Joel Berez (Infocom’s founder/CEO) a few times, but will always remember our first meeting. Sierra was about a year or two old, and Infocom was on top of the world. At one time they had virtually every slot on the best seller charts. We were at an industry conference and Roberta and I stepped into an elevator with him. I was a big fan, and for me, it was a chance to meet my hero.
He, on the other hand, had never heard of Sierra, and didn’t have the vaguest idea who I was. Roberta and I introduced ourselves, and he blew us off. Roberta’s very competitive, as am I. This meeting in an elevator, which meant nothing to Joel, meant a lot to us – and, really kicked us into gear, as we tried to compete with Infocom. It’s funny how something like this can motivate competition.
Anyway, years later, I met Joel again at a computer conference, and this time, he knew who we were. And, as it turned out, he was a VERY nice and charming guy, and had absolutely no idea that years before we had even met.