May 30, 2003 at 10:53 am #25092
I personally don’t like the fact you must sign in to view the site’s content. This “scares away” many first time visitors. I don’t think it’s a good thing to do.
BTW Ken, have you forgot all about the Hacker Ethic? Information should be freely availble, this is how the internet should work.
Frans van Hofwegen
May 30, 2003 at 2:36 pm #25093
(re: Login in required) Login Requirement – Who said I subscribe to the Hacker ethic? If you read the book Hackers, I’m actually the villain in the book. Steve Levy (the author) thought I was wrong to publish computer games. He thought all software should be free, and I was just profiting from the creative work of others. The SierraGamers site has been around for three or so years (including the time when it was Sierra-Online.com). Prior to the last month, it had collected exactly ZERO email addressess. Since I took it over, we’ve collected around 500 or so. I would never resell these names, but do want to collect them for a very important reason. My goal is to collect the largest email list possible. Sooner or later Roberta and I may do something again. When we do, it will help us in our marketing efforts to have a way to quickly “get the word out” to the most likely group of potential buyers. My background was in direct marketing. I believe a large well-targeted mailing (emailing) list is crucial to success. I will only use this list to announce something I consider to be VERY big news – such as Roberta and I starting on a game. I will not use it for spam (although purists would argue that the purpose I’m thinking of IS spam). By doing what I’m doing, I’m collecting a list, at a decent pace. If I drop the login requirement, site visitation might go up, but list size growth would go down. It costs me both time and dollars to operate the site. It seems a fair trade to me that I get to build a mailing list along the way. If someone disagrees, that’s their right. It’s like television – if I ever don’t like a program, I change channels. In actuality, the odds are that the email addresses collected will never be used. I seriously doubt Roberta or I will ever build another game. We both want to, but we don’t want to get into working with a huge team, and the kinds of products that succeed in today’s world are multi-million dollar projects with 50 or more people working for years on them. The idea of sitting still for two or more years, and dealing with the bureaucracy of a large team isn’t very appealing. Whereas if I could find something that Roberta could design, and I could program – we’d definitely do something.
May 30, 2003 at 6:36 pm #25094
(re: Login in required) Ken, you’re a genious! Seriously, that email idea is great and I think it would work very well. The big gaming companies today are totally anonymous. I’ve read about your philosophy during the Sierra era about holding on to your customers, and I believe it’s a strategy that pays off big-time. You probably have the numbers to prove so yourself…
I was also thinking about your philosophy to concentrate on in-house development. While I believe this has many advantages, not only the gaming industry but the whole industry seems to have gone the other way. In some ways I think this is a positive trend. In the 80’s, any good programmer could make a successful game at home if he/she was devoted enough. In the 90’s, the big games turned into massive Hollywood-style productions, culminating with Phantasmagoria. Today, game engines and development tools using the latest technology has again enabled small groups of enthusiasts to create new quality games. It’s kind of turned full circle. I think this has caused the current situation, with successful game studios growing out of fan-made products.
Also, I would like to mention that I find it quite amusing to read “Hackers” and learn that people were leaving Sierra in the early 80’s, feeling that it had turned “too corporate”. The way Sierra looked at that time would hardly be considered very corporate today. 😉
May 30, 2003 at 7:08 pm #25095
(re: Login in required) I would pay a lot of money to anyone who could turn me into the “Ken” I was in the book. I’ve become much more boring with age…
Sometime I’ll write a long message about my philosophies on inhouse development for this board. For now, here’s the one paragraph version:
I wanted Sierra’s games to be different than any other companies. I really didn’t see Sierra as “just another publisher”. Publishers go into the open market and bid for products. In that market, the high bidder wins (meaning the company willing to show the lowest profit). Sierra, to me, was a creative group (our #1 priority was development, not publishing). I’m having trouble explaining this – but, I saw us as a vertically integrated developer, not just someone who marketed other peoples products. One of the major critiques of me, through the years, was that at Sierra developers were treated like gods, and everyone else as unnecessary overhead. This was a fair commentary. I felt we were in a product business, and that only product mattered. Good product sold, bad product didn’t. Customers are smarter than you think. You can’t turn crap into gold by spending millions on advertising. We ran almost no advertising, and spent almost no money on trade shows. What we did spend was against existing customers, and really it was just “informational”, not hype. I’m anti-hype. . I felt we were running a “club” where our job was to build cool product for people who had bought from us before (I did spend on direct mail, such as InterAction magazine). New people would “join the family” if our existing customers talked about our products. The idea of someone else building your product is a completely different kind of company than I ran.
May 30, 2003 at 9:07 pm #25096
(re: Login in required)
The method of marketing Ken described is exactly how I got into Sierra games. I never saw any advertisements. My friend had SQ2 and KQ4 and we’d sit there and play those games for hours trying to figure them out. When my family finally got a computer we were able to buy our own copies and in the end I ended up having most of Sierra’s games where he still had only a few.
Alot of that had to do with InterAction Magazine and the whole idea that we were “part of the family.” Of the things I kept from my childhood I only kept my Lego sets and my Sierra games.
May 31, 2003 at 3:09 am #25097
(re: Login in required) Ken,
I never said you suscribe to Hacker Ethic, but maybe you should consider it. It is the the way the Internet is suposed to be run!
Frans van Hofwegen
May 31, 2003 at 12:04 pm #25098
(re: Login in required) Ken, I think a lot of marketing people would disagree with your philosophy, as it’s their job to turn uninteresting things into something people will like all the time. But the numbers speaks for themselves. Sierra was built on this philosophy, and who can say it wasn’t a successful company? Also, the many websites devoted to the old Sierra and games that were released not only 10, but 20 years ago speaks for themselves. Such devotion doesn’t come out of nothing.
June 22, 2003 at 5:46 am #25099
(Just do it!) “Whereas if I could find something that Roberta could design, and I could program – we’d definitely do something.”
To quote Nike… Just Do It! Screw the flashy graphics, they just get in the way of the story anyways…. IMHO, the best Sierra games were the ones with simple graphics and great stories / solid gameplay, the Police Quest 2, Space Quest 3, King’s Quest 4 era of games… I enjoyed each of them alot more than their final incarnations. Better yet, give us a game with King’s quest 6 era Graphics (sorry, you guys never pulled off the KQ7 Cartoony-look like LucasArts has done so well) and give us a good story…
No freakin’ actors, no musicals between puzzles, just GOOD STORIES.
I’d really be interested in knowing, in this age of pentium 4’s and Voodoo Videocards, how many old Space Questers, if they just now discovered and picked up a copy of the unofficial SQ2 1/2, would play it start to finish, text input, ega graphics and all.
Now think if that the game had SQ4’s graphics?
That’s gotta at least turn a profit.
November 1, 2003 at 5:26 am #25100
(re: re: Login in required) Might I suggest a checkbox where a person can request not to be contacted by e-mail? I’m sure that just about everybody here would NOT consider the announcement of a new project from anybody related to the Old Sierra to be spam, but it doesn’t hurt to be safe.