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I first chatted with sierra in 1987. This was when BBSes never had chat rooms (more than one phone line was unheard of) but the official sierra BBS had a “t” option (can’t believe I remember that) to Talk to people. I got a hint on space quest 1 which wasn’t in the regular hints and was hooked. I was around 10 years old and chatted for four hours with some other 10 year old kid from Virginia. I wonder what his phone bill was. My usage on sierra BBS was $200 that month and wasn’t allowed to use anything besides the internet (then arpanet?) on my parents’ work account until TSN came out.
The first night I played TSN I stayed up until 5 am. I was 13 years old. My mom started making me log all the hours I used on TSN and wouldn’t let me go over ten hours a week. I even had to write my own batch file to keep track of this and print it out on my dot matrix printer. For all those who think video games are a waste of time, they actually got me started as a programmer. Well, programming to get out of trouble…
One of the first people I made friend’s with on TSN was Ken Williams’ son. I forget exactly what his login name was, but I bet he got to play for free. We eventually made a Red Baron squadron which was defeated horribly by other Red Baron squadrons. We weren’t very good at paintball either. I remember asking him when Outpost was coming out. He told soon but that it was going to be released too early. Thanks for the heads up.
A musician for sierra befriended me. I complained that sierra games lacked any sort of beat in their music. Other games, like ice climber, had better songs. He sent me a beta copy of freddy pharkas for free to prove me wrong. I hope he never got in trouble for that.
Sierra was great, I loved playing the games and chatting with other people. I learned how to play hearts, bridge, and spades by playing with elderly people at 6 am (the best time to tie up the phone line) on saturday mornings. I always thought someday the leisure suit larry zone and space quest zones would come about. Even quest for glory zone. None of that ever happened. I had always hoped for some kind of emersive salvador dali-like artwork in an endless puzzle game where you had to play with multiple people. These multiple people wouldn’t even be allowed back into the puzzle arenas which they had completed so that newbies would have to work together to beat the game… like some MUDs at the time. Of course this never came to fruition.
I revisited Sierra On-Line gaming after it never went internet and was shut down in the form of the beta version of “The Realm.” I tried to play this at the same time another video game, subspace, was hitting the internet. I couldn’t get into the realm… how was I supposed to make up an adventure? Subspace proved to be much more interactive… but that again is a sad story of VIE dumping the game since it created nothing but dollar losses.
I recently played Quest for Glory II EGA off of some old 5.25 disks (amazingly they still work, minus the Jerusalem Virus they still have) and completed the game with a perfect score and maximum skills. If I could only find my copy of QFG3! I miss the excitement of going to costco or egghead and finding a new sierra game on the shelves. The peak of this excitement is when Space Quest III hit the shelves and finally… high resolution hercules monochrome graphics! I could almost see the color in between the gray shades. In these days games for nintendo cost $50 and did nothing for my education besides teach me how to dropkick ninjas. Sierra games were $20-$25 and taught me how to type, to use a dictionary (indirectly), to problem solve, and how to read and edit hex (in order to cheat).
I tried to code “Kid’s Quest” in QuickBasic. It had very crude 16 color graphics, bad animation, and only nine points in the map. I posted this code to the TSN boards in a file encoding scheme for TSN. It took a file and broke it into either TSN mailbox or bulletin board friendly 7 bit code. I wonder why he didn’t just use uuencode, as that has huffman compression iirc… oh well, it worked. I think four or five people actually played my game. I was immediately disappointed that Sierra didn’t steal my idea at the time, but looking back I guess it was a dumb premise for a game (go to school, do math homework, play kickball… literally, you had to type those things).
I guess that is enough nostalgia for now. I’ll go fire up my amiga again.