Of Mice and Mold………….

HOME Forums Sierra History Of Mice and Mold………….

Viewing 6 reply threads
  • Author
    • #21185 Reply

      The ex employee had the ultimate irony, and or metaphor.
      Adventure gaming is dead, as has been that way since Sierra stopped releasing adventures.  A cool KQ3vga version out there is nothing more than a flashback.
      Why have a site if you ain’t doing anything about it?

    • #21186 Reply


      rgjohnson@comcast.net, Rakeesh, 2006-07-18 03:04:04Why have a site if you ain’t doing anything about it?…

      Do something about what? The decline of the adventure game? The staleness in the game industry?

      At Sierra, I had all these ‘phrases’ that I lived by. Many of them are scattered throughout these message boards. Another one people used to get tired of hearing was ‘Customers vote at the box office’.

      Ultimately, game companies build what customers buy. The same goes for films. If there was an adventure game that would sell one million copies, companies would build it.

      Which I’m not sure they aren’t…

      If you look at where I was trying to move the adventure game, it isn’t clear that we haven’t gone that direction.

      My personal vision of the future involved multiplayer gaming. If I had continued to run Sierra, we would have been the ones leading the multiplayer game business. Are these adventure games? It depends on how you define an adventure game. Are you role playing? Are there puzzles? Is there a scenario? 

      It can be argued that adventure games haven’t died, they’ve just evolved in various directions. I remember the half-life guys trying to convince me that they had adventure game qualities.

      Were I in the market today, I would not build ‘2d adventure games’ the way they used to look, because they wouldn’t sell very well. The #1 thing people want is to see something that surprises them. Another ‘Sierra’ expression — this time my brothers: A game has to have ‘wow’ value. If you didn’t say ‘wow’ when you heard about the game, and/or saw it — then it wasn’t going to sell.

      So, where does that leave us…

      To break-through, and ship a hit, you need something new. Is there something that captures what people liked about adventure games, but does something in a new way. The introduction of story and plot to action games, RPG games and multiplayer games has been done. 

      What is needed is kind of a fresh look at it.

      I wish I had the time… but, I did 20 years in games. Now, I’m doing boating, and working on a book, and have talkspot.com going. I have no free time. 

      Besides, the budgets are huge these days. To do something new would take 10s of millions of dollars. That means a big company funding it, and big companies are research driven these days. If something seems new, it has a hard time getting funded.

      Actually.. new things ARE coming. The market has a great way of reacting to boring products – they don’t sell. Innovative products break through. It’s really just a matter of time.

      Sorry to ramble…

      -Ken W

    • #21187 Reply

      Yes, Ken is right.  I remember that whenever a major Sierra sequel came out, an upgrade was needed for your computer starting with soundcards, video cards (CGA>EGA>VGA>SVGA), and then memory.  In those days, Sierra drove the industry and now it seems the industry has sort of plateaud.  I’ve had the same computer since 2001 and I’m still able to play today’s games.  It was an age of innovation, everything was new and uncharted.  Perhaps that is why it seems such an important part of many people’s lives.  I assume most were growing up as I was and the computer was extremely new.  It was also new to the people making the games.  We should be lucky to have shared in the magic of the years Sierra On-Line dominated and not bash Ken for leaving.  He has a life to continue living and we should all be honored that he’s created this website for everyone to share their love for the company he and his wife built.  They’ve accomplished much and though I wasn’t able to fulfill my dream of working for Sierra, perhaps a chance will come when another company comes along and follows the Sierra business model.  They founded the company like a family and the fact that the owners who bought the company did not follow the successful model Ken had established is what ruined the company.  I just want to thank you Ken for creating some awesome memories in my youth and giving me the inspiration to become an artist and create. 

    • #21188 Reply

      What games are you playing because there is no way Oblivion, Half-Life 2, F.E.A.R. and games like that are going to work on your computer.  My brother’s computer is probably from around 2001 too and he can only play these games with low FPS and the lowest graphic settings possible.  Plus he had to upgrade his RAM, which cost a lot since his RAM type is ancient.  I think the push towards technology and upgrades has increased rather than plateaued.  My computer became obsolete just a few months after I got it.  And soon there will be Windows Vista and DirectX 10 which will force more upgrades.

      I’m frustrated with how fan-remakes don’t aim a little higher than the standards of 1993.  It’s ironic that fans are making remakes of a game that would need another remake.  I’d like to see some innovation and at the very least hi-res 32-bit graphics.  Why don’t fans create high resolution games?  Is it really that hard to produce such graphics as opposed to 320×240?  I always thought the lower resolution graphics of the older Sierra games was due to limitations.  After all, the backgrounds were hand-painted.  Some amazing things can be done with 2d graphics to make them seem fresh and new.  I wish I had the technical expertise to go for it myself.

    • #21189 Reply

      ‘I remember that whenever a major Sierra sequel came out, an upgrade was needed for your computer starting with soundcards, video cards (CGA>EGA>VGA>SVGA), and then memory.  In those days, Sierra drove the industry and now it seems the industry has sort of plateaud.  I’ve had the same computer since 2001 and I’m still able to play today’s games.  It was an age of innovation, everything was new and uncharted.’

      That’s exactly right. When video games started out in the 80s they were completely uncharted territory; the rulebook hadn’t been writen yet, in fact it was being written by pioneers like Ken and Roberta. I suppose you could compare it to the period when cinema first started out and people were making all kinds of crazy experiments with this new art form (and when you look at it from that angle it’s no surprise that the 1920s were probably the most adventurous period cinema ever went through, ranging from the Russian montage experiments to German expressionist films like Caligari). The same thing more or less happened with video games, where the most innovative and daring titles came out in the 80s. Sierra were at the forefront of course, but I also remember many other games of note which pushed the envelope – Elite, Starglider II, Alter Ego, Little Computer People (preceding the Sims by a whole two decades), you name it.

      I don’t think I’m exagerating when I say this, but years from now, when people will look at the history of gaming, Ken and Roberta will rightly be seen as pioneers of this art form, just the same way Eisenstein or Murnau are seen as pioneers of cinema. What especially commendable about Sierra’s output is the vastly educational value of many of these games. Take Goldrush, which was a wonderful lesson in a specific part of American history. Or King’s Quest, with all its references to folklore and fairytales. Police Quest, a rudimentary but informative lesson in policing. Leisuresuit Larry, a lesson in how NOT to pick up women. 😉 That aside, to me, personally, Sierra had another personal education value, as I was a wee young ‘un growing up in Germany with a VERY limited knowledge of the English language. Seeing as games weren’t localised in those days (we’re talking 1987 to 1990 here), I really needed to learn English and learn it quick in order to beat those games. I now live in Britain and can speak English fluently without problems, and it’s debatable whether I ever would have had the motivation to learn this language at a young age had it not been for Sierra.

      I remember sending Ken an e-mail of thanks a few years ago, and I thought it was telling that he responded in kind. There was always a human element to the Sierra games, because, ultimately, they were being created by people who are kind and thoughtful individuals first and foremost, and that’s why these games still matter to so many people. That’s, ultimately, where the crux lies, and why Sierra meant so much for so many people, and still does. You can be as innovative as they come, but if there’s a lack of humanity to what you create then it will not touch people in the same way that Ken- and Roberta’s games did.

      I think that’s also why I think it’s no joke to describe video games as an art form, since art is basically an individual expressing the way they experience the world alongside their own innermost thoughts and feelings through a medium; whether that medium is theatre, literature, cinema, or indeed video games, is beside the point, and it would be wrong to belittle video games (or, to use its more contemporary but rather dubious title of ‘home entertainment’).

      There are still great games being made, of course. The Final Fantasy series or Silent Hill have immersive storylines, exceedingly great gameplay, and dare i say if Ken and Roberta were starting out today, these would probably be the sorts of games they’d be making. But the difference to Now and Then is that the rulebook has been established. the possibilities are not as wide open as they were in the 80s, and that games have now fallen prey to the market forces with budgets spiralling out of control. While that does not necessarily have to be a Bad Thing in and of itself (games like the Metal Gear Solid series have clearly benefitted from their galactic budgets, and I would actually describe Hideo Kojima as one of the few people working in the industry who still befits the title of ‘pioneer’), the playing field has definitely decreased in size, and the days when someone can create an immersive and brilliant game solely from home, the way Ken and Roberta did with Mystery House, are well and truly gone.

      But blimey. What intended to be a brief commentary on what Aaron had said has turned into a full-on essay. In any case, Many thanks to Ken and Roberta and all the best for the future. Thank you for all the work you have done.
    • #21190 Reply

      And what an excellent essay it was. It’s never boring to read about the love we had for Sierra 😉 .

    • #21191 Reply

      Thank you. 🙂

Viewing 6 reply threads
Reply To: Of Mice and Mold………….
Your information: