Raised on Sierra- it introduced me to the computer world

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      Firstly, allow me to personally say that if it is convenient, I would be most honoured to get a hello from Ken himself. This is my first time posting here, and the knowledge that this was actually read by Ken Williams would be similar to a fan of Tolkein getting a response to a letter from the master himself (well, back during his day, that is.) I hope that this story of my interactions with Sierra adds to the “history” of the site, as well.

      I am twenty four years old, and my first real experience with computers was back around 1989 at a friend’s house- his Dad worked at Hewlet Packard, and so he had a simple HP computer. On it, I experienced my first PC game ever: Kings Quest IV, the Perils of Rosella. Of course, as it was my friend’s computer I had to struggle for time to play it myself, but I was fascinated. If this was what computer games were like, then my Nintendo could go sink in the lake! He introduced me to that game, and to KQ 2 and 3, and as soon as my Father bought our own IBM PS2 I quickly searched for our own game and started with the Black Cauldron. I began to get the Sierra Newsletter and was quite excited to find that the author of these wonderful games, Roberta, had a son around my age- and as time went on, he too wrote some articles in the magazine. I quickly acquired all of the Kings Quest series to that point, and onwards as they came out (eventually ending at Kings Quest 7), and upon getting Quest for Glory I, I was completely enamoured with the series. I went after many Sierra games, but those two series truly captured my interest. My entire childhood, my imagination and play with my younger sister (two years my junior) was shaped by my new Sierra-oriented world.

      My sister and I loved to play together, to walk around outside and create our own worlds- and after experiencing these games, we would make our own games. Without knowing it, we were roleplaying, really- I would play the main character (the player) and she would “monster”, or play every other non-player character I met. We walked through backyards and nearby forests, but in both our memories we remember walking over clouds, around purple trees, with unicorns chasing behind and talking palms. It was Kings Quest that started me into learning touch typing, and by the age of fifteen or so I could type as easily as I could talk. My sister would watch as I played Quest for Glory, and she and I both loved the mixture of culture, of light and dark themes- and our particular interest in villains and neutral characters was evoked in Quest for Glory 4: Shadows of Darkness. To this day, on occasion she will bring up (a rare thing, since she herself never really got into games or computers) memories from that game. From these experiences, my sister and I both became skilled and avid writers. My sister is pursuing an English masters as we speak, which all can be tied to our days writing and creating- which is tied, in the end, to Sierra and more specifically, to you (Ken) and your wife’s games.

      When I was still very young, perhaps ten to eleven, I wrote a letter to you- I cannot remember the specifics, but I know that I asked what I needed to do to become a computer programmer and game designer. To this day I have never forgotten my utter excitement to get a letter back- I still remember how you shared about you, your wife, and your son going on a trip together and how I should focus not just on computer science as a major but also on other related topics like English and Acting. Such advice really shaped my dreams and goals for the future. I wrote again, but alas, I got a letter back from someone else- your days were full, as would be expected, with many other things and duties. My other highlight, perhaps an odd one, was my one and only attempt at “hero worship stalking”- *laughs* considering I was around eleven or twelve it was pretty harmless. I had not even discovered the internet yet! I got creative and was able to figure out how to use 411 in other states, and finally got a hold of Roberta Williams on the phone- and was so utterly speechless I finally hung up after a few “Hello? Hello?” questions. It seems so odd that an event probably forgotten by her seconds later still rings strong in a little boy’s memory. I know now, of course, that if I’d just said hello and explained I probably would have been forgiven the “odd call” and gotten a conversation with someone I’d always dreamed of talking to.

      Of course, I discovered TSN (later INN) and racked up a $400 phone bill… and a year later, after paying it back, re-discovered it again. From there I transitioned, around 15, to The Realm on the internet and discovered role-playing for the first time. My online life began, and I really began writing up a storm. After I finished high school, I renewed a friendship with an English teacher I met online at age 13 from Penn state- and found she was now an editor at Microsoft! She was going to help me get an internship at Microsoft, and I was planning on pursuing my dream of being a computer programmer- until I realised that, unlike you, I was probably a little more like your wife. I was very skilled with computers, but due to a learning difference I have, the first C++ programming class I took made me realise with shock that 1) I had so much trouble learning computers in a classroom, and 2) I could not spend the rest of my life programming code! I realised, finally, that the reason I loved computers and games was because I was a creator. I loved to use computers as a means to an end- to create worlds and share my imagination, and also with the internet to be with people. I was a people person, and a creator with a huge imagination- and programming would never fit the bill.

      So I changed my major to Intercultural Studies, which I am about to graduate now. Meanwhile, while meeting the editor-friend at Microsoft, I “coincidentally” bumped into a young lady on AOL Instant Messenger who- after three and a half years- became my wife, and is presently fast asleep in our bed after a year and a half of being married (two years this December 14!). It is a stretch, yes… but if I had never met my friend at Microsoft, I never would have had AIM on to meet Katrina (my wife). And if I had never been on The Realm, I never would have gotten into the internet and roleplaying like I did (and thus never gotten into writing, still a big part of my life!). Had I never gotten into The Sierra Network, the Realm would never have grabbed me- and I never would have gotten into TSN without the games that you and your wife created. So, all in all, my wife was greatly shaped and moved your creations. To this day, I still find my taste in games and in reading (I love fantasy literature- middle age style, of course, is best- and light science fiction, all rooted in the type of games I played from Sierra!) and writing is linked to those creations.

      Thank you for taking the time, hopefully, to read my extensive post: this is the summation of all of my young life, linked to Sierra, and abbreviated as best as possible. I find myself sad at what the “new Sierra” has become- I search for games there that remind me of what it was, and find none. The last great creation to come from it was the one that I wrote in multiple times for, and never hoped to see: Quest for Glory 5. Nothing else remains to remind me of my youth, the former glory o

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