When did the ‘demise’ start?

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    • #25022 Reply

      Hey Ken,
      It was a real and pleasant surprise for me to discover this website. King’s Quest I was one of the first games I played, way back in 1986. I fell in love with the genre, and must’ve played about every Sierra adventure game in the following decade … Hey, your games even got me into the game journalism business (I remember doing a phone interview with you and Roberta way back in, I think, ’94)
      Currently, we’re doing an ongoing feature about the history of the different game genres. I’m writing about the history of adventure games, but I still have one unanswered question about this issue, something that I couldn’t have possibly known as a fan at the time being.
      Here goes: When did you, as a CEO, begin to realise that adventure games were ‘on their way back’? Did you suddenly notice that the last ‘batch’ of adventure games (like LSL7 e.g.) were selling less? I remember you saying in InterAction that each adventure sequel sold more than the previous one (I think you said that in the early nineties)… Did this suddenly change? Would that also be the reason that King’s Quest 8 wasn’t an adventure game anymore, trying to shift the focus to another genre? Thanks in advance for answering my question :).
      Kind regards,
      Emmanuel Van hecke

    • #25023 Reply

      (re: When did the ‘demise’ start?) Kings Quest was less of an adventure game because it was less of a Roberta game. KQ8 was in development at the same time the company was sold. The new owners made the decision to NOT give Roberta the same unwavering support that I had – and, other people were able to get their ideas into the game. Some of these ideas were great ideas, but they weren’t Robertas. Ultimately, KQ8 was a bust, and I suspect Sierra blames Roberta, although I have no way of knowing. In hers and my opinion, her track record speaks for itself; 15 (or so) hits done when she had control of a project, and one disaster, which just happened to be the one where she didn’t have control. The whole thing was a mess, and was settled amongst threats of litigation.
      With respect to when adventure games stopped selling, I don’t know. Great games have always sold, and mediocre games have always bombed. I’m confident that if Al Lowe did a Larry 8 today, it would sell as well as it ever would have. By this I do not mean that it should look exactly like prior games. Every game has a responsibility to move the state of the art forward. Resting on status quo is a formula for disaster. In other words, a new adventure game would sell – if it were innovative, AND a good game. You need both.
      -Ken W

    • #25024 Reply

      (re: re: When did the ‘demise’ start?)

      good answer!

      I hope this won’t be another “the adventure genre is dead” article. So much has happened in the past few years to prove otherwise.


    • #25025 Reply

      (re: re: re: When did the ‘demise’ start?) Thank you for your answer, Ken! What I still don’t understand is the following: a company buys Sierra On-Line and its bestselling adventure game franchises. They opt to break away from the ‘winning team’ formula and see the results afterwards: bad reviews ánd sales of the game (KQ8). There are still other succesfull franchises left (Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, …) Why – at that moment – not go back to the winning formula and create a new ‘old fashioned’ adventure game?? After all, as Ken says, good games do sell … I know, not an easy question, and I can understand if you don’t have an answer ready :).
      Does somebody know if GK3 sold well? After all, it was one of the last adventure games that Sierra made …
      It sure won’t be an ‘the adventure genre is dead’ article, rest assured. I want to explain to the readers how the genre started, how it evolved, … and where it stands now (‘sleeping’ in mass terms, but certainly not dead!). I’m especially looking forward to the adventure game that Jane Jensen is developing for The Adventure Company and the new Broken Sword game.


    • #25026 Reply

      (re: re: When did the ‘demise’ start?)

      I wouldn’t say adventure games are “dead.” I’d say they have evolved. If you use the defination of an adventure game as a point and click game like what Sierra used to do, then yes, they aren’t made anymore. however, if you use the defination that an adventure game is one where it doesn’t focus on lots of action, stragity, and other game types (it’s more of an interactive game, not kill’em all send in armies, and fly a simulator), then i’d say it’s adventure.

      Not an old style adventure though. “The Legend of Zelda” has always been classified an adventure game. Nintendo released a new one this year. I’d also say that “Metroid Prime” is also an adventure game because it doesn’t have the normal FPS attitude to it. It’s more of an “explore-the-cave-and-search-out-new-things” feel (not DOOM style).

      Of course if you focus on PC then i’d say that adventure gaming is mostly dead. Not many new Adventure games on PC anymore.

    • #25027 Reply

      (re: re: re: When did the ‘demise’ start?)

      > Not many new Adventure games on PC anymore.

      This is a very common misconception. It’s just not true.

      Adventure games released in the past year:

      Dark Fall (indy, recently distributed by Dreamcatcher)
      Law & Order
      Jazz & Faust
      Shadow of Destiny (PC port)
      The Omega Stone
      Post Mortem

      and plenty of others, but these are the ones i can think of off the top of my head.

      Upcoming adventures:

      Broken Sword 3
      Syberia 2
      The Longest Journey 2
      Law & Order 2
      Schizm 2
      Dark Fall 2
      Full Throttle 2
      Sam & Max 2
      Uru (online ages of Myst)

      among others, I’m sure, but again this is off the top of my head. Plus Jane Jensen’s game and the new Tex Murphy are in development. Not to mention indy (i.e., The Sydney Mystery) and fan games (i.e., Tierra’s King’s Quest 2 remake, the upcoming KQ9).

      Okay, here are what I see as the important points.

      1) Overall, as many commercial adventure games are being released each year as were released by Sierra each year in the 80s and early 90s (when Sierra dominated the industry). The difference is, now the games are distributed by various companies, not just one.

      2) MANY of the upcoming games (all of the ones I listed, actually) are sequels to games that did well last year or did well in the past. A major indication that the genre is on an upswing.

      I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself, but I can never pass up an opportunity to dispell the myth that the adventure genre is dead on the PC. It’s not! You might need to look a little harder, because these games tend not to get much shelf space (if any), but they’re easy enough to buy online. It doesn’t even take much research to find out about new adventure releases… just go to one of the news sites devoted to adventures (see links below).

      Anyway, I’m very glad to hear that the article won’t be about the “death” of the adventure genre… I could even get into a debate about whether the genre is “sleeping,” but that might be beating a… err… sleeping horse.

      🙂 emily

      Just Adventure

    • #25028 Reply

      (Personal Favorites)

      Hello Ken and Roberta. First of all, your games I’ve enjoyed since I was two, it helped me to read, type, write, etc. I am forever greatful, and until the day I die your games will forever be my favorite one’s. However speaking of favorites, I was wondering if you could let me some input as to some of your favorites and why. Like which was your fav from each series and why. I believe it would be interesting to hear the perspective as to why they were your top choices.

      And for the record, I blame you and Roberta to losing a few weeks up sleep due to the intensity of Phantasmagoria. It came out, I was young, and that game scared the heck out of me. But great great game. So if you could let me into which your favorite games of each series are, it would be cool. Thanks for your time, and hopefully we’ll see something from you or your wife someday soon. Thanks for releasing the best games, and hope to hear a response soon.


    • #25029 Reply

      (Adv games: dead or not ?)

      Well, if somebody believes that adv are dead, just search the Internet or even eBay for old titles. The love for adv is there, maybe we all only have less time and/or current adv are not as good as the old ones, too concentrated on graphic maybe rather than plot.
      Syberia is not bad though, honestly.

    • #25030 Reply

      (re: re: When did the ‘demise’ start?) My opinion on KQ8 (and I always have alot of opinions) is that it failed because it didn’t have mouse movement. In an adventure\fps mix one has to be able to turn quickly and fire. Having to use the arrow keys to turn and fire, caused one to be inaccurate. It is hard to turn to the right direction and be on target. This just adds to the frustration. It is also tiring to have to use both hands all the time.
      And I still think having that rape scene in Phantasmagoria was a mistake. Never ever mix horror and sex, or violence and sex.

    • #25031 Reply

      (Leisure Suit Larry™ Magna Cum Laude)

      Wht do you think of Sierra creating Leisure Suit Larry Magna Cum Laude with out Al Lowi?

    • #25032 Reply

      (re: re: re: When did the ‘demise’ start?)

      There was a chess game that came out in the mid 90’s, but the plug seemed to have been pulled on it before I could buy it. Why was that? Ken, what reasons would cause you to stop a project?

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