Forum Replies Created
July 6, 2021 at 7:13 am in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line #43123
My favorites were always Leisure-Suit Larry, Space Quest – and, especially Phantasmagoria. Roberta’s would of course be King’s Quest!
Thank you! I am working on a new game now. Visit http://www.kensgame.com for more informationJune 19, 2021 at 6:20 am in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line #42963
I don’t know the answer myself, about why Al is the only person from Sierra I still hang out with. Roberta and I travel nonstop so we are rarely in the same city as the various Sierra people. Even as much as we enjoy hanging out with Al and his better half (Margaret) we only see them a few times a year.
As to AGI (the language we used for our games… I was heavily involved, but don’t remember writing much of the code, if any. I don’t remember who wrote it. I think it may have been an engineer named Bob Heitman? I don’t think Jeff Stephenson, who was the father of SCI, was working at Sierra yet. There was another engineer named Chris Iden. Maybe him? Or, maybe it was me? It’s strange I don’t remember, but .. it was 40 years ago.
I can confirm there is a new game happening! Our goal is to be ready to give it to a few beta testers by August, but .. that could be wishful thinking.
I have a new site which will just be focused on the game that should go live sometime in the next week — http://www.kensgame.com. Watch there for info about the game.
We already have over a hundred beta testers who have signed up, and will probably only use 10-20 .. so .. I’m not sure what we’ll do to decide who to use. My guess we’ll screen based on hardware configurations we are seeking, and available time to do testing.
Meanwhile .. I’m heads down doing LOTS of work to get the game going.
I will mention to Al to read your posting. He’ll be delighted!
Roberta and I spend summers on our boat cruising. We would love to attend, but the timing doesn’t work for us. We have a new boat that we just took delivery of (after waiting for it for over two years!) and for the next four or five months we’re not going to do anything except hang out on the boat.
Thank you for the feedback on the books. Much appreciated!
-Ken WApril 15, 2021 at 6:54 am in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: Chapter 2 questions #42497
– I read your childhood life was about a bad relation with your mom and dad, as I understand it correctly. You wanted to stay as much out of the house as possible. You also had to move to another place. Is it correct you were in a poor family because this is not written literally in the text (but I thought I could understand it this way?).
You are correct that I had a challenging relationship with my parents. As I look back on that time, my parents were probably right and I was wrong. I wanted more freedom than was appropriate for a young teenager. It’s what they refer to as Catch 22. Was I never home because I couldn’t get along with my parents, or was I in trouble because I was never home? I have no idea. I just know that I wanted away from home, and preferred hanging out at the library. I was counting the days until I’d turn eighteen and be able to move away from home.
As to being poor… We were what I’d call “lower middle class”. We were not in extreme poverty but we did live in a fairly rough neighborhood and I had a miserable high school experience.
– How many brothers and sisters did you have?
Three brothers, no sisters. One of my brothers, John, worked for Sierra and was a huge part of our success.April 15, 2021 at 6:48 am in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line #42495
Your posting went into the “spam” folder for some reason. I’ve approved it, and it should appear now.
I don’t know if I’ll write another book about Cygnus. I think I’d only write a book if we did something truly unusual, and so far our plans for Cygnus are fairly mundane. I think our cruising will be interesting enough that readers of my blog will not be bored, and that they will find things to learn from our (mis)adventures. But .. book-worthy, probably not.April 12, 2021 at 6:40 am in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line #42468
My book sales were huge. I’m still selling copies every day, long after I thought the book would be dead, and every few weeks it seems to pop back to #1 status on some categories on Amazon’s bestseller charts. There are a LOT of Sierra fans out there.April 12, 2021 at 6:38 am in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line #42467
Answers, preceded by ***
– how many months were needed to complete it?
*** My book was written quickly. I spent about 2 months on the writing, and then 4 months on editing and rewriting. I sent out a lot of copies prior to the release and wound up rewriting major portions of the book. The last third of the book was rewritten more than once.
– as I understand correctly: it’s only your personal memories of Sierra?
*** Mostly. There were things I didn’t remember, or never knew, like what happened to Sierra after the sale. Other people filled in the details.
– are there employees or other people presented in the book you still meet or are friends with?
*** I’d like to think I am friends with most Sierra employees, but I never see them. The only person I regularly see is Al Lowe, and even with him I don’t see him nearly as often as I’d like to. Roberta and I travel most of the time and are never in one place long enough to see people.
– on the first page is written version ‘v1’ in my book. Does this mean a new version will be released too?
*** I might do a second version of the book someday and add more content. That said, there really isn’t much more to say, and I don’t have any free time right now. So .. it’s unlikely I’ll do a revision anytime soon.
– can I post all questions here as a reply or does each question (about a new topic/chapter) better needs a new thread in this forum?
*** I don’t really know this software (WordPress) very well. I’m still trying to figure out how to get the most recent messages to appear at the top (and, haven’t figured it out). So .. do what you like and hopefully it will be ok. I’m not sure what is best.
Greetings! I’d love to see you do it, but Roberta and I gave up all of our rights to the games when we sold the company. We can’t authorize anyone to do anything.
My suspicion is that you could do it and no one would care .. but, that’s just an opinion.
Thank you!April 1, 2021 at 9:14 am in reply to: The Sierra Adventure: The Story of Sierra On-Line by Shawn Mills #42251
We were not interviewed. My guess is that Shawn contacted us and begged, and we said no. After his book was released I realized that we should have responded and taken it more seriously.
We get LOTS of requests for interviews, and have had many people over the years say they were doing books or documentaries, 99% of which never happen. Even the Netflix documentary almost never happened because we refused several times before we finally agreed.
Sierra was a long time ago. It was an amazing time and I very much wish I could relive it. But that said, it was then and this is now. Reliving it over and over again for the rest of our lives accomplishes less than creating something new to talk about. We like to face forward, not backwards.
My guess is that until I have a new game to promote (if ever) .. I won’t be writing any more Sierra books, and am unlikely to do more Sierra interviews. We do love the fans, and are blown away that people still remember us 20 years after Sierra’s demise, but also don’t want Sierra to be the period on the sentence of our lives. We’re not THAT old, and there are still a lot of great things we can do. That’s our focus.
I hope it doesn’t come to that. For now I’m full-speed-ahead and working hard!March 30, 2021 at 1:02 pm in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line #42243
Always happy to answer questions … although … I sometimes have to be very succinct due to lack of free time.
I never seem to have free time …March 29, 2021 at 5:09 pm in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line #42228
After reading the book: what would you (Ken) do differently if you were to start Sierra today all over again?
I would run Sierra forever and not sell it.March 29, 2021 at 5:08 pm in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line #42227
What would you do differently if you were te start Sierra today all over again?
Nothing!!!! -Ken WMarch 28, 2021 at 2:16 pm in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line #42213
PS I actually didn’t ask Roberta anything until the book was almost complete. I did the writing early in the morning when things were quiet and kept the book secret until it was well underway. I wasn’t sure if the book would turn out well and wanted to be able to scrap the project if I wasn’t happy with it. It seemed better to write the book without anyone knowing until I was ready to tell them…March 28, 2021 at 2:06 pm in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line #42212
I occasionally asked Roberta her recollections, but I really didn’t interview anyone else. It is just a style thing, but it worked better for me to blitz through writing 400 pages, and then have people read it and tell me what I messed up.
After the book was written I sent copies to 50 ex-Sierra employees, as well as to some of the people mentioned in the book. Some agreed with what I wrote and some didn’t. There were some serious gaps in my knowledge. Based on feedback several sections of the book got rewritten and some new sections got added, and some got tossed.
I found it a very efficient way to work.March 28, 2021 at 2:02 pm in reply to: The Sierra Adventure: The Story of Sierra On-Line by Shawn Mills #42211
The Sierra Adventure is a great book, but very different from mine. I did read it, but most of the information was new to me. My book is about things like marketing strategy, product strategy, technical strategy, etc. Whereas Shawn’s book was focused on what it was like to work for Sierra, deep down in the trenches. Shawn did a huge amount of research, conducting dozens (probably hundreds) of interviews — whereas I sat in front of my computer and typed out my distant memories. If my book had required the level of research that Shawn did, it never would have happened.
Together, the two books compliment each other nicely.
As a side note: I always think in terms of “takeaways” — meaning, if you invest 10 hours in doing something, what did you take away from the experience? There are things that are done purely for entertainment value, that have no takeaways. But generally, when reading, I expect to takeaway some new skill. My goal with my book was to give others tools they can use in their own lives. I wanted the “takeaway” from my book to be that people would boost their analytic and strategic skills, regardless of the business they are in, and that through seeing my mistakes, they could avoid similar mistakes in their own lives. That was my goal anyhow. Whether or not I achieved it, only time will tell.
-Ken WMarch 28, 2021 at 9:25 am in reply to: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line #42203
You are right — Had there not been a virus, there never would have been a book. I really wasn’t thinking about Sierra. I do love all of the memories of Sierra, but Sierra was several decades ago and I’ve moved on to other things.
I was bored, and Roberta said, “Write a book” and I couldn’t think of anything to write about. Initially, I decided to write a book that was evenly divided between management philosophy, Sierra, and boating. It did start that way, but Sierra kept creeping in bit by bit, and then when Al Lowe read the first few chapters he suggested I dump all of the non-Sierra stuff and just write the history of Sierra. Al’s a smart guy. Some of the philosophy stuff stayed in, but overall .. it (the book) is the history of Sierra, from my perspective.
It’s a very long story .. and, I don’t have time today. But, running a boat prepared me for running a company much more so than running Sierra. Had I reversed my life and been a boat captain prior to running Sierra, Sierra would have been much better off for it. Crossing oceans on a small powerboat is serious business, and even one mistake can easily cost lives. You have to be a master of many skills (communications, diesel engines, electronics, electricity, navigation, etc), and you need to constantly be heading off problems before they occur.
Good idea! I added the section…
I was wondering where the idea to make a game suddenly comes from?
Also because I can read Roberta and you didn’t follow the gaming industry at all.
So where comes this big contradiction from?
Roberta and I do not follow the game industry. We are VERY retired. I started working on a game, mostly because I was curious to see current technology, plus writing the book about Sierra rekindled my interest in games.
As of now, Roberta is watching what I am doing, but is not involved. I am hoping that she will get excited and start working with me.
I may be fooling myself, and the game I am working on is terrible, or I will never find the time to finish it. I do not want to over promise. All I can say at this point is that I am working on something and it looks great to me, and more importantly — it is fun to play. And, that’s really what counts more than anything.
I’m working on a game with myself and one other person (a 3d artist)
My official opinion is that, “In today’s world it is impossible for two people to develop a game that is market competitive”
But, my unofficial opinion is: “Damn! The game is looking incredible!!!!”
So …we shall see. There’s a long way and many months between what I have now and a finished game.
As to a computer … I do have a fast machine. It is a high-end Dell laptop with an Nvidia 3d card…