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Inquisition 2000 (Spring 1997)

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Inquisition 2000 was an editorial section in the Spring 1997 issue of Interaction Magazine.

Getting advance info on King's Quest is usually "Mission Impossible" so we hired Chris Williams to pull an inside job.Edit

"The traditional adventure game is dead." At least, that's what my dad[1] says. He thinks it's time to change adventure games at least as much as the gamers themselves have changed over the last few years. It's time to make them "less pretentious. More open-ended, faster paced, and just more fun to play than they have been." After all, he's reasoned, "what's the use of creating these super-serious, overly literary, and downright studious games when the major audience that will play them played a Nintendo or a Sega last year? These folks are used to playing games where the correct answer to any problem might be jumping over something, hitting it with a hammer, or maybe even shooting it with a big bazooka. Why hassle through all the literary pretense when most of today's gamers just want to blow something up."

Well, he's got a point. When you take a look at the bestseller lists, it's hard to miss names like Quake, Diablo, Duke Nukem, and CyberGladiators. These action-oriented games have replaced more sophisticated games on the shelf and it doesn't look like that pattern is going to change any time soon (Even RAMA isn't selling as well as these arcade games--and you gotta find that hard to believe if you know how good that adventure is.) It's easy to tell that adventure games are going to have evolve, or they'll die completely. There's only so much room on the shelves at the software store, and it goes to the games that sell the tonnage.

My mom[2] is aware of all this, of course, though she still prefers to think that adventure gamers appreciate the more intelligent puzzles, the more literary storytelling, and the more "mature" challenges of the adventure genre. But you don't have to hit her with a board to get her attention. She's a smart lady, and she wants to see adventure games survive into the next century, even if it does mean she needs to build them a little differently.

So for the last half year or so, Mom's been playing games like crazy. She was one of the first people I know who ever played Mario 64, and she also Duke, Tomb Raider, and all the other 3D action games (Isn't life tough? Guess who gets to grab all those games when she's done with them?) Anyway, after mega-hours of playing and playing, she finally sat down with a "team" of developers a few months ago and started work on what will probably be the most radical King's Quest adventure game since the series began. She calls it The Mask of Eternity.

I have to admit, I'm pretty impressed with Mom's design. The early gameplay stuff I've tooled around with is very "Mario 64"ish with shades of Tomb Raider, Quake, and even a little Diablo thrown in. Mom says that the sim people at Dynamix are actually building the "engine" that makes the game run, so there may be some Red Baron and EarthSiege in there, too. Mom's spending a solid bundle of bucks on this one and she's got a ton people working on it, so wouldn't surprise me. It still has all the plot and literary depth of her old adventure games, and she even has a whole new cast of characters and even a new hero who will take on the dangers of Daventry. The backstory concerns a group of priestly beings who guard a powerful object in a faraway land, and how one day, one of them gets greedy and decides to steal the object. It blows up in his face. The pieces of the object go everywhere, and the blast from the explosion turns every living creature in Daventry into stone. Well, not everyone--it wouldn't be an interesting game if everyone were stone-prone, would it?

The star of Mask, a peasant named Connor, is one of the few who survives the blast because a piece of the object basically lands on him and shields him from the evil magic. From there, it gets crazy, all kind of nasty monsters. Mom hates when I give away the plots to her games, but I can tell you it gets a lot more complex than "go waste an alien."

It's a little early to tell yet, and a lot of what I've seen on The Mask Of Eternity comes from the files I find on mom's hard drive and the stacks of written notes she leaves all over the kitchen table, but this one looks pretty cool and it's actually a Mom game I really look forward to playing. (The last game of hers I played was Phantas--but I only played it because she absolutely forbade it.) It's really coming along very well now that everyone agrees on what the game will look like, so Mom expects to have this one one in stores around September (When she shuts her office door, all the programmers laugh and tell me that it will be November earliest, so we'll see.)

I know I'm her son and all, but I still think it's gonna be good. You should watch for it

She was one of the first people I know who ever played Mario 64...Edit

When my dad went to Japan he saw one of the first Nintendo 64 with Mario64 at a software store there. (This was several months before anyone even heard of it here.) It was just an early demo machine and not for sale, but my dad wanted it. Bad. So he managed to talk the clerk into selling it to him for only $2,000 US. (I thought he was crazy until I saw what some parents paid for "Tickle Me Elmo" this Christmas) He couldn't really play it very well since all the text was in Japanese. But I was still able to show it off and, after all, it's not my money, so life isn't all that bad.

ReferencesEdit

  1. My dad is Ken Williams. If you don't know who he is, turn to Page 6. He's pretty famous because he started Sierra and he gets to run his column right in the front of the magazine.
  2. My mom is Roberta Williams, the adventure game designer. If you don't know who she is, you probably haven't owned a computer game very long. She doesn't have her own InterAction column, but she's still a lot more famous than my dad.

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