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King's Quest VIII (Davidsons)

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A version of King's Quest VIII designed by Davidsons between September 1996 and January 21, 1997. It was apparently a non-violent version of King's Quest: Mask of Eternity in development by managers put in place by Bob and Jan Davidson (of Davidson & Associates).

The game was developed by a team of managers put in charge of Roberta's teams by the Davidsons (Jan and Bob Davidson), primarily Jan, who were critical of Roberta's vision of the game due to violence and possibly religious themes. They believed they had a better story idea, apparently one that would have lacked combat and any other violent themes in the game.

While Roberta was designing her own script and puzzles for her version of the game, the Davidsons were working on their own script and puzzles for their version of the game, one that would be more Christian friendly (from their perspective).

Because the company would not listen to Roberta, she felt at times that she had lost control of her own game (though her own team steadily continued to develop her version).[1]


Between September 1996 and January 1997, while Roberta was busy developing Mask of Eternity (with its own series of technical problems, and mixups between Sierra and Dynamix), Roberta apparently found criticism from Bob and Jan Davidson of the parent company Davidson and Associates.

The Davidsons criticized the game based on their religious conservative views felt Roberta and Ken Williams were a corrupting influence on the nation's youth due to her work on Phantasmagoria. They apparently saw Phantasmagoria as immoral and Mask of Eternity as being too violent for the nation's impressionable youth. Not trusting Roberta to make a game that would fall within their standards, they set up their own team (of managers), who developed their own script and puzzles for the game. They stripped off the violence and any other themes they felt unfit for the game. They tried to bypass Roberta, ordering her team to make the game their way, and to ignore Roberta (see King's Quest VIII (Davidson & Associates)).[2] Roberta began to feel as if the company wasn't listening to her, and that she had lost all her voice and control. It wasn't until around January 21, 1997 (when the Davidsons left), that she regained enough control back to her version of the game. However the damage by the Davidsons had been done both to time and resources. The game had other sets of problems, due to Dynamix unfinished game engine, and the need for Roberta's team to build one themselves, more time and resources were spent (the game was pushed back several times), and material had to be cut to make the game's final release date.

It is unclear how much the Davidsons had completed on their version of the game, and how much it differed from the released game. But based on the Jan Davidson's complaints it apparently lacked the violence and combat found in the released game, and possibly would have been less religious.

It's possible that some of the Davidsons ideas may have made it into the final project, but this is unclear.

It is unclear how much the Davidsons ideas differed from the released game, or if any of the ideas made it into the finished game. But based on the Jan Davidson's complaints it apparently lacked the violence and combat found in the released game, and possibly would have been less religious.

Behind the scenesEdit

Ken Williams has mentioned in the past that Roberta had problems with the 'Suits' controlling Sierra and the development of MOE, and at one point Roberta thought about removing her name from the game, and even suing the ones running Sierra. While the details have been unclear what the Suits had actually done, it would seem it would have something to do with this alternate version of KQ8. If it had been released, Roberta would have had little or no part in its development.

Ken has also commented on his dislike of the Davidsons' involvement in Sierra;

...during the negotiations, there were rumors that Bob and Jan Davidson were concerned about Leisure-Suit Larry and Phantasmagoria -- two of Sierra's biggest hits. To me, it was clear that they were non-supporters of the products. Putting Davidson in charge of selling these products, which were a huge percentage of our revenue, I felt would be a mistake. I just didn't think it would work.
During the negotiations, CUC convinced me that the 'Davidson Issue' was a 'non-issue.' CUC put a structure in place which created a consolidation of non-product related functions, such as manufacturing, while leaving Sierra and Davidson independent for the purpose of creating product. In other words, I was assured that only non-product related groups would be merged. Davidson would not be dictating product strategy at Sierra, and neither of us would be reporting to the other. This is quite different than what actually happened.
One the deal was done,Bob Davidson was put in charge.[3]

Ken Williams passed a message from his wife that clarifies the situation;

Roberta asked me to post the following:
"Davidsons ‘killing’ Phantasmagoria as it was still going strong: True.
Two teams working on KQ8 at the same time: Partially true. There really was only one team, but I was assigned several ‘managers’ to work above me and those managers were told to not really listen to me and do things their way (presumably, Davidsons' way?). Hence, the frustration on my part and the fact that KQ8 suffered as a result.
Roberta Williams"
-Ken W[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. All Your Base Are Belong To Us, 157, 158
  2. All Your Base Are Belong To Us: How Fifty Years of Video Games Conquered Pop Culture by Harold Goldberg, pg 157, 158

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