The Royal ScribeEdit
Through the wee hours of the night, the royal scribe's pen scratches out a chronicle of Sierra On-Line and the King's Quest series. Read her words, but be foretold that a mere touch on text of a different hue will transport you to another domain.
The following Topics are available: Sierra On-Line - The Beginning The Birth of King's Quest The Quest Continues The Future of Sierra On-Line
King's Quest Series King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne King's Quest III: To Heir is Human King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow King's Quest VII: The Prince-less Bride
Roberta Williams Ken Williams Sierra On-Line Coarsegold Interactive Home Entertainment
Mystery House Space Quest Leisure Suit Larry Police Quest Quest for Glory Phantasmagoria
Jane Jensen Lorelei Shannon Josh Mandel
King's Quest I Credits King's Quest II Credits King's Quest III Credits King's Quest IV Credits King's Quest V Credits King's Quest VI Credits
Sierra On-Line - The BeginningEdit
When I was a child, I read a lot of fairy tales, and would tell stories to friends. Now, I have the computer to help me tell stories, and the King's Quest saga is a story I want to share with everyone." Roberta Williams
This fairy tale success story is legend in the computer entertainment industry. A young couple with two small children breaks the barriers of computer gaming by creating an interactive story... with pictures! An idea born out of boredom with text-only adventures evolves into dozens of games, each more technologically innovative and artistically stunning than the last. A tiny business run off their now famous kitchen table expands into a multimillion dollar company. Yes, you guessed it. This is the story of Sierra On-Line.
The year is 1979. Roberta Williams has tired of playing text-only games on the family's Apple II computer. She decides she can do better and writes a who-done-it called Mystery House. Ken Williams, Roberta's husband and programmer extraordinaire, implements her black and white graphic designs. The couple shops their game around to the only four software stores in Los Angeles county. They also place a small ad in Micro Magazine (now defunct). To their complete surprise, orders start pouring in. Their Simi Valley home turns into a two-person production company practically overnight.
Believing that their little venture will allow them to afford the simple life in the mountains they always wanted, Ken and Roberta bravely launch their own start-up company, On-Line Systems. They relocate to Coarsegold, California, a rural town in the Sierra Nevada foothills where Roberta's parents own an apple farm. In keeping with their new location near Yosemite National Park, they adopt Half Dome as their logo and change the company's name to Sierra On-Line. They know it will take much hard work and more than just a little luck for their fledgling company to succeed. What they don't realize is that they have just taken an important step toward the founding of an entirely new industry -- Interactive Home Entertainment.
The years between 1980 and 1983 were productive and educational for Ken and Roberta. Sierra On-Line grew steadily from having one employee (Ken's brother, John) to over 130. While Roberta continued designing adventure games, Ken focused his vision of the computer as entertainment. Programmer-designed arcade games like Jawbreaker and Frogger were very successful. Then Sierra On-Line hit rough water. The company had used venture capital to develop software for cartridge-based computers with such unrecognizable names as the Vic-20, the Atari VCS, and the Coleco Adam. At the end of 1984, when the consumer computer market collapsed, Sierra On-Line was stuck with a few million dollars of cartridges that were suddenly worth a mere three cents on the dollar. Things began to look a bit bleak. But help was soon to come from an unexpected quarter...
The Birth of King's QuestEdit
Backtrack for a moment to 1983. Home computers were still a hot topic as major companies jockeyed for a forward position in the market. IBM gave Sierra On-Line a PC one full year before releasing them to the business world. With this head start, Sierra On-Line developed the first game for the new platform: The Wizard and The Princess. Then IBM began development on a personal computer for the home called the PCjr (nicknamed "Peanut"). In order to showcase this new product, IBM asked Sierra On-Line to come up with a game that would take advantage of the PCjr's 16-color palette, three-channel sound, and whopping (for the times) 128K of memory. Working with a small team of programmers and artists, Roberta lived up to the challenge. She designed a game in which the player would take on the persona of Sir Graham, a knight in the land of Daventry. The ailing King Edward sends Graham on a quest to recover three lost treasures. Should Graham succeed, he will become the heir to the throne. With its release in the summer of 1983, King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown becomes the first animated, three dimensional "interactive cartoon."
Using the keyboard arrow keys, the player could now actually control the main character's movement, walking him around rocks and in front of buildings. Simple sentence commands input by way of the keyboard controlled the character's actions. Accompanying music and sound effects greatly enhanced the game. Unfortunately, the PCjr was not the success that IBM had hoped. Its incompatibility with the IBM PC and its user-unfriendly "chiclet" keyboard not only doomed the PCjr but almost spelled disaster for Sierra On-Line as well.
Then suddenly, in 1984, riding into the home computer market like a knight on a white horse, the Tandy Corporation introduced the Tandy 1000. Otherwise known as "what the IBM PCjr should have been," this MS-DOS (and PCjr) compatible proved a lifesaver. King's Quest I sales skyrocketed as the Tandy 1000 became the leader in the home computer industry. Sierra On-Line dramatically regained its corporate footing and, using the momentum generated by the success of King's Quest I, prepared to propel computer game development to new heights.
The Quest ContinuesEdit
In the years that followed, Sierra On-Line's product line expanded to include such diverse titles as Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, and Quest for Glory. However, the King's Quest series was always in the lead, in both popularity and cutting-edge technology. Each sequel took advantage of the latest developments in computer hardware and Sierra On-Line's own proprietary software to extend the realm of adventure gaming.
King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne shipped in May, 1985. This adventure continues the saga as Graham, now the king of Daventry, ventures forth to rescue the princess destined to be his queen. Later that same year, Sierra On-Line also ventured forth... into its new headquarters in the Sierra Professional Building, a brand new structure built specifically for the company as its continued growth demanded more space, for both people and computers. King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human, released in October, 1986, tells the story of Gwydion, a slave boy in the land of Llewdor. It too was well-received, winning the Softsel Hot List Hottest Product Award in 1987.
Published in September of 1988, King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella introduced a female protagonist, Princess Rosella, the daughter of King Graham and Queen Valanice. Roberta said that since many girls and women were already avid King's Quest players, replacing the hero with a heroine "felt natural, like it was time." King's Quest IV also introduced a new programming language: The Sierra Creative Interpreter (or SCI for short). All other games had been created using Sierra On-Line's Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI). SCI allowed for increased animation and music capabilities which King's Quest IV used to full advantage.
King Graham was back again in King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder. Released in 1990, this stunning game broke new ground in several ways. A larger game than previous King's Quests, King's Quest V had more than 100 scenes and took up over 10 megabytes. The game was available in 256-color (VGA) as well as 16-color (EGA). The CD-ROM version included digitized speech and sound. And most importantly, an innovative icon-driven interface was introduced, revolutionizing the interactive entertainment industry.
As can well be imagined, King's Quest V took the computer gaming world by storm. It topped the charts and won several awards, including Best Adventure Game of the Year from both the Software Publishers Association and Computer Gaming World Magazine. Roberta Williams began work on King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow in June, 1991. For this game, she enlisted the aid of writer/designer Jane Jensen, an enthusiastic King's Quest fan. The story echoes that of King's Quest II, only this time it's King Graham's son, Alexander, who must seek out and rescue his lady love. Released in both diskette and CD-ROM versions, the game is an impressive blend of interactive storytelling, full-color graphics, and state-of-the-art animation.
For the CD-ROM version, Sierra On-Line used the talents of over thirty professional voice actors to record the dialogue (the script was the equivalent of seven feature films!). Alexander was played by actor Robby Benson, whose credits include the voice of the Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. King's Quest VI won the Best Adventure Game award at Mac World 1993 and was inducted into the Mac World Game Hall of Fame. However, Roberta Williams is not one to rest on her laurels. She is already hard at work on two new projects: King's Quest VII: The Prince-less Bride (co-designed by Lorelei Shannon), and Phantasmagoria, a full-motion video game in the horror genre.
Thus unfolds the Daventry saga, one episode at a time, each more technologically advanced and artistically stunning than the last. First imagined over a decade ago, Roberta Williams' realm of kings, fairies, wizards, and magical beasts has come to enchant millions of players the world over. Today Ken and Roberta, and the writers, artists, programmers, and musicians at Sierra On-Line proudly carry on the King's Quest legacy as the most popular and beloved adventure game series ever created.
The Future of Sierra On-LineEdit
What can computer game players expect from Sierra On-Line in the future? According to Roberta Williams, games will become more cinematic. The traditional role of designer as writer is evolving into an amalgamation of storyteller, director, and editor. Technological advances will continue to promote increased realism in interactivity as well as enhancements in the visuals and sound. Sierra On-Line is exploring the potential of video-captured live action, multiplayer adventure games, and a voice recognition interface. Ken Williams summed it up best when, speaking to the game player, he said "I want to eliminate the artificial barriers between you, the characters, and the story, and make you an integral part of the adventure."
Considering how far the computer entertainment industry has come since Ken and Roberta's "kitchen table" days, can anyone doubt that Ken means what he says?
King's Quest SeriesEdit
The King's Quest series is comprised of the following games:
King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne King's Quest III: To Heir is Human King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
And coming for Christmas of 1994: King's Quest VII: The Prince-less Bride
The King's Quest series has sold well over two and a half million games, making it Sierra On-Line's best seller and the most popular adventure game of all time.
King's Quest I: Quest for the CrownEdit
Debuted in 1983, King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown is the prototypical computer adventure game. As Sir Graham, the player must search the kingdom of Daventry for three lost treasures: the Shield of Achilles, the Chest of Gold, and Merlin's Mirror. Along the way he encounters a wicked witch, a greedy troll, a ferocious giant, and other creatures derived from folklore classics. The game is in color and features animated characters. Graham is controlled with keyboard arrows or a joystick. As with all Sierra On-Line games, multiple solutions and variable scoring encourage replayability.
In 1990, King's Quest I was remade with improved graphics and music using the Sierra Creative Interpreter, the new proprietary programming language first utilized in King's Quest IV. The original and the SCI versions of King's Quest I are included in this collection; play them both and see the difference for yourself.
King's Quest II: Romancing the ThroneEdit
King Graham searches the land for a queen to share his throne. In order to rescue her from the crystal tower, he must first find the magic keys, conquer many challenges, and defeat the dreaded Count Dracula.
King's Quest II resembles King's Quest I in appearance and interface. King's Quest II contains fourteen musical selections, including Tchaikovsky's love theme from Romeo and Juliet.
King's Quest III: To Heir is HumanEdit
Gwydion is a young boy, trapped in the castle of the evil wizard, Manannan. Using the wizard's own magic against him, Gwydion escapes and begins a perilous journey back to a home he never knew and an inheritance it is his destiny to claim.
Fifty percent larger than King's Quest I or King's Quest II , King's Quest III implemented a self-mapping system to help the player keep track of where he/she has been. The game also includes magic spells which the player must learn and use in order to defeat the wizard.
King's Quest IV: The Perils of RosellaEdit
King's Quest IV was the first game to be programmed in the proprietary language called Sierra Creative Interpreter (SCI). King's Quest I, II, and III had been programmed using the Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI). SCI had better graphics and animation capability than AGI, and offered the programmers more flexibility in terms of parser code (thus allowing the player to use full sentences as opposed to two word commands). SCI is an object-oriented language, meaning that the programmer establishes generic classes of objects and then can customize the object to suit the purpose. For example, the Actor Class includes anything that moves, such as sea gulls, ogres, and the player's character (known as the Ego).
King's Quest IV's soundtrack was composed by William Goldstein. He is best known for his work on the film Hello Again and the television show Fame. Goldstein used a Roland MT-32 to compose over seventy-five pieces of music for King's Quest IV. Each piece of music is associated with a particular scene or character. The music and the graphics are so superior to anything previously seen in an adventure game that some people are actually moved to tears during the opening cartoon. King Graham has a sudden heart attack and falls to the ground. As Princess Rosella, the player must journey to a distant land, destroy the evil witch Lolotte, free the Queen of the Fairies, and retrieve a sacred talisman before returning with the magic fruit that is King Graham's only hope.
King's Quest IV features a day and night cycle that allows the player to meet characters at night that will not appear during the day.
With the success of King's Quest IV, other Sierra On-Line games were soon using SCI as well. And in 1990, King's Quest I was converted over to SCI and re-released with the story intact but vastly improved art and music.
King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go YonderEdit
King Graham's family, in fact, his entire castle, has been kidnapped by the evil wizard Mordack! He has shrunk them all down and imprisoned them in a glass bottle, intending to feed them to his brother Manannan (whom Alexander turned into a cat in King's Quest III). King Graham enlists the aid of Cedric the Owl and his master, the good wizard Crispin. After an arduous journey to the land of Serenia, Graham must confront and defeat Mordack on his home turf.
King's Quest V was a stunning example of state-of-the-art adventuring. Backgrounds were now high resolution, 256-color works of art, originally hand-painted and then scanned into the computer. Technological advances also allowed for a fully orchestrated soundtrack and dozens of realistic sound effects. But most revolutionary of all was the newly designed interface. Rather than typing in command words at the keyboard, the player now had access to a group of icons. Each icon represented an activity such as "walk," "use," or "talk." This new interface entirely changed the look and feel of adventure games, eliminating the frustration caused by trying to second-guess the word parser as well as allowing for more challenging puzzles.
In 1991, Sierra On-Line came out with the CD-ROM version of King's Quest V. The increased storage capability of the CD allowed for the addition of digitized speech to the game. The dialogue no longer appeared as text on the screen; now the characters actually spoke their lines in close-up animation.
King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone TomorrowEdit
Prince Alexander sees a vision in which his love, the Princess Cassima, pleads for him to come to her. He travels across the sea on an ill-fated voyage to the Land of the Green Isles. Once there, he learns that Cassima is engaged to another man. Jumping from island to island by way of a magic map, Alexander uncovers the clues to the tragic mystery lurking behind his beloved's betrothal to the evil Vizier.
The diskette version of King's Quest VI takes up 18 megabytes. The CD-ROM version contains more graphics information than all the rest of the King's Quest series combined. Thirty to forty percent of the game is optional, which means that the player can spend as much or as little time exploring and still complete the game successfully. A variety of endings are possible, increasing the replayability.
The CD-ROM includes a four-minute video through Windows on the making of King's Quest VI, as well as a full audio recording of the song The Girl in the Tower. But most impressive of all is the fifty megabyte, seven minute introductory cartoon created by Kronos, a Hollywood animation company best known for special effects work on the movies Batman Returns and The Lawnmower Man. Subtle touches enrich the look and sound of King's Quest VI. Improved scaling techniques add realism to the characters as they move from the foreground to the background. Spot animation and peripheral sound effects enhance the story's ambiance. For example, waves wash gently up on shore while sea gulls squawk overhead. Candlelight dances on cavern walls and shadows shift as Alexander passes by. According to reviewer Scott A. May of Compute Magazine, "All these techniques help suspend disbelief - one of the most important requirements in any fantasy - and further the illusion of reality."
King's Quest VII: The Prince-less BrideEdit
King's Quest VII was designed by Roberta Williams and Lorelei Shannon working together out of the new corporate Sierra offices in Bellevue, Washington. Roberta has reportedly come up with a new, icon-less interface that will be introduced in both King's Quest VII and Phantasmagoria. King's Quest VII is now deep in production for release in late 1994. The plot involves not one but two main characters. The intrepid Princess Rosella is back, and for the first time ever, Queen Valanice will join the adventure. With an all new, more lively approach to animation, a humorous and exciting storyline, and the most delightfully odd collection of characters ever created on paper or screen, King's Quest VII is an event to look forward to. For a sneak preview, check out the AVI: Put On Your Adventurer's Cap.
Roberta Williams designed Mystery House using only a pencil, a stack of paper, and her imagination. Since then, the role of the game designer has changed radically. Today Roberta finds herself at the helm of a ship-load of illustrators, animators, programmers, video technicians, actors, musicians, quality assurance staff, and even another writer or two. But the principles of good game design remain the same as ever: a compelling and well-written story, believable characters, tough puzzles, and an exciting and satisfying climax. Roberta has said "The things that are enticing about Mystery House are the things that we as designers can never lose. And never change. Ever."
Besides for the King's Quest series, Roberta also designed the games The Dark Crystal for Jim Henson, The Black Cauldron and Mickey's Adventures in Space for Disney, Mixed-Up Mother Goose, and the Laura Bow series.
As the first to implement new computer tools, player interfaces, and artistic styles, Roberta's games pave the way for other Sierra On-Line designers, as well as for the industry in general. She believes that the games of the future will be increasingly cinematic and interactive as the developing technology grants the player more freedom to play.
In 1979, Ken Williams was a programmer working on an income tax program. One night he downloaded a program called Adventure from the mainframe computer. He had no idea that this act would change the entire course of his life. While Ken was pursuing an idea he had about creating a FORTRAN compiler for Apple computers, his wife Roberta was rapidly becoming hooked on computer games. She came up with her own design and once Ken realized that she meant the game to include graphics, he enthusiastically agreed to program it.
Ever since those early days, Ken has been the visionary and business sense behind Roberta's creativity. As the CEO of Sierra Corporate, Ken is responsible for making the big decisions that guide the company into the future of computer entertainment.
Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Sierra On-Line is committed to providing compelling, entertaining, and educational computer experiences via leading-edge interactive technologies. The company's products are produced on diskette and CD-ROM platforms, and are designed for IBM PCs and compatibles, Apple Macintosh computers, and Sega CD systems.
Sierra On-Line was founded in 1979 by Ken and Roberta Williams. The popularity of game series such as King's Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and Space Quest thrust this once kitchen table-based company into a leading position in the home entertainment industry. As the leader in the profitable adventure game market, Sierra On-Line was able to develop a distribution network which is the envy of the industry. Sierra On-Line also reaches over 500,000 households with each issue of InterAction, an in-house magazine which effectively targets consumers in this market segment.
Sierra On-Line is comprised of four separate development and marketing divisions: Sierra Publishing, Bright Star Technology, Dynamix, and Coktel Vision (located in Paris, France). Each division has its own unique product vision, allowing for the successful targeting of several different niches within the entertainment and educational software markets. The divisions function as highly-focused and creative entities, while benefiting from the efficiencies of common manufacturing, distribution, and sales.
According to December 1993 statistics compiled by PC Data, twenty-seven percent of the 1993 software market is devoted to games for an approximate market share of almost 7 million dollars. As the top entertainment software publisher, Sierra On-Line accounts for 14 percent of total game sales and an impressive 44 percent of all adventure games.
Coarsegold, California is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It is an old gold mining town with a long and colorful history. Although Sierra On-Line is now actually seven miles away in Oakhurst, the mailing address still reflects the company's original location in Coarsegold:
Sierra On-Line, Inc. P.O. Box 485 Coarsegold, CA 93614
Interactive Home EntertainmentEdit
During the last decade, the personal computer industry has experienced explosive growth. Technological advances and increased functionality, combined with lower prices, have made personal computers common in the home. A market for sophisticated entertainment and home educational software has evolved in response to the increasing proficiency of these computers. Recently, the introduction of multimedia systems with enhanced graphics, animation, sound, and speech capabilities has created new opportunities for entertainment and home educational software companies.
The Software Publishers Association, or SPA, finds that 27 percent of American households now own a personal computer. Many of these computers are recent purchases: 31 percent of computer households made their purchases in 1993 or early 1994, with multimedia computers equipped with a CD drive accounting for 37 percent of these purchases.
The personal computer entertainment software market is separate and distinct from the video game cartridge market, consisting primarily of software for use on IBM-PCs, PC compatibles, and Apple's Macintosh computer. Sales of entertainment software for all personal computer hardware platforms will be approximately $600,000,000 worldwide in 1994.
Roberta's first game, Mystery House incorporated simple, two-dimensional drawings into the standard text-only design. The player explores an abandoned house, looking for a precious treasure and trying to uncover the identity of whomever is murdering your companions. The game ran on the Apple II computer and cost $24.95. It eventually sold well over 10,000 copies, which was phenomenal for 1980
pace Quest gives new meaning to the term "warp drive." Starring Roger Wilco, rocket janitor second class, this is science fiction at its weirdest! Created by the Two Guys from Andromeda, alias Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy (both of whom cut their canines on King's Quest I and II and The Black Cauldron), this hilarious series is now up to its sixth installment. Fans of Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist will be happy to hear that Josh Mandel is Space Quest VI's designer. And Scott Murphy has been coerced, uh, has volunteered to lend his talents as well.
As of December 1993, Space Quest was Sierra On-Line's third best-selling series with almost one million games sold to date.
Leisure Suit LarryEdit
How does one describe a dream? Larry Laffer is everything a girl could ever want in a man... and much, much more! (At least that's what he tells me so it must be true). He's suave and debonair (pronounced "swave" and "duh-boner") and boy, does he know how to dress! He knows all the right places to see and be seen... and he says all the right things to make gorgeous women drop to their knees and beg for more... NOT!
Al Lowe (who coincidentally cut his canines on Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy) is the evil genius responsible for five of these blatant (yet mildly amusing) attacks on the male ego. He was planning to call his most recent episode Oh Pun Season, only Tammy Dargan beat him to it. So look for Larry in Shape Up or Slip Out... you'll recognize him by his disproportionately large... ego.
As of December 1993, Leisure Suit Larry was Sierra On-Line's second best-selling series with close to one and a half million games sold to date.
Police Quest immerses the player in a brutal world of vice, drugs, and homicide. Created by Officer Jim Walls, a fifteen year veteran of the California Highway Patrol, this series plays it as close to reality as anyone unarmed would want to get. The Police Quest currently in the works is being designed by Tammy Dargan, ex-America's Most Wanted producer and co-designer (with former LAPD Chief Daryl F. Gates) of Police Quest: Open Season. Reportedly, this new episode will be a strategy game based on Los Angeles SWAT team cases.
As of December 1993, Police Quest was Sierra On-Line's fourth best-selling series with close to one million games sold to date.
Quest for GloryEdit
Designed by Lori and Corey Cole, Quest for Glory is one of the top fantasy role-playing series ever created. The design allows the player the choice of playing as a fighter, magic user, or thief. The chosen persona dictates the action of the game and how challenges must be overcome. For instance, the fighter would break down the door, the magic user would cast an "Open" spell, and the thief would pick the lock. A unique feature allows the player to import a previously developed hero into a new adventure, thus taking advantage of accrued skills and strengths.
Phantasmagoria is being produced in Oakhurst using the full capabilities of Sierra On-Line's new video studio. Designed in the tradition of classic horror films, Phantasmagoria is for a mature audience, showing players the dark side of Roberta Williams' imagination. Roberta has reportedly come up with a new, icon-less interface that will be introduced in both King's Quest VII and Phantasmagoria.
The co-designer of EcoQuest as well as King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, Jane Jensen has gone on to become one of Sierra On-Line's newest and hottest designers. Her first solo project, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, was released in late 1993 to much critical acclaim. An adult game in the tradition of gothic horror, Gabriel Knight takes place in New Orleans. As the title character, the player must solve a rash of ritualistic voodoo murders before he becomes the next victim.
Jane is currently hard at work designing Gabriel Knight II: The Beast Within, scheduled for release in June, 1995.
Royal Scribe's note: When we began compiling material for this collection, we interviewed a few of the many people who have worked on at least one King's Quest. Here are Jane's responses.
1. Which King's Quest game(s) did you work on? Doing what?
I worked on King's Quest VI as co-designer and co-director with Roberta. 2. What do you think makes the King's Quest series unique and special? I think the King's Quest series has been so popular because Roberta has such a harmonious, straight-forward, sweet, and appealing style. There's a lot of charm in both the KQ series and Laura Bow. It's the kind of charm I find in Agatha Christie's work or in the Disney properties. It's great for families, it appeals to women, yet, coming from the gaming end, I think her world is challenging and fun enough to explore to satisfy the hard-core gamers. Also, Roberta has a tenacious eye for quality, and her projects always meet the highest standards at that time for art, technology, continuity, and seamless (non-clunky) play.
3. Do you have any uplifting, insightful, or humorous stories about Roberta and/or the making of King's Quest?
The best part of the development process of King's Quest VI for me was the time that Roberta and I spent designing at her house in Bass Lake during the summer of 1992. They were long days, intense brainstorming days, and I was usually exhausted by the time I got home and unable to turn my brain off to sleep. Yet, we had a lot of fun making up all the silly puns for the Isle of Wonder (neither of us are humorists by nature, yet we seemed to do okay at it together), out-doing each other adding twists and turns to the puzzles and then feeling quite devious about how "challenging" we were making things for the player, adding layer upon layer of story and puzzles and locales until we could scarcely remember all the points ourselves and had to run for paper to jot down notes. People really seem to enjoy the game, yet I don't think any player could have had their brain turned to mush nor enjoyed themselves any more intensely then we experienced that summer creating the design.
4. If you could ask Roberta one question about the land of Daventry, what would that question be?
Hey, Roberta, where can I get one of those magic mirrors?
King's Quest VII is sure to benefit by having Lorelei Shannon as its co-designer. Her unique wit and sense of humor sparkled in her previous work, Pepper's Adventures in Time and InterAction magazine. Lorelei is highly revered by her fellow Sierra On-Line employees for her ongoing "Gross Fact of the Week." She is also rumored to be a punk belly dancer, a published horror writer, and the surrogate mother of a marsupial.
Royal Scribe's note: When we began compiling material for this collection, we interviewed a few of the many people who have worked on at least one King's Quest. Here are Lorelei's responses.
1. Which King's Quest game(s) did you work on? Doing what?
I wrote the hint book for King's Quest I, and I am co-designing King's Quest VII. 2. What do you think makes the King's Quest series unique and special? The King's Quest series is unique because of its universal appeal. It is one of the few products out there that is fun for adults, but also suitable (and entertaining) for children. In the tradition of Disney, King's Quest really is family entertainment. 3. What is Roberta like? How would you describe her?
Roberta is creative, funny, hard-working, determined, and sometimes shy. She is wonderful to work with, because her mind is so open to the world of the fantastic. She has an incredible sense of what the player will like and not like--she is very in tune with her audience.
4. Do you have any uplifting, insightful, or humorous stories about Roberta and/or the making of King's Quest?
While we were still in the brainstorming and design stage of the KQVII design, we were working mainly at Roberta's house. On Fridays, it was Roberta's day to pick up a number of kids from school and take them back to their homes, as she was part of a carpool. We would be going full tilt when 2:30 PM would roll around, so we would take her notes, and as Roberta drove, we would continue talking about the game. The first time we ever picked up the kids, we were in the midst of a lively discussion on how to dispatch the evil faerie antagonist of KQVII. We were just rattling on, discussing the possibilities of shrinking potions, energy bolts, one-ton weights and the like, when we noticed the kids had become very, very quiet. Then one little voice piped up from the back of the van to say "Uh, Chris? What did you say your mom did for a living?"
5. If you could ask Roberta one question about the land of Daventry, what would that question be?
I would love to know about the pre-history of Daventry. What were Daventry stone-agers like? Did they have magic, or were they just regular hunter-gatherer sorts? Hmm, I guess that's more than one question.
Josh Mandel started at Sierra On-Line in 1990 as an Assistant Producer, his first project being the SCI remake of King's Quest I. But he preferred to spend his time writing sarcastic text for any designer who would let him. Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe gave him his first opportunity by allowing him to write the parody software boxes and bogus hint book for Space Quest IV. Since then, he's been a contributing writer on most Sierra adventures, as well as the director, writer, and co-designer of Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist. Josh is currently designing and directing Space Quest VI.
Royal Scribe's note: When we began compiling material for this collection, we interviewed a few of the many people who have worked on at least one King's Quest. Here are Josh's responses.
1. Which King's Quest game(s) did you work on? Doing what? I worked on King's Quest I -SCI, the remake done in 1990. It was my very first project when I came to Sierra; the game had been languishing for awhile because Roberta was so heavily involved with King's Quest V, which was in progress at the same time. While I was officially titled "Producer," Roberta let me get more hands-on: I rewrote most of the actual game text, added a lot of new responses, and slightly altered some of the puzzles. The original game, groundbreaking as it was, was somewhat terse and brief. I tried to make it more fairytale-ish in its prose, so it would fit in better with the much more detailed King's Quest IV and King's Quest V.
I also worked on King's Quest V as the voice of King Graham (and several other voices), a role I reprised briefly in King's Quest VI.
2. What do you think makes the King's Quest series unique and special? King's Quest cuts across nearly all age groups and backgrounds. The fairy tales that form the basis for the games are cross-cultural, as opposed to most computer adventures which use contemporary imagery specific to a given culture. Were it not for the timelessness and universal popularity of the source material, I doubt King's Quest would be as uniquely popular as it is.
3. What is Roberta like? How would you describe her? Roberta is totally open-minded when it comes to creative endeavors. She's always willing to try something new, even when it comes to something as entrenched as the King's Quest series. She's perennially cheerful and easygoing, but she's also a perfectionist. And while she's had fame thrust upon her, she still comes off as ingenuous, having simple tastes and preferring a simple lifestyle.
4. Do you have any uplifting, insightful, or humorous stories about Roberta and/or the making of King's Quest? Towards the end of the making of King's Quest I -SCI, we had re-orchestrated the final scene in which King Edward dies and King Graham assumes the throne. (The original was a little crude in this area: King Edward would fall over and King Graham would step on him as he walked up to the throne.) We used the same throne room as in King's Quest IV, but the Magic Mirror (one of the three treasures you find during the game) was sitting by the throne rather than in its usual place on the wall, where it figured prominently in King's Quest IV. So I wrote this bit where, as King Edward dies, he says, "I think the Magic Mirror would look best over on that wall" and then points to the wall, sighs, and dies. After Roberta played it, she gently asked if we could change that scene, since she didn't think King Edward would be giving interior decorating tips with his dying breath. I was bummed to have to take it out, but the way Roberta asked was pretty funny. Maybe you had to be there.
5. If you could ask Roberta one question about the land of Daventry, what would that question be? Why did the cheese start the machine?
King's Quest I CreditsEdit
King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown
Designed & Written by Roberta Williams
Original Version Charles Tingley Ken MacNeill Chris Iden New Version Jeff Stephenson Sol Ackerman Chris Iden Graphics Doug MacNeill Greg Rowland
Thanks to Linda Ackerman Mark Crowe Robert Heitman Scott Murphy
Game Designer Roberta Williams
Producer Josh Mandel
Art Designer William D. Skirvin Illustrated by Jeff Crowe Cindy Walker Jennifer Shontz Programmed by Jerry Shaw, Gary Kamigawachi, Randy MacNeill, Raoul Said, Chad Bye, Oliver Brelsford, Mark Wilden
Development System Jeff Stephenson, Robert E. Heitman, Pablo Ghenis, John Hartin, Dan Foy, Larry Scott, John Rettig, Corinna Abdul Corey Cole, Mark Hood, Eric Hart Composer Ken Allen
Quality Assurance Chris Carr and the rest of the gang
King's Quest II CreditsEdit
King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne
Designed & Written by Roberta Williams Development System Jeff Stephenson Chris Iden Robert Heitman Game Logic Ken Williams Sol Ackerman Chris Iden Scott Murphy Dale Carlson Graphics Doug MacNeill Mark Crowe Music Al Lowe
King's Quest III CreditsEdit
King's Quest III: To Heir is Human
Written & Designed by Roberta Williams Programming Al Lowe Bob Heitman Bob Kernaghan Graphics Doug MacNeill Mark Crowe Music Margaret Lowe Story Annette Childs
King's Quest IV CreditsEdit
King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella
Written & Designed by Roberta Williams Game Development System Jeff Stephenson Robert Heitman Pablo Ghenis Chris Iden Paul Krasno Music Development System Stuart Goldstein Programming Ken Koch John Hamilton Chane Fullmer Chris Hoyt Teresa Baker Animation & Background Scenes Carolly Hauksdottir William Skirvin Jerry Moore Documentation Jerry Albright
King's Quest V CreditsEdit
King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder
Executive Producer Ken Williams
Creative Director Bill Davis
Game Designer & Producer Roberta Williams
Art Designer Andy Hoyos
Lead Programmer Chris Iden
Composers Mark Seibert Ken Allen Documentation Bridget McKenna Creative Consultant William D. Skirvin
Artists Ernie Chan, Douglas Herring, Jeff Crowe, William D. Skirvin, Maurice Morgan, Vas Nokhoudian, Barry T. Smith, Cindy Walker, Deena Benz, Tamra Dayton, Dana Dean, Roger Hardy Jr., Harry McLaughlin, Jennifer Shontz, Deanna Yhalkee, Jim Larson, Cheryl Loyd, Jerry Moore, Cheryl Sweeney, Eric Kasner, Hector Martinez, Richard D. Zeigler-Martin
Programmers Chris Iden, Chris Hoyt, Robert W. Lindsley, Raoul Said, Doug Oldfield, Carlos Escobar, Oliver Brelsford
Development System Jeff Stephenson, Robert E. Heitman, Pablo Ghenis, Corey Cole, Dan Foy, John Rettig, John Hartin, Larry Scott, Eric Hart, J. Mark Hood
Music/Sound Effects Mark Seibert Ken Allen
King's Quest VI CreditsEdit
King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
Written, Designed, & Directed by Roberta Williams Jane Jensen
Producer, Director, & Art Designer William D. Skirvin Composer Chris Braymen
Text & Dialogue Jane Jensen
Senior Artists Michael Hutchison John Shroades
Team Artists Russell Truelove Deanna Yhalkee
Senior Programmer Robert W. Lindsley
Team Programmers Randy MacNeill Robert L. Mallory Victor Sadauskas
Team Quality Assurance Robin Bradley
Guidebook Writer Jane Jensen
Guidebook Illustration John Shroades
Guidebook Designer Mark Empey
Additional Artists Darlou Gams, Tim Loucks, Rick Morgan, Jennifer Shontz, Cindy Walker, Karin A. Young
Opening Cartoon by Kronos: Stanley Liu, Albert Co
Cinematography Rod Fung Bob Ballew
Additional Music & Sound Effects Dan Kehler, Mark Seibert, Rick Spurgeon, Nightingale Songs
Additional Programmers Doug Oldfield Carlos Escobar
Additional Quality Assurance Mike Brosius John Ratcliffe
Technical Support Rob Koeppel
Special Thanks Tammy Dargan Rebecca Sebastian Fresno State University
Behind the scenesEdit
This document includes references related to the King's Question Companion including the names of the three treasures of Daventry, and the use of the name "crystal tower". Genesta as the "Queen of the Fairies" may also originate from the Companion.
- ↑ KQ 15th Anniversary Manual, pg 4.