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Opinions of KQ8: Mask of Eternity?

posted by Anakin Skywalker on - last edited - Viewed by 5.1K users
Personally, I actually really liked that game. Yes it had a bit too much violence, but then again violence was an option in the early KQ games. While KQ5 is my favorite KQ, I wouldn't have minded KQ going in that epic, Arthurian direction. KQ8's story and symbolism is much deeper than any of the previous games, and Connor isn't that bad of a character in retrospect. I personally find it a true KQ game and criminally underrated.
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  • Sierra was always ahead of their time with innovative ideas. Were there even MMO's in 98? There were very very few if any. Which means they'd have no real model to copy from. Which means THEY would have invented what an MMO would be.
    Sierra had The Realm, as far back as 1996! It was kinda like Quest for Glory, but had the whole talk to man, read a note style fetch quests. It was in many ways similar to QFG4 as far as the way you explored the world (screen by screen like most Sierra adventure games). So uh ya, Sierra did invent what what an MMO is to this day!!!

    So um ya, Sierra already had been 'revolutionary' as far as MMO's went. Could Roberta had taken it further? Who knows....

    That being said no one knows when Roberta planned the MMO aspect of the game, was it before Mark Seibert recommended the enemies? Or was it after?
    ...the boring talk-man-find-objective puzzles they are today.
    Hmm, you just described many of the puzzles in both KQ7 and KQ8, and even Quest for Glory V... Roberta was still ahead of most people, but her puzzle types (as well as others in Sierra) were turning/simplified more towards to glorified fetch quests...

    It's no wonder Telltalle has turned towards the model Roberta herself was turning towards in her games... They have just turned to the far extreme of that direction... Like you have said they could look at KQ7's model (and elements of KQ8), use it to make this game, and claim they remain trued to the series!
    a little more on the exploration and it would have been even better.
    Also, you said that KQ8 should have more exploration? It's actually the most exploratory of all the KQ games! I'd say more so than any previous game in the series! (with the exception of maybe the first four games). Each 'world' is extremely huge, with nearly as many locations to find as in most of the early KQ games (1-4) in each of those areas. You aren't pointed in any particular direction in most cases, and have to discover the items on your own (with the exception of an occasional character or scroll telling you to find specific ingredients to some spell).

    KQ5 and KQ6 had more claustrophobic areas, with kind of more linear exploration with one screen next to another screen (or two), rather than screens in all four directions (with the exception of Serenia/Desert). KQ3 became more claustrophobic and linear once you left Llewdor (which luckily was more than half the game).

    Beyond that many of the weapons in KQ8 were special items used in puzzle solutions, and not simply weapons for hacking and slashing, or shooting to kill! The combat itself wasn't merely use projectiles on all enemies, or swords in all enemies. Some were better killed by projectiles and not hand weapons, many were completely immune to projectiles. So you had to learn the right weapons for the situation!

    In other instances weapons were used in unconventional ways (i.e. not as a weapon). A throwing hammer used to throw a switch to cross a bridge, a axe to cut down a tree, a hammer to break a lock (ok KQ5 had that puzzle too, ;)), icebow to freeze water, a bow to cut a rope to raise a gate, etc! These were unique ideas, and I can't think of any other game that utilized weapons in such utilarian ways (other than Zelda perhaps).

    Granted I do agree, if the bosses or individual enemies were more compelling and complicated in Zelda, where you had to take advantage of items collected in the proverbial 'dungeon' to expose their weaknesses, that would have been great to see in KQ8! Zelda had been doing that for years. Then again it would have been even less like any previous KQ than KQ8 had been.

    BTW, according to interviews Roberta had her eyes for development on KQ8 based more on Mario 64, Quake, and Doom. Luckily it was not anything like Quake or Doom (first person shooters with nothing but key/switch puzzles), and was more than Mario 64 (except for those stupid tile/platform/box puzzles)...

    Combat turned slightly more towards Diablo style point and click interface (which was largely popular back then).

    KQ3 was probably the worst of the 'books/scrolls'' telling you pretty much every item you needed to find, (almost all puzzles were spell ingredients, or items needed to hold spell ingredients), or based on those spells (told how and described the types of locations where the spells could be used). Sierra got alot of complaints because of that! Forced them to change things in the sequels.
  • I never liked KQ7, KQ8 could (and should) have been better and I don't play the Quest for Glory's. What I meant was, they could have continued to innovate with more successful MMO titles (if done properly without suits involved as much as they were at the time). Sierra continued to refine everything they innovated. Everybody else just copied them. If the MMO's today are truly a result of what Sierra did then they aren't innovating anything. My point is, Sierra would have done better if continuing with Ken at the helm.

    And we don't know for sure if it would have even gone in an MMO direction.
  • Hmm, I'd like to step in and point out...

    Actually, for many of Roberta's more compelling ideas, technology was a hindrence. They couldn't get the game engine they wanted). The engine they were basing much of their early ideas on, was one that was being designed third party by Dynamix (and switched to some other engine as a quick fix). Dynamix was taking too long to finish it. The game engine they forced into using couldn't handle certain ideas like underwater, or water based physics like currents. The powers that be that owned the game didn't want to raise the budget, or extend the development time any longer (it was apparently already over budget and had been given an extra year of developing time). So when they talk about too many people cooking the pot, this is partly to do with the fact that half of the KQ8 team were over at Dynamix, and the other half was at Sierra. One hand didn't know what the other hand was doing! Add to the fact that there was a third group, the Sierra's new owners (the suits) over in France (and the new Sierra president in their pocket), that were pushing for the game's quick release, due to budget concerns, and time (forcing other changes), not listening to Ken or Roberta's advice. So truly there were too many cooks in the kitchen!

    Many of Roberta's ideas were added back in the game when she reasserted control in the last year. But they were modified somewhat. Characters were merged, or replaced with alternative characters (that didn't exist in the earliest design concepts). The hermit (with knowledge of all things about the Mask of Eternity), and its crystal of truth (or whatver it was called) for example was split into the Wizard and the hermit in the Realm of the Gnomes. So the final game got two characters for one in that instance. The wood nymph and his sprites got modified into the will of the whisps and King Mudge.

    Some of the enemies that were cut, were simply that enemies, to be killed rather defeated through puzzle solutions. The Leprechaun/Red Hat Goblin were both the same character, but they couldn't decide what they wanted that boss to be. It ended up being turned into the Spriggan with the armor (according to Mark Seibert)! At least with the Red Hat Goblin version of that character, some speculate that the player might have encountered more than once through the game (although this hasn't been confirmed).

    No one really knows what her plans were for individual puzzles, although few of the behind the scenes information and interviews suggests even more physic based/ action based puzzles, as opposed to classic style inventory puzzles. Especially in the cut underwater level!

    The witch would have had a more introductory sequence leading you into her tower, before she changed forms, and started the boss battle! It's not a puzzle, but it would have been a more compelling introduction (this is truly missed).

    Castle Daventry may have been extended, not for puzzle purposes, but simply for setting the scenery (would have given a few more places to explore). Giving you a better idea how much damage 'the cataclysm' had caused on the kingdom. You could have gone into the bedroom of Rosella for example!

    I think the thing lost that would have improved the game probably the most, is the loss of a compelling ending sequence! It's hinted at by the Oracle of the Tree, but never realized in the released game. That is Connnor was to return to Daventry, and meet King Graham. The torch may haven been passed (Connor becoming the knight of Daventry, that Graham used to be)!

    Some ideas were changed simply due to evolution of the story. Connor went from being a nameless statue, to a fisherman's son (Connor mac Lyrr), finally to the tanner (Connor of Daventry) he was in the final release. The exact timing of these changes were made is unclear. The statue idea goes back as far as 1995 or so (when she was first talking about the 3-d "Doom" KQ, someone mentioned above).

    BTW, I love KQ8, if anyone wants to know more, I've been putting together a behind the scenes development history of the game (as well as other games) over on the King's Quest Omnipedia.

    Most are probably surprised to learn, that nearly each game in the series, had alot of early ideas, that were cut for various reasons. Budget concerns, lack of time in the development cycle, or technology limitations. Quite a few ideas that were going to be in the original KQ1, ended up going into KQ2 for example!

    KQ7 also lost quite a few things before its release, including at least one or two other areas. As well as a longer ending sequence, and several encounters. Many of these things can be found in the game's files!

    There were a handful of things completely changed or removed from KQ5 as well!

    Rarely have we received the games as the developers had initially envisioned!

    For more see here;
    My point is, Sierra would have done better if continuing with Ken at the helm.
    I'd be careful with proclamation. Ken has been on record of admitting had he still owned the company he would have done away with adventure games, went more towards console style action/arcade games, and more productivity software. He was starting to believe that he needed to emulate what was becoming popular out there and less risk taking to make his company more successful and money making.

    I recommend checking out his editorials in the later Interaction magazines for examples. Success was going to his head. It was that success that made him forget what truly made them successful. It was that success that lead the mistake of selling off the company as well. He was literally transforming into one of the Suits that plagued the company in it's final years.
  • He specifically said he wanted to stop taking risks? That's sad to hear. He was do adamant about innovating technology and gameplay. And "you can't innovate without taking risks".
  • Ya, its sad really eh? Sierra was losing its heart, and entrepreneurial spirit, I'd say even before they sold it off to a small degree. Especially that last year Ken remained on after he sold it.

    He thought Adventure games were dead, and wanted to emulate genres that had become more successful, and less risky. Half-life was one of those (although arguably the developers of that game still had an innovative spirit).

    In one of his last editorials in Interaction, he admits to being a little late to the party, in adding certain genres to Sierra's portfolio (FPS, RPG, and Strategy games, and Console, etc, IIRC). That he had overlooked their coming popularity, and other companies beat them to the punch at least innovating the technology of those genres.

    I think he also said that the Japanese-style RPGs (Final Fantasy VII types) and FPS were the future evolution of Adventure games, and other companies had innovated them before they had.

    BTW, I noticed you said you never played Quest for Glory? Shame on you! If you like KQ, that series has many things in common! You are truly missing out!
  • MusicallyInspired;528699 said:
    I never liked KQ7, KQ8 could (and should) have been better and I don't play the Quest for Glory's.

    King's Quest 7 was definitely one of the weakest in the series, but alot of the puzzles took me awhile and were more than pick up object and give it to person A. I had so much trouble with that desert. Yes it barely acknowledges the rest of the series, but I never thought it was a horrible game.

    To me the quest for Glory series is one of the best series sierra ever released and I'd recommend playing them. Yes it is a RPG but there is alot adventure game puzzles in the first four.
  • I liked it yes, but I would have liked it a lot more if I didn't have to spend so much time waiting for areas to load and unload, or for the game to restart after locking up in one place or another.
  • I never said I never played them, I said I don't play them. I played through and beat the first game and tried starting the second but just lost heart. I know what they're all about, but they just aren't my particular brand of tea. Maybe someday I'll get through them all.
  • The thing I like about QFG is same thing I like about KQ, quite a bit of the material was inspired by fairy tales and myth.

    Back to KQ8, here is a good answer from Roberta Williams from 1999 why she decided to make KQ so much differently;
    Mask of Eternity has to be one of the most controversial games ever released (next to Phantasmagoria!). Either the critics love it (Just Adventure voted it best action/adventure game of the year) or they loathe it. There does not seem to be any middle ground. To what do you attribute this wide and at times emotional difference of opinions?

    The question you asked above is the reason King's Quest: Mask of Eternity was different. The adventure game as we all know and love it is a dead animal, except for those of us who love and revere them. The problem is that those of us who love and revere them are becoming a smaller and smaller audience. If I had created King's Quest 8 exactly the same as the other prior seven, it might have gotten great reviews and kudos from its biggest fans, but it wouldn't have sold as many copies as it has ... I'm sure of that. The people who seem to hate Mask of Eternity are, ironically, King's Quest's biggest fans, and the people who seem to love it are those people who have never played an adventure game before, but who have played lots of other types of games ... especially more action games.

    The idea was to bring a brand new audience into adventure game playing--those who would never even consider playing an adventure game. The idea was to show all of these "new" gamers that there is another type of game out there--the adventure game--and that it, too, can be cool. Rather than the hard-core adventure gamers out there being mad at me for "tinkering" with the adventure game, they should understand that, rather than just sitting around and doing the same old thing, I was trying to bring new blood into the genre ... thereby trying to keep it from dying. Times change, and tastes change ... they just do, and you've gotta do what you've gotta do to try and reach the biggest possible audience to keep a genre alive.

    One final comment on this: Even though in reviews of "pure" adventure games--places where an adventure game is an adventure game, and never the twain shall meet with other types of genres--Grim Fandango seems to garner great reviews while Mask of Eternity is a dud, a traitor, and a terrible game ... Mask of Eternity has outsold Grim Fandango two to one. What does that prove? It proves that I was successful in bringing in new people to the adventure game marketplace, which is good for all concerned, but ... it also means that there will probably be some changes in the adventure game that today's big fans of adventure games will have to accept. The old-style adventure game that we all know and love will just not cut it in today's world.
    If you remember the context that at the time, 1996 or so, Ken wanted to do away with the Adventure game genre since it clearly wasn't successful as it previously been, you can get a better idea why KQ8 and even QFG5 were different than previous games in the genre and were moving more towards standard RPG or Tomb Raideresque/RPG Action Adventure.
  • Adventures games are only "dead" to major publishers. The genre is alive (if not well) through any number of indie developers. I'll bet there are many more people playing adventure games today than there were 20 years ago, in absolute terms. It's only relative to other genres that adventure gaming has gotten smaller. So Roberta's statement makes more sense this way:'ve gotta do what you've gotta do to try and reach the biggest possible audience to keep a genre large publishing company alive.
    As a fan of the full spectrum of adventure/action-adventure/action games, I've always been cognizant that the latter two evolved (in part) from the former. You have a character with a set of abilities exploring a gameworld and using those abilities to overcome challenges embedded in the gameworld. As technology advanced, the range of possible challenges expanded. Gameplay expanded to encompass combat and movement challenges ("platforming") and not just point-and-click puzzle-solving. It's important to remember, though, that just because one thing evolves from another, it doesn't automatically mean that the original thing is obsolete or undesirable. (So adventure gaming is like the coelacanth -- it might seem "primitive" and "un-evolved", but it's a perfectly viable species in its own niche. :D ) Also, the recent emergence of the action-puzzler style of game shows that there is still interest in and demand for puzzle-solving gameplay, if not for adventure games.

    So the revival of KQ is kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand adventure game production as a whole, being so small, isn't very innovative; yet Telltale is one of the more innovative companies within that market. (Unfortunately, its recent innovative direction, the adventure game as glorified content delivery system, isn't particularly appealing to me, but that's another thread.) But really, no truly innovative game developer in the relevant genres, one capable of taking Mask of Eternity as the jumping off point, would have picked up a franchise this old anyway; they'd be more likely to invent their own IP.

    While all this history and speculation is interesting, the KQ9 that Ken and Roberta would have made 12 years ago can never ever be made, not even by Ken and Roberta, not today. We can't revive Sierra itself or its innovative capacity. I think the games themselves and what they meant to their fans -- what they still mean to the fans -- are far more important considerations for developers attempting to continue the KQ series than anything the Williams have said, either prospectively or retrospectively, about the franchise.
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