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It sucks being a Sierra fan....

posted by Anakin Skywalker on - last edited - Viewed by 3.7K users
Does anyone else ever feel that it kind of sucks sometimes to be a fan of Sierra, or Sierra's games? Not because of the games themselves--they're quality, awesome games, classics--But because of all that has happened since around 1999 or so?

I'm not old enough, sadly, to have actively experienced Sierra's glory days--Not in any major way. I played my first Sierra game in 1995, at the age of 5--Right around the time the "good times" were about to end for Sierra, and in any case, too young to fully understand.

But playing the games, watching and checking out all the bonus material that Sierra would put in their Collections, reading stuff like InterAction Magazine (having bought a few issues off Ebay), I can get just a taste of what an amazing time it must've been. Sierra, at it's peak, must've been both an exciting and fantastic place to work at--and for the fans which churned out classics of place which inspired awe and wonder. It must've rivaled Disney under Walt Disney in terms of the general "magic" surrounding the company.

To this day, I contend that there isn't nor hasn't been any game company which is as cool, or as good to it's fans, or as "warm" as Sierra under Ken Williams was. From InterAction, to the bonus features, to their No Risk Return policy, Sierra seemed to do it's all to make you feel like a part of the "Sierra Family"--to make the customer feel like he or she wasn't just a faceless consumer, but were themselves a part of the whole operation--That they were listened to, understood and treated as more than just a faceless market.

Even while CEO, Ken Williams would come on Usenet and chat with fans directly, nothing censoring the fans' questions. That would be like the CEO of Activision (Sierra was, in terms of size, power and income, the Activision or EA of the early-mid 90s) coming into a thread and directly chatting. You don't see that kind of accessibility or warmth from any company except perhaps small ones. And somehow despite having over 1,000 employees and being a publicly traded company, Sierra did manage to maintain that intimate, accessible sort of feel that a small group of rebel game makers would have, rather being than the cold, detached monolith which most corporations are.

And then the bad times came. Sierra was sold once, then financially gutted because it's new owners were corrupt and used Sierra's name in illegal activities, then sold again to a company which had no interest in what made Sierra what it was, a company which promptly shut down Sierra's adventure game divisions and shut down the original headquarters which helped give the company it's name, the place from which so many classic and beloved emerged. Ken and Roberta Williams sailed, with the money made from the first sale, away from the gaming industry, and all the rest of Sierra's writers, artists and designers either quit or were fired when Sierra was sold to Vivendi.

Then Vivendi decided they were going to "bring back" some of Sierra's classic franchises, while giving a big middle finger to the original designers who made said franchises and rejecting any advice or offers of help...And promptly shat out Leisure Suit Larry: Magnum Cum Laude, a horrendous, generic, half baked game which shares with the real LSL series only a common brand name. And they attempted to make a "sequel" to Space Quest around the same time--which had nothing to do with the original Space Quest series at all.

Around this time, Vivendi shut down Sierra's physical headquarters at Bellevue--Having been Sierra's HQ since 1993--and closed down Sierra's last remaining subsidiaries. Sierra was reduced to being a company which existed only in name--a brand and logo which Vivendi slapped on it's products for the next several years, whose legacy was forgotten totally and desecrated. And then finally, Activision laid the name to rest...Sadly for good.

A last LSL game was released, and it was much the same as Magnum Cum Laude--It had nothing to do with the original series.

And that's where we stand. Yes, we have a remake of the original LSL being made by Al, Josh and some of the others...But I am skeptical. Not because I doubt the talents of any involved--But because we live in a time where the gaming industry has no real soul left; It's just utterly commercial, generic crap being pumped out by faceless companies, each trying to copy and out do the other. We live in an age where the gaming industry is locked into very narrow boxes and doesn't tend to accept anything outside of those boxes--And Sierra's games, and adventure games in general, fit way outside any box with their innocent, goofy atmosphere and non-violent formats.

That's why I support this TT game. Not because I am certain it will be good, but because even if it's say, closer in format to KQ7 than to KQ6, if it's successful, it might show Activision that REAL adventure games can make money. That it's worth investing in them further. If I had to choose between Activision doing a KQ game in house or farming it out to TT, the choice is clear. Even if it's not a "great game" by the standards of die hard fans, if it is a good KQ game--which respects the originals, has the same atmosphere, has the non violent format--and suceeds--it could change the game up a little.

It largely sucks to be a Sierra fan, because for the last decade or so we've been disappointed over and over again, but I do look to TT's game with a glimmer of hope, and at the larger picture, and I hope I'm not fooled again.
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  • User Avatar Image
    puzzlebox Telltale Staff
    You guys are still a midsize company

    To avoid confusion here: forum mods aren't employed by Telltale and we're not part of the company. We're just volunteer community plebs. :)
    Indie-games are great but what about mainstream games??

    I'm just saying that if there aren't any mainstream games you like, don't play them. There's plenty of other stuff out there. "Mainstream" does not an entire industry make, and you're tarring everyone with the same very broad brush.

    At the very least, you've still got the whole library of Sierra games that were produced during the heyday. It doesn't have to "suck being a Sierra fan" just because there's nothing new coming out... a lack of new stuff doesn't need to tarnish your experience of the existing stuff.

    Maybe I'm just a "glass half full" type.
  • As an old school Sierra fan, I can say the late nineties really sucked.. and were an incredibly confusing time regarding the company. The downfall of adventure games sort of coincided with college for me, so it was a bit handy in that I shouldn't have been playing games anyway.

    Really glad to see everyone coming out of the woodwork over the last few months (well, Jane never really went away). Incredibly nice to see that message from Ken in the Spaceventure comments on KS. Not going to hold back my support for anything that Mark & Scott want to do -- it'll be an adventure game, and probably great.

    Waiting for those issues of Interaction to show up really sucked, though.. And I never really saw the newsgroup posts.. There's altogether more information (and information control) out there, about everything, nowadays -- it's very different from the frustrating days of calling the Sierra 800 number and asking sales clerks when things would be released everyday (and getting a different answer from all of them... That drove me nuts).
  • It can suck to be a fan of anything when it's no longer in active production or distribution. But that doesn't mean we can't bask in nostalgia, or delve deeper into the archives. I'm a big fan of Kurt Weill, Max Fleischer and Scott Adams, and I can still enjoy their body of existing work even though they're not producing any new music, cartoons or adventure games, respectively (well, Scott IS working on something, but it's going to be a while; at least he's still alive, unlike the other two guys!)

    It's not Sierra's fault that the animated adventure game fell out of commercial currency, any more than Infocom was responsible for the death of the text adventure. The market shifted toward graphics, killing Infocom and its brethren, and then 3-D hardware and new kinds of game experiences came along, killing Sierra and Lucasarts' adventure game market. It's not that the hardcore fans didn't want these games -- it's that there weren't enough casual players still buying them to keep the genre commercially viable.

    It's only now in the downloadable age that adventure games are making a comeback. Why? Primarily because DISTRIBUTION COSTS ARE LOWER -- publishers don't have to fight for retail shelf space, and digital distribution is almost free once the game is done, as opposed to selling the game for $20 so that the distributor can sell it for $25-$30 and the retailer can get $50 for it. (Development costs are also lower, as this kind of technology has matured and suitable tools and engines are readily available.)

    On-Line Systems / Sierra On-Line no longer exists per se, but neither does Republic Pictures or Casablanca Records. The important thing is that talented designers can once again make a living creating adventure games! And it helps us too. We can now buy a whole season of a Telltale game for $25, or a new point-and-click game like Gemini Rue or an HD remake of The Secret of Monkey Island for $10 or less. We forget that we used to pay $50 for new releases like "King's Quest V" back in the day. (That's even more impressive once inflation is taken into account!)

    The viable price point and the development and distribution costs are much easier to balance now; as a result, I would argue, we have seen more new adventure games in the past five years than we did in the ten years between 1995 and 2005. That doesn't suck, not at all.
  • puzzlebox wrote: »
    To avoid confusion here: forum mods aren't employed by Telltale and we're not part of the company. We're just volunteer community plebs. :)

    What you have not gotten your first million dollar paycheck yet? I used mine to buy all the unopened cans of crystal pepsi in existence.. and then marveled at its crystalyness.
  • You didn't use it to fund SpaceVenture?

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    Jennifer Moderator
    I don't view Mark & Scott making Space Venture as all that exciting because, while it's cool that they're together again, it's not Space Quest. It's different. Maybe it will be good, maybe not--I don't know. But I haven't been looking forward to Space Venture for years. But I have been looking forward to a new Space Quest game for years.
    It's definitely a spiritual sequel. It's about an unlikely hero from a low station in life who has to save the day. It's got the Space Quest humor and an updated version of the classic Space Quest art style. They still use the Two Guys From Andromeda name, the Two Guys will appear in the game (there-by tying the game to Space Quest without making any IP-violations). And they got Gary Owens back as the narrator.

    The fact that it looks like Space Quest, sounds like Space Quest, and has Space Quest characters in it by ways of the Two Guys from Andromeda leads me to think of it as a side story or a spin-off of Space Quest. :)
  • Yeah, sometimes people get bogged down by name brands. Personally, I prefer store-brand Doritos.

  • To avoid confusion here: forum mods aren't employed by Telltale and we're not part of the company. We're just volunteer community plebs.

    Lol... The funny thing is I think there were a couple of lawsuits over the last few years, where people are trying to make the arguement that money making companies are breaking the old labor laws by not giving online "volunteers" at least minimum wage. If those lawsuits ever survive in the favor of those making them, who knows how it will change the online aspects of industry?
  • Also I want to give props to Activision here. I know they get a lot of hate, but the fact that they agreed to release the classic games on GOG without DRM at good prices deserves a mention. (That's how I came to play King's Quest, having never played it as a child.)

    That and them finally agreeing to let The Silver Lining fan project go ahead, and giving Telltale the rights to a new King's Quest game. I'd say Activision is looking after Sierra fans pretty nicely.
  • Good point, but they really should give permisison to GOG to release both versions of KQ1, SQ1, and PQ1, etc.

    Thank goodness they did the QFG collection right.
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