The internet has been having a collective nerdgasm over the announcement that Activision is bringing Sierra back and rebooting the popular point-and-click adventure series King’s Quest with it. But is everyone’s excitement being shot in the wrong directions? Sure, the name Sierra Entertainment and the name King’s Quest are both coming back, but what are they really? Let’s look into that.
What They Are Not
This isn’t your grandpappy’s Sierra. The majority of the team that founded the company and worked on the adventures of Graham, Alexander, and others in the King’s Quest series have long since retired from gaming. The mastermind behind the majority of them, Roberta Williams, has since gone on to work on a historic novel since her official retirement from game design nearly a decade ago.
The last King’s Quest the world saw before it fell off the face of the Earth was 1998’s King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity. Even that was a huge departure from the classic Quest formula as it included combat and many other traditional RPG elements. And that was during Sierra’s heyday, when a lot of the original team was still around.
If you have played any of the old King’s Quest games lately, you can tell that they certainly have not aged well. A game like that released today would get shot down immediately for being way too convoluted. The mystique of spending hours on a puzzle and figuring it out yourself is gone when the temptation to just look up a walk through is too much. Could you imagine playing a game today where, after 20-25 hours of grueling puzzle-solving gameplay, you discover that you can’t finish the game because you forgot to collect some beezwax in the first hour of the game? Neither can today’s gamer.
Also, keep in mind the similar situation of Microsoft, which now owns “Rare” – the company that made SNES and N64 classics such as Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie, DK64, Diddy Kong Racing, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark and many others. But look what happened when the formerly Nintendo-owned studio got purchased by Microsoft and the large majority of its original crew were either gutted or left. Grabbed by the Ghoulies happened.
In other words, the King’s Quest and the Sierra Entertainment you knew are dead and buried. But that’s not a bad thing.
What They Are
With all that said, this move is still a great one for gamers and gaming in general. Much like what Ubisoft already does with its UbiArt program, Activision explained that Sierra will act as a conduit and publisher for indie developers as opposed to a developer themselves. What this is essentially means is that super talented independent developers who maybe would have no other options for funding will have a way to get the money they need as well as the cover of a giant successful company like Activision to work under.
Sierra’s new role is already being put into effect with the King’s Quest reboot as a matter of fact, with indie developers The Odd Gentlemen taking the reins for the classic series. If you haven’t heard of them, The Odd Gentlemen worked on the brilliant, if under recognized, 2D-Platformer The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom as well as collaborating with Neil Gaiman on a unique take on puzzle games with Wayward Manor.
If you strip away the excitement from the legendary Sierra and King’s Quest names what you are left with is a great program for indie games and the possibility of a good point-and-click adventure game coming soon. Neither of these are bad, but just hold back on a bit on your proclamations that Sierra and King’s Quest are being raised from the dead. It’s more like they each had children they never us told about before they died and those now-adult offspring are coming back to continue their parent’s legacies in new ways.
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