General and Everything Else => The Games and other Sierra Adventure stuff => Topic started by: lance.ewing on April 12, 2015, 11:48:02 AM

Title: A sad state of affairs
Post by: lance.ewing on April 12, 2015, 11:48:02 AM
Back about mid last year, I bought a book called 1001 video games that you must play. Some of you have probably seen it floating around in bookstores. I'm happy to see that text adventures and graphic adventures were not overlooked, but what I'm quite upset about is the almost complete lack of Sierra graphic adventures in this supposedly top 1001 games. The only one I could spot was Gabriel Knight 2. None of the other games that we loved to play are in there. You might think that perhaps graphic adventures were shunned by such a book, but this isn't the case. Almost all of the great Lucasfilm games are included: Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken, all 3 of the Monkey Island games, Loom, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, The Dig, Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max. There is also Beneath a Steel Sky, Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars, The Longest Journey, and Dreamfall. - No, instead it seems to be the Sierra games that have been shunned.

Surely King's Quest 1 released around 1983/1984 was a ground breaking game? It came out 3-4 years before Maniac Mansion. And what about the Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry series? What about Quest for Glory? What about all of them for that matter. It just seems crazy that at least some of these games are not included, and yet most of the LucasArts games are.

A number of text adventures are included, such as Zork 1, The Hobbit, Planetfall, Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy, Trinity, A Mind Forever Voyaging. So it isn't that the text parsing interface has been ignored; it's just that Sierra games have been ignored. It's like they've been wiped from the history books. I feel like my whole teenage life didn't happen.
Title: Re: A sad state of affairs
Post by: Collector on April 12, 2015, 01:22:33 PM
Probably the author was an LA fan as a child. It is mostly LA fans that have a disdain for Sierra games. I always assumed that this is because they hated games where you could die ("but mommy I'm afraid of dying!") and stuck with them even as adults. This seems to be especially strong in LA fans, but childish impressions seem to stick with some people. It is common for many Sierra fans to explore all of the ways you can be killed in a game, especially ones like the Space Quest games where the death scenes are a hoot.
Title: Re: A sad state of affairs
Post by: lance.ewing on April 13, 2015, 02:11:13 PM
I consider myself a LucasArts fan as well. I loved playing games like Monkey Island 2, Zak McKracken and Day of the Tentacle. I even dabbled in decoding their data files in the early days before scummvm existed. A couple of years ago, I created a site to document my effort in that area, so that I didn't lose it forever. It was fairly minimal, just a few things in the MM C64 / original PC data file format:

It was roughly around the same time I created PICEDIT, and was working with Peter Kelly, that I was looking at Maniac Mansion, but the AGI stuff distracted me, as did my VIC 20 emulator.

I guess the difference between me and other LA fans though is that King's Quest 4 was the first graphic adventure that I played. This was probably early 1989. I was a big fan of text adventures before that, playing a lot of the classic Scott Adams adventures and various others, including the original Colossal Cave. When I saw King's Quest 4, my mind was blown away. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I had an Adlib sound card, so it had all the awesome background sounds and music playing as well. It was like entering a whole new world. Very quickly after this, I had purchased Space Quest 3, and Space Quest 2 (finished SQ3 a day after I'd bought it), and discovered that the PC XT that my Dad had bought second hand had KQ3 installed on it.  I was actually already aware that this application was installed on the PC before getting KQ4 (and I'd even been using a hex editor to look in the OBJECT and WORDS.TOK files, and had my first introduction to Avis Durgan) but I'd never been able to run it due to the copy protection requiring the original floppy disk. I discovered that if I put the SQ2 floppy disk in the drive, this would get me past that check and I was able to play KQ3! 

(It's not really our fault that the second-hand computer came with KQ3 preinstalled, but I should point out that I've since paid for this game, probably more than once actually. I've got a lot of the original floppies in storage back in New Zealand, so I end up buying the games online again).

It was around 1991/1992 that I worked out all the AGI resource formats, all using GW BASIC, which was crazy (I've still got those original BASIC files). With the arrival of the Internet, it allowed me to discover Carl Muckenhoupt's SCI Decoder. A whole bunch of people around the world, including Peter Kelly, Joakim Moller and myself, had emailed Carl about the tool and he basically sent out an email to all of us saying "You've all got a common interest, let me introduce you all to one another". And that is how the AGI movement started. We abandoned looking at SCI since it seemed Carl had it covered.  Peter, Joikim and myself started working on various AGI things. Both Peter and Joakim had worked out the VIEW format, and I think also the OBJECT and WORDS.TOK, but I was the only one who had also worked out the LOGIC, PICTURE, and SOUND formats, and the compression techniques used in AGIv3. I said I'd write a PICTURE editor (which ended up being PICEDIT) and I sent my notes on the LOGIC format to Peter so he could integrate a viewer and compiler in to the AGI Studio tool that he was building. Together we also wrote the original AGI specs. I also created the ROL2SND tool, which converted Adlib ROL files in to the AGI sound format. I was probably the only person to directly make use of it though, since I had the Adlib Visual Composer. Others made use of the MID2ROL converter, and then the ROL2SND. After that I started creating MEKA, probably the first fan-made AGI interpreter to be started. Very shortly after that, Stuart George started working on YGGDRASIL (which later became Sarien and was then intergrated in to scummvm). For a while Stuart and I were comparing notes a bit. I never ended up finishing MEKA, and in its final state it still had major stability issues and didn't support all games. Surprisingly though, Gold Rush was one of the better performers.

Those were the early AGI days.

I guess it was this early-ish exposure to Sierra games (by which I mean prior to playing LucasArts games) that really hooked me on them. I played LucasArts games after that and enjoyed playing them as well. Maybe it's people that play the LA games first that don't like the Sierra ones? It's strange though. I can't see why dying in a game would discourage them. I was used to dying from text adventures. Getting blown up by a nuclear reactor and the like. One thing I can tell you though is that my daughters like the LA games better than Sierra ones. My 8 year old daughter can play Day of the Tentacle from beginning to end and she really enjoys it. She enjoys Fate of Atlantis as well.

They do like playing my Ruby Cast demo though. They keep telling me to finish making it. One day I will.
Title: Re: A sad state of affairs
Post by: lskovlun on April 13, 2015, 04:12:48 PM
Thank you for this trip down Memory Lane  :)
Title: Re: A sad state of affairs
Post by: MusicallyInspired on April 13, 2015, 06:00:22 PM
That was a nice retrospective. Thanks for that. :)