Author Topic: The building in Oakhurst where King's Quest was developed  (Read 597 times)

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Offline lance.ewing

The building in Oakhurst where King's Quest was developed
« on: November 17, 2022, 11:31:25 PM »
I'm not sure how common knowledge this is, but I couldn't find another reference to it online. Maybe it is an exclusive!  :)

This is apparently the building where the "top secret" King's Quest project was developed:,+Oakhurst,+CA+93644,+USA/@37.3342837,-119.6469438,3a,47.5y,172.74h,93.07t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sqBKQiibJtbWSqp44k1ypow!2e0!!7i16384!8i8192!4m5!3m4!1s0x809427832af27dc9:0x21f0f236455eeb85!8m2!3d37.3339922!4d-119.6468829

It is only 300 yards down the road from the main Sierra Online building at that time, which was the one above the print shop.

I learnt the above from a recent chat I had with Bob Heitman. He wasn't involved in the project, but he remembers where the people who were working on it were based, and he did go in there at least once before its release. He said that the KQ project had a suite of rooms on the top level of that building. This would have been all the IBM work, e.g. the HomeWord team (which included Jeff Stephenson), and the KQ team, and it would have been for pretty much all of 1983 and probably the first few months of 1984. The building was built around 1981.

Offline Collector

Re: The building in Oakhurst where King's Quest was developed
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2022, 09:56:03 AM »
Interesting. Was this an email exchange? I didn't think you are on Facebook.

I am Facebook friends with a number of Sierra and Dynamix devs. I sent Heitman a friend request years ago but he never replied. A few others never responded either, but most of them want little to do with Sierra related stuff, like Jeff Stephenson and Chris. In the end it is one of the few reasons that I am on Facebook. It does give me access to these old devs, some of which I have regular interactions.
KQII Remake Pic

Offline lance.ewing

Re: The building in Oakhurst where King's Quest was developed
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2022, 08:58:18 PM »
No, I'm not on Facebook. I think I found him on Spokeo, back in 2010, sent a message via that site (which maybe I had to pay for?), and then he replied back via email, which was surprising actually, as using the Spokeo site was a bit of a gamble on my part. I wasn't expecting it to get through to him. I don't think I should pass it on though, as I doubt that he would want his personal email address to get "out there". If you really want to get in contact, I can send him your details with a message.

If you haven't seen it yet, Jeff Stephenson was interviewed in a very interesting podcast back in 2021. It's about 2 hours long and I listened through the whole thing:

He has some very interesting things to say from the early years, including in relation to the IBM projects. He mentions being "in the room" with the KQ project team, so although he wasn't working on that project, he remembers "the chortles of excitement when they finally got an animated figure, and it went behind a bush, except that the bush had holes in it and you could see him through the holes" (that's a quote from the podcast).

He also has a different version of the "back of a napkin" story regarding the meeting with IBM. I read an article online (the Jimmy Maher one?) that mentioned that KQ was designed on the back of a napkin, but in the podcast, Jeff says that it was actually HomeWord that was designed on the back of a napkin, and that the 3D animated KQ idea had already been designed by Ken and Roberta. So when Ken and Jeff flew to Florida for the pitch to IBM, it was to pitch the idea of the 3D animated adventure game. Jeff mentions it was at drinks afterwards that they came up with the HomeWord idea on the napkin, and then took that idea back to IBM. Listen to the podcast to get his exact words. I'm paraphrasing a bit from memory.

Offline lance.ewing

Re: The building in Oakhurst where King's Quest was developed
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2022, 09:14:46 PM »
The other thing to take a look at is the new "The Sierra Adventure" book by Shawn Mills. I bought that recently and it has an interesting few pages in relation to the KQ project, which includes a number of quotes from Doug MacNeill, including info not only from his perspective, but he also mentions his brother Ken a few times. Apparently Ken MacNeill was the one that came up with the initial version of the picture tools for KQ (and therefore AGI), so Doug was using the tool that his brother had built to draw the pictures. Doug also mentions that he (i.e. Doug himself) was the one that came up with the "template" with regards to the layout of the priority bands. They apparently used physical copies of that "template" for each of the pictures that they drew for KQ from that point on.

Ken Williams met Ken MacNeill at Fresno airport, because Ken MacNeill was Ken W's flight instructor. Ken Williams ended up offering him a job after learning that he had a computer science background. So Ken MacNeill joined the KQ team, and then it was him that recommended his brother Doug as a good artist, and through that, Doug got the job to work on the graphics for KQ, along side Greg Rowland. As we've discussed in the past, Arthur Abraham (who died back in 2017) and Charles Tingley were the main ones that did the coding for the AGI interpreter itself. They had both left Sierra by the time that KQ was released though. Obviously Doug and Greg continued on as artists for other games (Greg had been working for Sierra prior to KQ), and Ken MacNeill returned again for Gold Rush. I assume Ken MacNeill was working elsewhere in between, as he isn't on any other credits between KQ and GR, and Bob Heitman inherited the AGI picture tool after KQ.

Greg Rowland mentions, on the following web page, that he was the "last man standing" for the KQ project:

Perhaps Doug moved on to another project at that point and Greg was the last one making the finishing touches (to KQ1). I guess we'd have to interview Greg to clarify exactly what he meant. Doug MacNeill is listed in the credits of at least three other games from Sierra that came out in 1984, then worked on KQ2 (1985) and KQ3 (1986) as well:,4574/

« Last Edit: November 18, 2022, 09:18:57 PM by lance.ewing »

Offline Collector

Re: The building in Oakhurst where King's Quest was developed
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2022, 11:51:18 PM »
I don't have any immediate need to contact Heitman. I just like to have available access to the old devs in case I have questions about Sierra they might be able help.

Jeff Stephenson has Facebook page for his painting but his personal page does not accept requests. And for some reason FB suggested Avis Durgan as a friend to me.

I used to be Facebook friends with Shawn, but he unfriended me because I said something negative about an American conservative in a reply to someone else's post. He is very conservative, and took offense in spite of the fact that the American right is not comparable to that in Australia. Kind of a silly thing to unfriend someone over.

I have had some indirect contact with the MacNeills when Sunlight games contacted me to develop a package to make the original Gold Rush game run on modern systems as part of a promo for their Gold Rush sequel. Everything I did had to be approved by the MacNeills.
KQII Remake Pic

Offline lance.ewing

Re: The building in Oakhurst where King's Quest was developed
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2022, 06:08:14 PM »
I found this article a while back:

published in October/November 1984, so in the same year that King's Quest was released. It has the following interesting quote from Roberta Williams:

    Q. How many of you are usually involved in one program`?
    A. Its myself as the writer/designer and project leader and depending on the size of the project is how many people we have. On King's Quest we had three programmers and three graphic artists, making a total of seven working on the same program.

So the programmers would have been Arthur Abraham, Charles Tingley, and Ken MacNeill. The graphic artists would have included Greg Rowland and Doug MacNeill. I can't think who the other graphic artist would have been. Whoever it was, it doesn't seem like they were credited.

In the interview, Roberta does mention that she is about to start working on King's Quest 2:

    Q. Have you ever thought of writing a sequel to any of your games'?
    A. Yes, because this week I'll be starting on the sequel to King's Quest.

...and Mark Crowe was a graphic artist for King's Quest 2. Mark Crowe had also been working, during 1984, as a graphic artist for the Winnie the Pooh and Mickey's Space Adventure games. So part of me wonder's whether Mark Crowe may have helped out with King's Quest 1, but he isn't credited. Terry Pierce, who did a lot of the graphics for Time Zone, was still around in 1984, as he is also credited in Winnie the Pooh and Mickey's Space Adventure, and he was still around for Black Cauldron as well. So Terry is another graphic artist that was around at the time, but once again not credited for King's Quest 1. So it is a bit of a mystery as to who the third graphic artist was, and why they weren't credited.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2022, 10:47:02 PM by lance.ewing »

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