Fan-made sequels: An Interview with Tierra Entertainment

Imagine that you’re suddenly ten years old again, and you’ve just loaded up a brand new game called King’s Quest. The graphics? Amazing. The gameplay? Unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. The story? It’s the stuff of legends. Well, now you don’t have to imagine anymore, because a new group of game developers calling themselves Tierra Entertainment have breathed new life into the classic Sierra adventure games of old. And they’ve started at the beginning, recreating scene-by-scene the original King’s Quest in full VGA glory.

Who, or what, is Tierra? We went straight to the source and talked with the company’s “anonymous game developers” and two of their co-creators--writer Cadbury Wookie and musician Tom Lewandowski of QuestStudios--to see what we could learn about the King’s Quest and King’s Quest 2 remakes, the in-development remake of Quest for Glory 2, and another secret project currently in development. We think you’ll like the results. So sit back, relax, and get ready to discover what lies ahead for the classic games you thought you knew like the back of your hand.

Who are these guys, anyway?

You’re known as the anonymous game developers, and your real names remain a mystery. Is there anything that you can reveal about yourselves?

ANONYMOUS GAME DEVELOPER # 1: Classified information, I say. No, seriously, we usually don't like to give away such detailed information, as it goes against our purpose of releasing these games for a cause rather than for recognition. But, I think it's only fair that we let out a little information here or there to keep curiosity from killing off the fans!

I am a female from the Southwest, currently living on the West Coast after having spent the past few years in Europe working at an Internet startup company that I co-founded. I've returned to college in an attempt to give myself more free time to work on games, as well as pick up more art-related skills for game making. Lately, my life has been filled with game making, enhancing my game-making skills, more game making, and a lot of talk about games.

ANONYMOUS GAME DEVELOPER # 2: I am a nobody. I spend all day chained to the wall of a damp underground cellar in filthy living conditions, wearing little more than rags, while rats run across the floor and gnaw at my bare ankles. No sunlight penetrates my living quarters, so I spend my life wasting away down here, tirelessly scripting the games in near-darkness, eating only meager scraps, and surviving on less than an hour's sleep per night.

Well OK, OK, fair enough, the part about the cellar and the chains is pretty far-fetched—but the rest is pretty much true. When I'm not scripting the Tierra games or making animations for them, I'm usually doing something else related to the games. But on the very rare chance that I'm not working on the games at all, you might find me desperately trying to land a part in some cheesy TV soap or TV advertisement that I'll only end up severely regretting later in life. I live in Melbourne, Australia.

Is there any special meaning behind the name Tierra other than the obvious parallel to Sierra?

AGD#1: Strangely, the answer is yes! It was actually chosen for a few separate reasons that all coincided with one another. While making the official Tierra website, I realized we needed a name. I thought back to the various unusual words I knew of, seeing if any would make a good title for a game company. I immediately ran into "Tierra," the name of a mythical land that I'd created and written about as a kid. In Spanish, it meant Earth, hence the world logo.

I was pretty stunned when I realized it was so close to Sierra, making it the perfect choice, as T comes after S, just like Tierra coming after Sierra. Secondly, it was a pretty good choice at the time, since we were making a parody [called RoyalQuest, which Tierra has since canceled]. Interestingly enough, we've heard of previous Sierra workers that had at one time actually toyed with the idea of starting their own game company. What title do you reckon they ruminated over? Tierra!

Other than the games you've already announced, is there any one game or series that gets the most requests to receive the Tierra remake treatment? And do these requests weigh heavily in your decision to remake or not remake a game?

AGD#1: I would say that Laura Bow gets mentioned quite often. This is surprising to me, since most of us on the game development team have never played the game all the way through, and we are some of the biggest fans of Sierra adventure games! We also hear a lot of requests for Space Quest remakes (we got spammed one time by the whole Space Quest community!), as well as a Quest for Glory 2 remake, even though we're already in the middle of that!

Yes, I would definitely say that these requests can influence our choices. Although, it still takes a long time to make these games, so a request often can't be fulfilled for quite some time.

Next: The return of the King

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