One of the most beloved Sierra On-Line classic adventure series, Space Quest, celebrated its 25th-anniversary last year with a still-thriving fan community and the release of quite a few high-quality, impressive fan-made games carrying on the spirit of Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy, the Two Guys from Andromeda design team. What no one could have anticipated at that time was the explosion of the crowd-funding model in 2012, and the subsequent announcement that most could only have dreamed of: The Two Guys were re-forming, and preparing to release a brand new adventure game.
And it's not just a hobby or side project—Mark and Scott, long since separated to different parts of the country, have left their previous places of employment and formed Guys from Andromeda LLC, a new studio committed to developing adventure games for a modern audience. Their first project was announced under the code name SpaceVenture, a science-fiction themed comedy adventure the likes of which the Two Guys are famous for. Their Kickstarter campaign is currently seeking $500,000 to begin full-time production on the game, and as the June 12th deadline approaches, the outcome is still perilously in doubt.
As a lifelong Sierra and Space Quest fan, it was quite an experience when I had the chance to catch up with Mark Crowe over lunch (a delicious Jumbo Monolith Burger with Polycheeze) in his hometown of Eugene, Oregon and talk about the past, the present, and what the future holds for SpaceVenture and the Two Guys.
(Oh, and stick around for a mouth-watering nostalgia treat of original never-before-seen (or at least not this close up) Space Quest concept art at interview's end!)
Adventure Gamers: We last talked to you in 2002, when you had finished Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters with Pipeworks. Give us a little update of what you’ve been doing over the last ten years.
Mark Crowe: I’ve been with Pipeworks for the last twelve years as Studio Design Director, since the studio started. After the first Godzilla game, we did two more Godzilla games that did well for us, and then I had a lot of fun doing a Rampage remake, or re-imagining I guess, since I got to exercise my humor muscles and inject some of the Two Guys-style humor into that. Then, I think the biggest thing we did was the closest thing to an adventure game, Night at the Museum 2, which was also a lot of fun. I did some writing on that and laid out the bones of the story. After that, it was non-stop business development projects and prototypes.
Recently, I officially left Pipeworks to do this Kickstarter full-time. I’ve invested heavily into the future of this thing; I’ve staked my livelihood on the future of the Two Guys and SpaceVenture, and everything else we hope to do in the future!
AG: Have you and Scott kept any type of communication over the years?
Mark: Until recently, there had been twelve years, since I started with Pipeworks, where there was no contact.
AG: Given that, I’d like to clear up some history—was there ever a time when there was actual animosity between you and Scott, or was it just a matter of going separate directions?
Mark: It was really just separate directions. Looking back in hindsight, we worked very well together. Everybody has their little quirks, and when you’re cooped up in an office, those become annoyances. I count myself among that; I’m not perfect. But that didn’t play at all into our parting of the ways, and it really wasn’t a parting of the ways, in that sense—I was just ready to try something else and move on. It’s just burnout; we worked very hard on these games, one after the other, and you just get burned out after a while.
When the opportunity presented itself to move to Eugene and try my hand at something different, I jumped on it. At the time I had two very small children and a growing family, and that became my focus in life. But the answer to the animosity question is a resounding no. In fact, we made some humorous reference to the whole subject in the Two Guys Reunion video that we did.
Scott and Mark reunite after twelve years of estrangement. No bad blood here!
AG: What was the first spark that led to this reunion and the decision to reform the Guys from Andromeda and make a new game?
Mark: Speaking for myself—with all the fan games coming out I kept thinking, I should get in touch with Scott and we should talk about doing a game because there’s clearly a demand. But again, I had a full-time job, so those ideas went away.
Then there was the Double Fine Kickstarter, which was obviously a catalyst. Someone had to bring my attention to that because I was not aware; they said “Have you seen this? You should be doing a Space Quest game!” And a lightbulb went on. I realized, wow, there is actually a huge audience of people who are willing to pay, and this whole fan-funding thing is brilliant. We can do the kind of games we want without the publisher, directly for the people who want these games; it’s the perfect solution for us.
I immediately contacted Scott; I sent him an email right out of the blue—I didn’t even have his email address, I had to ask someone for it—and said “Have you seen this? We need to talk. Obviously we have an audience and we need to think about doing a game.” I got a response back immediately, and we got on the phone together and talked, and got caught up on what each other had been doing. I had no idea where Scott was, or what he had been going through over the last twelve years since we last talked, so it was quite an experience getting back together.
We immediately clicked talking about ideas and jumping back into the whole brainstorming creative process. It was great, a great feeling. I expressed to him I hadn’t had this much fun going over game ideas in quite a while. Working for a developer who does what publishers need them to do, work-for-hire, there isn’t that much of a creative outlet. I was just overjoyed!
AG: Sierra’s classic adventures were ahead of their time in the way they promoted the designer, with pictures on the box, advocating almost a celebrity status. Were you and Scott comfortable with this celebrity status?
Mark: To a degree. Other than Roberta Williams, we were the first ones to do that, actually. I think for Sierra, the lightbulb went on during that period because there was such a great response from fans, they were really on to something with promoting the authors, and I think that’s what kicked that off for them. It worked well for all the other authors that followed.
AG: Was the Two Guys motif your idea?
Mark: Yes, absolutely. When we did Space Quest, we never thought we would do another Space Quest game; we weren’t sure how it would sell. The idea of promoting ourselves as Mark and Scott didn’t really appeal to us. We felt... I don’t know, self-conscious about that. We thought, let’s poke fun at ourselves by creating these alter egos, these aliens from Andromeda. That was toward the latter part of development on Space Quest. We were practically done with the project, and they said “We want to put your picture on the back of the box” and we thought, we don’t want our picture there, so let’s come up with these alter egos.
I remember running down to Fresno, 45 miles down the highway, to start going through the Halloween shops—I think it was around October—to grab anything I could find to throw together some alien costumes. I found the Mohawks, the Spock ears, fashioned some noses out of latex. We didn’t even have costumes, we just decided “We’re two aliens on vacation in Yosemite!” We threw on some Hawaiian shirts and totally improvised the whole thing, and it ended up being the iconic image on the back of the Space Quest 1 box.
Adventure Gamers: What do you think about the still-thriving Sierra nostalgia movement, and all the Space Quest and Sierra fansites?
Mark Crowe: Initially, it was weird—it was like, wow, there’s a niche of die-hard fans that just can’t let go of the Space Quest stuff. That was my reaction anyway, then we realized these people are serious, they really just love these games. As a result of that, as early as 15 years ago, Scott and I had on a couple occasions toyed around with trying to resurrect Space Quest because of all this fan support. We looked into it initially, and the combination of the fact that the license was held by somebody else and we didn’t have the money to throw at lawyers, plus being busy with our own lives and I was certainly busy with my family… the idea came and went, and withered.
Scott has been much more involved and vocal, staying active with the fan community than I was since I was so involved with my other work. That’s paid off in spades, the fact that he has kept a very loyal following of fans through his website and his social media activity. We’re thankful for that.
AG: Any recent adventure games you’ve played that you really liked?
Mark: Machinarium just blew me away, and really has helped fuel my passion for wanting to get back into this. It was like, wow, this is just a beautiful game, beautifully executed. I love everything about it. It’s certainly a model I hold up as inspiration.
AG: Adventure fans who grew up with Sierra are always fascinated hearing stories from the Oakhurst headquarters. How would you describe the day-to-day culture working there, compared to a modern game studio?
Mark: I didn’t appreciate it then, but looking back… the grass is always greener. It was a smaller studio, and I enjoyed working with much smaller development teams. The fact that we were a publisher was huge. The work-for-hire as a developer, especially in the content market, can be a grind—it’s good to be the publisher!
Not to be confused with Astro Chicken, the new SpaceVenture will introduce Cluck Y'egger: Astro Cock
There was a lot of camaraderie, when you’re cooped up in this small area with people you enjoy working with. You do get a lot of synergy, a lot of ideas get thrown around, and Scott and I have always been open to ideas from the others on our team. An example of that is the Astro Chicken game in Space Quest 3—that was just a guy on our team learning the SCI system, teaching himself; he just did that on his own. We looked at it and said “That is hilarious, that’s got to go in the game.”
AG: What is your memory of the first large-scale Sierra adventure that did not perform as expected, that may have signaled the beginning of the end of the adventure Golden Age?
Mark: Honestly—I would have to say, because of my proximity to it, Space Quest V. I don’t think it performed as well as Sierra would have liked, for whatever reason. I attribute that to the advent of Wolfenstein 3D; I think that was the death knell for adventure games. It was like, “Oh man, 3D is here” and that’s where the whole game market seemed to go from that point on. That was my take on it.
AG: It has been a banner year for Space Quest fan-games, with the release of Vohaul Strikes Back, Decisions of the Elders, and Incinerations, along with the complete VGA remake of SQ2. Have you played any of these games?
Mark: I have looked at the VGA remake, and what I like is that it stays very true to the original. I think it’s great; anything that keeps adventure games and particularly Space Quest alive in the hearts of fans, I see as a positive thing. I’m really impressed with the increased production values.
I also kind of agree with Scott’s sentiments: you don’t want to look at them too closely because you don’t ever want to be accused of stealing someone’s ideas, so from that standpoint you don’t want to be influenced, you do try to distance yourself from it.
AG: Do you ever go back and play the Space Quest games, for nostalgia or otherwise?
Mark: When my sons were reaching the age where they were just getting into video games, they had never played my games, didn’t know anything about them, so I introduced them. The games didn’t really hold their interest unfortunately, since they had been indoctrinated—ruined! *laughs*—by the whole console thing. The other problem was the PC hardware issues, where the game would play too fast or play at an odd speed that made it almost unplayable, and there wasn’t any technology like DOSBox to overcome that at the time.
More recently, I’ve been checking them out, just to refamiliarize myself with everything that we did. It’s amazing how much you can forget.
AG: Did you want to be involved in the design of Space Quest 6?
Mark: No, at that point in my career with Dynamix, I was on to doing the EarthSiege series and I really felt the end of adventure games was very near… to me, it seemed like adventure games were dead; I was on to other things and didn’t really want to look back. I was glad they were continuing it, but I didn’t have any desire to be involved, and didn’t feel like I was slighted or left out in any way.
I think Scott did an awesome job with it. I love the humor, and I really think they did an excellent job on the graphics.
AG: The Leisure Suit Larry and Tex Murphy projects were able to license or acquire the IP for their characters. What is the current status of the Space Quest/Roger Wilco IP? Did you make any inquiries as to whether it would be feasible to acquire, or was it already your goal to create a new IP to start from?
Mark: We knew going into this that the IP was held by Activision, and had heard through several connections that it was very expensive to acquire the rights to use it—prohibitively expensive. We thought, we’re two creative guys, we’re the heart and soul of Space Quest, and we’re confident in our own abilities to create something original that’s every bit in the spirit of Space Quest, so why don’t we propose to do something original? Again, we look to Double Fine’s success, because they didn’t even talk about what kind of game they were going to do, and look at the success they had. So let’s do something original, and in the meantime—let’s get together with Activision and talk, let’s see if there’s some interest there.
In fact, just prior to leaving Pipeworks to launch the Kickstarter, when I announced my intention to create a SQ-like adventure game, they were very supportive; in fact, the studio head put me in contact with the right people at Activision. We got hold of this individual, and he was very interested in talking to us, but during the course of our conversations he let us know that they were not interested in licensing out Space Quest. They saw value in it, but they weren’t interested in releasing the license at this time. So, we were turned down. But the gentleman we spoke with assured us they had no issue with us doing something original as the Two Guys from Andromeda, so we forged ahead with our original plan under those assurances.
SpaceVenture Kickstarter campaign video
AG: Are you under the impression that Activision intends to make use of the Space Quest license in future?
Mark: I would think so. I think that this fan-funding movement has opened their eyes to the fact that there’s value in that license, which I don’t think they realized before. What they’re going to do, we have no idea. I’m still of the opinion that you never say never; we could revisit that possibility in the future.
AG: Do you have any ideas for what you would do with the Space Quest license?
Mark: Absolutely, whether it’s Space Quest 7, or re-doing Space Quest 1 for a whole new audience, or both.
AG: If it was announced that another studio was making a Space Quest sequel with Roger Wilco, what would your reaction be?
Mark: I’d be very disappointed, actually…*pauses* That’s a good question. I would hope it would be us, but at the same time, in the hearts and minds of our most loyal fans, Space Quest is our baby, and I don’t really think that a Space Quest title without us as the heart and soul of the thing would be successful. That’s my honest opinion; it’s hard to say how accepting fans would be of a Space Quest game that wasn’t created by the Two Guys.
Adventure Gamers: As someone with 25-plus years of gaming industry experience, what are your general views on Kickstarter and what it means for the future of the industry?
Mark Crowe: Well, it’s been interesting to see the trend—I think initially, as we’ve seen…let’s just say it’s gotten more competitive. People only have so much money to throw at these, as we’re experiencing. I think the fan-funded model is promising, I think publishers feel very threatened by it (good or bad), and I think it has to go that way—I don’t really see any other way for it to go. Built-to-order games for the fans who are willing to pay for them, that’s brilliant. That’s one of the things that’s held back innovation in gaming, the caution of publishers to play it safe and stick with tried and true formats, stick with what they know. As a result, it’s very hard to put out anything original.
AG: Have you been communicating at all with Al Lowe, Josh Mandel, or Jane Jensen as they have been going through their own Kickstarter processes?
Mark: Very little… I have had some minor contact with Al Lowe, but nothing real deep about what he’s up to or what we’re doing. We have talked to Replay Games about their success, and what worked, what didn’t. They’ve been very helpful in that regard, and we’ve tried to be very supporting of each other, promoting each other. One of the first things we did on our website is promote their Kickstarter; the last thing we wanted to do is come out and impede their progress.
AG: It must be gratifying to see that Ken Williams became a backer of the SpaceVenture Kickstarter.
Mark: Oh yeah, that was a very pleasant surprise, and unexpected. Scott and I wanted to try to do this under our own steam, but certainly having the backing of Ken Williams is a big plus, and we really appreciate it.
AG: Why begin the Kickstarter process with the story and design relatively unfinished?
Mark points towards the Two Guys' SpaceVenture in Eugene, Oregon
Mark: It really is a timing issue; we definitely felt the crunch of time. We knew there was going to be a slough of Kickstarters coming out and we didn’t want to get lost in the fray. It was very agonizing, since I was still an employee at Pipeworks and didn’t feel I could remain there and do this at the same time; there would be a conflict of interest there. I had to develop my exit strategy, make my announcement, and give them plenty of notice before we could actually launch our Kickstarter campaign. That was an excruciating wait, and in the meantime Jane Jensen released her Kickstarter, and we were like “Oh my gosh, who else is going to come out?!” People have expressed their concerns that there is some Kickstarter fatigue, and we are experiencing some of that backlash.
AG: How did you arrive at the requested amount of $500,000, and does that amount anticipate additional funding?
Mark: Just based on our quick estimation and past experience, and again we’re looking at ancient history as far as developing games for Sierra (and I can’t really share what those games cost to make), we figured this is what we need to make a good title--we would like more to make a better title. People need to remember, yeah, it’s $500k, but you have to pay income tax on that right out of the chute and you have to pay Kickstarter their fee, so what we end up with is substantially less than that. We figure, that’s what we need to make the game without any other significant source of funding.
AG: As I write this, you are at about 53% of your goal with 13 days to go. Not insurmountable, but what happens if the Kickstarter does not meet its goal?
Mark: We certainly have some contingency plans to make a game one way or the other, but we really need crowd-funding to make the kind of game we want to make—and our fans want to play.
AG: So the future of this, if it works out as hoped, is a full-time return to adventure games for you and Scott?
Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy still stylin' in their Andromeda noses
Mark: Absolutely—our grander vision with all this is not to do just a one-off game. We want to do more games, whether it’s a sequel to this game, or some other original ideas we’ve been kicking around. As I said, I’ve left my employment to throw myself into this fully, with the full intent to create a business, to create a company that produces more adventure games.
AG: Describe your reaction to the results of the first 24 hours of your Kickstarter. Is it a situation where you’re glued to the computer, you don’t sleep, endlessly refreshing?
Mark: All of the above! We were giddy. We had a great start right out of the gate. Our trend lines were good, though as they say you shouldn’t follow those, because trends can change rather quickly, as we’ve seen. We were just really excited; if only there was some way to tap into the energy going into hitting that “refresh page” button!
AG: Were you satisfied at the end of the first day with your progress?
Mark: Absolutely, we felt like we were doing everything right. We felt like we were definitely trying harder to win fans, win those dollars, and deliver more than just about any other Kickstarter out there.
AG: This is your first time designing an adventure game where fans have the ability to comment or share their thoughts instantly about every update. Is that ultimately a positive or negative?
Mark: It can be a negative… what Scott and I keep telling ourselves is, we have to stick to our tried and true formula, which is “let’s make the game we want to play.” Hopefully everyone will trust that we’re going to deliver something that they’re going to like. It’s a formula that’s worked for us and we see no reason to deviate from that, but at the same time, we are curious what people think, their likes and dislikes, and we definitely weigh those and take them into consideration. But ultimately, we’re going to make the game we want to make.
AG: How do you and Scott split the writing chores?
Wait, what? Those aren't their REAL noses?!
Mark: I’ve come to appreciate Scott’s writing abilities; he’s the one who brings a lot of the sardonic humor to the game with his writing style. Scott and I work collaboratively to come up with the gags and plot lines, and then I go off and work on puzzles and the visual stuff, and design the rooms and other visuals. And Scott does all the dialogue writing and narrative, putting his unique spin on it, and fans seem to really like that.
We realized together, I think, in that initial conversation after all those years, that when we looked at Space Quest 5 that I did on my own, and he did Space Quest 6, both of those games for whatever reason didn’t quite measure up in fans’ minds, or ours. I don’t think either of us were really satisfied with them. We’ve come to realize that it’s the combination of our unique abilities that was like the secret sauce to Space Quest’s success. So I think we have a newfound appreciation for both of our unique talents, and I think we both accept that and work with it, so Scott does the writing, and we work together on the puzzles and story, and that seems to work well for us.
AG: How do you adapt the game design to appeal to both the retro nostalgia fans, and the modern gamer audience?
Mark: This is the conundrum! We recognize that our loyal fans would love it to be old-style, EGA graphics, and we’d love to be able to give them that. But at the same time, we realize we have to appeal to a modern audience, a whole new generation of gamers that probably don’t have an appreciation for that. So we walk a fine line, and we’re working that out. One thing we did, we looked at the success of the Monkey Island re-releases, where they supported both old and new-style graphics, and we think that’s brilliant—there’s an exclusive tidbit for you: we’re actually considering supporting both old and new-style graphics, being able to flip between the two with the click of a button. That’s obviously more effort, more work, requires more dollars!
Adventure Gamers: Talk about the “virtual office” setup that you have, and how widespread your team is. How does it compare to the way you used to make games, together in a small space?
Mark Crowe: It’s a little more challenging, but not as much as you would think. Personally I’m amazed; I’m an old guy, I’m getting pulled into the whole Twitter and social media thing kicking and screaming, but I’m adapting to it. The whole virtual office thing is amazing to me; there are no walls, we’re a multi-national organization at this point. I'm here in Oregon, Scott is in Alabama, and our developers are in the Netherlands, and we get on Skype and it’s like they’re right there in the same room. The way we can collaborate with GoogleDocs, it’s just incredible.
I’m also working in my own comfortable space, not in some cubicle. That whole cubicle scene in Space Quest 3, that’s what Sierra looked like! That was our opportunity to poke fun at that; that’s how we coped with it.
AG: So at this moment, working full-time on SpaceVenture, what do your days consist of?
Alien concepts designed by Mark
Mark: We have ideas for characters we want to introduce into the game, whether or not they’re the lead character, playing around with some plot ideas—but mostly it’s feeding the dragon, keeping our fans fed with updates and feeding the Kickstarter campaign. People really crave the updates and want to know what we’re up to. That keeps us busy almost full-time right now.
AG: Have you reached a decision on what engine you’ll be using for the game? Any other technical specifics that you want to share?
Mark: Not yet. We’ve looked at the HTML5 thing, which is what our prototype is built in. We’re looking at a couple other possibilities, but aren’t locked into anything yet. I’m not that much of a technical guy; I’m more the art guy, so at least the game will be good-looking if I have anything to say about it! We definitely want to be on as many platforms as possible; portability is key in our minds.
AG: Is iOS/Android viewed as a necessity in this era, and is the conversion to those platforms relatively simple and low-cost?
Mark: It will depend on what engine we go with… I don’t know if they’re critical to our success. I don’t know about Android so much, but I personally want to be on iPad in the worst way. I own an iPad and I think it’s the perfect platform for a point & click adventure game, and it would be a tremendous shame to not be on there. I think there’s a huge market there; I personally think it’s a must. Whether or not I can play my adventure game on a phone, I don’t know if that’s as important.
AG: Should we gather anything from the second prototype as it relates to the final game? Or was it really just an excuse for Scott to write some great new death screens?
Mark: The prototype was really just that; an idea our developers had for a quick and dirty room that we elaborated on. Here’s an opportunity to give people a clear idea of the type of game we’re going to make. We’re fighting this whole idea that it’s not a Space Quest game, and so it’s really important for us to show people that we still have it, that it will still be very much in the same vein as Space Quest, same type of humor, cut from the same cloth. Those are key things that were important for us to convey in the prototype. The platform, the whole Chrome thing—that was a secondary thought; this was just the quickest way to iterate on this. It most likely will not be the final platform, based on the backlash which we’re taking into serious consideration. It’s just a proof of concept.
AG: So to clarify, we are definitely talking about a point & click interface similar to the prototype?
AG: I have to tell you, I laughed out loud when I loaded it up, walked to the left and immediately floated away and got the death message. That’s the moment I realized how much I was looking forward to this.
Mark: That’s funny, because we just said “We don’t have any art there!” So I’ll give credit to Scott for taking a negative and turning it into a positive—we can make a joke out of this, let the player float off into space and say, so much for your imaginary spaceship!
AG: The prototype leads me to believe there will be plenty of dying in the game, which will be welcomed by most Space Quest fans. Most modern adventures have eliminated any ability to die, and LucasArts adventures are often praised by a portion of the community for being impossible to die in. What are your thoughts on that?
Scene from SpaceVenture's second prototype demo
Mark: I think death is important to the Two Guys brand. It’s one thing we’re known for: the funny, humorous death. We understand that games have evolved, and people don’t want to feel punished, but we have some ideas to keep the death stuff fun. We want to have players looking for every possible way to die, and be rewarded for that. Find all the 1,001 ways to die in the game, that could be a goal! At the same time, we want those deaths to be entertaining, not punishing, with easy re-entry into the game. We explored that in Space Quest 5 and I think it was well received. We want it more like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon, where he dies, but comes waddling back on screen to continue his quest. We’re past the cheap, frustrating deaths. Death, or trying to figure out how not to die, should not be a puzzle.
AG: I’ll put you on the spot: what is your favorite death from one of the Space Quest games?
Mark: In Space Quest I (the original version), where you stick your arm into the hole in the rock wall on Kerona, and you get sucked in and your bones get spit out. I personally created the art for it and had a lot of fun with that!
AG: Did that trigger just walking by the hole?
Mark: No, you had to type “stick hand in hole” or something, and we actually had an animation where he put his hand in there, gets sucked in, and a pile of bones got spit out!
AG: Speaking of typing commands—give us your current thoughts on the parser interface.
Mark: Scott and I both have a real affinity for the parser system. We love the hybrid idea that Al Lowe did for Leisure Suit Larry 7. Our thinking is, we would love to play a parser-based game—these days, everyone’s so into texting, what would be a more natural interface for a younger generation getting into adventure games than feeling like you’re texting your way through the game. Plus, it just gives you so much fodder for comedy—people will type things in just to see what kind of response they get. There’s a lot of entertainment value there that’s missing these days.
AG: Sierra adventures were famous for action or minigame sequences—the skimmer in SQ1, robot fighting in SQ3, and sequences like the burger assembly in SQ4. Are those a relic of the past to an extent?
Mark: I don’t think so at all; in fact, look at some recent “adventure” games like the hidden object games that are so popular. That’s really what they are, a collection of minigames. I’m really kinda proud, looking back on what we did and think we were very innovative as to the concept of minigames inside an adventure game (however well they were received). We’re very proud of them, and definitely think we would include them in our game, but make them optional so people wouldn’t have to suffer through them if that’s not their bag.
AG: A recent Kickstarter update makes reference to having to "navigate your spacecraft”. Should we expect any action or heavy flying element in the game?
Mark: We definitely want to poke fun at some of the popular action games through the years like Wing Commander and even Halo. We feel there’s a lot of humor to be mined from them, and we have the technology to poke fun at that whole space combat genre easily, so we see an opportunity there. Also, the sense of traveling to new worlds has always been a big part of the Space Quest universe, so we definitely want to have the sense that you have your own spaceship, and can go anywhere you want. But this is not an action-adventure, it is an adventure game at its core.
Voice actors lined up for SpaceVenture (L - R): Gary Owens, Rob Paulsen, Robert Clotworthy, Ellen McClain, John Patrick Lowrie
AG: I’m not alone in being thrilled to see Gary Owens’s involvement with this project. Was it difficult to find him and get him back on board?
Mark: It wasn’t difficult finding him; he’s still alive and kicking, and doing voice work at the age of 76! On a whim, we got in touch with his agent, we reminded him who we were and sent him a very heartfelt message that we really enjoyed working with him, and what he means to Space Quest fans. He graciously accepted and is on board, and will be doing full narration.
AG: Assuming you hit your goal, how realistic is the February 2013 release date?
Mark: Well, I think it’s feasible, but I don’t think we feel the need to be nailed down to that date, hard and fast. We’re going to look at what we have to work with money-wise, and adjust our scope accordingly, up or down, and come up with a firm date based on our development plan. That’s just a speculative date right now. Ultimately we want to deliver the best game we can, and that’s the beauty of the fan-funded thing; we don’t feel the pressure of publisher deadlines. I know fans want to get it as soon as they can, but I guess if you’ve waited this long!... *laughs*
AG: How can fans follow your progress?
With both tape recorder and stomachs full, the interview came to a close, but it just wouldn't be a lunch meeting withing a tantalizing nostalgia dessert! Keep going for some never-before-seen (or at least, never this close up) Space Quest concept art, courtesy of the Guys from Andromeda.
The following images represent a rare glimpse behind the scenes into the Space Quest design process. According to Scott Murphy, this artwork was rescued after being "thrown haphazardly into a box and curling up in a store room at the last Sierra Oakhurst building." All images were either painted by Mark or produced under his direction for Space Quest IV. When asked about any design documents that might still be kicking around, Scott shone further light on the Two Guys' methods by replying, "We never made them when worked together. We just talked."
Space Quest IV Concept Art
One of the cyborg zombies in the SQXII sequence
Roger is shown an image of his future wife by his son.
A uniformed officer of the Sequel Police.
Intro Sequence Backgrounds