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Pre-King’s Quest Sierra

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There’s a lot of discussion about the more well known Sierra titles, like King’s Quest or Space Quest, but before Sierra hit a home run with King’s Quest back in the day, they had published several other games, ranging from adventures to arcade conversion.

Some of these earlier games were remade, or reimagined as other titles after Sierra found it’s groove with adventure games with King’s Quest. For an example Softporn was redone as better known Leisure Suit Larry and Mystery House is pretty much the base for Colone’s Bequest, just like Wizard and the Princess can be seen as base, or even the first part, for King’s Quest.

Some of the early Sierra adventure titles are:
Hi-Res Adventure #0: Mission Asteroid
A simple adventure in which you have to get to an Earth threatening asteroid in order to place a bomb on it in order to explode it. Eat your heart out Armageddon. Simple and short game, uses parser inteface, just like all Hi-Res titles

Hi-Res Adventure #1: Mystery House
A nice little whodunit murder mystery. Not a complex game, but this was nicely reimagined into a vastly superior Colonel’s Bequest later on.

Hi-Res Adventure #2: The Wizard and the Princess
Either a King’q Quest 0, or an early basis for the later series. Fantasy adventure with some dificult mazes and puzzles.

Hi-Res Adventure #3: Cranston Manor
Never played this one, but seems to be kind of like the Mystery House, but without murders.

Hi-Res Adventure #4: Ulysses and the Golden Fleece
Never tried this one either

Hi-Res Adventure #5: Time Zone
A huge game for its time. The game world was spread on 6 double sided disks and had a whopping 1500 screens. If wikipedia is to be trusted it cost 90 bucks back in the day and flopped hard because of the hefty price tag. It’s a difficult game and it’s easy to get lost in it. I’d really love to see this remade.

Hi-Res Adventure #6: The Dark Crystal
A game based on the movie with same title. I have it on Roberta Williams collection, but I’ve never played it through.

Troll’s Tale
I’ve never tried the original, but the remake within Space Quest 2 remake was pretty nice experience. An early Al Lowe title, that you can download from Al Lowes own site.

Dragon’s Keep
Another Al Lowe game, but I’ve never tried it. Also available from Al’s own site with price of free.

So, any others out there with experience with these titles? What do you think about them?

 

     
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Interesting!!VERY INTERESTING but you know all those titles were given under On-Line Systems Company at that time.

please don’t mind me taking a wild drift here not that i think also its so irrelevant to your thread tomimt   Grin .
On-Line Systems wasn’t company as it sounds,just a permitted License for a Company called On-Line Systems so they can officially promote their projects; a husband and a wife doing everything on Apple II by themselves, but fate has its strange plans for those couple , and at the same time AL Lowe The jazz Player which discovered that playing music (ultimate truth)  doesn’t make money or at least enough to raise a family , so he need to go for what was growing at that time , but he was working full day job never had the time nor the enough money to go for that dream , but then it was his daughter Chicken pots virus to push him to. when he was virused with just the same with those the Chicken pots and after staying a week not doing anything staying home quarantined!,
he had that idea to put all his money to buy an appleII!
he had spent already sometime as a hobby even before his illness reading books about programming he wanted to make game but befor ethat he made a Music Festival Management Software,using On-Line Systems main tools which were not only games as they were software for AppleII (ironic!) ..
but then fate played the best part for the 3 guys Ken Roberta and Al lives ...
there was that Galerie made for/by AppleII users for promoting it, it was held at (dont remember where) and they were the the 3 of them ,and as Ken was walking around the Galerie ,alone, he stopped to in front of Al’s work/monitor , and then that is exactly how it happened he look back for his wife and called “‘berta, come here ,these games look exactly like the ones you are making!’
and that was the day.
.
.
they started putting Al’s Games under their company Line On-Line Systems to be promoted
.
.... and then Came Mark ...Grin
to be continued Wink lol

     
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Al Lowe was actually a music teacher, a profession he did for 15 years before he started doing games for a living.

     
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True , did i say differently!, you are confirming right? ... but what i meant music bzns in general. unless you have an established studio/label or anything similar , you just can not make a standard living out of it and ....esp. if have a family ;wife and kids .

P.S: i wish this thread would go into telling stories of the Sierra’s Up and Downs ... there are or so many interesting things even drama included Smile at Sierra’s and within their 16 years of establishments holding on. 

back to the subject i only played On-Line Systems’  Mystery House and The Dark Crystal .

     

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I just read a great blog post that takes you through the experience of playing Mystery House:

http://www.hitselfdestruct.com/2013/05/mystery-house-always-wins.html

I also recently watched a Let’s Play of Wizard and the Princess:

One cool thing about this Let’s Play is that the game kept messing up on his emulators and so he’d have to switch to a different version (Commodore, Apple, etc.). It gives you a chance to see several different versions of the game.

Anyway, both games seem truly awful. You do not want to be wasting your time playing them (maybe for a few minutes, but not to actually try to finish without hints).

I’d love to see a Let’s Play of Time Zone even though that appears to be even worse than the other two. I don’t think videos exist at the moment, but if anybody finds full playthroughs of that or other early OLS games, post a link please.

A fantastic resource for learning about early computer games is The Digital Antiquarian blog by Jimmy Maher. He is writing the history in approximately chronological order, starting from the earliest computers. Focus is mostly on adventures and RPGs, but he gets into hardware and such as well to give you more background. My recommendation is to start at the very first post and read every single one in order, but the first Sierra post (I think) is here if you want to skip ahead:

http://www.filfre.net/2011/10/ken-and-roberta/

He covers Mystery House right after that, and goes on to Time Zone, Wizard, etc. later on.

Hackers by Steven Levy is a fantastic book which partly covers pre-King’s Quest Sierra. KQ1 is alluded to, but it was still a top secret project at the time of the book’s writing so it is not named. It’s pretty interesting to see where the book leaves off, knowing what we now know about how Sierra did after that.

     
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I’ve always wanted to do a remake of Cranston Manor or Time Zone.  Even toyed with it a little.  Have several little test rooms I did in the style of later of Sierra games. 

I loved the Hi-Res adventure titles - spent a lot of time playing many of them on the old Apple ][+!


Bt

     
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I think in a retrospect it’s kind of funny, that Sierra never did a remake of its own from Time Zone, considering how much money they spent it in the firts place. Had they used AGI or SCI on it later on it could have been huge.

Or maybe they just got scared because of it was a bomb when it did came out originally.

     
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tomimt - 18 June 2013 01:04 AM

I think in a retrospect it’s kind of funny, that Sierra never did a remake of its own from Time Zone, considering how much money they spent it in the firts place. Had they used AGI or SCI on it later on it could have been huge.

Or maybe they just got scared because of it was a bomb when it did came out originally.

Yeah, you have to wonder about that.  What an ambitious title, too - especially for the Apple II…. I liked those “Hi-Res Adventures” a lot.  I still have some, using a Kegs emulator, and I know there’s an Apple II site out there somewhere that has the ability to play the games on-line.  I don’t want to link it, for it might be against policy.  But it’s really more of a museum and homage to the technology of the time.


Bt

     
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Venkman - 17 June 2013 03:38 PM

I’d love to see a Let’s Play of Time Zone even though that appears to be even worse than the other two.

What makes you say that? Have you played it and if so, what didn’t you like about it?

     
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Blackthorne - 17 June 2013 06:35 PM

I’ve always wanted to do a remake of Cranston Manor or Time Zone.  Even toyed with it a little.  Have several little test rooms I did in the style of later of Sierra games.

I toyed around with Wizard and the Princess remake a while ago. I did graphics for several rooms and even build a demo with AGS of it, but after I couldn’t get the 3D character plugin to work I dropped it. My plan was to use pre-rendered backgrounds and make all characters with 3D, but at least then AGS just wasn’t ready for that approach and I didn’t have enough energy to start looking for another engine.

I just might start it again with Unity, now that it looks like a nice choice for adventuregames.

     
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tomimt - 18 June 2013 03:17 PM
Blackthorne - 17 June 2013 06:35 PM

I’ve always wanted to do a remake of Cranston Manor or Time Zone.  Even toyed with it a little.  Have several little test rooms I did in the style of later of Sierra games.

I toyed around with Wizard and the Princess remake a while ago. I did graphics for several rooms and even build a demo with AGS of it, but after I couldn’t get the 3D character plugin to work I dropped it. My plan was to use pre-rendered backgrounds and make all characters with 3D, but at least then AGS just wasn’t ready for that approach and I didn’t have enough energy to start looking for another engine.

I just might start it again with Unity, now that it looks like a nice choice for adventuregames.

Yeah, you might be able to take that approach with Unity now!  Wizard and The Princess is a really fun game - I mean, it’s simple and primitive, but you can see the seeds of later adventure games in it.


Bt

     
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Simplicity was the resaon I chose WatP. Though the way I wrote the couple of test scenes were pretty much almost like a parody of the original game and if I were to start doing the game now, I think it would stay that way.

     
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Heh - doing the Troll’s Tale remake in SQ2 was a total whim/joke.  One weekend, my co-producer, Shawn (Klytos) said “Mate, I programmed Trolls Tale for fun this weekend ‘cause I was bored.”  We threw in some enhanced graphics, and there it was!


Bt

     
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Bt .. will there ever be like any kind of (not necessarily dedication) thanking or even mentioning of Sierra’s Quest for Glory inspiration anywhere through Quest for Infamy or ...?

i wish (just for myself) or dream for cameo appearance, just anything!!
for me it would be so much considered faithfully appreciated and well receipted and respected . Smile

     
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Advie - 18 June 2013 07:39 PM

Bt .. will there ever be like any kind of (not necessarily dedication) thanking or even mentioning of Sierra’s Quest for Glory inspiration anywhere through Quest for Infamy or ...?

i wish (just for myself) or dream for cameo appearance, just anything!!
for me it would be so much considered faithfully appreciated and well receipted and respected . Smile

I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any such kind of Easter Egg.  We at Infamous Quests are not known for our abundant and liberal uses of any such fun devices.  Just remember, legends never sleep.  Thank you.

 

Bt

     

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Oscar - 18 June 2013 10:44 AM
Venkman - 17 June 2013 03:38 PM

I’d love to see a Let’s Play of Time Zone even though that appears to be even worse than the other two.

What makes you say that? Have you played it and if so, what didn’t you like about it?

I haven’t played it. I read this series of posts on it from Jimmy Maher’s blog that I linked to earlier:

http://www.filfre.net/2012/06/time-zone/

I’m going to put the below in spoilers just in case somebody actually intends to play it, but I mean come on.

There are over 1300 rooms with nothing to do in 1100+ of them (except randomly die). In most rooms nothing can be interacted with, but then there’s like one random thing that actually can be. In the below picture, according to Maher, nothing is implemented except for one of the drawers which has a knife in it that you need:

There’s a random screen where, for no reason whatsoever, you have to pass 5 turns (by randomly “LOOK"ing, there is no “WAIT”) until Catherine the Great comes out of her castle and drops a hat pin. EDIT: This is even worse than I thought. Apparently, this needs to be done the FIRST time you come to the location. If you leave and come back, the event will never happen. This is similar to that KQ5 puzzle with the rat, but about 50x worse considering there is no indication that anything needs to be done on this screen, least of all wasting 5 turns.

Anyway, a lot of it isn’t that different from other Hi-Res Adventures, but the fact that it’s so huge and random makes it so much worse.

EDIT: I’d wager that, due to “puzzles” like the one I listed above, less than 10 people, if ANY, have ever finished this game without help. Would not be surprised if it were 0.

     

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