Sierra Games of yore


Discuss. In particular, their design ethos as compared to COG/HG.


That’s a really good interview. Thanks for pointing it out.

You not want to give us something to start with?

Are you speaking of the section that begins with

I think one problem was that in the early days games – you know what an auteur is in the movie business, right? It’s a director who has the vision and maybe writes the script or certainly oversees the script and the entire project from beginning to end. It’s his vision. It’s his statement. The film is his vision. I think there’s a problem with that now because games no longer have that.

Putting in a couple of other fragmented quotes that I liked. Actually I’d love to quote the entire chunk of it but not sure how much I’m allowed to quote. (And people really should read the whole article anyway).

“That was one of the things that I thought was part of Ken’s brilliance, that he recognized that talent in people and allowed them to pursue it. He allowed them to develop the game without much interference.”

“The difference was that we had the opportunity to envision a game in our minds and take it through to fruition without any committee or market research or comparables or all that other stuff that everybody nowadays feels is critical.”

Yeah sounds like what you’re doing. I love, oh that you have games where you can play an Estate Agent, a Fire-Fighter, a Graduate Student, a Lawyer, and soon an Insurance Salesman. You’ve a really eclectic mix of games. I love how the authors voices, their own interests influence the games that they’re writing, and that no matter how niche a game might seem, it’s still finding a voice here.

Ken Williams said: “My vision of this is once people taste interactivity in storytelling that they’re not gonna be content to sit back and just watch, and that someday the Academy Awards will merely be the non-interactive segment of the storytelling industry.”

I love that above quote. I wish it was true. Although I do think that with the rise of the internet we do have interactivity in other ways.


Well, first, send him CoDragon, Starship Captain, and Robots as stellar examples of storytelling and humor. And tell him you’re making money as an indie company with more than 5 good games. Maybe he’ll hail CoG as the great hope of the gaming industry. (:

I don’t remember hard choices in any Kings Quest game (I played 1-3). Or too much in the way of story, for all that that clearly seems to have been the ambition. They were puzzle extravaganzas. Often really fun ones. But I think CoG is coming from a different, more story-centric place.


I’m not really sure there is much of a difference between the original indie start ups and COG. It’s basically, think of something and then go do it.

I am not 100% clear on how the COG’s own games works, but given the extremely low costs incurred by producing hosted games there is no reason they aren’t like the many start ups. One person has an idea and then runs with it. Hoping for that magical hit.

Although I suppose we should consider it a warning. In the same situation, we are doing the same thing, and it’s not like those heroes of yesterday worked out well in the long run.


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King’s Quest and its kin were definitely more puzzle-oriented than choice-oriented, I agree. They were designed to kill you several times before you finally won. But, it’s clear that CoG doesn’t have to put up with professional executives and managers - please never change that.

Anyway, one thing that Sierra’s makers didn’t have was the Internet, which means that modern game developers such as CoG don’t have to compete for shelf space at Gamestop - digital distribution means an unlimited number of available games, and now Kickstarter means that a team with a concept does not need a company to back their development team. That means that game developers’ customers can be the customer, not the executives, for everything but an AAA game (or to put it another way, there’s an option to make games that aren’t designed to be AAA games).

This makes the gaming ecosystem healthier as a whole, because there’s the opportunity to apply a blue ocean strategy to games. Indie developers and quasi-indie publishers like CoG are free to innovate and develop new concepts without justifying themselves to executives. Also, CoG’s hybrid system provides both an easy in for new developers and an escape valve for developers who want to color a bit outside the CoG lines. For example, if I ever want to make a game that I decide needs to be genderlocked, I know it wouldn’t fly with CoG’s aesthetic, but nobody’s stopping me from doing it myself and publishing it through the Hosted Games label.