As an avid video gamer, I often try to carve out some time on the weekend to play my current fixation. Lately it has been SimCity, despite all its problems, or Civilization 5. I am also still working my way through Assassin’s Creed 3 on the PS3. But something this week made me want to relive part of my childhood. So I whipped out Quest for Glory I: So You Want to be a Hero by Sierra and played through all three characters: fighter, magic user and thief.
And the memories just came flooding back (not to mention some frustrations). When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, computer games were a huge part of my life. And Sierra had a special place in my heart. I played every single game Sierra ever made. From King’s Quest I to Gabriel Knight and The Adventures of Willy Beamish. I just thought they were the greatest games. My favorite? Colonel’s Bequest. I would spend years dreaming of a home like the one in the game.
Sierra’s wonderful mix of adventure and role-playing games that had a compelling story-line, would just melt away the hours. Sierra was a leader in the industry. Not just because of their rich, and often comical, stories, but because they always seemed to have the latest in graphic technology. Computer games, in those days, were going through a major development phase, with rapidly developing new graphic technology. The 8-bit games of the early 80s quickly went to 16-bit, EGA, VGA and beyond.
I actually remember my first encounter with Sierra. I was quite young, maybe 7 or 8 at the time, and was playing at a friend’s house. His parents, like mine, were in an industry that used computers regularly, so he had one in the home. He introduced me to King’s Quest I. We had no idea what we were doing and spent most of the time wandering aimlessly through the land, trying to determine what the magic words were we had to type to get Graham to reclaim his throne. It was a match made in heaven and I would go on to have a love affair with Sierra. So much so that as new games came out that required updated technology, I would beg my parents to upgrade our machine just so I could play the latest. I still have Quest for Glory 5 somewhere.
I even sent a couple letters to the Williams (Roberta and Ken founded Sierra) asking them permission to write a movie script based on King’s Quest. They politely declined my request, but I was still excited that they even took the time to respond. (For the record, I still think turning any of the lines of Sierra’s games into a movie franchise is a great idea, especially with the resurgence of fantasy and sci-fi genres and 80s nostalgia). Unfortunately, like most companies that become a success, Sierra attracted the attention of other corporations and was bought by CUC International in 1996. Shortly thereafter, Ken and Roberta retired. After that, Sierra had mixed success with other types of games, but largely ended the adventure game run with Gabriel Knight 3 in 1999. Beyond that, Sierra existed in name only. Various titles and brands were distributed under the Sierra name, probably trying to take advantage of Sierra’s brand recognition. Sierra was eventually bought, sold and merged into the behemoth Activision Blizzard. Although Sierra Entertainment is officially defunct as of 2008, the rights to the games and stories are likely still owned by Activision Blizzard, even after their split from Vivendi last year. There is a Warcraft movie in the works, so maybe it isn’t too far fetched that the Sierra business line will be revived into a movie franchise. And if anyone from Activision Blizzard is reading this, I have some great ideas for the movie scripts!
Although Sierra is no longer producing games, the memories will always live on in our hearts and minds, and on our computers. The Internet Archive has a number of classic computer games you can download and play. Some are demos or shareware and some are the full game. They also have instructions on how you can use DOSBox and windows emulator to still play these games. Quest for Glory I is only a demo on that site, but you can easily find the full version with a little Googling.