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The Adventure-Story of Sierra

written down by slydos

 

Sierra produced the first graphic adventures in the world. Founders are the married couple Roberta and Ken Williams. The later so well-known company Sierra On-Line was founded under the name On-Line systems in 1979 by Ken and set milestones not only in the adventure genre - but within the entire game industry.

1979

Ken Williams works as a programmer on an income tax program. Once working at his home terminal in Los Angeles he searches the depths of the computer and suddenly discovers something, that carries the name ' Adventure '... He just enters the word.... and the computer - 3000 miles far away - answers... : "You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully.>" Fascinated he calls his wife Roberta, to show her his discovery. This evening no more work is done and the next days they also find no sleep.

Scott and Alexis Adams found Adventure International.

Stimulated by the mainframe text-adventure Colossal Cave (simply called 'Adventure') by Will Crowther and Don Woods and the text adventures for Apple II by Scott and Alexis Adams, Roberta begins, to write down her thoughts on an own game. She really likes text, but somehow this is not enough for her. Instead of describing that you are standing in front of a house, you could show the house at the screen...

1979 Infocom is founded by 10 members of the MIT Dynamic Modeling Group. They look for a distributor for their text adventure Zork and find one in Personal Software.

In the same year Activision is founded by 4 former coworkers from Atari (known for video arcade games like Donkey Kong since the legendary Pong from 1972).

1980

Roberta persuades her man to help her, and the two develop the first graphic adventure of the world on their new (Christmas present of 1979) Apple II: Mystery House. The 1980 published murder story in Agatha Christie style has still no animated graphic elements, but consists of monochrome drawings and a 2-word-textparser for the input of simple word combinations.

The Wizard and the Princess is their second game, and the first color graphic adventure of the world, likewise for the Apple II. It is later converted for the Commodore 64 and the Atari 8-bit and 1982 for IBM PC under the name Adventures in Serenia.

1981

Between 1980 and 1982 Ken and Roberta publish altogether 7 adventures of this kind for Apple under the name of High-Res Adventures: Mission Asteroid (1981 Roberta and Ken Williams), Cranston Manor (1981 Harold DeWitz and Ken Williams), Ulysses and the golden Fleece (1982 Bob Davis and Ken Williams). In this year also the only textadventure of Sierra is published: Softporn Adventure by Chuck Benton.

1982

Roberta breaks all records with Time Zone, because this complex adventure on 6 disks has 1400! rooms - in addition it is the first adventure, that has graphics created by professional artists. It costs at that time $99.95 in the shops.

1982 On-Line systems is renamed into Sierra On-Line (Ken and Roberta moved and live now in the Sierra Nevada, south of Yosemite National Park. The landmark of this park, an impressing mountain, which is called Halfe Dome, is from now on used as logo for their company).

In this year Roberta writes The Dark Crystal, after the movie of the same name by Jim Henson (father of the Muppets) and thus the first adventure game after a motion picture. The children's version of it is published 1984 under the name The Gelfling Adventure, the first Adventure by Al Lowe, who will later develop the Larry series.

At the same time Infocom produces complex text adventures, without graphics however with a parser, that permits very complicated sentences.

Electronic Arts is founded (first under the name Amazin' Software) by Trip Hawkins and still belongs today (in the year 2003) to the large companies. Access Software is founded by Chris Jones and Bruce Carver, Aaron Connors was already with them too.

1983

IBM asks Sierra, to create a game especially for their new project, the IBM PCjr - to demonstrate the new possibilities of this computer. With this the development of the innovative King's Quest 1 begins. It has background music, animated colour graphics, a 3D-environment and one can move the hero, who understands complex parser inputs, with the arrow keys in front or behind objects at the screen. Especially for this, a new program is made: AGI (Adventure Game interpreter).

The first Sierra adventures use a script language. To be able to play them, one needs AGI. The games themselves are independent from the platform, so you can let them run on every computer, which has AGI. The AGI games have a 160 x 200 resolution with 16 colors. One can act by text input, the characters either are controlled by the arrow keys or a joystick. Examples of AGI are King's Quest I-III, Police Quest I and Larry I. (AGI is further developed until today. AGI Studio allows fans to develop their own games.)

The French company Infogrames is founded.

 

1984

King's Quest 1 - The Quest for the Crown is published.

1985

King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne is published.

Westwood Studios is founded in a garage in Las Vegas by Brett Sperry and Louis Casle.

Activision publishes Mindshadow and Hacker 1.

The French developer and Publisher Microids is founded by Elliot Grassiano, who still leads it today.

1986

Sierra On-Line publishes 3 adventures for children together with Disney: Mickey's Space Adventure, The Black Cauldron and Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood.

The programmers of The Black Cauldron, Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy (the 2 Guys from Andromeda, as they call themselves) present a demo of their idea for a new game to Ken Williams and Ken loves it. So they create their own adventure game with Roger Wilco as leading actor: Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter, which is published 1986 as the first of the funny Sci-Fi series.

At the same time Roberta publishes King's Quest III: To Heir is Human.

Activision Inc. buys Infocom and publishes Hacker 2, Portal and Tass Times in Tonetown.

1987

The chief programmer of King's Quest 3, Al Lowe, gets his own project: he should make something new out of the only Sierra textadventure, Softporn Adventure. He creates the anti-hero Larry Laffer in his Polyester Suit and the first adventure of the Larry series: Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. The graphis are made by Mark Crowe (Space Quest). The Larry series becomes the second-successful Sierra series after King's Quest.

Likewise 1987 Sierra starts another extremely successful Quest series: Police Quest. Sierra wins the ex-policeman Jim Walls for this project. Police Quest 1: In Pursuit of the Death Angel and its successors have been used even for police training. At the same time Roberta Williams produces Mixed up Mother Goose, the first edutainment adventure for pre-school children (published in Germany under the name Gänseliesel).

The same year Lucasfilm Games (today LucasArts) publish their first well-known adventure (The Labyrinth from 1986 remains relatively unknown): Maniac Mansion. They use Ron Gilbert's and Aric Wilmunder's SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) for the development. LucasArts later becomes Sierra's hardest competitor and created a set of classics among the altogether published 15 adventure games up to 2003 (as comparison: Sierra published in the year 1993 18! adventures).

1988

Sierra puts a lot of money into the development of a better program: SCI (Sierra's Creative Interpreter) with 320x200 16-color EGA graphics, point&click in addition to use of keyboard or joystick and a new menu and command system. With SCI and King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella one can hear music from a sound card for the first time on a PC. King's Quest IV is also the first adventure game with a female heroine.

1988 Sierra becomes a stock corporation: Sierra On-Line Inc..

Published:
Police Quest II: The Vengeance by Jim Walls
Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge by Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy
Goldrush by Doug MacNeill and Ken MacNeill

Infocom publishes the first textadventures with graphics: Arthur, Shogun, Zork Zero with graphic window, compass, maps etc. additionally to the text window.

LucasArts releases Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, Westwood Studios develops Circuit's Edge, which is published by Infocom, Douglas Adams creates for Infocom the textadventure The Hitchhikers's Guide to the Galaxy. People are working on a new edition with 3Dgraphics in 2002 when Douglas Adams suddenly dies.

The French company ERE Informatique is founded and with it the label Exxos, which is renamed 1990 into Cryo.

Infogrames publishes the unusual Sci-Fi adventure Captain Blood.

1989

Published:
Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon by Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy
Leisure Suit Larry II: Larry Goes Looking for Love by Al Lowe
Manhunter: New York by Dave, Barry and DeeDee Murry
Laura Bow: The Colonel's Bequest by Roberta Williams

LucasArts publishes Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, Access Software Mean Streets, the first Tex Murphy adventure by Chris Jones, Infogrames Chamber of the Sci Mutant Priestress (a.k.a. Cult) and Quest for the Timebird.

A new Sierra Quest series first sees the light of day with: Quest for Glory I: So You Want to be a Hero by Lori Ann Cole. Adventure and role playing elements are mixed for the first time. The game is first called Hero's Quest, but is renamed because of copyright problems.

Manhunter 2: San Francisco is released as last Sierra AGI game.

In the same year Infocom is closed - pure textadventures don't sell well any longer. The Infocom authors Steve Meretzky and Bob Bates get together - Legend Entertainment is founded with the intention to produce more Interactive Fiction. Bates and other Legend coworkers revise the textadventure system architecture, divide the screen into 4 parts - text window, graphic window, menus for verbs, nouns and prepositions, a clickable compass and others.

For the 10th anniversary Sierra provides new, extended versions of all first parts of the 5 most successful series with the new SCI system: King's Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest and Quest for Glory.

The game designer Josh Mandel is hired and works on the remake of King's Quest 1. Josh Mandel works on many Sierra games and is codesigner of Heart of China, Pepper's Adventures in Time, Space Quest 6 and Freddy Pharkas - Frontier Pharmacist. He also develops Callahan's Crosstime Saloon for Legend Entertainment, which is published in the year 1997. He advises the developers of the fanadventure Space Quest - The Lost Chapter (2001) and participates in the making of the Tierra fangame King's Quest 2 VGA Remake (2002/2003), where he takes over the dubbing of King Graham.

1990

Published:
Larry III: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals by Al Lowe
Codename: Iceman by Jim Walls (Police Quest)
Conquests of Camelot by Christy Marx
Rise of the Dragon by Dynamix, Jeff Tunnel
Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire by Lori Ann Cole

LucasArts releases Loom and Secret of Monkey Island and Legend Entertainment the first part of the Spellcasting series: Spellcasting 101 - Sorcerers Get all the Girls by Steve Meretzky, Access Software Countdown.

1990 Sierra succeeds again in creating a so far never seen kind of adventure game: King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder with fantastic background graphics in 256 colors and an exclusively icon based interface with mouse control. The 5th part already sells more than 1/2 million copies and gets many prizes.

The same year Sierra publishes the first multimedia adventure on CDROM: a new version of Mixed Up Mother Goose with digital speech instead of texts.

1990 Sierra On-Line buys the game company Dynamix, which was 1984 founded by Jeff Tunnell and Damon Slye. Jeff Tunnel, Dynamix, writes in the following years Rise of the Dragon (1990), Heart of China (1991) and The Adventures of Willy Beamish (1992) apart from games in other genres.

1991

Sierra's second CDROM adventure with speech is published: King's Quest V.

At the same time Ken Williams tests new technologies: On-line multiplayer adventure games by modem. Al Lowe should develop a Larry on-line adventure for this project: Leisure Suit Larry 4! But problems with the technology and the small number of modem owners at that time make the project, which runs under the name Sierra Network, unprofitable and it is finally sold to AT&T. For these reasons Al Lowe decides, that his next Larry game shouldn't get the number 4 but directly the number 5.

1991 Eco Quest: The search for Cetus is also published, an ecological edutainment adventure for children, already with the cooperation of Jane Jensen. Other edutainment titles of the Sierra Discovery series are: Roberta's Mixed up Mother Goose CD, Lori Ann Cole's Mixed up Fairy Tales, Corey Cole's Castle of Dr. Brain and Jones into the Fast Lane by Warren Schwader.

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Published:
Leisure Suit Larry V: Passionate Patti Does A Little Undercover Work by Al Lowe
Police Quest III: The Kindred by Jim Walls
Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers by Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy

LucasArts releases Monkey Island: Le Chuck's Revenge, Legend Entertainment Spellcasting 201 - The Sorcerer's Appliance by Steve Meretzky and Timequest by Bob Bates, Access Software Martian Memorandum by Chris Jones and Activison Simon the Sorcerer 1 by game developers Adventuresoft (earlier Horrorsoft).

Edmond Heinbockel 1991 founds Tsunami Media Inc. in Oakhurst very near to Sierra. Some Sierra employees change there, 1992 also the program designer Robert E. Heitmann, a man of the first hour, who has developed the SCI-program, on which the Sierra games are based. Tsunami Media Inc. make adventures in the traditional Sierra style, perhaps even better, but finds little attention and turns to the production of interactive movies.

Tsunami published: Ringworld - Revenge of the Patriarch (1992), Blue Force (1993), Return to Ringworld (1994), Flash Traffic (1994) and Silent Steel (1995).

1992

Roberta Williams and Jane Jensen develop King's Quest VI: Heir Today, gone Tomorrow, Sierra's biggest project up to this time. Sierra buys the company Brightstar Technologies, who made the speech recording and use motion capture technology. Afterwards Jane Jensen begins her own series with: Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers. The game is developed for CD. Hollywoodstars take over the dubbing: Tim Curry, Mark Hamill, Leah Remini and Michael Dorn. The exciting horror story gets many prizes and supports Jane's writer career.

Published:
Laura Bow II: The Dagger of Amon Ra by Bruce Balfour (Roberta is Creative Consultant)
Conquests of the Long Bow: The Adventures of Robin Hood by Cristy Marx
Quest for Glory III: Wages of War by Lori Ann Cole

LucasArts releases Indiana Jones: The Fate of Atlantis, Revolution Software their first adventure game Lure of the Temptress, Legend Entertainment Spellcasting 301 - Spring Break by Steve Meretzky and Gateway by Bob Bates, Westwood Studios publishes Kyrandia 1, Access Software Amazone - Guardians of Eden by Chris Jones and Doug Vandegrift, Activision Simon the Sorcerer 2 by developers Adventuresoft.

1993

Sierra buys the French company Coktel Vision. Coktel Vision has already published, apart from their own developments such as Goblins 1 (1991), Goblins 2 (1992), Goblins 3 (1993), several adventures of the French company Tomahawk: 20,000 Miles Under the Sea (1988), Bargon Attack (1990) and the eroticism adventures Emmanuelle (1989), Geisha (1990) and Fascination (1991).

Muriel Tramis has created together with Pierre Gildhodes the Goblins series and is considerably involved in other Sierra/Coktel games (Lost in Time, Urban Runner, Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azimuth).

Published:
Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness by Lori Ann Cole and Corey Cole
Eco Quest 2: Lost Secret of the Rainforest by Gano Haine
Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist by Al Lowe and Josh Mandel
Island of Dr. Brain by Corey Cole
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers by Jane Jensen
King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow by Roberta Williams and Jane Jensen
Leisure Suit Larry VI: Shape Up or slip Out by Al Lowe
Space Quest V: Roger Wilco in the Next Mutation by Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy
Prophecy by Coktel Vision, Joseph Kluytmans and Corinne Perrot
Lost in Time by Coktel Vision, Muriel Tramis
Inca I+II by Coktel Vision
Pepper's Adventures in Time by Lorelei Shannon and Mark Seibert
Police Quest IV: Open Season by Daryl F. Gates

LucasArts releases Sam & Max and Day of the Tentacle, Activision Return to Zork, Legend Entertainment Eric the Unready and Gateway 2 by Bob Bates and their first game without text inputs: Companions of Xanth, Infogrames releases Eternam, Shadow of the Comet after H. P. Lovecraft and sounds the bell for the time of the action adventures with the spooky Alone in the Dark.

In the meantime Jim Walls left the series after Police Quest III (after that he and other former Sierra coworkers still made the police adventure Blue Force). In his place Daryl F. Gates, former boss of Los Angeles police, creates the fourth part of the series, Police Quest 4: Open Season (this time without Sonny Bond) and the following SWAT games, which are however no more adventuregames, but a mix of action/strategy and simulation.

Sierra moves from California to the Seattle area, Washington and with that near to Microsoft, in order to find enough personnel. Sierra On-Line consists at this time of 4 divisions: Sierra Publishing, Dynamix, Brightstar Technologies and Coktel Vision.

The game developers Cyan, founded by the brothers Rand and Robin Miller and existing since 1987, publish Myst, a surrealistic puzzle game without the usual inventory, in which the player cannot die. Myst is a giant success, the short before published, similar game The Labyrinth of Time by Electronic Arts, remains unconsidered.

In Norway Funcom is founded.

1994

For the 15th anniversary Sierra presents their games in special anniversary collections on CDROM. Roberta works at the same time on King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride as well as Lorelei Shannon and on the horror adventure Phantasmagoria.

The two very different games use again new techniques: King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride uses an extended version of SCI (SCI32), beeing more Windows- and multimedia-friendly. The screen resolution is doubled and animations in Disney-style are particularly aiming at children. The game is developed directly for CDROM.

Phantasmagoria on the other hand uses FMV technology (full motion video) with real actors in front of a blue screen and 3D-rendered backgrounds. Phantasmagoria has a Hollywood film budget. 20 professional actors work in the new film studio 4 months on it with an over 200headed crew. With 7 CDROMs the largest computer game, which was up to then produced. Although approx. 1 million copies are sold directly after its release (and so it is the bestselling Sierra game ever) the fans are not as satisfied with the performance and puzzles.

The 3rd-person-adventure KGB (Conspiracy) is released by Cryo, Sherlock Holmes Lost Files 1 - The Case of the Serrated Scalpel by Mythos Software is published by Electronic Arts, Deathgate by Legend Entertainment, Westwood Studios releases Kyrandia 2 - Hand of Fate, Access Software Under a Killing Moon, a FMV-adventure, in which the designer Chris Jones (as in both successors) takes over the role of Tex Murphy himself. Infogrames continous the successful Alone in the Dark series with the 2nd part.

1995

Jane Jensen receives more acknowledgment in 1995 for her first FMV work: Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within. The award-winning horror adventure in beautiful Bavaria lets Gabriel Knight and his female assistant Grace Nakimura investigate on 6 CDROMs in 2 different strands.

Likewise FMV uses Urban Runner by Coktel Vision: Roland Oskian and Arnaud Delrue, directed by Muriel Tramis, who was already responsible for Lost in Time. It takes place in Paris, however is filmed in Clichy.

Published:
Torin's Passage by Al Lowe
Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within by Jane Jensen
Phantasmagoria by Roberta Williams
Police Quest: S. W. A. T by Daryl F. Gates
Space Quest VI: The Spinal Frontier by Scott Murphy and Josh Mandel
Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azimuth by Coktel Vision, Muriel Tramis
The Last Dynasty by Coktel Vision, mix of adventure and simulation by Frederic Chauvelot and Philippe Lamarque

The Last Dynasty was Coktel's last effort in the adventure genre. They are from now on concentrated on the production of edutainment titles for the European market.

LucasArts releases Full Throttle, Revolution Software Beneath A Steel Sky, Cryo Aliens A Comicbook Adventure and Gadget, Legend Entertainment Mission Critical, Westwood Studios Kyrandia 3 - Malcom's Revenge, Infogrames publishes Burn Cycle, Prisoner of Ice after H. P. Lovecraft and Alone in the Dark 3.

Lori Ann Cole, the woman behind the successful Quest for Glory series, created the adventure game Shannara, which is published 1995 beside her work for Sierra by Legend Entertainment.

1995 Sierra acquires some game companies, for example Impresssion Software (Caesar) but also invests outside the gaming area in some Home Entertainment products and also acquires some companies here. 1995 Sierra is earning around 85 million dollars and the share price rises. CUC international (a multi-product company) has an eye on Sierra.

1996

CUC offers a nearly twice as high price for the purchase of Sierra, then is shown in the books. The shareholders cannot resist this offer and Sierra is sold.

CUC buys also Blizzard Entertainment, Davidson & Associates, Gryphon Software and Knowledge Adventure. CUC is however not very experienced in the game business. Ken Williams hands over his job with Sierra On-Line to 3 persons: Scott Lynch, Randy Dersham and Bill Moore. Ken trains them 1 more year and leaves the company, whereby he must sign a contract not to compete with Sierra by founding his own computer company or work in another computer company.

The Roberta Williams Anthology is published on 4 CDROMs with the High Res Adventures Mystery House, The Wizard and the Princess, Mission Asteroid and Time Zone. King's Quest 1 to 7, Laura Bow 1 and 2, Mixed up Mother Goose and a preview on Phantasmagoria are included. The enclosed manual with Ken's introduction informs in detail about the games and Roberta's work up to then.

Published:
Phantasmagoria II: A Puzzle of Flesh by Lorelei Shannon
Lighthouse by Jon Bock (with motion capture)
Leisure Suit Larry VII: Love for Sail! by Al Lowe
Shivers by Marcia Bales (with Roberta Williams as consultant)
Rama by Arthur C.Clarke and Gentry Lee

Arthur C. Clarke is one of the most well-known science fiction writers and has published more than 70 books, among them 2001: Odyssey in Space. Gentry Lee, a well-known scientist and NASA engineer, wrote four books together with Arthur and was involved together with Carl Sagan in the creation of the American TV series Cosmos.

LucasArts releases The Dig, Cryo Lost Eden, Treasure Hunter and Versailles 1685, Revolution Software Broken Sword 1, Activision Zork Nemesis, Access Software The Pandora File by and with Chris Jones, Infogrames Time Gate - Knight's Chase and Bob Bates (Legend) releases his Spycraft with Activision. Activision publishes likewise the FMV game The Elk Moon Murder, Microids Secret Mission.


1997

Shivers 2 - Harvest of Souls by Marcia Bales is released.

Legend Entertainment/Mindscape publishes Josh Mandel's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon.

Steve Meretzky develops Space Bar for Segasoft.

LucasArts releases Monkey Island 3: The Curse of Monkey Island, Cryo Atlantis 1 and Egypt 1, Revolution Software Broken Sword 2 and Riven by Cyan is published by Red Orb, Infocom-author Douglas Adams publishes Starship Titanic with Simon&Schuster, Sherlock Holmes Lost Files 2 - The Case of the Rose Tattoo by Mythos Software is published with Electronic Arts, Infogrames releases Voodoo Kid and Activision the FMV adventure Sacred Ground.

CUC, who, as said, are not experienced in the game business, buy here and there some companies, but the company is going down. 1997 50% of the California Sierra employees are diminished. At the same time CUC merges with HFS Incorporated (main business: hotels, real estates and cars) and the Cendant Corporation is founded. Sierra remains one of the divisions of Cendant, but one among many (with world-wide 40,000 employees) and withdraws ever more from the development of games in favour of the publishing business.

Ken Williams meanwhile, together with former Sierra manager Jerry Bowerman, founded WorldStream Communications, an internet company.

1998

Released:
Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire by Lori Ann Cole
Police Quest: S. W. A. T. 2 by Daryl F. Gates
King's Quest VIII: Mask of Eternity by Roberta Williams

LucasArts releases Grim Fandango with keyboard control, Cryo China - Forbidden City, Westwood Studios publishes Bladerunner and becomes part of Electronic Arts in the same year.

Legend Entertainment publishes Blackstone Chronicles by Bob Bates and is taken over by GT Interactive.

Access Software publishes Tex Murphy - Overseer by Chris Jones.

Infogrames takes over the Freddi Fish-series from Humongous Entertainment and publishes part 3 and 4 and Arxel Tribe's first adventure game Pilgrim.

1998 Sierra is devided into 5 subsidiary companies: Sierra Attractions (e.g. You don't Know Jack), Sierra Home (Print Artist etc.), Sierra Sports, Sierra Studios (development and publishing of the big games) and Dynamix (Red Baron etc.). A new Logo (first time without the Halfe Dome) is used. Sierra Publishing, the "primary rocks" of Sierra, still working in Oakhurst, is now called Yosemite Entertainment. 100 people remain, most of them responsible for Sierra's big successes in the 80s and 90s.

A short time after, Sierra gets a new president: David Grenewetzki, this time not new to the trade (he had worked for Accolade among other things).

During the restructuring the Cendant people recognize that the former management crew of CUC falsified the books over years, in order to appear in a favourable light with the stock market analysts. It's about several hundred million dollars and the Cendant shares go down to 25% of their value. During the process it comes out, that also the Sierra companies (without own effort) were used for the bookkeeping improvement. Cendant meanwhile announces they want to sell the entertainment branch.

1998 WorldStream Communications launches TalkSpot, an on-line radio.

In the last years the successful adventure genre is displaced in the USA by First Person Shooters and RPGs. Also Sierra produces less.

1998 Yosemite Entertainment publishes Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire as last game of the series. After Phantasmagoria Roberta Williams (4 years) works together with Mark Seibert on King's Quest 8: Mask of Eternity, which is on the shelves at Christmas. King's Quest is drastically changed: 3D-evironment and action-/RPG-elements should bring success with average players, but frighten off the adventure fans.

Sierra publishes the 1st-person-shooter Half-Life, which becomes an enormous success.

At the end of 1998 Cendant announces the sale of the Software Division to the French company Havas, at that time France's largest media group. Havas for their part was just bought by Vivendi, an enormous multinational group in the water supply industry, which wants to enter the media and telecommunications industry.

Hasbro Interactive buys Activision.

1999

Thus Sierra becomes part of Havas Interactive, and a reorganization is approaching. Sierra's own management decides to close or sell some development studios, under them the heart of the old company, which had made Sierra so successful: now called Yosemite Entertainment. 135 people are cold-bloodedly fired from one day to the other, the remaining people are assimilated in other studios. (Yosemite is just working on Babylon 5 and also an Multiplayer-Add-On for Quest for Glory V.) Also the legendary game designers Al Lowe and Scott Murphy are affected. Al had just begun Leisure Suit Larry 8 in 3D and Scott Murphy worked with Leslie Balfour on Space Quest 7, which is however rejected by the management, because they wish a multiplayer-game.

Ken Williams too closes his Online Radio 1999 and dismisses his employees. Instead he begins to sell the technology, the radio was based on.

Sierra publishes 1999 Homeworld and.... Jane Jensen's Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, the last Adventure game from Sierra.

1999 the British company Codemasters (developers and publishers) open a new studio in Oakhurst to gain a foothold at the American market and take over the facilities of Yosemite Entertainment and also many of the former employees. They also take over the online RPG The Realm and the canceled Navy SEALs. In addition the name Yosemite Entertainment for the development department.

Cryo publishes Atlantis 2, Microids Amerzone by Benoit Sokal, Funcom publishes Ragnar Tornquist's The Longest Journey in Norway and one year later internationally.

Through the purchase of GT Interactive by Infogrames, Legend Entertainment is also a part of it and since then develops no more adventures.

Microsoft takes over Access Software - the planned 6th Tex Murphy Adventure Polarity is canceled.

2000

Sierra gets further reorganized and more employees are fired. In the year 2000 Vivendi, Seagram and Canal+ form Vivendi Universal. Havas becomes Vivendi Universal Publishing, to whose games-division beside Sierra On-Line also Blizzard Entertainment and Universal Interactive Studios belong.

LucasArts releases Monkey Island 4: Escape from Monkey Island, upt to today (2003) the 15th and last adventure game, Cryo releases Faust, Egypt 2, Pompei and the two keyboard-operated games Odyssey and The New Adventures of the Time Machine, Infogrames releases Dramaera's Paris 1313.

2001

After a short intermezzo of Thomas Hernquist, Michael Ryder becomes the new Sierra On-Line boss.

Ken William's WorldStream Communications goes bankrupt in this year and 87 employees must go.

Also Dynamix is closed, the last connecting link to the old Sierra company. Sierra On-Line again changes the Logo - the Half-Dome is back. Fans of the old company see it as indications of a possible change.

Activision releases Zork Grand Inquisitor, Infogrames Alone in the Dark 4, Cryo Atlantis 3, Versailles 2 and King Artus 1+2, Microids Druuna - Morbus Gravis by Artematica and Road to India.

The French company UbiSoft publishes the third part of the Myst series: Exile, this time developed by the ingenious designers of Presto Studios, who had created the Journeyman Project Trilogy before. Presto Studios closes its gates without financial problems forever. However the French Publisher Ubisoft has signed a contract with the Myst inventors of Cyan to publish further games of the series until 2008.  

2002

Sierra On-Line is officially renamed into Sierra Entertainment, Inc..

Together with Blizzard Entertainment and Universal Interactive Sierra Entertainment belongs to Vivendi Universal Games. They sell together annually for more than 600 million US dollars.

But Vivendi Universal now has a serious liquidity crisis. The world-wide second largest media group was 'mowed down' by the young-dynamic star manager Jean Marie Messier. Carelessly the 45year old has juggled with billions, by merging and interweaving with the American movie-, television and music business. Messier is fired on highest order of the French president, getting a millions-worth golden handshake. The new group of managers, who lead Vivendi now, probably has to smash the company.

Cryo releases Thorgal, Arxel Tribe's Jerusalem, and tbot's Jules Verne - The Secret of the Nautilus. Thorgal is the last Adventure under the name Cryo, the development team is taken over by Dreamcatcher Interactive and publishes adventure games in the future under the label The Adventure Company Europe.

Infogrames for their part took over the publishing rights (so far Dreamcatcher) of the successful Nancy Drew detective series and publishes parts 6 and 7: Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand and Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake.

Microids releases Syberia by Benoit Sokal and Post Mortem.

2003

Vivendi Universal considers the sale of their video game section. It should bring Vivendi Universal about 2 billion Euro. Still Vivendi's new boss Jean Rene Fourtou has however not made a decision. For Fourtou the game section does not belong to the core business and he wants to lower the company's debts by this sale. The section works under the name of Vivendi Universal Games Inc., belonges to Vivendi Universal Publishing and is at present the second largest game company world-wide. Possible buyers are Microsoft, Sega and Sony.

In March 2003 Funcom celebrates its tenth anniversary and Ragnar Tornquist works on The Longest Journey 2.

Microids goes bankcrupt, but is supported by newly founded MC2 by Emmanuel Olivier. MC2-Microids take over Wanadoo Edition with all the adventure licenses.

When purchasing Hasbro Interactive in 2001 (which delayed the release of Simon the Sorcerer 3D for a long time), Infogrames also got the rights on the name Atari and is called Atari from May 2003.

Revolution Software releases Broken Sword 3 at THQ, Ubisoft Uru and In Memoriam.

Jane Jensen works on a new adventure game, which will however not be Gabriel Knight 4. It is introduced on the E3-entertainment fair 2003 in Los Angeles in May 2003.

Muriel Tramis from French Sierra-subsidiary Coktel Vision had worked for Vivendi Universal until 2003. She then founded her own company Avantilles.

2004

In the year 2004 Sierra could have celebrated its 25th anniversary...

Legend Entertainment was closed by Atari in 2004.

The Adventure Company continous the Atlantis series with Atlantis Evolution, Ubisoft the Myst-series with Myst 4 - Revelation. Microids publishes Syberia 2 by Benoit Sokal and Jack the Ripper by Galilea.

2005

MC2-Microids Canada publishes Still Life and is taken over by Ubisoft, who is building a Canadian centre for game software development with thousands of employees and strong Canadian state allowance. Publishing rights, licenses and the name MC2-Microids stay with the company and Emmanuelle Olivier. Microids Italy split off from the company and was named Blue Label Entrtainment.

Ubisoft publishes the last part of the saga with Myst 5 - End of Ages. The Adventure Company releases the first of 5 planned Agatha Christie adventures created by Lee Sheldon: And then there were None.

2006

In the year 2006 the Sierra-Quest-series (King's Quest, Police Quest, Larry und Space Quest excepting Quest for Glory) are re-released by Vivendi/Sierra with the old Half Dome logo playable under XP.

 


Jane Jensen and German publisher dtp/Anaconda announce their cooperation at GC in Leipzig 2006. The already at E3 (2003) announced project "Gray Matter" is now made by Hungarian Studio Tonuzaba Entertainment to be released in 2008.

Al Lowe announces a new (non-adventure)-project named Sam Suede and cofounded with Ken Wegrzyn (Mindscape) iBase Entertainment. Several months later the project was cancelled.

Dreamfall - The Longest Journey 2 by Funcom is released. German publisher Frogster takes care of publishing In Memoriam 2 - The Last Ritual. dtp/Anaconda releases Runaway 2, Koch Media Secret Files Tunguska. Revolution Software brings the 4th part of Broken Sword at THQ again.
TAC publishes Murder on the Orient Express as second installment in the Agatha Christie mystery series.
Austrian publisher Jowood takes over Dreamcatcher Interactive and so TAC: The Adventure Company. MC2-Microids starts re-releasing the old Index+/Wanadoo/Microids-adventures.

The LucasArts Sam&Max license is taken over by Telltale Games founded by former LA employees Dan Connors, Kevin Bruner and Troy Molander who are publishing the license in new episodes first as download games and finally as boxed version with publisher Jowood/TAC the next year. They also started to create CSI adventure games for Ubisoft with CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder.

2007

Muriel Tramis from Avantilles is now working on the adventure game "Fragile-Fatale, la jeune Manmandlo". Her colleague from Coktel Vision, Pierre Gilhodes, who co-designed the Goblins-series together with Muriel Tramis, is now producing a new 3D-comic adventure game named Goblins 4.

Simon the Sorcerer 4 is released, developed by German Silverstyle Entertainment supported by the designers of the original series, the brothers Woodroffe.

Sinking Island by White Birds (Benoit Sokal) is the first new release of reconstructed publisher Microids-MC2, followed by Nostradamus - The Last Prophecy.

Jowood/TAC publishes the third Agatha Christie adventure: Evil under the Sun, Dead Reefs and Aura 2, dtp/Anaconda Overclocked and Reprobates_.

Telltale Games produces the next CSI game for Ubisoft: Hard Evidence and starts producing the second season of Sam&Max.

2008

Jane Jensen's new adventure game Gray Matter is now in the hands of French development studio Wizarbox (So Blonde). This change of the development studio shifts the release date to 2009.

Microids-MC2 has now acquired most of the former Cryo licenses back from Jowood-TAC and starts to re-relase the titles. They continue the successful Dracula-series with Dracula 3

A Vampyre Story by Autumn Moon Entertainment (Bill Tiller, Ex-LucasArts designer) is published by German publisher Crimson Cow, Dracula Origin, Perry Rhodan 1, Penumbra 2 and Secret Files 2 are released by Koch Media, dtp publishes Mata Hari (ex LucasArts designers) and So Blonde (ex Revolution designer).

2009

Gray Matter is going to be released at the end of 2009.

Microids-MC2 publishes sequels to Return to Mysterious Island and Still Life. They also announce a sequel to the Syberia series with Syberia 3 in 2010.

dtp releases Black Mirror 2 and 15 Days.

Announcements of remake of Secret of Monkey Island by LucasArts, Tales of Monkey Island by Telltale, Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island by Autumn Moon Entertainment + dtp, Lost Horizon by Koch Media, CSI 5 - Deadly Intent by Ubisoft.

Atari was scheduled to release the first season of Sam&Max, but was taken over by Japanese publisher Namco Bandai. The Atari publishing label is eliminated everywhere except USA. The old distribution company will transfer into a new distribution net called Namco Bandai Partners, who will publish the NB-licenses at their locations, presumably including the Sam&Max license.

 

The other designers partially still work in the game industry. Here some links:

Lori Ann Cole and Corey Cole  http://www.transolar.com/

Christy Marx  http://www.christymarx.com/

Al Lowe  http://www.allowe.com/

Ken Williams http://www.sierragamers.com/

Interview with Ken Williams by Adventuretreff
http://www.adventure-treff.de/artikel/interviews/ken_williams.php

Interview with Ken Williams at Adventure Classic Gaming
http://www.adventureclassicgaming.com/index.php/site/interviews/197/

Josh Mandel  http://www.josho.com/pg000008.htm

Jeff Tunnels  http://www.garagegames.com/

Mark Seibert  http://www.markseibert.com/

Jane Jensen  http://www.janejensen.com/

Ken and Doug MacNeill  http://www.softwarefarm.com/

Warren Schwader  http://www.solitairenetwork.com/resume.html

Scott Murphy  http://www.scottmurphy.com/

Lorelei Shannon  http://www.psychenoir.com/

http://www.vintage-sierra.com/people.html

Coktel Vision  http://www.coktel.de/

Muriel Tramis Avantilles

 

 

 

 

 

adventure-archiv 12-05-03    translated 17.07.03  Updated 12-05-07

 

 

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