Okay, so that is a long title for a blog post. But I felt that it was necessary, because this post is going to focus around King's Quest VI and III, Prince Alexander, and Ken William's book 'Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The rise and fall of Sierra On-Line.' Whew! That's a lot to dive into.
(Art by John Shroades. King's Quest VI: Lord of the Dead)
First off, one might point out that Sierra has many great games, including the other King's Quest games that are not mentioned above. They are absolutely correct! But why am I focusing solely on these two games? And how does Ken William's book fit into this post?
The idea of this blog post stems from what I am about to tell you. About almost three weeks ago, I had finished playing Skyrim. That's a bold statement because one cannot just 'finish' Skyrim. It's endless. Back in March of this year, I decided to do another entire play-through of Skyrim. This includes all the expansions, all the quests, etc etc. Fast forward to three weeks ago. I did everything in Skyrim. No more quests except the repeatable ones, or ones that were broken. I even did all the Steam achievements that I could possibly do except five of them. (Next play through I'll pursue those achievements, as I made poor decisions and was unable to do those five.) So here I am, staring at my Skyrim character, wondering what to play next? Then it dawned on me. Why not revisit my old favorite Sierra games?
I closed down Steam, and logged onto GoG. I had purchased all the Sierra games that were available on GoG about four years ago. There weren't much, but they did have some of the King's Quest games, Quest for Glory, Police Quest, and Laura Bow. The old Sierra games used to be on some abadonware site, but that was ages ago. Every five years, I do another play-through of some of my personal favorite Sierra games. Which leads me to King's Quest VI.
Christmas 1992. I was 12. At the time, I was one of the five kids in my school that had a PC. Zeos to be exact. We had a couple of the Sierra games prior to Christmas, but honestly, I couldn't tell you which ones. I went to Wikipedia to see the list of games to jog my memory, but for some reason Wikipedia excludes the Sierra games that were released from 1991-1994 off the game list. Strange. What does come to mind during that time frame is that my family did have several non-Sierra games like the 'After Dark' screensaver, 'Oh no! More Lemmings!', and 'Commander Keen.' All I remember was seeing an ad or promotion for King's Quest VI and Laura Bow (Dagger of Amon Ra.) I begged my father that all I wanted for Christmas were those two games. I didn't care for clothes, jewelry, makeup...just those two games. Under the Christmas tree, you can only guess what was under there. Yep! Both games.
Every Christmas, when we had a PC in our house, went like this: My brother and I got several games for Christmas. After opening gifts, my dad would install the games. All day, he would be at it until the end of the day. You have to understand, this was back in the DOS days. No Microsoft games with easy installers. To make a long story short, the games were installed and I fell in love with my new games.
King's Quest VI became one of my all-time favorite games, even to this day. I remember sitting around the PC, playing King's Quest with my brother and sister. Countless hours we worked our way through the Cliffs of Logic, or tried to solve whatever puzzle the 'Land of the Green Isles' had in store for us. It was one of the few memories I have of my older sister (she passed away in 2009.) She never liked games; she was in high school doing her dance-line and dating boys - compared to my brother and I, who were six to eight years younger than her. But as for King's Quest, she got involved when my brother and I were playing.
Fast forward to present day. I downloaded King's Quest VI from my GoG purchase and had an idea. Just like the old days of spending time with my siblings playing King's Quest, why not make it a family thing with my kids? Sure enough, I got all three of my kiddos involved - and they loved it! I was surprised, considering they play games like Mindcraft, Mario Bros, Zelda, and Plants verses Zombies. I wasn't sure if they would have an attention span for an old game. But they did, and sure enough, we beat the game and they were asking for more King's Quest games!
After this, I installed King's Quest V for the kiddos. As I had been doing some research online, I came across some exciting things. King's Quest I-III had been remade by an independent company not related to Sierra (the company is long gone, and much to talk about.) But more importantly, these remakes were LEGIT, resembling the old-school Sierra art! I never hit download so fast in my life. Because after all, the games were FREE. After downloading, I chose to play King's Quest III. Why? I had just finished KQ6, which featured Prince Alexander. The only other game he is the main character is in KQ3. After all, he is my favorite Sierra character besides Laura Bow. He is a romantic at heart, kind, and all the things a teen girl would dream about in her 'prince to be.' As an adult, he's still charming and a good-natured guy.
Can I pause here for a moment and just say that ADG did a flipping fantastic job at the remake? As I write this post now, I can say that I have successfully beat the game, and am dying to write fanfiction of Alexander and Cassima. Also, just want to point out that I took a photo of my computer screen below. It's not a screen capture; it's why you see a little bit of a glare.
Okay, here's where it gets better. The day I was downloading these free King's Quest games, I came across something that made me cry tears of joy. Ken and Roberta Williams (founders of Sierra On-Line) are back in games after 25 years (or more) of being away. They are working on a game called 'Colossal Cave 3D.' You don't understand, these two were my childhood heroes. My goal all throughout my teens was to one day work at Sierra On-Line. I wrote and drew game documents on my dad's crappy printer paper (you know, the one with perforated holes on the edges) and learned some programming. I looked up to Roberta - a woman in the gaming industry that was dominated by males, creating the most amazing games. At that time, I related to her - a girl in her teens who loved computer games. Growing up, no other girls I knew liked computer games, let alone even heard about a computer or touched one. When it came time for college, I found out that Sierra was no longer what it was. Ken and Robert weren't there anymore. This is an entire story itself. In fact...it leads me to the next subject!
As I found out that Ken and Roberta were back in games a few weeks ago, I also found out that Ken wrote a book: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The rise and fall of Sierra On-Line. It's on Amazon here. I read the entire book in three nights. It was fantastic, and a must-read for any Sierra On-Line fan. For many years in the past, I'd look online to see if Ken and Roberta were around, or read old Sierra-related articles. The only bit of info I ever came across was Ken's sailing blog. I had hoped to see them return to games. After seeing a post that indeed, they were back at it, you have no idea. I was so happy. The icing on the cake? I commented on Ken's recent Twitter post. And he responded. Made my life complete.