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Al Lowe retires (again), probably due to issues with Paul Trowe

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I think there's a lot of bitterness there from his part. When he was talking about that Sierra 2.0 thing ages ago he propably was deadly serious about it. And then, thanks to his personality, the rug was kinda yanked under him (despite there wasn't one in first place).

 

Before the crap hit the fan he most likely was indulging in dreams of really churning out "real" sequals to King's Quest, Space Quest and all the other Sierra classics. There's a reason he outed Telltale about King's Quest before they had a change to do it themselves. That propably just did more harm than good to him as well.

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How can he possibly think that this behaviour achieves ANYTHING? He must be talented though. I find it difficult enough coming up with 3-minute story lines for an out of touch maniacal games CEO. He lives it.

Maybe, but Toleman is actually an entertaining character. "He Who Shall Not Be Named" is just sad.

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The idea of creating Sierra 2.0 is really rather misguided anyway, given how apparently hellish Sierra was to work at in the last few years, and how it all ended....I really doubt Mark, Scott and many other Sierra designers would want to revisit it. If all the Sierra alums ever come together under one banner again it'd be out of mutual choice, not some guys persuasion. Otherwise it's kinda like a cheap TV movie reunion of a cancelled tv series....not worth trying.

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Well, Sierra was a pretty cool place to work until Ken decided to take the company public and then sell it. A Sierra 2.0 would probably harken back to the old creative and free-spirited days. Uh, in theory, at least. It probably wouldn't have been such a fun prospect after all with you-know-who in charge.

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Ken Allen has noted that Tsunami Entertainment was created by ex-Sierra employees who tried to recapture the "magic". They discovered it wasn't possible to force. Sierra was a special thing that just happened in an awesome way. Like Star Trek TNG.

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Too many people are working on "recapturing" something, IMO. I've rambled about this many times, but the 1990's happened and they were good. Now let's get over it and look forward. LSL:R may have sold well enough, but there's a reason it tanked with critics. Few people can just take a game from 1991, slap 2013 all over it and make it work. So "Sierra 2.0" was a lousy idea to begin with, no matter who had it.

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Few people can just take a game from 1991, slap 2013 all over it and make it work. So "Sierra 2.0" was a lousy idea to begin with, no matter who had it.

Well, that's not all they did with Larry Reloaded. There was a ton of new material written for the game. They would have preferred to do an all-new Larry game, but only had permission to do remakes.

 

Also, I don't see a problem with looking back at games we've loved. Although the first Larry game wasn't my favorite, the LSL series is indeed a great one and deserves to get a proper, all-new adventure with adequate budget. I believe the audience is there for it.

 

Larry Reloaded is certainly lacking in many areas, but a lot of the professional reviewers' criticisms of the game were stupid.

 

I am also surprised and find it ironic to see (on this forum, of all places) the idea that we should "get over" remembering a time when big budget adventure game releases were more common. I think many adventure game fans simply love good adventure games, no matter what era they're from, and they want to see such games continue to be made. Classic adventure games from the 90's can and should continue to be appreciated by existing and new fans of the genre. Do we stop appreciating great books that are more than 10 years old? Of course not, and the same should be true of games. Making classic adventure games easier to play on modern systems is a worthy endeavor, since it makes it easier to introduce the games to new players. After all, in a way, a game series remains alive only insofar as new players are continuing to discover and enjoy the games.

 

And why shouldn't masters of a craft be encouraged to give us more of their work, even after an extended absence? I love it.

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Gawd, I hate this new "quote post" system. I can never seem to "break" quotes into small pieces for easy commenting. Oh well.

 

Well, that's not all they did with Larry Reloaded. There was a ton of new material written for the game. They would have preferred to do an all-new Larry game, but only had permission to do remakes.

Also, I don't see a problem with looking back at games we've loved. Although the first Larry game wasn't my favorite, the LSL series is indeed a great one and deserves to get a proper, all-new adventure with adequate budget. I believe the audience is there for it.

Larry Reloaded is certainly lacking in many areas, but a lot of the professional reviewers' criticisms of the game were stupid.

 

I am also surprised and find it ironic to see (on this forum, of all places) the idea that we should "get over" remembering a time when big budget adventure game releases were more common. I think many adventure game fans simply love good adventure games, no matter what era they're from, and they want to see such games continue to be made. Classic adventure games from the 90's can and should continue to be appreciated by existing and new fans of the genre. Do we stop appreciating great books that are more than 10 years old? Of course not, and the same should be true of games. Making classic adventure games easier to play on modern systems is a worthy endeavor, since it makes it easier to introduce the games to new players. After all, in a way, a game series remains alive only insofar as new players are continuing to discover and enjoy the games.

And why shouldn't masters of a craft be encouraged to give us more of their work, even after an extended absence? I love it.

 

Re: Larry criticism. I agree, a lot of it came from a mindset that did not appreciate adventure games for the storytelling medium they were, expecting unlockable achievements and a degree of reflex-twitching, since that's what's considered an "adventure" game these days (survival horror, Zack & Wiki, Tomb Raider, etc.).

 

I don't think the Reloaded game helped matters much, however, by sticking very stringently to the original, going so far as to copy mechanics that were, shall we say, annoying to begin with. The money system where you can get irrevocably stuck in a taxi-cab and have to restore to a previous point? Having to play the slot machines to increase said money count for no other reason than being able to buy some stuff in the convenience store and having enough money to travel around the game world?

 

Despite the addition of some puzzles that weren't in the original and what I think is a pretty good conversation system, it still really did feel like a throwback instead of a forward move. And I'm not saying that's a terrible thing at all, but in terms of appealing to a larger, more mainstream demographic, a lot of eyes were on Larry to take adventure gaming into the future, and instead it stuck to its nostalgic roots - and perhaps a little too closely. I think that criticism of the game is deserved. There were a lot of things you could've done with a remade Larry 1 that would have kept the spirit of the original but taken it in a new direction (yes, unlockable achievements could have been one of them).

 

Okay, that's Larry. Re: the comment about "getting over a time when big budget adventure game releases were common." I don't think that's the sentiment Fred and the guys were going for at all. If anything, yes, we do want adventure games to break into the mainstream so we can see them get the same big-budget treatments that current AAA titles enjoy. Not to replace action/strategy/whatever games. But it would be fun to see true adventure games get back into the good graces with the mainstream gaming public, perhaps attract new players that aren't much into "gaming" but would rather read/watch movies, and share the spotlight with whatever the kids are playing these days.

 

I was recently interviewed for a podcast (in Danish, sadly) about where "gaming" is going these days - it was hosted by a group of cultural intellectuals who preferred reading and watching movies to "playing these video games." So they'd gotten hold of Grand Theft Auto 5 and Flower and played those as "representative of video games today." And they brought me in as one of two guests for a bonus episode (the other was the lead programmer from IO Interactive) to talk about game development today. But it quickly escalated into a talk about how many people are turned off by video gaming because of its lack of emphasis on storytelling and its predelictions towards quick reflexes or technology showcasing. I think modern video games are just coming out of their "puberty" now and we're starting to see a greater focus on storytelling, even in those AAA titles that are still all about blasting everything in sight.

 

That suddenly leaves a spot open for adventure games to reclaim its heyday before Doom made it all about technology and turned computer/video gaming into a competitive sport instead of a culturally viable alternative/evolution of literature. And that's what I hope to see.

 

I very much doubt that there are any adventure gamers who feel we should "get over" the heyday of the 90's, but we need to be willing to share the spotlight with other genres and realize that there is an audience out there for every type of game - even people who didn't realize they were "gamers" until someone showed them that it's not all about massacring zombies or driving really fast.

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Revisiting what worked in the past and updating it to fit with modern sensibilities == good.

Simply going back to what was done in the past because it was all wonderful == bad.

 

This is effectively the problem with modern politics too, but I digress.

 

I do think Purple Tenticle has misinterpreted what Fred is saying. The 1990s should be remembered, but critically and with the benefit of historical hindsight. What I mean is - don't see the 1990s as a list of great games. Properly look at what was good, what was bad, and why it worked in the specific context of its time and space.

 

A lot of things in the 1990s worked really well. Good story telling; deep, well-formed worlds; artistic graphics; attention to music; and a focus on puzzle-solving - mental gameplay rather than cut-throat action. It's those things that can be revived and repackaged. You don't need a "Sierra 2.0" to do that. You don't need major companies to do that. And, with the way game development is nowadays, you don't even need a large studio to do that. Indeed, I would argue a "Sierra 2.0" would stifle that very freedom and creativity that would be needed to make genuinely good games for the modern market.

 

Without wanting to put words in Fred's mouth, I think both he and I feel that parroting the past is redundant. If I want to play Space Quest IV, I'll play Space Quest IV. I don't need Scott and Mark to try and "re-capture the magic" by repeating what they did in a new game. It won't work. What I want Scott and Mark to do is get all those things that were good about the 1980s and 1990s and re-use those skills in a new and creative way to give me a new product. And to learn from their mistakes and the bad things about the 1980s and 1990s, so that they can bring us something fresh.

 

"Sierra 2.0", if it is to exist, should be a very loose affiliation of like-minded individual game companies looking out for each other. This is already happening, as you can see the way they promoted each other's Kickstarters and new products as they come out. It's that sort of general feeling of an artistic community rather than an actual company that draws me in. Because it fits so well with the social media generation of indie development and sharing knowledge. No doubt we'll see Sierra-alum games being featured on the same community blogs and played by the same people. There's no need for a physical or virtual office and company controlling everything from the centre. We've moved on. It's one of the good things about the 2010s that should be harnessed.

 

That might all sound a bit pretentious, but I think it's a crucial distinction to make. Some things sucked about the 1990s. The corporate pressure, the technological constraints, shite graphics, the price of games, the length of games, the hair, dear God, the hair...

 

Sierra's games weren't good simply because those people were together in Oakhurst in the same building. It may at that time have been PART OF the reason for it, but I doubt the same would be true today. They were good for far more reasons, and it was to do with part of the culture of games at that time. By the same token, we need to be aware that everything bad about games in the 1990s was also part of that culture. So you can't simply replicate it and expect gold.

 

Take the good things of the 1990s. Mix them with the good things about today. And think about what was bad about the 1990s and bad about today - and how those things can be best avoided.

 

Replace "Sierra" with "America", and 1990s with 1790s, and send that to anyone you know in the Tea Party. It's effectively the same argument... :p #satire #OoohGetHer

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As an aside, one of my favourite games ever is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. And it's because the story telling is so good (even if it loses its way in the final third). It's one of the reasons I don't tend to get on well with other "mainstream" games, but GTA has always had enough clever humour and social commentary behind the blood and gore to make it worth playing. It would just be grotesque murder porn if it didn't do that. (See: Manhunt.)

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Gawd, I hate this new "quote post" system. I can never seem to "break" quotes into small pieces for easy commenting. Oh well.

You can toggle source code and type out the quote tags the old fashioned way. ;)

 

I very much doubt that there are any adventure gamers who feel we should "get over" the heyday of the 90's, but we need to be willing to share the spotlight with other genres and realize that there is an audience out there for every type of game - even people who didn't realize they were "gamers" until someone showed them that it's not all about massacring zombies or driving really fast.

Yep, absolutely.

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Troels and Gareth are both spot on in their respective readings of my post. There is a major difference between wanting games that focus on good storytelling and puzzle-solving and wanting games that are near-exact recreations of what we had in the 1990's, right down to 320x200 VGA graphics and/or outdated mechanics. Asking for the old masters to strictly stick to oldschool endeavours is by no means encouraging. It's creativity-stifling.

 

Something I have pointed out repeatedly in similar discussions is that Sierra was always moving forward. By the end of their heyday, as 3D reared its ugly, low-poly head, they arguably did so at the expense of quality. But Ken Williams constantly had his finger on the pulse of technology. In that light, I find it a bit odd to take the Sierra brand and have it be the basis of an endeavour that would mainly be about looking backward and simultaneously hoping that the games developed by such a company will be mainstream blockbusters.

 

How well do you think an AGI game would've sold in 1993, charming as the aesthetics of those games were?

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Gareth absolutely nailed it right there. Especially this bit:

 

No doubt we'll see Sierra-alum games being featured on the same community blogs and played by the same people. There's no need for a physical or virtual office and company controlling everything from the centre. We've moved on. It's one of the good things about the 2010s that should be harnessed.

*standing ovation; wipes single tear from eye*

 

Gameplay is constantly evolving its user-friendliness (and taking some odd missteps here and there, sure - I mean, shit, look at the Virtual Boy - what the hell was that?), but by and large we're getting to the point of "playing games" on the computer or console is as easy to pick up and enjoy as "playing games" in a playground is.

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That depends on what you mean by user-friendliness. It's no fun if someone's on the playground telling you exactly what to do. ;) (*ahem* Telltale, Double-Fine)

 

What I'd like to see from a "Sierra 2.0" is just people working under one roof (physical or virtual) who get to create the adventure games they want to create the way they want to create them. Of course it'd have to be games I'd like that are full of exploration, possibilities, "illogical" (challenging) puzzles, innumerable "hotspots", and deaths without instant retries and autosaves for me to consider it "Sierra 2.0".

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Agreed. But then the name "Sierra 2.0" kinda becomes a non seqiutur, doesn't it? If such a group of designers was to brand itself as "Sierra 2.0", the target demographic would ultimately have some very high and rigid expectations. Sounds like the complete opposite of what you describe.

 

Ultimately, I think we're all on the same page, but I somewhat resent the "Sierra 2.0"-moniker because, again, it wouldn't be very sustainable once everyone's sense of nostalgia is satisfied, and it would keep the designers on a very tight leash. A clean slate for our heroes I can definitely get behind. "Sierra 2.0" I cannot. There's just too much baggage for it to take off.

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Well, I would also picture "Sierra 2.0" as being an unnofficial label, not an actual developer name. Actually, what I thought Paul had originally meant by it was just that all the original developers would be together again developing games. I prefer them apart, though.

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True, but even so, there's a lot of baggage there. Especially if it becomes kind of a "well, everyone knows it's really Sierra 2.0"-type thing. Much like when the Dio line-up of Black Sabbath reunited as Heaven & Hell. Everyone knew that was just yet another reunited incarnation of Black Sabbath!

 

I also prefer the developers apart, not having to deal with any kind of friction or a CEO breathing down their necks. One must not forget that, while magic definitely happened at Oakhurst, not everyone was happy-go-lucky with the management all of the time. There are reasons why SQ4 is so dark at times - the Guys had hit a rough patch in their working relationship, and Ken Williams forced the point'n'click interface on them during development just because it was the new thing. No way any of them would want to waste their time on something like that again.

 

I'm happy the Coles and the Guys have gone indie because it's in this arena their creativity can truly run amok!

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