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Aeveral questions about Space Quest.

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Hi all,

I am media researcher and am currently focusing on fandom. Somehow I became most interested in SQ. I hope it is OK if I ask a few questions here:

1. What has been the main activities of Space Quest fans? (Fan fictions? forum discussions? things like this)

2. Which game in the Space Quest series has the most dedicated fans?

3. What do you think are reasons for Space Quest's long lasting appeal? (besides the aesthetics and narrative)

4. Was the story of the games affected in any way by how you play the game?

5. Does the game include a lot of customizations? Did it have a modding community?

6. Does it have a community of gamers who still play the game?

7. Since when the community began shrinking and becoming inactive?

 

Thank you all in advance for your help.

 

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Assuming you're not a bot, can I ask how you came to be fixated on Space Quest specifically and yet don't quite realize that it's an adventure game series which typically do not have modding capabilities or customization options and can't really have a community of players playing the game together as they're pretty much all single player-driven story/puzzle games?

Actually, that's exactly why I'm asking; to make sure you're not a bot. (forgive my suspicion. If you are indeed a real curious human being I apologize for the above statement. It just doesn't seem likely)

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2 minutes ago, MusicallyInspired said:

Assuming you're not a bot, can I ask how you came to be fixated on Space Quest specifically and yet don't quite realize that it's an adventure game series which typically do not have modding capabilities or customization options and can't really have a community of players playing the game together as they're pretty much all single player-driven story/puzzle games?

Actually, that's exactly why I'm asking; to make sure you're not a bot. (forgive my suspicion. If you are indeed a real curious human being I apologize for the above statement. It just doesn't seem likely)

Not sure what a bot a bot creator can do with these information. What I meant by modable is in fact modifiable. That doesn't mean a huge conversion of the game engine, minor mods would count. For example I am aware that someone made a version of Space Quest 2 where Roger's head was replaced with a giant eyeball. That's a mod.

 

And by community, well I'm not sure how to explain that as the word is fairly self-explanatory. A game having a fan community has no relation to how it is played or whether it is a single or multiplayer game. This whole website is a community of SQ players, is it not?

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Please safely dismiss everything I've said in my initial post. I was just looking to see if I would get a reply. Again, I apologize for the suspicion and hope you don't take offence or see me as hostile. It's just that this place has been fairly dead and dead forums tend to attract bots. Some bots don't post to interact with or garner information from forum members, though. Some just post and hide links in profiles, posts, and signatures to spyware websites simply so that web search algorithms will pick them up and no other reason. The forum is just an easy way to spread links for Google to see.

Welcome to the community! Allow me to answer your questions.

1) The main activity of SQ fans these days seems to be do anything other than interacting with the SQ community (hah). There hasn't been much conversation in a long while now. Things picked up back when SpaceVenture was first announced, but as development carried on people slowly started going their separate ways again. I still interact with a couple people on Twitter and elsewhere. This place has been pretty dead, though. I imagine it'll pick up a bit once SpaceVenture gets released. In its heyday, the community focused a lot on fan fiction, fan art, and fangames. There were a TON of fangames both in the arcade and adventure genre. Some not so great and others top quality (see Vohaul Strikes Back, Space Quest Incinerations, and the Space Quest 2 fan remake. There's also Space Quest 0: Replicated and Space Quest: The Lost Chapter, the very first full-fledged complete adventure fangame).

2) The big Two seem to be SQ3 and SQ4. SQ4 is widely regarded as the masterpiece of the series as it has the highest quality of the games developed by the Two Guys (it was the last one they worked on together), but SQ3 has a lot of fans too because of it's non-linear nature (the first SQ designed in such a way) and the fact that you basically repair your own ship and then get to fly around wherever you want in the local sector. Had a unique feeling of freedom and open world-ness.

3) The dry humour of Scott Murphy, the exploration, and the creative deaths are probably the biggest draw of the series. For me it's all of those things plus the music. SQ soundtracks have some of the best music in gaming to this day, thanks in no small part to Ken Allen.

4) For the most part the story was not affected by how you played the game. They were fairly linear games that had just one ending each. There wasn't much in the way of alternate paths or solutions to things. In SQ3 there was a couple of ways to deal with an assassin droid who was sent to murder you for mail fraud from SQ2. I think that's about it...it was a nice alternate step, though.

5) Scott Murphy once said that they originally intended the original SQ1 to be playable as a male or female, but that would basically double the size of the content on the floppy disks which was not going to happen. They did allow you to name your own character in the first two games, though, and the games would reference you by name when you did something admirable or stupid (like die, and then berate and make fun of you). As you pointed out, there are a couple fan projects out there that changed certain things like Roger's hair colour. I myself was working on a project that took the SQ1 VGA remake graphics and altered them to resemble the original EGA game. The VGA remake was reinvisioned with alternate designs. I managed to replace most of Roger's flight suit animations with sprites that looked like his suit from the EGA game (VGA = blue space suit, EGA = grey and red flight suit). Not a lot of people got into much modding, though. Mostly just fangames.

6) The Space Quest Historian (or Troels Pleimert for short) is a somewhat successful YouTuber and Twitch streamer who has played the SQ games for his viewers and subscribers along with other Sierra games and modern games as well. Definitely check him out. His capacity for dry humour rivals that of Scott Murphy himself.

7) Somewhere around the mid to late aughts I'd say is when the community gradually finally fizzled to its lowest point. It got another new surge of energy when the Two Guys reunited, returned, and announced their new SpaceVenture project together back in....2012? 2013? But then the community faded again. Though, rekindled friendships and reconnection brought some people closer together outside of Space Quest which was a very nice thing.

I hope that was comprehensive enough. And hopefully other members come out of the woodwork and share their thoughts. And once again, welcome.

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Thank you so much for such a comprehensive response. It is really inspiring to see people like you striving to keep your passion alive. Sorry to hear that the forum is "dead", now.

I wasn't planning on playing the series, but now that I have heard so much, I have to play it.

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Likewise, I was a little unsure of the intent of OP's post. I'd be interested to know what this media research is going towards. An article? A paper? Just for kicks?

But that won't stop me from talking about Space Quest ...

1. Space Quest had a very healthy online community back in the mid-to-late 90s. It was arguably one of the biggest computer game communities outside of Doom and Quake. In fact, Jess Morrissette -- the owner of the first Space Quest fan site, Roger Wilco's Virtual Broomcloset -- is fond of saying that his site was the first ever fan-site devoted to a computer game. I think he may be right. Even if that's disputable, it still puts the Space Quest community firmly in the pioneering "first-wave" of World Wide Web communities. Back then, social media wasn't really a thing, so most of us communicated via email. Then, a short while later, Jess established the first Space Quest online forum (The Subspace Channel), essentially the de facto social media of the 90s, and the community really blossomed from there. By the end of the 90s, with Space Quest 6 having been out for a few years and the community starting to run out of things to talk about, we were blindsided with the cancellation of Space Quest 7 on Christmas of 1999, and the community sort of fizzled out.

2. I think, for most dedicated Space Quest fans, the series is seen as a whole. Although we are not above bickering about which game in the series is our favorite. A lot of newcomers to the series tend to gravitate towards Space Quest V because it has a cast of characters to interact with and a very engaging plot. But die-harders like myself will point towards Space Quest III as the moment when the series defined its voice as the snarky, self-referential, punk-rock-ish bastard child of Sierra's Quest series, and Space Quest IV took that concept and ran with it past the finish line and off into the stands.

3. To put it bluntly, Space Quest has a very refreshing "don't give a f***" attitude which was very much absent from late-80s computer games. Back in those halcyon days, it was all about saving princesses and exploring troll-infested caves. With the possible exception of Infocom's Planetfall, no one had really done a science fiction adventure game that dared to have a sense of humor about itself. Space Quest filled a void for people who didn't want to play "the hero," necessarily. Admittedly a lot of that is down to personal interpretation -- you could definitely argue that Roger Wilco turns out to be "a hero" in the classical sense, or at least sees himself that way -- but for me, personally, the appeal was that I finally got to play a game where the main character wasn't full of pompous vigor, he wasn't "the chosen one," he didn't have any heroic skills or qualifications. He was just thrust into a situation completely beyond his comprehension and really just wanted to get the hell out of there and go back to sleep.

4. As Brandon said, there were a few instances where puzzles could be solved in alternate ways, but by and large the games were quite linear.

5. Before the advent of DOSBox and ScummVM (both of which have made running the old Space Quest games much easier these days), there was a point in time in the late 90's/early 2000's where running the Space Quest games was getting pretty hard. Because of the way they were coded to run on older systems, the games would misbehave very badly on Pentium or faster machines. So there were some dedicated fan efforts to get these games to run nicely, particularly Space Quest IV which had numerous problems with regards to timer issues in its CD-ROM version. A fella named NewRisingSun created a patch for SQ4 that not only fixed the timer issues but also reinstated the original graphics from the disk version that had been redrawn, some say to detrimental effect, for the CD-ROM version. Other fine people at what is now known as SierraHelp.com made patches and installers to remedy some of the problems that would arise from playing Space Quest on modern machines, such as SQ6 mysteriously crashing about 1/3 into the game for no reason other than your computer being too fast.

6. I'm still here. :) I've been playing through the games on my YouTube channel (youtube.com/spacequesthistorian).

7. The first shrink began around the late 90s/early 2000s when SQ7 was cancelled and people had run out of things to talk about. There was a resurgence in 2012 when The Two Guys mended their ways and began working on SpaceVenture after a successful (and very fan-oriented) Kickstarter campaign, which I was lucky enough to be the community manager of. Owing to numerous delays, the community once again began to fizzle out, but it's still active around other social media, such as Twitter and on YouTube. People still play the games, and new people discover the games every day.

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Hi Troels,

The research is a PhD thesis which hopefully turns into a book someday. Thank you for a very detailed response. It's amazing what impact SQ has had on you guys. I have been talking to different games' fans and this is the first time that I feel I'm missing out. Now I can't forgive myself if I don't start playing the series. Label me a fan.

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On 8/11/2018 at 7:19 AM, Fred said:

Hi Troels,

The research is a PhD thesis which hopefully turns into a book someday. Thank you for a very detailed response. It's amazing what impact SQ has had on you guys. I have been talking to different games' fans and this is the first time that I feel I'm missing out. Now I can't forgive myself if I don't start playing the series. Label me a fan.

Do keep us posted on your thesis. And don't be shy to ask for more input. I can happily talk Space Quest for hours.

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On 8/9/2018 at 10:08 PM, Fred said:

Hi all,

I am media researcher and am currently focusing on fandom. Somehow I became most interested in SQ. I hope it is OK if I ask a few questions here:

1. What has been the main activities of Space Quest fans? (Fan fictions? forum discussions? things like this)

2. Which game in the Space Quest series has the most dedicated fans?

3. What do you think are reasons for Space Quest's long lasting appeal? (besides the aesthetics and narrative)

4. Was the story of the games affected in any way by how you play the game?

5. Does the game include a lot of customizations? Did it have a modding community?

6. Does it have a community of gamers who still play the game?

7. Since when the community began shrinking and becoming inactive?

 

Thank you all in advance for your help.

 

  1. I think forum discussions have always been the big thing - even when Sierra Online was still around, they had a great forum to discuss the games. When Sierra folded/got sold, people moved to create their own forums and sites. There's SpaceQuest.net, SierraHelp.com, among many others, where you can still find people talking about Space Quest (and Sierra games in general).
  2. I think that's going to vary from person to person. For myself, Space Quest III was the best one (proving better graphics are not everything). But it is closely followed by Space Quest IV, which did indeed have better graphics (and over all a funnier story - but still Space Quest III sticks out to me).
  3. As for the appeal - I think, for some (such as myself), it was their first "3D" game. Previous to Sierra Online games, I was playing text adventure games, or games that had a still image with text beneath it, with minimal movement in the images (such as Wizardry I, II, III, etc). These Sierra games allowed you to not only control the character and story - but you were physically moving the character around and interacting with things in the environment. That kind of thing leaves a lasting impression.
  4. The story originally was very loose - it wasn't even "Roger Wilco" unless you pressed "Enter" at the "Type your name" screen of the first Space Quest. The story immediately shows that you're a less than capable janitor who finds himself way in over his head, and death is at every corner (and rather than be frustrating, they provided hilarious - often pun like death statements). The "Easter Eggs" of other Sierra games and other SciFi references (and even "slightly renamed" real life references) just added to the off beat humor.
  5. There's literally no customization or modding community; unless you count people editing the game in AGI/SCI editors to change trivial things on their own accord.
  6. I would say yes, since the SpaceVenture was a successfully Kickstarter - and it's by the same folks who made Space Quest.
  7. It began shrinking the day they stopped producing Sierra Adventure games... while many moved to new sites and new forums, and things seemed to be pretty steady, you could see a decline of people who - for whatever reason - if it wasn't on the official forums, it wasn't worth the time. That crowd has been greatly impacted by things like Facebook, which allows for "Groups" to post similar to a forum - so many people have moved away from forum communities to social media communities, unfortunately.

 

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