The creators of ‘King’s Quest’ are back with a new game

Ken and Roberta Williams are the co-founders of Sierra Online, the company behind classic computer games like King’s Quest, Space missionand Quest for Glory. Their latest project, Colossal Cave: Reimagined by Roberta Williamsis a remake of the genre-defining Colossal Cave Adventure by Will Crowther and Don Woods.

“It’s a great game and I’d love to bring it back to the world,” says Roberta in episode 523 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcasting. “We want people to see that an older game like this can be brought back, and in a beautiful way – and in a fun way – for today’s audiences.”

The game offers modern graphics and sound, and even support for virtual reality devices like the Quest 2, but is otherwise unchanged from the original text adventure. “We try to stay super faithful to the original version,” says Ken. “When you do history, you don’t want to change it. The old game has been around for 50 years. There are probably still more people playing that game every year than many of the indie games that come out. It’s a good, solid and well-designed game.”

Since the sale of Sierra in 1996, Ken and Roberta have spent much of their time cruising the world, a lifestyle that generally doesn’t lend itself to running a game studio. But Ken says modern communication technology has enabled them to work on Colossal Cave from anywhere. “In some ways, the pandemic has saved the game, because suddenly everyone is using Teams and Slack and all these screen-sharing apps, and it’s now practical to work on a project remotely,” he says. “What we’re doing with this game wouldn’t have been possible five years ago.”

Ken and Roberta have assembled a team of nearly 30 artists and programmers, most of whom were not even born when the original Colossal Cave was released in 1976. “None Of Them Really Knew What” Colossal Cave was, and we had to raise them,” says Roberta. “And I have to say that while we’ve been working with them on this game, in different ways – programmers, animators, artists – they’ve come to have so much respect for this game, and I’ve been told many times, ‘I had no idea this game was like that. good, and so interesting, and so deep and complex.’ And I said, ‘Yes, it is.’ It’s really good design. And they’ve gotten such a respect for this game, which is a really good sign.”

Listen to the full interview with Ken and Roberta Williams on episode 523 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

Roberta Williams on The black kettle:

[The Disney executives] came into the room and they sat down and said, “We decided to change a lot of your game because it didn’t fit our script. There are too many places where you let the player wander and nothing happens, and you realize this is a movie, right? You have to follow the script of the film.” … I went into Ken’s office and said, “I’m not going to play this game with them because they just took my game and completely changed it, and back to — basically it’s almost like a script for a movie again, and what has does it make sense?” I just said, ‘I’m done. I’m not going to do it.” And he called them into his office, and he basically said, “She’s not going to work on it unless you leave her alone and let her do it her way” – that they should trust me. And they came back into the conference room and said, “Okay, you can do it however you want.” And I did.

Ken Williams on Success:

There are many people like me who were born to parents who couldn’t send them to a good school, who couldn’t afford to go to college because they had to drop out and get married early, and yet somehow I managed different way to get from the bottom of the heap to the top of the heap, and really it was just through hard work. I don’t claim to be a genius. I’m just a good old boy who works really hard. Even in this game I stand up for the people on the East Coast and I stand for the people on the West Coast. I don’t fart much. I work really hard. And I think almost anyone who is really willing to dig in and work hard can succeed. And Roberta is the same way. We are both very focused, hardworking people.

Ken Williams on Sierra Online:

I wanted to create a company that my grandchildren would know, and that would still be around for generations. All the decisions at Sierra were based on the long term, not the short term, which is why we did so well. But when we sold it, everyone suddenly looked at it and said, “It’s inefficient to have an operation in Portland and an operation in Seattle and an operation in Paris, and have programmers in Boston. Why don’t we just fire all those people and consolidate into one location, and stop developing our own software and just publish software [like] other people do?” That brought it all down.

Roberta Williams on Farewell to Tara:

I hired a professional genealogist in Ireland, then I hired one in New York, and I hired one in Iowa – the three places where [my ancestors] were – and I got a lot of information. I was getting more and more information and doing a lot of my own research, and I just loved doing it, until I collected three huge, thick notebooks full of papers and research, and I said to myself, “You know, I could write a book.” have to write.” Because the story was actually quite interesting. … I wanted to write it as a historical novel and turn this true story into an interesting book. I didn’t want to write it just for family members. I wanted to write it so that readers of historical novels can really enjoy it, even if it’s not their own family.

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