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Reminder, Tolkien has already inspired elements of KQ

posted by Valiento on - last edited - Viewed by 355 users

I mentioned this in another thread but I thought it deserves it's own discussion, concerning inspiration taken from LOTR books by Tolkien and previous KQ games. Albeit in limitedly and not direct copycat of the stories of course.

According to Roberta Williams, Tolkien was inspiration for some of the material in KQ8 with her attempt at epic fantasy... That's largely were the Orcs came from... Along with other high fantasy archetypes in that game.

However, LotR also inspired elements of previous games.

The Tolkien spelling 'dwarves' is used for the dwarf race in KQ2 (and later in KQ8) and within the
KQ1 manual, as opposed to the traditional spelling 'dwarfs'.

The twin snakes statue in KQ5 is also a reference to black Watchers at Cirith Ungol, a gate into Mordor from Return of the King! Sam held up the Galadriel's crystal vial to counteract the deadly force from the statues eyes (see RotK, book 6, ch 1.).

This is actually one of the most direct concepts taken from Tolkien's story and readapted into the KQ world (rather than just adapting races from the books). It's also in my opinion a great example how Tolkien can be incorporated without feeling out of place at all!

Actually it really depends on what Tolkien works you are talking about the Hobbit is more fairy tale/children's story for example. Somewhat different from the trilogy which was written for grown-ups. The Silmerillion would be even more removed, although it is quite mythic and legendary, and even biblical in it's own sense.

I don't say this in all seriousness, but rather than dropping a ring into mount doom, Graham drops cheese into a strange machine!

But seriously Roberta went to many sources for inspiration not only fairy tales but even classic fantasy and even horror.

21 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Actually, I think it's more directly a reference to THIS scene from The Neverending Story (1984.)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxhO_946pM0&feature=related

    I'm pretty sure Roberta's actually been quoted as saying so, but I'd have to wait for someone more familiar with her interviews to validate that. The timing of the movie's release and popularity in the mid 80s would make sense that it'd inspire elements for a game that was being developed just a few years later.

    Seeing a direct Tolkein reference in this is reading a little too much into it, in my opinion. Sure, there are similarities, but this Neverending Story scene is almost a direct copycat, right down to the laser eyes. It is also possible that the movie scene may have been loosely inspired by Tolkein, but it's several times removed by the time it gets into KQ5. The whimsical nature of Neverending Story is also MUCH closer in tone to the KQ games than anything by Tolkein, even The Hobbit. I will grant you that the game's solution to the puzzle is very similar though.

    Also, just because Tolkein may have established a specific spelling of the plural for dwarf (is there any documentation that it was actually he that established it?), that doesn't mean that anytime someone spells it "dwarves" instead of "dwarfs," they are making a purposeful reference to Tolkein. I think you're reaching a bit there. :)

  • Actually Companion claims the snake gate is a combination of RotK and Neverending material. Specifically the twinkling eyes of the Twin Watchers and holding up crystal phial to counteract the eyes as well as allusions to darK/fiery Mordor to Mordack's dark/fiery island, as seen in RotK. The statues themselves, I went back and checked the book, are largely some weird multiheaded reptilian/vulture creature. In Fantastica, in NE Story, the statues were twin sphinxes.

    I've never read anything about Roberta discussing it. Would certainly be interested in such a discussion.

    As for the spelling Dwarves actually Tolkien actually admitted in his writings that it is his invention that proper spelling traditionally is Dwarrows or Dwarfs in modern English. Check out letters of Tolkien if I remember correctly for the discussion. It's a second generation allusion to something invented by Tolkien. At least for KQ8 the spelling was intentionally Tolkien (brought in along with Orcs), though the dwarves themselves were not particularly like Tolkien dwarves. Roberta herself admits as much to direct 'epic' Tolkien inspiration in several interviews.

    Here is one such reference from Roberta regarding her inspiration;

    "With past King's Quest games I focused around the Royal Family," Roberta Explains. "But I've done just about as much as I could with the Royal Family. I knew I needed to bring in a new character, and I wanted the character to be less Disney-ish and more cerebral. The spiritual father of Mask is J.R.R. Tolkien not Walt Disney," she concluded firmly. Connor is very much a new character. He is an inhabitant of Daventry, a kingdom he doesn't rule but whose fate lies in his hands. A terrible curse has turned all of the people living in Daventry, including the Royal Family themselves, into stone. Connor must find the answers behind the curse, including why it's been imposed, who imposed it, and, possibly most importantly, why he alone has been spared the terrible fate of his comrades. Connor is a warrior and it's his combination of strength, cunning, intuition, and intellect that makes him best-suited to save the kingdom (Interaction Magazine, Fall 1997).

    Actually if one reads Letters and the History of Middle Earth series one discovers that Tolkien even found inspiration from several older myths such as the German Nibelungen, elements of Authurian legends, Beowulf, and other Norse myths.

    Interesting enough the KQ novels especially The Floating Castle have more in common with 2nd generation epic high fantasy which are inspired originally by Tolkien, rather than they do fairy tales. Though a few fairy tales, myths, ect are alluded to within them. Granted Roberta had little to do with those novels, so any 'high fantasy' in them is not her doing.

    On a related note as far as literary history is concerned almost all forms of high fantasy are Tolkien inspired either second, third, or fourth generation. D&D for example is third generation and something like Warcraft is considered 4th generation to literary historians and Tolkienphiles.

  • The KQ novels are complete and utter crap. Trust me on that.

    I don't think King's Quest has much in common with the "high fantasy" of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

    King's Quest is way more "fairy tale" than epic fantasy.


    Bt

  • I would say that one Tolkien reference that was possibly used is the ring that makes you invisible in KQ1 can be attributed to the Hobbit (much more than LotR). If it was or wasn't actually taken from Tolkien, it doesn't really matter so long as it fits the KQ style. I don't want them to use elements from LotR because the styles don't mesh. If they use something here and there, maybe it wont so bad, it all comes down to execution. What ever they decide to add from books, legends, fairy tales, etc. need to be light hearted and whimsical to fit the game. Anything could in theory be added so long as they make it fit the right tone. If they mess that up, it wont matter what references they make/use.

  • in b-4 ring that makes you invisible-reference in KQ1.

  • The ring is actually more a reference to 'The Enchanted Ring' a fairy tale I'm Andrew Lang's Green Fairy Book. Though Tolkien's use of invisible ring is inspired by similar rings from myth and fairy tales such as the Nibelungen.

    As far the games are concerned only KQ8 was directly inspired by epic and high fantasy specifically Tolkien, as far as storyline. That is one of the reasons it has a different feel than previous games.

    Beyond that Mordack's appearance is actually inspired by generic fantasy wizards, such as those from D&D, which is largely considered 2nd or 3rd generation derivative fantasy from Tolkien's works. In of itself is neither wholly fairy tale nor Tolkien in style. But loosely similar to generic high fantasy appearance. I've been trying to find if his name has any inspiration from any source but nothing has come up. I suppose there are uses of 'mor' to
    mean black or evil in fantasy and myth; 'mordor', 'moria', 'mordred', etc.

    As for the KQ novels, yes, they are generic derivative fantasy, many elements are more 'epic fantasy' than fairy tale. They are not works of art.

  • I would argue that the darker tone and inclusion of more overtly "epic" Tolkein-esque high fantasy is part of what made KQ8 suck.

  • I feel like the first couple of posts are both reaching with the thing about the statues. Guardian statues, as an idea and a reality, started thousands of years before Tolkien. If you're going to have them shoot out visible energy, it makes perfect adventure game logical sense to hold up a mirror or a crystal to stop them. It's not rocket science and is not necessarily inspired by Neverending Story. I'd bet that it wasn't.

    I've seen gamers fall into this trap a few times. There's that YouTube video that shows the zombie dance in Sam & Max S3, and it is described as a "Team Fortress 2 reference":

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-ISTcbEcE0&feature=related

    Completely moronic, since the TF2 thing is just taking it from Thriller and that's what it is.

    Then there was this poster from the upcoming game Retro City Rampage, full of old game and '80s popular culture references:

    http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/9/2011/04/rcr_poster.jpg

    People were insisting that the porta-potty with antenna is a reference to the Chron-O-Johns in Day of the Tentacle. I thought this was ridiculous. Is he going to be referencing a 1993 computer adventure game in a poster for a game that is a parody of numerous NES action games and '80s movies such as Back to the Future, or is he going to be referencing the obvious Bill & Ted? The time-traveling phone booth was popularized in the U.S. with Bill & Ted, and changing it to a porta-potty instead of a phone booth is not like some brilliant thing that only DoTT ever could have come up with. In any event, I emailed the artist of the poster because I like proving when I'm right and other internet commenters are wrong, and of course he replied that yes, the primary influence is Bill & Ted.

  • It could be reaching except for the fact that there has actually been official confirmation by Sierra authorized source, with Roberta's blessings and assistance that states that the inspiration for the statues was a combination of Never Ending Story and the RotK material (The King's Quest Companion, 2nd Edition, pg 450).

    So it's not actually my speculation. Its a bit more concrete than that. That's not to say it couldn't have had additional inspiration beyond those sources, in addition to those sources. Who knows, even the cobra motif might have some inspiration from something else.

    I would argue that the darker tone and inclusion of more overtly "epic" Tolkein-esque high fantasy is part of what made KQ8 suck.

    Lambonius, I thought the reason people thought it sucked was because of the combat and buggy game play? Not necessarily the story, which actually received quite a bit of praise.

    Beyond that even Tolkien inserted quite a bit of whimsy and humor into his works, Hobbits in general. Especially Sam, Merry and Pippin. There is also Tom Bombadil (actually based off his children's doll), which later inspired another children's work, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. There is some humor from Gimli, akin to the dwarf humor seen in the Hobbit. The books are not entirely 'dark' in tone, although almost everything concerning the elves and the race of men is serious (although there are some humorous elements between Legolas and Gimli). The series progression gets more serious in tone as the series goes on. FotR starts largely similar in style as the Hobbit for example. Things get more dire by the end of RotK, ending on a bittersweet note (though no where as bittersweet as in the movie adaptation).

    One can see a similar progression in fantasy such as Harry Potter where the series grew progressively darker as the books were released.

    In any case it's interesting, but while Hobbit and LotR were part of his universe, he kinda of considered them diversions to the stories he really wanted to tell, the far more serious material that post-humorously became parts of the Silmarillion. The hobbits for example were inclusions essentially to make children's stories and 'fairy tales' (which he actually detested). LotR was written through demands of his publisher and the interest of his readership for more hobbit stories although it wasn't necessarily the stories he wanted to get published as it took time from writing the new English myth he wanted to create. He took the time to incorporate elements of that myth into the story as he developed LotR. He was sorta forced to include the whimsical elements including hobbits because that's what his publisher demanded. They never showed much interest in his more serious material. So essentially LotR itself is even in part developed as a children's work, that grew as he wrote it.

    In any case I'd say that the LotR movies actually do a disservice to the books in part that they strip away many of the more whimsical elements from the novels themselves. Making the stories much darker tone than even the novels. Although, I've read some reviewers claim that the movies more serious tone actually improved the stories... Go figure. There is no accounting for taste...

  • @Valiento said:
    Lambonius, I thought the reason people thought it sucked was because of the combat and buggy game play? Not necessarily the story, which actually received quite a bit of praise.

    Well, as with most action games, the story in KQ8 is barely there, and in my opinion entirely forgettable. I've played through the game several times (though admittedly not as often as the other KQ games, if for no other reason than I couldn't get it to run for a long time, until the recent GOG update,) and I really have a hard time retaining much of the story elements at all. I dunno, I wouldn't necessarily say the overarching plot is any less developed than other KQ games, but the action game format means that the vast majority of the time in the game is spent doing mundane things like "run around, jump on platforms, flip switch, push nondescript block, hit generic enemy, etc," whereas in a traditional adventure game, solving each individual puzzle essentially adds a bit to the story as a whole, so it ultimately ends up feeling deeper, regardless.

    I WOULD argue though that the tone of Mask's story is pretty divorced from the tone of any other KQ game. Enough so that due to story alone, it doesn't feel like part of the series. I have the same problem with TSL, and that game copies the standard Sierra adventure gameplay format as closely as possible.

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