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Sierra vs. LucasArts

posted by Anakin Skywalker on - last edited - Viewed by 791 users

Who do you feel was the better adventure game company, and the better game company overall in their respective heydays (80s-90s)?

Which made better games?

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  • I never was against dying in adventure games. But I was against dead ends, especially the kind 'don't pick up an item at the beginning from an area you can't get back to and get stuck at the very end of the game!'

  • Sierra. They were far more interesting. And I'm not saying that because I could beat them as a kid, because I couldn't. But I thought the games were fantastic and had great atmosphere. Certainly with more depth than LA games (as far as gameplay is concerned). While LucasArts focused on story and presentation. But not too much as LucasArts did have some really great large worlds to explore with great puzzles. Sierra was definitely the innovator, though, which in my eyes makes them more creative. Not only story-wise but gameplay-wise. That's two points against LA's one. They were both fantastic, however.

    The reason these two are compared so much is because they were the two best adventure developers out there. Period. But my heart will always belong to Sierra first.

    I don't like dying, but I appreciate it. Of course nobody LIKES dying, but that doesn't mean it's bad game design. No way. Neither are dead ends. But it was a different time. With a different community of gamers.

  • Sierra made my single favorite adventure game of all time, The Black Cauldron. DyIng is fine, just thought dead ends were cheap.

  • LucasArts had a gamedesign philosophy that were, in many cases, innovative and redefined the adventure game genre. They basically invented how the modern adventure game should be designed. That said, I'm not opposed to dying in adventure games. It's just that it shouldn't be quite as random as they are in Sierra's quest games. They punished exploration, which is a very important element for me in adventure games. Back in the days, these things were even more annoying that they would be today, because saving and loading were much less streamlined. Especially if you didn't have the full game installed on a harddrive, like most Amiga gamers. This could lead to diskswapping every time you died, and if you kept doing one thing the wrong way, you kept dying, and that lead to a lot of time wasted on diskswapping and loading.

    Even worse were the dead ends, especially those that you didn't run into until late in the game because you forgot to do something or pick up something a lot earlier in the game.

    Today, Sierra's design philosophy (or lack thereof) would work better, due to autosave, quicksave and the much more streamlined saving. But it's still a mess, and it felt like there were no rules to the designing of puzzles in their games. The puzzles were often illogical as well, and due to the strict text-parser interface made more frustrating than they should.

    Still, despite these bad design philosophies throughout their games, Leisure Suit Larry and Police Quest are still among my favourite adventure games ever. I'm really curious about how the new LSL remake will turn out, if they will follow the old fashioned, nonsensical design philosophy, or if they will follow a more modern, LucasArts-esque philosophy. I know there will be deaths, but will there be dead ends?

  • I can't really say as I'm not too familiar with Sierra's games, which I think is because I was born after their peak in popularity. I'm pretty sure the only reason I'm familiar with the LucasArts games is because my dad would let me play some of them with him when I was little, namely Curse of Monkey Island when we got a computer powerful enough to play it.

  • LucasArts definitely redefined adventures. But I don't like "modern adventures". And I consider it the fault of LucasArts and Myst clones for watering them down to nothing. Now they're all the same. And there's no excitement. Say what you want, nothing gets your blood and heart pounding in an LA game like setting the Format Countdown and then going to fight Vohaul in SQ4, all the while knowing that if the countdown hits zero the game is over. Nothing in LA games ever had that level of excitement. Or chasing down Alhazred in the final scenes of KQ6 and then getting into a swordfight with him. One wrong move and it's over! You had to be careful! The closest LA ever got to this was the ending sequences of Full Throttle, but even then you knew you couldn't fail and could just try again. So there's it's not the same.

    Sorry, I know this is not a debate thread.

  • As much as I love LA's games, nothing can beat Quest for Glory.

  • Say what you want, nothing gets your blood and heart pounding in an LA game like setting the Format Countdown and then going to fight Vohaul in SQ4, all the while knowing that if the countdown hits zero the game is over. Nothing in LA games ever had that level of excitement. Or chasing down Alhazred in the final scenes of KQ6 and then getting into a swordfight with him. One wrong move and it's over!

    And nothing beats the excitement of starting the game from scratch because at the very beginning you forgot to check a locker and now when you're so close to the end you can't continue without the item from it! Oh, wait, everything does :p

    Just so you know, I'm just being sarcastic. I actually agree with you, but you're talking about the 'best of' Sierra moments, so to speak. But StarEye is also right, because for a longest time Sierra didn't have any design philosophy whatsoever (which is understandable, seeing as they were among the big first and there was not much to base the philosophy on), but that actually started to change somewhere in the second-half of SCI era, when they actively started to keep their core style but fix the mistakes they've done in the past. If the fiasco of 1998 hadn't happened (was it 1998?), we could as well see two main 'adventure game styles' going on right now.

    PS. Just so you know, and I've already mentioned that but it's worth repeating, Quest for Glory is one of my favourite game series EVER (as well as Space Quest), so I'm not anti-Sierra.

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    Jennifer Moderator

    @Rather Dashing said: Since you have this in a list of innovations, I'd like to note that Infocom combined RPG elements(including a rudimentary morality system) with Adventure games in Beyond Zork, released in 1987. That game was designed by Brian Moriarty, who LucasArts and graphic adventure fans may better know as the guy behind Loom.


    Hey, nice. I've just started playing the Zork games. Now I can't wait until I get to Beyond Zork. :D

  • It isnt even up for discussion imo.

    Back then Lucas Arts was pretty much legendary, nobody could touch them in terms of Adventure games, and tbh, nobody still cant, im pretty sure the new fan funded Adventure game will be amazing from Double fine, but i dont think even thats gonna be able to touch those.

    Lucas Arts had something like Pixar have today, they just know how to make something amazing, quality, fun, interesting, perfect humor, voice actors, everything just fit so damn amazing together it blows the mind.

    Pixar is very good for reference, because they do the same thing in animation nobody cant touch them nobody.

    It was the same back then with Lucas Arts. Today most adventures are boring, static, realistic and so forth.

    Full Throttle had a nice serious approach, but it wasnt super serious or realistic, same with Grim Fandango.

    Someday maybe someone, wont be afraid to go back and continue the legacy, and say what can we learn and how can we use it going forward, without just dumbing down games.

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