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Opinions of KQ8: Mask of Eternity?

posted by Anakin Skywalker on - last edited - Viewed by 2K users

Personally, I actually really liked that game. Yes it had a bit too much violence, but then again violence was an option in the early KQ games. While KQ5 is my favorite KQ, I wouldn't have minded KQ going in that epic, Arthurian direction. KQ8's story and symbolism is much deeper than any of the previous games, and Connor isn't that bad of a character in retrospect. I personally find it a true KQ game and criminally underrated.

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  • @Blackthorne519 said: Bam.


    Bt

    Eh I think what he wrote kinda rambles to be honest.

    It was obvious Sierra had, unfortunately, lost touch with the direction of the game industry in the mid 90's.

    Actually, KQ8 was Sierra's way of trying to remain in touch with the game industry's direction in the mid 90s. As were games like Phantasmagoria, Lighthouse, Rama, their Nascar series, and others and signing other games like Half Life. If they'd lost touch with the industry, they'd still have been putting out VGA/cartoon style adventures, IMO.

    In my opinion adventure games are like interactive picturebooks for adults, which isn't a bad thing. But they need to have a very interesting abbriviated story and beautiful and interesting environments to play in.

    I think that's overly simplifying adventure games. And Mask has an "interesting abbreviated story" As to beautiful and interesting enviroments---they were interesting and very much rooted in the same background of folklore, legends and myth that KQ had always been founded upon. As far as beauty goes, you weren't going to get much 'beauty' with mid/late 90s 3D.

    The disappointing decisioin to force Mask into a 3d engine before 3d was ready for that kind of experience couldn't deliver the visuals needed.

    Perhaps. But this sort of contradicts his statement about Sierra losing sight of where the industry was going. Sierra knew early on that 3D was the future. And they tried to adapt KQ to that future.

    You must admit, in the mid 90's the game audience started demanding a deeper or more fast paced experience and the slow story experience was a smaller audience that was difficult for game companies to justify production for.

    I'd say a fast paced story experience is found in KQ8. And if slow paced story experience games was a smaller audience, what of the success of Baldur's Gate, which came out the same year as KQ8?

    That experience is making somewhat of a comeback in the found item games on Facebook. I never played Mask, but I know it was a forced project trying to use a technology that wasn't ready to deliver that kind of experience.

    If he's not even played Mask, how can he come to all these kinds of conclusions?

    His statements are very vague to be honest.

  • Yeah, what does he know. He only worked for Sierra On Line and worked on Mask Of Eternity. In the capacity as an art director. Pretty weak qualifications.


    Bt

  • @Blackthorne519 said: Yeah, what does he know. He only worked for Sierra On Line and worked on Mask Of Eternity. In the capacity as an art director. Pretty weak qualifications.


    Bt

    He says he's never even played the finished product...He worked on the game in the first version of it. The game went through three different versions with three different design documents, which from what I've read were quite different from the final game. That'd be like me judging the 1977 Star Wars by the first draft of it's script without ever actually having watched the finished film. And what of the fact that he worked for Sierra or worked on Q8? Does that somehow render his opinion infallible and above any critique?

  • It is true that they (Roberta) were (was) trying to do things with MOE that just weren't entirely possible at the time. I'm all for pushing the envelope, but that sounds like they were pushing a bit too much. I think the problem with Sierra was that it was too far ahead of its time for its own good.

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    exo

    for the last 3 to 4 years of their existence, the only envelope pushing sierra did was too the bank.

    I mean - look - lucasarts and sierra were both run into the ground. But LA did it by crawling completely up the star wars franchises ass. And as horrible as many of those games were, people just don't talk about the demise of LA with the same vitriol as they do Sierra.

    I think it has a lot to do wit the asinine statement Ken made towards the end (his imaginary "forever" company), the way they treated their IP developers (Lowe, 2 guys fom Andromeda), and the fact they were willing to bastardize their most popular franchises in an attempt to gain new fans - seemingly without regard to previous fans of the series.

    Whether KQ8 was good or not becomes irrelevant if the original fans don't care to play it.

    They love to talk about the sales figures of KQ8, but I feel they can be very misleading, especially compared to a game like Grim Fandango. Sierra loved to put titles down to budget prices, while LA did not. So where a predominant amount of KQ8 sales at the $10 price point or under? If so, it doesn't matter how many copies were sold, because the actual sales figure itself would be the same or lower.

    Also - the 2 to 1 sales is only for the year of release - and, Roberta is the only source for this "fact". So, even if true, it does not speak towards:
    A: International sales numbers
    B: Total sales (after year 1)
    C: Actual monetary sales, not numerical.

    Also, I don't see any groups reverse engineering the kq8 code to get it running properly on modern pc's. On the other hand, the ResidualVM project is coming along nicely...

  • Also Grim Fandango was in bargain bins in less than a year after its release as well, probably less than a few months even (literally due to it being an abyssmal failure in the market)... As I remember most adventure games ended up that way back then :p... The game failed (but most adventure games did at the time), and is described as one of those 'overlooked games'/'best games no one played'. It may actually be one of the biggest flops in gaming history even by some accounts, and the biggest flop for an adventure game!

    http://www.gamespot.com/news/ea-ceo-talks-game-killing-legend-brutalizing-6199534

    http://www.maximumpc.com/article/gaming/20_overlooked_pc_gaming_classics_and_how_play_them_now?page=0,2

    http://mygaming.co.za/news/columns/36097-5-biggest-flops-in-video-game-history.html

    Which would have looked great in the trophy case if that wasn’t being used as storage for unsold game boxes. The game sold so poorly, and was so good, that it is remembered as signalling the death of the adventure game genre in the 1990s.

    Grim sold about a total of 95,000 copies in North America up to year 2003 (compared to average action game at the time which sold 300,000 or more), sold between, a rather vague estimate of between 100,000 and 500,000 copies world wide. Again most action games at that time were selling 2-3 times that amount in much less time. There simply was no profit in the adventure game market at the time, and companies wanted cheap, and quick profits.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_commercial_failures_in_video_gaming#Grim_Fandango

    http://web.archive.org/web/20071022075824/http://justadventure.com/articles/Not_Playing/Part_4.shtm

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_139/2994-Walk-Dont-Run

    Critically acclaimed, award winning ... commercial failure. It is the game you meant to play but didn't until it became hard to find and fell off the shelves, another single wailing the bargain bin blues: Grim Fandango.

    However, the sales records did not match the praise; numbers have varied widely over the years, ranging from nearly 100,000 to just shy of 500,000. Still, early on the consensus was the game was "sort of a flop."

    KQ8 they were still selling about 50% off from original $59.99 price point at least year after its release from what I recall. But that included their website... (ya Sierra games were often way over priced in comparison to other companies) There were probably other stores that put it into the bargain bins with the other adventures (if they couldn't sell them, and needed to clear their shelves). But not alot of stores tended to carry pc titles for very long. So finding it in a store became less likely the further time from its release. Most of my local stores such as Gamestop stopped carrying PC games altogether (there was no resell value in PC titles), unless you specifically preordered the game.

    Based on vague statements I've been able to glean from old magazines, and through interviews, KQ8 may have sold roughly between 400,000 but less than one million (according to Roberta it was supposed to have sold double the previous game KQ7, but probably sold less than Phantasmagoria, which she clamed was her top selling game ever). However, its unclear if she is counting only domestic sales or combining sales worldwide.

    Again, I'd argue that Sierra's prices for games were ridiculously higher than most competing companies.

    As for review wise, both games Grim and KQ8 got mostly positive reviews. But again ultimately Grim was was considered a flop... Ultimately KQ8 was pretty much a flop as well. It might have sold more than average adventure game, but it probably didn't sell more than the average action game at the time either... Companies were only concerned with the bottom line. KQ8 might not have been a success, but it at least didn't win awards for or is remembered for epically failing like Grim did...

    KQ8 was only slightly more marketable because it enticed action gamer or rpg markets somewhat with its hybrid material (action fans were the main demographic at the time), and not just the Adventure game market. But in the end that didn't really save it. Although there was an attempt around 2001/2 or so to make KQ9, as another action game (more in the vein of Zelda). But that never went anywhere.

    The exact figures for GK3 aren't known, but it probably wasn't as successful as KQ8 (based on Sierra's "bestselling lists" in the old interaction magazines that as I recall placed KQ8 above GK3 in order), but the first two games sold for about 300,000 copies total (possibly worldwide, but that's not clear). That's roughly 150,000 copies. You can probably chalk up the sales for KQ8 as well as the higher sales for earlier King's Quest in general, due to Roberta being more well known and more respected producer than Jane Jensen was.

    Speaking of success by sales figures, KQ5 was apparently top selling computer game for some five years after its release (500,000 copies upon initial release), even outsold KQ6 (which sold for about 300,000 copies initial release IIRC)... It wasn't until Phantasmagoria as far as I know, that that record was beaten (that game sold about 1 million copies on initial release). Roberta was hard to beat when it came to sales figures in the Adventure genre. The total worldwide sales for King's Quest series games as a whole combining the sales for the first 7 games was said to be around 7 million copies (although we have no details how they came to the figure, and it probably does include 'bargain' sales of the collections as well). KQ1 had sold up to 1984 about 500,000 copies as well (according to the 1984 release box). KQ4 is said to have outsold the first three games in the series.

    http://kingsquest.wikia.com/wiki/KQ4_development#Character

    Overall King's Quest was considered the best selling Adventure game series of all time, and each game in the series were generally best sellers.

    I don't see any groups reverse engineering the kq8 code to get it running properly on modern pc's. On the other hand, the ResidualVM project is coming along nicely...

    There actually is at least one person modifying KQ8 to add stereoscopic 3D support and new higher resolutions oddly enough, from what I understand. It's not going easy for them though. The engine is notoriously buggy, and resistant.

    Also there are several groups (including GOG) that have been 'fixing/fixed' (modifying the files, adding in Glide wrapper support etc) it to run on modern machines, and even eliminate the loading times. It certainly has its niche following.

    http://www.sierrahelp.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=6&start=20

    Keep in mind, the GOG version still has load times, and it also requires detection of a CD drive, or virtual drive to run.

    The installer for Sierrahelp removes load times, and patches quite a few of the games crashes, and automatically installs Glide support through a wrapper.

    Zeckenseck's glide wrapper even has a specific KQ8:MOE mode setup for the game to help with compatibility. There is also a way to double the resolution to higher resolutions through the options.

  • Here is an interesting quote from Roberta from December 1998;
    Did you think KQ8 needed to move to 3D to progress, or do you think it would have been as successful, or would have worked as a 2D game?
    "...Well, my experience...and I think its a really good question, my experience in playing this particular game, is that after you have played at least half the game, and you start getting used to it used to the interface, and driving Connor around, and the camera, it just begins to feelso much more immersive, to me, to me, much more immersive than even the older games. I can acknowledge we could have done a better job in many ways, but it is the first of a new type of adventure game certainly for Sierra. Just learning how to design in 3D, and I just think there are some things we did right, and some things we did wrong. To me the exploration and immersiveness of 3D is so much more, I just, I don't think I could personally go back to 2D... Ya... I think so...the worlds are going to have the capability of being able to feel much more real, and as the technology improves and as the computing power of computers improve, its going to get better and better. But you need to play a little through it, and get a little more through it and I think you'll agree." -Roberta Williams, Talkspot interview, part 2, December 1998

  • @Anakin Skywalker said: He says he's never even played the finished product...He worked on the game in the first version of it. The game went through three different versions with three different design documents, which from what I've read were quite different from the final game. That'd be like me judging the 1977 Star Wars by the first draft of it's script without ever actually having watched the finished film. And what of the fact that he worked for Sierra or worked on Q8? Does that somehow render his opinion infallible and above any critique?

    That he worked for them means he has firsthand knowledge of what was going on during development and of the game itself.

    I'll tell you straight-out I've never played the finished, released versions of TSL episodes 3 and 4, or at least not the full episodes start to finish. Does that somehow invalidate my knowledge of the game or what development of those was like? Of course it doesn't, I'm one of the designers of the thing and a director of the company!

  • John Shroades left development half way through, they replaced him with Jason Piel. Much of the artwork was changed at that point, and much of Shroades work was replaced. Only a few elements from Shroades design were retained (including the design and appearance of the artifact, the Mask of Eternity itself) The finished game has almost nothing to do with the versions Shroades worked on.

    You can see videos of the earlier work Shroades worked on directly in the first making of video from 1996.

    http://kingsquest.wikia.com/wiki/KQ8_development#Making_of_Mask_of_Eternity

    Shroades left early 1997 or so, this is acknowledged in the game if you look at the gravestone graphics, which state;

    HERE LIES

    JOHN SHROADES

    ART DIRECTOR

    AD1996-1997

    Roberta describing the Mask and John Shroades design;

    "...and so I looked back at, like Mesopotamia had their big god, who was a sun god, and he was shown by his symbol was a golden disk with wings. If you look at our mask that we have here, he is golden, and gold has been symbolic of the sun, because it's an incoruptible material, it always shines, it never tarnishes. You can see he sort of has that sun look, the rays are coming out from him. The wings above his eyes came from the old Mesopotamian god,the "winged disk"...and also the beard comes from the lion and Leo, and lions have also been associated with God, and sun gods, and the sun in ancient religions, and is also a very powerful male symbol...and so I took those ideas and worked with a very good artist, who is working for sierra, by the name of John Shroades, and he, I gave him all those ideas, and I gave him different masks, he could look at and the different symbology of various masks, ancient masks, and he came up with this, and I just think it's a very strong symbol."-Roberta Williams, Talk Spot 2.

    Keep in mind the 3D engine Shroades was using in 1996, early 1997 version was even more primitive than the version they were using in the final game! Already outdated by the time they were showing it (Dynamix already had several more advanced engines in the works at the time). They were using the old Red Baron I engine. It used alot of 2D sprites for background objects. More like doom, but inbetween Quake in ability. A mix of 2D with a few added 3D elements (such as the character models, and geography). It was even more technically limited than the final release engine (which they had essentially built from scratch).

    The final release version although primitive by today's standards did have elements that pushed the technology of the computers of the day back then. But obviously didn't 'age' well when compared to modern games.

    That he worked for them means he has firsthand knowledge of what was going on during development and of the game itself.

    I'll tell you straight-out I've never played the finished, released versions of TSL episodes 3 and 4, or at least not the full episodes start to finish. Does that somehow invalidate my knowledge of the game or what development of those was like? Of course it doesn't, I'm one of the designers of the thing and a director of the company!

    Actually a better comparison would probably be someone like Akril who worked on early version of the game when it was known as "King's Quest IX: Every Cloak Has a Silver Lining", but later left the team, and then commenting on the finalized game (The Silver Lining) based only on knowledge of the earlier version (without having actually played it).

    I bring Akril up as an example of individual who was part of development of a very different version of the game, but not part of the development of the final version of the game.

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