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KQ7 isn't really a "Roberta" game....

posted by Anakin Skywalker on - last edited - Viewed by 2.7K users

If you read through the credits of KQ7, you'll find Robera was barely involved in the game. The credits are rewritten here in the order they are in the booklet:

Designed by:
Lorelei Shannon
Roberta Williams

Written by:
Lorelei Shannon

Directed by:
Andy Hoyos
Lorelei Shannon
Roberta Williams

Producer:
Mark Seibert

Voice Director:
Lorelei Shannon

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  • @Anakin Skywalker said: As for the Lucas comparison--Lucas KNOWS what the fans want. He just doesn't give a shit.

    He knows now. He didn't know what they wanted or what made the Original Trilogy so great when he made the prequels.

    Also, in comparing King's Quest to Star Wars, KQ6 is often regarded as the best in the series, and so is The Empire Strikes Back. Yet both of them were much the product of someone else's work instead of the original creator. In fact, people consider the reason why ESB is regarded as better than ROTJ to be because of Lucas' influence over ROTJ's production.

  • @Chyron8472 said: He knows now. He didn't know what they wanted or what made the Original Trilogy so great when he made the prequels.

    Also, in comparing King's Quest to Star Wars, KQ6 is often regarded as the best in the series, and so is The Empire Strikes Back. Yet both of them were much the product of someone else's work instead of the original creator. In fact, people consider the reason why ESB is regarded as better than ROTJ to be because of Lucas' influence over ROTJ's production.

    KQ6 is a 50/50 Roberta/Jane product. Roberta was deeply involved with the development with the exception of two months and wrote up her own design document. KQ6 is more an example of a collaboration...Two great minds at work riffing off each other. Sort of like The Talisman by Straub and King.

    ESB is more that Lucas really didn't want to go through all the stress of making another movie and largely delegated everything to the director, only approving the final script and drafting the basic story.

    Robert's involvement in KQ7 is more comparable to Lucas' level of involvement in ESB, basically bare minimum general direction/design/basic story ideas....KQ8 its very murky because she wanted her name taken off the game at a point late in development because she felt the game wasn't what she wanted it to be anymore. Only some minor changes and a lot of negotiation kept her name on KQ8.

    And like I said before, the last pure, undeniably 100% Roberta game is KQ5, and that's generally beloved as one of the best of the series as well...Like I said, Roberta's 5 core KQ games stand on their own as classics....Along with all her pre-KQ games and the first Laura Bow and Phantas...Lucas' record was more of a guy who got really lucky.

  • KQ8 its very murky because she wanted her name taken off the game at a point late in development because she felt the game wasn't what she wanted it to be anymore. Only some minor changes and a lot of negotiation kept her name on KQ8.

    Actually it looks like she didn't want her name on it as early as mid development. Mid-late 1996 to early-mid 1997ish. About the time Davidson was sending bullies to force their ideas into the game.

    It seems early mockups for posters or box mockups don't seem to mention Roberta. Sierra was also reusing alot of early 1996 footage with Roberta but edited into new footage in the 1997 promo video but didn't really have anything new from her personally.

    She started actively posting and interacting with the fans about middle to late 1997 (this was still about halfway point) up to the games release, and getting back into interviews at the time. She was the ideas going into the game. This is also about the time the KQ8 website was actively advertising it as a Roberta Williams game, and magazines as well. Keep in mind at this point in time most of in game screenshots and concept art on the website were of the finalized game. Nearing the end of 1997 especially so. So it seems finalized ideas were already pretty much in place by end of 1997 into early 1998, and around the time or early 1998 they were doing the finishing touches looking for actors ect, and everything needed to ship it on hits Holiday release date.

  • @BagginsKQ said: Actually it looks like she didn't want her name on it as early as mid development. Mid-late 1996 to early-mid 1997ish. About the time Davidson was sending bullies to force their ideas into the game.

    It seems early mockups for posters or box mockups don't seem to mention Roberta. Sierra was also reusing alot of early 1996 footage with Roberta but edited into new footage in the 1997 promo video but didn't really have anything new from her personally.

    She started actively posting and interacting with the fans about middle to late 1997 (this was still about halfway point) up to the games release, and getting back into interviews at the time. She was the ideas going into the game. This is also about the time the KQ8 website was actively advertising it as a Roberta Williams game, and magazines as well. Keep in mind at this point in time most of in game screenshots and concept art on the website were of the finalized game. Nearing the end of 1997 especially so. So it seems finalized ideas were already pretty much in place by end of 1997 into early 1998, and around the time or early 1998 they were doing the finishing touches looking for actors ect, and everything needed to ship it on hits Holiday release date.

    Except that the trouble continued even into '98 itself. The game had an original Holiday '97 release, which it missed. It was then going to be released numerous times throughout 1998--One of the dates was in June, another in August, etc, until it was finally released in December. There were issues with management, issues with the budget, the management (even after the Davidson's were gone) weren't really supportive of Roberta because they felt they were investing money in a dead genre.

    Towards the end, according to what Ken Williams once told me, Roberta basically began desperately trying to mosey it back to being *her* game, along with trying to perfect the game, and Sierra floated the idea of suing her if she didn't hand over the game. She negotiated with them, made some very minor changes, and allowed her name on the final product. But never really considered it fully her own game. Even Mark Seibert said there were a lot of other voices in the final product, and at times he had to act in between Roberta and the new management, which was not fun.

  • Missing a release date probably has little to do with "I wont put my name on it" it only shows that they had to extend the release date, because of other development issues.

    We do know that she was putting her name on it as early as mid 1997, and was connecting her self to it via the early fall 1997 website/forums in which she took part in. In which she was taking alot of flack for her decisions, but in which she stood up for as her ideas, and she was sticking with them. Unfortunately that early website is not accessible. There are those who remember it (there are a few transcripts out there on other sites that can be found through use of Wayback if you know or can figure out where to look), but what little is left to know about it is limited to a couple of mentions in old magazines. We can also track interviews from her about mid-1997.

    It was the hullabaloo from 1996 to mid 1997 with Davidson though that really set things back, and probably lead to all the later new deadline issues. It was the Davidsons that essentially destroyed the version of the game you saw in the early 1996 video. The one you have said you preferred the look of in the past. His additions to the team pretty much wanted to rewrite the story, and remove all references to spiritualism and religious themes. Which as we know was the whole point to Roberta's overall story.

    The deadline issues, were probably further compounded by having to switch engines midstream to improve things to compete with modern technology at the time (which lead to having to redo many of the assets to improve them into modern technology). Certain artists leaving the project, and having to get new artists to replace them. But engine switching, and artist replacements probably had nothing to do with the 'take my name off it' issue. Unless she had little patience, and was a whiner... Personally I think she had alot more patience than you would give her. From what I've been told, she was actually the one who asked for the extentions so the game could be made, there was actually thought to completely abandon it at one point (since it was in an unfinished state and not something that could be released on the market).

    Sierra had quite a few games that had to have the release dates pushed back.

    Including and not limited to Red Baron 2 (which was supposed to be released long before KQ8).

    Just look at Telltale its always missing release dates, and pushing games back... Not limited for example Walking Dead season 1, Fables, and potentially the King's Quest game. Plus a few others. Which if they had been following original release dates Walkign dead would have been out about two years ago, and Fables out one and a half years ago. The new King's Quest was never given a firm date. But many fans believed it should have come out two years ago, around the time it was first announced...!

    BTW, if you were paying attention, John Shroades apparently left the company about the same time Davidson did. I don't know the exact timing on that, or the month (For Davidson it was late January or so). We don't know all the reasons behind it, other than he wasn't too happy with the early 3-d technology he had to work with. But I'd venture to guess it probably also had something to with the Davidsons interference, if Shroades wasn't also wasn't affected during the period that the company heads were thinking about shutting down the game completely.

    He went over to work for Microsoft in 1997 though, so he wasn't without a job.

    http://www.jwshroades.com/resume.html

    Jason Piel ended up replacing him, that affected the art style, and lead to completely new art direction for many things (only a few things from John Shroades time remain in the game, but in a modified manner).

    Also about the same time the game also lost Adam Szofran, Al Eufrasio, and Layne Gifford... Layne was one of the ones involved in the level design, textures and many of the 3d objects. That right there could have lead to some levels being cut. Having to move his position onto someone else. Adam was responsible for the sound, UI, and some of the physics development... Bet that helped gut the water physics, and some of the other physics based puzzles she had planned for the game...

    All three continued to work for Sierra after they left Mask. Rumor has it that at least with Al Eufrasio that he was moved into another project when the higher ups were thinking of canning the game. He later quite Sierra when he was faced with possiblity of working on the game again. He was apparently one of the head animators on the game. But I haven't found much on his specific work in the game, nor any idea how his particular loss would have impacted the game, and slowed down the release schedule. Still losing a staff member, and transfer his duties to another member, or even possibly having to hire a new staff member, and get them up to speed. Would certainly have an impact on the game's development time.

    http://kingsquest.wikia.com/wiki/KQ8_development#Losing_the_Art_Director_.26_other_staff_changes

  • @BagginsKQ said: It was the hullabaloo from 1996 to mid 1997 with Davidson though that really set things back, and probably lead to all the later new deadline issues. It was the Davidsons that essentially destroyed the version of the game you saw in the early 1996 video. The one you have said you preferred the look of in the past. His additions to the team pretty much wanted to rewrite the story, and remove all references to spiritualism and religious themes. Which as we know was the whole point to Roberta's overall story.

    The Davidsons were only involved with Sierra from mid September 1996 to late January 1997. Davidson & Associates, Inc. were acquired on the same day as Sierra by CUC on July 24th 1996, and then in September, CUC Software was created to manage CUC's new software business. Bob Davidson was chosen to lead CUC Software, which thus put Ken Williams under him in the power structure and Sierra under him. Ken had tried to get around this when negotiating the CUC deal. To negate this, he sold Sierra only under the following conditions:

    1) That a software board was to be created, which would consist of himself, Michael Brochu (COO and President of Sierra), Davidson, the head of Blizzard, and some CUC execs. This board would act as a board of directors and would decide on "big" decisions, like acquiring other software companies and jettisoning current product lines. CUC agreed with this idea during the negotiations for Sierra's sale, but the group ended up never meeting.

    2) Ken was to be made a Vice Chairman of CUC overall. In theory, this would put him above Davidson in the overall company structure, and thus ensure Davidson wouldn't unduly influence Sierra. He was officially made a Vice Chairman of CUC in September 1996 (same time as CUC Software was put into being), but soon realized his office had little actual power.

    3) Sierra would retain it's own sales force.

    4) Ken would remain responsible for Sierra's R&D

    Sierra's sales division was combined with Davidson's and this led to problems. In Ken's words: "Sierra's sales force was consolidated with Davidsons, and there were problems with the Davidson sales force selling Sierra products. They had been selling educational software which had a very different sales profile than computer games. There were also issues with a cultural difference between selling preschool software and Leisure-Suit Larry. Some of our biggest hits were offensive to some people at Davidson. It was an issue no one had expected."

    Ken has said that he and Davidson had many "territorial" battles, which exhausted him, and since he had no real power over Davidson, he began to focus less on Sierra and more on CUC's "NetMarket" project, because he couldn't bear to helplessly watch his company be ripped apart.

    Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, Davidson and his wife left CUC in January 1997, and Davidson & Associates was slowly phased out and absorbed into Blizzard (it's former subsidiary) and Knowledge Adventure (another educational software company owned by CUC). Instead of making Ken the new CEO of CUC Software, they brought in a guy named Chris McLeod, who had no previous software industry experience, to lead the company.

    At this point, Ken focused more on CUC's NetMarket product and his duties as Vice Chairman and Michael Brochu became Sierra's day to day leader. Brochu was in some ways Ken's chosen successor and he had been leading Sierra day to day since being appointed President and COO in 1995. Ken had appointed him to this position so Brochu could deal with all the "paperwork"--all the day to day issues of running a public company, while Ken could focus more on the creative end.

    Brochu ran Sierra as Ken's vision intended, but he suddenly resigned from Sierra in October 1997. In response to this, Chris McLeod broke Sierra into three business units:

    Three former vice presidents of Sierra - Bill Moore, Scott Lynch, and Randy Dersham - were given the title senior vice president and put in charge of the new units.

    Moore would be responsible for Sierra's Home Production line, Berkeley Systems line, and all on-line gaming products;

    Lynch would look after Sierra Northwest (Bellevue), Sierra Oakhurst, and Impressions Software; Dursham was put in charge of all sports-related projects including Papyrus and Front Page Sports products.

    Scott Lynch is sarcastically "thanked" in the KQ8 booklet as being one of the reasons KQ8 wasn't out sooner.

    At the same time this happened, Ken left CUC Inc. totally in November 1997, saying: "Sierra is being run now by three different people; Scott Lynch, Randy Dersham and Bill Moore. Each of these guys has a third of the company....I am not running Sierra today and haven't been since the sale of the company over a year ago. CUC is a big shopping company, and I was working with them to create their Internet shipping site--www.netmarket.com. I miss running Sierra, but Scott, Randy and Bill are good people and will build solid product. I'm still involved with Sierra, but more as an advisor at product strategy meetings. I do love Sierra and creating games, but after 18 years I'm ready for a new challenge, and Sierra is in good hands."

    From October '97 to June '98, Sierra was without any CEO. Thus you had a company with over 1,500 employees without any clear leader, but instead three guys leading separate parts of it, all reporting to a guy who was a clear "suit" who had no experience in the software industry, who had no idea what Sierra was all about. I imagine the ripple effects of this effected KQ8's development--and God knows how those guys and McLeod acted toward Roberta or toward KQ8. I am quite certain that a lot of trouble happened in this period...

    In December '97, CUC merged with HFS (a huge owner of numerous hotel chains) to become Cendant, a massive conglomerate with over 50,000 employees. Sierra became part of Cendant Software.

    Then in January 1998, Sierra was reorganized AGAIN, into:
    Sierra Attractions (For lifestyle related products)
    Sierra Home (For home products)
    Sierra Sports (For sports products)
    Sierra Studios (Bellevue, Impressions Software, Pyrotechnix, run by Scott Lynch)
    Yosemite Entertainment (Oakhurst)

    This reorganization and CUC's merger with HFS led to yet another shuffling around of employees and executives and more layers of bureaucracy. I imagine some of these bureacratic types were probably growing tired of Roberta: From their POV, she'd spent 2 million dollars over 2 years thus far on a game in a dead genre.

    In June 1998, Sierra finally picked David Grenewetzski as CEO. He too felt adventure games were dead and would be the guy who would kill Oakhurst and lay off the entire adventure game division of Sierra in January 1999, and he'd announce that the release of Gabriel Knight 3 marked Sierra's last adventure game.

    In the middle of this, all throughout '98, it was slowly revealed that CUC had been engaged in massive amouns of fraud and cooking their books for decades, and they had used Sierra's name and accountants in a lot of this activity from around the Fall of 1996 onward. CUC used the names and accountants of all their subsidiaries to artificially inflate their income. This is in essence why they bought Sierra and other companies--to use them as cover for illegalities. This devastated Sierra's profitability as a company and wiped out the 401ks of many longtime Sierra employees--all of whom were innocent or didn't know of CUC's illegal doings.

    Throughout 1998, as Cendant's stock tanked, Sierra's future was totally in doubt. Cendant wasn't sure whether it was going to close the software division, retain it, spin it off as a separate company, or sell it. Disney, Havas and a number of others offered to buy Sierra, and about a month before KQ8 was released, Sierra was sold again to Havas, who was very quickly bought by Vivendi....

    So, really, with all these massive leadership changes, reorganizations, restructurings, mergers, acquisitions, and general chaos, I imagine all of these things played a LARGE part in KQ8's troubled development, and in Roberta losing total control over the game as people who were either unsupportive of her or even the idea of KQ8 and adventure games became directly in charge of Sierra....

    Actually, with all the craziness that went on during KQ8's development, we're lucky we got a game out of it at all. I don't think KQ8's flaws should be laid totally on Roberta's shoulders or used as "evidence" of her not understanding what the fans wanted or being out of touch...There were so many factors at play.

  • In anycase we have on record from John Shroades, that he quite because he disagreed with Roberta on her vision to create a game in 3D, because the technology was not up to the level he felt was appropriate for such a game. The others who left the game about the same time may have left due to his influence, in agreement. One has to wonder if Davidson had any influence on their decision as well, and perhaps they may have been part of the schism that sided more towards the Davidson's ideas.

    In anycase while I'm sure that those who butted heads with Roberta over the use of 3D, as well as problems with the Davidson's staff trying to force their vision on her as well would all be good reasons for her to want to leave her name off the game. However, I seriously doubt she would continue to complain when some of the most vocal competition against her vision quite, allowing her to have more direct control of the game (even if it meant she had to replace the crucial positions that they held in the development of the game). I'm pretty sure she would have more likely to replace those positions with people that would be more subordinate to her control. But having to replace them would certainly have helped delay the game further.

    However, my point is we can petty much pinpoint when Roberta got rid of some of the internal game staff working on the game that were in conflict with her, and were trying to push their own viewpoints into into the stew pot, and overide her decisions. As well as about the time she started to put her full name into as well.

    Yes the outside forces were causing problems. But that was more of a the game could have been cancelled all together because of the waste of time, money and resources with nothing to show for it, than a they were trying to influence the direction and type of game itself issue.

    Dynamix's own delays to Red Barion II was an outside force, that Roberta had no control over, nor did Sierra's managers. But that caused her problems, and lead to delays as well. But its certainly not something she could complain about as others trying to control the vision of her game. Since their work had nothing directly to do with KQ8. She just wanted to have use of the engine they were working on for Red Baron II when they were finished, as it was more robust and would have offered more features, that the earlier Red Baron engine couldn't handle. Again that's out of her hands, and not something she could point blame to other than try to get more time for development due to the delay. But not something that would remotely have anything to do with trying to force new ideas into her game, like internal team members like the Davidson supervisors or John Shroades had done.

    It would be whining, and a temper tantrum if she said I don't want my name on this game, because she didn't have the engine to finish it. Instead she and her team showed the initiative and took control by building a new engine for themselves. Of course that also lead to more of a delay, as it essentially had to be written from scratch. This didn't give them enough time to put in all the features they wanted to have in the engine in the first place. But it was an improvement over what they were working with previously.

    The ultimate direction of the game we can pretty much put squarely on Roberta's shoulders, and we know this direction existed as early as late 1995, or to early 1996 (according to her various early interviews). We know of several 'internal' conflicts with supervisors or team staff who tried to rest control of the direction of the game from her, over the course of a particular time range. During which point we barely got anything from Roberta herself about the game, until right after those crew members left the team.

  • @BagginsKQ said:
    The ultimate direction of the game we can pretty much put squarely on Roberta's shoulders, and we know this direction existed as early as late 1995, or to early 1996 (according to her various early interviews). We know of several 'internal' as placed direction into the game's development supervisors or team staff that became verbably in conflict with her and tried to rest control of the direction of the game from her, over the course of a particular time range. At which point we barely got anything from Roberta herself about the game. Until right after those crew members left the team.

    I disagree...While certain core elements (Connor, action, 3D) can be attributed to Roberta, the question is...Would Roberta have had AS MUCH violence if not for the eternal factors (people above not believing in Roberta/adventure games/KQ8, changing demographics, the popularity of games like Tomb Raider)?

    Would the game have been more cohesive, perhaps, if there wasn't so much eternal and internal turmoil in and around Sierra?

    Might an overall better, more cohesive game have resulted if things weren't constantly changing?

    Would there have been the RPG elements?

    I don't think you should count out the influence of people like the executives who ran Cendant and Sierra after 1997....They're the guys who have the final say moneywise etc

  • Roberta was talking about Doom as inspiration as early as 1994 and 1995 (in her own words)... Doom is about as violent as you could go back then.

    Doom btw actually was kinda 2D (2.5D) engine giving the illusion of 3D, but didn't actually have true 3-D, and utilized an optical illusion to give sense of height and depth. Much more primitive than the engine she ultimately ended up with. THe Build engine in Duke Nukem which she also took for inspiration was also a 2.5D technology although it was slightly more robust.

    Keep in mind that KQ8 is no where near as violent as any of those games she took inspiration from. Which actually went more towards shock gore at the time, blood and guts everywhere.

    Tomb Raider came out in 1996, while she was still trying to design her game, it beat her game to the market, and in many ways has some features that are way ahead of even the final product (swimming physics), although maybe slightly less graphically robust in some areas (tomb raider used alot of 2-d sprite assets for some details, like plants), and many enemy and lara's own model were slightly more boxy... It thus through the game she decided to take more ideas from it, such as giving Connor more acrobatic abilities.

    Now admittingly, it was probably Seibert who first made the suggestion for ingame enemies. But she was totally all for it, after he made the suggestion. Because they found the huge explorabe map of Daventry (the first map they were working on) rather empty without anything to interactive with. But she hired Seibert because she had worked with him in past collaborations, and they were pretty good at bouncing ideas off each other. He always deferred to her in final decisions. They said that the idea to put in enemies was decided on pretty early in development.

    Incidently, the monster combat/action stuff was some of the very first material they worked on when designing the game. It was the first stuff they programmed into the game, besides the map ideas. Even before they started on any puzzle ideas.

    Basically an early map of Daventry was the first thing physical thing built for the game as a test, and adding enemies into that map was the second thing they did. This is of course probably not the same Daventry map that appears in the finalized game of course. Maybe it was that one with road going through the trees, and the little village with the square, and a couple of buildings. Probably also included that farm seen in a few early screenshots.

    That is why there were so many screenshots of enemies in early magazines, and in the early video.

  • Hero worship based on ignorance.

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