LA Noire: Not as good as Kings Quest 1
The adventure game was officially buried on February 22, 1999. On a day which is now referred to as ‘Chainsaw Monday’, Sierra Entertainment - the company behind legendary adventure games such as Kings Quest, Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry - axed a third of its workforce including some of their top creative talent. Scott Murphy, co-creator of Space Quest, was one of the many to be given the boot. In this interview, he speaks openly about the price the employees paid with the companies growing success; like being paid less despite incredible success of the games they worked on. But what is most apparent from the interview is the deep hurt that was inflicted by the company heads on their brilliant team who invested all they had in producing a revolutionary series of games.
Although the adventure game was buried in 1999, its demise began before that with a crucial decision made by the company executives against the advice of its top game designers. This decision was to replace the parser interface with a point and click interface. The original parser interface was a text input interface where players would have to type commands into the game to get their character to perform an action. This forced players to think and invest their own powers of deduction to solve the game puzzles. The balance between challenge and reward was perfect in the early adventure games, making the game play entertaining, rewarding and, I would suggest, beneficial to our cognitive powers. Moving to point and click eradicated this dynamic and changed the essence of the game play from challenging, rewarding and entertaining to just entertaining and ultimately monotonous.
This segment from the interview is fascinating insight into bad company ethics and game-changing (yes, I’m using this phrase in its proper context) decisions.
Scott Murphy, Co-Founder of Space Quest.
Here's a little tidbit about how the parser interface went away and how management worked us. One day when we're literally halfway through Space Quest 4, Mark and I were called into Ken's office. We were asked what we thought about using the (dumbass) point-and-click interface that they were using, in I guess it was King's Quest 5 then, and what we thought about putting it in SQ4. We said we wanted to keep the parser. Ken and Bill Davis asked us to talk about it together and then tell them what we wanted to do the next day. After the meeting, Mark and I agreed without hesitation as we walked out Ken's office door that there was absolutely no way we wanted the point-and-click. The next day when we came in, Bill Davis tracked Mark down and asked him what we'd decided. Mark told him that we'd decided to keep the parser, to which Bill instantly replied something to the effect of, "But you can't do that. Ken has already decided that you have to use the point-and-click!" Apparently they figured they had a fifty percent chance that we would make the decision and wouldn't realize that they'd already made the decision for us. That kind of mentality was another straw on the pile of last ones.Continued on the next page