Founded by Ken Williams and his wife, Roberta, Sierra was a pioneer in early computer gaming. It produced such classic series' as Police Quest, Space Quest, King's Quest, Liesure Suit Larry, Quest for Glory, The Incredible Machine, Hoyle: Book of Cards, and Gabriel Knight. They also were responsible for other great games such as Outpost, Betrayal at Krondor, Gobliiins, and more.
Sierra went downhill when Ken Williams sold the companyand stepped down as CEO. Since then, the new Sierra Online has become more of a publisher of other people's games and is more concerned with a large profit margin instead of delivering excellent games.
Amongst gamers of the appropriate age group, Sierra is probably most famous for the Quest games. King's Quest, Space Quest and various others were, at the time, stunning - an adventure where you could take direct control of the character and where rather than having to imagine your surroundings (as in the text adventures popular at the time), you could see them in glorious colour. It's pretty undeniable that these games were pioneering, and many others would imitate the style.

Sadly, the Quest series had several other defining characteristics. Death was quick and easy to achieve, but very difficult to avoid even if you were being careful. Many tasks were tedious - King's Quest 3 required you to walk down a narrow path on a cliff face. This wasn't a puzzle (walk down a slightly twisty path? Yup, that's hard to achieve in reality), but punished you with death if you got it wrong by accidently stepping off the edge. Yup, I can see the entertainment there. Even worse, upon reaching the bottom you could be set upon by bandits and killed without warning.Police Quest required you to check your car every time you went anywhere. Fail to do so and you'd crash. Of course, you never actually found anything wrong with the car - the fault magically vanished when you checked. However, the worst problem was probably that the humour allegedly present in many of the games simply didn't work outside the USA. Lucasarts demonstrated later on that it was perfectly possible to produce funny games that worked everywhere. Sam and Max and The Secret of Monkey Island were hilarious on both sides of the Atlantic.

Probably the most insulting thing about all of this was that Infocom had already thought about and solved most of these problems by 1983. Sierra, apparantly smug in the fact that their games were new and unique, failed to learn from this and made the same mistakes that had already been thoroughly exploited by Scott Adams before the rest of the world had realised that it wasn't fun to be unfairly killed at every opportunity. Sierra, of course, went on doing the same thing for another 15 years.


Si*er"ra (?), n. [Sp., properly, a saw, fr. L. serra a saw. See Serrate.]

A ridge of mountain and craggy rocks, with a serrated or irregular outline; as, the Sierra Nevada.

The wild sierra overhead. Whitter.


© Webster 1913.

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