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Sierra On-Line founders Ken and Roberta Williams making first game together in over 20 years

VysePSU

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Pictured: Ken and Roberta Williams at The Game Awards 2014

Sierra On-Line founders Ken and Roberta Williams announced today that they will be releasing a new game this year.

Their new title, The Secret is said to be "Sierra flavored" and will be their first new game in over 20 years.

The Secret will also be a collaboration between the Williams and 3D artist Marcus Maximus Mera.

"Roberta and I have been asked for decades whether we would ever produce another game, and we have always firmly said 'no'," explained Ken.

"This changed when Roberta had a clever idea for a game, at the same time I am having fun learning the Unity 3D development environment, and I happened to be chatting with a talented 3D artist."

The Williams founded Sierra On-Line in 1979, and built the company into a prolific producer of adventure games, including Space Quest, Police Quest, and Roberta's own King's Quest.

Both the Williams retired from game development in the late '90s.
The 3D artist Ken refers to is Marcus Maximus Mera, who has a non-conventional background for game development. Marcus has designed pieces for Harry Winston, Van Cleef Arpels and Loreal USA. He has also collaborated on a jewelry collection with celebrated tattoo artist Paul Booth.

“I was always a huge fan of Sierra On-Line, especially the Space Quest games,” said Mr. Mera. “As 3D design became more and more ubiquitous in the jewelry business, I immersed myself in the technology to make custom pieces for clients and that experience has led me here today.”

The Williams’ and Mr. Mera are collaborating on the game, with additional details, demos and screenshots to be released at a later date. The Secret – the Williams’ first game in over two decades, has been in development for the past six months. Updates on the current status of the game can be found at: www.KensGame.com.
What are you working on?

It is indeed a game, and it’s one that Sierra fans should love. Roberta talked me out of the educational game and into something more people would enjoy. I’ll say what it is about six weeks from now. In the meantime I just want to be head-down focused.

When will it be done?

Our goal is November, but that probably isn’t realistic. We’re pushing hard though.

What platforms will it be available on?

I don’t know. Certainly Mac and Windows. I hope eventually it will be on most platforms and in most languages. A lot will depend on how people like it.

Can you give me a hint?

I hope not!

Can I beta test?

Possibly. Send me an email – ken@kensblog.com. I won’t respond but I will put your name on a list of possible beta testers. I don’t know yet how many we’ll want or how we’ll choose them, or even what we’ll be looking for. I’m inclined towards fewer people who have the time to take it more seriously and put in more time. I’m guessing beta testing can start in August (or, at least hoping!).

Can I do the music? the box cover? character voices? the foreign translation? the porting to Apple?

Probably not. We will need help with foreign translation and porting to other platforms, but the box art, voices and music are already handled.

Is the game any good?

I have said that I do not think a small team can produce a product that is competitive in today’s world. I still believe that. The major studios have nothing to fear from this game. It’s an incredible accomplishment for a small team, and those who play it will find much to love. But, I am not kidding myself that this will sell millions of copies. That said, I do think traditional Sierra fans will be very happy.

What's Roberta's involvement?

So far, her involvement has been important, but minimal. She was the original inspiration for the game, and has been consulted almost daily. But, in terms of hours spent in front of a computer it is 99% Marcus and myself. We’ve been filling all spare time 7 days a week. Roberta will get more and more involved as we get closer.

What's the game's exact current status?

The whole game is there, but with scratch graphics. That’s one reason for no screen shots. We wanted to rough out the whole game and then make a second (and, third and fourth) pass to replace the placeholder graphics and animation and start polishing things. If you saw the game today I doubt you’d be impressed. You would need a LOT of imagination. That’s how we planned it and that’s how it is.

Is this the beginning of a new company?

I have no idea. Marcus (my partner in this effort) is in this for the long haul. He’s young and has the ambition and talent to do something great. Whereas, I am happily retired and more excited about having an excuse to create and write code than I am about building a company. I do think people will like this game and that it will be the start of something. But, what that is, and whether Roberta and I will hang in there, or if this was just a fun one-off I do not know. At this point I don’t want to think much beyond solving bugs and polishing the game. All of that said, I do have more ideas for things to do and have surprised myself (and, hopefully you) by what we have accomplished. I would have thought it impossible to do what we have done, but with a good set of tools and a lot of focus and hard work, big things appear to be possible. I can’t imagine ever not waking up and going to my computer. So, we shall see!

Do you need Beta Testers?

We already have over 100 beta testers signed up and will probably only use 10-20 total.

 
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Deft Beck

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For what it's worth, the 3D artist is listed as working at "Top Secret" on his LinkedIn. Maybe be worth doing some more digging.
 

Saucy Papi

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I loved their previous games but I'm not sure if they'll translate all that well into 3D. I don't remember Sierra having much success in that area.
 
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Ozzy Onya A2Z

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I loved their previous games but I'm not sure if they'll translate all that well into 3D. I don't remember Sierra having much success in that area.

I think you're on the money here. If I recall Ken built/lead the engine for the 2D games and never really transitioned to 3D super well. There was some stories around engine limitations even back in the 2D days. Looks like the new project has a lead for 3D though so we'll see how the design side of things translates into 3D more than the tech this time around I think.
 
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AlteredForms

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Thought they were long retired? Haven't heard much from Jane Jensen of Gabriel Knight fame either. Wonder if she'll make a comeback...
 

SF Kosmo

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Thought they were long retired? Haven't heard much from Jane Jensen of Gabriel Knight fame either. Wonder if she'll make a comeback...
Jane Jensen made a couple new games maybe 8 years back. They were bad. She has a new career writing erotic fiction now.
 

namekuseijin

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should be VR, like Cyan is doing too. but probably just a phone game with pixely, legit retrard graphics
 

MvCSpiderman

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One year before MYST is credited for the adoption of CDROM drives, this game made you want a CDROM and VGA monitor:
I beat this without a guide.

It took like 3 months of trial and error including times playing with friends to figure things out in certain sections. It was an amazing experience on CD so much it overshadowed the bullshit puzzles.

But at least they didn't have a KQ6 puzzle where by the time you realized you messed up you'll be hours later in game realizing you can't continue and have to start over.
 

Bigfroth

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Cool hope it's good. Such good memories with my buddy playing Sierra games on my Tandy 1000 RBG monitor and later my 386DX with a kickass VGA screen lol.
 
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Tschumi

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King's Quest remake on ps4 was a joy :)

This is great :) On the same feelgood meter as that which Obsidian landed on when they crowdfunded PoE...

New city builder when?

Or dare I say, Caesar, Pharaoh, Zeus and Emperor remasters?
Seems like a perfect opportunity for crowd funding <3 TBH I would love Emperor 2... After playing Emp I could never go back to the other, less refined titles...
 
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bender

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Hopefully they have more success than Two Guys From Andromeda.
 
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Heavy_D206

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The original SWAT games they made back in the day blew my mind. Playing as the swat team raiding drug houses was fun, but being able to play as the terrorists was fucking crazy. I think I remember one mission where you spread propaganda flyers around a college campus lmao
 
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SF Kosmo

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really? What was it? I dunno I understood that it was originally a 2D kinda point and click adventure game?




so it was a reboot? not a remake?
Kind of a soft reboot I guess? It was a new story that slotted into the spaces in between the original games. Neither sequel nor prequel but in the same continuity.
 
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SF Kosmo

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Hopefully they have more success than Two Guys From Andromeda.
I backed their project, I can't believe it's been almost a decade and they still haven't shipped and still haven't cancelled it.

Apparently they shipped a beta but the save system is kind of broken. I didn't back at a level to get the beta though.
 
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ManaByte

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The original SWAT games they made back in the day blew my mind. Playing as the swat team raiding drug houses was fun, but being able to play as the terrorists was fucking crazy. I think I remember one mission where you spread propaganda flyers around a college campus lmao

This reminds me I still need to buy the Police Quest collection. I have the Kings Quest and Space Quest ones.
 

bender

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I backed their project, I can't believe it's been almost a decade and they still haven't shipped and still haven't cancelled it.

Apparently they shipped a beta but the save system is kind of broken. I didn't back at a level to get the beta though.

Me too. It's comical at this point.
 

AJUMP23

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I loved their games. The Williams were some pioneers in the industry it will be good to have them back.
 
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