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gamescom 2014

[Update] Sierra's New King's Quest Won't Be Point-And-Click, Will Be Adventure

by Mike Futter on Aug 16, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Update: The Odd Gentlemen, the developer working on the new King's Quest game, reached out to clarify an aspect of its still mysterious project.

The game won't be a point-and-click title in the traditional sense, but it will retain King's Quest's adventure roots. Below, you will find our conversation with Activision's MacLean Marshall about reviving Sierra and King's Quest.


Original Story:

One of the more surprising announcements during Gamescom was Activision's revival of the classic Sierra brand. The original Sierra, founded by Ken and Roberta Williams in 1979, was known for the King's Quest, Space Quest, and Police Quest series (among many others). Activision has big plans for the brand that include classic franchises and brand new creations.

We had a chance to speak with Activision's MacLean Marshall about the project and how Activision came to resurrect the Sierra name. "There's one piece of the puzzle, which is that Sierra was a brand that we acquired with Vivendi," Marshall says. "It's been dormant and there wasn't a place for it, and we didn't know what we were going to do with it. Then, over the however many years, everyone's been watching this indie movement. There was that angle, where we had this really nostalgic brand that most gamers to varying degrees by age know. We wanted to find a way to expand our digital portfolio."

When we spoke with Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg about Sierra, he called it a skunkworks project. Marshall provided more detail about the size and scope of the team. "This whole Sierra thing is a passion project for a handful of us at Activision, no more than maybe 15 at any given time," he says.

As for the titles in development, we had the chance to see Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions in action at the show. As for the other announced game, King's Quest, it's still early, but Marshall hints at what to expect from The Odd Gentlemen's project.

"They are doing a contemporary reboot of King's Quest. It's not just an HD port," he says. "But that's not also to say that, maybe King's Quest is or isn't the right one, that's not on the table, too. It could be HD remakes of original Sierra content. It could be contemporary reimaginings of the old Sierra IPs. It could be stuff that's new, kick-***, awesome IP that has nothing to do with the old Sierra brand, but will be a Sierra thing when it launches."

As for how The Odd Gentlemen are approaching the franchise, don't expect that the gameplay will be the same as you remember from the decades old series. "There's not much I can say about King's Quest," Marshall tells us. "All I can say is that I've seen it, and it's not a point-and-click game. But it looks *** awesome."

Activision may consider multiple titles in the same franchise that allow for different takes on the same characters and universes. "Great IP can come from anywhere," Marshall says. "It's really early for us right now, and I don't think anything's off the table. That's exactly the kind of thinking that's behind this. You could have two different kinds of King's Quest game, or a different kind of Geometry Wars game. It really just comes down to the right developer, the right project, the right passion for each of these ideas from their side and from our side. We're really looking at these things, whether it's with The Odd Gentlemen or with Lucid Games or whomever we end up announcing next, we're looking at these as long-term partnerships. I think any cool idea is open for consideration."

Activision is looking at Sierra as a long-term proposition and hopes to woo and cultivate relationships with developers. "It's about finding the right devs, working on the right projects," Marshall says. "I mean, why would someone want to work with Sierra? Sierra is the core of us at Activision and we're all passionate about this. We figure we can help. You can look at one way, in that these guys make games, and we know how to publish games. That's not to say that indies can't self-publish, but maybe they wouldn't be able to do it with this much visibility. We made a big deal revealing Sierra. We made a big deal about revealing Geometry Wars."

As for the future, Sierra is set to grow through the rest of 2014 and into 2015. "We are talking to a handful of indie devs about different projects, and I'm really excited about a lot of them that I can't talk about," Marshall says. "We're planning to announce more before the end of the year and early next year. This is a big deal for us."