Ken and Roberta Williams are co-founders of Sierra Online, the company behind classic computer games like King’s Quest, Space missionand Quest for Glory. Their latest project, Colossal Cave: Recreated by Roberta Williamsis a remake of the definite genre Adventures in the Colossal . Caves by Will Crowther and Don Woods.
“It’s a great game and I’d love to bring it back into the world,” Roberta said in Episode 523 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy audio file. “We wanted people to see that an older game like this could be brought back and brought back beautifully — and in a fun way — for today’s audience.”
The game has modern graphics and sounds, and even support for virtual reality devices like Mission 2, but unchanged from the original text adventure. “We’re trying to stay true to the original,” says Ken. “If you’re doing history, you don’t want to change it. The old game has been around for 50 years. There are probably still more people playing that game each year than playing so many indie games that came out. It’s a good game, for sure, well designed. “
Since selling the Sierra in 1996, Ken and Roberta have spent most of their time traveling the world, a lifestyle that often doesn’t allow running a game studio. But Ken said that modern communication technology has allowed them to operate Colossal Cave from anywhere. “In a way, the pandemic saved the game, because suddenly everyone is using Teams and Slack and all these screen sharing apps, and now working remotely on a project is so much fun. reality,” he said. “What we’re doing in this game couldn’t have been done five years ago.”
Ken and Roberta assembled a team of nearly 30 artists and programmers, most of whom weren’t even born in the beginning. Colossal Cave was released in 1976. “None of them really know what Colossal Cave and we have to educate them,” says Roberta. “And I have to say that as we’ve worked with them on this game, in so many different ways — programmers, animators, artists — they’ve come to respect this game and I’ve come to appreciate it. been told over and over, “I had no idea that this game was so good and interesting, so deep and complex. ‘ And I said, ‘That’s right.’ It’s a really good design. And they’ve given such respect to this game, which is a really good sign. “
Listen to the full interview with Ken and Roberta Williams in Episode 523 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Roberta Williams on The Black Cauldron:
[The Disney executives] into the room, they basically sat down and said, “We decided to change a lot of your game because it didn’t fit our scenario. There are so many places where you let players wander around with nothing happening, and you realize this is a movie, right? You have to follow the script of the movie”. … I went into Ken’s office and said, “I’m not going to play this game with them because they just took my game and they changed the whole thing, and came back — it was almost like a drama, basically. copy for a movie again, and so what’s the point? ” I just said, ‘I’m done. I’m not going to do that.’ And he called them into his office, and he basically said, ‘She won’t do it unless you let her. her alone and let her do it her way” – which means they have to trust me, and they come back to the conference room and say, “OK, you can do it however you want.” And I did.
Ken Williams on success:
There are a lot of people like me who were born to parents who couldn’t send them to a good school, couldn’t afford college because they had to quit their jobs and get married early, but somehow I managed. to go from the bottom of the pile to the top of the pile, and it’s really just a lot of hard work. I don’t consider myself a genius. I was just a good boy and worked hard. Even in this game, I’m in front of the East Coasts and I’m behind the West Coasts. I don’t fart much. I really work hard. And I think almost anyone who is really willing to study and work hard can succeed. And so is Roberta. We are both hard-working and highly focused people.
Ken Williams on Sierra Online:
I want to start a company that my grandchildren will know and that will remain for generations. All decisions at Sierra are based on the long term, not the short term, and that’s why we’ve done so well. But when we sold it, suddenly people looking at it said, “It doesn’t work to have one operation in Portland and one operation in Seattle and one operation in Paris, and there are programmers in Boston. Why don’t we fire all of those people and merge into one location, and also quit developing our own software and just publish it [like] What do others do? “That brought it all down.
Roberta Williams on Farewell Tara:
I hired a professional genealogist in Ireland, then I hired one in New York, and I hired one in Iowa — three places where [my ancestors] was — and I received a lot of information. I kept gathering more and more information, and was doing a lot of research, and I enjoyed doing it, until I amassed three huge, thick notebooks filled with papers and research, and I said to myself, “You know, I should write a book”. Because the story is really interesting. … I wanted to write it like a historical novel, and turn this real-life story into an interesting book. I don’t want to write it just for family members. I wanted to write it in a way that people reading historical fiction can really enjoy it, even if it’s not their family.