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socrates63

[Book] First Impressions -- The Sierra Adventure

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A few weeks ago, a local gamer made a pick-up post on Facebook, and he showed this book. He backed it on Kickstarter. I asked him where I could get a copy and promptly ordered it. The book arrived today. I haven't read it yet, and these are just first impressions of the physical book.

First, I did a double-take because I thought it was a literary book when I first glanced at the cover. I thought I ordered the wrong book and double checked the receipt. It had been a few weeks since I ordered it, and I forgot what the book looked like. The cover design is very uninspiring and dry which is in stark contrast to the Kickstarter campaign and the website for the book that prominently feature the colorful graphics of the company's games. Second, this is a thick book -- a 9" x 6" book packing around 350 pages. Third, there are no photos or illustrations, not a single one. I know this book is about the history of the company, but I still expected to see photos of the people involved in the narrative and the company buildings/offices and illustrations/screen captures of the many Sierra games. Had I known before I ordered the hardcover that it was text only, I would have ordered the ebook edition and saved some money.

Yes, my first impressions are a bit of a downer, but I won't let that dampen my initial enthusiasm that spurred the purchase. I got the book to learn about the behind the scenes of a video game company that was a prominent part of my video gaming experience during my younger days. I hope the narrative will make up for what's missing graphically, an irony given that Sierra On-line made a splash in the industry by making graphic adventures during a time when text adventures ruled.

I hope additional stories are written about the video game companies that played prominent roles during the 80s and 90s. I recently found a link to Polygon's article about Electronic Arts and Trip Hawkins and read with great interest. I had always wondered what had happened to that promising innovative company 🟥🔴🔺 which produced unique and wonderful games like M.U.L.E, Archon, and Seven Cities of Gold (my three favorite EA games). I'd love to learn about Infocom, Synapse, Br0derbund, Epyx, and Strategic Simulations Inc. among others.

Perhaps the stories are already out there, and I just don't know about them. If you have links, please share them.

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Edited by socrates63

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My main concern with a book like this is that they can end up being a hatchet job on particular individuals.  I'd love to read about the games, the designers, how they came up with ideas, the challenges they faced, etc.  Instead, we mostly get gossipy stories about Darryl Gates' relationship with Ken Williams.  Hopefully, the book you purchased is the former, and not the latter.

It's a bummer there's no pictures.  I agree with you, that would really enhance what they have to offer.  But there's probably permission and copyright issues to deal with. 

I appreciate your post.  I was just thinking yesterday about how the early PC doesn't get the "retro-love" that game consoles do.  Many of us went from an 8-bit computer straight to the PC for games, skipping that 4th gen of console gaming completely.  The Sierra games were a big part of that.  Others, like Wing Commander series, X-Wing (and other Lucasfilm games), Apogee, DOOM, Quake, etc, etc etc were all groundbreaking and deserve attention.

 

 

Edited by RickR

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9 minutes ago, RickR said:

My main concern with a book like this is that they can end up being a hatchet job on particular individuals.  I'd love to read about the games, the designers, how they came up with ideas, the challenges they faced, etc.  Instead, we mostly get gossipy stories about Darryl Gates' relationship with Ken Williams.  Hopefully, the book you purchased is the former, and not the latter.

It's a bummer there's no pictures.  I agree with you, that would really enhance what they have to offer.  But there's probably permission and copyright issues to deal with. 

I appreciate your post.  I was just thinking yesterday about how the early PC doesn't get the "retro-love" that game consoles do...

Totally — I hope this isn’t just gossip and hearsay and development retrospectives are always entertaining and insightful. I found out this morning that Ken Williams is also publishing his own Sierra behind the scenes book. It’ll be interesting to compare the narratives. 
 

As far as retro PC gaming goes, I purchased books by Bitmap Books in UK — one on CRPGs and another on adventure games. I also got their Atari book.

Edited by socrates63

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