Shattered dreams of the return of the past glory

Dreams are a dangerous thing, especially if those dreams revolve around a comeback of something you hold dear. It doesn't matter if you dream of a new part for your favourite movie, or a revival of a TV-series, book, comic what have you. While that return might be applauded by some of the old fans and people new to it, it's also entirely possible that you end up disliking it. I don't want to use the word "hate" as it's such a strong emotion, I prefer dislike in this instance, as it allows more leeway in contrast of what level your disdain was, from mild annoyance to something stronger.

Think of Star Wars or Star Trek for an example. Those both are entities in popular culture psyche, which had tremendous obstacles on their path what comes to the acceptances of new entries. Lucas tried to shed more light on the world he created with the prequels and ended up vilified because of them. Now granted, I'm no fan of the prequels either, but some of the flack he got was toxic, far meaner than it seemed healthy for people to express about a fictional creation. It's okay not to like a movie, but it's hardly okay to make it ones life mission to trash them or their maker in every turn you get. Then Disney bough Star Wars and suddenly new movies were praised again even though some begun to look the prequels in new light shouting "See now... Lucas was the better choice... the house of the mouse has destroyed it."

So fickle is the human mind.


 Star Trek had been on a downward spiral for some time. It had lost its steam and some were hankering back the days of Kirk and Spock. And with the new movies that was what they got, played by different actors and in different alternative universe.  Some hated the new movies, some liked them. In good and in bad, that franchise was revived again.

In the early days of Kickstarter I too begun to dream of revival, but not of movies, of a company. Sierra to be more exact, as it happened that the grand old man of adventure games, Al Lowe jumped in and proposed a remake of Larry 1. Take my money. Then there was the Two Guys from Andromeda, Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe of Space Quest fame, with a new game SpaceVenture. And not forgetting about Jane Jensen of Gabriel Knight fame. Or the Coles, who did Quest for Glory games. Even Jim Walls of Police Quest fame tried, but failed, to get funding for a new game.

It was a goddamn Sierra reunion. Sure, they were all independent pieces, but still, the players were on the board, each tinkering something new. When it comes to adventure games, I've always been a Sierra man first and foremost, so you can probably imagine. A company long since dead was in a way resurrected when the old designers jumped back to the game.

I didn't end up backing Lori and Corey Cole, as I wasn't sold of their vision of a new game. And what I do know of their project, Hero-U, I'm glad I didn't back them, as it seems to be a troubled one. I haven't been that convinced of their current vision either, based on what I've seen of what they've managed to do. (Their first and second KS campagins for Hero-u)

Jim Walls, as I said, didn't make it. He never was a strong designer, but his game were fun because of the whole "stickler for rules" thing. You had to make everything by the book, because that's what being a cop is all about: rules. His pitch however wasn't great and he and his team just didn't see what the problem was, despite a lot of people tried to explain. They concluded that it was a fault in the platform, not in their sales technique, so they tried to create a half assed platform of their own, but no-one was biting. To add insult to injury, most of their updates were written by a doting fan, who had no idea what the game designers were actually doing. It was a good thing they didn't get funded, as it was a disaster in the making.

Larry Reloaded was the first to get through the gates. It wasn't an amazing remake, but a solid one in my opinion. It was trashed by the reviewers, pretty much mauled to the death and accused of being too stuck in the misogyny of the 1980's. And if that wasn't enough, the producer of it, Paul Trowe, managed to cause a terrible mess of his own with his antics, which ended up alienating the fan support he had, driving Al Lowe back to retirement and mad Josh Mandel, who was a co-writer of the remake, to take a long hiatus from game business. It was a mindboggling PR catastrophe, which ended all possible hope of any other future remake of Larry games involving Al Lowe. You can read some of it here.

Jane Jensen was the second to finish her project, which ended up being Moebius, a terrible game in all, narrative, gameplay and tech.  She and her team tried, but it didn't really feel like Jensen's heart was in the project and the team of her doting fans tried to be too clever and too ambitious with the game. Jenesen did a mistake of letting her backers decide what game to make. Surprisingly the fans didn't pick the game with the most elaborate and interesting sounding summary, they chose a game that resembled Gabriel Knight the most, despite it had the weakest synopsis.


As soon as they begun showing Moebius related updates I knew I should have dropped the project. I did end up giving them much less than I originally indented and I was glad that I did, as the Moebius was a disappointment. She did manage to create a remake of Gabriel Knight 1 as well, a bit lukewarm yet fully playable little thing. But after that she stepped away from games and is again pursuing a career in writing novels, including gay romances under a pen name Eli Easton.

Around the same time the Two Guys from Andromeda proposed their new game as well. That one was titled SpaceVenture and showed a lot of promise. Now 5 years later I have hard time telling where that project is at the moment. They have released one playable mini game of it as a separate entity in order to get more funds, but that's about it. I'm not holding my breath for SpaceVenture to come out any time soon. You can call me blind, but I'm not fully writing SpaceVenture off yet. I don't have high hopes and I do think it's more likely to be dead rather than that it will come out. But still, I'm not writing it out yet.

There's an old saying, be careful what you wish for, as you might get it in a form or an another. Return of the Sierra devs was something I hoped to see, but in the end it hasn't been a glorious sight. In the end the best new Sierra rekindling was done a new team called the Odd Gentlemen with their own re visioning of King's Quest. It wasn't a game without problems, but it still was a good one.

So fickle is the human mind.

Not all revivals of the past failed miserably mind you. Big Finish Games did a stellar job with Tesla Effect, a FMV continuation to old Tex Murphy, lead by Chris Jones, the creator of those said games. Shadowgate was a well done re-imagining as well from a designer of the old game. Neither were huge hits, but they both did show that not all old dogs are one leg in the grave. There's others as well, but this rambling was mostly towards Sierra developers. That's the misery I want to wallow in.

As a note, the Poisoned Pawn is a fanremake of Overseer. It's supported by Chris Jones.
 Past glory is a hard thing to recoup. In terms of pure tech, if people have been away for a while, their ideas might be outdated. Some are good at keeping tabs at what is happening, but some might be blind to change and base their assumptions on outdated ideas, like what happened with the Coles. As said, I didn't back their project, but a lot of the problems they encountered was based on their assumption about 3D graphics, which were drawn from their poor experiences during the 90's. 

With Leisure Suit Larry, time had just driven past the style of comedy he presents. To fully work, he should have been fully reinvisioned in order to fit in the modern era. The same happened with Jane Jensen, who couldn't capture the charm of Gabriel Knight again with Malachi Rector, but created an unlikeable asshole instead.

SpaceVenture. Only gods, and the Guys, know what's really going on with that. They got 500k in order to build it 5 years ago. Can that amount really sustain them to the end? And if it does, will the end result end up disappointing?

The old devs that have succeeded the best were those who were willing to take what made their past glory good and mix it up properly on what makes good things now. It's not a surprise that Brian Fargo of former Interplay fame is thriving on the crowdfunding platform, as he's a producer, who takes nostalgia and tries to modernize it, not doing the same old thing again and again. He understood, that while there was good things in the past, the past should govern on what you do today in terms of technology or storytelling.


And that's all for now folks. End rantmission.

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