Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sierra Dynamics

I've purchased a lot of video games over the years, but the company that has gotten the most amount of my hard-earned cash has to be Sierra Entertainment (and their subsidiary Dynamix Inc.).  Going through the complete catalogue of titles by these two companies, I count forty games made by them that I've tried.  A few I played at friends' houses or else borrowed from (or traded with) neighbours to get.  Even then we're looking at about $1000, which accounting for inflation comes out to about double in 2018 dollars.  That's a lot of greenbacks!  Then again, it was a great time to be playing adventure games.

Sierra got started in 1980, but it took them a couple of years (and nearly complete bankruptcy) to hit their stride with the Quest games they've since become famous for; King's Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest and Quest for Glory.  The success of Sierra adventure games earned the company enough capital to acquire Dynamix, another game developer with a talent for making combat sims.  Dynamix has a less extensive repertoire than Sierra, but I think they still made their mark with the Aces trilogy; Aces of the Pacific, Aces over Europe, and Aces of the Deep.  They also made some other interesting games such as Deathtrack, the original Mechwarrior and Betrayal at Krondor.  Sometime around 1994 though Sierra reached its peak and started to go into decline.  They still saw some amazing successes as a publisher with titles like Half-Life and Homeworld, but by the time those two games had come out the company had been purchased by CUC International.  Before the year 2000 rolled around Sierra was little more than a shell corporation and (after trading a few more hands) was scrapped completely in 2008.

When I think of Sierra I tend to imagine their redwood office building nestled in tall pines just south of Yosemite National Park.  I've never seen the place in person, but my understanding is it has become a medical clinic.  For some reason that makes me a little sad.  I almost feel like I should leave some flowers there and reminisce about the good times I had with Roger Wilco, King Graham, Sonny Bonds, and even that loser Larry Laffer.  Regardless, I have to shake my head and laugh every time I hear someone claim adventure gaming is dead.  A variety of small studios are still cranking out a few new ones every year with exoctic sounding names like Techobabylon and Samorost.  I can also sometimes spot core elements of the genre living on in the DNA of certain horror games like Ao Oni and Unavowed.  Hey, you know what tends to happen to dead things in horror stories, right?  Guess what came back from the dead in 2014...

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