was started in 1985 by two Sierra On-line employees, Scott Murphy
and Mark Crowe
. Sierra On-Line was a small company in Oakhurst at the time and were known primarily for developing adventure games. After the success of King’s Quest, Murphy and Crowe thought that it would be really great to create a humorous science-fiction adventure game based on the trials of an intergalactic janitor. The games parodied both science fiction properties such as Star Wars and Star Trek, as well as pop-culture phenomena from McDonald's to Microsoft. The series featured a silly sense of humor heavily reliant on puns and wacky storylines. Roger Wilco
, a perpetual loser, is often depicted as the underdog who repeatedly saves the universe (often by accident) - only to be either ignored or punished for violating minor regulations in the process. Scott Murphy comments:
"Sierra was in a mindset where everything was medieval and it was all fairly serious. I wanted to do a game that was more fun. We even liked the idea of 'fun death'! I mean, if the player is gonna die or fail, they should at least get a laugh out of it. So we came up with the idea of making death amusing. Let's face it; most adventure games involve a good deal of frustration for the player. But we felt that if we made failure fun, to an extent, you might have players actually going back and looking for new ways to die, just to see what happens!" Mark Crowe notes:
"We wanted to do two things for the player. One, we wanted him to feel as if he were in a movie, where he could just sort of kick back and enjoy the scenery. We also wanted the player to feel as if he really was the character on the screen."
in the game, you play a cowardly janitor who manages to escape destruction from the evil Sariens because you are asleep at your post. Throughout the game, you must not only save your own hide, but your home planet of Xenon as well. The character was moved around by the arrow keys, and everything else in the game was controlled by use of a text parser. It would set quite a few records in the gaming industry, including the first adventure game to include a real-time puzzle (the acid drops on Kerona) and the first adventure game to include an arcade sequence (the skimmer on Kerona). Space Quest enjoyed critical and financial success, receiving the SPA (Software Publishing Association) Gold Medal. After the success of their first game, Scott and Mark would forever been known as "The Two Guys from Andromeda." Sludge Vohaul
, a villain who was retconned into being behind the entire threat of the Sariens in the first game now steps out of the shadows with an even more diabolical plot to destroy Xenon: an army of cloned insurance salesmen. Published in 1987, it was a widely anticipated game and was a huge seller. The box sported the Two Guys from Andromeda with their new look--red Mohawks and snouts. Space Quest 2 won an award for best documentation.
This game was a landmark in PC gaming. For the first time, it featured mouse support, a full general midi soundtrack, and VGA colors. Released in 1989, it was also Sierra's first product programmed in SCI (that would be Sierra Creative Interpreter). Space Quest III chronicled the adventures of Roger Wilco (with this being the first game where he was actually given a name, as opposed to being namable by the player) as he rushed to save the Two Guys from Andromeda from the evil clutches of their competitors, ScummSoft. It had the most critical acclaim of any Sierra product to that date, including the 1989 SPA Excellence in Software Award, Best Fantasy Role Playing Adventure Program, Best PC VGA Graphics from Game Player's Magazine, Computer Game of the Month, August/September 1989, Game Player's Magazine, and Excellence in Musical Achievement Award, Computer Gaming World.
The fourth game was released in 1991, and later re-released in CD-ROM talkie version in 1992. It was one of the first CD-ROM games on the market and one of the first SVGA ones as well. The game was about Roger's trip through time; specifically, through past and future instalments of the franchise, including travelling back to the original Space Quest, and into the (fictional) future entry Space Quest X: Latex Babes of Estros. The primary focus of the plot, however, is a fictional future game entitled Space Quest XII: Vohaul's Revenge II, in which a computerized copy of the mind of twice-defeated villain Sludge Vohaul takes over the master control computer of Roger's home planet Xenon, and promptly conquers the planet, rendering it a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Gary Owens
provided the voice of the narrator, who added a lot of colour and depth to the scene. With the "talkie" version, players could click around the world and often times the narrator would explain the object or scene. in one such example:
""Now where am I?" You wonder aloud to nonexistent auditory organs. "This place sure looks homey...HEY WAIT! This looks just like Xenon. IT IS XENON! It's...it's...it's really a pile." Along with the changes induced by an armed conflict, the city looks different, more modern, with a heavy dash of post-disaster seasoning. After casually glancing at the status line, you happen to notice that you're in Space Quest XII. What's happened? Who was that guy with the overdeveloped hairdryer? Why did you let yourself get talked into jumping into some strange, shimmering hole? Why are you talking to yourself? These strange and intriguing questions will quickly be forgotten, with barely an electron stirred in that well-armored orb atop your shoulders " -- Narrator, as Roger first appears in SQ12
After the programming was complete, Scott Murphy told an interviewer, "We won't be doing another Space Quest; that's not to say that there won't be another game in the series, it's just that we won't be doing it. Although we have no solid ideas of what type of game we'd like to do next, we've lived with Roger Wilco a long time now, and though we like him a lot, we're ready for a break." Fans across the world were upset at this news, but Mark Crowe, the other Guy from Andromeda, was not about to give up programming games in the Space Quest series.
The game featured high-resolution, colorful graphics and played like a comic book, complete with word bubbles. It was the first of the Space Quest series to be programmed by only one of the Two Guys from Andromeda. The plot was as whimsical and funny as an original Star Trek episode and covered Roger's (accidental) rise to the rank of Captain... of a garbage scow. Though the slapstick sarcasm of Scott Murphy was greatly missed, Space Quest 5 became one of the most loved adventure games of all time. A talkie CD-ROM version was planned, but Sierra never produced it.
This was the first of the series to be released in CD-only format. The graphics and sound made the game look like a cartoon. Roger Wilco returns to his old uniform after being stripped (literally) of his rank and demoted back to janitor. The plot advances as an attempt on his life fails and one of his friends is killed instead. Released in 1995, this would be the last of the Space Quest series, making it unfortunate that the ending deliberately draws attention to the plot threads that have not been resolved, at the time intended as a humourous semi-cliffhanger.
Additional Sequel attempts
Development of Space Quest VII was underway in 1996 when Sierra released The Space Quest Collection, which consisted of Space Quest I through 6 and included a brief trailer of a new game, which consisted of 3D footage of Roger Wilco strapping a giant rocket to his back and using it to push himself forward on roller skates in a scene reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote). Supposedly, the title was going to be "Space Quest VII: The Return to Roman Numerals", referencing the fact that an error had resulted in the previous game being named "Space Quest 6" instead of "Space Quest VI". Little was released regarding story line, although there was speculation that the game would introduce a multiplayer aspect. Scott Murphy said during development that Space Quest VII would contain some 3D elements, but would not require the use of a 3D accelerator card.
Due to poor sales of Grim Fandango, a high-profile adventure game by LucasArts, there was a perception that humorous adventure games were no longer viable, so when Vivendi Games took over Sierra, Space Quest VII was canceled.
Another attempt at creating a new Space Quest was announced on February 7, 2002. It was being developed by Escape Factory for the Microsoft Xbox video game console. Development proceeded for almost a year and a half before the project was cancelled. According to Space Quest 6 designer Josh Mandel, the SQVII designers were forbidden from using story elements from the original Space Quest games or from even playing the games. This is disputable, since other sources claimed the developers had played the games before. Website FYI.com, also claimed that this "gutted" SQVII would not have been an adventure game at all and would have been released only on game console platforms such as the Xbox rather than the PC. Since then the Vivendi's Product Manager Bruce Goodwill, has confirmed that the title was going to be released only on console platforms.
The game was planned as a departure from the main Space Quest series, rumors it starred a new character named "Wilger", although Roger Wilco was playable (as seen in a production video). Though it would have maintained a comedic theme in space, no plan was made to connect it to the original series. It was cancelled around 2003.
- The Space Quest Saga (1993) – This collection contained games I (VGA remake), II, III and IV (floppy disk version).
- The Space Quest 15th Anniversery Collector's Edition (1994) – Released for Sierra's 15th anniversary, this contained games I-V & Roger Wilco's Spaced Out Game Pack, plus a video featuring the Two Guys from Andromeda and a complete history of the game series. It also contained a few foreign language editions of some of the games.
- Roger Wilco Unclogged (1995) – All the above, plus a humorous "Inside Space Quest" video, but without the Two Guys video
- Space Quest Collection Series (1996) – All six games, plus a preview of episode VII.*
- Space Quest Collection (Fall 2006) – Released by Vivendi Universal Games and contains all six games (only the VGA remake of SQ1).
Books & Comics
Two strategy guides were released that contained novelizations of the first five games from Roger Wilco's perspective.
The first of these included The Space Quest Companion by Peter and Jeremy Spear. The book is similar to Peter Spear's The King's Quest Companion and The Official Uncensored Leisure Suit Larry Bedside Companion. The first edition covered the first four games, and the second added the fifth game. It was written from the perspective of Roger Wilco sending journals on disks back into the past, so that his adventures could be made into computer games so that his great grand parents (x-times removed) would have a chance to meet each other and fall in love through their mutual love of the games. Thus by inspiring the game designers to create the games, he insured his own future existence. Each story began with Roger's daydreams and his fantasies of marrying Cornucopia Agricorp and later Beatrice Wankmeister.
The other was The Official Guide To Roger Wilco's Space Adventures by Jill Champion. It is similar to her The Official Book of Police Quest. It came in two editions as well. The book contains two interviews with Roger Wilco (one just after events of SQ4, and the other after SQV). The novels themselves are written as Roger's running monologues during his adventures.
Adventure Comics (a division of Malibu Comics) released three issues in 1992 of a comic based on Space Quest I under the name The Adventures of Roger Wilco. The first was written by John Shaw and was in full colour. The other two were written by Paul O'Connor and were black and white. The print run was very small and the books are very hard to find now.