Roberta Williams

Sierra On-Line

Posted by Andy Bellatti.
First posted on 25 October 1999. Last updated on 17 July 2010.
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Roberta Williams
Roberta Williams is the most successful and best-known female adventure game designer.

This article is courtesy of Andy Bellatti © 1997.

Roberta Williams is a name that is synonymous with computer graphic adventures. As cofounder of Sierra On-Line, she is considered by many gamers as the single most successful adventure game designer ever lived. Her most celebrated series King's Quest has sold over 7 million copies worldwide. Single-handedly, she has popularized the use of graphics in the design of adventure games.

I can not believe I am interviewing you, Roberta. You have no idea how long I have waited for this moment! Are you aware of what a popular woman you are in the computer game department?

I appreciate the sentiment that I am a popular woman in computer gaming circles. In response to that: I prefer being thought of as a computer game designer rather than a woman computer game designer; I don't put myself into gender mode when designing a game.

Secondly, I believe I used to be more well-known in times past when computer owners were fewer but more knowledgeable about the computer industry than in today's world where there are more computer owners who are less knowledgeable about individual people and/or goings-on within the industry in general. (I'm not crying about this though; in general, I prefer a certain amount of anonymity.)

Back in the early '80s when you were designing "Mystery House", did you ever think that it was the start of a long and successful career?

Not at all. I was just an inspired "creative person." It just seemed like a fun thing to do at the time, and, if my game made any money, then...Hey! much the better!

Since you've been designing games for such a long time, what do you think of the way the PC-game business has developed over the years? Is it more stressing and challenging or have things stayed pretty much the same? Also, it is *much* more competitive these days, right?

Yes, you're right, it is more competitive...a lot more competitive! However, I don't dislike competition. Competition is better for the consumer, and, ironically, it's better for all of us in the computer industry as it challenges us to be better and do better work. Those of us who are up to the challenge will yet remain, and those who are not will find themselves doing something else...and that is how it should be.

Any industry has to be attuned to the consumer and to strive to give them the best product; the computer industry is no different. However, unlike many other industries, the computer industry is more complex and moves very fast. Anybody who wishes to remain in this industry for any length of time needs to be able to move on a dime and to be willing to change and to forge their own way and not to fall into set ways or "me, too" products.

How did the idea for "King's Quest" begin? Had you always wanted to make such a game or was it a spontaneous idea?

I did a game in 1981 called "The Wizard and the Princess." In 1981 it was the number one game (on the Apple II). Later, when I designed the first "King's Quest," I took the same basic idea I had for "The Wizard and the Princess," which was using elements of fairy tales, myths, and legends...but in my own unique way. (As a young girl, I had been extremely into these types of stories, and so, I translated this natural interest into "The Wizard and the Princess" and all of the "King's Quests.")

Let's fast-forward to 1995. You are working on both "King's Quest VII" and "Phantasmagoria". How did you feel, balancing two games in your head at once? Do you feel that is you had handled each game separately they would have been different? Also, what was it like *co-designing* a game? Did you enjoy that experience?

I didn't enjoy working on two major games at once. Even though I feel that both received my undivided attention at all of the most crucial times in their development, it was hard on me personally! I didn't have much free time and my personal life suffered somewhat. Plus, I had some difficulty keeping both games in my head. I also felt intense pressure in their delivery dates and that both needed to be "best-sellers." Especially with "Phantasmagoria" I felt the pressure since it was a radical departure from anything in the industry and from anything I had done before. I don't believe though, that the games themselves would have been any "different" had I only worked on them one at a time since I didn't reduce the time each game received from me; rather, I reduced the amount of time in my personal life! As far as working with "co-designers"; I've done that many times and I enjoy doing so. It is fun to work with extremely creative people and I enjoy watching them bloom as designers. I always hope that they go on to do bigger and better things; although, unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way.

As you are aware, "King's Quest VII" received some negative reviews. Do you pay attention to those reviews or do you take them lightly?

I never take any reviews or opinions of game players lightly. If I did, I would have been gone long ago! I pay very close attention to these opinions. As far as "King's Quest VII" receiving "negative reviews" - I really don't know what you are referring to. Perhaps some people didn't like it as well as others, but overall it has done very well. Some people actually think it was the best. True, it got some negative reviews, but it also received many very positive reviews. Some "veteran" game players perhaps didn't like it quite as well as many of the older-style adventure games, but many of the "newer" game players loved it. Therefore, if you're me, who do you listen to? How do you interpret the opinions?

With "King's Quest VII," I've seen everything from horrible reviews to the most glowing reviews I've ever received. I've heard from many who didn't like it at all to those who felt it was the best game they've ever played. Also, it sold very well, and is still selling! When it comes to interpreting reviews and/or opinions, it's a very delicate business, and even though I do pay attention to these things, I try to remain objective and never let the "bad news" get me down, or the "good news" get me too self-assured.

Once it's all said and done, however, and it comes to the next game, even though I always keep in mind everybody's opinions, it ultimately comes down to my opinion...and what I find enjoyable. I must enjoy the game I'm working on and to ultimately trust my own judgment.

Please explain the origin of the term "Phantasmagoria". Why did you choose that word as the title for your game?

That term came from a reference book on the history of magic and magicians. The term "phantasmagoria" refers to a 17th century "scary" theatrical show in which people would be led into a darkened theatre in which "spirits of the dead" would be revealed. The proprietors of the show would use something called a "magic lantern" which was like a primitive forerunner of a projector. It was basically a lantern in which glass slides were inserted. On these glass slides were painted very detailed pictures of people once alive. Somehow, it was able to project an image of this "person" onto a very translucent, gauzy cloth which was hung across the stage. (In the darkened theatre, the translucent cloth wasn't noticeable.) Then, a brazier, on the stage right behind the cloth, was lit sending up wisps of smoke. The image on the cloth was also projected onto the smoke which gave it a surreal, "floating" appearance. Also, appropriate music and sound effects were added to make this a very scary show. Many people thought that it was real and that there really were spirits of dead people there. Sometimes women would faint. This was called a "phantasmagoria" show. I liked the term - and felt that it was applicable to my "scary" game which featured a story of an old-time magician and had a very Gothic feel to it.

Phantasmagoria, with its dark themes, violence, and sex, is significantly different from the other games you have designed. What made you decide to do something totally different for a change before continuing to produce less controversial gaming titles?

Actually, you've got it wrong. I am known for doing games which are "totally different." Everybody thinks of "King's Quest" when they think of me, but I've also done several murder mysteries: "Mystery House," and the "Laura Bow" mystery series - all of which involved "gruesome" murders and detailed plot twists. And after the success of "King's Quests I and II" - when Sierra desperately wanted me to work on "King's Quest III," I decided to do "Mixed-Up Mother Goose" - which management did not want me to work on. I felt, though, that pre-schoolers deserved a good game too - not just their older brothers, sisters (and parents). I also wrote the biggest adventure game of all time (in 1982, anyway) called "Time Zone," which featured sci-fi type travel though many time periods past and future. I did a product with Disney called "Mickey's Space Adventure" teaching about our solar system and nobody thinks of me as a designer of educational products! Essentially, I've been all over the map...more so than many people think. I personally think it prudent to always be a little that nobody really knows where you're going to head the next time. I believe that's one reason for my longevity in this industry. As for "King's Quest: Mask of Eternity," that's another game which could be considered a bit "controversial." It will be my first all 3-D game in which a whole new technology has been developed. It will be the first real test of any (true) adventure game in 3-D. It will also involve a lot of action elements which have yet to be exploited properly in an adventure game. So, you see...I'm still mastering the art of "change" and surprise!

What were your intentions as far as "Phantasmagoria" goes? To make a game for more mature audiences, to make a game for novice players, to be a pioneer with Full-Motion-Video...? What age group did you try to appeal to when designing Phantasmagoria? Did you specifically design the game to have widespread appeal among both males and females?

Yes on all three counts. The age group I was aiming for was 16/17 and up. And yes on the last question, but not for the express purpose of "appealing to both males and females," but to develop a good story and game which all mature people could enjoy regardless of gender.

There are scattered rumors that "Phantasmagoria" was originally supposed to be a 12-CD game, but that it was cut down to please a wider audience. Is this at all true? If so, could you tell me some of the things that were cut from the game? While discussing this, I remember you once mentioning that you would have liked more scenes in the game that showed Adrienne and Don as a normal, happy couple. Were such scenes ever filmed? Were they even in the script? If so, what sorts of happy occasions were these?

No, it was not ever intended to be a 12-CD game; in fact, it wasn't even supposed to be a 7-CD game! Actually, it was not supposed to be more than 4 or 5 CDs and eventually grew to 7. As far as game play is concerned, nothing was cut. The only parts that were cut were in some of the "movie scenes" where we sometimes did aggressive editing, but nothing of any import; anything important stayed in the game.

You are right that I would have liked to have shown more scenes of Adrienne and Don as a "normal" couple, so that when Don begins to "change," the contrast is more evident. From a "story" standpoint that approach is better, but from a "gameplay" standpoint that's not better. Since Phantasmagoria was a game, the "gameplay" standpoint won...which is as it should be.

And no, it was never really scripted to be more than it was, even though, it was discussed. Everybody's opinion, though, (including mine) was that the game was better served by quickly getting to the point and not lingering too much on Adrienne and Don's "loving relationship."

How big was the "Phantasmagoria" script and how much of it was actually used in the game?

The completed script was about 550 pages. All of it was used in the game...and then some. (We actually did quite a few scenes while we had the various shots set up - or - when it became apparent that an extra scene here or there would enhance the game and/or story.)

Did you actually sit through all the auditions (or watched the audition tapes) to find the right actors or was someone else in charge of this matter? If you were in charge, could you briefly tell us what it was you were looking for in Adrienne Delaney and Donald Gordon? Did any real life personalities provide you with some of the inspiration to create these and other "Phantasmagoria" characters? Do any of *your* characteristics show up in any "Phantasmagoria" character?

I did not sit through the auditions. However, I watched all of the audition tapes. I personally had a hand in picking all of the actors along with my producer, Mark Seibert. Ironically, the only actor I did not have a hand in choosing was Victoria Morsell who played the role of Adrienne. The reason for that is because I never saw the "perfect" actress for the role of Adrienne, and while I was subsequently on vacation, Mark Seibert saw Victoria audition and immediately chose her for the role. I learned about her hiring after I got back from vacation. Mark said to me, "Trust me, she's perfect for the role." Even though, I trusted Mark implicitly, I admit I was somewhat nervous, but the minute I met her I knew he had been right; she was a perfect Adrienne.

As far as looking for actors to fill a role, you can try to define who they are, and what they may look like, but that's somewhat limiting. Rather than actually trying to define what they may look like, you instead think of their general age, gender, attractiveness, and personality...but, you don't tie yourself down too much. Rather, it's better to keep your mind open when auditioning actors for roles. Many times, someone who you wouldn't have considered when writing a script is really perfect, or a certain actor will just have that "certain something" which you could never script in. Therefore, it's difficult to answer what it was that I was looking for in Adrienne and Don except in very general, obvious ways. I can't really think of any definite "real-life" personalities which provided the inspiration for any of the Phantasmagoria characters. The closest would probably be myself for the character of Adrienne...but not purposefully. I think it just kind of naturally worked out that way.

As far as plot goes, did you always have the notion that you wanted to use a female protagonist, a big mansion, demonic forces, etcor did you...have other ideas before sticking to the one used in the game?

I came up with several different story treatments for a horror adventure game. The idea which had the most appeal was one concerning the idea of an "old-time" magician and a young woman as the protagonist. The choice of a female protagonist was not a deliberate ploy to garner female computer game players. Rather, the story we wished to tell felt better with a female protagonist. In fact, in all my games, I choose a protagonist which best fits the story I want to tell. Sometimes that would be a man, sometimes a woman, sometimes a child...whatever. In developing the story from the embryonic idea of an "old-time" magician and a young woman protagonist, we went through many different ideas. However, almost from the start, we knew that a spooky mansion would be part of it. I know that you would love to hear all of the ideas we went through before finally settling on what eventually became "Phantasmagoria," but they are really too many to tell in this brief arena.

Can you tell us some funny anecdotes which happened during the shooting of "Phantas"?

The man who played Carno doing a song and dance routine for us in the studio while wearing his "severely burned Carno" costume and make-up. Slicing open Adrienne's "head" (with the pendulum blade), patching up the "head" again, then destroying it another way, then patching it up yet again and destroying it in yet another way! Overall, that poor "head" was in pretty bad condition at the end (we only had one likeness of Victoria Morsell's head and discovered that we needed to destroy it in various ways that we hadn't expected)! Mixing up the "green glop" which Harriet pukes all over the table was both frustrating and funny. We could never seem to get it quite right - and worked on "cooking up" goop all day until we finally hit upon the right consistency. Then, when she finally had to "puke," we could barely keep from laughing in the studio because it looked so funny and she had to do it repeatedly to get the shot right.

David Homb (who played Don) was a very funny guy and kept us in stitches many times though his various antics. The man who played Cyrus had to spend the whole day chopping real logs with a real ax. By the end of the day, his arms hurt and he jokingly claimed he hadn't done so much exercise in one day. In fact, by the end of the day he was pretty darned good at woodchopping!

The lady who played Harriet had to work all day with her head a bloody mess on the day we filmed her lying on the ground scalped.

The final "chase" (chapter 7) took a week to film. Unfortunately, we had only one "acid-face" prosthesis for David Homb (Don) to wear. By the end of the week, we were essentially holding it in place with the proverbial wire and bailing wax.

We joked a lot about the clothes which Adrienne probably had in her closet (if we had allowed the player to open her closet and go through her clothes); her many orange shirts and black pants! Any many more...

One puzzling aspect of the Carnovasch mansion's interior is the deep hole that blocks easy access to the summoning chamber. That hole is there even before the earthquake in chapter 7. How was that hole created?

A natural weak spot in the stairway that finally gave way? (Actually, an obstacle to keep you from immediately making your way to the "summoning" chamber.)

There has been debate on the value of Full Motion Video in computer games. Many people allege that it decreases the chances for interactivity to intolerable extents. On the other hand, it is widely accepted that, to do horror, you need to "feel" for the main character(s)...they need to seem real. Without that, horror is simply not effective. Do you believe an acceptable compromise can be reached in which the horror aspect is not sacrificed in the interests of greater amounts of gameplay? If so, how?

Yes I do, and it's called "Phantasmagoria." I don't mean this in a trite manner, either. I do believe that a proper horror game cannot be done without real people (or actors) involved for the reasons you stated above. Yet I do believe that most computer game designers who become involved with "Full Motion Video" games become enamored of the "movie aspects" of their game and lose sight of the fact that it's a game and not a movie. I believe - and the reviews and popularity of "Phantas" bear me out - that I was able to keep my objectivity and to always stress the "game play" aspects of this project even when it interfered with the "movie-like" aspects of the project...many times at the express disapproval of Phantad's "director" and/or "actors."

Whereas many designers of "interactive movies" approach these games from a "movie/script" standpoint, I have obviously designed many adventure games and approached this game from an adventure game bias...and was very diligent about keeping it that way.

There seems to be a powerful body of gamer opinion that you should return to designing horror games and begin work on Phantasmagoria 3. How do you feel about this? If you are willing to consider designing a new Phantas game, do you believe it best to continue the Adrienne story or begin a new one? Would you be more inclined to do gothic type or psychological horror? If not PH3. what would come after KQ:MOE? Perhaps a break, like the one Ken is currently taking?

I have been asked to do Phantas 3 for Sierra as my next game. I told Sierra I would think about it. Before I would even consider tackling a major project like that, though - and devoting a couple of years of my life to it - I would need a huge outpouring from all of those gamers out there that they would truly love to have another "Phantas" to play. If there is a big enough groundswell of support for another Phantasmagoria - and if Sierra hears it and begs me enough...I might consider it.

Have you read much about the reaction of Phantasmagoria players (not necessarily reviewers) to your game on the Internet? There are various Websites, Web pages, and message board postings related to your creation. Are you pleased with the reaction your game has received and how people are still talking about it in a positive way as much as two years after it's release?

Actually, I haven't read as much Internet reaction about Phantas as you might think. I've been very involved with "King's Quest: Mask of Eternity" and have not focused much on "Phantasmagoria" lately. I can say, though, that I loved working on "Phantas" and consider it one of my best games. If people still love it and are still talking about it that fact pleases me more than you can imagine.

"Phantasmagoria" was one of the few computer games which had *very* mixed reviews. Comments ranged from: "It's Myst with actors pasted on it" to "Brilliant! Superb story-telling, etc" What do you have to say to those who greatly disliked PH1, calling it a gore-fest with no gameplay?

First of all, I'm not sure that saying "It's "Myst" with actors pasted on it" is bad. Actually, I take that as a compliment considering the popularity of "Myst." As I stated before, I do listen to reviews and opinions of players, but many times you hear very opposing and contrasting opinions. The best you can do is to look at the overall sales of the product, look at the letters and various comments you get, and then try to extrapolate from there what's really going on.

My assumption with "Phantasmagoria" is that it appealed much more to novice game players, new computer owners, people who don't usually play computer games, and people who enjoy exploring an interesting story. Veteran computer game players and people who prefer action-oriented games didn't like it as well, and that's fine. It wasn't designed for people who like action games or who wanted a difficult game or a real brain teaser-like game with lots and lots of options for interactivity.

Just as I explained above that I once designed Mixed up Mother Goose in order to give pre-schoolers a good game to play (as opposed to products which "teach" them something - as most pre-school computer "games" do), I thought that I would design a game for people who wouldn't necessarily play a computer game because they are too daunting or intimidating for them. Why not? Don't they deserve a game too? That was my way of looking at it. Therefore, I wasn't surprised when so-called "veteran" game players didn't always like or appreciate "Phantasmagoria"; they have plenty of games already to choose from. However, with my next game, "King's Quest: Mask of Eternity," I'm thinking of them...Now it's their turn. "Mask" will be plenty interactive.

The opening scene in chapter four where Adrienne is sexually assaulted by her possessed husband after an initially amorous encounter shocked many people. In Australia, the game was banned to everyone because of that scene. In the US, several retail chains refused to carry the game and some reviewers accused Phantasmagoria of "making a game of sexual violence". In what ways is that scene essential for furthering the plot and character development within Phantasmagoria? Did you intend it to be a counterpoint to the love making in the game's Introduction?

That scene is very essential to the plot. I knew it would be controversial and could have taken it out at any time. I kept it in because it was the pivotal point in the plot where Adrienne suddenly realizes that something is terribly wrong with Don. Up to that point, she knows that Don isn't "feeling well" - but she attributes that to the bump on his head or to stress from moving or with his work. We know that he's possessed by some sort of demon, but she doesn't. This is the way I wanted to let Adrienne know that something is very wrong with Don, and that he's capable of hurting her. I wanted her to start being afraid of him and to abruptly kick her out of her comfortable world and into a world of horror. That scene does that. Without that scene, the rest of the story would make no sense. And yes, it was a sort of counterpoint to the lovemaking at the beginning of the game where Don is "normal" and we see that he loves her and is really a gentle person.

What were the main things you learned while working on "Phantasmagoria"?

I learned about writing a truly interactive "script" as opposed to a technical "game design" document. I learned what's like to work with actors, a director, make-up people, costuming, working in a studio, etc. I learned many techniques for "blue screen" effects. I learned about camera angles, cuts, zooms, pans, etc. I learned about working with Silicon Graphics computers and highly detailed rendered scenes and animations. I learned the techniques of combining adventure game concepts with movie/script/story concepts. The best part for me, though, was the chance to more fully develop a story than I usually get to do with traditional adventure games. The reason: because most veteran game players want lots of puzzles to solve, lots of interactivity (which naturally reduces story elements), multiple solutions, multiple paths, real-time action or characters, etc. Those kind of things are great, but they are not necessarily great for story development or for people who are not necessarily great at playing computer games, or who just want to "relax" and explore a story as opposed to playing a relatively complex "game" game.

What role did "Fresno Flats Historical Society" play in the Phantasmagoria design process? What other historical research was undertaken in preparation for the game?

Fresno Flats Historical Society played no role in the design process. The reason they were part of the credits is that we borrowed several objects from a museum they operate for props. As far as historical research, I'm a research nut and did about 6 months of research before actually sitting down to write the game design.

Why does Adrienne wear the same clothes for seven days and why does she wear an *orange* shirt? Believe it or not, these are common questions people have asked, and I just want to have this answered once and for all so I no longer get asked this type of question. I am sure the reason is due to production and continuity, correct?

The reason she wears the same clothes for several days is because this is an adventure game rather than a movie. In a movie, the scriptwriter can control the action, the days, wardrobe, etc. In an adventure game, the player is much more in control than the scriptwriter. Therefore, the player can have Adrienne do whatever he or she wants (to a great extent) throughout the game.

Therefore, I, as the scriptwriter, have no idea when the player may want Adrienne to enter the carriage house and look into one of the stalls, for instance, or go into the antiques store and ask Lou about buying the crucifix. She can do things like this in various chapters of the game. There are many instances where the player can decide when to have Adrienne "do" something and I, as the script writer, couldn't possibly know when the player would make these decisions. As the designer of the game, I have two ways of going about the problem of "costume changes."

I could put a tighter reign on gameplay (read, interactivity) and not allow much decision on the part of the player to have Adrienne "do" things, thereby allowing many more costume changes on the part of Adrienne; or I could allow more decision-making on the part of the player in regards to Adrienne, but not allow any costume changes. Therefore, we can shoot many more things for Adrienne to do, but in order not to become a nightmare of shooting many different scenes in all kinds of costume changes, we hope that the player will understand the tradeoff: less costume changes, but more control of Adrienne's actions on the part of the player.

As far as the "orange" color of her shirt: since most scenes of the game were shot against a blue screen, Adrienne (or any of the other characters) could never wear anything blue, purple, or grey - or any shades of green which were close to the color blue. The color orange showed up the best against the blue screen.

Some of the inspiration for your ideas for Phantasmagoria came from existing horror fiction such as "The Shining". Did you strive to exceed the quality of these works? If so, what improvements does Phantasmagoria make over the traditional horror storylines?

I could never hope to exceed the quality of stories such as "The Shining," or any other classic horror story by preeminent horror writers. I could never claim to make an improvement over traditional horror storylines. However, the edge that a game like "Phantasmagoria" has compared to traditional horror stories in that it's interactive. The player is the protagonist. The player has control over the story and is free to roam and explore the story's world when and where he or she wishes. The combining of the adventure game concept and traditional storylines can be a powerful combination.

Have you played PH2? If so, what did you think of it?

Yes, and I thought it was pretty good. My husband Ken and I played it over a few nights at home after work. We rather enjoyed it.

Lorelei Shannon has mentioned that you taught her a lot about pacing and timing within computer games. She says that you have an incredible feel for the flow of a game. Please provide some examples of how you used these skills in Phantasmagoria.

That's a difficult answer in that I could probably write a whole "how-to" book on the subject. Basically, I've written many adventure games, more than anyone else in the computer biz. During all those years I've learned a lot. I've learned what seems to work and what doesn't. I've learned to understand the audience for each game. Each game is different and has a different audience. You have to have an understanding of "who" you are writing a game for ...and then write that game for "them." The flow of the game will follow the storyline, the puzzles, the characters, but more importantly for "who" you are writing the game for. If it's for beginners, the flow will be different than if it's for veterans. The basic idea, though, is to understand how to integrate a story into an interactive "game" format. I think that's partly intuitive talent, and partly a learned skill.

This is the last question (that should cheer you up!) :-) I agree with you when you say that whenever a new "King's Quest" is about to come out, people throw their hands up in the air and say it won't be the same. Why do you think there is such concern with "MOE" and what new things can we expect from the latest "KQ" title that we have not seen before?

"King's Quest: Mask of Eternity" is the newest of the King's Quests due late summer of 1998. I am very proud of this game. "Mask" will be my first true 3-D game. This will be one of the first all 3-D adventure games, and if there is any "concern," it would probably be with the action element which has been added to "King's Quest."

The reasons action elements were added to "King's Quest": being a true 3-D game there is so much more exploration to be done than with traditional 2-D adventure games and so we determined that to make the game more real-time and have so much more to do and find, we added lots more physical (but not "arcade-like") puzzles and real-time characters which you can deal with in various ways.

Many of these characters require combat - but the story has been written in such a way as it's obvious why you're fighting them and that it's part of the story and part of the way Connor (our newest protagonist) becomes a true hero and saves Daventry and the world from the most evil character of all ...Lucreto. Believe me, it's possible to have action and story and puzzles - both physical and mental.

The other possible "concern" with "Mask of Eternity" might be the introduction of a new character. Connor is our newest character. He lives in the Kingdom of Daventry and considers his ruler to be King Graham. King Graham makes a cameo appearance, but essentially the story is about Connor and his rise to hero-status and the saving of Daventry and the entire world from the evil machinations of Lucreto. Hey guys! It's time to infuse new blood into this series! So what, if there's a new character. He's a great character. You'll like him. He's very polite and gracious to the many good characters of "Mask." He's only aggressive with very bad characters. What's wrong with adding some action elements to a story? Think about the many movies with action elements: Indiana Jones, Braveheart, Star Wars. Why can't an adventure game have action elements - and still be an adventure game and still have a great story?

Anyway, it's a great game. You'll be able to explore like never before. It's a beautiful game - in true, real-time 3-D rather than pre-rendered scenes. The feeling you get from a game and story when things are really happening at any time and coming from any direction is much more incredible and immersive than the old 2-D way of playing an adventure game. Trust me on this.

Look for "King's Quest: Mask of Eternity" summer of 1998.

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