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Sierra Entertainment

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Sierra Entertainment was a computer game developer and publisher active from 1980 to 2004. The name survives as a brand of Vivendi Universal.

Contents

History

Sierra started modestly as On-Line Systems in 1980, with founders Ken and Roberta Williams programming games and managing the company from their own home. Their first game was Mystery House, the world's first graphic adventure game.

In 1982 the company changed its name to Sierra On-Line and moved to Oakhurst, California.

In 1984, Sierra developed King's Quest, initially published by IBM, to show off the advanced technology of the IBM PCjr. The success of that game (subsequently ported to other platforms) set forth one of the most popular series Sierra has ever created, and spurred them into creating numerous adventure game series based on the Quest theme. In the years to come Sierra would remain on the forefront of groundbreaking computer game design, sometimes creating large blockbusters and other times, failed experiments.

Starting in 1990, Sierra began acquiring other companies, including Dynamix (1990), Bright Star Technologies (1992), Coktel Vision (1993) and Impressions Games (1995). Further acquisitions included Green Thumb Software (1995), Arion Software (1995), Papyrus Design Group (1995), Berkeley Systems (1997), Books That Work (1997), PyroTechnix (1997) and Headgate (1997). Sierra also acquired the rights to use Print Artist, a computer publishing program which allowed users to make high quality picture prints, in 1995.

In 1991 Sierra started an online service called The Sierra Network. Pre-WWW, it was comparable to services like CompuServe or Prodigy except that its interface was completely graphical. Thematically, it was a cross between a kingdom and a theme park in which users could visit different "lands" to post on message boards, exchange emails and play games. It was renamed ImagiNation Network and sold in 1994 to AT&T, who sold it to AOL in 1996.

In 1994, Sierra moved its headquarters to Bellevue, Washington to attract more talent.

In July 1996, the company was sold to CUC International; Ken Williams left Sierra one year later. In December 1997, CUC merged with HFS Incorporated to form Cendant Software. Following Cendant's disclosure of accounting "irregularities" (which exceeded USD$300 million) in April 1998, Sierra was sold again to French publisher Havas, who in turn were acquired by French giant Vivendi.

In 1998, the company was reoganized into five distinct groups:

  1. Sierra Attractions--this division would develop such series as "Hoyle", "You Don't Know Jack" and others.
  2. Sierra Home-- This division would publish consumer friendly home improvement programs such as "Print Artist", "Hallmark Card Studios", "MasterCook series", etc.
  3. Sierra Sports--This division would function to publish sports entertainment series developed by Papyrus Design Group and other studios.
  4. Sierra Studios--This division developed the "big" games such as "King's Quest" and also would be used to publish Sierra's games. The division's main offices were in Bellevue and development groups at Impressions Software and PyroTechnix. It would also be the publisher of independent developers.
  5. Dynamix, a Sierra Company-- The same company which was purchased in 1990 specialized in developing 3D combat simulation games such as "Red Baron", "Starsiege" and "Pro Pilot", flight simulator game series.

Sierra's location in Oakhurst was renamed Yosemite Entertainment in 1998.

On February 22, 1999, a decision within Sierra resulted in the shutdown of many Sierra development studios. Most shocking was the closing of Yosemite Entertainment. This day would later come to be known by Sierra fans as "Black Monday." The shutdown came with Sierra's announcement of a major reorganization of the company. Other development groups within Sierra such as PyroTechnix, Books That Work Inc., and Synergistic were shut down that fateful day. About 135 people were laid off because of these changes.

Another reorganization of divisions within Sierra came in 1999, this time to "Core Games" (Sierra Studios), Sierra Sports (Sierra Attractions), and Casual Entertainment (Sierra Home). 105 more employees were laid off as a result. Around this time, Sierra also changed from being a major developer of computer games to being a major publisher of games (for independent companies).

The company was renamed Sierra Entertainment in 2002.

In June 2004, Vivendi reorganized the Vivendi Universal games group, distributing Sierra's work to other units and finally shutting down Sierra's Bellevue location in August. The Sierra brand lives on in name only.

An independent group known as AGD Interactive have also remade and updated several of Sierra's classic Adventure Games from the 80's and 90's.

Companies under the Sierra umbrella

Fully-owned subsidiaries of Sierra

Companies for which Sierra publishes

Sierra's games

Adventure games

  • King's Quest series
    1. King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown (1984, produced in 1983, re-released in 1987, improved version 1989)
    2. King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne (1985)
    3. King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human (1986)
    4. King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella (1988)
    5. King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! (1990, CD-ROM version 1991)
    6. King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow (1992, CD-ROM version 1993)
    7. King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride (1994)
    8. King's Quest VIII: The Mask of Eternity (1998)
  • Space Quest series
    1. Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter (1986, improved version 1990)
    2. Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge (1987)
    3. Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon (1989)
    4. Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers (1991)
    5. Space Quest V: Roger Wilco in the Next Mutation (1993)
    6. Space Quest VI: The Spinal Frontier (1995)
  • Leisure Suit Larry series
    1. Softporn Adventure (1981, precursor to Leisure Suit Larry)
    2. Leisure Suit Larry In the Land of the Lounge Lizards / Leisure Suit Larry 1 (1987, improved version in 1991)
    3. Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (In Several Wrong Places) / Leisure Suit Larry 2 (1988)
    4. Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals (1989)
    5. Leisure Suit Larry 4 (unwritten, unreleased - number skipped as a gag)
    6. Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work (1991)
    7. Laffer Utilities (1992)
    8. Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! (1993)
    9. Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail (1995)
    10. Leisure Suit Larry's Casino (1998)
    11. Leisure Suit Larry 8: Lust in Space (unreleased)
    12. Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (2004), not by Al Lowe
  • Police Quest series
    1. Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel (1987, improved version in 1991)
    2. Police Quest II: The Vengeance (1988)
    3. Police Quest III: The Kindred (1990)
    4. Police Quest IV: Open Season (1993)
  • Manhunter series
    1. Manhunter: New York (1988)
    2. Manhunter 2: San Francisco (1989)
  • Laura Bow series
    1. The Colonel's Bequest (1989)
    2. Laura Bow II: The Dagger of Amon Ra (1991)
  • Conquests series
    1. Conquests of Camelot: King Arthur, The Search for the Grail (1989)
    2. Conquests of the Longbow: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1992)
  • Quest for Glory series (formerly Hero's Quest)
    1. Quest for Glory I (a.k.a. Hero's Quest I): So You Want to be a Hero (1989, enhanced version in 1991)
    2. Quest for Glory II (a.k.a. Hero's Quest II): Trial by Fire (1990)
    3. Quest for Glory III: Wages of War (1992)
    4. Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness (1994)
    5. Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire (1998)
  • EcoQuest series
    1. EcoQuest: The Search for Cetus (1991)
    2. EcoQuest 2: Lost Secret of the Rainforest (1993)
  • Gabriel Knight series
    1. Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers (1993)
    2. Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within (1995)
    3. Gabriel Knight: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned (1999)
  • Phantasmagoria series
    1. Phantasmagoria (1995)
    2. Phantasmagoria II: A Puzzle of Flesh (1996)
  • Shivers series
    1. Shivers (1996)
    2. Shivers II: Harvest of Souls (1997)

Other notable games

External links

  • Sierra's official website (http://www.sierra.com/)
  • Vivendi Universal Games (http://www.vugames.com/) - official site of the current owners of Sierra
  • Al Lowe's Humor Site (http://www.allowe.com/) - official website of Al Lowe, the creator of Leisure Suit Larry
  • Evryware (http://www.evryware.com/) - official site of Evryware, the design team which created the Manhunter series and Sierra Championship Boxing
  • AGD Interactive (http://www.agdinteractive.com) - a group dedicated to remaking and updating Sierra's classic Adventure Games from the 80's and 90's
  • Sierra Gamers (http://www.sierragamers.com/) - fan site maintained by Ken Williams, founder of Sierra
  • Vintage Sierra (http://www.vintage-sierra.com/) - fan site
  • Sierra Planet (http://www.sierraplanet.com/) - fan site, containing archives of various Sierra-related websites
  • Fanventures (http://www.fanventures.com) - A fansite for the fans. Mainly concentrating on fangames, it is also a place for fans to share their own creations.
  • Online Sierra (http://www.geocities.com/onlinesierra) - fan site
  • Quest Studios (http://www.queststudios.com/) - fan site, mainly containing MIDI music (and some MP3/OGG soundtracks too) recorded from Sierra games, as well as other Sierra-related materials
  • Sierra Music Central (http://www.sierramusic.tk/) - fan site, containing MP3/OGG soundtracks recorded from Sierra games
  • Sierra Classics (http://sierraclassics.cjb.net/) - abandonware site containing many Sierra games
  • Sierra Game Patches (http://geocities.com/belzorash/) - patches for the classic games so that they work on modern computers! Use with DosBox for best results
  • DoxBos (http://dosbox.sourceforge.net/news.php?show_news=1) - the aforementioned DoxBoxfr:Sierra Entertainment

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