Roberta and I have enjoyed reading through the postings here. We didn't read them all, so my apologies if I'm repeating some of what has already been said, or am off the subject.
As was pointed out, MOE had a very different flavor from the earlier Kings Quest games. The 'rest of the story' is that it was developed after I left Sierra, and that there were multiple opinions as to what the game should be. When I was running the company, these differences were not an issue, because everyone knew my position on the matter. I always felt that a game is like a book, and that there should only be one author, or one creative vision, for the product, and that the game needs to sink or swim with a single vision. It was Roberta's game, and needed to be her vision. Typically, on a game, there are 100s of people, and most of them are 'wanna be’ game designers. They look for every opportunity to show off their creativity, and prove to the world that they should be the next hot designer. I understand and respect this, but it really just screws up the product. I would argue that if you were to publish a book, with the top 200 authors who ever lived each writing one page, it might have good press value, but would be an unreadable book.
With me gone from Sierra, Roberta's ability to force the project to be her vision, alone, was compromised. It suddenly became a group effort, with lots of smart people each having their own ideas. Sierra hired only the best, so they weren't bad ideas, but they weren't Roberta's ideas. The game became a mish mash of lots of people's good ideas, but clearly not a Roberta game. There was even a period where Sierra wanted to release the game, and Roberta wouldn’t allow her name on it. After a bunch of negotiation, and changes to the product, to mosey it back towards what she designed, it did finally release.
As to the Phoenix game, I think the same rules apply. I have no idea who Phoenix’s designer was on their game. The important thing was that it wasn’t Roberta. I don’t think that the greatest writer in the world could write Steven King better than Steven King. Everyone has a style. The Phoenix people should do what the Phoenix people do, and then people will like it or they won’t, but it should be their vision, and considered by players as the Phoenix vision. Even better, there should be one person at Phoenix, who has a clear vision for the product, and it should be that person’s vision.
Lots of people have done Batman, including Tim Burton. He gave it his flavor, and it was a cool direction. It was very different than what had been done before, and even targeted a different demographic, but was an interesting new direction, that found an audience. I always say that ‘customers vote at the box office’. Phoenix should design their game their way, and people should NOT consider its success attributable to Roberta, whether it sells 10s of millions of copies, or if it bombs. Roberta and I think it is cool that they chose her ‘universe’ to base their world on, but believe that their best chance for success is to not worry too much about Roberta, and instead worry about creating a fun game. Roberta’s vision for the series was ‘Disney and fairy tales.’ However, if Phoenix’s designer wants to go dark directions, and that’s what their vision for the game is, then so be it. Phoenix’s designer will do hers, or his, best work if they do what they do best, and not worry too much about what has gone before.
Ultimately, customers get a vote, and that’s what really counts. If whatever Phoenix builds is cool and fun, it will find an audience, and if it isn’t, it won’t. Obviously, we’d prefer Phoenix does something awesome, and given the constraints under which they’ve developed the game (no budget, fragmented staff, unclear rights to even do the game), they’ve overcome some amazing odds to get something to market. What could these guys do with a real budget, and a full-time commitment? I think they’ve exhibited enormous talent and hope they continue their effort.
As to someone’s comment, that Roberta has passed the Kings Quest torch to Phoenix… That’s kind of a silly notion. Roberta and I don’t own the rights to Kings Quest anymore, and can’t bestow the rights to anyone, or even use them ourselves. Activision has allowed Phoenix to do this game. I have no idea whether or not Phoenix can do future games based around Kings Quest. I think it’s pretty awesome of Activision to have allowed this game, and love anything that keeps the Kings Quest name alive. In my dream scenario, this game would do well enough that Activision will have a renewed interest in doing something with the intellectual property, and perhaps Phoenix could get involved in a well funded game with real market potential. Whether or not that is practical, whether this game will do well, or working together is something Activision or Phoenix would ever consider, I have no idea. I’d just like to see the brand live on…