Save early, save often, and don't overwrite saves.
Sierra Entertainment, Inc., more popularly known under their former name Sierra On-Line, was an early game developer. The company is credited with various milestones in video game history, such as creating the very first "graphic adventure game" (Mystery House, essentially Interactive Fiction with extremely crude lineart drawings), some of the earliest animated games (King's Quest), and implementing beyond PC-Speaker sound into a game (King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella). Sierra also was responsible for introducing the Japanese PC games Thexder, Fire Hawk, Silpheed, Zeliard and Sorcerian to Western audiences. Sierra's milk and honey days were the mid-80s to the mid-90s: this was the era of adventure gaming, when games focused more on testing the player's ingenuity than their reflexes.
Sierra's works are gaming classics and Sierra is now commonly associated with three things:
- Adventure Games, which made up the majority of its line
- Text Parsers, where the player had to write out all commands, from "PICK UP BOWL" to "OPEN DOOR" (Sierra switched to a point and click interface in the 90s.)
Sierra's games are notoriously difficult. Death is everywhere and springs up literally at random, and if you haven't saved your game in a while, too bad, you have to start everything all over. The games are riddled with Unwinnable situations, and since Unwinnable doesn't mean Unplayable, you often didn't realize the game was moot until you had been playing for hours. Or days. Sometimes weeks.
Sierra's infamous Copy Protection was a nuisance; their Guide Dang It moments made you want to scream. Though often their puzzles were well thought-out, equally as often they ventured into Solve the Soup Cans territory. And it bears repeating: death and unwinnable situations are everywhere.
Yet, despite all its... quirks, Sierra produced some of the finest games of the 80s and 90s, and easily some of the best ever Adventure games. Their work featured hand-painted oil painting backgrounds, elaborate music, professional voice actors and composers, memorable (and loveable) characters, amazing worlds, enjoyable stories and creative gameplay. Sierra never took itself too seriously; games were loaded with gags, puns and Easter Eggs. Although deaths were frequent, they were always friendly and most times featured a joke or pun; half the fun of a Sierra game is playing through to find all the unique ways to die.
Sierra fizzled out in the late 90s, with the decline of Adventure gaming. It was bought by Vivendi Universal, who were cool enough to let amateur game makers create fan games of their series until 2009, when it was transferred to Activision. There are currently no plans to restart the adventure gaming department. Sierra, you will be missed.
Compare Lucas Arts, their main rival, whose games were decidedly more forgiving.
Notable Games and Series include:
- Aces series (Aces Over Europe, Aces of the Pacific, Aces of the Deep; developed by Dynamix, published by Sierra)
- The Adventures of Willy Beamish
- The Black Cauldron: Yes, based on the movie.
- Caesar and Emperor (developed by Impressions Games)
- Conquests of Camelot
- Conquests of the Longbow
- Doctor Brain
- Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist
- Gabriel Knight
- Gold Rush
- Half Life
- Codename: ICEMAN
- The Incredible Machine
- King's Quest: The series that spawned other Quest games and launched Sierra into the mainstream
- Laura Bow
- Leisure Suit Larry
- Manhunter series (Manhunter: New York, Manhunter 2: San Fransisco)
- Mixed Up Mother Goose (a rather popular Edutainment Game title, notably ironic since it came from a software house most famous for its Nintendo Hard games that are anything but for kids)
- Mystery House
- Pharaoh and Cleopatra, a game where you create Egyptian cities
- Police Quest
- Quest for Glory
- Red Baron (developed by Dynamix, published by Sierra)
- Space Quest
- Torin's Passage
- Turbo Science
Tropes associated with Sierra's work:
- Action Bar
- Adventure Game
- Copy Protection
- Easter Egg
- Everything Trying to Kill You: We're not kidding, everything can and will kill you!
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink
- Guide Dang It
- Have a Nice Death: Punny comment on your demise! Restore, Restart, Quit?
- Hurricane of Puns
- Iconic Logo: Really how many other companies can you name that use Halfdome as their logo.
- Kleptomaniac Hero
- Last Lousy Point
- Lemony Narrator
- Lost Forever
- The Maze
- Multiple Endings: Featured in many of their later games.
- Nintendo Hard: And then some!
- No Fourth Wall
- Plot Coupon
- Point and Click Game
- Press Start to Game Over: Sierra games loved to kill you on the first screen. And gloat about it.
- Save Scumming
- Schmuck Bait
- Solve the Soup Cans
- Talk to Everyone
- Text Parser
- The Many Deaths of You
- Trial and Error Gameplay: In some circles, this is actually known as "Curse You Sierra."
- Unwinnable: So bad that Sierra has its own section in both of the tropes:
- You Can't Get Ye Flask