King's Quest: The Silver Lining
Contest Prizes Arrived

chessboard_land_guillotine_by_thesilverlining-d33v0gm
I should have wrote about this a long time ago, but I'm majorly backlogged.

This year, an independent group of volunteer developers under the banner of Phoenix Online Studios finally released their King's Quest fan-made sequel, King's Quest: The Silver Lining. This project has been in development on-and-off for about a decade so it is wonderful to finally see a finished product. Unlike some of the other King's Quest fan projects, this is the first one to use a fairly modern (3D) game engine. I was skeptical at how well this would work, but to my surprise and delight, they made it work very well.


Legal Woes

The project made some news recently because the publisher that owns the rights to King's Quest shutdown The Silver Lining on the eve of their release. The story is actually convoluted since the project has taken so long and the ownership of the King's Quest franchise has been acquired at least twice in this period so prior permission did not necessarily survive the acquisition. Fortunately, old Sierra fans got very angry and let Activision (the current copyright holder) know of their displeasure and Activision relented. Phoenix Online Studios was able to release their project.


Episodic Release

King's Quest: The Silver Lining is actually being released in 6 parts. Parts 1 and 2 have already been released. They seem to want to release on roughly a 3 month cycle. This gives them the time to make last minute changes and incorporate user feedback. 

I think this design worked very well for them. In my opinion, Part 1 had too many cinematics and dialog and not enough game play. It was also way too short. Many fans agreed and Phoenix Online Studios took the feedback to heart and Part 2 was excellent. Part 2 had a much better sense of balance in just about all respects.


The Contests

When Part 2 was released, Phoenix Online Studios ran two contests. 

Contest 1: Got Suffer?

The first contest was to find an Easter Egg hidden in the game. The first 10 people to find it would receive a special prize, later to be revealed as a Silver Lining mouse pad. This contest was not hard enough so people found this Easter Egg within the first day of the contest. Phoenix Online Studios decided to double the number of winners to 20. 

By some cosmic accident, I actually happened to find out about the release on the first day and played it. I am rarely the first to play anything as I am usually busy/overworked. (For example, I just finally got around to playing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night this year.) And since Sierra Online poisoned my brain by making really convoluted puzzles and hiding nonsensical Easter Eggs all over their games, I found Phoenix's Easter Egg without knowing I was supposed to be looking for it. Anyway, I got really lucky, and I am the winner of snazzy mouse pad.

Silver Lining Mouse Pad

Now I should point out how crazy the Phoenix Online team is. By the rules of their agreement with Activision, they are not allowed to make any money on this project. So the expense of producing and shipping the mouse pads comes out of their own pockets.

So thank you Phoenix Online!


Contest 2: Whistle While You Quest

Now the second contest was much more interesting. In the game, King Graham whistles 14 different tunes if you click on him. The first 10 people that correctly identified all the tunes win another secret prize. Well, this contest was ridiculously hard. It went on for weeks and they had to close the contest because it took too long. Only 9 people won, most of which had to collaborate.


I'm not sure if I should reveal this, but I was the the very first winner of the contest and did not have to collaborate with anyone. This is probably the only time in my life that my vast (and otherwise useless) knowledge of Sierra music will come in handy. But kudos to Phoenix Online for creating a trivia contest that can't be won in a day in the age of Google.

Phoenix was originally going to give advance access to their Silver Lining soundtrack. But after realizing the difficulty of the contest, they decided to give the 9 winners a specially printed CD of the soundtrack. I just received mine in the mail. It looks terrific.

King's Quest: The Silver Lining soundtrack cover
King's Quest: The Silver Lining soundtrack back

Again, this is all paid out of their own pockets. I don't know what to say other than a big Thank You!


Go Play it!

Anyway, for those that haven't played The Silver Lining yet, you should grab it. (Yeah, I know, Windows only, but that's about par.)

It has been announced that Part 3 will be released on January 29, 2011.

http://www.tsl-game.com/


One More Thing...

Before I end this, I do want to give a shout out to AGD Interactive (formerly Tierra Entertainment) and their commercial company Himalaya Studios, LLC. These people did a King's Quest 1 fan remake which has been sort of the gold standard of Sierra remakes. 

kings-quest-1

They later went on to do a King's Quest 2 remake which may be the ultimate King's Quest remake. A friend asked me what was better, The Silver Lining or the King's Quest 2 remake. That's a tough call, but for now, I'm still leaning towards KQ2 because the original KQ2 by Sierra was really a scattershot of fairy tales all smashed together without any cohesion. AGD Interactive did an incredible rewrite of KQ2 that not only gave it internal cohesion, but also unified it with the entire King's Quest series which is an admirable accomplishment. The story also happened to be really interesting even as a standalone game. The Silver Lining still has 4 more parts to release, so maybe they will change my mind, but the bar is set really high. (I do like that the Silver Lining isn't afraid of utilizing modern technology.)

Kings Quest 2 - Romancing the Stones VGA_7

AGD also went on to do a remake of Quest for Glory 2. This is the ultimate remake, period. This thing is just awesome. They put so much care and detail into every little thing. Quest for Glory 2 was possibly Sierra's largest/most complex game so this is a remarkable accomplishment that I don't ever expect to ever see repeated again.

Go play it.


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Himalaya Studios also did a commercial game called Al Emmo and The Lost Dutchman's Mine. (Yes, I did buy a copy and play it. I was maybe only 2 years behind the curve on this one.)


Al Emmo


I should have said more about these games much earlier, but I'm always backlogged. Perhaps I should do a real review on all these games in the future if there is any demand.


Copyright © PlayControl Software, LLC / Eric Wing