King's Quest I

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King's Quest: Quest for the Crown
King's Quest: Quest for the Crown
Apple II 1987 re-release cover art
Developer(s) Sierra On-Line
Publisher(s) IBM, Sierra On-Line, Parker Brothers (Sega Master System version)
Designer(s) Roberta Williams
Engine AGI
Platform(s) PCjr, Tandy 1000, Amiga, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Macintosh, MS-DOS, Sega Master System, Atari ST
Release date(s) July 1983[1] & May 10, 1984 (Original)
September 19, 1990 (Enhanced)
Genre(s) Adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

King's Quest: Quest for the Crown (aka King's Quest) is a 1983 adventure game, originally published for the IBM PCjr simply as King's Quest. It is part of the King's Quest series of adventure video games. The story and the general design of the game was developed by Roberta Williams.

The game was originally released simply as King's Quest; the subtitle "Quest for the Crown" was added to the game box in the 5th rerelease (1987), but did not appear in the game itself. The 1990 remake was renamed King's Quest 1: Quest for the Crown (King's Quest I on the box).

Story[edit]

King's Quest[edit]

In the original version on PCjr (1983), the story was simple. The Kingdom of Daventry is suffering from recent disasters and hardship. King Edward calls his bravest knight, Sir Grahame, to his throne, and tells him he has heard of three legendary treasures hidden throughout the land that would end Daventry's troubles. If Grahame succeeds he will become king.[2]

In later releases, knight's name was changed to Graham.

King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown[edit]

In the later 4th release IBM PC/Apple II (1984)[citation needed] and repackaged 5th release (1987) the backstory was greatly expanded:

The Kingdom of Daventry is in serious trouble, after its precious magical items have been stolen from Castle Daventry. King Edward the Benevolent lacked an heir. A sorcerer promised to help the queen bear an heir, if they gave him their mirror that tells the future; looking in the mirror, the king and queen saw a vision of a young man becoming king. Thinking it was their own future son, they gave the mirror to the evil sorcerer. Alas, it was a lie and she had no heir. Years later, as the queen was sick and dying, a dwarf showed up promising to give a plant's root that would cure her illness, if only the king would give him the "shield that protects its wearer against danger". The king agreed. The dwarf gave the plant's root to the king, and departed. However the dwarf had lied to the king, and the queen fared worse and died. Sometime later the king looked for a new queen. One day, he rescued a beautiful young Princess Dahlia from the land of Cumberland. However, on the night of their wedding, she was discovered to be really an evil witch, and she stole the "chest that is always filled with gold" from the treasure and flew out of the castle on her broom. In time, the castle fell into ruin. Knowing that he had to save the kingdom, King Edward sends his bravest knight, Sir Graham, to retrieve the lost treasures. Because he had no heir, if Graham should succeed, he would become the next king.[3]

Geography[edit]

  • Daventry
  • Castle Daventry
  • Lake Maylie (clear mountain lake)
  • River of Fools/Raging River:
  • Gnome Island
  • Door into Mountain
  • Mushroom Isle
  • Land of the Leprechauns
  • Ancient Well
  • Dragon's Lair

Characters[edit]

  • Graham: The finest knight in all of Daventry. He is the player character. Originally known as Grahame in the game's original release on PCjr.
  • Edward: An old and wise king. He gives Graham the task to reclaim the three lost treasures of Daventry.
  • Troll: A vile creature that guards some of the bridges.
  • Sorcerer: An enemy character. He is a member of the Mystics' culture. If he manages to catch Graham, he zaps him with one of his powerful spells stunning Graham for a few minutes and leaving him unable to escape if other enemies show up.
  • Dahlia (Witch): She is an evil, cannibalistic woman who lives in a candy house. In the game she is known only as the Witch (she was given the name Dahlia in the second version of the manual).
  • Elf: A little man that plays around by the lake. He presents Graham with an invisibility ring.
  • Fairy Godmother: When she appears, she casts a spell on Graham. It protects him from certain enemies.
  • Gnome: He lives on an island between the rivers. In the remake, he weaves gold from hay, which is a reference to Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Ogre: A big, ferocious enemy that lives in a wooded area east of the river. It crushes Graham with its mighty hands if it comes in contact with him.
  • Dwarf: The little pest who tries to steal anything valuable from people.
  • Giant: The giant keeps the magic chest. Graham has to kill it or find a way to sneak around it to get the chest.
  • Dragon: The sleeping dragon protects the magic mirror. This beast has to be dealt with in order to get the mirror, either by killing it or putting out its flame.
  • Rat: It is found in an underground cave. It guards the door that leads to the Leprechaun King's domain.
  • Leprechaun King and Leprechauns: Living in an underground kingdom, the leprechauns keep the magic shield.
  • Woodcutter and Wife: A poor couple of woodcutters lives in a small log cabin. Both are starving and running out of food. In the remake, the wife is very ill (and near death) because they don't have anything to eat. Graham can give them some food.
  • Condor: It flies in circles at the bottom of the mountain. Graham can grab on to its talons to be transported to the next part of the game. In the remake it only appears after the first two treasures are recovered.
  • Maylie: She is the wife of King Edward. She only appears in the second version of the manual. Her name originates from The King's Quest Companion.

Gameplay[edit]

King's Quest featured interactive graphics that were an enormous leap over the mostly un-animated 'rooms' of previous graphical interactive fiction. Prior to King's Quest, the typical adventure game presented the player a pre-drawn scene, accompanied by a text description. The player's interaction with the game consisted entirely of typing commands into the game's parser, then reading the parser's response, as the on-screen graphics rarely changed (except when the player moved to a new location.) As the first adventure game to integrate graphical animation into the player's view of game world, King's Quest shifted the focus away from the static scenery, to the player's character, which was now animated on-screen. As the player used the keyboard to explore the game world, the on-screen character, Graham, was animated walking to the chosen destination. There were animation sequences for most player-world interactions reachable through the normal course of exploration. For example, there were different animation sequences showing Graham picking up objects from the ground, opening doors, and wading through water. Depth perspective was simulated as well; Graham could walk behind objects, causing his character to be 'hidden' from view, or walk in front of them, obscuring the object. This attention to graphical animation, while commonplace in arcade-action games, earned King's Quest the distinction as the first "3D-animated" adventure game.

Screenshot of the opening scene of King's Quest: Quest for the Crown

King's Quest was innovative in its use of 16-color graphics on the PC, PCjr and Tandy 1000; even CGA owners could enjoy the 16-color graphics by using a composite color monitor or television, thanks to programmers exploiting composite artifact colors. Selecting 'RGB mode' at the title screen would instead result in the usual 320×200 CGA graphics mode limited to 4 colors. In this mode, dithering was employed to simulate extra colors.

Like previous static-screen Sierra adventures, King's Quest used vector graphics rather than pre-rendered bitmaps which would take far too much disk space. Each screen is drawn line-by-line and painted in. This technique was used on all Sierra adventure games up to King's Quest V.

The game relied primarily on textual input as its interface. Critics often say that this way of interacting with games is time-consuming and frustrating, however, others would argue that it requires more thought on the part of the player.[4] The fantasy world of Daventry consists of an 8×6 cyclic array of screens (or rooms) that make up the outdoor world in which the player can navigate freely (except for the screen South of the East end of the castle, which must be reached by special means), plus thirty or so additional screens for indoor and underground places (as well as a smaller world in the clouds).

Development[edit]

Developed throughout and released 1983 by IBM as a demonstration product for their IBM PCjr, King's Quest was the first Sierra Entertainment game to use the Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI) engine. (However, the AGI engine wasn't known as such until King's Quest II.)

In an era where it was common for computer games to be written by a single person over a matter of weeks in assembly language, King’s Quest was one of the most ambitious, risky, and costly projects of its time. In addition to Williams, six full-time programmers worked for 18 months to complete the game at a cost of more than $700,000. Notably, King's Quest was the first adventure game to have animated characters instead of static pictures. Because the game's complexity made it impractical to write in assembly language, Sierra developed a scripting engine (AGI) which worked as a high level language compiler and made it easily portable to different platforms.

According to Roberta Williams, "IBM came to us and asked us to make an adventure game for the upcoming PCjr. They said it had to be like no other game made before, and it had to also be replayable. In RPGs like Ultima and Wizardry, the gameplay is largely random and the player creates characters, but that isn't my style. IBM was in effect asking me to go against my style. And unfortunately my kind of game is the type that, once you've beaten it, there's no reason to play it again. So we compromised by making it that there were a couple different ways to solve puzzles and you could go back and try alternate methods to get more points."

Due to the PCjr’s poor reception, King's Quest did not sell very well. Thanks to the AGI engine, Sierra released versions for the Tandy 1000, standard PCs, and the Apple II, which at last made the game a success. The game was re-released for DOS (the original was on a self-booting disk) in 1987 using Sierra's updated AGI V2 engine. It was also ported to the Amiga and Atari ST at the same time, and eventually to the Sega Master System, in which the text parser was replaced by a point and click verb system similar to LucasArts adventures.

The DOS version of King's Quest lacks some sound effects present in the booter versions, including birds chirping and distinct sounds for each enemy. Also the AGI V2 engine used an off-screen buffer when drawing the graphics to avoid the painting effect of the original game. This was not done merely for the sake of tidiness, but because the booter versions inadvertently allowed the player to cheat as they drew hidden objects followed by scenery on the screen.

King's Quest was notably not ported to the Commodore 64 despite its being one of the major platforms at the time. Roberta Williams said that the limitations of its graphic system (three colors per 8x8 block) did not permit Sierra to get the level of graphics detail they wanted. In addition, the computer's 64k of memory was too small to fit the complex AGI engine into. She said that she'd always wanted to make an adventure game with animation, but it wasn't possible up to that point, adding that "the PCjr was a huge breakthrough because it had 128k of memory and 16 solid colors" and "My game will only be available on the PCjr until other computers meet its requirements."

Identical places in the AGI (left, 1983–1987) and "Enhanced" SCI (right, 1990) versions of the game
  • Original version[1] (1983, IBM PCjr) - The original IBM-branded release for the PCjr. Came with a full keyboard overlay template. Released as a demonstration product for the PCjr demo machines.
  • 2nd release[citation needed] (1984, IBM PCjr) - A minor update to the original packaging. Includes a smaller function key template.
  • 3rd release[1] (1984, Tandy) - A version for the Tandy 1000.
  • 4th release[1] (1984, Version for the standard IBM PC) (expanded backstory).
  • (1984, Apple) - Version for Apple II. Requires the 128k //e, IIc, or IIgs to run.
  • (1984, various platforms including Amiga, and Atari ST)
  • 5th release[citation needed] (1987, PC) - A full re-release adding support for the Enhanced Graphics Adapter (EGA) and Hercules Graphics Adapter (HGC). Ran under DOS, unlike the 1984 releases, which booted directly at startup. It was with this release that the sub-title Quest for the Crown was used on the box for the first time.
  • (1989, Sega Master System) - Game redesigned from the ground up for the Sega Master System. Loosely based on the original KQ1.
  • (1990, Various versions for PC/Amiga) - SCI Remake

Versions[edit]

1990 remake[edit]

King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown was a 1990 remake of King's Quest; This release is the "Enhanced" version of King's Quest. It uses the Sierra's Creative Interpreter (SCI) engine, the same engine used in titles such as King's Quest IV; while it still used 16-color graphics, it featured twice the resolution as well as music card support instead of the PC speaker.

The game is not a 1:1 remake. The story was expanded upon (mainly in the cutscenes and conversations) and made more linear. There is a set order to finding the three treasures. The first two can be done in any order, but the last treasure is always the shield. Many of the character roles were expanded slightly to include more speech, and more characters were added. Some of the puzzle solutions were altered and some removed. The changes lead to the distribution of points being different in both games (though both add up to a total of 158). Some item locations were changed; the pebbles for example are found near the river in the original, but near a lake in their remake. Some locations were completely revamped (the stairs in the mountain were replaced with catwalks). The soundtrack was also expanded and included better musical queues when different characters appeared or action ensued.

The project was described by critics and fans alike at the time as 'destroying a classic', and was compared to the controversial practice of colorizing classic black and white movies.[1] The remake was a critical failure and prevented the release of further remakes in the series. There are two different box variations for this release. One that used the same box as the 1987 AGI original and a box created specifically for the remake.

Sega Master System port[edit]

The Sega Master System (1989) port uses its own engine, with a verb/noun interface (similar to early LucasArts titles). It has original tile and sprite-based graphics and was published by Parker Brothers. The game is based on the original King's Quest and shares the puzzles and point list of that game. Although some of the puzzles and rooms have been modified a bit (the boulder covering the dagger rolls a different direction than in PC). An extra item, possible to pick up the three leaf clovers. There are some extra places to die (including a dangerous staircase added to exit of the Leprechauns realm). It is non-linear and the three treasures can be collected in any order like the original PC version. Game saves were done through passwords.

Collections[edit]

Both versions of King's Quest I have been released in assorted collections beginning with the King's Quest 15th Anniversary Collector's Edition (1994), followed by the King's Quest Collection (1995), the King's Quest Collection Series (1996) and Roberta Williams Anthology (1997). The 2006 collection lacked the original AGI version of King's Quest, and contained only the SCI remake. This version was released on Steam in 2009. The original AGI version appears in the KQ1+2+3 collection released on GOG, but the SCI remake is not included.

Credits[edit]

AGI version[edit]

  • Designed and Written by: Roberta Williams
  • Orig. Version by Charles Tingley, Ken MacNeil, Chris Iden
  • Graphics by: Doug McNeill, Greg Roland.
  • New Version: Jeff Stephenson, Sol Ackerman, Chris Iden
  • Thanks to: Linda Ackerman, Mark Crowe, Robert Heitman, Scott Murphy

SCI version[edit]

  • Game Designer: Roberta Williams
  • Producer: Josh Mandel
  • Art Designer: William D. Skirvin
  • Illustrated by: Jeff Crowe, Cindy Walker, Jennifer Shontz
  • Programmed by: Jerry Shaw, Gary Kamigawachi, Randy MacNeill, Raoul Said, Chad Bye, Oliver Brelsford, Mark Wilden
  • Development System: Jeff Stephenson, Robert E. Heitman, Pablo Ghenis, John Hartin, Dan Foy, Larry Scott, John Rettig, Corinna Abdul, Corey Cole, Mark Hood, Eric Hart
  • Composer: Ken Allen
  • Quality Assurance: Chris Carr and the rest of the gang

Version history[edit]

AGI history[edit]

  • ??? (1983): PCjr release
  • 01.01.00 (1984): PCjr rerelease, Tandy version, uses AGI0.
  • 1.0U (6-08-1986): Uses AGI2.
  • 2.0F, interpreter 2.425 (8/87):
  • 2.0F, interpreter 2.197 (1/88):

SCI history[edit]

  • 1.000.051 (1990):

Cancelled[edit]

Atari ST port[edit]

The 1990 SCI EGA "Enhanced" version of King's Quest: Quest for the Crown was announced for the Atari ST line of computers and later canceled.[5] It is not known if a beta version exists or how far into development the game was, although it was announced via Sierra Online's magazine, Sierra News Magazine, in spring 1991. The magazine said owners could send disk #1 or the front cover of the manual along with a check or money order for $20 to upgrade their copy to the enhanced version.

Fan remake[edit]

Main article: King's Quest I VGA

In 2001, the group AGD Interactive (then known as Tierra Entertainment) released an unofficial remake based on Sierra's 1990 version, updating the graphics to use VGA colors, dropping the parser in favor of an interface that mimics that of King's Quest V, and full speech - including the voice of the original voice actor for King Graham in Sierra's official CD-ROM full-speech versions of King's Quest V and VI, Josh Mandel.[6] This was later updated with original handrawn artwork.

References[edit]

External links[edit]