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Scrolling Screens > When Roger walks to the edge of the screen you will see him continue to walk as the background screen moves, or "scrolls" behind him. This is called the Scrolling Screen effect.

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Scrolling Screens
Sierra's adventure games developed through the years from black and white, no sound, no animation graphics into full motion video. Among important techniques adventure games used like midi music, CD-Rom technology, blue screen video and handpainted graphics is one called "Scrolling Screens": A technique introduced to make adventures a little more realistic. For their first three adventure games, the Two Guys could only try to make two screens fit together as best as they could. It wasn't until 1990 that the scrolling screen technique became used in its full potential; making Sierra games a lot more realistic along the way.


The pre-scrolling screen age (SQ1, SQ2 and SQ3)
Take a look at these screenshots from Kerona. As you can see the screens appear to fit neatly at first, but if you look closely you'll notice some anomalies. Space Quest 2 is not any different from SQ1 in this case. Except one particular part of Labion where three screens fit together quite good, except one minor detail (the tree you see at 1/3 of the screen). The swamp part looks interesting too, but has some mistakes I outlined in red. On a personal note: these screens of the game always give me the feeling I'm in this HUGE swamp. These screenshots do a fairly good job destroying that image, don't you agree?

Space Quest 3 features much better graphics than its prequels. This enabled Mark Crowe to create a few screens that almost fit perfectly together. This is noticeble on Ortega and Phleebhut, for instance. Still, the screens don't fit perfectly together. They fit in the foreground, but there are some miss-fits in the background. Monolith Burger is a pretty tight fit and looks a like a flawless continuous screen. So it can be said the Two Guys made their first serious step including Scrolling Screens with Space Quest 3.

Thanks to Mark Crowe's effort, the first three Space Quest games excel at implementing continuous screens. Just compare them with other adventure games of the time. However, new technologies and faster computers brought along new exciting possibilities. As technology developed, the designers at Sierra handpainted the backgrounds of the game, scanned them into digitalized documents and then put them into the game. This enabled graphical artists like Marc Crowe to create a set of screens that would truly fit if you would sew them together.


The scrolling screen age (SQ1VGA, SQ4, SQ5 and SQ6)
The first true Scrolling Screen of the Series.After 1990, screens finally started shifting. Meaning when Roger walks to the edge of the screen, you will see him continue to walk as the background screen moves, or "scrolls" behind him. This creates a more realistic effect that makes the player believe the world he sees on his computer screen is a real one. It truly makes the gaming experience more immersive.

Space Quest 1 VGA is the absolute true king of the scrolling screens! The game is absolutely packed with scrolling screens and the first in the Series to use the new technique. What about the title screen, which is actually composed of three separate screens sewed together to make one big one? But also the Arcada hallways, Arcada's sub deck, the Keronian underground, Ulence Flats and Droids'B'Us. Here's a trivial question: How many moons does Kerona have? The largest and most impressive scrolling screen is that of the skeleton remains. It consists of 9 (!) spectacular screens, containing bones of a long-extinct behemoth known to science as the Doug-o-saurus. If you prefer SQ1EGA over the remake you must agree with me that the scrolling screen feature gives this game a huge boost.

Space Quest 4 was the next in the Series to use scrolling screens. The game was released at a time when the Scrolling Screen technique was on the height of its popularity. Needless to say, the game contains quite a few interesting screens. Though the game clearly doesn't match SQ1VGA. The most impressive scene is without a doubt Estros; a total of 7 screens fit neatly together. The Skate-O-Rama scene features two sets of screens, namely the bottom and the top screens. The Latex Babe's hideout, the Supercomputer Landing and the Supercomputer Entrance are three additional scenes. Pretty cool looking, ey? However, Space Quest 4 also includes some screens that appear to fit neatly at first glance, but aren't connected like a true Scrolling Screen scene should. For instance, the sewer and the supercomputer walkways.

By the time Space Quest 5 had hit the shelves, the hype of the Scrolling Screen technique wore off and became just another feature game designers could use to make their game a little bit more interesting. My personal favorite (of which I own one original design sketch, by the way) is without a doubt the Main Rotunda of the StarCon academy. But there are more, like the Klorox scene, Kizurasgubi, Genetix and Thrakus.

Space Quest 6 was of course the latest Space Quest, but quite possibly features the most interesting Scrolling Screen of them all, namely the Super Highway. Then there's also the Orion's Belt bar. Around the time Space Quest 6 was released, the Scrolling Screen technique lost it against newly invented 3D techniques and SVGA animations. The true end of the golden VGA era.


All original content (c) 2018 Brandon Blume & Troels Pleimert. All Space Quest related material (c) by Sierra Entertainment.