yourself for a Space Quest of gargantuan proportions! This thing
is going to be so big you couldn't climb over it in a weekend! You'll
see Roger like you've never seen him before, or ever want to see
him again!" - William Shockley (programmer for SQ7) in
The Space Quest 7 project was started!
1997 Sierra decided to make another Space Quest. The decision was
based upon the relatively successful Space Quest 6 (which was released
a while back in March 1995) and upon the feedback Sierra was getting
from fans all around the planet who demanded to see another Roger
Wilco space adventure. Whatever you might have heard about Space
Quest 6 sales figures, the game was a success. It sold
a lot more copies than Space Quest 5 did. However, it had
cost around 5 times more and unfortunately (I'm sure you saw this
one coming), it didn't sell 5 times as much. This known fact would
later be an argument for the marketing guys to scrap the project.
design team for Space Quest 7:
Scott Murphy - Designer/Writer
Leslie Balfour (picture on the right) - Designer/Writer
Jay Lee - Programming
William Shockley - Programming
Mark Aro - Graphics
Richard Powell - Concept Artist, Character Design, Graphics
Tim Loucks - 3D Graphics
Lori Lucia - Project Manager
Craig Alexander - Project GM
- Sierra released some basic information about their upcoming Space
Quest 7 game
The team is currently developing a Space Quest 7 prototype (which
will be a playable demo) and a rolling SQ7 promo, which will be
included in the upcoming Space Quest Collection CD-Rom. Since the
project is still so young, not much has been decided regarding story
line, interface, etc. The team will be trying to introduce a multiplayer
aspect to SQ7, as well as a single-player mode. It remains to be
decided whether they want to go for the RPG-style multiplayer, or
a hybrid. According to Scott Murphy Space Quest 7 will contain some
3-D elements. However, these elements will NOT require the use of
a 3D accelerator card and the game should retain its standard 2-D
working titles were released:
- This time it's Personal
- Show me the Buckazoids
- Return of Roman Numerals
- The team released some more information about Space Quest
Around August 1997, the team released this drawing you see
here to the left. It was made by the character designer Richard
Powell. According to Leslie Balfour, Dougie is a slime monster
who likes to hang out with his friends on the streets of Polysorbate
LX to hassle passers-by. Maybe this tells us that Roger is
returning to Polysorbate (the highly polluted planet from
SQ6). Click here for
more design sketches of the Space Quest 7 project!
- An interview with Jay Lee reveals more details about the Space
Quest 7 project
This is an interview with Jay Lee, a programmer for the Space Quest
7 project. It was conducted by Sterling Jones (webmaster of a popular
fansite at that time) and took place on October 10, 1997:
How did you get involved with Sierra?
Way back in the Apple II days, I was into playing various games
that guys at college had obtained (ok, they were pirated). Among
the games were Wizard & the Princess (from Sierra of course).
Since then, I followed what Sierra was doing in the industry even
though I was a big Commodore 64 and Amiga guy. I thought the Amiga
kicked the PC's butt in every way, but corporate America didn't
care about that. Since my job required it, I began using PC's, and
about the same time, Sierra released King's Quest 5 and Space Quest
4 with 256 color art. Once I saw how beautiful the graphics were,
I was convinced that the PC was going to be a viable gaming platform,
so I started honing my skills in C++, and then Windows, hoping perhaps
that one day I could get into the industry. Just over 2 1/2 years
ago, I answered an ad in Sierra's Interaction magazine, because
I thought there may finally be a match between my skills and what
Sierra was looking for. Sierra thought so too, and I left my previous
job of 10 years to start all over again in the R&D group in
other projects have you worked on at Sierra?
When I first got to Sierra, I worked in R&D, and we were responsible
for SCI interpreter that all the adventure games were being done
in. Among the more notable games that were released while I was
in R&D included Phantasmagoria, Gabriel Knight 2, Rama, Shivers
and Lighthouse. I also did some specific engine work that was used
in Shivers 2 and Betrayal in Antara. Sierra in Oakhurst made a decision
to go away from SCI, and as part of the change, many of the guys
in R&D moved on to be lead programmers on various games. I became
the lead on the Colliers Encyclopedia product. I really wanted to
get on a game though, so about half way through when there was a
replacement for me, I moved to do engine work for Swat 2. Once I'm
released from Swat 2, I will be full time on SQ7. The good news
is that much of the work I'm doing on Swat 2 will be used on Space
Quest 7, so it is not as if Space Quest 7 is not making any progress.
is the SQ7 project going?
Not as fast as we'd like on the programming side since my current
project, Swat 2, has yet to ship. We are trying to get our approval
prototype up and ready for early December. The design and artwork
is proceeding however, and our art staff is set to ramp up next
much of the programming is done on SQ7?
Our biggest focus at this time on Space Quest 7 is getting it through
prototype approval. This means that we will build a small playable
portion of the game for Ken Williams and the other executives to
approve. Our current push is to ship SWAT 2 and Quest for Glory
5, and every resource has been focused on those two products. In
the short run that postpones Space Quest 7 development, but in the
long run we will have the same advantage as Quest for Glory and
SWAT, because we'll be able to demand resources when we're at the
critical point in Space Quest's development.
- An interview with Scott Murphy reveals more details about the
Space Quest 7 project
an interview with Scott Murphy. It was conducted by Neil Schuh (webmaster
of a popular fansite at that time):
you tell us anything about how the production of Space Quest 7?
How the production of Space Quest 7 is what? Come on now, Neil.
Only I can type that way. You're the serious journalist. I'm the
eccentric artist-type and I can get away with more. Space Quest
7 is coming along. We're in the very early stages of development.
We're just getting some artists. We hope to have a programmer or
two in the not too distant future. We've been involved lately in
producing an AVI for the new Space Quest Collection, which will
include Space Quest 1-6 as well as some other little ditties for
first inspired you to be a game programmer?
The mere joy of making things happen on the screen. My first programming
was in AppleSoft Basic. About a year or two later I got exposed
to the programming part of the business. I got my first real taste
doing The Black Cauldron for Disney. I loved it! (The fifteen hour
days sucked but you've got to do these things in this business.
I was learning a lot from Ken Williams. It came so easy to Ken and
he understood it so well that for me, learning from him was like
drinking from a fire hose. Al Lowe was there to, now that I think
of it, but he just spent a lot of time pitifully shaking parts of
his anatomy while smiling, and peeling the paint off the walls in
his own special way. (Hi, Al.)
first inspired you to create Space Quest?
Well, since I'd gotten well into the company I wanted to do a space
game. While working on The Black Cauldron, I got hooked up working
with Mark Crowe who was doing graphics. We spent a lot of late nights
working at Ken's house. We found out we had very similiar senses
of humor and interests in sci-fi. We also liked to laugh. We talked
off and on about how a space game could be approached and how to
get approval to make it. We decided people needed to laugh. All
the "heroes" in games then were all way too noble prince
types. Very boring! We wanted a hero for the rest of the world.
Thus was born Roger Wilco, a normal (or less) person in extraordinary
circumstances. A path of least resistance kind of guy.
you ever had an encounter with an UFO from space?
I'm not sure. Around here I've seen some UWO's, unidentified walking
objects, and some USO's, unidentified sitting objects. They seem
to be spread equally between artists, programmers, and especially
how much does a programmer like you get payed a year?
Get payed? They told me this was a priviledge and that I have to
pay. I think I need to have a talk with somebody!
is "multiplayer" going to be used in Space Quest 7?
It will be used so that more than one person can play in a Space
Quest game session. Actually, I can't tell you that at this time
because it's a story secret. Trust me, it'll be interesting.
nemisis will Roger be encountering in this game?
There will be at least one old nemesis. Remember how we left
Roger in Space Quest 6? He also has female problems to deal with.
He also has some personal demons to deal with. Boy, does he.
challenging are you trying to make Space Quest 7?
Well, harder than a three year old finishing it off in 90 minutes
and easier than a 25 year not being able to finish it within 500
hours. Actually we try to appeal to everyone, which is difficult.
We want players to see all we've dreamed up for them, but not inside
a few hours. We want the vast majority to feel the toughness of
play is just right.
is your average day at Sierra like?
I am invoking the fifth amendment of the constitution of the United
States so that I may not incriminate myself. I spend a lot of time
contemplating creative methods of suicide. Between those thoughts,
I try to work on the design of the game while listening to haughty
whining co-designers (Leslie Balfour), and prissy artists (Rich
Powell), as well as Project Managers who act like they own you.
(Maybe that's why she was checking my teeth the other day?)
will the Space Quest 7 website at sierra.com be up?
It was supposed to be up in September but higher priority issues
presented themselves. The first, and somewhat raw, version of it
should be up before the end of October, or so I'm praying.
you have any parting words for your fans?
Yeah, don't believe what anybody (Leslie Balfour) says about me
being unstable, egocentric, or difficult to work with. That's such
crap and these pea brains should be smart enough to understand that.
Oh, and bye to all you fans. Thanks for your support and interest.
That has been truly gratifying and we look forward to giving you
more fun at the expense of Roger Wilco. Until then...
- Space Quest Collection released with Promo Movie
Around August 1997 Sierra released yet another Space Quest
Collection which featured a
promo movie for the new Space Quest 7. The manual contains
promotional page (40 KB)
which features the release date for Space Quest 7: late
1998. Things looked bright for the future of the ever-so-popular
Space Quest Series.
the new Space Quest Collection flopped. It was soon to be
found in software store's bargain bins for a buck or two.
The guys at Sierra (read: management geniuses) now thought
there wasn't enough interest for another Space Quest.
Space Quest 7 project "on hold indefinitely"
Quest 7 project was being put "on hold indefinitely" around
late december, 1997. The reason why was given in this e-mail fans
from all around the globe received. It was written by Scott Murphy
and Leslie Balfour:
the Friends and Fans of Space Quest,
As you all know, the path to Space Quest 7 has been long and bumpy,
and we were never sure what we would find at the end of the road.
The decision has been made, after much soul-searching and agonizing,
to put Space Quest 7 on hold indefinitely.
joy for the team has been in the journey. We've made many friends
out there, and it has been quite heartening to know that Roger Wilco
has so many fans. I look forward to continuing the friendships I've
developed over the last year. But Sierra is in the process of many
changes, and we had to take a hard look at whether a Space Quest
7 project made sense. Unfortunately for those of us who love Roger
and his stupid antics, other projects just have more to offer both
to the company and to our customers in general at this time.
don't worry about the team. We will all move to other projects at
Sierra On-Line. Many of us will go over to the Babylon 5 space combat
game, which will be coming out in Holiday 1998. Others will go over
to the B5 adventure game, which will also come out in 1999. Both
of these products will reflect Sierra's commitment to excellence
in space games, and I hope you'll consider playing them if you have
I am sending this email to those of you who have sent me mail lately.
Please pass the information on to any Space Quest fans I inadvertently
don't be sad for Roger. Just think of him as weary from making us
laugh for all these years, ready for a break from his adventures.
He and la Wankmeister want to settle down, raise a family. And perhaps
as we look up in the sky, a distant star will remind us that somewhere,
in a distant galaxy, Roger Wilco is probably getting pantsed.
again for all your support,
Space Quest Team
Scott Murphy fired?
Long and bumpy the road was indeed. Two months later (around mid
February 1998), rumours were spreading that Scott Murphy was fired.
Virtual Broomcloset stated: "Supposedly, Scott will be
re-hired if the SQ7 project is ever restarted."
Craig Alexander shares information with fans
Surprisingly, in a meeting on the 22nd of June 1998, Sierra's management
briefly discussed the future of Space Quest 7. Craig Alexander,
General GM for SQ7 (whatever that means), told the
Virtual Broomcloset the following: "It went okay, although
we only spent a few minutes discussing [SQ7]. In early July, I plan
to have another meeting and formerly pitch restarting the project
in early 1999. The tides are definitely turning, in part because
of [the fans'] support. However, there is a long road ahead of us."
- Leslie Balfour left Sierra
Leslie Balfour (designer/writer for SQ7) left Sierra. Scott Murphy,
however, would stay under contract if the project was to be restarted.
- The Space Quest 7 project was restarted
The team got back together and started working on Space Quest 7
the 22nd, 1999 -
Chainsaw Monday stabbed the limping Space Quest 7 project in the
Then on February the 22th, 1999 (which is called 'Chainsaw Monday'
by Scott Murphy) Space Quest 7 was finally axed. Sierra closed down
its Oakhurst California facility, firing two-third of the employees
there. Scott Murphy, who was an old timer at Sierra, also had to
pack his bags as his contract had expired and was not renewed. The
rest of the employees has been given an opportunity to relocate
to other Sierra divisions like Belvue Washington. The Oakhurst facility
was the roots of Sierra. It produced games like Leisure Suit Larry,
King's Quest, Quest for Glory and of course Space Quest. This action
of corporate consolidation was taken by the new owner, Havas, which
bought Sierra from CUC Software. The following letter was written
by the founder of Sierra, Ken Williams, in respond of Chainsaw Monday:
Dear former Sierra employees,
Roberta and I wish to express our deepest sympathies for the recent
loss of your jobs. Hopefully, it will not be long before you resume
work at Sierra in Seattle, or at some other company... in Oakhurst,
or elsewhere. According to tradition, I'm supposed to say something
uplifting and motivational to help everyone feel better. Unfortunately,
I have failed at this task. There is really nothing good that can
be said. This is a sad ending to Sierra's twenty-year operating
history in Oakhurst, which at one time, represented over 550 Oakhurst-based
employees. This story should have had a happy ending, but instead
has had a long string of bad news concluding with the shutdown yesterday
of all of Sierra's Oakhurst-based product development activities.
problems began with the move of corporate to Seattle. The move to
Seattle was mandated for several reasons, primarily due to the difficulty
we were having recruiting senior management staff and software engineers.
The relocation, although it was painful for Oakhurst, was instrumental
in our tremendous growth from 1993 through 1996. I remain convinced
that this relocation was the right decision for Sierra, and that
we would not have prospered without it.
I can't say the same about either the sale of The ImagiNation Network
(INN) in 1993, or the sale of Sierra itself in 1996. When Sierra
started INN in 1991, it was a decade ahead of its time. After investing
millions in INN, Sierra found that it did not have the financial
resources to support INN's continued operations. In 1993, AT&T
sought aggressively to acquire INN, promising to market the service
and grow the company. Unfortunately, AT&T lost interest in INN
and sold it to AOL, who to my great disappointment, shut INN down.
as you know, was purchased by CUC International in 1996. Because
CUC was offering to buy the company at a price roughly 90% higher
than it was trading, the decision was out of management's hands.
At the time of the purchase, we did believe that through consolidation
with several Sierra competitors (Blizzard, Knowledge Adventure,
Davidson and others), Sierra would become a much stronger company.
We had good reason to believe that the acquisition would cause us
to grow faster, not shrink. Unfortunately, CUC elected to transfer
control of the company to Davidson, and shut down several groups
at Sierra. Later, as we all know, CUC was merged with another company,
HFS, to form the Cendant corporation, with roughly 12,000 employees.
A few months after this merger it was discovered that someone, or
possibly some group of people, within the former CUC organization
had been fraudulently preparing financial statements. The actions
of this handful of people, who shall hopefully get their due, caused
the plunge in Cendant's stock price, and wiped out the net worth
of many HFS and CUC employees, including many of you, as well as
much of my own. Cendant was sued by its shareholders, CUC's former
management team was terminated and the decision was made to sell
the software business. It should surprise no one that morale suffered
through all of this anarchy, and although I have not seen Sierra's
financials for several years, my assumption is that the recent consolidation
of operations is driven by a quest for restored profitability and
stability. If this story were written as a book, the publisher might
seek to classify it as "Fantasy", "Science Fiction"
or even "Horror". It is much too outrageous to be true.
But the bad news is that these events really did happen.
I console myself in the following way, and perhaps it will help
you to cope with what has occurred. Let's imagine that a stranger
had walked up to any of us, on the street, in 1979, and said: "Would
you like to move to one of the greatest cities on earth? While you
are there, you can play a key role in creating a company that just
about everyone will know and respect. Your grandchildren will be
amazed when they learn that you once worked there. You will be the
envy of your peers, because they will know that your team created
the largest collection of hits ever to come from one company. There
will even be years when you will have played a role in over half
the products on the industries top ten lists! You will be surrounded
by incredibly intelligent, hard working people, who will work 20+
hours per day when it takes it to get the job done. And, you will
have more fun than you ever thought possible. There's only one catch
though. This will only last for twenty years." Even knowing
it wouldn't last forever I would have followed that stranger anywhere.
I'm disappointed that it didn't last forever, but, a 20 year ride
on the greatest roller coaster on earth beats the heck out of life
in the slow lane any day. Life may never be the same, but it also
isn't over, and we all have some great memories we shall never forget.
Good luck, and I miss you all.
cancellation of Space Quest 7 shocked the fans. "Save Space
Quest 7" pages appeared everywhere and petitions were started.
The image here on the left is the "official" website button
to save Space Quest 7. It was linked to a "SAVE SPACE QUEST
7" site where people could sign a petition. It's now long dead
and gone. Even before the final blow that was Chainsaw Monday, several
Space Quest websites had already launched "Save Space Quest
7" projects back in December 1997 when the project was put
"on hold indefinitely". One fan made a phony thread letter
(image below). Niel Schuh (webmaster of the long-gone Wilco Burger
fansite) and Kevin Hord made an
animated gif when they heard about CUC closing down the Oakhurst
facility, it became rather well known.
7th, 2002 - First rumors appeared
about a new Space Quest game
A company called Escape Factory was hired by Sierra to work on an
action based Space Quest game for the Playstation 2 and Xbox. Though
it too was cancelled, information leaked about this highly secret
project. Click here for