Sierra Entertainment

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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.)
  • Sadism.

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 LucasArts, their main rival, whose games were decidedly more forgiving.

Notable Games and Series include:
Tropes associated with Sierra's work: