The Institute - December 2020 - TI-11


The couple released their first graphic adventure game
" The experience of creating my adventure games was-other
in 1980, Mystery House. In the game, the player and several
than marrying my husband and bringing into the world my
friends were trapped in an abandoned mansion and were
two sons-the most fulfilling, wonderful experience I could
being killed off one by one. The player tries to find the killer.
ever have had, " Williams said in the 2006 Adventure ClasWilliams says she was inspired by the board game Clue and by
sic Gaming interview.
the Agatha Christie story And Then There Were None, accordWilliams' technical achievement is worthy to be proposed
ing to Laine Nooney, a video game historian.
as an IEEE Milestone, according to the IEEE History Center.
Mystery House became a success, leading the couple to
The Milestone program honors significant achievements in
launch their video-game development company, On-Line
the history of electrical and electronics engineering.
Systems, that same year. It later was renamed Sierra On-Line.
Any IEEE member can submit a milestone proposal to the IEEE
They created more than 20 titles in the 18 years they worked
History Center. The center is funded by donations to the IEEE
as game developers.
Foundation's Realize the Full Potential of IEEE campaign.
Mystery House became the first of a series of six Hi-Res Adven-J.G.
tures. Between 1980 and 1982, the duo created Wizard and the
This article originally appeared online as " Meet Roberta Williams,
Princess, which was the first adventure game with color graphthe Queen of Graphic Adventure Video Games. "
ics, and Time Zone. Wizard and the Princess sold
25,000 copies in two years, according to an article in Computer Gaming World. The game tied for
fourth on the magazine's list of 1982 top sellers.
The game that made Roberta Williams a
household name, however, was King's Quest, the
first animated 3D adventure game. IBM requested
that the Williamses create a game to be included
in its new PCjr home computer, according to a
1984 article in PC Magazine. King's Quest was the
first in a series of eight about the adventures of
the fictional royal family of Daventry.
" As a young girl, I always had enjoyed the
old fairy tales of yore, " Williams said in a 2006
interview on the Adventure Classic Gaming
website. " I read them and re-read them. Therefore, when thinking about designing a game,
I naturally gravitated to what I liked and felt
comfortable with. I felt comfortable with the
idea of fairy tales, and so I put that passion into
my game of King's Quest. "
After King's Quest, Sierra On-Line released several more games. The most well-known was the
horror adventure Phantasmagoria, which was
released in 1994. It was the most successful game
Williams developed, selling 300,000 units during the first weekend of its release, according to a
Business Wire article. Phantasmagoria featured
full motion video and live actors, but it caused
controversy in the gaming community because
it was for a more mature audience than the other
games the company had developed.
Screenshots from Williams's first game, Mystery House (top), and King's
Two years later, Sierra On-Line was sold to
Quest, the first animated 3D adventure game
CUC International, and the couple retired from
game development.
THE INSTITUTE  |  DEC 2020  |  TI-11

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