In January of 1999, Sierra was acquired by a French media conglomerate called Havas, which was acquired in 2001 by Vivendi Universal Interactive. In February, 1999 on Sierra's 20th anniversary, Havas closed down the Oakhurst, CA office, which was Sierra's oldest development house. Almost all of the projects they'd been working on were cancelled. Those few near completion that were still considered marketable were released with minor fanfare, and that was it for the Oakhurst division. By that time Sierra had owned a number of smaller companies, including Valve and Blizzard, so the Sierra name has continued and will continue to exist, at least for the moment. The closing of the Bellvue office depresses me, but other than the occasional game from Blizzard Sierra hasn't really released anything that interested me since Gabriel Knight 3 -- one of the few projects to survive the 1999 lay-offs. Last week's news is depressing, but it doesn't surprise me.
Wow, Gabriel Knight 3. That came out when, October, 1999? That's depressing too. I used to be a gamer, but the last game I was looking forward to was Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare, which sucked -- in the clinical sense. The more recent games I've wanted to play have either been cancelled (Full Throttle 2, Sam and Max: Freelance Police) or keep getting their release date pushed back and are starting to look like something I wouldn't play (Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth). Or else I dreamed them (The Adventures of Fireman... With A Gun).
Yow. Sorry, I didn't mean for this to be the Colin Hates New Games post. It's not even new games that I hate -- some of them aren't too bad. Largely though, 3D (read: "Doom and Myst") killed gaming for me -- it's ugly and it doesn't lend itself well to the kind of games that I like (the contrast between The Curse of Monkey Island and Escape from Monkey Island is a perfect illustration of why).
This is an opinion I run into a lot online, and one of the gaming magazines Nate has just printed a big story about the fanboy-driven resurgence of 2D adventure games. I get the feeling that they'll never really come back though, at least, not commercially. 2D games kind of hit a wall in the late '90s because there's only so far 2D can push the technology envelope which drives the video game industry. 3D, on the other hand, is great for showcasing speed and video. True virtual reality pretty much died because it was slow and looked pretty primitive next to the faux-VR of games like Doom. FMV games like Voyeur, Gabriel Knight 2 and Under A Killing Moon were never cost-effective because most companies tried to keep production value high by filling them with B-list celebrities. I just wish we'd see more of that kind of stuff instead of more Halo and Warcraft.
I know I'm not the only person who feels this way, but I don't think anybody's listening.