Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
The 20-Year Estrangement of the Two Guys from Andromeda

Printer-Friendly VersionPrinter-Friendly Version
View All     RSS
April 23, 2014
arrowPress Releases
April 23, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM TechWeb sites:


 
The 20-Year Estrangement of the Two Guys from Andromeda

June 1, 2012 Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next
 

Sierra's graphical adventures defined the form in the 1980s, thanks to a band of distinctive creators experimenting with their own particular favorite pop culture influences to create parser-based (and later point-and-click) games with strong creative visions. There was Al Lowe and his luckless loser Larry, of Leisure Suit fame; Roberta Williams, creator of the King’s Quest series, among others, who seemed to strive for stories of family triumph using familiar concepts, like classic fantasy and fairy tales, as touchstones.

And then there were the Two Guys from Andromeda.

Writer/designer Scott Murphy and artist Mark Crowe, co-creators of the Space Quest series, were an inseparable duo. Like its contemporaries, 1986's Space Quest starred a "little guy" who seemed to luck into heroism by happenstance. In this case, our hero was Roger Wilco, a lowly janitor aboard a space cruiser whose naivety led him to save the galaxy -- again and again, nearly thanklessly.

The two guys can be seen toward the end of Space Quest III, a particularly self-reflexive installment wherein the main villain is a ruthless software developer engaged in piracy. Roger rescues a pair of wily alien programmers with distinctive porcine snouts from imprisonment in green Jell-O. In real life, Crowe and Murphy don't have pig snouts or mohawks, but otherwise the aliens serve as decent stand-ins.

1991's Space Quest IV was the last game the Two Guys would make together. Soon after, the duo had a falling out, ending their partnership forever. Or so they thought. 

Thanks to Kickstarter, the Two Guys are back working together on a new space adventure for the first time in 20 years, reconciling their differences after years of estrangement -- and loving every minute of being back together.

Their working relationship struggled under the stresses of Sierra's high-pressure latter days in the 1990s, when adventure games required bigger and bigger budgets and saw lower and lower sales. For Sierra, the increasing challenges faced by the genre on which it had built its fortune culminated in a "Chainsaw Monday" where nearly 150 employees unceremoniously lost their jobs.

"It was heartbreaking, seeing all of the people that we worked with, who worked on the projects but didn't get the kind of notoriety that Mark and I did, who lost their jobs because of how radically the industry changed, and how Sierra changed," Scott Murphy tells us. "We have really strong emotions about how all that worked out."

That strong emotion led Murphy to give a somewhat-infamous interview back in 2006 to website Adventure Classic Gaming, where he spoke about the sense of loss he felt at the end of his career in adventure gaming, and what felt like some bitterness toward Sierra management, particularly co-founder and CEO Ken Williams.

"The more successful each game became, the worse they treated us and the less they wanted to pay us,” Murphy said in 2006, describing “broken promises and the just plain fucking over I got from the people I'd worked so incredibly hard for.”

Murphy also seemed to feel betrayed by his once-partner Crowe, who left him after Space Quest IV to join Dynamix, another company within the Sierra organization, in search of more stability and, presumably, better money.

In that infamous interview, Murphy said Crowe "was not a very good partner in the long run," expressing Crowe's departure to Dynamix felt like a surprise that helped prove his former colleague "had loyalty only to himself."

"Would I want to work with Mark again? No, I don't think so," he said at the time.

At Dynamix, Crowe developed Space Quest V -- in which Roger cheats on an exam to get his own spaceship and meets a stand-in for Captain Kirk. Murphy remained at Sierra to develop Space Quest VI with Josh Mandel, a game that sees Roger at lower rank and in worse straits than ever. Fans seemed to notice something missing from both games, which were never as well-regarded as those the Two Guys From Andromeda developed together.

Crowe continued to work in the industry at Dynamix and later at Pipeworks (the studio notable for creating the Xbox and Xbox 360’s boot ROMs); Murphy has mostly stayed away from games, although with a more overt social media presence than his partner he's received a steady trickle of touching fan letters that meant those years on Space Quest would never leave his mind.

“There was a strong core of people that never gave up,” reflects Murphy.

That interview Murphy gave to Adventure Classic Gaming "was very therapeutic for me," he admits. "But I just recently went back and looked at it, and I shuddered when I saw some of the things that I said. I can't say those weren't feelings that I had... but I feel really bad."


Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next

Related Jobs

Digital Extremes
Digital Extremes — London, Ontario, Canada
[04.23.14]

Programmers
Gameloft
Gameloft — New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
[04.23.14]

R&D Game Designer
Blur Studio
Blur Studio — Culver City, California, United States
[04.23.14]

3dsMax FX Artist
CCP
CCP — Reykjavik, Iceland
[04.23.14]

Visual Effects Artist






Comments


Patrick Johnston
profile image
Nice article! Really brings back the memories of classic gaming.

Brendan Hughes
profile image
Great article indeed!

Their Kickstarter lives at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/spaceventure/two-guys-spaceve
nture-by-the-creators-of-space-que , in case anyone wants to help fund the game.

Sean Balogh
profile image
Amazing! Support the guys over at www.tgakick.com and and be sure to check out the prototypes that they have already put out, in the updates. These guys got me into gaming, as well as taught me to type!

S D
profile image
Wow, the Two Guys are live right now on Twitch.tv doing a fan chat about Space Quest 1!! Unreal being able to talk with them (BTW, Scott's into Belgian ales)... how cool is that??

www.twitch.tv/andromedaguys#/w/3174573184

I missed those games so much, it's cool hearing why & how they did what they did with such limited tech back then.

Patrick Johnston
profile image
The Two Guys are commenting on Space Quest in a livestream now: http://www.twitch.tv/andromedaguys

A A
profile image
My favorite adventure game of all time!
Support their kickstarter here
http://tgakick.com

S D
profile image
The live chat was awesome!! We're trying to convince the Two Guys from Andromeda to do a playthrough with us. I hope it's SQ4 since that was my favorite one... and also the chance to see them suffer at Skate-O-Rama as well :-)

If not that, then a live playthrough of some of the fan-made tribute games (like Vohaul Strikes Back) would be great... fans worked really hard on some of those, and it would be awesome.

Corey Cole
profile image
Great article! Working at Sierra in the 90's was definitely like riding a roller coaster. We were making fun games and having amazing interactions with our teams and occasionally the other groups. But we were also working long hours for low pay, and as Scott mentioned, the more success we had, the more the company seemed to want to take away from us. At the time, we were all angry about it; in the light of history, I can see that management was just as squeezed as we were. The overhead and development costs kept going up, while sales stayed relatively fixed. Something had to give.

Along with all the stress, Ken Williams gave us opportunities that we might never have gotten elsewhere, let alone on our own. He trusted Lori and me to make Hero's Quest / Quest for Glory, and later Mixed-Up Fairy Tales and Castle of Dr. Brain, and he rarely interfered with the design or development. Yes, it was all because he wanted us to make us money, but there's nothing wrong with that - Everyone benefited. Incredibly hard work, moderately low pay, but it enabled us to create works of which we're still proud today. I think Scott and Mark could say the same - They were underpaid, and undoubtedly felt under-respected, but they had the opportunity to create work of great artistry and enduring value.

When Sierra went public, I found some very interesting numbers in the disclosures. I had previously determined that almost everyone there was earning about 35% less than they would have in comparable industry jobs in the Bay Area. Curiously, that salary difference (multiplied by the number of employees) *exactly* accounted for the company's profit margin. When the company started paying employees more competitive salaries, they stopped making a profit. Game development costs ballooned from under $500K (QG1 and 2, Castle of Dr. Brain, etc.) to several million dollars (QG5, Phantasmagoria, etc.). Typical game sales doubled in that time. There is a reason Sierra started cutting back on staff, bonuses, and benefits! But we didn't understand that at the time, and had families to feed, so it all felt personal.

Daniel Blakeley
profile image
WOW Corey Cole!!!

I just created this account to say a big THANK YOU for all the years of adventures you and Lori gave my friends and I. I love all Sierra Quest games but the Hero Quest/Quest For Glory series is the greatest of them all! Point & Click adventuring with combat and RPG stats was absolute genius!

Funnily enough right now after over 10 years I'm replaying through all the QFG games reliving all my adventures of old. I love QFG4 so much, even today it is just amazing!! I know I’m not the only one who believes this as it may interest you to know QFG4 recently made 72 in 2012 PC Gamer UK Best 100 Games Ever List (probably the world’s biggest PC Games magazine) ahead of games like Doom, C&C, GalCiv2, and Alpha Centari just to name a few! :)

Just so you know there are a lot of die hard QFG fans over at the ‘Quest For More Glory’ website forums who would pledge their friggin houses on a QFG sequel Kickstarter should you and Lori ever decide to make one lol!!

I was just thinking how at the King's Quest 3 & 4 mark we were playing as Graham's kids and no one expected to play as Graham again as he'd gotten old and married (the fairytale ending so to speak). Yet along came KQ5 where Graham had to put on his old adventuring hat & save his family, one of the best in the series! So there’s no reason our old hero can’t come out of retirement too! :)

Alexander Jhin
profile image
Much as I loved Space Quest, Hero's Quest (er, Quest for Glory) always held the warmest place in my heart. Between laughing my ass off and min/maxing like crazy, what more could you ask for? In some ways, QG was the ultimate RPG because it never felt like the RPG mechanics were dictating your available actions. The graphic adventure mechanics led to a more open style of gameplay.

I don't know if that makes any sense, but when I play a modern RPG, my brain immediately recognizes the rule set available for beating a quest (kill this bad guy, cast this spell, answer this dialogue tree, etc.) But with the text parser, as in QG, it was much more open ended. I still remember typing specific commands "pick nose", "eat mushroom", "say Babba Yagga". In that way, it felt more like role playing with a live Dungeon Master, than an RPG with a computer. And what great DM's Corey Cole and Lori Ann Cole are!

Jorge Molinari
profile image
Whoa! THE Corey Cole! I had to create an account here in Gamasutra just to tell you:

I LOVE YOU MAN!

My brothers and I all grew up on the Sierra games and have fond memories from all of them. I remember getting Space Quest III one summer day in ’88 and completing it in one full day with my two brothers. I still remember the song “Girl in the Tower” from King’s Quest 6 clearly in my head, despite never listening to it for the last 20 years. I also remember the instrumental tavern son of Betrayal at Krondor. (I think I’m going to do some Youtubin’ after I’m done writing this). I learned who was Jesse Bains long before I learned about Jesse James. I had my older brother ask me out of the room to type some stuff in Leisure Suite Larry; oh and the big black CENSORED box. But our favorite series were the Hero Quest games. To this day my younger brother and I have this running gag of talking in a Russian accent and saying: “In Mordavia we donte like X or Y”. So a huge THANK YOU Corey!

And if any other people from the Sierra gang are reading this:

THANK YOU for all the good times and sparking my imagination. You are all partially responsible for me becoming fluent in English as a second language. We had to keep a Spanish-English dictionary handy back in the days of typed commands. I also remember being mind-blown while reading in the Sierra Online Magazine about how sometime in the future people would be able to connect to play video games; and everyone you met in the game would be an actual player. I think Hoyle’s Book of Games was one of the very first attempts at online gaming. And here we are today with all the MMORP’s and Xbox Live.

I think I’m going to do some internet digging to read about the history of Sierra and what happened during the company’s last years as adventure games lost popularity. I know my experience was consistent with the industry. An Electronics Boutique opened nearby and, on a whim, I picked up a game called Warcraft Orcs and Humans; and that was that. But I do miss all those quirky universes Sierra created, they were a staple from my childhood.

Jeremy Reaban
profile image
Well, I really hope people consider supporting their Kickstarter project - as of now, they had 7 days left and have $180,000 to go, which doesn't look good unless people start supporting it.

I've seen a lot of outpouring of interest and nostalgia in articles like this (and ones elsewhere), but that doesn't seem to have translated into pledges...

Jeremy Reaban
profile image
5 days and $145,000, now.

John T
profile image
Thank you for this wonderful article, Gamasutra.

As a huge Space Quest fan, I am delighted to see a revival of the series and the reunion of Mark and Scott. I am, however, saddened to learn that there was so much behind-the-scene bad history between the duo, even though they appear to have patched things up now.

Leigh, I notice that you lifted a number of quotes from this gaming site Adventur Claissc Gaming about a supposedly infamous interview with Scott. Yet, you failed to include even a link to that source article, even though you acknowledged its importance. I had to Google the site to find it myself. Kinda of odd about the snub. Yet, there were two links in the article to the same Kickstarter page.

Likewise, SpaceQuest.net is apparently coordinating a lot of the fan effort to try to promote this project, which this article did not mention, though I think that I understand the editorial decision for the exclusion in this case.

Wayne Gardner
profile image
If people love it ..u should fork out then ..as at present ..its will fail!

Alexander Jhin
profile image
Back when SQIII came out, I begged my parents to take me to Sierra's offices. Somehow, they arranged a tour. I begged the PR officer to let me meet the Two Guys from Andromeda. She disappeared and some minutes later, there they were! While disappointed they didn't have pig noses, I was ecstatic! I asked them to sign a copy of the original SQ (they asked why it wasn't SQIII and I told them I wanted the original signed.)

So to anyone who experienced bugs in SQIV because the creators were out meeting some snot nosed kid, sorry. But to the Two Guys from Andromeda, thank you. You inspired me!

Gryff David
profile image
Oh man. I played a lot of the Sierra adventure games but none of them compared to the first 3 Space Quest games. I played them in the late 90's with my parents when I was a about 7 - 8 years old. Some of the most satisfying game experiences I've ever had. The text parser was partially what made it so enjoyable, at the time it wasn't such an abstract concept to me because I didn't grow up playing Call of Duty and Skyrim. I grew up playing Space Quest, Jordan Mechner's Prince of Persia and WarCraft I - So when I got around to playing the other 3 games in 2006, the mouse just felt out of place. Those first 3 games (along with many other games of the same era) are what made me want to get into game design even though I was born a couple decades late, those are the games that initially inspired me.


none
 
Comment: