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The 20-Year Estrangement of the Two Guys from Andromeda
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The 20-Year Estrangement of the Two Guys from Andromeda

June 1, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

And yet here the pair are now, on Kickstarter, stumping for a brand new Two Guys Spaceventure -- and laughing and joking around together on a Skype call with Gamasutra as if hardly any time has passed. Murphy in particular speaks with an almost uncontainable enthusiasm, effusing at length; Crowe is more measured, but possessed of a quiet warmth. How did it happen, and why now?

"I think it's become perfectly obvious to us that we have these loyal fans out there that really are desiring these games we used to make," Crowe tells Gamasutra. "We recognized and realized that we really had to get back to our roots. This is what we did well together, and I don't think either of us have experienced that kind of success or accomplishment that we had back in those days."

"Mark had the guts to reach out to somebody who he had no reason to feel might welcome him -- me," Murphy says quietly. "I give him all the credit for that. I know it took him a little time before he felt, 'I'm going to go ahead and hit send on this email,' because I was so harsh, and sadly it is a personality flaw with me that I sometimes over-express myself."

"Looking back, I realize I was a dick," he laughs.

There was more to Crowe's career decisions than Murphy realized at the time, he concedes, and in the emotional pressure cooker of Sierra's rocky latter days it was hard to think clearly.

"Because of how busy we were at the time, never getting a chance to stick our heads up above the surface of the water, I didn't have the sensitivity to realize Mark was raising a family... it was something I was totally ignorant about," Murphy reflects.

Each probably shares a little bit of the blame, they say: "We were younger and less mature," Murphy notes.

"We're young for our ages, so it works for us," adds Crowe. Both laugh.

Two Guys reunited.

Now that the Kickstarter age has created unprecedented fan demand for the return of some classics, it was the ideal time to get over the past. The slightly hollow feel of Space Quest V and VI spelled a certainty: "We knew there was no way we were going to be able to make a Space Quest-style game that was successful unless we were together," says Crowe.

“Our working dynamic at Sierra was that we would collaborate on story ideas and puzzle design,” recalls Crowe. “Then I'd dive into designing rooms, characters and animations while Scott dove into hooking all the art assets up in the game engine and writing the descriptive text… this was a dream setup because it was just the two of us in one office cranking out the bulk of the game content.”

One of Crowe’s favorite memories involves the day the pair, who had just decided to call themselves the Two Guys From Andromeda, headed up to Yosemite for a photo. “I had hastily thrown together a couple of rubber noses, mohawks and elf ears -- VOILA!” he recalls. “We drove up into the park just to snap this picture in front of Half Dome for the back of the Space Quest box.”

“At that moment in time, neither of us ever thought we'd make another Space Quest game or any other games of our own design, for that matter,” Crowe continues. “That was just a great day to unwind from the rigors of finally [finishing] our first title. It was a great day to be an Andromedan... a great memory.”

“We were the only two people in the building who understood each other on some levels,” Murphy recalls. "In that time we were working together, I had never had a partner before, and I didn't realize how well Mark and I had it.”

"We never, ever had a bad time in our partnership -- our biggest problems were in dealing with management,” he adds.

Looking back at the pair’s work, there are clear traces of the feelings under which they must have been laboring at the time. It's telling, perhaps, that in each Space Quest installment, Roger manages to thwart major threats to the galaxy -- and always goes un-thanked and un-promoted. In some cases he's even penalized for losing or damaging things along the way, without any recognition for baddies defeated, lives saved, or the seat-of-his-pants wit he had to use to avoid the game's popular, hilarious, and grisly death sequences along the way.

In Space Quest III, the Two Guys From Andromeda that Roger rescues head off to happy lives as Sierra employees, but there's no job there for him. Space Quest IV sees our hero working out the peculiarities of time travel -- featuring transparent anxiety about the forward-march of technology and the franchise's future.

Roberta Williams is known for her massive portfolio of defining storytelling adventure games, but the Two Guys shed light on another role she played within Sierra: as an unofficial advisor of sorts who helped frustrated young programmers deal well with her husband, Sierra boss Ken Williams.

"She was the only person who could understand what Mark and I were going through," Murphy recalls. "She was the only one who had been there the whole time, and she would come up with gems of advice about how to approach new projects, and what you can learn about what you've done that's good and that's bad. Because of my sarcasm about Ken... I don't think she realizes how much I appreciate what she did for us."

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