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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 3 of 3

Murphy says the Two Guys will still keep Roberta's advice in mind when deciding how to approach their classic-style games for a brand new audience. One of the challenges as the series matured was the shift from text and keyboard input to a more hybridized interface, which offloaded more of the environment interaction away from manual interaction and onto a simple click. Later Sierra games featured a Swiss army knife approach to the cursor, where frequently-used commands like "look", "take" or "use" had a mouse input.

Murphy recalls being a little frustrated with the change, as his favorite thing about Space Quest is the way he as a writer would use a fourth-wall breaking approach that, for many players, was a quiet revolution: He was fond of having the text interface tease the player for counter-intuitive choices, or of embedding small jokes and references in the wordplay between player and game.

Anticipating that stuck players would curse at the game, Murphy would have the text interface chide the player; he tells us he even fantasized about implementing a countdown clock to catch young players who typed in rude things once their parents left the room -- they'd get away with it at first, but a pop-up notice would call them out minutes later, when the parents had assumedly returned (tech limits inhibited this dream).

But he admits his purist's attitude toward the parser has gentled, thanks in part to ongoing social media dialogues with close fans, and he understands that some shortcuts are just intuitive and offer a better player experience.

"There's some torture that's okay and expected -- people loved the way we killed them. But mainly we've learned what to and what not to do, and we realized we're older, wiser, and have a few more tricks up our sleeve as a result," Murphy explains. "We have to make sure we still appeal to the people we appealed to back then as well as those who have grown up -- now they have children, and they felt good enough about those games to share them with their children."

Having the opportunity to address a modern audience is a complicated challenge for the stewards of a prior genre nonetheless. Crowe says the Two Guys are looking closely at fan feedback, engaged in a dialogue about what they want: "Do we want to do something with more of a retro feel, or do we want to take it to the next level? I look back at those games with a fondness, and that old vector graphic style has come back into vogue, and I respect that too," says Crowe.

One thing the pair says is that today's players may expect more action-oriented elements -- the challenge is how to provide that without forcing players who want verbal or intellectual puzzles instead to participate. They visualize multiple routes through a given puzzle, where players who excel at hand-eye coordination may use that skill and others can find a more patient solution.

Ultimately, says Murphy, "At some point we have to totally trust our gut, and hope that what we trusted back then is as powerful and accurate as it is now. We are dealing with the Xbox generation... we definitely have a challenge ahead, and we're definitely listening to our fans. We're trying to give them as much say as we can, but we also have to trust our guts and what it is that made you like what we did."

Thus far, working together again feels like a homecoming, the pair say. "Last week, I was able to spend five days hanging with Mark [at Crowe's home], and it was just really hard to describe the feeling I had," Murphy says haltingly. "To me, it was like the old days, but better. Especially since I've been out of that [game dev] world because of family, personal situations, and burnout... it was great to be around Mark, and to be able to draw from his energy and hear the things he had learned in his time with Pipeworks."

"It was great to bury the hatchet on the past and move forward," says Crowe. "I realized years ago it was our partnership that made these games great, and it's something I haven't experienced in the last 15, 20 years since I've been away from Sierra. I realized how much I missed that… we’ve come full circle back to our original way of working together.”

"I didn't realize what I had with Mark," Murphy adds.

Says Crowe: "Yeah, we realized how good we had it.”

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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