We're embarking on the development of an exciting new adventure game project. But to start, you may be wondering what we've been up to over the past few years. And to end, you'll probably want to know more about this project in development!
Well, I actually was hired by the Phoenix Police Department and attended the Police Academy, "Police Quest" style. But after the release of "Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine", we were approached by publishers, and I left to reunite with the team to concentrate further on adventure game development.
Also, as many of you may know, we spent considerable time making good on our promise over at AGDInteractive.com. We released the highly anticipated remake of "Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire" on August 24th, and released updated versions of our first two titles, "King's Quest I" and "King's Quest II". If you don't have the newest versions, be sure to download them-the visual enhancements, thanks to the Selwood's and Johan Botes, are worth the download alone!http://www.AGDinteractive.com
I even had the chance to go on an incredible real life adventure, riding my bicycle from my front doorstep in Phoenix, Arizona all the way down to Panama City, Panama. This involved being an honorary firefighter in Arizona; riding through the drug cartel territory of Mexico and going on a ride along with the Federali; being invited by the Mayor of Tequila to celebrate the last night of their annual festival; visiting the Mayan pyramids; living with a family in Guatemala; eating papusas in El Salvador; braving the scorching deserts of Honduras; white water rafting and nearly dying in a kayak accident off the coast of the Bay Islands; cycling by steaming volcanoes in Nicaragua; battling the stalwart winds and rains of Costa Rica and meeting our first three-toed sloth; watching enormous cargo ships squeeze through the Panama Canal; sleeping in hammocks on deserted Caribbean Islands, and snorkling by shipwrecks in the azul waters, while sailing in a Spanish sailboat to South America; galloping on trusty steeds through the Colombian coffee country; being interviewed by the news in the home city of Pablo Escobar; visiting Cartagena of "Romancing the Stones" fame; swimming with seals, penguins and hammerhead sharks off the coast of the Galapaos Islands; visiting the piranha infested waters of the Amazon River Basin and the towering Andes of Ecuador. We even learned Spanish. The six month adventure was as grand as the Sierra classics that we remember so fondly, and was even entitled "Hero's Quest" after the beloved "Quest for Glory" series. If you're interested in learning more, feel free to check out our blog detailing the journey (which includes pictures for those with short attention spans):
Bicycle Adventure Blog
While adventuring about South America, I began reading a design proposal from our talented game designer, Daniel Stacey. I realized, it was time to return home and start our next adventure-a classic style adventure game that NEEDED to be made.
It just so happened, merely a day after returning back to the States, Chris would have a stopover flight in Los Angeles on his way back to Australia from Canada. He would have precisely 12 hours before boarding a plane home. Being merely 6 hours away by car, and clearly seeing the stars were aligned in our favor, I made my way out to the LAX airport to pick Chris up and take him to a very special place. I arrived at the curb, straight from Phoenix, right as Chris was walking out of the airport - perfect timing as usual!
Battling Los Angeles traffic, we made our way to the most pivotal location in Himalaya Studios history... Disneyland. It was there that I had made the decision years earlier to follow my dream: start Himalaya Studios and move to Australia to work side by side with Chris on our first original game: "Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine". This would be Chris' first trip to the park, and it was here, at the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, that Chris and I recommitted to adventure game development and the future of Himalaya Studios.
Following our plan, a few months later, Chris made a proper return visit from Australia. We were approached by the Department of Homeland Security in regards to a computer game development contract, and were asked to present our ideas - but our sights were still set on our original game idea. It was past its incubation period and HAD to be born. It was time to return to our passion of classic style adventure game development!
We pondered what we could do to provide inspiration for this next project, and decided a road-trip across America would do the trick... and perhaps even a meet-up with a Sierra design legend on the opposite end of the country.
In 11 days, we managed to go on a whirlwind tour of America, visiting no less than 23 States. This adventure started in the Wild West of Arizona-in fact, the Anoziran setting of our first title, "Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine"
Little did we know when commencing this journey, our adventure would include a jaunt up the Rocky Balboa stairs in Philly and a tour (which we had no tickets for) of Independence Hall; a romp through the fields behind Abe Lincoln's childhood home in the backwoods of Kentucky, as well as a visit to an authentic Kentucky Fried Chicken; a stopover at the White House on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.; an outing to Bill Clinton's home in Hope, Arkansas; a visit to the Jack Daniel's distillery in the boondocks of Tennessee to obtain an inventory item requested from a friend; a perusal of the lighthouses of Maine, which ended in a very Carmen Sandiego-esque search for toothpicks; indulgence in a Spaghettio dinner at the creepiest Walmart (ever) in Rhode Island; a tour of the Big Apple (in which we got lost, much like Kevin McCallister from "Home Alone: Lost in New York") and more.
But of course, the highlight of our trip was visiting one Josh Mandel, legendary Sierra designer who has worked on such games as "Freddy Pharkus Frontier Pharmacist", "King's Quest", "Leisure Suit Larry", "Space Quest"...(you get the idea-a game developing God)... at his home in upstate New York.
We were on several days without sleep, as we had a LOT of ground to cover in far too few days, and wondered if it would be wise to visit a design legend in such a weary state. But it HAD to be done. Phone contact was made, and King Graham of "King's Quest" fame answered. I pondered how I could be so obtuse as to ask, "is this Josh?"-of course it was him! After all, how often does King Graham answer the phone?
Merely minutes later, we were making in-person greetings and entering the home of the hospitable Josh and his wife, Laura. What a joy it was! Josh was an eloquent speaker, and told us tales of the glory days working at Sierra, and provided updates on the lives of all of our favorite game developers of yesteryear. We sipped piping hot black tea as we listened with great enchantment. At one point, we were even offered the opportunity to extensively examine the annals of authentic Sierra art and design work! We sifted through dozens of detailed pieces of artwork, from character portraits to backgrounds, from the "Freddy Pharkus" game. It was quite spellbinding observing the sheer perfection and amount of detail in each piece.
In addition to being a talented game developer, Josh is also a gifted chef, and we had the opportunity to sample such delicacies as homemade blueberry muffins and ice cream. Josh's adoreable daughter was quite scared of the guests (us), but warmed up quickly, declaring her love for the "man with the funny accent" (Chris).
As the night wore on, we realized we'd need to find accommodation soon. Yet literally unable to drive to a hotel due to exhaustion caused by a lack of sleep and overabundance of adventure (as well as a busted headlight and our fear of Motel 6's after being accosted by an unusual and forceful character, smelling strongly of booze, by the name of Oliver C. Byrd, who claimed himself to be a Secret Agent and "a little too black, a little too white, a little too white collar, a little too blue collar, with no membership", days before in Philadelphia), we requested we be able to sleep in our vehicle parked in the driveway. Josh and Laura would have no such thing-like accommodating Kattas from the Katta Tail Inn, we were subsequently invited to sleep in their very home, upon the most comfortable mattress and couch Chris and I have ever had the joy of experiencing (although after sleeping in a car for most of the week, or not sleeping at all, just about anything would feel overwhelmingly comfortable!).
We were very careful to return all artwork before retiring for the night, lest a piece go missing, and Josh think we took it as a souvenir and never be invited back again.
The following morning, we awoke well rested, and realized we perhaps had JUST enough time to drive straight to Arizona and arrive at the airport to get Chris on a 20 hour flight back home. And drive we did! We accidentally ended up in line to enter Canada at one point, and made a stop over at Niagra Falls. From there, it was a race across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The states became larger and larger the farther west we went, and it seemed we would NEVER make it in time! Friends and family chomped at their fingernails in anxious anticipation, as if watching an episode of "The Amazing Race", wondering if we'd ever make it in time. But true to form, we met our goal and arrived at the airport-straight from Albany to Phoenix--exactly one hour before Chris' domestic departure to California, and ultimately a flight back to Victoria, Australia.
Previous game development promises met; several inspiring real life adventures under our belt; a visit with a renowned Sierra designer; we are now excited to embark on our next great journey-the development of our most exciting project to date. We will keep you updated every step of the way. Join us! Return often. Be part of our next great adventure.