First published in CubedGamers (Printed Edition): November 2016
Earlier this year Infamous Quests announced that they would stop producing games, following the completion of their latest Kickstarter funded adventure game titles, Order of the Thorne and Roehm to Ruin. Regrettably, they announced that poor sales of their 2014 title Quest for Infamy, also funded on Kickstarter back in 2012 and released in 2016, meant that they could no longer justify the time commitment it would take to produce new titles.
The Kickstarter campaign for Quest for Infamy came at the tail end of the 2012 Kickstarter boom launched by Tim Schafer and Double Fine, which saw a number of former and current adventure game designers launch funding appeals to create new adventure games. Infamous Quests raised more than $60,000 dollars from donors to develop their game.
Having previously gained a reputation for updating vintage Sierra Online titles from the 1980s text parser input to the classic early 1990s point and click input, it seemed a safe bet that they would deliver a high quality adventure game experience. And indeed they did. Quest for Infamy is a well sized game with appealing retro graphics and a well told story.
There are a number of points which can be learned from the experience of Infamous Quests. The first is audience. Point and click adventures are now a niche genre, of which retro adventure games are just one small slice. Whilst Wadjet Eye continue to survive creating similar games, it’s understandable that to do so is very difficult.
The second is that of nostalgia. Back in the early 1990s, when adventure games were in their stride, both Lucasarts and Sierra Online attracted the devotion of hundreds of thousands of fans, who purchased each new title. Sierra in particular were prolific, with several Quest series – Police Quest, Space Quest, Kings Quest, Quest for Glory, Leisure Suit Larry – being produced simultaneously alongside other standalone games.
Former employees of Sierra have all spoken with affection about the special atmosphere that existed at the company, and regret its untimely demise of the company and the genre. Likewise, the eventual demise of Lucasarts – following years of focus on mediocre Star Wars games – makes fans equally nostalgic for those heady days when Guybrush Threepwood, Roger Wilco, and King Graham were kings. The desire to recreate the spirit of Lucasarts and Sierra is therefore one that is understandable.
Finally, is the issue of practicality. It would be great to try and recreate the glory days, but it’s debatable whether the audience exists to make it sustainable. The developers at Infamous Quests, like all of us, would like to make a living out of making games. And they do – after a fashion. Kickstarter allows a developer to receive the money up front to make their game – allowing them the time and the money to dedicate to creating their product.
In essence, your audience is the backers who are interested enough in your product to purchase it up front. Whether you are able to market the game successfully after you have released it is another matter. The developers at Infamous Quests tried their hardest in this regard, and it is a shame that they’ve not been able to get a suitable financial reward out of their efforts – indeed they have reportedly spent some of their own money in addition to the money they raised.
When they look back on the experience however, it should see it as a time in their lives when that was blessed to them by their fans and those who believed in them, and less so as a launch pad to creating a lucrative new career.