Friday, 11 July 2014

Game 45: Quest for Glory II - Introduction

Hey, isn't that the same title style used on the Ultima 1: First Age of Darkness cover? Tsk tsk...

Well won’t this be a breath of fresh air! After the infuriating Altered Destiny, I now have the joy of revisiting my favourite adventure game series. Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire is the sequel to 1989’s Hero's Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero. The first game currently sits second on the Adventure Gamer Top Rated Games list, only topped by the masterpiece that is The Secret of Monkey Island. As mentioned in my introduction post for Hero’s Quest, Sierra were forced to change the name of the series prior to the sequel due to trademark issues, hence Hero’s Quest turning into Quest for Glory.

Rarely does a cover nail what a game is all about as well as this one did.

As with the first game, it was designed by Lori Ann Cole, although this time her husband Corey (who we’re extremely fortunate to have contributing to this blog) was her official partner in crime. They had a large group of programmers and graphics designers at their disposal, but it’s interesting to note how few of them were part of the team that produced Hero’s Quest. Corey and Jerry Shaw were still around as programmers, and Kenn Nishiuye and Gerald Moore returned for the task of creating the artwork and graphics, but the majority of the remaining dozen or so people were either first timers or had only recently cut their teeth on the King’s Quest remake. The Creative Director was Bill Davis (what exactly does a Creative Director do Corey?), and Robert Fischback (Police Quest 2) led the programming team. The audio elements were handled by Chris Brayman (who also worked on Police Quest 2) and of course Mark Seibert, who came up with the wonderful original Quest for Glory theme music.

It's amazing how little the Cole's have aged since this photo was taken. I suspect magic!

Quest for Glory II directly follows the events of the first game, with the intro literally kicking off with our hero and his friends Abdulla Doo, Shameen and Shema flying away from the town of Spielburg (where the first game was set) on a flying carpet. They will soon land in Shapeir, its middle-eastern-like culture heavily flavouring the visuals, audio and even plot of the game. It’s worth noting that players have the option of importing their character from Hero’s Quest, but I’ve heard this makes the game very unbalanced, with the hero being way too powerful to begin with. I’ll let you guys discuss whether or not that’s something I should do. I honestly can’t remember whether I did it when I played the game well over a decade ago. There’s also an added class called Paladin, but if my memory serves me correctly it’s only available to players who go through the game choosing the most honourable path.

The intro also contains one of the best Star Trek references in an adventure game, and there have been many!

I'll be playing the version that comes with the GOG collection, which is the only version there is. Quest for Glory II is often listed as being the first game to utilise the SCI1 engine, but I recall Corey suggesting the game should really be considered SCI0.5. I'll let him explain what that really means. The manual is much more detailed than the normal fare, including background details, a map, and a stack of information about various locations and creatures that I'll come across in Shapeir. I haven’t read through it all yet, but will do so before I begin. I have however read the “Story Thus Far...” section, and will finish this intro with its closing paragraph. “After a long and harrowing journey, you at last arrive in the magnificent city of Shapeir. Unfortunately, just when you thought you could take a well-earned rest, you discover that Shapeir has problems of its own. A Hero is needed here, too! Now you must become your character, and learn to think as he would, use his unique skills to experience the land of Shapeir, and be a Hero on your Quest for Glory.” Well I’m pumped! This is a call to arms...who’s with me!!!???

Hmmm...Restore Character, Fighter, Wizard or Thief? Let the discussion begin...

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance (see below for an example bet). If you get it right I will reward you with 50 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

Example Bet:
V’z nsenvq gur onfgneq unf pbzr onpx
Zbfg pregnvayl ur jvyy nggnpx
V’yy cynpr guvf fjbeq urer va zl cnpx
Naq bss V’yy tb, nf V nz…

Jung’f zl shyy anzr sbe 20 PNCf?

Extra Note: We're extremely lucky to have a generous sponsor like Lars-Erik. The person who correctly predicts what score I will give the current game (or are closest) will get to choose one of the next five commercially available games on the playlist. Lars-Erik will donate the game once a choice is made. So, if you predict the right score (or are closest), you will get 10 CAPs and a copy of one of the following games:

 The King's Quest 4 + 5 + 6 Collection from GOG
The Hugo Trilogy
Space Quest 4 + 5 + 6 Collection from GOG
Leisure Suit Larry: Greatest Hits and Misses Collection from GOG
Police Quest 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 Collection from GOG


  1. Random guess time -
    Wnpx Xrnar?

  2. And I'll throw in a 60.

    And I'll throw in a vote for importing your character on the basis that this is an adventure game blog so who cares if the combat is easy and importing might even give extra story or puzzle options - I could easily be wrong on the second point of course.

  3. Since CRPGAddict is playing with a Magic User imported from Hero's Quest, I suggest you play as a Fighter. That's optimal for getting on the Paladin quest line, although any class can theoretically do it. (It is very hard for a Thief.)

    My points guess is 75 - I think the improvements in puzzles and story compared to Hero's Quest will score well. But catching Secret of Monkey Island... That would be chutzpah. So about halfway in between the two is my guess.

    Bill Davis worked at an award-winning advertising and animation studio in Hollywood before coming to Sierra. As Creative Director, he managed all of the Lead Artists and two art directors - Bill Skirvin and Cheryl Sweeney. I think he also had responsibility for the music team and the game designers and writers. So basically the Creative Director ran all creative activities at Sierra - Everything except administration, programming, and production.

    Bill did a lot for the Sierra artists, including getting pay raises for many artists who were still working (after several years) at their starting pay. He was also largely responsible for the huge jump in Sierra art quality in the transition from 16-color to 256-color games.

    Unfortunately, Quest for Glory II was the guinea pig for the new art process, even though we were still in 16-color. We started with a complete storyboard of thumbnails (drawn by Kenn Nishiuye), which Lori considered unnecessary (but in hindsight was probably a very good thing). All of our art was hand-drawn as pencil sketches and scanned in. Programmers worked with the scanned pencil drawings while the art team painted them.

    This caused some delays, as artists naturally improve their work as they paint, so frequently elements in the final version of a scene did not "register" exactly with the earlier sketch versions. Since all movement and positioning in a Sierra game is hand-tuned, that required a lot of programming changes after we got the final art. I famously had to completely recode a scene because what I thought was a plain turned out to be the side of a mountain once it was painted.

    We vented some of our frustration with the process by mocking certain people and rules at Sierra in the game. I won't spoil them here (even with ROT13); see how many you can spot!

    Incidentally, Bill is back in Oakhurst and now a member of Yosemite Western Artists, an art group of which Lori is President. Talking with him, we learned that many of "his" unpopular decisions were actually mandated by top management (i.e. Ken Williams). Bill is an excellent artist in his own right, with work ranging from abstracts to photo-realistic landscapes and portraits.

    I started out as the lead on Quest for Glory II, but ran into some problems I couldn't work through. Bob Fischbach took over the lead programmer job to get the game finished and out the door. Incidentally, Bob was not new to our team - He set up the framework for room code in Hero's Quest and was the first to put puns in the "Look" messages. We liked his stand-ins and kept many of them, then I adopted the same style. Bob had a theatrical and music (guitarist and roadie) background. He was a self-taught programmer and sometimes did things the hard way. However, he was the best scripting and animation programmer I've worked with. His music and theatrical training gave him a great sense of movement and timing.

    That's why it's hard to point to "the" designer or "the" animator on a team; team members in every discipline work together to turn an idea into a game.

    1. Well, my heartfelt thanks to you, Lori, and the team for this game especially but the series as a whole.

      They really helped me survive the awkward teenage years.

    2. Actually, I do have something to ask, which has utterly driven me insane for years on end, now. In my second playthrough as a young'un, I had what I saw to be a game-breaking bug...

      V jnf n svtugre, naq jnf hc gb Nq Nivf' punzoref. V gevrq rirelguvat V pbhyq guvax bs nsgre trggvat bhg bs pbzong jvgu gur fgnghr - V xarj gung gur fbyhgvba, sebz zl Guvrs cynlguebhtu gur cerivbhf gvzr, jnf gb vagreehcg gur zntvp jvgu n pnaqyr. V gevrq rirelguvat, naq svanyyl erfbegrq gb n jnyxguebhtu juvpu V znantrq gb svaq ba n ohyyrgva obneq flfgrz... Vg fnvq 'eha vagb pnaqyr'. V gevrq gur cnefre. V gevrq culfvpnyyl zbivat zl Ureb vagb gur pnaqyr. Abguvat jbexrq! Jnf guvf cbffvoyl nf V unq zntvp fxvyy, be jung? (V'ir fvapr qbar vg frireny lrnef yngre, ohg V nz fgvyy hafher nf gb jurgure gung jnf n oht va zl pbcl/erivfvba bs gur tnzr, be vs V jnf whfg qbvat fbzrguvat fghcvq.)

    3. Gur xrl (sbe n Jneevbe) vf gb trg gb n fgvyy-hayvg pnaqyr juvyr qbqtvat Nq Nivf'f sveronyyf. Lbh pna'g qb nalguvat gb gur nyernql-yvg pnaqyrf orpnhfr gur zntvp bs gur prerzbal cebgrpgf gurz. Zl erpbyyrpgvba vf gung gur fbyhgvba jnf gb "xvpx pnaqyr" jura lbh jrer arne na hayvg bar. N thvqr V whfg ernq fnlf gb "trg pnaqyr".

      Bapr lbh'ir qbar gung, lbh pna punetr Nq Nivf gb xabpx uvz bire gur yrqtr. V qba'g erzrzore vs gurer vf flagnk sbe gung, be vs lbh fvzcyl nggnpx uvz.

      Gur "yvg naq hayvg" pnaqyr qvfgvapgvba vf nyfb vzcbegnag sbe gur bgure pynffrf, ohg gurl unir qvssrerag fbyhgvbaf sbe qvfehcgvat gur evghny.

    4. V jnf zber fb nfxvat vs gurer jrer zhygvcyr erivfvbaf. Fvapr zl rneyvre cynlguebhtuf, V'ir cynlrq gur tnzr frireny gvzrf naq unira'g unq gung vffhr - ohg gung bar jnf qbar jvgu gur bevtvany sybccvrf, jurer rnpu V'ir tbar guebhtu fvapr unir orra rvgure gur DST Nagubybtl PQ be zl pbcl sebz TbT zbfg erpragyl. Gur fbyhgvba vf whfg gb eha vagb gur pnaqyr jvgubhg glcvat nalguvat vagb gur cnefre, eha guebhtu gur synzrf gura qvggb jvgu ze. Nivf, vs zl zrzbel qbrfa'g orgenl zr. V zhfg unir gevrq fhpu qbmraf bs gvzrf va zl bevtvany, ohg raqrq hc univat gb hfr Pnyz/Erirefny/Sbepr Obyg. V'q nyjnlf jbaqrerq, vf nyy. :)

    5. V erzrzore jngpuvat n Yrg'f Cynl, jurer gur cynlre zragvbarq univat gur fnzr ceboyrz nf Ncrenzn. Gura n pbzzragre rkcynvarq gung vs lbh unir gur erirefny fcryy, gur tnzr gerngf lbh nf n jvmneq naq tvirf lbh gur jvmneq raqvat.

      *frnepurf LbhGhor sbe gur ivqrb* Vg jnf guvf bar:


    6. There was a scene in the endgame on which we had a lot of development issues, but it wasn't that final scene. The Thief endgame involved a room in which the player needed to avoid guards. The programmer initially built it with a specific invisible path the player had to follow. We had to completely recode the room to make it fair, fun, and in the spirit of the design document. In hindsight, that was an echo of what happened with the Kobold Cave in Hero's Quest. With the tight deadlines on these games, the last two months often involved heroic efforts to fix unanticipated problems.

    7. Bah, I was waiting for this game to pop up and ended to post something and it ended up being posted while I was without internet! I just wanted to give a sincere, if belated, thanks to Lori and whoever else was involved with writing the instruction manual for the game (all of the games' manuals are great btw)! There were a couple of lines in the manual about fraternizing with "the fairer- that is to say, preferred- sex" and enjoying the attention of "the opposite (or whatever) gender." There weren't many media things at all that were as inclusive and nonjudgemental as those little lines, and I'll just say it meant a lot to me personally to have that in there. So, thanks again to whoever thought it up and to whoever actually put it in the manual! (props for the gender-inclusive language as well!).

  4. Oh, and I will wager 10 CAPs (if I have any left) that: Gevpxfgre jvyy or noyr gb pbzcyrgr Dhrfg sbe Tybel VV: Gevny Ol Sver jvgubhg erpbhefr gb nal fcbvyref. Nffhzvat gung'f n yrtny org.

  5. Import your previous character and use the points to buy extra skills your old class otherwise wouldn't have - especially magic.

    As for score, I'll guess 65. I don't think it's quite as good as the first game, because it's much more linear and has more limited exploration.

    1. I think Quest for Glory is more challenging and fun with a "pure" character - not adding any skills that aren't normally part of your class. A Thief with Magic, for instance, seems almost too easy.

    2. I have an all-purpose Paladin (could steal but won't), all-purpose Wizard (could fight but won't) and an Arcane Trickster (Thief with Magic; could and would do ANYTHING to achieve his goals) in my saved games. I guess the RPG elements for me to max out all stats got the better of me. =P

      I'll take 69 for this game! XD

  6. There's really no downfall to importing yourself. It's essentially the equivalent of grinding being pre-done for you in the previous game. You're not so overpowered even if you 100% demolished the skill system in QFG1 that you won't find certain fights/instances that tax your abilities. Zrei gur Tevssva, n Greebefnhehf, Enxrrfu, (vs lbh fbzrubj znqr vg gung sne jvgubhg jbexvat bhg lbhe novyvgvrf) gur Rnegu Ryrzragny be Xunirra fcevat gb zvaq.

    As this is legitimately my favourite game - not adventure or whatever, just -game-, I'm going to go the super biased and say 90, and damn you if you call my heart wrong! (I can play through it, too!)

  7. I'm gonna guess 63. I liked QfG2, but imho there is too much idle time in which you have nothing to do. I think QfG I was better at stating goals for the player tbh.

    I think I'll try and play the unoffical remake if I have the time (

    1. Unofficial remake eh? Good idea! I don't feel like struggling with a parser at the moment (even a good one) but would like to play the game to get a feel for the plot of a classic with an updated interface.

  8. I'm going with 66. I think I got frustrated at the time with some timed event or other, but so many people have expressed their love for the game that I'll be happy to give it a second chance.

  9. I'm going 70, I've decided. Ignore previous comment

  10. 73. I will de-lurk and play along, having just finished it as a Magic-User and will start a character as a Thief.

    I recommend AGAINST multi-classing as I think the game is such a joy to play through the different puzzle solutions and you are only forced to do that when you play it straight. I also agree that you get a slightly better balanced game if you do not import, though there is plenty of head room to grow even if you do import.

    On my Magic-User playthrough, I became a Paladin by accident and ended up creating a new character for QfG3 to get around a nasty bug there where Wizard Paladins are unable to complete the game.

  11. If this is a legal bet: Vs vg vf n yrtny org, V jvyy org 10 pncf (nyy V unir) gung lbh unir qnlf jurer lbh unir abguvat gb qb ohg svtug be fyrrc be jnfgr gvzr, orpnhfr lbh jvyy fbyir gur chmmyrf gbb dhvpxyl sbe gur tnzr.

    1. No, I'm afraid it's not. Too bad though, as it was definitely correct!

  12. And a spoiler for a possible game bug / restore scenario that experienced ADVGamers can confirm if my memory is correct:

    Va gur Svtugre fbyhgvba, vfa'g vg cbffvoyr gb qrnq-zna-jnyxvat lbhefrys ol jvaavat gur nez jerfgyvat zngpu gbb rneyl naq arire trggvat n punapr gb jva gur oryybjf?

    1. V jnf haqre gur vzcerffvba gung lbh pna whfg nfx uvz sbe gur oryybjf yngre, bapr gur ryrzragny neevirf? Creuncf gung jnf cbfg-cngpu gubhtu... (be va gur erznxr) V pna arire erzrzore!

  13. Quest for Glory II remains my favorite game of all time, bar none.

    Probably part of the reason for this is a silly story from long back when the game first came out. I was in elementary school when QFG2 was released and one day I brought the disks over to a friend's house to show him the game.

    He and his family were very strict fundamentalist Christians, though I didn't know it at the time. We started playing the game. We get to Shema's dance and she starts shaking her thing and...the computer suddenly dies.

    His mother, in a rage, had ripped the surge protector that the computer was plugged into completely out of the wall. The computer then suddenly made a trip to his parent's bedroom and he was sent to his room, assured that he would never be allowed to view, and I remember it to this day: "Such disgusting sexual perversions!"

    Needless to say my parents were summoned quite quickly to pick me up and out of fear of his rabid mother I never hung out with him ever again.

    Shema's dance does seem like an odd placement. It serves no actual gameplay purpose, but it was clearly made with dedication. Maybe someone at Sierra had a fetish? The world can only wonder.

    1. Well with Corey here providing insight, maybe the world will wonder no more! ;-)

    2. Sure thing. :-) The animation was done by Jerry Moore, who was also one of our main artists on Hero's Quest. Incidentally, Jerry was and is a devout Christian, and obviously did not have any problem with animating a sexy pixellated Katta dancing in a bikini. Seriously, if people have trouble with that level of depiction, what is wrong with them?!

      Shema did not dance in the first game because we didn't have the budget for it, and the entire game was on such a tight deadline that we only had time to focus on the main quest lines. With her return in QG2, we could "flesh out" her character a little more. So to speak. Lori's main purpose was to show Shema as a 3-dimensional character who was more than just the innkeeper's subservient wife.

      From Lori's Dec. 12, 1989 "Trial by Fire Actor Descriptions" notes:
      Description: Very attractive female Katta with light green eyes. Wears extremely sexy belly-dancing attire in shades of purple and light blue with assorted bangles.
      Personality: Shy, easily embarrassed by questions, loving, practical, tends to defer to husband. She is the one who really runs the Inn. Skilled in cooking, accounting, and belly dancing. Uninhibited while dancing; shy otherwise. Contented and pleased to be in her homeland again. Can't sit still for long, she enjoys keeping busy.
      Locations: Katta's Tail Inn
      Purpose: Provides food and drink, dances to attract customers to Inn
      Actions: Walks, serves food, dances, looking shy
      Classification: Minor character
      Key Information: (Excised potential spoiler); Food, dancing
      Secondary Information: Woman, Kattas
      Notes: Introduced in HQ1. Wife of Shameen and co-owner of Inn. Takes a motherly interest in the Hero.

      So, why is there a scantily clad, furry, sexy, dancing cat-woman in the game? Shema is there to emphasize the enlightened society of Shapeir, in which men and women are treated equally, as are beings of all races including furry cat people. This is contrasted later in the game with a less enlightened society, and is social commentary on our own world hopefully presented in a subtle and entertaining way. It's part of the stealth-educational message of the Quest for Glory series about what constitutes true heroism.

    3. Thanks, Corey.

      I find these tidbits from developer's notes fascinating!

    4. It's ironic that her dance is to emphasize the enlightenment of Katta society given what reaction it invoked. And yes, there clearly was something a little wrong with the woman! I can only hope she got over whatever hangup she had before the Internet invaded all of our lives.

      Skilled in cooking, accounting, and...belly dancing?! What a woman! Thanks for answering my wonderment so thoroughly, I'm certainly glad you've saved your notes after all these years.

    5. "Make a me a sammich, woman!"

      Shema sashays out of the kitchen in her bikini with a sandwich filled with fresh crispy lettuce, roast beef drenched with spicy cream cheese and a side of warm potato mash bathed in bread sauce & sauteed onions on a silver platter.

  14. A great game, although I don't consider it to be quite as good as the first or fourth in the series.

    I'm going to guess 71 for the final score, I think it improves in some aspects, but not in any major way except for perhaps the fighting.

    Good thing the weekend is here and I'm not busy! I'll be playing along with my maxed-out character, and continuing with the process to get 200 in every stat/skill (or as near as possible, shouldn't be an issue but there is a more strict time-limit).

  15. 72, especially if the Mage path is chosen.

    The linearity will be offset by the puzzles and theme, methinks.

  16. Probably my favourite QFG-game. I actually enjoy the more linear structure of the game, as it makes it more like I am engaging in a real story. Also, the plot feels more mature and has darker tones than the first game. The only complaint is that if you already have a strong character, you'll probably spend lot of days doing nothing, but sleep (then again, it's easier to spend your time sleeping than in the first game).

    I guess it will go over 70, although not that much, let's say 73.

    As for the character, I'd vote either for continuing with your fighter character and trying to go for Paladinhood, or if you don't want to become paladin, choose a thief, because lockpicks, ropes and oils are just so cool.

  17. I'll guess 72. I'm planning to play along if I get time too. I've played it before but never finished it.

  18. Quest for Infamy is released on Appropriate time for it. By the way, I'll guess 71 and I'll be playing along. It's been too long since I played the original and not the remake. By the way, Cory, what are your thoughts on the remake and did you play it?

    1. I thought the remake looked great, but the combat was too difficult. As a Thief, I stepped out into the desert, fought the first thing I encountered, and died without having made even a dent in the opponent's health.

      I then discovered that I had been too immersed in the game to ever save, so I had lost all of my progress. I was more angry at myself than the game, but gave it up in frustration and have never tried again.

      I had a similar experience replaying Quest for Glory V. There was a debugging option that got left in the shipping game by mistake. On the opening screen, you have the option to "Go into danger", which took you directly to a combat room. That got you into combat before you had a chance to build up skills. I tried it 3 or 4 times, had a hard time figuring out the combat and spell casting interface (no manual handy), and got slaughtered every time. The final time, I immediately left the scene to avoid combat, went on the road, and couldn't find any relevant plot points or puzzles.

      I emphasize that none of that was supposed to be part of the early-game experience. If you click the other button, you start in the city of Silmaria, get the plot lead-in, and have plenty of things to do that your character can handle. But the existence of that testing button had ruined the experience for me, so I abandoned that replay as well.

    2. I have that same problem with save games; the more I'm enjoying them, the more likely I am to forget to save, unless the game has trained me to save often (*cough* Baldur's Gate crashing every 5 minutes on my Pentium 3).

      I enjoy autosave a lot, but that is a bit dangerous in a lot of games; I was playing The Witcher and dead-ended myself in several quest lines, so went back to the start. Luckily I had a lot of saves, and if I'd used autosave wouldn't have.

      Still haven't gone back to it though, I really should.

  19. I'll guess 67. I don't remember liking this as much as the first when I tried to play it. Never did manage to figure out the interface. I don't remember having a map in the compilation I was playing, so that and the text parser made things rather difficult.

    I'm not sure why everyone is suggesting you'll have an easier time with an imported character. My first time through back last year I ended up with a character that was weaker than the starting character in the second game. So, I went through again and grinded up, but depending on how much grinding you did (I don't remember from your posts) there may not be that much difference. For my own sake, I'm going to take the three characters I completed through the second game and make a fighter/paladin to join them through to the end to see if there are many classes differences.

  20. Favorite adventure game of all time.

  21. And... just won as a Thief. V pbzcyrgryl sbetbg gung gur jubyr raqtnzr jnf qvssrerag nf n guvrs. N irel avpr fhecevfr.

    I had intended to play along with the blog, but I guess I got carried away. Since I just beat it as a Magic User last week or so, I only have as a Fighter left. Let's see what I do.

  22. I played only a remake with the original design (you can choose also a streamlined one) but it was a disappointing experience for me. I will go into details commenting the Final Rating post unless I am not the only one who found some design choices unappealing.