The Quest: What I’ve learned about Writing from Sierra Games

ChristianWriters

With the new year, I have returned once again to participating in the ChristianWriters.com blog chain. This month, the topic is ‘The Quest’.

I love that topic. The word quest evokes strong thoughts and images. It makes us think of an epic struggle, a mission, some great task to be achieved. To me, the word quest will always remind me of the classic adventures games made by Sierra in the 1980s and 1990s. Amongst my favourites were the King’s Quest and Space Quest series. I thought I’d have a little fun with this, and share some lessons from these great quest games – applying those lessons to writing.

I learned from King’s Quest I: The Quest for the Crown to “Pick up everything because your pockets are infinitely large”

In most adventure games, certainly those created by Sierra, your inventory is unlimited. That means every object you see is a potential tool so you should pick it up.

I’ve found that in the writing life, you can never run out of space in your toolbox. Is everybody talking about a fantastic writing blog? Then make sure you visit it. Is Writer’s Digest giving away free eBooks? Make sure you download them all. The more resources to learn from the better.

I learned from Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter to “Get some sleep, but when you wake up jump straight into your quest.

Roger Wilco, the cleaner on the space lab Arcada, survives an alien invasion because he is asleep in the cleaning cupboard. Good on ya Roger! The only problem is that now he has to escape from the ship and save the galaxy single-handedly.

Sometimes in our writing life, we need to take a little break. I did this over December and January. I’ve put my serial The Colonists on hold for a time. The next episode will start soon. I was just so worn-out and burned-out at the end of 2011 (not specifically from writing) that I needed to recharge. Once the rest is over though, you need to get on with your quest, that is jump into the writing.

I learned from King’s Quest II: Romancing the Throne that “there is a great prize at the end of every quest”.

In the case of King’s Quest II, the prize at the end was a wife – certainly the greatest prize of all. My quest is to get my novel published. The sense of accomplishment will be a fantastic prize, not to mention holding a book with my name on the cover in my hands. If I make a little income off the book as well – even better.

I learned from Space Quest II: Vohaul’s Revenge to “make sure you help others along the way”.

In Space Quest II, you need to rescue a poor helpless little alien from a trap. There seems to be nothing ‘in it for you’ at the time but it is very important. Later in the game, he will remember your kindness and help you when you need it.

In the writing life, we need mentor figures that we can learn from. Not only do I get fed by several writers on the internet, I have also had the privilege last year of meeting a multi-published author who lives in my state who has given me much advice and encouragement. This is vital, but it is also good to be able to ‘pay it forward’. Recently a couple of young writers have come into my circle who I have had the honour of passing on some of what I’m learning. Try to have someone above you to learn from, and somebody below you to teach. If you are a Christian like me then I encourage you to trust God to help you find these people.

I learned from King’s Quest III: To Heir is Human to “not just sit around wishing your life was better. If you believe you are destined for greater things then go out into the world and fulfil that destiny”.

Gwidyion the slave boy is the protagonist of King’s Quest III. He believes that he was meant for more than cooking the evil wizard Mannanan’s meals. He doesn’t just sit around and wish though, he goes out and makes his destiny come true. This begins by escaping the clutches of Manannan.

In the writing life, we may need to stop dreaming and start chasing our dreams. All of my life I have written, and deep down somewhere I’ve always had a dream of being a published author, but it’s only really in the last couple of years that I’ve taken it seriously enough to really try to make it a reality.

and just one final one (I’m not going to go through every game or this article will never end)

I learned from King’s Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart go Yonder that “Every Quester needs a faithful companion – even if that companion is an annoying talking owl with a voice that makes you want to rip your ears off”. In this game, King Graham’s castle, his wife, and children are stolen away from him. The only one who witnessed this crime was a talking owl named Cedric. The voice acting of Cedric the owl makes most fans the the King’s Quest series cringe, and despite not really doing anything useful, he faithfully accompanies Graham on his Quest.

In the writing life we need people who will support and encourage us. I have a very supportive (and beautiful) wife who believes in me and encourages me to chase my dream. My parents are also extremely supportive and long to see that first book come off the press. Without them it would all be much harder.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my nerdy little journey into childhood nostalgia.

Note: You can buy the original Sierra games at GOG: King’s Quest. Space Quest. You can also play the first of each series for free in your web browser at Sarien.net. Also, you can download Infamous Adventure’s free fan-made remake of Space Quest II. It was just released a couple of weeks ago and it’s brilliant.

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About Adam David Collings

Adam Collings is a writer of speculative fiction who works as a software engineer during the day. He lives in Tasmania, Australia with his wife and two children. Adam is currently working on a science fiction novel.
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11 Responses to The Quest: What I’ve learned about Writing from Sierra Games

  1. Jack Brown says:

    enjoyed reading your post.
    can a non Christian trust God?
    biiiiiig hug

    • Good question Jack. I would say that yes a non Christian can trust God. Firstly, somebody who is say Jewish or Moslem could certainly trust God, although their beliefs about Him would differ from mine. Secondly, the act of becoming a follower of Jesus in itself is an act of trusting God.

  2. Pegg Thomas says:

    Fun post! I don’t know any of those games but I can relate to the scenarios you posted.

  3. Traci B says:

    Fun post, Adam. 🙂 I like the use of the games to relate the lessons learned.

  4. Chris Vonada says:

    I really did enjoy your Quest Adam, and welcome back to the blog chain 🙂

  5. This was just way too much fun! Terrific word play all the way through!

    I loved the way you related the gaming quests to your writing. I’ll be “filling up my pockets” today…

  6. Terrie says:

    Thank you Adam for these wonderful life lesson points you made from of all places- video games! But it’s not all that fantastic, because games we play reveal a truth or a path we’ve discovered or a quest we never considered! I loved the point of a reward gained at the conclusion of every mini-quest.

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