This interview originally appeared at the now-defunct Wilco's Domain and appears here courtesy of the Domain's former webmaster and Freelance Space Quest Historian, Troels Pleimert. The original interview was conducted in 1997.
Wilco's Domain: Tell me about how you came aboard Sierra, and about your time
Scott Murphy: It's been fourteen years since then. I can't remember because of the long
term loss of short term memory. Actually, it was a beautiful late winter day
as I recall. The birds were singing and spring was in the air blah blah blah.
Okay, I originally moved up to Yosemite to be able to backpack there whenever
I wanted. As it turns out, you also have to make a living. I was working as a
cook. A friend and colleague of mine, Doug Oldfield - whose name you will find
in the credits of many major Sierra games including a couple of Space Quests -
was also working in a restaurant except that his burned down (alledgedly with
a little help from the owner). He found a job copying disks for On-Line
Systems, as it was then called. Apple ][+ computers were the rage then. He
showed me some of the games he duplicated for the company - Softporn, the game
that Leisure Suit Larry 1 was a remake of, Mystery House and Wizard and the
Princess - and I was immediately hooked. I had to work at the place that made
these so I came in and Doug introduced me to the manager of Product Support
which is where he was working then. They had a hiring freeze but I just kept
coming by and hanging around until they got tired of watching me stand around
and finally put me to work giving return merchandise authorizations. I just
kept working my way up and around to the games eventually. You could do that
kind of thing back then.
WD: How did the idea for The Sarien Encounter pop up?
SM: Well, Mark Crowe and I knew that we wanted to do something different. Roger
Wilco was born shortly after Mark and I finished up another too serious game.
We knew people might want something different. We sure did. We then needed a
vehicle, as they say in the entertainment industry, to introduce Roger to the
world which was a lot smaller then. The Sarien Encounter was what we decided
upon. It was made to show what kind of guy Roger is, a path-of-least
resistance, subordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances. We were just
introducing him to whoever would take a chance and buy the game.
For those who don't know, at the beginning of SQ1 Roger survives the
slaughter of the crew of the ship Arcada by being asleep in his broom closet
during his work shift when the Sariens come aboard to steal the Star
Generator. Mark Crowe came up with the Star Generator idea. Roger ends up
saving the galaxy pretty much by accident, by just trying to save his own
butt. He's evolved a little since then. Not a lot, but some.
WD: After Space Quest IV, you left Roger Wilco indefinately, while Mark moved
to Dynamix to do SQ5. What is your own view of the situation?
SM: As I understand it from Mark, they didn't approach him to do SQ5 until he'd
been up there a while. He didn't go there with that intent. I don't think he
was tickled pink when they talked to him about it. We were both tired of Space
Quest. It was all that Mark and I did pretty much. We were burned out. As soon
as we finished one they wanted us to get to work on the next one. By SQ4 we
started getting a little bitter about the situation which resulted in a little
darker game in SQ4. Anyway, I really didn't know Mark was leaving for Dynamix
until he'd pretty much made the deal. It didn't take long before Ken wanted
another Space Quest. I don't know if it was my lack of interest or what but
they approached Mark to do it at Dynamix. They were doing adventures at the
time. I didn't know that it was being done until I saw someone down here
running a demo of it. They don't tell you a whole lot around here unless they
need you for something. Guess that's just a reality of the corporate
WD: Mark Crowe says that your breakup was friendly and painless, but I've been
told that you have a different view. Is this so?
SM: I was mystified by it when it happened but I got over it fairly quickly. I
really did enjoy working with Mark and we made a pretty damn good team for a
good amount of time. We still talk and email each other occasionally and we
usually have some pretty good laughs. We never had a big breakup or anything
like that. We both just needed a change. Mark decided his was in the
northwest. He'd been in California all his life and Oregon seemed like a good
scenery change as I understand it. Having been to Oregon since I can certainly
see why. Maybe we Two Guys just spent too much time in a room alone
WD: When you told an interviewer that, and I quote, "There will be more games
in the [Space Quest] series, we just won't be doing it", what made you come back
for Space Quest VI, and now Space Quest VII? (Just couldn't let Roger
SM: I guess it was one of those never-say-never situations. After getting a
rest and working on some others things, I was approached to do SQ6. At that
time I was programming on Police Quest 4 and it ran long, real long. In the
meantime, for whatever reason, they had Josh Mandel start working on a design
for SQ6. (BTW, Josh has a game out now called Callahan's Bar, from Interplay.
Check it out.) He'd been working on it for a couple of months before anyone
told me of the change. I was then relegated to "Creative Consultant." As it
turned out through twists of fate, I did end up being a designer and writer on
it. There is now enough time here at Sierra between sequels for one to get
rested up as well as psyched-up for them. Besides, they are a lot of fun to
work on and I always have great people to work with. That's very rewarding. So
on we go to SQ7.
WD: Which of the Space Quest games do you consider your crowning achievement?
(Please, don't answer "the King's Quest series" and then slam the door in my
SM: Would I do that? What you must think of me.
That's a tough call. I like the early parser games because I could put in
more interesting text to respond to some of the more bizarre player input. I
liked SQ3. Although it wasn't the longest game ever made it did have some fun
stuff in it and I'll bet more players got to the end of that game than just
about any other. Also, it was our first game with midi audio. That was back
when people were buying things like the MT-32 and LAPC cards which gave
incredibly great sound. Much, much better than what you hear through a Sound
Blaster 16. We got to work with Bob Siebenberg, the drummer from Supertramp.
Mark and I wanted to have a game that wouldn't be shoved back on the shelf to
collect dust. We wanted players to see all that we had in store for them and
to just have fun with less frustration and a nice sense of
WD: Rumors have been circulating about a possible collaboration-reunion
between you and Mark. Is there anything about the subject you'd care to
SM: I know it would probably be fun. However, there are no plans for it. I'd
consider it. I'm not sure what Mark would think about it. Never say never.
I've learned that lesson.
WD: Space Quest VII is, according to the rumors, going to be a hybrid of
adventure and RPG. Exactly what does this mean?
SM: Sierra wants more playability so that games can become multiplayer as well
as on-line game candidates. Were trying to achieve that while still staying
true to Space Quest which includes the adventure aspect. We don't want to do
something that will disappoint or alienate our loyal fan base. You folks are
important and we want to make sure you feel we've kept that in mind.
Unfortunately, the word "adventure" has been treated like a four letter word
around here of late. I think though that management is opening their minds a
bit while trying to understand what it is that you all want. That's in our
favor. If we can do that then we all win - the company and the players.
Otherwise we all lose and I'm the night manager at Burger King. It's going to
be a fine balance. Wish us luck.
WD: Rumors also have it, that SQ7 will include a multiplayer option. How do
you plan to pull this off?
SM: That's going to be tough. We have some ideas but can't disclose them at
this point in the process.
WD: What can you tell me about SQ7, story-wise? Most importantly, what is
Roger's new assignment, which Bea mentioned in the end of SQ6?
SM: Actually, that was Stellar who said that.
[I blame it all on cheap supermarket cola.
SM: The story is a work in progress. There's not much I can tell you this month
other than we will see more, shall we say, dimensions of Roger.
WD: What will the technical side of SQ7 involve? Rumors would have it, we can
expect it to utilize 3D. (Which will no doubt make my poor 486 explode.)
SM: There will be some 3D. That's the direction things are moving but we won't
rely on that too much. As you might know by now, Sierra's minimum system
configuration requires a 90mhz pemntium already and it's not going to get any
slower. We already did some cpu straining in SQ6. Having said this, we will do
our best to minimize the need for a megahertz monster to play SQ7. We can
already do things more spectacular than the average hardware out there can
handle. We do try to stay within the range of what the market can bear.
WD: More rumors: Beatrice Wankmeister will play an important role, and will
even be under the players control at a point in the game. I thought you, Josh,
Mark, and everybody else, where trying to shove the whole Bea idea, mainly
because of its nauseating predictability? What made you change your
SM: Like you said, it's a rumor.
WD: Will we see more of Stellar Santiago in SQ7? Can we expect some sort of
romantic feud? (Some moral stuff, for the first time since the mail fraud scheme
SM: Do you mean like a cat fight or something, Troels? What an interesting mind
you must have.
I still have Stellar in my mind and would like to have her reappear in SQ7.
She's a good character. Her presence at the end of SQ6 has to be followed up
anyway. Besides, the woman who did her voice, Carol Bach Y Rita was really fun
to work with. Very talented.
WD: Thank you for taking the time to do this with me. I greatly appreciate
SM: Thank you. You're more than welcome. Bye, kids.
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