Leslie Balfour should be a familiar name to Sierra fans.
Since joining the company in 1993, she has been involved in a number of projects in every
capacity from writer to voice actress. Recently, she had
a major hand in the of Sierra's on-line fantasy adventure, the Realm, and is
now working on the Space Quest 7 project as co-designer with Scott Murphy.
The Virtual Broomcloset recently had a chance to talk with Leslie about SQ7;
here's what she had to say...
What cosmic coincidences and twists of fate brought you to Sierra?
In 1993, I was working as a carney for a small circus called Wanda's
Big Top and Catering. As fate would have it, we were on our way to
North Fork, California, to do a rich kid's birthday gig, when the front
truck (the one carrying Wanda--she always had to be first) lost its brakes
and plunged over the side of a mountain and caught fire. Thank heavens
no one was hurt, but the big top was in that truck, so we were pretty much
without the inventory necessary to put on a circus. At that point we broke
up the act.
JM: Once a part of the Sierra
family, how did you come to be involved with the Space Quest series?
Wanda was pretty mad about the truck burning up,
and blamed me for absolutely no reason, just because I was the mechanic.
She left me on the side of the road with my thumb sticking out. I
couldn't get a ride, though, because I was subbing for the bearded lady
that month. Out of desperation, I walked down to Sierra and put in
an application. They gave me a job, insurance paid for the beard removal,
and the rest is history.
drew straws and I lost.
You're currently helping out with newest edition of the Space Quest Collection.
What extra goodies can fans expect to be included with the product?
Is there a tentative release date yet?
No really, but seriously folks, I was writing much
of the documenation for Sierra, and Josh Mandel asked me to do Popular
Janitronics for SQ6. At almost the same time, Scott Murphy
asked me to help on a tchatchka for the Space Quest Collection to enhance
the value of the product. So I wrote the Making of Space Quest video,
then directed it. That's me as the lawyer. Wow, I just do it all.
I'm not involved with that product except that I proofread the documentation.
I think the AVI will be included in hi-res, and I'm sure SQ's 1 through
6 are in there, but beyond that I have no idea. We're working to
include an AVI that serves as a commercial for SQ7. The Collection
should be out by the end of August.
JM: So, can you let us in on
some top-secret tidbits or mysterious musings about the plot of Space Quest
Scott has cooked up a plot twist that is going to leave players
both gasping and gagging. When he told me, I thought, of course!
Why didn't I see that before! This one will have tongues wagging.
I mean, it's going to be more shocking than the O.J. verdict. However,
Scott told me that if I breathe a word of it, he'll do to me what Fred
Goldman is going to do with that Heisman Trophy.
JM: So far, the various Space
Quest games have set their sights on various science fiction cliches and
opened fire with both barrels. Is there a specific target or targets
in mind for SQ7? Rumors have pointed to the X-Files getting its fair
share of abuse...
am a major X-Phile, and so are most of the other team members. Plus Jay
Lee is a big fan of Gillian Anderson, and I think he wants to program her.
So barring lawsuits, I think you can safely assume that the truth will
be in there.
JM: From a woman's perspective,
what is your take on the whole Bea/Stellar dilemma which Roger faces?
Men In Black is also a popular favorite around here.
You can expect an Independence Day send-up as well. And to complete
the circle, we'll also be satirizing prior satiric Space Quests, which
we're hoping won't rip a hole in the time-satire continuum, forever changing
humor as we know it.
like Stellar, but the boys here at Sierra and out there in Customerville
tell me that Beatrice is HOT. I'm basically outnumbered. I think Roger
will continue to toy with Stellar, and continue to be toyed with by Bea.
Ain't love grand?
JM: With multi-player capabilities
planned for SQ7, is there any word as of yet on what characters (other
than Roger) will be playable?
Roger, and we're thinking that everyone will play Roger, even in the multiplayer
version! And I'm going to let you mull that cryptic statement over
for a while before I explain. (And that will give me time to figure
out what I meant.)
JM: How is production on
the fabled SQ7 demo progressing at the moment? Has it been determined
if the playable prototype be a stand-alone mini-game like the SQ6 demo
isn't being developed yet, though we know what we're going to do.
I hope to have a skeleton crew going soon, but the presiding rule here
is that if there's a resource conflict between teams, the team that's shipping
first gets priority. Which means that SQ7 is at the very bottom of
the food chain right now, and the sharks are circling.
JM: What is the average
day like for the SQ7 design team? Do you, Scott, Jay, and the
rest of the crew find time to mix in plenty of fun with the design chores?
The demo will be developed in two phases.
First, we'll want to show Ken Williams and other senior managers a version
that will give them an idea of the game, but which doesn't have to be that
stable. (Ken dislikes anything more stable than he is, so we don't have
much of a high water mark to worry about.) When we're given the green
light (which we will be--this game is going to be HOT) we will stabilize
the demo, polish it, and force it on victims like yourself. It will be
fully playable with a self-contained story, and Jay even hopes to make
it stand-alone AND multiplayer.
yesterday was a typical day. I got here about 10, woke up Scott,
took out the empties, and started playing Diablo. Then about 1:30
I felt a little hungry, so I went upstairs to see if Jay had the Mr. Soylent
working. He did, so I had an ice cream cacciatore (he has it working,
but it isn't fixed). Then I threw up, drank a Jolt Cola, woke Scott
up again, and played some more Diablo. Then I got on the Internet
and sent the emails about the Darwin Awards and the little boy who needs
business cards to everyone I know for the twelfth time. By that time
it was around 4 PM, so I went up to the studio and watched Oprah.
Then I came downstairs, woke Scott up, chewed a pack of gum, fired up my
Squirrel Nut Zippers CD, and did some calisthenics. Then I made some
personal long distance calls, emailed Josh with the latest Sierra gossip,
woke up Scott, and played some Tetris. Then at about 9 PM I left
for the last showing of Men in Black.
JM: In light of your current
involvement with Space Quest, are you now officially the Gal from Andromeda?
If so, have you been fitted for a pig snout and mohawk yet?
As you can tell, we're really putting in the long
hours to get SQ7 out as soon as possible.
snout and mohawk? Scott said the new Andromeda outfit is a corset
and spike heels! I'm gonna rip that ugly little snout right off that
smug little face.
JM: We've all heard the debate
over Scott's coffee-making abilities (or lack thereof). Here's the
real question everyone has on his or her mind: in a knock down, drag
out fight between you and Scott, who would win?
Scott's scrappy, but whenever he starts getting the upper hand, I cry.
Then he stops fighting and asks me what's wrong, and I womp him one in
the flanger. He may be scrappy, but I cheat. (Him Holyfield -- me
JM: Thank you so much for your
time! Any parting words to the fans out there?
Return to Interviews!
Stumble your way back to the Broomcloset!
Special thanks for Leslie for her cooperation
and Troels Pleimert for the use of his image!
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page is maintained by Decaffeinated Jedi, copyright 1997.