AyC: After the release of the remake of King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown by Tierra Entertainment, in which you took part as the voice of Graham, the sales of King's Quest 8: Mask of Eternity went up in an impressive way, so much so that the game was in the first places on the sales charts. A lot of suppositions came up with this, but in the last few days the rumour about Sierra Studios developing a new game based on the adventures of Roger Wilco is taking enough shape to be apparently true. Do you think this is possible? If this rumour were true and they ask you to work in the game, will you do it?
JM: I think it's possible. I know that Sierra has had some interest in reviving the King's Quest series as a result of Tierra's King's Quest I remake, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they have interest in reviving the Space Quest series as well, perhaps because of Vonster's Space Quest: The Lost Chapter and the unofficial Space Quest VII project. If Sierra asked me to work on the game, I would certainly consider it seriously.
AyC: A quite time ago we could see the promotion video of the unlucky Space Quest VII, which was going to be developed by Sierra and was finally cancelled. Now we've seen your name in the staff of the Space Quest VII project, wich is about to definitely make that awaited sequel. We're aware that making an adventure game of this kind is very hard. Will this ambicious project have a happy ending? If it does (something we really hope), do you think it will have any kind of repercussion? What will happen to the project if the romours we said before are cleared up?
JM: The team is committed to moving ahead with the fan game no matter what, and I think they will proceed even if Sierra works on an "official" Space Quest VII. However, it is a VERY ambitious fangame and I think it will take a long time to make because those of us involved have full-time jobs, or full-time school.
I'm not sure if there will be repercussions. Sierra did not take action against Tierra or Vonster, so they don't appear to be defending their copyrights aggressively. This makes me a little suspicious, but perhaps as long as fans aren't making money directly from the fangames, and the properties are treated with respect, perhaps Sierra doesn't mind. That would be nice. In fact, it would be too good to be true!
AyC: Along your brilliant carrer you have worked with other gurus of the graphic adventure: Roberta Williams, Al Lowe, Lori Ann and Corey Cole… Now you do it together with amateur and fan groups. What's the difference between working with Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe, and with a fan group? What are the pros and cons of each situation?
JM: The great thing about working with professionals like Al, Scott and Mark is that there is a lot to know about how game development works, and these people already know this information. Having been through the process over and over for many years, they know how to work within the system to make things happen the way they need to happen. They know, for instance, what comes first and what comes later, how to write details so that the artists and programmers know how to interpret them, and so on. The only disadvantage I can think of to working with highly experienced people is that they can become cynical or tired. But I don't see much of this, the people I've worked with have always been excited to be doing what they're doing.
On the other hand, working with a fan group is exciting because they have so much pure energy directed into their efforts. Unlike the professionals, a fan team is working for one reason alone: because they love the series and want to be a part of it. There is no bickering about how much they're being paid or how the company is treating them – there's no pay and there's no company! The disadvantages: the inexperience of a fan team means that they don't know the right order to do things, and don't have an idea of how to organize. For instance, we had one person who felt that it was extremely important to pin down the NAME OF THE GAME before going too far. That's the very last thing to worry about. Fortunately, our management is probably much better than that of most fangames.
AyC: During a long time you have earned yourself the reputation of "gag-man". Especially Space Quest IV and VI or Freddy Pharkas were really funny. As a matter of fact this last one was your first important work in a game (co-designer together with Al, director and scriptwriter). How was the transition from being a simple writer of manuals to take the responsibility for such an important project?
JM: It was not a difficult transition because I'd spent a lot of time watching the other designers work, and helping them as much as possible with as many different aspects of their job as they would allow me. Also, Al's first design helped because it was very "lean", and even though I expanded it quite a bit, Al really knows how to pack a lot of adventure into a small number of backgrounds. One of the great things about training with the designers at Sierra is that most of them were very collaborative and allowed me to be involved in many areas of development even though I might not have been officially on the game. Even beta-testing, before I went to Sierra, helped me learn how to communicate with programmers, which is an art by itself! Roberta, Al, Jim Walls, and the Two Guys were especially great about saying: "Hey, if you want to do such and such part of the game, go for it!". By the time I got to Freddy Pharkas, I'd already done so much stuff for other games (story development, dialogue, narration, click-events, testing, documentation) that it didn't seem like a huge deal. Having Al watching over the production kept me from making any big mistakes.
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