Sarien.net


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Rating: 4.5/5 (64 votes)
| Comments (16) | Views (33)

MarcusSarien.netIn the late 1980s, home computers were slowly making the transition from the thing your parents used to balance their checkbooks to a legitimate form of entertainment. Computer games at the time were mostly text-based works and games with simple ASCII visuals. Soon, graphical games started to take hold, and among the heavy-hitters of that time were a group of adventure games created by a company called Sierra On-line.

King's Quest, Space Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry made Sierra On-line a household name with gamers. Their complex puzzles and wacky sense of humor were extremely popular and have been emulated time and time again. Of course, as with many things that are seen as out of date, these classic games have made way for larger, more advanced games in the decades that followed. For many players, though, these classics can never be topped. That's where the website Sarien.net comes into play. It is at once a multi-user graphical chat room and a place to relive these timeless games right in your browser window.

Sarien.net's story goes back to 2003, when founder Martin Kool, a fan of the old Sierra adventure games, decided to open up a graphical chat environment based on scenes of the old games but without actual gameplay. Nearly four years later, Martin, after seeing what he believed to be the mishandling of the old adventure properties by both Sierra and then Activision, decided to try and work out a way of incorporating the actual gameplay into the core of what he had developed for his graphical chat environment, allowing people to enjoy these games on the web, while still keeping the chat aspects alive. With the help of fellow programmer Sjoerd Visscher, they were able to replicate the logic behind the original game code, and soon games like Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge and King's Quest III: To Heir is Human became available for all to play on the web in their entirety. Today, Sarien.net boasts a larger collection of games, and the list is always growing. And there was much rejoicing! (yeah)

Sarien.netSarien.net does add a few new aspects to these games. One is the ability to jump to different sections of each game instantaneously, either through the navigation on the main page or by bookmarking different spots. Using bookmarks, you can effectively save your position at any time, or skip to your favorite scenes without playing through the beginning of the game.

The other, more important aspect of the games as they exist on the website is the fact that multiple people can be playing at the same time. There are no cooperative aspects added to the gameplay itself (sorry), but this does lend a distinctly social aspect to the gaming environment. I found myself entertained watching other players try to make their way through games. Some would get frustrated (these games were, and still are, notoriously difficult to get through), but others provided quite a bit of enjoyment as they stumbled around the different screens.

Sarien.net is truly a labor of love for Martin. He is always working to add new games to the site and to fix bugs that may have crept into the existing games. He derives no monetary reward from the project (there aren't even any ads on the site), but has garnered quite a bit of notoriety for his work from various corners of the web, including Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe.

As a fan of these classic games myself, it would be great to see Blizzard/Activision devoting as much time to them as Martin has. But in the meantime, Sarien.net is a superb tribute to this era of gaming history, and should be visited by anyone curious about these games, or just wanting a chance to play around in a unique chat environment.

Visit Sarien.net

16 Comments

Black Drazon Author Profile Page January 22, 2010 1:30 PM

I feel I should point out that King's Quest 1-7 and Space Quest 1-6 have been re-released on Steam.

Anyway, I'm surprised to see this mentioned here. Every forum I've seen where it gets mentioned it cracks down on it like it's a warez site, but if Activision Blizzard had a problem with it, you'd imagine they'd have heard of it by now. Frankly, I'm too busy trying to finish the aforementioned KQ1-7/SQ1-6 to go play Gold Rush one way or the other...

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Reminds me of that site which plays old mac games. Loves these type of sites and I love Gold Rush.

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Space quest! King's quest! I've missed these games so much! Excellent find!

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I'm sure it's hard for some of the younger gamers to look at these games and realize that in their day, they were the pinnacle of gaming.

King's Quest I was my introduction to graphical adventure gaming, and I can remember staying up into the wee hours exploring it. Space Quest, Police Quest and Leisure Suit Larry were also in my inventory back then.

The gaming industry owes Ken and Roberta Williams a debt of homage for inspiring PC users to take a break from using their computers as a business tool, and realize its potential as a recreational window.

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Sometimes I think that they still are the pinnacle of gaming. :) Not trying to insult modern-day games, really, just that these were so incredibly good. It's a pity that the genre is so neglected by the big-timers now.

I will definitely be playing through some of the ones I missed and which haven't had modern-day re-releases.

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Smoothfonzo Author Profile Page January 22, 2010 10:43 PM

This is pretty amazing. Kudos to whoever put this together. I think this is a great way of re-experiencing, or in some cases, experiencing old games with an interactive component as a twist.

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I'm not sure if anyone else has actually tried to play these games, but they are super glitchy and often result in freezes.

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brokenrecord Author Profile Page January 23, 2010 12:35 AM

Agreed Tinolor. I like a classic game as much as the next person, but these are nearly impossible to actually play.

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Anonymous January 23, 2010 2:37 AM

thats pretty awesome.. though i still use dosbox to emulate dos to play old games like kings quest... i recently hooked my dad up back with Loom (the original spellcasting by music adventure) which he never managed to finish and of course.. King's quest V which was the first game we kinda played together to work on the puzzles. but this site is awesome

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Not playable. They are too glitchy. I agree these were great games but not in this format.

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Eddie the Red menace January 23, 2010 7:36 PM

I really wish I could give this a good review- I really want to play these games. But, thing is, I find the multi-player aspect of the game intensely weird. I don't like starting out leisure suit Larry with four other Larrys on screen at the same time, wandering madly off in all directions.

Also, the glitches really irritated me. I would be interacting in one room, and find myself in another screen altogether. I don't know why, either; was it part of the game play of the original? Often pressing the wrong key would wind me back at the website.

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Yeah, this was nostalgic, but the ~3 games I tried were super glitchy, rendering the games basically unplayable past a few screens.

I think, in any case, that these games have not actually aged very well. I really enjoyed them when I was a kid, but in retrospect the puzzles are illogical and more of a case of guessing and trying lots of combinations than actually logically working something out. The last time I played them I did not have nearly as much fun as I did simply watching playthroughs on youtube.

For all sorts of nostalgic fun, youtube search for:

King's Quest 3 longplay
Police Quest 1 longplay
etc.

All the fun of seeing all the various locations and watching the story unfold without having to fight with the parser or falling off stairs :)

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no one has a walkthrough to share?

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These are/were mainstream games; walkthroughs are available at gamefaqs.com and lots of other places.

That being said, these versions of the games on sarien.net, as mentioned before, are so buggy and glitchy that they are likely not really playable. You may be able to acquire a few inventory items, but anything with more complicated states or timers are pretty jacked up, and if you haven't played the games before, you'll be more confused than anything.

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I have had good luck with Police Quest, so far. No randomly ending up on other screens, although after a car crash (I'm not good at the car) I sometimes find myself having to close and reopen the tab. I learned compulsive saving from Sierra back in the day, though, so I really haven't had any annoyances. I have played on two different computers (both running Firefox), in three or four different sessions, and my save game has worked great. Perhaps the other games are more glitchy, or perhaps I'm just lucky, I dunno yet.

PS. You can turn off the multiplayer aspect.

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I would love to recommend this to folks, but I can't. The first time I stumbled across it, I sat down and started playing Space Quest, because it is one of my greatest adventure gaming loves.

Immediately, another user showed up, and started using crude racial slurs.

I turned off the multiplayer aspect, and was left with a buggy version of one of my favorite games. So I stopped. I own most of the games covered from long ago, and the largest thing that Sarien.net brought to the table was not very interesting for me.

Although I do have to say, last time I was there at least, you could browse the game assets as well. That was pretty entertaining.

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