This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
In their peak years in the 1980s and 1990s, adventure games – both of the text adventure and point-and-click variety – liked to make a big virtue of the writing and dialogue which went into them – for instance, the term “interactive fiction” was applied to text adventures to stress their literary qualities. Of the major publishers of the point-and-click era, Sierra by far went the furthest with this by presenting the lead designers on their game lines in a manner akin to bestselling authors; from Roberta Williams’ positioning as the creator of the King’s Quest game onwards, each series tended to be strongly associated with a particular lead designer who was presented as an auteur, to the point where it wouldn’t be unheard-of for said designers to convert their game scripts into novelisations.
Jane Jensen had joined Sierra after leaving a systems programming job at Hewlett-Packard, seeking a more creative role. At first she cut her teeth as an assistant writer on various projects, including co-writing King’s Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow with Sierra chief Roberta Williams – and given that this was arguably Sierra’s flagship series and was closely tied to Roberta’s name, that suggests that Sierra management thought highly of Jane’s capabilities. When you came into the top flight of writers at Sierra, your own series wasn’t far away, and Jensen was duly given her own series to head – Gabriel Knight, a series of occult horror mysteries in which the titular character goes to various atmospheric locations and uncovers a range of historical mysteries.
By this time, the “modern-day character investigating a mystery with historical roots in a location rich in architectural and landscape eye candy” genre has become well-ploughed territory in point-and-click adventures – it’s the premise of the Broken Sword, Secret Files and Post Mortem/Still Life series, for instance – and you could make a convincing argument that the Gabriel Knight games are at least in part responsible for this boom, as well as setting a new bar in Sierra’s efforts to present adventure games with complex, grown-up storylines and content rather than the more cartoonish efforts adhered to by most other developers. Thanks to GOG, the entire series is now available to all – making it a perfect subject for a GOGathon.
Continue reading “GOGathon: Gabriel Knight Trilogy”