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Ken William's New Book

Shadow Lord

Veteran Member
Jun 16, 2010
I know there are a few Sierra Fans out in the crows. I am wondering if anyone else had a chance to read Ken's new book: Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings? I just finished it (was a very easy read) and thought it was an interesting view point. If you are looking for the nitty gritty of how it was to work for Sierra or specific info on games this is not the book for you.
Since I'm apparently hard to buy gifts for, I have to wait til after xmas to read mine.
If ken had released his book back in August, I may have gotten away with getting my own copy by now. :)
Interesting I'll have to take a look at it. I worked for them back in the early 90's. I'll have to grab a copy and see how well Ken's recollections of Sierra mesh with mine. I made a lot of good friends there and in a lot of ways it was a fun place to work, but unless you were part of the upper management team the pay there was so pitiful that it would have made a miser blush. At the time they practically had a license to print money and yet for myself and many of my friends we were paid so poorly for skilled positions that we qualified for government assistance because we were being paid below what California State considered poverty level income.

For those of us who were the frontline workers, Ken and Roberta Williams don't exactly conjure up fond memories.

For those of us who were the frontline workers, Ken and Roberta Williams don't exactly conjure up fond memories.


Reading the book that is my impression exactly as well. He never comes out and says it but his description of Sierra and his approach to the company did not make it a a place I would like to have worked at, even as upper management.
For those of us who were the frontline workers, Ken and Roberta Williams don't exactly conjure up fond memories.

Sometimes bosses can be a nightmare to work for, Steve Jobs was apparently one of them. But from my experience, super-nice bosses who look the other way almost always run the company to the ground.
I would think that the perspective of an employee versus an owner of that company would likely be quite different. I have read that Roberta Williams was not particularly receptive to game design criticism and we see a lot of poorly-aged design choices in most of her games, dead ends, mazes, tricky pathfinding, cheap deaths, obtuse puzzles.
I'm late to the party.... I tend to stay away from this site for the last few years because I kept seeing things I wanted to add to my collection, and then spending so much of my time here. These days, my RL takes up all of my time, more specifically, my post-layoff job, laugh

I was fortunate enough to have an amazing GF that surprised me with the book, and even was in time to make Ken's offer of a signed bookplate by him and Roberta. She made a gift of the book, the bookplate, the pix she sent Ken for proof of purchase, and their email correspondence.... quite an amazing gift, imo :)

The book itself was a very easy read, and gave a lot of insight into Ken's approach to running a business, as well as his time during the sale of the company. There were several anecdotes that were likely not well-known before he stated them in his book - the potential Sierra purchase of iD Software, with corroborating messages from John Romero, was a particular surprise. I mean, could you image the shape of gaming, console and computer, if this had taken place?! What a "what if....!!!"

I would've liked to have seen more personal anecdotes and stories from the heyday.... some admissions and specifics in ways that they could've improved their games at the time (and didn't), and things he would change with a little hind-sight, specifically in regards to game design (as in, critically, Roberta didn't evolve her game design very much over the years, though her designs did get more grandiose and her storytelling arguably better). Of course with Roberta being his wife, and his admitted hands-off approach to allowing his designers be the stars, there would naturally be a blind spot to her shortcomings.

All in all, quite the enjoyable read, and honestly, a page-turner.