Sierra Finally Delivers MIDI Music and High Resolution Graphics

By John Williams


Sierra was one of the very first publishers of products for Atari STs, but until now, its works have always been met with a little bit of contraversy in the Atari ST community.

Although most Atari ST gamers agreed that Sierra adventure games show more variety and playability than other graphics-based adventures, they all came away wanting more because the graphics and audio output of the products were not up to par. Atari ST enthusiasts appreciated the overall design of the games as well as the software support the company gave the Atari ST, but they always felt the best capabilities of their Atari ST machine were ignored by Sierra.

With the new SCI products now available, the demands made by the Atari audience have been addressed.

SCI is Sierra's new Creative Interpreter, a programming language the company developed to address the needs of todays 16-bit computers. Its biggest improvements over other games include improvements in graphics resolution, music output, and adherence to the graphic interface supplied in the new machines.

With SCI, Sierra's graphics, always a weak point on Sierra games, have been radically improved. Gone are the "blocky graphics" of the earlier games. They have been replaced by cleaner, smoother, and better animated graphics done by talented artists. Technically, the resolution has only doubled on the games, but the pictures look more than just "twice as good". They have to be seen to be believed.

Sierra has also done a much better job of making use of the point-and-click nature of the Atari ST, and has used the massive memory of the 1040ST to keep more of the game in memory at any given time (less disk access). The feel of the new games makes not just earlier Sierra games, but most Atari products seem poor in comparison.

A major part of the Atari ST audience is also very interested in MIDI output, and has asked not just Sierra, but many other publishers why they don't make use of it. In SCI games, Sierra now offers support for various CASIO and ROLAND music synthesizers. To exploit the output on the MIDI, they hired top flight, professional composers to do game music, like Bob Seibenberg (of Supertramp) and William Goldstein (composer of FAME, currently with Disney's Touchstone Films).

A final feature of the SCI interpreter for the ST that users will come to appreciate is that Sierra ships its improved products much faster than it used to. Usually, Atari ST owners have to wait months to get a product written for their machine because the software publishers don't feel an incentive to get ST games out on time (it's still a small games market for major game publishers). WIth the new SCI system, ST versions of Sierra products will be available at the same time as most other machines, including the Amiga and Apple IIGS.

Recently, Atari ST programmer Cory Cole had the Atari ST version of Space Quest III in stores less than 10 days after the IBM version of the product hit the stores, despite the fact that the IBM programmers had been working on the game months before he began his work. Can it be long before Sierra ships an Atari game FIRST????!!

Sierra's games written in SCI for the Atari ST include: Space Quest III, King's Quest IV, Police Quest II, new Silpheed, and Leisure Suit Larry goes Looking for Love in Several Wrong Places. If you haven't checked out any of these games, you don't know what you've been missing.

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