Video game history is colliding: Sierra founders are bringing a seminal text adventure game to VR

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Ken and Roberta Williams, two of the most influential figures in video game history, are bringing the original 1976 text adventure Colossal Cave Adventure to virtual reality, as well as Mac and Windows PC.

It sounds pretty straightforward when I put it like that, right? And then I remind you that the game in question looked like this:

Colossal Cave Adventure running on a PDP-11/34 with a monitor.
Photo by Autopilot (Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

And then I remind you that Roberta and Ken have been retired for the past 25 years.

And then I remind you that — while Roberta and Ken made King’s Quest and Phantasmagoria AND are credited with the first graphical adventure game ever in Mystery Quest AND founded storied game company Sierra, which published everything from The Incredible Machine to Leisure Suit Larry to Half-Life — they weren’t actually involved with Colossal Cave Adventure, aka Adventure, aka Advent. It was simply the game that inspired them.

Ken and Roberta Williams in the early Sierra days.
Photo via Cygnus Entertainment

So this is a remarkable turn of events, to say the least, spanning almost 50 years of video game history from games you originally played on mainframes all the way to the Oculus Quest 2, history in which Roberta and Ken played important roles. But why? “Ken was bored, and I suggested he write a book about Sierra. The process of writing the book brought back long-forgotten memories resulting in Ken deciding to learn Unity and deciding to make a game,” Roberta Williams explained to PC Gamer.

I would say that I have no idea what to expect — if their new company Cygnus Entertainment hadn’t already released a graphically barebones trailer that you can watch right here:

Cygnus currently has 12 full-time employees working on the game. “It has not yet been determined whether future games will be developed by Cygnus Entertainment LLC or if Colossal Cave 3D was a one-shot effort. Time will tell,” reads the new company’s website.

If you’re not familiar with Ken and Roberta Williams’ seminal work, one of their former employees who goes by Metal Jesus on YouTube just sat down with them for an extensive retrospective last week. I’d highly recommend giving it a watch:

And if you want to try the original Colossal Cave Adventure (which may not technically be the first text adventure game), you can play it on the web right here.

Thank you for all the games, Roberta and Ken. I grew up with King’s Quest and Dr. Brain and Quest for Glory and many, many more, and I probably wouldn’t be here if not for them.

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