Screen shot by RZFeeser - Space QuestIn the early 90’s, Sierra On-Line defined the Adventure Game genre with the ‘Quest’ series: King’s Quest, Space Quest, Quest for Glory and Police Quest. For many, this was the height of Sierra On-Line’s accomplishments- but their resume also boasts blockbuster titles Half-Life and Counter-Strike. Sadly, the company has been merged, absorbed and disbanded since 2006 by current owner Activision Blizzard.

While it’s very likely that no new titles will ever be published by Sierra On-Line, fans have taken to celebrating these games in a number of different ways; a surprising number of fans have compiled their ‘Quest’ games, some being quite enjoyable. One of my favorite fan contributions is sarien.net.

sarien.net is the result of work by Martin Kool. Martin is an employee at Q42, a software company in the Netherlands. Q42 created a robust, light-weight multiplayer engine they call Q42multiplayer. The engine is browser-based (http), and uses port 80 to send regular pings to a central server. These pings contain the user’s changes, and return the changes of others. When I have the time, I’ll make a Wireshark capture of this multiplayer engine in action, and make a video with an analysis of the capture available on YouTube.

Over the past two years, Martin Kool has applied the Q42 engine to several ‘well aged’ Sierra On-Line titles. This required that the game’s logic be translated into Java, and the artwork be copied and/or recreated to be displayed on the web. No small feat… but he’s done it, and the result is sarien.net… and because it’s just Java and HTTP… it works on the iPhone!

Each game has many enhanced features- but by far, the coolest is that you can ‘see’ the other players’ characters, whom are also engaged in their own game play. The chat GUI is done via the CLI and displayed as text bubbles above the player’s character. In this manner, users can only communicate with one another if they are in the same ‘room’, however, a room ‘warp’ feature now makes finding other players to chat with a breeze. It is also handy when you’re nearing the end of the game and realized you forgot item X on the opening screen of the game.

As the chat feature is now used by the CLI, right click the screen to bring up a menu that allows you to issue commands to your environment. I should point out that the games also feature save/restore features, so don’t feel like you need to power through Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter EGA in a single session. You can also restart at anytime.

It might be easiest to just visit sarien.net and play with it, currently available are: King’s Quest I, Police Quest I, Space Quest I, The Black Cauldron and Gold Rush. No sign ups. No passwords. No emails. Just play.