Once upon a time, in a land far far away (Oakhurst, Ca), there lived a young couple who made a computer game called Mystery House. 

The game sold SO WELL that the phone started ringing off the hook with calls from all over the world. That was the good news. The bad news was that some parts of the world get up earlier than other parts of the world. It didn’t take more than a few evenings of middle-of-the-night phone calls before they started searching for an office. 

Sierra On-Line’s very first office was in the back of this print shop. We outgrew the office within a few months but continued to use Ponderosa Printing for another decade. 

I happened to be in town this past weekend for the first time in over 20 years and was surprised to see the building still existed. I stopped and asked the guy sitting in front if the business was still going. He said that the owner, Cleon Jones, had shut down the printing business years ago. I’m not sure how old Cleon is, but I’d suspect he is in his 80s or 90s. I was surprised and delighted to hear Cleon he is still kicking. He was a great guy, and a big part of our early success, always ready to do something creative with our instruction manuals and packaging to help us get product onto the market. 

It was like drinking memories from a firehose to see Oakhurst after all these years. The town had grown, but still had its hometown feel and charm. I doubt I’ll ever go back, but it was nice to see the town once more. 

Anyway .. as to the game I’m working on: All is going slowly but well. A week ago I almost shut down the effort to do a VR version. We were fighting framerate issues and the situation seemed hopeless. We needed to get to 72 frames per second and were stuck at around 25. After a “weekend from hell” and some hard work on the part of the team, we figured it out and were back in the ballgame. Game development is like that with high-highs and low-lows. Today I’m smiling, but sometime  in the next week I know I’ll be frustrated and cussing my computer again. Oh well … It is what it is and I know I’ll look back on this part of the project fondly. Someday. I hope.

PS I’m still not ready to talk about what the game is, but I do finally have a name for Roberta’s and my new company: CYGNUS ENTERTAINMENT. It’s a long story how we got to that name. I’ll share it in some future blog post.

8 Responses

  1. How exciting! My first Sierra game was Space Quest II. I begged my dad to buy it for me at our local Radio Shack. That really changed everything for me, and I’m convinced I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for those games. I was inspired to learn to code from an early age, and what became my hobby became my career.

    Just curious – what hardware are you using for development (CPU, GPU, etc.)?

    1. Just curious – what hardware are you using for development (CPU, GPU, etc.)?

      Me personally? I have a Dell 7560 laptop (an I9-11950 with 32gigs of ram, with an RTX A5000 Nvidia card). I also have a Quest 2 which I use for the VR testing.

      Cidney, our VR engineer has two computers — one Windows and one running Linux. Marcus who is doing most of the art was using a Mac but has shifted to Windows.

      -Ken W

  2. I have recently started an indie dev studio with my wife and I really enjoyed the audio book of Not all Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings – but it’s so nice to actually see where so much of the magic started.

    Thank you for providing us with a glimpse into Sierra’s past.

    Tom

  3. Thanks for the update. Nice to see a photo of the actual place. It says so much more than words alone. I guess one really can’t go home again, but it’s nice to visit once in a while for the memories it rekindles. Good luck with the game as it progresses.

  4. Thanks for the update. Nice to see a photo of the actual place. It says so much more than words alone. I guess one really can’t go home again, but it’s nice to visit once in a while for the memories it rekindles. Good luck with the game as it progresses.

  5. A wonderful and exciting surprise to read all these updates after so many years. Like many, I was a die hard Sierra games customer and loved all of my original big box Sierra games. I recently dusted off my big box PC game collection and rebuilt an old Windows 98 PC from spare hardware I saved over the years. I’m glad I stumbled onto this site and was able to catch up on all the news and posts in Discord. Looking forward to what comes next.

    Thanks for all the great memories with your PC titles.

    – a thankful PC gamer from back in the day

  6. “I doubt I’ll ever go back, but it was nice to see the town once more.”

    This made me sad for some reason! Such a big part of video game history there.

    Thanks for the update, and I’m glad you got to return one more time 🙂

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