The Art of The Colonel's Bequest
November 19, 2016 10:14 PM   Subscribe

Today I present to you time-lapses of background art from a Sierra On-Line classic The Colonel's Bequest. Until the VGA era Sierra stored background art for their games in a vector format, which allows for it to be displayed step by step to essentially see how it was created by the artists. Please enjoy this gorgeous, dark, and detailed art set to the beautiful MT-32 music from the game.
posted by timshel (11 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think I played this game, but it looks a lot like Gold Rush, which I sunk a ton of hours into. so many deaths.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:45 PM on November 19, 2016

Note: The words "gorgeous" and "beautiful" in this YT description may have values outside of their normal range.
posted by fairmettle at 1:03 AM on November 20, 2016 [8 favorites]

I don't think I played this game, but it looks a lot like Gold Rush, which I sunk a ton of hours into. so many deaths.

Gold Rush! was a very late AGI game that tried really hard to look better than the earlier Kings/Police/Space titles. The same year it was released, Sierra debuted the SCI engine (used in TCB), that between other things, had better resolution and allowed them to feature more complex perspectives and shading in the scenarios. But it was a particularly daring title as far as their AGI titles go - they were really gunning for the SCI look with an already outdated engine.
posted by lmfsilva at 1:32 AM on November 20, 2016


Here's a 25-year-old memory for you that I don't think I've dredged up once in the intervening period.

When the Colonel's Bequest came out, a friend and I in high school were very much into the Sierra games, got this one, got a ways into it and promptly got stuck. This would have that magical late-in-the-year time when teachers are starting to give up on the curriculum and show us old movies, and my English teacher - a wonderful old crank of an English teacher if ever there was one - decided he was going to show us old Vincent Price horror movies.

One day he put this one on: The House Of Usher, a classic-in-the-classic-sense horror film and - though it hasn't aged spectacularly well - one the US national film registry has described as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." I can somehow still remember the moment after the movie ended and the classroom lights came on, and we looked over at each other.

The architecture of the mansion and surrounding grounds in Bequest, we discovered, is very strongly influenced - straight-up cribbed, in many (most?) places - from the architecture of the eponymous House and its grounds in that movie. Next time we played the game together we quickly found the hidden switches just where they were in the movie, explored the secret passages and moved quickly through the rest of the game.

I've had an interest in video game architecture for a really long time, I wonder if that's where it started. Seems possible.

Thanks for helping me remember that, Timshel.
posted by mhoye at 4:48 AM on November 20, 2016 [28 favorites]

If you want to do your own AGI-format art, you could check out PICEDIT.
posted by curious nu at 5:04 AM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

For those of us who grew up playing Sierra games on less-graphically capable computers (i.e. green monochrome Apple IIs at the public library), this was how all of the scenery appeared on-screen. When I bought the Sierra Humble Bundle a couple of months ago, I was amazed to discover in King's Quest I that you could walk from one screen to the next without incurring a 45-second draw time.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:15 AM on November 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

Neat! I wonder why they didn't pre-render; was it to save space on disk? Here's the spec for the AGI picture format. It's basically "draw line" and "flood fill", and then an odd instruction they call "corners" which draws a series of right angles.

Has anyone tried to do high-resolution renders from the Sierra source material? I'm guessing it would look like crap given the lack of textures and the 8 bit coordinate space. Some of the early 3d game platforms like the Nintendo 64 look amazing when re-rendered high resolution. But that's because the coordinate space is itself high resolution.
posted by Nelson at 7:27 AM on November 20, 2016

Neat! I wonder why they didn't pre-render; was it to save space on disk?

Probably. 320x200x4bpp is 32KB minus a few hundred bytes. By the time you get a dozen of them you're past the limit of a 360KB disk.
posted by Talez at 9:53 AM on November 20, 2016

apropos of nothing, i have this hanging on my wall.
posted by ostranenie at 11:49 AM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wow, that's a title you dont see come up much. So there were at least 2 of us that played it.
posted by bongo_x at 11:08 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I get a palpable feeling of anxiety watching something render that slowly.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 6:11 AM on November 21, 2016

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