The Silver Lining Interview

31 Mar 2010  by   Paul Younger
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The Silver Lining, an unofficial King’s Quest sequel developed by fans in their spare time, had been in the works for eight years when Activision shut the game down. The game had already been closed down once by Vivendi, who held the rights back then, but following an extraordinary fan response Vivendi granted the team a non-commercial license and allowed them to continue development.Being that the future of the anticipated fangame is once more uncertain, we got in touch with the team’s directors to ask about what happened, what the current feelings are, and what the future might hold.Can you give us a bit more detail on what went on – when you were first contacted by Activision, how things progressed, whether that impacted the ongoing work, how you felt, and so on?Actually, we approached Activision first. Previously, we were negotiating our contract with someone at Vivendi. After the merger, our contact said there was nothing more he could do, and referred us to the lawyer within Activision who now handles Sierra IP. That was when we learned that no one at Activision had any idea that we even existed, much less had any knowledge of our previous communications with Vivendi prior to the merger.Work was definitely impacted. Our plan was to continue working while Episode 1 was being approved. Unfortunately, the approval process never began because the game never made it past Activision’s legal department. It was very difficult for most of us to continue working while we were in talks with Activision, because there was no longer any guarantee that they game would see the light of day, which obviously had an impact on motivations.How did it initially go with Activision? Did things seem hopeful when they first contacted you?Things seemed somewhat hopeful. They said that they would need to discuss it with the decision-makers and decide whether or not the game makes sense for Activision. Unfortunately, no one at Activision knew anything about our project or its history. We spent most of the talks explaining who we are and our goal — to release the game our fans have been waiting years to play.For that matter, how did the negotiations with Activision go compared to how they went with Vivendi – did Activision show any real interest in granting a fan license at any stage?Vivendi was much more helpful when speaking with us, in terms of telling us what we needed to do in order to proceed. Activision never seemed to show any interest beyond getting the basic information from us. They just kept requesting more information, until they eventually decided that they weren’t interested in putting any resources towards the contract or the game.Did the news about the less-than-amicable departure of the Infinity Ward studio heads have any impact on the team or provoke any fears, considering that’s easily one of the company’s biggest IPs? That presumably happened around the same time as you were in negotiations with Activision, after all.We received the C&D just prior to the news breaking about the Infinity Ward situation. Our interactions with Activision always remained diplomatic and professional. It hasn’t affected our team, but some of our fans have expressed their sympathies and/or dissatisfaction with how that situation is unfolding.At what stage was the game at when work was called off?The first episode of five had been submitted for approval in November 2009. We estimated that in two or three months, episodes two and three would be approved as well. Overall, the five episodes were more than 90% complete. All that was left to finish were small fixes to the remaining episodes.{PAGE TITLE=The Silver Lining Interview}How has this impacted the team? Have people left since the C&D?After we informed the rest of our staff of Activision’s decision, they were immediately very supportive. Like us, they were disappointed by the decision, but it goes to show how great a team they are that no one has left, and they’re with this project 100% as always. We’re all hoping for the best and are ready to face whatever the future has in store for our game and ourselves.I assume production has ceased in accordance with Activision’s C&D, so what’s next? Are you working on something new, or are the team’s efforts focused on saving The Silver Lining?Ceasing production is part of what we are required to do per the C&D, so yes, we have complied with that. We’re focusing right now on finding out if it’s possible to persuade Activision to reconsider their decision, but prior to this we had been starting to come up with ideas for original games. If Activision remains unswayed, we are hoping to pursue development of original material — we’ve got some great stuff that we’re excited to have the chance to develop at some point!Will it be possible to rewrite The Silver Lining in order to avoid King’s Quest references? I imagine it’d be a lot of work considering it was made as a King’s Quest fangame, but is it an option you’d consider exploring if all other ends fall dead?We’ve talked about it, but it’s too early to tell. It would be very difficult, and we are not looking that far ahead just yet.Can you give us a bit of detail about the projects and petitions to save the game, and how other fans can get involved?The Save TSL Movement is something a group of our fans organized upon hearing news of the C&D. There is an online petition people can sign, a Facebook group, and a MySpace page. There is even a pre-filled out form for sending an e-mail or physical letter to Activision. For details on how to access all these things, please visit the Save TSL website.Do you have any insight into Activision’s reasoning behind the C&D? Do you think this could indicate a desire from the company to launch new Quest titles?All we were told is that they do not have the time or resources to dedicate to continue negotiations with regards to TSL. It is unknown to us whether or not they are planning any new King’s Quest games.Is all hope dead? Please say no.Never! As previously mentioned, our fans are campaigning in support of our project. When we received the C&D from Vivendi, the fan campaign went a long way in helping us get the fan license then, so we are thrilled to have their support once again. Hope’s never dead with this game! We encourage fans to keep checking our website for any new developments.

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