After years of legal set-backs, Phoenix Online Studios will resurrect Sierra's beloved point-and-click King's Quest series from long aged ashes in the form of The Silver Lining . Of course, there's always a catch, but this one's in your favor. New King's Quest license holder, Activision, has agreed to TSL's five episode downloadable release under the condition that they are completely free--a proviso to which Phoenix is more than happy to oblige. Learn all about TSL's arduous journey to release after the break.
Serious TSL development began in 2002 with script production and the decision to produce the game in 3D rather than the series' traditional 2D graphics. When Phoenix released a trailer in 2005, Vivendi Games (parent company of Sierra) issued a cease-and-desist. Pitchforks in hand, disgruntled fans rose up to support the project, and Vivendi subsequently granted Phoenix a license to legally continue development.
"Having [Vivendi's] blessing was a huge step," says TSL co-designer and PR director Katie Hallahan, "I felt like it really validated that we had a great game on our hands."
Development continued at a slow but steady pace until 2008, when TSL's future was again tinged with doubt as Activision and Vivendi merged, creating the publishing behemoth Activision Blizzard. Another cease-and-desist followed in February of 2010. Activision was completely unaware of TSL's development, and overlooked it in the IP shuffle. Because the contract was incomplete at the time of the merger, Activision argued that it was free of legal obligation to Phoenix.
"It was very disheartening news," Hallahan says, "but our fans rallied once again with another campaign to save our game."
On the Activision side, Digital Distribution Director Jon Estanislao says the cease-and-desist was issued in light of Activision's digital re-release of the King's Quest series, and a desire to see more of TSL before Phoenix was permitted to move forward. Before negotiations with Phoenix were complete, Estanislao said "We like what we've seen, and we like that the fans are so excited to see it themselves. Those are the primary reasons why we want to give Phoenix Online Studios the opportunity to release it."
Now that Phoenix has that opportunity, Hallahan says “We really can't wait to get this game out there and see what the future holds for us!” She also tells us the remaining four episodes are around 90 percent complete—meaning you'll be able to get a regular dose of TSL throughout 2010.