Peasant's Quest caught us all by surprise. In July, what appeared to be a promo for a new adventure game started floating around the Internet. The 90-second ad showed screens reminiscent of the old Sierra AGI games and ended with a promise: This game would be released in August, 2004. Was this just a gag, or the real thing? Sure enough, a few weeks later Peasant's Quest appeared on Homestarrunner.com. For those of us with a weakness for text-parsers, mono-speaker sound, and heroes in short pants, Peasant's Quest was the most exciting release of the summer. Who are the masterminds behind this blast from the past? Read on and find out.
Please introduce yourselves and explain your roles in the Peasant's Quest project.
Mike: I am called Mike Chapman. I did most of the background graphics and helped come up with the storyline.
Matt: I'm Matt Chapman and I co-wrote Peasant's Quest and "drew" and animated most of the characters, monsters, animals and "sprites" if you will.
Jonathan: I'm Jonathan Howe and I wrote most of what Matt didn't, and did all the Flash programming. It was also my responsibility to second-guess Matt's jokes as spelling or grammar mistakes.
A lot of our readers had never visited your website before the release of Peasant's Quest. Could you tell us a bit about the site and how it got started?
Mike: Homestarrunner.com has been alive and sometimes kicking since January of 2000. It features lots of cartoons and not quite as many games. It is made mostly entirely by brothers Matt and Mike Chapman. Their pal Jonathan Howe helps make the games.
Most adventure gamers are very nostalgic about the "good old days." Do you remember the first adventure game you ever played? Any fond memories you'd like to share?
Mike: King's Quest 1. King's Quest 2 was already out when I was introduced to the Sierra games in 1986(?) maybe, so after we won King's Quest 1, we jumped right into King's Quest 2. Then I think we played Black Cauldron. Man, those were some good games.
Matt: Outside of text adventures, the first adventure game I ever played on PC was King's Quest 1. It taught me the word 'crotchety.' Later, when we played King's Quest 2, I remember being legitimately terrified while inside Dracula's castle. Like, I had nightmares in 16 color EGA.
Jonathan: I remember Space Quest a lot because the humor was really important. Unfortunately I was a little too young to appreciate Maniac Mansion, lacking the essential patience for something that wasn't Yie Ar Kung-Fu. I think the first adventure game that really had me going was Indiana Jones—that it so closely followed the movie plot was, like, mind-blowingly cool. And I have black and white nightmares of Matt having nightmares.
Peasant's Quest is obviously rooted in the tradition of the old Sierra games. Do you have a favorite Sierra game?
Matt: I think Space Quest 2 is my all-time favorite. And I have a soft spot for Hero's Quest 2 a.k.a. Quest for Glory 2.
Mike: I liked Space Quest 1 best. I liked the room with the 3 big shiny red buttons on the floor. I don't know if they were buttons... maybe just lights. Anyway, they were some good graphics.
The gaming industry is very different now than it was in the "golden days" when Sierra and LucasArts were turning out several adventures a year. Do you play modern adventure games? Do you have any feelings about the direction the industry has taken?
Mike: I play Zelda games. Do they count as adventure games? I miss the aforementioned "golden days." I never did finish Zak McKracken.
Matt: I don't play a lot of PC games anymore except for old ones and classic games on emulator. I s'pose the Legend of Zelda games are the closest thing I play to adventure games these days, though those lean closer to the RPG side of things. I miss adventure games a lot. I wish they would use all this fancy new technology to make games that are more in the vein of Grim Fandango, Sam and Max, Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle. I feel like that's back when LucasArts took the reins from Sierra. King's Quest 5 and 6 were okay, and I really liked Space Quest 4, but LucasArts really nailed the point-and-click interface back then. I wish LucasArts would make a 3D cel-shaded point-and-click adventure sequel to Zak McKracken in 2005. That would be hilarious. So anyways, if you know of any modern adventure games, lemme know cause I'd like to play 'em. I just don't see anything that even remotely resembles what I used to define as an "adventure game" anymore.
Jonathan: I played through the demo of Longest Journey and I have to say I was a little disappointed that there wasn't much evolution. Then again, I played the Monkey Island port for PS2 and was rapt. I have a copy of the latest Broken Sword, but I am really good at getting games and then not opening 'em. I think it must feel better to acquire them than play them—I have a problem.
Your site has a ton of cartoons, arcade games, and other time-wasters. Is Peasant's Quest your first adventure game?
Matt: Technically, no. We have a text adventure called Thy Dungeonman 2 on our sister site www.videlectrix.com. It's a bit on the short side but pretty full-featured as text adventures go. So there's that. Oh, and Mike and I made an adventure game called Cave Quest when we were little that had gorgeous low-res Apple ][ C+ graphics.
Jonathan: Please don't forget the seminal Thy Dungeonman which had over five rooms! (Six.)
How did you come up with the idea for this game? I know that Trogdor starred in his own arcade-style game. Did you have plans all along to write an adventure game based in his world? Or did the idea for Peasant's Quest come later?
Mike: I don't remember exactly when the idea was hatched, but I can guarantee it wasn't something we had planned. We don't do much planning. The world of Trogdor and peasants and thatched-roof cottages just made sense for an adventure game.
Matt: It mostly stemmed from a long-time want to make an AGI inspired game (in fact, there was an attempt to mimic the AGI style way back in the day on our games menu, you can see it here in our site museum). Then Jonathan did such a great job with the text-engine he wrote for Thy Dungeonman that we had to ask how hard it would be to couple that with graphics and animation. He said, "no problem." Though that became a bit of an understatement for all 3 of us as we got deeper into the project.Continued on the next page...