Corey and Lori's Quest Log

Corey and Lori’s Quest Log

The Fiery Females of Quest for Glory 2

Trial by FireWith Quest for Glory’s Trial by Fire, we wanted to take the player where he had never been before – Right in the heart of an Arabian Nights tale. The original stories of “A Thousand Nights and a Night” are a series of interlocking tales told by Scheherazade on her wedding night so that her husband wouldn’t kill her.

That probably is not the sort of story premise that promises a gender positive image system.

Of course, we set out to break expectations and overturn stereotypes right from the start. We knew that the City of Raseir was not going to be on anyone’s vacation list. Although the women in Raseir are forced to wear veils and stay in harems, we wanted the player to feel righteous indignation that any culture would treat women that way.

Then again, there were many other things wrong with Raseir. It was Shapeir’s Evil Twin. It was Animal Farm and ‘Brave New World.’ It was like working at Sierra at that time. “Raseir” is an anagram of “Sierra” for a reason.

The Feminine Wiles

In Trial By Fire, nine male characters make major impacts upon the story in a positive way. Four other male characters go out of their way to give you trouble. Six female characters help you with the story and there are no villainesses in the game. If you do the math, clearly the women are on the whole more helpful than the men.

Dinarzad, the Money Changer, is one of the first women you meet in the game. She is happy to flirt with the player, but the only thing she actually exchanges with you is money.

Dinarzad presents a very different side to Thieves who make the Thief Sign to her. Once you demonstrate that you are “one of the brethren,” she will assign you a few nighttime excursions to obtain items of value.

In fact, Dinarzad is the Chief Thief of Shapeir. In her, “women’s liberation” meets “liberation of valuable possessions.” She is a strong – although not necessarily entirely positive – female role model.

Warrior Woman

UhuraThe Adventurer’s Guild master, Uhura, represents another break with traditional roles. Uhura had been a Simbani Warrior. Unfortunately, she was also a woman, and her society wanted her to choose between being a wife or a warrior.

Uhura did not want a husband; she wanted a baby. So she left her home among the Simbani and came to Shapeir to find a boyfriend to sire her child.

Uhura is a powerful fighter who helps the Hero improve his fighting skills without having to risk his life and limb. She is a woman, a mother, and a warrior at the same time.

As the game comes to a close, Uhura decides to return to her homeland with her baby to reclaim her rank as a Warrior. She refuses to allow the traditions of her society to prevent her from being the person she wants to be.

Uhura is a fine role-model for both women and men. She teaches that you should not let the dictates of society prevent you from achieving your dreams.

(Unless of course, your dream is one of world domination. Ad Avis is your role-model for that sort of goal. His fate is to die and then face his worst nightmare. So let that be a lesson for all you would-be Evil Overlords.)

Ms Manners

AzizaAziza is a wise and powerful Wizard; she is the Seer of Shapeir. She helps you learn a variety of information and, if you are a Magic-User, a magical spell. She also teaches you some manners. It pays to be polite to people who are helping you. The fact that she can electrocute you with the snap of her fingers might also a good reason to be polite to her.

She stands not so much as a role-model as an object lesson. Courtesy is a virtue and virtue is its own reward.

Damsels in Distress

The one female who really needs your help in the game doesn’t realize she needs it. She has forgotten the nightmares of her past and the fact that she was even human once. She was a rape victim who was turned into a tree because she could not deal any more with the terror of being a victim.

Julanar was a good person to whom bad things happened. Not even a hero can just kiss her and make it all better when her wounds are that deep. It takes more than a magical spell to heal such damage. That’s why Julanar is still a tree at the end of Trial by Fire. It takes a lot of love and understanding to heal such wounds.

ZayishahWhen you get to the city of Raseir, Zayishah does ask for the hero’s help to get out of the totalitarian nightmare. On the other hand, since she is has already escaped the harem, planned her escape, and knows how to get away, she is doing a pretty good job with or without your help.

Zayishah is the only one in Raseir who refuses to give in to Ad Avis’s misogynistic orders. Of course, those orders include marrying Khaveen, and that is probably a fate worse than death. No wonder she is desperate to escape the city and her fate.

Trial on Trial

QfG2 does have a scene of gratuitous sexual exploitation – The Thief’s visit to the harem. The harem is filled with sexy, sultry women dressed in diaphanous silks that reveal as much as they conceal. The bevy of beauties in the room make salacious sexual innuendo that borders on harassment. In this case, the sexual harassment is all directed at our very male hero. Mind you, he’s too much a hero to take offense. He’s also in too much of a hurry to take advantage of the situation. World to save, you know. Pity.

There’s also an Easter Egg with the x-ray glasses and the veil. Should you be caught doing this despicable act, I will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

Other than these minor infractions of the feminine manifesto, QfG2 is really very female friendly. It plays against the common tropes of women’s roles in games. There are very few victims or princesses to rescue here.

They are all too busy rescuing themselves.

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  1. Quest for Glory II: Give me your clothes – Bio Break Says:

    […] ~ The School for Heroes […]

  2. e7th04sh Says:

    “Uhura is a fine role-model for both women and men. She teaches that you should not let the dictates of society prevent you from achieving your dreams.”

    Who then will balance it out, teaching that the ideas of young often lack wisdom of old age? Or that the reason tradition, the real tradition, not any fake one, is in place is because it actually works?

    Harmony and balance are important, and while I am the last person to do as told, and I admit that, I am off put when tradition is perceived as no more than shackles on liberty.

    There is no freedom without society to preserve it, and there is no society without tradition that keeps it together.

  3. Christopher Says:

    The thing I love about part II is that it stands out for being nothing like the rest of the series. Aspects like the fights against the elements, the mounted exploration on Saurus back, and even the tale of two cities format made it very special. The rest of the series had nothing like it.

    In my own head I tend to compare 1 and 4 with their Snow Globe, cursed valley feel while 3 and 5’s over head map provided a vast environment, but 2 is something undefinable. While I always wished there were more locations to explore in the desert, overall, its unique feel keeps me coming back to this entry.

  4. Corey Says:

    Fortunately, as a friend of mine used to say, “If no pun intended, then no pun ish meant.”

  5. Lori Says:

    Never fear – there will be a lot of in-jokes, Easter Eggs, and humor at Hero-U. We’re gluttons for pun-ishment.

  6. Lori Says:

    The good thing about working for Sierra under Ken Williams is that no one actually looked at what we were doing while we were doing it. Space Quest put in a joke about Sierra management cracking whips at people. We just pushed that joke farther.

    Ironically, Bill Davis was on a QfG live chat forum using the “Ad Avis” name, and had someone say, “Why should we believe you? – You’re the villain.” I don’t think Bill was amused.

  7. Joseph Austin Says:

    One thing I love about the place I work is that we are completely left to ourselves and judged by what we produce. Those of us who do a good job stick around long term, and no one feels a need to monitor us in any capacity. I think there are a lot of people who get lazy in that situation, but if you filter them out then you get the self-motivated, productive and creative people that make a company great.

    And I love that QFG humor. Silly puns and weird Easter eggs. Hopefully we’ll get some of that in the new game!

  8. James StarRunner Says:

    Woah… I’m half surprised you got away with using all those references. It sounds like things were tough, your own personal trial by fire.

    I always knew Uhura came from Star Trek, but I didn’t know it was a filk song that inspired your choice!

  9. Corey Says:

    Oh, btw, Lori picked the name Uhura because of a Star Trek filk song about her. Part of the chorus goes, “Uhura – Your name in Swahili means ‘freedom’.” Since the idea of the character is a woman who insists on her freedom to be who she wants to be, and do what she wants to do, the name was perfect. But we wouldn’t have thought of it without that song.

  10. Corey Says:

    As for “rough times at Sierra”, we put all sorts of inside references into QG2. Besides Ad Avis and Raseir:
    1. Khaveen was named after Rick Cavin, the General Manager
    2. Al Scurva was named after Bill Skirvin, who managed the artists
    3. Some of the edicts on the signs in Raseir alleys were based on things that actually happened at Sierra (for example, they installed a time clock and even exempt salaried employees had to punch in an out. That would have been pretty cool if Sierra had followed up by paying us all overtime… fat chance! :-) ).

    For a while, Sierra forgot that most of the creative people working there were doing it because we loved the work. They tried to mandate productivity, and it interfered with the ability to be clever and creative. See Drive by Daniel Pink for more info on why that approach is doomed to fail.

    We had other stressful times at Sierra, but the Trial By Fire period was probably the worst. Somehow we managed to make a good game anyway. As in Titanic, “the heart must go on.”

  11. Corey Says:

    Well, Joseph, it isn’t as though anything went into any of our games we didn’t know about… and approve. I think the “like looking through a veil” idea might have been mine. So we had a pointless gag item that we decided to have an Easter Egg effect in just one place in the game.

    That might in turn have been inspired by the Silly Clowns option, which I think came from one of the team programmers (Brian Hughes). Brian commented that some early productivity software (I think his example was SuperCalc) often came with menu items that did absolutely nothing – It was hard to change the menus in later revisions, so they put in features they intended to add later.

    Originally, Silly Clowns was intended to do absolutely nothing, but then someone (maybe artist Kenn Nishiuye or Jerry Moore) came up with the idea of having Harpo Marx run through the alleyways in Silly Clowns mode, since we already had Chico Marx selling you junk outside the inn, and Groucho Marx selling you a Saurus. We may have lost the “purity” of the original idea of a pointless menu item, but putting a silly clown in the alleyway made it funnier. Later we also changed some death messages to sillier versions if you had the option selected.

    Brian was also responsible for the Saurus Repair Shop, which unfortunately had to be left out of the game because we couldn’t fit it on any of the floppies – We ran right up to the edge on disk space. AGDI managed to reconstruct that Easter Egg in their VGA version after talking to Brian and me.

  12. Joseph Austin Says:

    It is a rather funny easter egg, all things said. I didn’t know the designers were unaware of it so I always avoided it when I was trying to become a Paladin. Peeking at ladies while they change isn’t a very paladin thing to do.

  13. James StarRunner Says:

    Oh! I knew you had some rough times then. I knew Ad Avis was named after Bill Davis. But I didn’t see that Rasier was Sierra.

    There were definately much stronger female role models in here than in QFG1. Uruha (love the Star Wars plug) in particular had a great message for all the same reasons you pointed out.

    And poor, poor Julanar. I tried everything I could to have her be at peace. It took a long time for me to realise that I couldn’t release her from that form.

    As for Zayishah… I bought the X-ray glasses thinking they were needed for a puzzle. Put them on and forgot about it (must have looked like quite the goofy hero the whole game). I didn’t even realise there WAS a veil till I looked at a FAQ to figure out what the X-ray glasses did (since I still thought I missed a puzzle somewhere). But she was a strong individual to have taken matters into her own hands as she did. Though Khaveen could have been worse… He could have simply killed you when he disarmed you. But he gave you a chance to yield (what a pal). Still, I stand with Zayishah’s decision to flee Rasier.

    The setting was set in a region where women didn’t have as many rights, but the women themselves shone through and said, “You know what society? I don’t care what you say! I’m doing what’s right for me!”

  14. Lori Says:

    The best projects are collaborations where the individuals all add to the whole. The first QfG games had a lot of synergy from the team members. A lot of the original humor in the game came from Jerry Moore’s art and Bob Fischbach’s programming. (heh, it’s great when to check the spelling of Bob’s name I can go up on Jerry created the original background art with the glasses in the Magic Shoppe of Shapeir, but I’m not sure whose bright idea it was to turn them into an Easter Egg. Easter Eggs were surprises for the designers as well as for the players.

  15. Joseph Austin Says:

    Oh well, I never noticed the Rasier anagram before! So whose idea was the x-ray glasses anyway? Did Corey leave his computer on one night when Al Lowe was burning the midnight oil? 😉

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