The Colonel’s Bequest

December 17, 2011 § 13 Comments

The Colonel's Bequest (Box)

By Jacqueline Austin     One of the first character-driven games for electronic media was designed, co-written and co-created by, well, me.  It’s enjoying a bit of a comeback these days.

I thought I would post some of the links to sites which mention this game.

I don’t like it when people pirate my work, particularly when I didn’t get paid enough in the first place… but there’s nothing much I can do about it.  Sierra seems to have abandoned this game, and it’s their proprietary right to keep it in play–or not.

Colonel’s Bequest Links

The Colonel’s Bequest Wiki

Youtube Review of The Colonel’s Bequest

WN Fansite: Colonel’s Bequest Reviews, Videos, Trivia

SierraChest Colonel’s Bequest Website

Youtube Live Play of The Colonel’s Bequest

DOSBOX Colonel’

Gamefaqs Page of The Colonel’s Bequest

Abandonware Download of The Colonel’s Bequest

This game had international notice, and was said to be a pioneering game.  It was a cover feature in Computer Gaming World.  I researched the game in New Orleans, and had a great time interviewing the old ladies in the local historical societies.  Sierra wanted to do a game which would bump up their take on the mystery genre (their first game had been Mystery House).

It wasn’t an easy job.  I traveled many times to Oakhurst, California, to help invent things such as a palette of night colors which could translate into VGA, CGA, and EGA.  (I had to temporarily to switch from my beloved Macs to a Dell PC.)  A design document had to be written in Sierra’s proprietary language.

Some of this process was a lot of fun… other parts of it were tedious and painful.  Anyway, thought I’d just mention the game on this site.

Please post more links, if you find them!


Copyright 2011 by Jacqueline Austin.  All rights reserved.


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§ 13 Responses to The Colonel’s Bequest

  • jacajacjac says:

    1/17 Found an extensive fan site, including a ton of video reviews, critical analysis, images, walkthroughs:'s_Bequest_Review

  • jacajacjac says:

    And here’s the promotional movie Sierra made to advertise the game:'s_Bequest_Promotional_Movie

  • James says:

    Hey Jacqueline, did you work from New Orleans? I’d love to hear more about your involvement with this under-valued game! 🙂

    • jacajacjac says:

      Hi James! Thanks for your interest. I researched in New Orleans. It was a lot of fun! The historical society, plantation tour people and local old folks were amazing and helpful, and full of good stories and suggestions for local color, some of which made it into the game.

      I did design and pre pro in my office in New York. Roberta visited and we spoke a lot. Once team implementation began, I joined the team every few weeks at Sierra.

      Technology was changing so fast at the time. I asked for a lot of innovations and the team delivered some real, well, game changers. Which just goes to show that sometimes knowing less–NOT knowing that something is impossible–can be awesome for creativity and progress.

      • James says:

        Oh wow! Amazing! Thank you so much for replying! *fan squeal*

        So a couple a questions, if its ok? 🙂

        * When did you join the project and how did you become part of it?

        * What plantation was Misty Acres based on?

        * What are some of the innovations you asked for? (included and not included in the game?)

        Thanks in advance! 😀

  • jacajacjac says:

    Sure! A family member was beta testing games at Sierra. He put me in touch with Roberta. I send her some proposals and miraculously, she wrote back.

    I wanted to explore games in which puzzles were fully integrated with characters and stories and which felt much more open. I felt games of the time were too static. Roberta and Ken said they were looking for something in the vein of Mystery House, but which would expand their narrative capability.

    At the time I was watching a lot of silent movies. And I was concerned about the lack of women in gaming. We agreed on a mystery game featuring a woman protagonist, set in the silent movie era, using silent movie conventions.

    Misty Acres combined several plantations we visited in New Orleans, with landscape details Roberta wished to implement.

    I asked for many innovations. Rich animations. Animated puzzles. Full sound with special effects. My original design would have been about 50 disks long. It was too complex. Visually, I wanted a mood piece with full capability–a palette of creepy night colors and shadows. Technically, I wanted to animate several characters simultaneously, not just Laura Bow. I wanted things to jump out at her–a fright fest.

    The ideas of time and eavesdropping came from my questions: 1) how to give the feeling of things moving all around, of continuous challenge, with very limited motion capability? 2) how to keep the story structured but have it lead to various outcomes which encouraged repeat game play?

    Roberta and Ken cut the game down to size and simplified the characters, dialogue and interactions. My game was more like a novel. Today we could build a much more thorough game.

    • James says:

      This is so interesting! I heard the game was also inspired by the play Tamara. Is this true?

      So it appears you didn’t stay on for the rest of the Laura Bow series. Why’s that? 😦

      • jacajacjac says:

        No, “Tamara” came along a few years later.

        And the short answer to your question is that Sierra and I parted ways.

      • James says:

        Oh sad to hear. I won’t ask about that.:( Did you work on anymore games or prepare any that were never published? 🙂

    • James says:

      Hey! I came across some old Sierra stuff. I saw the original name for The Colonel’s Bequest was The Plantation Murders starring Thelda Tallent! haha.

      I’ve heard you were working on several projects with Sierra that never took off. Is this true?

      Also, were you suppose to work on Colonel’s Bequest II? I’ve seen some references to that.

      Thanks in advance! 😀

  • James says:

    Oooh…and another question (haha – im a curious kitten!)…how did the setting of a plantation house on a swampy bayou evolve?

    Also, I know a lot of people found the Croutons & hidden treasure story really interesting. How did that come about? 😀

  • Damian says:

    Hi Jacqueline… Wow I did not know you had so much involvement with this wonderful game (my fave EVER)… I honestly thought Roberta had done the whole lot… You mention that your was part of a much larger story – is that story available in any form? Do you have any notes or anything… I love the story, I would love to know more… you created an absolute gem of a game!

    • Abraham says:

      Agreed! Thank you for your work on one of my favorite games ever. I also would love to hear more about what your original thoughts and plans were for the game that ended up getting cut.

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