Ken and Roberta Williams, the founders of pioneering game development studio Sierra Online, are getting back into the game (so to speak) with a graphical remake of the groundbreaking text adventure Colossal Cave.
Colossal Cave 3D is not a reboot of an old Sierra game, which some followers expected after the project was first teased last year. It does come from roughly the same era, though: The original game was developed by Will Crowther and Don Woods and released in 1976, just a few years ahead of Sierra’s founding in 1979. The new version will feature comparable gameplay elements, sending players off on a quest for treasure through 143 subterranean locations filled with dwarves, trolls, a giant snake, a dragon, and even a bear, but will be fully graphical this time around.
“We have completely recreated Colossal Cave for the millions of fans that grew up with it and a new generation of gamers,” Ken Williams said. “It takes place in a fully immersive 3D and VR environment for a realistic cave exploration experience that is intended for the whole family.”
Colossal Cave 3D will be the Williams’ first new game project in more than 20 years, and actually came about primarily because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Ken and I were locked down like everyone,” Roberta Williams told PC Gamer. “Ken was bored and I suggested he write a book about Sierra. The process of writing the book brought back long forgotten memories resulting in Ken deciding to learn Unity and deciding to make a game.
“We had no interest in starting another company. We were just looking for something fun to build and I had the idea of paying homage to the game that inspired our company and changed our lives.”
The further they got into the original game, though, the more they recognized its depth, and why it was so popular back in the day. “The game is certainly an adventure game, but also has action elements, humor, cute and fun characters, is scary in places, has a point system, and is incredibly challenging,” Roberta explained. “It’s a far better game than they first realized! There is far more to it than they would ever have believed when they started.”
As for why the shortcut URL to their website is kensgame.com even though Roberta is easily the most famous “face” of the classic Sierra days, the explanation is quite simple: “Since Ken is the one who has been running the blog he quickly created the URL, but this is indeed a joint effort!”
Colossal Cave 3D is being shown at GDC, so hopefully we’ll be getting a closer look at it ourselves in the near future. In the meantime, you can find out more about what’s happening at colossalcave3d.com and check out some in-game art below—and if you’d like to sample Colossal Cave Adventure in its original glory, you can do so at rickadams.org.