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Sierra's Creative Interpreter (SCI) is the language created by Sierra for its adventure games after the older AGI. While AGI was a procedural language, SCI is completely object-oriented.

Although continuously developed between 1988 and 1996, five major versions can be isolated:

SCI0 (0.000.xxx)

First used for King's Quest 4 in 1988, this version allowed for 320x200 graphics with 16 colors as well as a music-card compatible soundtrack. It also supported parser-based keyboard input which a game could be scripted to use if it wishes to do so (non-adventure games usually didn't).

Games using SCI0 (in order of release):

  • King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella
  • Leisure Suit Larry 2: Looking for Love (In Several Wrong Places)
  • Police Quest II: The Vengeance
  • 1988 Christmas Card
  • Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon
  • Hoyle Official Book of Games - Volume 1
  • Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero
  • Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals
  • The Colonel's Bequest
  • Codename: Iceman
  • Conquests of Camelot: King Arthur, Quest for the Grail
  • Hoyle Official Book of Games - Volume 2
  • Mixed-Up Mother Goose (Version 1.011)

Later versions of SCI0 added bilingual support for international versions; their version string reads "S.OLD.xxx". Games include:

  • King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown (1990 remake)
  • Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon (international versions)
  • Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals (international versions)
  • Jones in the Fast Lane (disk version)

The last SCI0 game, "Jones in the Fast Lane", already used the graphics engine from SCI1 and thus was available in a 256 color version.

SCI1 (1.000.xxx/T.A00.xxx)

Released in 1990, the most notable improvement was the support of 256 color graphics, still at a resolution of 320x200; EGA 16 color graphics were still available (games were usually sold in separate 16 and 256 color versions). Some people prefer to call the 16-color SCI1 interpreters "SCI01".

Most SCI1 games are completely mouse-driven, using an icon-based interface; contrary to popular thought, it is up to the game's script code, not to the interpreter, to implement the user interface. For example, even though "Quest for Glory 2" is parser-driven and "King's Quest 5" is mouse-driven, they use compatible interpreters, as it is possible to use the interpreter from QFG2 with the EGA version of KQ5.

The version numbering scheme is somewhat confusing for the reason that the third number in the version string (the build number) only has three digits, even though four are needed. For example, the game "Space Quest 4" Version 1.052 ships with an interpreter labeled "1.000.753", whereas the game "Conquests of the Longbow" Version 1.0 ships with an interpreter labeled "1.000.168"; nevertheless, the latter interpreter is newer because the build number is actually 1168, not 168. Also, in some cases the "1.000" is replaced with "T.A00", which however does not indicate a separate development fork.

SCI1 Games include:

Interpreters with build numbers >1000 have slightly modified file formats and improved foreign language support (resulting from a code merge with SCI0's S.OLD fork), but are otherwise like earlier SCI1 versions. Games include:

  • Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work
  • EcoQuest: The Search for Cetus (disk version 1.0)
  • Jones in the Fast Lane (CD-ROM version)
  • King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder (CD-ROM & international disk versions)
  • Mixed-up Fairy Tales
  • Police Quest III: The Kindred
  • Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter (enhanced remake)
  • Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers (international versions)
  • Conquests of the Longbow: The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • Castle of Dr. Brain

SCI1.1 (1.001.xxx)

Apart from considerable internal changes, SCI1.1 adds support for animated movie sequences (first used in KQ6) as well as scaling sprites: characters would become smaller as they walk into the distance, giving a pseudo-3D effect. (The interpreters from some early SCI1.1 games bear a "2.000.000" version stamp; this is most likely an inconsistency which should be ignored.) Separate 16-color packages were no longer available; EGA owners instead would be presented a 640x350 graphics display that simulated 256 colors via dithering.

  • 1992 Christmas Card
  • EcoQuest: The Search for Cetus (disk version 1.1, CD-ROM version)
  • EcoQuest II: Lost Secret of the Rainforest
  • Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist
  • The Island of Dr. Brain
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
  • Laura Bow: The Dagger of Amon Ra
  • Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! (disk and low-res CD-ROM version)
  • Mixed-up Mother Goose (Version 2.000)
  • Pepper's Adventure in Time
  • Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel (enhanced remake)
  • Quest for Glory I: So You Want to Be a Hero (256 color remake)
  • Quest for Glory III: Wages of War
  • Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers (CD-ROM version)
  • Space Quest V: The Next Mutation

SCI2 (2.xxx.xxx)

Often called "SCI32" (along with SCI3), it runs in 32-bit mode by using the DOS4G extender or by running it in Windows 3.1's Enhanced Mode. Most notable is the support of high-resolution 640x480 graphics, as well as better movie support. There are two known revisions, 2.000.000, and 2.100.002. Games include:

  • Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
  • The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery
  • King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride
  • Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! (hi-res CD-ROM version)
  • Mixed-up Mother Goose Deluxe
  • Phantasmagoria
  • Police Quest IV: Open Season
  • Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness
  • Shivers
  • Space Quest VI: Roger Wilco and the Spinal Frontier
  • Torin's Passage

SCI3 (3.000.000)

The last version could not only run under DOS or Windows 3.1, but also natively under Windows 95. Games include:

  • Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail!
  • Lighthouse: The Dark Being
  • Phantasmagoria II: A Puzzle of Flesh
  • Rama
  • Shivers II: Harvest of Souls

Clones

An open source project called SCIStudio is available that lets users create games that are based on the SCI0 engine.

FreeSCI is opensource project, that can run SCI0 games. It supports Linux/Unix, Microsoft Windows, and GP32.

See also

External links

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