What happened to Jim Walls? (And Blue Force!)

Caught in your own cuffs? Need a hint? Or just want to talk about Police Quest - this is the place to do it!
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Tawmis
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What happened to Jim Walls? (And Blue Force!)

Post by Tawmis » Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:54 pm

Took this from over here.

Figured this might generate some potentially good convo...
oberonqa wrote: What I'd like to know is what happened to Jim Walls. I've done some digging around and all I can gather is he left Sierra after finishing PQ3... apparently on bad terms. There was an alleged argument that involved yelling in the office, but nothing concrete.

I look at it as kind of unsolved mystery. And considering Jim Walls was one of Sierra's heavy hitters (along with Williams, the Coles, and Al Lowe), it is one of those things that I guess I'm morbidly curious about.
While I don't know myself what happened with Jim Walls, I do agree with you that he's one of the heavy hitters. And to me it's very clear that he still had some stories to tell, because he made Blue Force which was another cop game, along the same lines of Police Quest, but with a different company.

Some said that the game was too easy, where as I never finished it (yet, but now I want to go back through and finish it! I believe I actually got stuck, so apparently the person who said it was too easy is much smarter than I am, or he/she is a cop!) From what I had played, and remember, I was actually really liking the game, as some others pointed out - it seemed pretty solid (other than no voice in the game, even on the CD version). (Although someone said it was the most disappointing game they have ever played)... and unless the game drastically changes, I don't see how that's possible.

All this to say, I think, whatever the reason, Sierra may have messed up (not knowing the whole story obviously, myself) by letting Jim go. Because, so far as I got in BLUE FORCE, it seemed like a pretty solid game. (For the life of me, I can't recall why I stopped - I imagine I got stuck somewhere, and it was probably before the days I had any form of internet, since I got the game when it came out - just because it had Jim Walls' name on it - and thus couldn't look for hints, walkthrus, etc.

Definitely going to go dig this out and give it another spin.

Er... but in the meantime, some other resourceful folks may know why Jim Walls parted ways with Sierra.

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Re: What happened to Jim Walls? (And Blue Force!)

Post by oberonqa » Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:12 pm

I've actually been trying to find a legit copy of Blue Force. It's proving to be a bit of a tough find though.

Maybe Rudy can shed more info on Wall's departure from Sierra.

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Re: What happened to Jim Walls? (And Blue Force!)

Post by Collector » Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:40 pm

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Re: What happened to Jim Walls? (And Blue Force!)

Post by Tawmis » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:52 pm

Was going to recommend eBay, but Collector beat me to it.

Here's some more as to why Jim Walls left Sierra.

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Re: What happened to Jim Walls? (And Blue Force!)

Post by Rudy » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:16 pm

I've been meaning to ask him, but think it's a rather delicate question. My impression is that things have been going downhill for Jim after Police Quest 2. Codename Iceman was a sales flop and the game's supposed sequel never saw the light of day. Though he was credited for Police Quest 3, the story was mostly done by others. I'm just not sure yet if he resigned before or after the decision to have PQ4 authored by Darryl Gates. The PQ4 promo video suggests he was still at Sierra when Gates was hired. I figure he just got tired of it all but, again, this is all personal speculation.
I doubt he left the company with heavy grudges though. Jim and I have 29 mutual friends on Facebook, including many Sierra alumni and including Ken.
I believe he moved to Westwood Studios and then lateron EA (after it required Westwood). He's now retired for years (he recently became 70 years old) but is still very open to the fans.
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Re: What happened to Jim Walls? (And Blue Force!)

Post by oberonqa » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:27 pm

Ah thank you for the links. I'll have to start keeping an eye out on eBay for Blue Force. I must admit I'm pretty finicky when it comes to my classic game purchases. With a few notable exceptions (The Beast Within, Blood of the Sacred/Blood of the Damned, and Phantasmagoria), I try to get original boxed copies. It may be a bit more expensive, but in the long run I feel it's worth it.

As for the forum link, that is indeed an interesting read. It's interesting to find that Walls was MIA for most of the production of PQ3... especially considering it was supposed to be his magnum opus (at least that's the way Sierra touted it). I can't help but wonder how Crowe, Jenson, and Shannon would have felt... having to pick up the slack and deliver a marketable product without getting any of the recognition.

More importantly, I can't help but wonder what was the rationale in Wall's mind for going so lax. I mean you look at PQ1 and PQ2.... both of which are great games in their own right and would have required a great deal of effort on the part of Walls to design and create (due to the size of the development teams). It almost seems like he was disillusioned or demoralized perhaps... and just gave up. In essence, turning a job that he clearly loved doing (designing compelling games) into a tedious milk-the-clock job.

There is also the timing of Walls leaving Sierra, which happened (if I remember correctly) around the same time that Mark Crowe jumped ship to Dynamix. I wonder if there's any correlation there....

As for Jim working at Westwood, I can honestly say I don't ever recall seeing him at the Westwood offices. I know he's credited as a game designer on Earth and Beyond... but I don't ever recall seeing him. Maybe he was one of the designers that Craig Alexander brought on board after I was laid off in 2002 (I was a part of the QA team though... so my exposure to most of the development team was limited save for Ken Murphy and Christoph Klugg, both of which I consider friends).

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Re: What happened to Jim Walls? (And Blue Force!)

Post by DeadPoolX » Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:15 pm

Codename: Iceman was such a disappointment. I really think that if the submarine sections were less complex the game might've been more successful. Considering the content and the idea behind CI, it sure seems like it should've worked.

As for the PQ series... I really liked the first and second PQ. I'd go so far as to say PQ2 is my favorite, although that's even more "lite" than Blue Force. While PQ1 and PQ3 were more about "real police work" in some ways, PQ2 resembled the Hollywood action-flick cop.
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Re: What happened to Jim Walls? (And Blue Force!)

Post by Fender_178 » Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:50 pm

Very interesting.
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Re: What happened to Jim Walls? (And Blue Force!)

Post by MusicallyInspired » Sat Dec 18, 2010 3:10 am

Ken Allen also left Sierra at the same time and composed the score for Blue Force, which I thought was neat. He was one of my favourite Sierra composers.
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Re: What happened to Jim Walls? (And Blue Force!)

Post by cpages2 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:06 am

PM me about Blue Force.

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