The Silver Lining (TSL) is an unofficial continuation to the King's Quest series created by fans, which was granted official legal permission from King's Quest copyright holder Vivendi Games, Inc. It was originally titled King's Quest IX: Every Cloak Has A Silver Lining (KQIX); however this was changed as part of the agreement with Vivendi.
Under development by Phoenix Online Studios (POS), it claims to be one of the most professional fangames to date; it has grown to be one of the largest fangame projects when measured by team membership. The project was shut down for two months after its creators received a cease and desist order from Vivendi. It was revived after a successful letter writing campaign by fans, as well as a professional DVD portfolio created and delivered by the team itself. Following a second cease and desist order received from the new license-holder Activision in February 2010, the project was thought to be quashed. On June 26, 2010, Phoenix Online Studios announced that Activision had decided to allow The Silver Lining to be released. The game's story originally encompassed nine chapters, which have now been condensed into five episodes.
Episode 1: What is Decreed Must Be was released on 1PM EST July 10, 2010 as a free download, with the rest of the episodes to follow later in 2010 also as free downloads.
- "Episode 1: What is Decreed Must Be" (July 10, 2010)
- "Episode 2: Two Households" (September 2010)
- "Episode 3: My Only Love Sprung From My Only Hate" (TBA)
- "Episode 4: ‘Tis In My Memory Locked. And You Yourself Shall Hold The Key Of It" (TBA)
- "Episode 5: A Thousand Times Goodnight" (TBA)
Background and development
Although TSL is usually considered to have officially started after its reconstruction in 2002, the original team working on the game was formed in October 2000. After a long period of limited production and loss of focus, the original TSL team was later reorganized under new leadership.
The current TSL team was created in January 2002 under the supervision of César Bittar, previously one of the project writers; now Game Designer and Project Director. Dividing the production crew into five departments (Art, Design, Audio, Programming, and Public Relations), he made POS into an efficient working unit. Little of the original plot was kept, so its resemblance to the original team's concept is limited.
Gameplay and plot
The final official game of the series, King's Quest: Mask of Eternity, released in 1998, departed from the formula of the previous games. Fully three-dimensional, the game shifted the previous focus on the family of King Graham to an unknown character, and changed gameplay from adventure-style play to a focus on combat and aggression. Upon release, many fans felt the game did not do King's Quest justice as the final game in the series.
Phoenix Online Studios' stated intentions in production of The Silver Lining are to return King's Quest to its adventure game roots and to provide closure to the series. In striving to achieve this end, it also hopes to spark a new interest in the adventure gaming genre.
The game itself will have a completely original story, based on previous segments of the King's Quest Series. In addition, it will feature 3D graphics, original musical scores, sound, and voice acting.
The Silver Lining was originally intended to be released as a trilogy, but later was intended to be released as a single game. The released game was to contain Chapters 1 and 2 only. The team said: "Chapters 3 – 9 will most likely never be released non-commercially, because without funding, it would take us 10 or more years to complete them." 
A short demo of Chapter 1 was released on July 30, 2006. A beta testing build containing 3 scenes from Chapter 1 was released on March 9, 2008.
On June 1, 2009 the team said that in the next couple of months they would be working to put the finishing touches on the game and submit it to Vivendi Games, Inc for approval.
Delays and legal issues
From its inception, the TSL project stated intention was to give closure to the King's Quest series with the belief and assertion that the project was legal under U.S. fair use copyright law, though acknowledging that this was a legal gray area. Notwithstanding this position, they maintained a notice on their site promising to end the project if confronted by Vivendi Universal, the owner of the King's Quest license.
There was a problem with one member of the team in early stages of development, however. The person allegedly had an argument with the team and in retaliation posted online the entire storyline they had planned. Since it was early enough to make adjustments and rewrite many parts, there was no real harm done and the game continued its production. This did encourage them to have each member sign a contract promising confidence, though.
In September 2005, after over four years of development, and immediately after providing their first trailer and announcing a release date, Phoenix Online Studios received a cease and desist e-mail from Vivendi. Phoenix kept their word and immediately halted all development on the project as they entered negotiations with Vivendi. Part of POS' final proposal included the TSL trailer and the making of The Silver Lining videos, both of which are now publicly available from their Trailer page.
Once the news was made public, fans of the game and the series began a mass mailing and e-mailing campaign organized by the Save King's Quest IX team to persuade Vivendi to allow Phoenix Online Studios to complete the project. Vivendi is said to have received over one thousand e-mails of complaint related to their Cease and Desist order to Phoenix Online Studios.
Thanks to public relations efforts of the project team, the quality of the work completed so far, and the ardent outcry from the fans of the project, on November 29, 2005, Phoenix Online Studios was granted a Fan Licence by Vivendi. The licence allowed resumption of project development with the requirement that the title be changed to remove the "King's Quest" reference (spawning unconfirmed rumors that Vivendi is planning to release an official King's Quest IX in the future). All characters, locations, art, story, plot, and script content were permitted to remain unchanged.
After Vivendi Games merged with Activision in 2008, Activision became the new owners of the King's Quest franchise. Subsequently, Activision revoked the non-commercial license agreement previously negotiated between Vivendi and Phoenix Online Studios. After several months of negotiations, Activision issued its own cease-and-desist to The Silver Lining team, requesting that they cease production and take down all related materials on the game website. It is suspected, though not confirmed, that the company wanted full ownership of the game and POS refused.
On June 26, 2010, Phoenix Online Studios announced that Activision had changed its mind and decided to allow The Silver Lining to be released. The game's story originally encompassed nine chapters, which have now been condensed into five episodes.
"Episode 1: What is Decreed Must Be" was released on July 10, 2010, as a free download and served as a "re-introduction" to the world of King's Quest. Rather than proceeding in the expected fashion (i.e.: having several puzzles and collecting many items at once), the chapter focused more on setting the stage by allowing Graham to talk to a total of seven people (not including guards and the narrator), mostly using cutscenes. There were only a few items collected and Graham's movement was limited, the Isle of the Crown being the only place he could explore to any extent.
The remaining four episodes will follow later in 2010, also as free downloads.
Episode 1 response
Currently mainstream reviews for the first episode have been critical of several aspects of the episode. There has been general criticism of the length, the lack of interactivity, the narrator and/or other voice acting, and the lack of puzzles. However, the reaction to the quality of the graphics and music has been more mixed in nature. If the player skipped narrations, the total amount of play would easily be less than twenty minutes.
The Four Winds
The Silver Lining website posted parts of an imaginary newspaper called The Four Winds in order to bring followers of the game up to speed with events and keep them excited about the fan-game. The writers included pieces that were purposely meant to be nostalgic since they involved characters from the games. There was an article on Connor that brought him more fully into the world of King's Quest in addition to an interview, reports on activities in the Green Isles (to prepare players for some visual changes in the game), and a trial. There were also horoscopes and one section imitating "Ask Abbey".
The artwork was hand-drawn by staff and posted with each article. Advertisements also grace the pages, all either referencing some specific place or person in the games.
- ↑ Team Team section of official TSL website from July 26, 2007
- ↑ King's Quest Lives Again article on IGN by David Adams from December 9, 2005
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Future of TSLPhoenix Online Studios Forums
- ↑ Journal Entry #12: Freedom of Speech entry #12 from Journal Special on official TSL website by Neil Rodrigues from Dec. 25, 2008
- ↑ KQIX: The Silver Lining -- A Talk with Phoenix Online Studios.GameSpy article by Allen 'Delsyn' Rausch from Dec. 16, 2005
- ↑ Vivendi Games Agrees To Crown Fan-Created 'King's Quest' SequelMTV article by Stephen Totilo from Dec 9 2005
- ↑ The Silver Lining Announcement Phoenix Online Studios
- ↑ The Silver Lining: Episode 1 Micro-Review: Absence Makes The Heart Grow Colder. Kotaku.com (2010-07-13). Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
- ↑ Posted July 10, 2010 - By David Wolinsky (2010-07-10). The Verdict: The Silver Lining – Episode 1: What Is Decreed. G4tv.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
- ↑ The Silver Lining Episode 1 PC review | The Adrenaline Vault. Avault.com (2010-07-12). Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
- ↑ The Silver Lining Episode 1: What is Decreed Must Be Review: Just Adventure - Reviews Walkthroughs and AdventureNews!. Just Adventure. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
- ↑ Phoenix Online The Silver Lining Episode 1 review. IT Reviews. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
- ↑ The Silver Lining review: About 30 minutes of cut-scenes and little else | Gamekicker.com - All the latest video game and gaming news. Gamekicker.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
- Official website
- Phoenix Online Studios
- The Silver Lining at deviantArt
- The Silver Lining at MySpace
- The Silver Lining at Wikia