Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers

Part 1: Synopsis
Part 2: The Making of Gabriel Knight
Part 3: Concept art
Part 4: Members of the Design Team
Part 5: Releases

The Making of Gabriel Knight

Still from the making of SOTF
The story of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers was written by Jane Jensen, who had been working in-house for Sierra since 1991. As a writer she was interested how far adventure games could go, as she thought it was a medium of entertainmant as powerful as films or books.

According to her the movie Angel Heart was the inspiration for SOTF, and another influence were Anne Rice's novels and their setting in New Orleans. Because she had never been in New Orleans, she called a New Orleans bookstore and had it sent picture books of the city. Gabriel himself was influenced by graphic novels like Sandman and Constantine.

  Bridget McKenna
The game credits include second writer: Bridget McKenna. Since 1986 McKenna had been writing for the entertainment industry (e.g. Sierra On-Line, Electronic Arts and NCsoft). She did a lot of editing and documentation work for Sierra during the late 80s and early 90s.

At that time Sierra sent all designers to a 3-day class in Los Angeles by Robert McKee on story and screenplay writing. Armed with his teachings she worked on an outline of the Gabriel Knight story.

The idea for Gabriel Knight started out from the thought that a detective series would provide a natural basis for puzzles. But Jensen didn't want to do 'just' mysteries; she wanted more horror, and that lead to the idea of a paranormal investigator. So initially Gabriel Knight was going to be a paranormal researcher, a professor. However, when she began to develop the storyline, she got ideas about using voodoo that she tied to a backstory involving a Salem witch trials-like story. It lead to Gabriel's ancestors and the idea of the Schattenjägers was born. Jensen elaborated the idea, and added that his family was cursed and that he didn't know he was a Schattenjäger.

After completing the story she had to figure out how to make it work as a game. She created a sidekick, Grace Nakimura, who represented herself more than any other character in the game. As she wanted a sort of romantic triangle, she created Malia Gedde, the femme fatale in the story.

Because she loved clever puzzles, she put a big effort into the puzzles. One puzzle that she thought was really original, was the puzzle with the drum and the voodoo codes.

  Sierra daggers: Gabriel Knight (l) and Laura Bow 2 (r)
When she took her story proposal to Ken Williams she met some resistance as he had expected something in the vein of Roberta Willams' stories. Sierra did "family stuff" with the Quest series (except for Larry, who was sort of the "pornographic, dirty uncle of the Sierra world" (A. Salter). Nevertheless, he approved her proposal.

Jensen started with Gabriel Knight after her work on King's Quest VI (as co-writer and co-designer). The production of SOTF took over a year. As Sierra SCI engine got a new version, SCI 32, they committed themselves to the new engine and fought bugs and snafus for six months.

Jensen made a number of changes to the familiar Sierra interface in order to create a bit more freedom for the player, and together with the dialogue trees it resulted in a more difficult game.

Still from the making of SOTF
Lead illustrator John Shroades created the overall art design, which borrowed from the dark look from the film noir combined with the stylistic appearance of graphic novels. He used the graphic novel as an influence for the cut panel format to bring out climaxes in the storyline. The game includes over 80 background illustrations, over 2000 animations, and dozens of cinema graphic and cut panels.

  Darlou Gams
  (still from the making of SOTF)
Besides Shroades six other people were credited for graphics/artwork. Darlou Gams was one of them, and created for instance Gabriel's bedroom and the interior of Madame Cazaunoux's house.

Real people were used for the character animations, including small ones, for instance when Gabriel rubs his hair.
  Robert Lindsley aka Mosely
Robert Lindsley was one of the Sierra members who played a character in the game. A lot of his personality was used as model for Mosely.

The voice director was Stuart M. Rosen (deceased). HollyWood Reporter proclaimed that GK was the first game with an all Hollywood cast of name actors, e.g.
Jane Jensen with Mark Hamill
Gabriel Knight was voiced by Tim Curry, Grace by Leah Remini, Mosely by Mike - Luke Skywalker - Hamill and Dr. John by Michael Dorn.

Nearly 7500 lines of dialogue and narration were used, which covered all the possible paths the player could follow.

Robert Holmes, Jane Jensen's husband, composed the music and acted as producer. He would also compose the music of the sequels. The score is available at Sierra Music Central.

Jane Jensen, Tim Curry and Robert Holmes
Holmes remembers that for some reason, one of them had to go to the emergency room in Oakhurst one night for a medical issue, and they were passionately debating who should play Gabe in the midst of all that goes on in an emergency room. It was pretty comical. They settled for Tim Curry that night.

The game includes various easter eggs. An example is the bulletin board at the Tulane University with a reference to Laura Bow (who studied journalism at the university).

  Laura Bow at the Tulane University


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(c) All artwork copyright Sierra On-Line
(c) Text 2020