Sierra's Creative Interpreter

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Sierra's Creative Interpreter (SCI) is the scripting language created by Jeff Stephenson of Sierra On-Line for its adventure games after the older AGI, and the runtime environment for such adventure games.

Although ports for the Amiga, Atari ST, Macintosh and PC-9801 platforms exist, the primary development was for the IBM PC platform.


While AGI was a procedural language, SCI is completely object-oriented.


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


First used for King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella in 1988, SCI0 ( allowed for 320×200 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):

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

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.


Released in 1990, the most notable improvement in SCI1 ( was the support of 256 color graphics, still at a resolution of 320×200; 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". With the shift to SCI1, Sierra began using a digitized painting process for background artwork, rather than the pixel-by-pixel process of previous engines: the difference is readily apparent if one compares, for example, King's Quest 4 against King's Quest 5.

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) has only 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:


Apart from considerable internal changes, SCI1.1 ( added 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 640×200 graphics display that simulated 256 colors via dithering.


Often called SCI32 (along with SCI3), SCI2 ( runs in 32-bit mode by using the DOS/4GW extender or by running it in Windows 3.1's Enhanced Mode. Most notable is the support of high-resolution 640×480 graphics, as well as better movie support. There are two known revisions, 2.000.000, and 2.100.002. Games include:


The last version, SCI3 (3.000.000) could not only run under DOS or Windows 3.1, but also natively under Windows 95. Games include:

Non - SCI

Some Sierra games used SCI resources, such as graphics and sounds, but did not use the SCI script interpreter itself. Games include:

Related software

ScummVM is an open source collection of adventure game engines that is able to run all 16-bit SCI games (i.e. SCI0 - SCI1.1). ScummVM does that using the SCI engine, a large part of which has been integrated from the older and now withdrawn FreeSCI project. FreeSCI was able to run the older SCI0 games. ScummVM is a superset of FreeSCI, and is able to run all 16-bit SCI games on a large variety of platforms, including Linux/Unix, Microsoft Windows, Dreamcast, and GP32.

SCI editors can be used to uncover unfinished game elements that had been concealed in the game's resource files by the developer during the game's development. These hidden resources include unfinished artworks, puzzles, scenery, voiceover or music recordings as well as gags inserted by the development team.[1] Examples of game titles from which such hidden resources have been uncovered include King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! (SCI1.1), Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers (SCI1.1), Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! (SCI1.1), King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride (SCI2), and Space Quest 6: The Spinal Frontier (SCI2).

See also


  1. Beebe, Jess (2008-08-18). "Resource Quest: hidden treasures in Sierra's adventure games". Adventure Classing Gaming. Retrieved 2008-09-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links