King's Quest Omnipedia
This article concerns the development of King's Quest V: Absence Makes The Heart Go Yonder. It is a repository of details concerning early prototype ideas for the game up to its final finished version.

Icon Bar[]

Roberta was inspired to change the game interface by watching her own mother, struggle to play her games, not understanding how or what words to type. It was a slow and excruciating process for Roberta to watch her trying to find the right key on the keyboard, and typing too slowly, or even misspelling the words, or even misunderstanding the syntax structure of commands. Roberta could tell her mother wasn't seeing the fun in playing the games, or understanding it. Roberta had experienced others with the same problems. Roberta understood her game would not be marketable and make the big time if she continued to include the parser system. This inspired her to simply commands down to just a few icons, one for walking, one for talking, one for picking up items, and one for looking around.

Roberta received negative mail during development and after from fans complaining about her choice to switch to a icon bar from the parser interface of previous games. Most King's Quest fans and fans of Sierra games in general, were not happy with the idea, seeing her as removing a critical part of adventure gaming. She saw the parser as a means of communicating with the game, other people saw it as actually a real life part of playing the game, that they would use the parser, talking to the game, as part of solving the puzzles, process. The ability to really interact with the game itself. Roberta however didn't believe the Adventure game genre would survive, or gain mass appeal if they kept it as a parser. By simplifying the interface it will be more accessible to a wider demographic including older folks or younger children who may not know how to type well.[1]

Cut or removed material[]

Multiple things changed over the development of KQ5. Here are a few of the details.

The Swarthy Hog Inn originally would have been located inside of the town of Serenia.

The Dark Forest was originally going to be known as the "dark wood"

Icebella originally would have been an Ice Witch, rather than an Ice Queen.

Graham would have originally met a peddler in the woods north of the Bakehouse. The character was cut.

Originally the game displayed the title King's Quest V in pink letters on a black background in the upper status bar. This was later removed and the status bar became plain black.

Getting stuck in the dungeon cell in Mordack's castle would have lead to an extended death ending (involving the mouse);

(Show Graham sinking to his knees and putting his head in his hands as in numbers 14, and 15-show the little mouse come up to him and either sniff at him or look at him :with curiosity.)
Put up the death message of:
"Cheer up, Graham. At least you're not alone."
Show a picture of the little mouse wriggling his whiskers.

Originally there was no snake blocking the path into the mountains, and there would have been a different set of dialogue and warning to prevent a player from going into the mountains before they were ready;

Look" messages (Eye icon) - Would give an "X" symbol if there's nothing to "see."
Path or tree: "A worn dirt path wanders through a thick wood alive with the sound of many creatures. Between the trees, to the east :Graham can see the outline of a great :mountain range."
Manipulation (Hand icon)
Path: Clicking the "Hand" icon on the path causes Cedric to POINT with his wing to the east and say- "See how the path goes to the east up into the mountains? That's the :route to Mordack's castle."
Cedric puts down his wing and continues - "If you follow the path to the south over the next rise you'll come to the town."
(On subsequent times (FOREVER AFTER THIS) just put up an "X.")
Dialog-No "specific" dialog between Cedric and Graham except for the "Hand" icon on the path causing Cedric to "speak."
A side note-If Graham is not ready to cross the great mountains yet because he hasn't obtained everything he needs, then when the player starts to take Graham up the :mountain trail (to the east), Cedric will fly nearer to Graham and say - "You aren't ready to cross those mountains yet, Graham! You'll never survive without being :properly outfitted."
Of course, the player always has the option to ignore Cedric's warning and go up into the mountains anyway. If the player HAS everything he needs then Cedric won't say :anything.
If the player tries AGAIN to go up into the mountains from here but is STILL not ready then Cedric will say - "You're not going to listen to me, are you, Graham? I told :you you weren't ready to tackle the mountains yet. Ah, well. Do what you will. I'm not going to warn you again."
After that, whether the player is ready or not, Cedric won't say anything.

In the design documents Robin Hood was to be one of the characters Graham would encounter as a "Good Guy", however he along with the peddler were characters that didn't make it into the final game. Another character would have been the Baron (or baron monster) who apparently evolved into the wizard Mordack. This list also contained ideas, she had been putting together since King's Quest 1, which she had been taking ideas to add to each game. There were ideas that made it into each of the games even up into KQ8 from the list.

Master List[]

"King's Quest V Good Guys (underlined) -Robin Hood -Peddler

Bad Guys (underlined) -Bandits in Inn, or the innkeeper himself -Evil magician or baron (monster)

then beneath that: Magic - Voodoo, hex, mumbo jumbo, conjure (check next to this) Cupid (bow + arrows of love) Amulet - locket - pendant - talisman  - charm Scary City -- dark, gloomy, broken windows Magic Gates (3) Crazy crooked city Water of Life (tree) Enchanter - sorcerer, wizard, magician scroll - hidden message? understand language of animals serpent (good or bad?) Fish swallowing something Genies + possible magic lamp Ghosts or Goblins (Ghosts is circled) Centaurs - man & horse Pan - half goat, half man (Pipes) Unicorn (this is circled) Mermaid Flying Horse Magic Trees - trees that grab hags maze with many doors magic sword Sage - Seer (maybe he has crystal ball or eye) Oracle - look it up Lady who would not marry anyone but the greatest of heroes, who could defeat all others Demon Poisoned lake? Use ferry or narrow bridge to cross Something whipping around - tail or stinger you have to get by (three headed dragon) (ice land) glen valley, canyon warlock enchanted witch beehive gypsies pixies Man eating flowers - snapping at you (circled) Sorceress Rope over bottomless pit dungeon wishes (three wishes?) water of life wishing well or pond something that may be in another form magic shoes to take you someplace 3 bears 3 little pigs Princess & The Pea Thumbelina - small child Pied Piper - flute (and rats) to the sea shoemaker & elves - elves make shoes, shoemaker makes clothes for elves Sprites (living underground) Sleeping Beauty - prick of finger on spinning wheel, sleep for 100 years Ben-Hur - chariots, race Having a treasure (like golden apples) that you can see but for some reason can't get Nightingale - Golden Cage Neptune - Trident Atlantis - Lost City underwater Sea Horse - Ride on Giant Clam or Oyster - Pearl Talking Oak Whale swallow you (check mark next to this) maybe go through picture frame or mirror to other land or some sort of magic boat or glass mountain Golden Fish magic glasses Fiend Riddle Sandman Vault Ugly Queen - chariot drawn by frogs or rats, has ugly pets like a big serpent, lizards, owl, raven, crocodiles, vulture Good Queen - chariot drawn by doves,  or butterflies, has pretty pets like deer, pretty birds, ducks, squirrels, lamb, flamingo

ball of yarn that when thrown unwinds and shows you out of maze of some sort


According to Mark Seibert;

King's Quest V Theme & Graham's Theme - The two pieces above are from the opening sequence. Both are significant in that they carry strong motifs from which much of the music for the game was derived.

Cassima's Theme - This theme is played when Graham meets Cassima in the kitchen of Mordack's castle. When King's Quest VI was being designed and I found out that Cassima was a major character, I thought it natural to spin off the Girl In The Tower from the basic motifs in this piece, thus tying the two games together.

The Bandits - During the last few weeks before shipping a game, it seems everyone at Sierra is playing it. With King's Quest V it was no different, except that perhaps more people were playing than usual. It is during these times that a musician gets to know what the favorite songs are by listening to people humming or whistling as they walk through the hallways. I don't know that this was necessarily the favorite. Maybe a lot of people got stuck at the bandit's tent that day. I don't know, but it seemed this silly little song was whistled on more than one occasion during that time.

The Dark Forest - When I started writing the music for King's Quest V, this was one of the first pieces I wrote. King's Quest IV started a sound for the King's Quest series by featuring the classical guitar, and having a degree in classical guitar I felt very comfortable in continuing to write in that style. The solo guitar accompanied with the occasional bassoon, cello, owl, and cricket seemed the perfect backdrop of sound.

Crispin's Theme - This is the music that underscores meeting Crispin during the opening sequence. I chose the bassoon to represent magic users in King's Quest V and since Crispin is a Wizard, his theme is built upon the bassoon carrying the bass part. It made for an interesting counterpoint between he and Cedric, who was represented by the clarinet. During the game one might notice the use of the bassoon with other characters like the Witch and Mordack.

King's Quest V Closing Sequence - This is the music from the closing sequence. It's a long piece that covers a number of the main themes from the game as Roberta did what was in my mind; a curtain call. As each character is featured, their theme is recapped.

Version differences[]

Differences between CD-ROM and floppy version[]

The CD-ROM version added voice acting.

A few details were added to the CD-ROM version of the game, and a few details were removed.

The wand spells were removed, as there was no reason for the game to have copy protection.

The various townsfolk talk, whereas they ignored him in the disk version, "The people are too busy to spend much time talking to Graham".

The snake talks, saying "Ssstay away, thissss isss my path", in the original, it just said, "This snake has a menacing look which Graham should heed".

The ants sing March of the Ants and there is also the Weeping Willow's Song.

The snake talks, if the player puts the hand cursor on it, where as it was silent in the original.

There are a few minor changes to other dialogue for example, the cow is described as a "pretty cow" in the floppy version, and a "spotted cow" in the CD-ROM.

The snake death is different. In the original, it just said something like, "Watch out for those critters, Graham." but in the CD-ROM version, it says, "That wasn't wise, Graham. He who speaks with forked tongues should never be trusted."

CD-rom Casting[]

According to Josh Mandel on his role as King Graham:

"I was not very happy with my performance in King's Quest V. It was the first time Roberta had directed (although she had Mark Seibert to help her) and she wanted King Graham to always be "buff" and brave. There were many times in the recording where I would try to do some real acting, and give Graham moods and emotions, but Roberta kept saying, "He's never tired, he's King Graham!" or "He's never worried, he's King Graham!". So I felt the performance did not have enough emotion in it, but people seemed to like it anyway, so maybe Roberta was on to something."-Josh Mandel Interview

The character was interesting; one of the voices I'd used in the audition was this exaggeratedly buff hero, someone you could envision with a puffed-out chest and a lantern jaw, and that was the voice they wanted. During recording, there were times that, knowing what was happening in the game at various points, I'd try playing it with different emotions and shades — fear, exhaustion, anger, and so on, emotions that I thought would make Graham more layered and more human. But they'd say, "No, no, no, Graham is ALWAYS buff," so that's the way I played it, and I tried to carry that over to the Tierra remakes as well, although I think I allowed a shade more emotion to creep into those scripts."Another Interview

"King Graham was the most bizarre. I'd had a lot of theater training, such as at Carnegie-Mellon and the American Conservatory Theater, and a lot of onstage experience. But when doing King Graham, he was envisioned as very two-dimensional, so I was directed: "Graham is never tired, never frightened, never defeated. He is ALWAYS buff." So while I had lines and situations that strongly suggested various moods and emotions, I was always reined in: "Be buff, be strong, be confident, no matter what." That was odd. But hey, I got to work with Cedric, and how many people can say that?"Again

Oddly this is contradictory to the narration itself which describes Graham as sad, almost broken, and unable to cope. When looking at a bird in one screen, and at himself.

NES version[]

Graham cannot attempt to reenter Crispin's house, instead some of the lines from the extra scene are merged into the introduction video instead.

Austin and Amanda do not show up in the bakehouse.

The in is known as the North Inn.

The sea monster is a giant tentacle.

Dink will come to the sound of the tambourine anywhere in the labyrinth.

Cedric is said to be turned to stone by Mordack's spell, a fact which is also stated in the King's Quest Companion (in the pc version its said that he may have been "killed" by the spell).

The geography of the town is different, with new descriptions to represent the differences.



  • Game Designer / Producer: Roberta Williams
  • Executive Producer: Ken Williams
  • Creative Director: Bill Davis
  • Art Designer: Andy Hoyos
  • Artists: Deena Benz, Ernie Chan, Jeff Crowe, Richard D. Zeigler-Martin, Tamra Dayton, Dana Moody, Roger Hardy Jr., Douglas Herring, Eric Kasner, James Larsen, Cheryl Loyd, Hector Martinez, Harry McLaughlin, Gerald Moore, Maurice Morgan, Vasken Sayre, Jennifer Shontz, William D. Skirvin, Cheryl Sweeney, Barry T. Smith, Cindy Walker, Deanna Yhalkee
  • Lead Programmer: Chris Iden
  • Programmers: Chris Iden, Oliver Brelsford, Juan Carlos Escobar, Chris Hoyt, Doug Oldfield, Raoul Said, Robert W. Lindsley
  • Development System: Dan Foy, Pablo Ghenis, Eric Hart, John Hartin, Robert Eric Heitman, Corey Cole, J. Mark Hood, John Rettig, Larry Scott, Jeff Stephenson
  • Composers / Sound Effects: Ken Allen, Mark Seibert
  • Creative Consultant: William D. Skirvin
  • Documentation: Bridget McKenna
  • Cover Design: John Gamache

Voice Cast[]


  1. Talkspot interview, part 2