King's Quest returns in The Silver Lining

The sprightlier readers among you probably don't remember King's Quest, but it's likely to set the nostalgia strings vibrating among crustier Thinqers. The latter group will be pleased to know King Graham is donning his distinctive feather cap again, thanks to a band of indie developers called Phoenix Online.

Called The Silver Lining, the new series of episodic adventure romps sees you once again traversing Daventry as King Graham; the star of the first two games, as well as the fifth outing. This time the ageing monarch is on a quest to rescue his children, Rosella and Alexander from a mysterious curse – the same Rosella and Alexander who also starred in some of the other King's Quest games.

The original games were incredibly popular in the 1980s and early 1990s, combining the traditional text adventure format with basic graphics and music. Designed by Roberta Williams, the games joined other adventure titles such as Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry in the Sierra catalogue.

However, Sierra has since been bought by Vivendi, which in turn later merged with Activision, creating a host of problems for the Silver Lining project. Created by fans who had the intention of giving the game away for free, The Silver Lining caught the attention of Activision's legal team who issued the developers with a cease and desist order.

A gaming media backlash ensued across the Web, with King's Quest fans berating Activision for its needlessly heavy-handed tactics. Later, a sneak preview of the game on Joystiq also suggested that Activision's biggest problem with the project was that it thought it could make money out of the King's Quest IP.

"Here's the real reason Activision doesn't want you to play this fan-made sequel to the legendary King's Quest series," said the gaming site: "It caught a whiff of money."

However, after receiving plenty of media attention and even a 3,000-signature petition, Activision has now done the honourable thing. "Activision reached out to the Phoenix Online team a few months ago with a desire to revisit their decision regarding The Silver Lining," said the game's developer in a statement.

"After negotiations, the C&D [cease and desist] has been officially rescinded, and Phoenix Online has been granted a non-commercial license to release The Silver Lining!"

Phoenix Online puts Activision's decision purely down to the persistence of its fans. In a statement on its web site, the game developer says "it's the tireless belief and support of you, our fans, that has made this possible. We want to give special thanks to the Save The Silver Lining team, who put together and ran an amazing and organised campaign, and rallied our fantastic fans to make a difference."

The first episode will be called "What is Decreed Must Be" and will be available to download for free on 10 July. A further four episodes are planned to be released afterwards, and will all apparently contain various references to all of the previous King's Quest games.

In the meantime, you can check out the trailer for the game in the video here.