Al Lowe, if you didn’t know, is a funny guy. The man who created Leisure Suit Larry is always ready with a quick retort and witty reply – especially over the course of our interview with him – and is also working to bring Larry Laffer, the adventure gaming icon of years past, back to the limelight. We talk to Lowe about the development of Replay Games’ Kickstarter-funded “remake”, the release date for the game, and just how much Lowe hates the other “sequels” – Magna Cum Laude and Box Office Bust – that were made without his input.
Ravi Sinha: The Kickstarter campaign was launched in April 2012 for Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded, where the game managed to garner well above its funding goal. Was this indicative of the character’s popularity among old-school gamers, the revolution of Kickstarter following Double Fine’s successful campaign, or both?
Al Lowe: Mostly it was a communications problem with the N.S.A. People thought they were voting late for Mitt Romney. We fooled them!
Of course it was both, plus a mix of nostalgia, the lack of humor in current titles, and a coming of age of mobile gaming, where adventure games shine.
Ravi Sinha: Reloaded is supposed to be a remake of Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Li-zards, but not really. As you stated, this offers a chance to effectively “fix” several parts of the game which annoyed you 25 years ago. Does doing a remake that’s more of a new game also mean a different direction and tone, maybe new features that would change the core game, but appeal to gamers today? If so, how well would this sit with hardcore fans of the franchise?
Al Lowe: There’s no change of direction or tone, just lots more of the same. We walked a fine line: we wanted to please those gamers looking for the old humor and game play while providing all the benefits of modern platforms. I think we nailed it. Of course, that’s really up to your readers. Gamers vote with the their money; if it sells, I promise you’ll only encourage us!
Ravi Sinha: The adventure gaming genre is currently in a new golden age, thanks to the success of games like The Walking Dead, Amnesia, The Cave and even upcoming titles like Broken Age and Dreamfall: Chapters. Considering the age Larry Laffer belongs to, what will make Reloaded stand out in this day and age?
Al Lowe: Gosh, nothing really. It’s exactly the same as every other game – unless you count humor, an anti-hero protagonist, hilarious dialog, a current day setting, …need I continue?
Ravi Sinha: Thoughts – especially creator Al Lowe’s – on Magna Cum Laude and Box Office Bust?
Al Lowe: [Thoughts unprintable here.] May they rest in peace. (I was going to say “rot in hell,” but wouldn’t that be unseemly?)
Ravi Sinha: Of all the games and properties to revisit though, why settle with Larry Laffer? Sierra Entertainment had several adventure game franchises back in the day. What made Larry stand out, and prove relevant to today’s age of gamers?
Al Lowe: Larry was the one that I created, remember? And it’s the one that Replay Games currently holds the rights to. That’s the obvious reason. But there’s no reason why, if Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded is successful, that you won’t see remakes of some of those other Sierra titles. In fact, I’d love to see it!
Ravi Sinha: There is a wave of sequels to old-school properties and franchises which have been funded on Kickstarter including the aforementioned Dreamfall: Chapters, Wasteland 2, Torment: Tides of Numenara and more. However, in light of games like Shadow of the Eternals, the spiritual sequel to Eternal Darkness, having an average response, do you see a slump in crowd-funded projects in the coming months?
Al Lowe: The truth will come when gamers receive the games they paid for last year. And I’m proud to say that (to the best of my knowledge) Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded is the very first game “out the door.” I’m proud of that, although it did take longer than we expected. We really gave this game our best shot. I hope that your readers have as much fun with it as we did making it!
Ravi Sinha: What benefit does funding from Kickstarter present over going through traditional publishers? Would Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded, in its current form, have been possible without Kickstarter?
Al Lowe: Replay Games had the rights to Leisure Suit Larry for months and was unable to find a publisher interested in funding development. Had Paul Trowe and I not stumbled into Tim Shaffer at a conference, we might still be hunting for funding. So you could say that Kickstarter really made Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded possible.
Ravi Sinha: Tell us more about plans to “remake” all games in the Leisure Suit Larry series. Would they present similar crowd-funding goals as Reloaded did, or would they be significantly cheaper to fund given the infrastructure already being in place?
Al Lowe: What is this word you use: “cheaper”?? Since when have games ever been anything but more expensive to create?!
Our goal is that Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded will generate enough extra sales that it can fund the future titles. But again, that’s up to your readers. Enjoy the game? Want another? Tell your friends to buy their own copy!
Ravi Sinha: What does Austin Wintory’s music add to the overall atmosphere of the game? Will it be like being back in the ’80s or significantly more contemporary?
Al Lowe: Nothing much. Nobody listens to game music anyway.
Are you kidding? The first composer whose game music was nominated for a Grammy? It’s incredible. And one of the happiest days of my life was when he invited me to fly to Hollywood for the recording session with the Late Night Jazz Orchestra. It was love at first hear!
Ravi Sinha: Finally, will we be seeing the game this June? Is everything on track for release?
Al Lowe: We’ve been holding it until someone asked this question! How about tonight at mid-night? Is that soon enough for you?