Be sure to hang on to something sturdy before venturing into this interview!
December 24, 2012
Welcome Al Lowe, creator of the (in)famous Leisure Suit Larry series and old school adventure game creator.
Joe: Al, do your standard traditional intro where you plug your cyber-joke-o-matic.
Al: CyberJoke 3000! For the past 13 years I have sent out 2 jokes every weekday morning one of them clean! (Sign up now at AlLowe.com.)
Joe: That's so unlike you Al! I'm sure that is very unexpected, a clean joke? Please.
Al: Well, it makes good filler. I do 2 jokes a day every weekday morning, so that's over 6,000 jokes now, each unique to the best of my ability! Which is sad, lately, since the early jokes were some of the best but when I had the fewest subscribers. Maybe I'll start doing reruns soon.
Joe: Oh, maybe some kind of rating system should be added?
Al: It's funny you mention that. A CyberJoke 3000 subscriber just programmed a page for my website that will allow you to search, download, and even rate all those jokes. It should be a blast!
Joe: But none of these jokes will be narrated by Mr. Larry Laffer of Leisure Suit Larry.
Al: No, none of them will be narrated at all.
Joe: We could probably tell Siri to read them for us.
Al: It's funny that you say that; that's how I proofread them before I send them out! For the past 7 years I have used a free program named ReadPlease that reads the jokes aloud to me. I discovered that, when I write and edit jokes myself, I end up missing errors. I take pride that all of my jokes are edited, spellchecked, tightened, and honed to a razor's edge.
Joe: So you're just a joke editor?
Al: Yeah, I am! My original goal was to send out the jokes until I got rid of a huge collection I had accumulated, but it's become a scene from the Sorcerer's Apprentice where, every time I send out two jokes, I get a hundred back, so I can't get my head above water. That's been the most fun: by sharing something I enjoyed with others, I received even more laughs in return.
Joe: So let's go back to games, you, and the life fantastic. I have to ask the one pertinent question: Leisure Suit Larry 1 is being remade as we speak, are you at all involved in it?
Al: I am, I am involved in a consulting capacity. I'm not actually doing any work.
Joe: Like most consultants
Al: Yep. I have the responsibility to make sure they don't screw things up and that the revisions are true to the original but mostly, that theyre funny.
Joe: So you're saying Larry will have a cell phone instead of using a pay phone?
Al: OH NO NO NO! In fact it's funnier now that the joke is another layer removed: Larry is a guy 10 years out of touch, in a game thats 20 years out of touch!
Joe: So will he be able to call the Sierra Help Line from the payphone? Wasn't that one of the jokes from the original?
Al: Yeah, exactly. Youll have to! Though that puzzle needs more clues since Sierra is no longer, let alone has a help line. Who remembers that number?
Joe: I remember the joke.Al: Do you remember the number?
Joe: 209-683-6858. I cheated, the Internet knows all!
Joe: So LSL 1 really is in development and you really are consulting on it. How much is really going to change?
Al: The graphics will be redone, which is the second time they've been redone after Andy Hoyos and Bill Davis redid the game for the VGA revision back in 1991. It will actually have more than 400 pixels! Completely redone interface, touch screen compatibility, better animation. Made entirely in Unity.
Joe: So LSL 1 will be available for iOS?
Al: Yes. The other big addition is all the characters will have voiceovers added.
Joe: Has the voice actor been selected? Larry has had a voice before, right?
Al: He has! My goal would be to get the same guy back, because I thought Jan Rabson did a bang-up job, so much so, that I hired him to do voiceovers for Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist. The other person I want to come back is Neil Ross, my favorite narrator, a great guy, and a brilliant voiceover artist. And I promise: There will not be ONE voiceover done by a C-list celebrity chosen for her looks!
Joe: But what about Fawn!?
Al: NONE! One of the weirdest things about the two Larry games I was not involved with (Magnum Cum Laude andBox Office Bust), was the developers seemed to believe that people with famous names could do good voiceovers. They disproved that theory! I'd rather have unknown actors with talent who make you laugh.
Joe: Poor voice actors, nobody gives them any credit.
Al: I do!
Joe: So that is the big news, Replay Games, is re-making LSL1.
Joe: You do a lot of interviews and, in every interview, they have to ask the same question, to which you have the same negative answer: are you ever stepping back into the ring to make your own product?
Al: No, Ive had a lot of fun and don't feel the need at this point. I'd never say never, but I have no intention whatsoever of running for President of the I mean, of making another game.
Joe: Which brings me to the next question: Do you ever get tired of talking about Leisure Suit Larry?
Al: No, never! I don't know if you've been on my website, Allowe.com
Joe: Shameless promotion
Al: Well, on Allowe.com theres a page filled with interviews Ive done that go on and on. More talking by me and about me than anyone needs to hear. So no, I never tired of talking about Larry. He was very good to me, and gamers have been very good to me. I enjoyed my experience at Sierra and love to give something back.
Joe: How much of a resurgence do you see to your site and your interviews inflicted on you every time Larry steps back into the limelight?
Al: A lot! When Vivendi re-released the Larry Collections, they sent people to my site for help and technical support.
Joe: I don't think that's a good thing.
Al: Well, it was a cheap way of getting out of doing their own tech support. I hope this interview will provide CyberJoke 3000 with some new subscribers as well.
Joe: When Larry was in development, you were in California. Larry is almost always set in a warm beach areas (with the exception of the first one).
Al: Yes, Larry1 was in a Vegas-type town, but the others were set in ocean settings.
Joe: Is there a particular reason for that? Market research?
Al: Simple: thats so I could write-off trips to warm sandy beaches as a business expense and lower my taxes.
Joe: Ah that was it then?
Al: Back then there was no market research. I think we tried it about 1995. In the 80s it was more like: "What do you think would be funny?" And we also had no feedback! It's hard for someone today to imagine, but we did all those games in the dark. We knew what we liked and we knew what our friends liked and that was all the people we ever heard from.
Joe: So lets turn this around a little. The point of adventure games is basically storytelling. Do you see the adventure game genre, while stagnant in size, has the story telling really evolved and improved? Are adventure games still the king of storytelling games?
Al: 20 years ago, I was sure that storytelling, having been a part of human culture for millennia, would always continue and that we were just doing the same old thing in a new medium. Ken Williams and I talked about this a lot then. We believed that, as computers improved, we'd be able to tell better stories. But that isn't what happened, is it? We've gotten far away from storytelling. But this morning, I was encouraged to read in the New York Times review of Uncharted 3,that the reviewer loved the storytelling, the action, and the character development. I may have to buy a PS3.
Joe: So you would say that storytelling has taken a back seat and is just now coming back to the area it should have been in terms of growth and development over the last 20 years?
Al: I don't know about should have been, but rather what we believe it would become. It is just now getting to that point. Maybe.
Joe: Hopefully, as I am sure that is why our fans play adventure games rather than the obtuse puzzles
Joe: That about covers all the questions I had to ask, anything left to add? A certain Joke-O-Something you want to plug again? Some certain website it may be on?
Al: Uh? AlLowe.com? CyberJoke 3000?
Joe: Where you answer every email with a Al Lowe?
Al: I do! And the jokes free subscription comes with a double-your-money-back guarantee!