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Al Lowe Interview
We are all meddling bastards here at Action Trip, so we decided not to rest on the presently offered information regarding the upcoming adventure game Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. After all, this particular adventure game is missing a very important piece of the puzzle! A few weeks back, we were able to track down Al Lowe, the creative mind who came up with Larry's wacky character. We asked Al questions about general gaming issues and the most important one of course, whether or not he'll have anything to do with the new Larry game.
Action Trip: Before I begin, let me just say I cheated on that little pop-quiz in Leisure Suit Larry 1 by doing the hit and miss routine to play the uncensored version (I had to get this off of my chest.) Sadly, I didn't have a clue who Sergeant Pepper was at the time. I also had no clue why Larry would grab his crotch after forgetting to put on a condom before his little "date" with the hooker. So, I read and I learned. Thank you.
Al Lowe: Uh, you're welcome, I guess. Hopefully you've learned about Sgt. Pepper by now!
AT: It is my belief that 3D engines are fast becoming virtual movie sets. The technology doesn't limit game designers to a particular conventional game genre. With that in mind, would you say that it's still prudent to stick to old game genre definitions, or do you see them changing in any way, evolving?
AL: I'm totally convinced that storytelling games must change and evolve or they will die (more completely?). Just as arcade/twitch games have moved into greater realism, and RPG's have returned from the dead (check out any game magazine from the early 90's), so will story games.
AT: Can you think of a game that's currently on the market that has genuinely funny dialogue/cinematics? (Providing, of course, you had a chance to play every single game released for the PC or any of the console systems in the last two years.)
AL: I may have missed one or two (thousand!) in the past two years, but I've seen reviews of them all. I can't remember anything that convinced me that it would make me laugh.
AT: I have a theory that all great (active) writers that could make fun games like Leisure Suit Larry still prefer movies and TV to video games. What do you think about my theory?
AL: It's a good theory. The movie business (and to a lesser extent, TV) still rewards its writers better than the game business, financially and artistically. That said, now that game sales have exceeded movie theater ticket sales, I believe that will change.
AT: What would you say to me if I told you that the gaming industry will perpetually target teens and that it will never truly focus on the adult market? *Dodges a cordless optical mouse*
AL: I'd say you've been watching too many Fox reality shows! Of course, that's like saying the TV networks will target a young demographic. It's more or less a "self-fulfilling prophecy." There's been a tremendous growth in the "casual games" market the past couple of years that's not really recognized by the gaming magazines or press. It's like the ringtone part of the cellular business. Who knew that ringtones were over 10% of the cellular industry's revenues? Wait until the casual game sales are tallied alongside packaged games.
AT: Will Al Lowe be in any way involved on the Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude project? Yes, we know Sierra/VUG now owns the rights ... to everything, but we must ask. We must keep the hope alive. (I just read the VUG official press release and the only mention of Al is in words "financiAL" and "fiscAL".)
AL: It remains to be seen. While Sierra has called me a few times to ask if I'd be interested, they have yet to firm things up. My position is this: I'd love to be involved, unless it's only as a figurehead. Give me some responsibilities, let me try to make the game great, and I'm there. Just want to slap my name on the box? Forget it.
AT: What are your expectations of the new Larry game?
AL: I haven't seen the game myself, so I don't know what to expect. I hope they realized that the reason my games sold so well over the years was because I focused on more than just sophomoric humor and skin (although I do like both!).
AT: This is what Philip O'Neil, SVP Sales & Marketing Vivendi Universal Games, had to say about it (the new Larry game): "We have captured the distinctive style and feel of the original series, while taking the humor and visuals to a level that hasn't been seen before. With all these ingredients combined we are sure it will please old and new fans alike." (Call me a cynic, but that's just his title and big fat paycheck talking. - Ed.)
AL: He certainly sounds confident for a game that won't ship for another year. I hope he's right; God knows this market could use a new game with some humor. On the other hand, maybe he's got his tongue in his cheek: he doesn't say whether the "level that hasn't been seen before" will be better or worse.
AT: Finally, let's end this interview on a relatively threatening note. Action-Trip.com threatens to reveal them photos; you know the ones taken about 15 years ago at that spa in Sweden! We threaten to release them to the general public if you don't promise to contribute to the new Larry game. *SOB* You don't know us, but we're fans! A little demanding (some would say psychotic), yes, but devoted nonetheless. It just won't be the same without you!
AL: That's what scares me the most! No, not the photos, that VU will destroy something into which I put ten years of my heart, soul, and every effort. Leisure Suit Larry is not like a son to me (I'm fortunate to have a real son, so I do know the difference!), but he is like an old buddy who shared lots of good times and memories. I miss him too!
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