Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded Project Update #70: Larry Rewards

Great news! We are finally ready to ship out your physical rewards!

 But you won’t receive yours …unless we have your correct mailing address.

We emailed everyone who was supposed to receive a physical reward last week and asked you to verify your address. If you didn’t received that email, you have one more chance. Check your spam folder or verify your shipping information right here:
https://www.replaygamesinc.com/kickstarter.

Our shipper requires all addresses by Wednesday, July 31st. If yours is wrong, you won’t get your “goodies.” And, if your package is undeliverable, you’ll have to pay any additional shipping charges.

As always, if you have questions, email us at cs@replaygamesinc.com

As Larry loves to say, “It won’t be long now!”

Hero-U Project Update #40: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption by the Quest for Glory designers by Corey Cole

Is Kickstarter Dead?

Kickstarter and other crowd-funding sites such as IndieGoGo have created amazing opportunities for creative developers in many media, especially games. They are also very different from previous ways of financing projects, and that sometimes causes confusion. I regularly see articles questioning whether “Kickstarter is dead”, and whether backers are wasting their money when they support a crowd-funding project. So far, they have been wrong every time, and fans continue to fund projects they consider worthy.

Kickstarter is not a place where you preorder games (or other products) – It is a chance for you to support projects you want to see developed. Because project creators are required to list estimated delivery dates for backer rewards, it is easy for backers to make the assumption that they are promising delivery of certain things on those dates. Let’s see how this works in the traditional game industry.

Not Exactly Rules – More Like Guidelines

Game development is an exercise in barely-controlled chaos. Major game companies – as well as small indie developers – start and cancel game projects constantly. Everyone is at risk – The company, its investors, the project creators, and other employees and contractors. The gamers have an emotional risk as well, but usually no financial risk.

One effect of this risk is that most game companies rely on “safe bets” – sequels to existing franchises and games licensed from other media. Another is that they are very willing to cancel a game at any point of development. I’ve read that as many as 8 out of 10 games are cancelled by their publishers during development. At least 98 of 100 game proposals never even make it that far.

As for budgets and shipping dates, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”. And “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” The enemies of game development include the creative nature of the process, the uncertainty of developing new processes and supporting constantly-changing technology, the demands of corporate executives and investors, and the uncertainty of the marketplace.

In practice, this means that publishers cancel most of their games before shipment, and almost every game comes in late and over budget. Much worse is that game publishers often force developers to release unfinished games in order to make arbitrary deadlines; that happened to two of our games. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather get a great game six months or a year after the scheduled date than a broken one delivered on time.

Kickstarter is Better… But Not Perfect

How do Kickstarter-funded game projects do compared to ones financed by publishers? Actually, very well. I’ve read that 90% of Kickstarter projects eventually ship, but that almost all of them miss their deadline estimate. That’s a heck of a lot better than the 20% of publisher-financed games that eventually make it out. My numbers may be off, but the conclusion is definitely correct – A game funded on Kickstarter is much more likely to ship than a traditionally-produced game.

As to the missed deadlines, those are almost inevitable. If a project barely reaches its goal (such as Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption), the creators need to scramble for resources and use part-time developers to get the project done. If it makes a lot more (e.g. Double Fine Adventure), the developer is expected to make a much more complex game with stretch goal features. It takes a lot more time to make a big game than a small one.

So when people complain about Kickstarter projects “running late”, they are apparently looking for miracles. It’s possible for a game to ship on time, under budget, and relatively bug-free – I’ve managed it on several of my projects – but it’s never the way to bet. Big publisher with a big budget, indie developer with a tiny budget – The process is difficult and uncertain for all of us.

The Return of Sierra Adventures

Many of the former Sierra On-Line adventure game designers have used the Kickstarter opportunity to bring back our dreams of making great story-driven games. Let’s see where they are today:

  • Jim Walls (creator of “Police Quest”) is currently running a Kickstarter for his new “Precinct” game at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/precinctgame/precinct. Like Police Quest, Precinct is a police procedural game with a mixture of traditional adventure game play and action sequences. You play as a police officer in a corrupt town, and must do your job while trying to clean up your department. If you liked Police Quest, Law & Order, or CSI, you should think about supporting Jim’s game. The funding is moving along slowly, but still has time to succeed.
  • A group of filmmakers (“Molotov Angel”) is trying to document the classic Sierra. They caught Lori and me on camera in separate sessions last year. Their project is at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/772847014/the-history-of-sierra-on-line-through-a-documentar, but is far short of its goal with one week remaining.
  • Make Leisure Suit Larry Come Again, by Al Lowe (creator of the original “Leisure Suit Larry”), Josh Mandel, and Replay Games. This project promised to recreate Leisure Suit Larry 1 with modern standards for audio and graphics and additional text and puzzles. The game shipped this month and lives up to Josh and Al’s promises.
  • Moebius, by Jane Jensen (“Gabriel Knight” creator) and her new company, Pinkerton Road Studio. Jane offered a “year of adventure”, starting with the Moebius game. Pinkerton Road recently released an Alpha build, and it is getting strongly positive reviews.
  • SpaceVenture, by Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy (“Space Quest” creators). Lori and I saw a demo at Comic-Con in San Diego, and it looks great! Like us, Mark and Scott are re-examining many of the basic assumptions about how to make a good adventure game, and I think they are going to make a great game.
  • Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, by Lori Ann Cole and Corey Cole (“Quest for Glory” creators). We are working on a playable demo consisting of a short cinematic and a single playable room. This is a true “vertical slice” that plays exactly like the full game, so it is a big step towards developing the rest of the game. Lori and I are excited by what we can do with relatively-unlimited memory – beautiful graphics, great music, and a context-sensitive story and user interface that we like a lot better than the ones we used at Sierra

News and Events

Lori and I travelled to San Diego Comic-Con a couple of weeks ago, and the E3 Expo the previous month. We had a great meeting in San Diego with the SpaceVenture team – Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy, and Chris Pope – and talked about how we can promote each other’s games. We also discussed the issues both teams have faced using Unity to mix 2D and 3D art. Their game demo looks terrific and shows that they have learned some new game design tricks since the 90’s.

What struck us at E3 was how little the gaming industry has progressed since we were last there 8 or 10 years ago. The budgets keep climbing, but we aren’t seeing many real advances in game play, or even in the quality of the graphics. The “uncanny valley” theory suggests that when a game reaches a certain level of detail, we expect it to feel “real”. At that point, more realistic graphics actually take away from the player’s feeling of immersion. I think that most high-budget games are now at that uncomfortable level where they are too realistic to not be completely real.

The most impressive new games I saw were Thief and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. The lead writer and a senior game designer for Thief gave a good talk at Comic-Con about what they are trying to accomplish with the story and game play. They are smart people, and the game sounds as though it will have some depth.

Subversive Activities

Our final trip of the Summer is this week. Lori and I are travelling to San Francisco to speak at the International Game Developer’s Association (IGDA) Summit, and to have some meetings with potential partners. Our topic is “Game Design as a Subversive Activity”, and will be at 4:00 on Wednesday, July 31. It’s open to attendees of the IGDA Summit and the parallel Casual Connect conference. I’ll plan on posting part of the talk (or at least a link) in the next Update.

What’s so “subversive” about letting our players be heroes? We believe that the things you do and learn in games can carry over to your non-gaming life. Although we avoid “preaching” in our games, each one has an underlying message about making the world a better place. And that’s why making our own games is so important to us, especially when we read messages about how our games have encouraged fans to help people in need and to make themselves better.

Kickstarter is subversive too. By supporting projects here, we are each saying, “I am choosing for myself which dreams I believe in, and which games I want to see made.”  We are not delegating these decisions to a committee of “experts”.  Our voices and our choices matter here.

Thank you for sharing our dream!

Precinct Project Update #5: Joystiq Interview

Hello everybody,

Sorry for two updates in one day.  However, I wanted to let you know that Joystiq released an interview with Jim Walls.  You can check it out here:

http://www.polygon.com/2013/7/27/4557744/precinct-police-quest-and-the-sierra-renaissance

From the article:

“Three decades-worth of technological advancements will allow the development team to do the police game they’ve always wanted to make; one set in the first-person perspective, putting you a bit closer to the day-to-day activities (and dangers) of an officer on the streets. Driving will be a large focus, too — Walls was never quite satisfied with how it was handled in the classic Police Quest series. In a modern day engine, rendering car chases or climactic PIT maneuvers is a much simpler task.”

We’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Thanks!
Robert.

Precinct Project Update #4: Daily Videos

Hello everybody,

I hope you had a good weekend.  The Precinct Kickstarter campaign has been live for almost two weeks now.  So far we’ve raised almost $70,000!  We have 18 days to go, so if you haven’t pledged yet please think about it.  Precinct is going to be a terrific game and we can’t wait to tell you more about it.

I also wanted to send out a quick reminder that we are still releasing daily videos.  So far Jim has given us some great insights into the history of Sierra.  Here are the videos so far:

Video Nine: Why do people still love Police Quest?

Video Eight: Oakhurst was a strange place for a video game company

Video Seven: Why are we so excited about Precinct?

You will see at the end Jim mentions we need to get a team together. At the time of filming we did not have a team in place, but now we do.

Video Six: Jim and Robert talk about Billy Vukovich III and how they almost worked together

Video Five: Jim and Robert talk about where Police Quest I was made.

Video Four: Jim talks about the transition from being a cop to game designer.

Video Three: Jim makes a new game for his fans

Video Two: What was crunch time like at Sierra?

Video One: Why Kickstarter?

Thanks for all your support on the project!!

Robert.

Project Update #3: Precinct by Jim Walls

Hello Precinct fans and backers,

It’s our 7th day of the Precinct Kickstarter!  We’ve had tons of momentum and activity and are planning on sharing much more news with you in the near future.

Today I wanted to share with you some of the great press coverage we’ve been receiving for Precinct.  Since we announced Precinct we’ve had coverage on over 120 gaming sites.  Here are some of the highlights:

Kotaku – http://kotaku.com/guys-police-quest-is-basically-back-796665191
PC Gamer – http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/07/16/the-makers-of-police-quest-aim-to-resurrect-the-police-procedural-adventure-with-precinct/
Destructoid – http://www.destructoid.com/police-quest-makes-a-comeback-in-the-form-of-precinct-258278.phtml
Gamasutra – http://www.gamasutra.com/view/pressreleases/196374/lsquoPOLICE_QUESTrsquo_CREATOR_JIM_WALLS_ANNOUNCES_NEWGAME_ndash_lsquoPRECINCTrsquo.php
Game Informer – http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2013/07/16/ex-cop-announces-police-adventure-game.aspx
Joystiq – http://www.joystiq.com/2013/07/16/police-quest-creator-goes-to-kickstarter-for-the-precinct/
Polygon – http://www.polygon.com/2013/7/16/4528192/police-quest-creator-kickstarts-spiritual-sequel-precinct
T3 – http://www.t3.com/news/precinct-kickstarter-launched

Even better, we’ve been doing interviews and podcasts.  So far two are live, but there are more to come!

Rock, Paper, Shotgun – http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/07/18/interview-jim-walls-arresting-development/
Joe Method – http://joemethod.com/podcast.php?p=1&d=1

In fact, if you Google “Jim Walls Precinct” you will see a ton of press coverage!

Other news

In other news, we have some big updates coming your way.  There’s not much I can share right now except to say that we are on the edge our seats with excitement!  I will share with you as soon as we have more information.

Daily Video

Our daily video is live!  Today we talk about Police Quest I and where it was made.  Stay tuned for more fun Sierra stories over the rest of the campaign!

Communication

Finally, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the frequency of communication.  My goal had been to give lots of information without spamming you.  Every day, we’re posting on Twitter, Facebook and the comment boards, but we haven’t been sending out regular updates.  After hearing your feedback we will be sending our more regular updates to everybody.  My apologies if you’ve felt left out of the conversation.

As always, thank you so much for your help in the campaign.  There’s no way we can do it without you!

Thanks!
Robert.

Precinct Project Update #2: Our Second Update

Hello everybody,
First off, thanks again for supporting Jim and the team! We’ve had a lot of excitement over the past couple of days and are working really hard to incorporate everyone’s feedback. We’re really listening to you guys, and I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your enthusiasm for the project.

DRM Free
So, our first big announcement is that Precinct will be DRM free! All backers who are eligible for the game will receive a DRM free version when it’s available. Our community has been very passionate about this issue, so we’re happy to give everyone the option.

$19 Limited Edition Pre-Order Version
To all of our fans who have been requesting a lower-cost pre-order version, we are happy to announce a new $19 digital copy tier! We’ve made a limited quantity of 2,500 available so we hope you will tell your friends and family that they should jump in and back the Precinct project! Of course this version will be DRM free as well.

Daily Video
Today’s daily video is now available. Jim and Robert talk about what crunch time was like at Sierra. Plus, this video was the first conversation to take place in front of the old Sierra building!

We hope you enjoy these daily videos, and share them with all your friends!

That’s it for now. Thanks for everything. Please help keep the momentum on Precinct going!

Robert.

Larry Laffer Reloaded Update #69 (YEAH BABY!) – Apples and Androids!

FINALLY! LARRY INVADES APPLE STORE!

Great News

It’s official! Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded is now for sale in the iOS App store and Mac store. Finally! We submitted the game on June 27th, but heard almost nothing until yesterday, when it went live. Sales have been healthy so far and the game has a 4-star rating! Remember: if you like the game, be sure to rate it – everywhere! The more positive reviews we have, the more we’ll interest others in buying a copy and that’s the only way we’re going to get to make Leisure Suit Larry 2.

Some Bad News

Something happened with our upload to the Android store and the version that’s there now is bad. N-Fusion is working on the problem and thinks it’s a simple fix but we won’t know until we can find and fix the problem. So if you’re looking for an Android version, please bear with us a little longer. It won’t be long now. (Hey. That’s what Larry said!)

 

SpaceVenture @ SDCC – Scott Murphy, Mark Crowe and Chris Pope! But where will they be?

The Two Guys From Andromeda(Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy), along with the SpacePope(Chris Pope) are all heading out to San Diego Comicon 2013! Come meet up with them and get a chance to play a demo of the upcoming SpaceVenture(funded by you amazing fans). All press is welcome to come by and check out the demo as well, and write about it! 😉

GuysFromAndromedaGoingToSDCC

Where will they be?

Guys From Andromeda LLC will be sharing a booth with Soul Geek. You’ll find them at table #5619

SDCC2013_Table

 

Precinct Update #1: Our first update!

Hello everybody!

Well, it’s day two of our campaign and the support has been amazing! We’ve had so much great feedback and are super excited to be working with everybody.

We have a couple of new announcements to share:

New reward
We’ve heard a lot of feedback about the $30 reward tier, and it’s clear that the fans are looking for more. So we’re excited to introduce a new $29 reward tier with additional rewards that will automatically become available to all of our $30 backers.

As a $29 backer you will receive a digital copy of Precinct with exclusive “VIP Backer Status”. As a VIP Backer, you will be sent a unique passkey which grants you access to all “VIP Backer Only” areas of www.precinctgame.com (the website will launch after the Kickstarter). VIP Backers will also receive exclusive content in the final release of Precinct.
“VIP Backer Only” Website Areas Include:
– Sneak peeks of the game (screenshots and video clips)
– Private VIP Backer Message Board
– Exclusive webcasts and chats with Jim and his team during development
– Help develop Precinct by voting on critical design and production decisions

Exclusive Bonus Content Includes:
– Vintage Police Cruiser
– Additional Weapons
– Police Computer Upgrade
– Special Undercover Mission

This tier is meant to replace the $30 tier, and all $30 tier backers (and above) will receive everything in this $29 tier.

We are listening to backers and will continue to evaluate the tiers/rewards. Thanks again for all the feedback!
Daily Videos
Another exciting thing that’s happening is starting today, you can check out our daily videos. These are short videos of Jim (and sometimes me) talking about all things Precinct and Sierra-related.

The first video (released today) is: “Why Kickstarter?”

Here’s the URL for the video:

http://youtu.be/N3FwL6aURq4

We hope you enjoy these daily videos, and share them with all your friends!

That’s it for now. Thanks for everything.

Robert.