Al Lowe Interview w/FreeGamesList

FreeGamesList.net Interviews Al Lowe!

And again Quo Vadis 😉 Only hours after our interview with Richard Garriott another designer legend gave us the opportunity to interview him: Al Lowe, Master Mind behind “Leisure Suit Larry” and other great Adventures from the 80/90ties.

Al Lowe isn’t only the oldest game designer, he is also the funniest and very kind… As a Speaker on the Quo Vadis in Berlin, he audited about how he became Game Designer and why he loves music. Have fun 😉

 



LSL Reloaded Update #59: The Future.

Greetings and salutations, Larryettes.

Let’s keep this short and sweet, shall we?

1. Al Lowe has been in Berlin at the Quo Vadis conference, and gave a speech that was the runaway hit of the show! At least, that’s what Al said!

2. We’ve been sending the Collector’s Box art to various e-tailers who, although selling only a non-boxed digital version of the game, like to – or insist on – a mocked-up box for their websites. Since a lot of people have seen the Collector’s Box art and thought we shouldn’t be using it for marketing purposes, we’re going to start a contest (today or tomorrow) for all aspiring commercial artists. Details for the contest can – or shortly will be – available on the Replay forums, https://forums.replaygamesinc.com/. There will be a separate subforum just for this contest; there, you’ll be able to find the exact rules, and you’re free to post your submissions on the forum for critique (although official entries will need to be sent directly to Replay per the rules you’ll find on the Contest subforum).

3. Al recently gave an interview, and in it, he’s quoted as saying that LSL2 might be out by Christmas. Don’t you believe it! We dispute the accuracy of that quote! LSL2 is a much bigger, more complex game than LSL1, and work on LSL2 has scarcely begun. The interview must’ve taken place in Amsterdam, which might explain the author’s wishful thinking.

I guess that’s it.

Oh, right, one other thing:

4. If all goes according to plan, you can expect the beta next week (week of May 6th)! That’s right, IT’S COMING! OH, MY GOD, IT’S COMING!

And on that note…

Josh

Hero-U: Project Update #37: April Tidings

Extending the Supporter Page

Our “Kickstarter-like” PayPal support page at http://www.hero-u.net/KS-store added slightly over $2,000 to the project budget during March. Originally we planned to close it at the end of April, but due to the project delay, we’re extending it to June 30. If your friends missed out on the Kickstarter action and would like to join in the Hero-U community, please tell them about the page and the hero-u.net site.

We would also like to remind you of the Hero-U forum at http://www.hero-u.net/forum/. This is a place to discuss the game with other supporters. You may also post questions for the developers that you think will be of interest to other backers. We try to answer as many as possible when we have time, and knowledgeable fans often step in to provide answers.

Our Team Is Growing

Thank you to the dozens of people who wrote in about our programming openings. I’ve chosen a three highly talented programmers for the current phase, and identified six others we might bring in later as needed. You’re a very talented group!

Speaking of talent, we’re now looking for one or two experienced 2D animators. These will be contract positions and unfortunately well below “big game company” pay rates. But it’s more lucrative, and much more fun, than your average fast food or warehouse store job. You will get to work with our outstanding art director, Terry Robinson, and our other talented character artists. Here is Terry’s job description:

  • The main thing we need is a 2D animator who can animate existing concept sketches. 3D experience is good but the look we are going for is traditional 2D similar to Disney’s more realistic style. The ability to draw great monster and human concept sketches is a big plus, although we have most of our concepts done. What we really need is someone who can refine those and animate them in 2D – primarily walking animation in our unique low-camera isometric view and combat animation.
  • We need samples of their work that can be shown through animated gifs or a demo reel.

If you are interested and well-qualified, please send an email with your resume (CV) and a link to your animation samples to “jobs (at) hero-u (dot) net”. Lori and I will scan them and forward the best candidates to Terry for evaluation.

Meet the Hero-U Programming Team

Our new full-time Lead Programmer is Mike Croswell. Here’s Mike in his own words:

  • I’ve been programming video games since the Commodore-64 days. I’ve also created serious programs for the FAA, NASA, the US Navy, the Medical and Aviation industries, and others – often using game technology to improve the quality of these applications. I am visual by nature, but also enjoy the technology that goes into creating games. I’m a wanna-be artist and enjoy creating art that is designed to help guide (and be replaced by) the actually artists in terms of scale, anchoring/position and timing. One day, maybe my art will be good enough to go in a real game!
  • Also, I’ve been teaching Game Design, Animation, Game Programming and general Computer Science for many years at both the undergraduate and graduate college levels. Recently, I finished a book called, “Unity Game Coding Using C#” which is mostly about programming in Unity but also covers the design and creation of 3D and some 2D games. My first book, it will be published by Taylor & Francis in the Fall of this year. Finally, I run the Unity SIG in Fort Collins where we sit around, drink beer, eat tacos and discuss the philosophy of making games.
Next we have Rob Eisenberg, who is specializing in creating development tools in between running his own consulting firm. Rob’s first task is developing the Hero-U Composer, about which you’ll read more below. Here’s Rob’s bio:
  • When I was eight or nine years old my Dad took me to Sears to buy our first computer, a Commodore 64. It didn’t take much for me to want to know how those amazing programs worked. So, around nine years old I bought my first programming book. A couple of years later, I discovered Kings Quest… and so began my love of adventure games. As a kid, I poured all my money into adventure games and programming books. I even tried writing my own adventure game engine, first in C and then in C++.
  • After high school, I went to FSU to study music composition and theory. (Music is my other great love.) Half way through grad school I started a video game music company with a friend. That didn’t go anywhere, but it re-ignited my programming. In 2004 I took my first professional programming job and have been writing C# or JavaScript code almost every day of my life since.
  • Today, I work a lot on open source frameworks for application development, which is what I’m known for most in the community. While I don’t have much “real world” game development experience, I’ve spent a lot of time professionally building developer and designer tools for various industries. I’m really happy to be a part of the Hero-U team and looking forward to building a fantastic set of tools to help enable the Coles to bring their vision to life.

Finally (but certainly not last!), let me introduce Jonathan Cheatham, a triple-threat Unity wizard with experience in programming, art, and game design. In his copious free time between a full-time job and a family, Jonathan has already wowed us with a great prototype of the isometric graphics system we only had on paper before. It isn’t quite ready to share on Kickstarter yet, but it’s a terrific first pass. Jonathan says:

  • Hmm, my fluffy background: I’ve been fascinated with games forever, and two of the largest influences on me were the original Hero’s Quest and Moria (a rogue-like game). So, I started out as a “game designer”, but quickly realized that in order to actually get anything made I needed to program. Some time later I realized that artists don’t really like to work on sweat equity (at least any more than the rest of us), so I guessed I’d better learn me some art… and that’s how I ended up the bizarre programmer/artist/designer I am today. Jack of all trades, master of none… just that I’ve been programming for the better part of 20 years so I guess I’m okay enough at it to make a living 🙂
  • I worked on a few personal projects (some tiny, some grossly overly ambitious), eventually conned my way into the game industry, worked for Namco Bandai, conned my way into game design, learned the horrible truths, and fell back out of the industry into the dot-com I’m currently at (Zendesk… not really a start-up anymore though, they’re pretty friggin huge at this point). I saw Corey’s update to the project a few weeks ago and made myself enough a nuisance to attract his attention and let me help out.

This team has made more programming progress in the last two weeks than we saw in the previous three months, and Lori and I are delighted with the talent, energy, enthusiasm, and professionalism of our three core programmers.

Revolutionizing Adventure Game Design Tools

Grumpy Gamer Ron Gilbert (co-creator of Secret of Monkey Island) recently posted something with which we agree whole-heartedly: “If I made another Monkey Island, I would rebuild SCUMM. Not SCUMM as in the exact same language, but what SCUMM brought to those games… I’d build an engine and a language where funny ideas can be laughed about at lunch and be in the game that afternoon. SCUMM did that. It’s something that is getting lost today.”

At Sierra, we had SCI, our version of SCUMM with many of the same features. At one point, I heard that Sierra had spent over a million dollars (back when that was real money) on SCI development. It gave us a huge head start, and even let me make a non-adventure game, Castle of Dr. Brain.

We knew we will need a new dialogue editing system, so we asked Rob to take that on. He could have just followed my spec and made us a useful tool. But you know these uppity programmers. Rob took the basic ideas, and is building a true Unified Design Editor, the Hero-U Composer. We saw his first prototype today, and it will let use craft the Hero-U design in ways we could only dream of back in the 1990’s.

Meanwhile, Mike and Jonathan are working on a graphics tool that will let us patch together a beautiful-looking level from the background artists’ tiles, and a “tester” that will let them check out their animation in the context of the game. We will also be building a combat simulator to make sure combat is balanced. Tools like these were at the heart of adventure game development in the 1990’s, but the new ones are like supersonic jets compared to the bicycles we rode back then.

Coming Soon to An Update Near You

In the next update, we’ll probably have an animator or two to introduce. I will also share some of the work Lori and I have been doing on the game design and story – The combat system and perhaps a bit about the Noctes de Mortuus. Yes, Hero-U has a few holidays.

Thank you all for your continuing patience and support!

Corey Cole

Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded Update #58

A gracious “good afternoon” to all you Larryettes.

As we near the release of Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded, this update finds me a little wistful. We began our Kickstarter efforts on April 2nd, 2012; it’s just over a year later, and the end is well within sight. And to think that, within just a few weeks, these updates will no longer even be necessary.

Today and tomorrow will be the final recording sessions for the game voices. That’s been a monumental task; with about 8,500 lines of dialogue and narration and 60 different characters, Al and I slogged through weeks of marathon sessions to get it all done. (Just about the only messages that won’t be voiced are the inventory-on-inventory responses, of which there are hundreds more, and the Blackjack/Slot Machine messages.)

Most of the sessions consist of Al, Randy (our brilliant and incredibly detail-minded engineer/editor at Hamsterball Studios), the “talent,” and me, all on Skype. Al’s in Seattle, I’m in Albany, Randy’s in Austin, and most of the talent is in LA. The talent’s already gotten their scripts, as well as visuals of the character(s) they’re portraying. We go line-by-line, recording each one anywhere from once (if they nail it off the bat) to maybe a dozen times if necessary.

What do we listen for?

Well, sticking to the script is important. The game’s being translated into many different languages, so every time an actor improvises and we end up changing a line (because we like the improvised version better), there’s actually more time and money involved than simply changing the text to match the actor’s version.

Beyond that, we’re listening for subtext and interpretation, pacing, consistency of accents and dialects, and “popped” p’s and b’s and other aural distortions. Al, Randy, and I all tend to catch different things with every single read, so naturally there are a lot of retakes. It’s also not unusual for Al or me to read the part of another character so that the actor whose voice we’re recording has something to react to. We frequently end up splicing – the beginning of one read and the end of another, for instance – to come up with the version we think sounds perfect.

So it’s a lengthy process, and it can’t be rushed. But it’s punctuated with a lot of laughter and a lot of creativity all coming together in real-time. That keeps the energy and excitement up even when we’re doing inhumanly long sessions.

Also in the next couple of days, N-Fusion will be putting in the very last of the animations. So with a couple of weeks’ worth of polish and internal testing, and plugging in all the speech, we’ll be ready for beta.

And now, a surprise: a video, courtesy of Al Lowe. I won’t tell you what it’s about, but I do want to give credit where it’s due. Al conceptualized this video, directed *and* shot it himself, and edited it. (His daughter selected the music, “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons, http://www.imaginedragonsmusic.com.)

As you’ll see, none of it would’ve happened without the terrific team at www.darkhorseink.com, who have our gratitude for their hard work and perfectionism…the results of which many of you will be enjoying shortly.

Without further adieu… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feZF9O0aH20

Your obedient servant,

Josh Mandel

SpaceVenture – Video Inside! And More!

Hello there our dear and most beloved backer buddies! As promised, we have an update for you today! First off, you are probably wondering why we haven’t had anything really cool to share in awhile.. well, to be honest, we have been working on a surprise involving a playable alpha for everyone to have a look at. Due to some difficulties, things kept getting pushed off on the playable alpha, so instead of making everyone wait even longer, we made a small video for you.

Please keep in mind, Mark and Scott are VERY particular in what they want to show, due to spoilers, but I think you guys are gonna love what you see. The video includes original music from Ken Allen(one of the composers from many Sierra On-Line games). Please remember, nothing in this is final. Everything is considered in alpha state as of right now. Well, what are you waiting on? Have a look!

NEWS ABOUT BACKER REWARDS:

As we mentioned before, we will be shipping all rewards for backers once the game is complete. We do not need your address just yet. When it comes time for us to start shipping everything out to you all, we’ll be requesting everyone’s current address.

As for GOG credits, we are planning to distribute those in two weeks. Two weeks from now, you’ll get an email(if you are a GOG credit level backer) which will have instructions on receiving your GOG credit rewards 🙂

GUYS FROM ANDROMEDA LLC APPEARANCES: 

May 24-26th – Alabama Phoenix Festival – www.alabamaphoenixfestival.com Who’s going? Chris Pope

June 21-23rd – Ancient City Con(Jacksonville, FL) – www.ancientcitycon.com Whos going? Chris Pope

July 18-21st – San Diego Comic Con-SDCC(San Diego, CA) – www.comic-con.com Who’s going? Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy, and Chris Pope

Aug 31-Sep 2nd – PAX Prime(Seattle, WA) – prime.paxsite.com Who’s going? Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy, and Chris Pope

Nov 1-3rd – GMX (Nashville, TN) – www.geekmediaexpo.com Who’s going? Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy, and Chris Pope

 JAMES MULVALE HAS A KICKSTARTER

You guys might remember that our friend, James Mulvale wrote the music for our prototypes as well as the Cluck Y’egger game that Titanbase Productions put out. He has a 3D album he’s trying to get funded! Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/ASMRkick

Hero-U Update – Moving Along.

From: http://www.hero-u.net/leaders/moving-along/

Moving Along

Many things have been happening behind the scenes here at the Hero-U team. We have formed Transolar Games Inc. as the holding company with Corey as the CEO and CFO and Lori as the Creative Director and – ugh – Secretary. (What? Is Transolar stereotyping the female as the secretary? Alas, my writing skills exceed my capabilities of adding columns of numbers in spreadsheets. I’ll let Corey do that.)

Drat it

This page has been updated to reflect our new art style under the wonderful direction of Terry Robinson and the painting talents of JP Selwood. I’m sure you’ll like the improvements.

We are assembling a new programming team under the direction of Mike Croswell, who has just written a book on programming with Unity. He has a wide range of skills including Bluegrass guitar and C# coding. We met with him and Jonathan Cheatham, another skilled programmer joining the team. Jonathan is a long time fan of the Quest for Glory series, so he’ll know the style and feel that we want to have with Hero-U.

We’re also adding a System programmer and a room programmer along the way.

Also in the company news, we are officially looking for an experienced 2D animator and a 2D tile artist to add to our team.

We’re behind production schedule, but work on the project is now moving in the right direction. As for the game itself, well, it’s going to be beautiful and sound wonderful. It will be the synergy of all the creative energy of every member of the team. And that, after all, is what really matters.

Explore our Game

Pipsqueak Studios

Hello Sierra Enthusiasts! This week we announced the launch of Pipsqueak Studios, featuring a core group of ex-Sierra alumni of Chris Willis (GK/SQ artist), Al Eufrasio (LSL animator) and myself (SQ/QFG programmer). We’ve been working on a kid-friendly, zombie-based tower defense-y game and thought some of you might be interested in our project. We’d appreciate your support; anybody who LIKES the Pipsqueak Facebook page (before April 30th) will appear in our game credits! We’re pretty pumped; we hope you’ll follow our journey. http://www.facebook.com/pipsqueakstudios

Neil Matz