La Aventura es La Aventura - Entrevista a Al Lowe por Radiobuzz
There is little to say about the interviewee. He made everyone laugh with his son (... nephew€ friend€) Larry Lafer. Al joined Sierra in 1982, and made the game The Black Cauldron and other Disney games as well, going from music to graphics and programming. He cooperated in plenty of games, but it wasn"t until 1987 that he really gain fame with his game "Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards". His little friend was borned. In his career at Sierra On-Line, he made lots of games, like "Freddy Pharkas Frontier Pharmacist" and "Torin"s Passage", but unfortunately he was fired in 1998, when Sierra changed it"s owners. Now, he dedicates his time working on his website, where we can find jokes (text, pics, sounds and videos), Sierra"s histories, the original designs of his games, and a lot more! Luckily, he has given us a little of his time and answered this questions:

Radiobuzz - Hi Al. First of all, I want to thank you for giving your time to all the Spanish-speaking fans of Larry and, especially, you. Are you aware that you really are an icon in the adventure society€

Al Lowe - Please stop it! You're embarrassing me! Well, not really. On second thought: 'More! More!' Seriously, when I was creating the games I had no idea. It was only after I left Sierra and created my web site that I began to understand just how people felt about my games. I've been truly blessed to have received literally thousands of wonderful emails from fans. Sure, I knew that my games sold well. But for some reason, I've been surprised (and pleased!) to learn just how close we were.

Radiobuzz - What do you think about adventure games nowadays€ Given we maybe are living in the golden age of 3D shooters, how do you think they can attract today's gamers€

Al Lowe - They obviously attract many gamers, but not me. I kept thinking it was me; I'd play a game and think, 'I'm missing something here. I must not understand it.' because, after killing people over and over, I assumed there must be something else to the game. Later I found out: No, I didn't miss anything. There really was nothing else there! Consequently, I don't play a lot of FPSs.

Radiobuzz - Most of today's adventures aren't very humorous. Do you think that's the reason of the low sales and their low popularity€

« All I know is: humor and comedy sell in every market I know. I think there's just no publisher with the balls to try. »

Al Lowe - All I know is: humor and comedy sell in every market I know. Film, TV, books, magazines' everywhere but computer games. Can it possibly be that people who love to laugh at other media refuse to laugh at a computer€ I think not. I think there's just no publisher with the balls to try.

Radiobuzz - We know that the previous attempt to make a new LSL, that is 'LSL8: Lust in Space', was unsuccessful. Can you tell us something about the story of the game€

Al Lowe - Let's see: a lovable loser finds himself in a relatively small area populated by outrageously beautiful, over-sexed women. Wait a minute! That's ALL the Larrys! <grin>

Radiobuzz - What do you feel when you see Sierra right now€ It's surely very different from the days when you used to work there.

Al Lowe - Right now I feel nothing, because there is no Sierra any more. They finally locked the doors a couple of weeks ago. Sad, isn't it€ Just think: the company that produced the first color computer game, that invented the graphic adventure game, that converted the world of beeps and boops to MIDI and later digital audio, the company that released the first widely-sold CD-ROM game, is no more. R. I. P., Sierra!

Radiobuzz - Did you enjoy working with Ken and Roberta Williams€

Al Lowe - More than I realized at the time. Roberta was a wonderful taskmaster, pushing Ken, and his programmers ever onward to greater heights by simply insisting that the computer could do what she wanted it to, whether it could or not. Surprisingly, because she insisted, we often found a way to do just that. Ken's management style was brilliant. Just when you'd think you had your game looking pretty good, he'd drop by for a 5-minute demo of where it was and immediately list about 25 great ideas, things that you would wish that you had thought of! Even if you couldn't get them all in, you'd sure want to include as many as possible.

Radiobuzz - What was your first on-line experience€

Al Lowe en plena jornada laboral

Al Lowe en plena jornada laboral

Al Lowe - My first online experience was with my school district, when I was still employed as a school music administrator. I was in charge of about 20 fulltime music teachers at the time. It was 1978. The district IT department loaned me a terminal and an acoustic couple modem which went 110 baud. (NOT 110 thousand bps, 110!) I used it to write some simple software for my job. Later, in the early days of Sierra, I worked at home, about 60 km from Sierra's office. We used 300-baud modems to dial directly into each other's computers. My first 1200-baud modem cost me over $600! I remember lusting after Ken's 9600-baud when I couldn't afford the $900 it cost. So, what I'm trying to say is: I've been 'online' a long time! In 1987, when I had completed Leisure Suit Larry 1, I wasn't too confident about my programming or design skills. And I really wanted the game to appear intelligent. So I entered in lots of words to increase its vocabulary. Then we went on CompuServe and held an email essay contest to find betatesters. As far as I know, it was the first online betatesting ever done for a game. We ended up with about a dozen wonderful testers. I'm proud to say that many of them went on to great success in the game business.

Radiobuzz - How did you, Ken Williams, and Jeff Stephenson try to (re)invent the Internet in 1990€

Al Lowe - We were so dumb. We had no idea someone had already solved all the problems of computers talking to one another over telephone lines. We just knew we wanted to play online adventure games with other people. So Matthew George worked on the truly low-level routines, Jeff wrote a language specifically for online gaming, and I designed and coded the games. Ken came up with several ideas that are now widespread, including face-making software, avatars, waiting rooms, interest and skill indicators, and much much more. You can read all about it on my web site: AlLowe

Radiobuzz - After you stopped working for Sierra, has any software company offered you a similar job€

« But I haven't given up yet. Somewhere there's a publisher willing to take a chance to produce something with more to it than 'if it moves, shoot it!' »

Al Lowe - Yes, but no one wanted to give the budget I need to create a first-class game. And after writing the best games I could for so many years, why would I now settle for less€ But I haven't given up yet. Somewhere there's a publisher willing to take a chance to produce something with more to it than 'if it moves, shoot it!'

Radiobuzz - Some of our readers really want to know which steps they should follow when they want to write a new story. Do you have any advice for them€

Al Lowe - Far too much to give here. Instead, I recommend they go to a library and search for books on plot, character development, story lines, etc. That's what I did. You'll be amazed at what's already been written. And stories are stories, whether online, on screen, or on paper.

Radiobuzz - How did you learn to be a designer of adventure games€

Al Lowe - The hard way: by diving in and doing it! And by playing every game I could get my hands on. Also, I love to read and watch movies. So storytelling came easy to me.

Radiobuzz - And what about doing a new graphic adventure with Roberta Williams€ Is there a plan or something like that€

Al Lowe - No, Roberta's happily retired now. As is Ken. She stays out of the limelight. Ken has, until recently when he started SierraGamers

Radiobuzz - Is writing a script for a new game easy for you or a great deal of work€

« Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail! Took many players dozens of hours to complete and contained 8,000 lines of dialogue! »

Al Lowe - It's more work than anyone who hasn't done can ever imagine! A typical feature film is two hours long and contains perhaps 600 lines of dialogue. Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail! Took many players dozens of hours to complete and contained 8,000 lines of dialogue! A film or a novel has a linear plot; the author always knows what's come before. Games with linear plots are failures; game designers must cover many possibilities at every turn. If you'd like to see a small part of a game design, go to my web site, There you can download several of my original design documents. I plan to post a few complete scripts, too. Even as plain text, though, they're huge: many hundreds of pages.

Radiobuzz - Which are the greatest and the ugliest parts of making a game€

Al Lowe - The absolute best is thinking up a whole 'world' and then, months later, seeing it, experiencing it, and watching hundreds of thousands of others share that creation. The worst is thinking up jokes, humor, gags that you think are funny, and then working on their implementation for months until you're so sick of them that you're sure no one else on Earth will even smile. Especially because that comes right at the end of the project, when it's too late to change anything!

Radiobuzz - What do you think about the path LucasArts and other companies had, and currently are following, in the adventure games genre, given the cancellations of so many games€

« I blame much of this on 'market research,' which is very good at looking back in time, but terrible at seeing what's not already there. »

Al Lowe - I think too many companies are run by accountants instead of gamers. Yes, a game has to make money or the company will fail. But, damn it, not every game has to be exactly like dozens of other games already on the market! I blame much of this on 'market research,' which is very good at looking back in time, but terrible at seeing what's not already there.

Radiobuzz - What do you think about the next release in the 'Leisure Suit Larry' series, 'Magna Cum Laude'€ Are you planning to buy the game€

Al Lowe - If I'm going to play it, I'm going to have to buy it as I'm quite certain VU Games won't send me a 'complimentary' copy! <grin> As of today, September 1, 2004, I really have no opinion as all I've seen of the game are the few previews on the Internet. Ask me again after it ships.

Radiobuzz - How does it feel to see a new LSL with state-of-the-art technology, that is, in 3D and ported to videogame consoles€

Al Lowe - I argue with you (and VU) calling it a 'Leisure Suit Larry' game when Larry has only a minimal, cameo role. They're trying to have it both ways, calling it one thing when it's totally different. 3-D and consoles€ It's something I would have done myself, if I were producing a game today.

Radiobuzz - Were you invited to participate in the making of the new sequel of LSL€

Al Lowe - No. I was jerked around a lot so they could say 'we were in negotiations' but I had absolutely no input whatsoever. You can read the whole ugly story here:

Radiobuzz - Well, that was everything! We would like to thank you by your kindness. We all love your sense of humor and we are really looking forward to your next game!

Al Lowe - You're welcome. And in closing I want to say 'Thank You!' to all those of you who bought my games over the years and allowed me to make a lot of crazy ideas come to fruition. Oh, and drop by, email me, and sign up for CyberJoke 3000', my free daily joke email!

Gracias Al Lowe

Gracias Al Lowe


Entrevista realizada por Radiobuzz

Publicado el 14 de abril de 2005

© 2005 La Aventura es La Aventura

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