Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude Q&A Conducted by Omni
rank, serial number! Or your name, background in the games industry, how you wound
up working where you are, and your role on Magna Cum Laude.
The next question was asked but was not
The next question was asked but was not commented on:
Maybe the biggest question on everyone’s mind is, how come Al Lowe isn’t involved up to elbows with this project?
Editor's Note: It doesn't seem to shed any light on the situation, but Al Low recently posted an email correspondence on his website (allowe.com) regarding this topic:
Original Message -----
I write this email with reverence to your contribution to my slightly skewed sexual development. I also write it with a certain degree of humility. My writing partner and I were hired to write the dialogue for LSL:MCL. Needless to say we were thrilled to be involved in a cultural phenomenon. Although our work was completed approximately a year ago, it was not until recently that I learned you were not involved in the project. I am not privy to any of that information, however, I wanted to contact you and, at the very least, thank you for all you contributed (whether credited or not).
It was great fun and a true honor to work in a world you created and inhabited with such passion and skill.
And Al Lowe's response:
thanks, Cary. I appreciate hearing from you. I hope you had as much fun
with Larry as I did.
But I'm surprised to learn that you finished up a year ago and the game won't ship for another six months. I used to write until literally hours before the recording sessions--and then sometimes during! <grin>
It's too bad that we couldn't have talked while you were writing, I would have loved nothing more than to be involved but evidently VU has its reasons for keeping me out.
See the correspondence for yourself here.
there a lot of trepidation among the team members of handling a
character that is considered legendary?
JV: I think our designers (who wrote the scripts), as well as everyone else on the team, felt a great deal of excitement about bringing Larry back. Larry is a larger-than-life character and most gamers know him, even if they haven't played the old games. Luckily for us, the character is so much fun that it was really easy for us to jump right in and pick things up where the series left off.
some old-school PC gamers, Leisure Suit Larry on a console might seem a
little blasphemous. What
can you say to reassure those doubters that have already written off
Magna Cum Laude that it is a worthy extension of the Larry franchise?
JV: Our line of thinking is that the themes that Larry stands for - sexy girls, funny characters, and weird situations are all things that aren't limited to the PC. We've worked really hard to create a game that retains the feel of the old Larry games and still translates nicely to consoles. We think it will be great to be able to play Larry from the comfort of your couch.
approached whom regarding the start of this project? Did Vivendi Universal approach you with the idea of a new
JV: Originally it was Sierra who approached High Voltage. They wanted to know what we would like to do with the license. We were immediately very excited at the prospect, so we started bouncing all sorts of ideas around. They liked what they heard, so we got started.
a nutshell, what’s Magna Cum Laude all about?
JV: In the smallest possible nutshell, it's about trying to get girls. In a slightly bigger nutshell, it's the story of Larry Lovage, a 6th-year college senior who is a total loser. Larry thinks he can turn things around by becoming a contestant on a reality dating show that is taping on campus. The problem is that the show won't accept him unless he can prove he's a ladies' man, so Larry begins a quest to score with every girl on campus.
the biggest difference between past Larry games and Magna Cum Laude?
JV: There are two huge differences. The first is that this game is 3D, which makes the exploration aspect of the adventure much more involving. Instead of looking at pre-rendered backgrounds, you can really get up close to look at people and things in the world. The second difference is that we've added minigames to the equation. Instead of forcing the player to solve a lot of complicated puzzles, we have all sorts of quick and challenging action-style minigames to play. There are lots of different kinds, including trampoline bouncing, quarters, and even spanking. These minigames emphasize Larry's interaction with the girls in the game.
has always been about off-color humor, sometimes really obvious,
sometimes more subtle. What
kind of humor are you shooting for?
JV: The goal is to cover the full spectrum, just like the older games. There is definitely a lot of mature humor. Some of it is visual - you'll catch a lot of funny stuff if you keep your eyes open. A lot of it is in the audio. We've recorded over 10,000 lines of dialog, so that Larry can have funny interactions with everybody in the game. I think our writers have done a fantastic job of preserving the irreverent feel of the old games while updating the humor to reflect the way peoples' tastes are evolving.
there be any nudity included as “Easter Eggs” like previous Larry
titles, or will they be purged to get a Teen rating?
JV: First of all, nudity is part of the game. We're shooting for a Mature rating, which means we can show a lot of things people aren't used to seeing in games; even the old Larry games don't come close. Larry's definitely a loser, but even he gets lucky once in a while. There are cinemas and strip versions of minigames where you'll see plenty of skin. We're still discussing cheat codes that will up the nudity level even further, but we want to make sure it fits the game.
Cum Laude is still some time from its ship date, but what kind of
control scheme has been implemented?
How will the console and PC versions differ?
The controls are similar to 3rd-person action/adventure games that most
people are familiar with, but there are a couple of twists. For instance, Larry's interaction with the world is similar
to the old games - the eyeball icon lets him examine something, the
talking mouth lets him talk to someone.
Our goal is that the controls will be easy for anyone to pick up
and play. The PC version
uses the WASD keys for movement and the mouse for camera control and
interaction with the world.
Magna Cum Laude a pure adventure game or have there been other genres
– like platforming or RPG elements – integrated into the design?
We have definitely updated the adventure genre by cutting some elements
that we weren't too fond of and adding others (like the minigame system)
that are a lot of fun. Don't
expect to see Larry jumping on moving platforms or leveling up though,
this is still an adventure game at its core.
the familiar title music remain the same?
Have anyone in mind to record it?
We've already recorded a few new versions of the classic theme for use
in the game. There's a hard
rock version that I'm particularly fond of.
you have any high-profile voice actors involved in recording the
dialogue? Are you even at
that stage yet?
The voice recording process is almost complete. We've used top-notch professional voice talent throughout the
process because it's so important to get the humor across properly.
been the biggest problem you’ve encountered so far in the development
of Magna Cum Laude?
The hardest thing so far has been managing the huge amount of content in
the game. There are so many
environments, girls, cinemas, quests and minigames that it's hard to
keep it all in order. Luckily
we've got an amazing team that is working very hard as we speak to make
sure it all comes together.
look of Magna Cum Laude seems to at least nod to past Larry games.
What has been changed to “update” the look of Magna Cum
The jump to 3D required a great deal of effort on the part of our level
artists to capture the feel of the old games in a fully 3D world.
It was a matter of looking at the old games for reference and
using a lot of know-how and imagination to create new environments.
I would say the biggest surprise is how many people say the new
game reminds them graphically of other games in the series.
many hours of gameplay is the team aiming for?
Our current goal is to hit 25 hours of gameplay for a true adventure
gamer who will leave no stone unturned, no secret unlocked, and no side
games have maligned for being once-through games (i.e. not replayable to
a large extent). Will Magna
Cum Laude feature multiple paths to the conclusion to encourage replay?
Magna Cum Laude offers the player a great deal of freedom in terms of
how he chooses to play the game. Our
story is not nearly as linear as the older games, allowing the player to
explore freely and choose the path he wants to take.
We expect that many players will enjoy going back through the
game just to catch all the humor they missed the first time.
you envision Magna Cum Laude coming under fire for its bawdy content,
like the old Larry games did?
Part of our intent from the beginning was to create a game that lived up
to the reputation of the franchise in terms of pushing the boundaries of
adult humor and content in a video game.
I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of feathers ruffled when
this game is released, but I think most people will appreciate it for
what it is- a game that doesn't take itself very seriously.
Magna Cum Laude be shown at E3 2004?
JV: You better believe it!
(April 14, 2004)
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