Lifetime Achievement Award: Al Lowe
Kirk: It was about '89--'88 or '89 when I first played Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. I was a freshman in college, and I can't help but wonder if you feel responsible for all the college students who flunked out because they were playing your games instead of attending classes or studying?
Al: [Laughs] No, because they learned a lot more from me then they ever would have from freshman classes. And you know, I just realized I didn't answer your first question very well because, the Macintosh version, when it was done, I didn't do the programming. And I was very upset with it because I didn't think it captured the Mac feel and rules and "Macishness" very well because I was using a Mac all the time.
Al: So I really gave the guys who did the translation a hard time because it ran so slowly, and it wasn't really until the 68030s came out that the game actually ran well. But we were doing a lot of processing, and in an interpretive language, too. We wrote all those early games in a pseudo-code--like a P-code--that interpreted every time that you ran the game. So, it was like dealing with uncompiled BASIC or uncompiled anything. It just runs slower. That, plus all the translations between PC calls and Mac calls. I think our games were not very well done until probably 1990 or '91. Then suddenly the games started being happier. That's another thing. The designers who pushed the envelope--Roberta [Williams], for one...Jane Jenson...did games that were really at the very edge of PC technology. I never did that. I would take what they did last year and use that older version of the language because it was stable, it was solid, we knew the bugs and how to work around them. By the time it came out, it was running faster. And people didn't look for Larry for cutting edge technology. They were much more interested in the...uh...other aspects of the game. I think that was another reason why my games could be translated very easily; I wasn't always trying to push the Macintosh translator guys into doing new code and subroutines and things that they hadn't done. They could just rely on what they knew how to handle. That's why my games came out very easily. In fact, I was most proud of Larry 6 because I think the rollover from PC to Macintosh took about two weeks.
Al: And most of that was just the QA guys testing it. The game pretty much ran the first time we ported it over! [Laughs] I was proud of that.
Kirk: It's too bad it still can't work that way with some games.
Al: Hey, you know, I would like it to work that way in Windows 98!
Continue to Part 3, where Al and I talk about women's reactions to his games, our reaction to Benny Hill, and gamers' reactions to adventures.