Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude Designer Diary #3

Producer Josh VanVeld discusses the process of creating Leisure Suit Larry's humor.


Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude

Graphical adventure games used to be rather tame. Basically, you played as a character that had to solve a mystery or complete a goal by (usually) nonviolent means, which generally included talking to key characters and solving puzzles. Then along came the Leisure Suit Larry series, which presented a set of games with a ribald sense of humor and a lonely loser of a protagonist, the titular Larry. The next game in the series will star Larry Lovage, a lonely student who is away at college. Producer Josh VanVeld explains how the team is putting "the funny" into the game.

Larry knows that frat parties are where it's at.
Larry knows that frat parties are where it's at.

Getting a Laugh
By Josh VanVeld
Producer, High Voltage Software

Today, I think I'll tell you a little bit about the current state of the game, some of the issues we're dealing with, and what you can expect to see when the new Larry game is released. And maybe I'll introduce myself. Back in 2002, I came on board at High Voltage Software--an independent developer that had been making games for more than 10 years. I started working on Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude shortly after starting with the company. At that time, the title was still a closely guarded secret, so we were calling it "Project Mayhem." It was a huge relief to all of us when, at the end of October 2003,Vivendi Universal Games announced that it was publishing a new Larry game. You can probably imagine how hard it was to work on a project like this for more than a year and not tell anyone about it!

Of course, you're probably wondering how the game is coming along. Luckily, that's a topic I'm more than happy to talk about. Throughout development, our number one goal has been to deliver a funny game. Not a game that makes you smirk every once in a while, but a game that really makes you laugh out loud. We're definitely on the right track in that regard, and things are improving daily. I think you'll be amazed when you see how much bizarre and funny stuff we've packed into every environment. The levels are funny, the characters are funny, the minigames are funny, the new sound volume control sliders are funny...well those aren't funny, but they're nice to have anyway.

Graphically, things are looking really impressive. The level artists have really nailed the look and style we're going for, and they've moved in to the fixing-and-polishing phase, where they make adjustments and tweaks that really bring the environments to life.

We're also finding time to go back to put some of the finishing touches on the girls, and they're looking fantastic. Add great animations to great-looking characters and you've got a recipe for a beautiful game. I think it's a real testament to the team, both artists and designers, that each of the 15 main girls in the game is so interesting and unique. You're going to have a great time chasing after them when you get your hands on the finished product.

Of course, not everything goes perfectly, and we've run into some issues here and there. One of the things we're trying to work out is the massive amount of audio content in the game. We've written about 12,000 lines of dialogue, and almost all of it is intended to be funny. As if writing that much humorous content wasn't difficult enough, we need to make sure all of it is recorded by talented voice actors and is properly implemented in the game. It hasn't been the easiest task, but we're confident that it is all coming together.

Larry isn't exactly the king of pick-up lines.
Larry isn't exactly the king of pick-up lines.

On a related note, all of that funny stuff is really paying off in the latest version of the game. Just yesterday, I saw Larry's pick-up lines hooked up and working. One of our guiding concepts is that Larry can interact with anybody in the game. When Larry goes up to a random girl on campus and tries to talk to her, he spouts a really terrible pick-up line and usually gets outright rejected. You might have expected to hear maybe 10 of these lines in the entire game, but there are literally dozens of them. And all of them are different, and all of them are horribly cheesy. It's a lot of fun going around while trying them out on the girls you come across. Of course, there are the "main" girls who Larry can carry on entire conversations with, but that's a whole different story.

As we get closer to completion, you can expect to hear and see a whole lot more about Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. Here at High Voltage, we've got a really amazing team of people who are bringing Larry and his world to life. I can't say enough about how great it is to work with such a talented and dedicated group. We're excited about giving all of you a chance to experience more of the game very soon. I'm sure that fans of the original games will be pleasantly surprised with where we're taking the comic adventure genre. As for those of you who never played a Leisure Suit Larry title, I think anybody who can appreciate this kind of humor is bound to fall in love with this game.

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