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April 15, 2013 - the biweekly kickstarter update's castle of freaks

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...

Your obedient servant,
Josh Mandel

April 01, 2013 - the baby-daddy of the bi-weekly kickstarter update

Hello post-GDC (that's Game Developer Conference for you non-gaming industry Larryettes)!!!!!!

Yes, you get to hear from me again. Two times in 30 days. What ARE the odds? I think I get picked to write the updates when there's bad news since everybody else wants to stay in your good graces and at the "all hands" meeting today when Josh said "who wants to do the update this week?" I heard crickets.

So, without further ado... We actually have quite a few announcements to make with this update, so hang on to the seats of your pants:

  1. It's absolutely official. Jan Rabson is returning as the voice of Leisure Suit Larry. He's been hard at work recording lines already, and he's as Larry as he ever was. You guys are going to love it.
  2. Twin Galaxies has released their trading cards for 2013, and we're deeply moved to be among those honored. They have cards of Al, Josh, and even me this year. It's great to know that the work we're doing is being recognized by the only official video game trading card collection out there. Twin Galaxies has been around since the 1980's honoring people like Billy Mitchell of Defender Hall of Fame, Warren Spector, and Richard Garriott, to name a few. To be honored with a Twin Galaxies trading card is like being inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All three of us are extremely humbled and, because of this, will be immortalized forever in the history of the interactive entertainment industry (fancy shmancy for "video game industry"). If you want more information on this, Walter Day, the owner of Twin Galaxies, just posted on the Replay Games Facebook page about an art exhibit they're doing with all the cards ever made. Each card has a number and Walter only prints about 200 of each card. He asked Al, Josh, and I to sign 10 cards and send them back to him for his collection, the museum, etc. I still can't believe I get a card. I feel like Wayne in Wayne's World and kneeling to the tune of "I'm not worthy!!"
  3. Speaking of recognition, I did a LOT of interviews at GDC last week, so expect to see news stories, video interviews, and hands on demos of Leisure Suit Larry all over the web. Some of the companies that interviewed with us were Touch Arcade, Game Zone, IGN, [a]listdaily, 148apps, Joystiq, Gamezebo, Slide to Play, Apples n Apps, Electronic Playground, the Escapist, EGM, Venture Beat, and more. Word about Larry is spreading fast you guys. The press is chomping at the bit for information about this project. That brings me to some bad news.
  4. Now some of you who have been following the news stories about us may have already seen this, and I apologize for not telling you guys first. I just get so excited talking about this project that some information slipped out during interviews that I meant to tell you first, and I'm sorry for that. For those of you who missed it, here's what I let slip (and it wasn't on purpose, I swear to you, but when that camera is on you it's like....well, odd is the only adjective I can think of). I almost went in to presidential debate mode but thank God they turned the camera off before that happened. So here's the deal, we're going to be late (again). That's ok, I know you already hate me so a few more people sending me death threats is not going to kill me (no pun intended). Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded will come out at the end of May (at the earliest, and pending no disasters). It was a tough decision to make, but I've been in QA for 13 years of my life, and I do *not* want to ship a buggy product (but I'll also say that NO piece of software is ever bug free, no matter how much it's tested). We are not going to release anything until it's as good as it can be, and that means we need a little more time. This *will* affect the shipping of the Kickstarter rewards too, since a bunch of people are getting the collector's edition box, signed stuff, etc. I know a delay is the last thing you wanted, but I promise you, no, I SWEAR to you, it will be worth waiting for. Also, I'm happy to announce that we're in pre-production of a free to play Larry casino game (obviously in ADDITION to a ReLoaded version of Larry 2 *or* a brand new Larry 8...we haven't made up our minds yet). This is NOT just a different version of Larry Reloaded, this will be a completely new Larry game that will be free to play. There aren't a lot of details I can share about it right now, because we're still trying to nail them all down, but we're doing it because we know you guys will love it when it's done. More deets when I have them. Since *none* of us has ever made, or been on a team, or shipped a Free-To-Play game before, we're needing to bring in outside assistance to help in the design and daily maintenance of it. It's what we call a "persistent world" experience, meaning the game is never "off", so it'll take some doing to get this thing right, but I am convinced we can do it. Know any good F2P designers?

On a personal note, I know how passionate all of you guys are about this game, and I LOVE it. I am too. Bringing back Larry was a dream of mine, Al's, and Josh's, and I'm actually getting to make it a reality. That reality would not have been possible without you. We never forget that.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, and I'll see you at Lefty's.
-Paul

p.s. Austin Wintory says hi!!!!

p.p.s. I ran in to Cory & Lori Cole, whom I got to work with while at Sierra (I was an Associate Producer on Quest For Glory: Dragonfire but after the hostile takeover I quit so I didn't get to ship the game but I *think* I'm in the credits), at GDC. They were sitting on couches doing interviews at the same time I was doing my demos for the press. After mine were done I had to go over and give them a big hug (I'm famous for my hugs, BTW) and take a picture with my old friends (and share some good old Sierra stories). Here's the picture Eli from Touch Arcade took.

March 21, 2013 - jeff hillary's update

A few of you may be aware of who I am, but I'm willing to guess most of you aren't. Thus far I've mostly kept to the background of the project. Quietly doing my job, and rarely tooting my own horn. But as we approach the release of the Beta build of Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded, I've decided it's time to step forward and properly introduce myself.

My name is Jeff Hillary, and I'm the Community Manager for Replay Games. What this means is 90% of the time you've read or posted to our Facebook or Twitter, it's me you've been dealing with. My job is to keep you guys informed, and hopefully entertained as well. In addition, I surf through the forums, read your messages and tweets, and pass along your questions and ideas to other people in the company. I also receive and post fan-art, and a myriad of other tasks. Hopefully those of you I've interacted with have found this a pleasurable process, or at least a relatively pain-free one.

If you have a moment, I'd like to tell you how I got this job, and more important to you, my personal private thoughts on the upcoming game.

I was a Sierra kid. Oh Lucasarts was great, but I didn't discover those games until my later teens. For me, it was Sierra all the way. Gabriel Knight is still one of my all-time favorite game series. And nothing tickles my funny bone quite like Leisure Suit Larry. Like many of you, I had my heart broken by Magna Cum Laude. Then the pieces were spit on and burned by Box Office Bust. I spent years waiting for the Larry 8 I was promised... to no avail.

As the years went by, I would occasionally search for news of a new Quest for Glory, or King's Quest, or Larry. Only to find that even the fan sites for these things were drying up and withering away. And then last year I heard about the Kickstarter campaign. I think my reaction was the same as many of you. "I DON'T WANT A REMAKE! I want a new Larry game by Al Lowe. And I especially don't want a remake of Larry 1, I've already got TWO versions of that game!" But it had Al and Josh's name on it, so I was willing to pledge what little I could. After all, after Box Office Bust, how much more damage could they do?

When it not only succeeded, but reached the stretch goal that offered us new content, and a NEW GIRL, I actually started getting excited. Sure it was still a remake, but there'd at least be a couple minutes of new content right? That's the most new Sierra content I've seen in a decade.

That's when I decided to put together a little fan video, just for fun. It gave me an excuse to go back through all of the games again, and capture the images I wanted. That done, I put together a video montage of all of the Ladies of Larry. On a whim, I sent a link to Paul Trowe, the CEO of Replay Games, and offered to help the project in any way I could. I didn't honestly expect a response, but I lived in the same city as the company, so who knew? Paul brought me in, and offered to let me try being Community Manager for a bit. I think the idea was that if I was a complete failure, they could easily just kick me out...hell, they still might.

Now, I've told you this long boring story, to let you know where I'm coming from. I am a fan. Go back and read that sentence again, but picture it voiced by James Earl Jones, with just a bit of echo. As a member of this company, I'm expected to say things like "Oh, so the new artwork for Fawn is in. How does it look?" But inside I'm just screaming "LEMME SEE LEMME SEE LEMME SEE!" When we get in a sample of one of the Kickstarter prizes, I'm supposed to say "Yes, I think the fans will like that" when all I'm thinking is "Can I have one of those? PLEASE?" In all honesty, I'm just one of you guys who managed to somehow sneak inside the process.

So speaking to you, as one fan to another, I just wanted to say that you guys are seriously going to love this game. I wasn't asked to write a letter like this, I volunteered, because I felt it needed to be said. There are so many things going into this game that you guys don't know about yet (and I've been threatened with defenestration if I share anything I'm not supposed to). But trust me when I say that this game is not what some of us feared it would be. This is not a quick attempt to cash in on the heritage of a long running adventure game franchise. This game is a labor of love, from people who sincerely want to bring back what we consider to be a classic icon of gaming. Every line of dialogue, every description, has been rewritten FROM SCRATCH by Josh and Al. The new artwork is an amazing blend of modern HD technology and Larry's classic (lack of) sensibilities. They've changed around a lot of the puzzles. They've added new rooms, added a bevy of new items and new puzzles, they even added in branching dialogue with the ladies. Nothing about this process involved cutting corners to save a buck or two. When they wanted music, they got a Grammy nominated composer. Half measures have no place at Replay Games.

Like I said, when I first found out about this project, I wasn't thrilled about another remake. But this is so much more than that. This is a reboot of the Larry franchise. Actually imagine for a minute playing through the whole Larry series without the DRASTIC changes in visual style and technology. Imagine watching Larry grow older and pudgier as his adventures occur. Imagine a version of Larry 2 that isn't horrifically plagued by dead-ends because you didn't pick up an item three hours ago. And then imagine the new games we could make. Imagine the other franchises we could try to bring back to life. Imagine the new franchises we could create. Imagine a new era of adventure gaming. Are you imagining all this stuff? Because I promise you everyone in this company is.

I don't know if Paul wants me to share this, because it might hurt our image as an money obsessed, fan trampling video game company, but making money has never been the first priority of this project. Every step of the way, the only concern I've ever seen is delivering the best possible game to the fans.

Let me tell you, as a fan, as one of you, I'm incredibly excited.

And as the Community Manager of Repay Games, I can't wait to share this game with you.

Thank you all for your time. And especially thank you for all of your love and support. I hope to see you on our Facebook pages, or on our forums, or our twitter feeds.

Jeff Hillary - Community Manager (Super Fan)

Replay Games: http://www.facebook.com/replaygames @ReplayGamesInc
Leisure Suit Larry: http://www.facebook.com/TheLarryLaffer @OfficialLSL
The Forums: https://forums.replaygamesinc.com/

P.S. Still speaking as an adventure game fan, if you haven't tried out Fester Mudd yet, you really should. It's a game that blends Monkey Island and Freddy Pharkas into one giant vat of fun. It'll hold you over until you manage to get your hot little hands on Larry. Fester Mudd: https://www.replaygamesinc.com/store/index/products/item/fester-mudd-curse-of-the-gold

March 18, 2013 - the horror of the biweekly kickstarter update

Glorious Monday, Larryettes.

I hope many of you were able to join us for the final half-hour of last week's recording session with Austin Wintory, Al Lowe, Melora Hardin (whose recording of the Torch Song was nothing short of spectacular) and the Late Night Jazz Orchestra. It was a one-of-a-kind experience.

Now onto our milestones.

  • All the text? DONE! (Well, the text for the little "How to Play" pseudo-tutorial may change, that's still being finalized. But the narration and dialogue are complete as of last week!)
  • All of Austin Wintory's amazing music? DONE AND RECORDED! (However, at Austin's request, the *final* versions of the music will NOT be in the public Beta version; we're holding it back 'til release, just so that even the Beta testers will have some terrific surprises.)
  • All the backgrounds? Almost done. Two left to go!
  • Voices? Recording this week! (And probably next.)
  • The Art book? DONE and at the printer! (This is truly magnificent.)
  • The Box? DONE and at the printer!
  • The Stripper Pens? DONE and in manufacture!
  • Kickstarter T-shirts? DONE!
  • Lubbers? Playing cards? Coasters? Casino chips? Breath spray? Shot glasses? All DONE and in the Replay offices!
  • Huge, beautiful lithographs? DONE and in the Replay offices!
  • The Beta? Still at least a couple of weeks off. We're waiting 'til all the final animations are in, all the voices are in, and as many obvious bugs as possible have been squished. We want to make the Beta as clean as possible before we send it out; we don't want to have to include a list of "Still to come" items.

Yes, we are being disgustingly productive. Eat our dust!

Stay tuned. We've got another update coming in a couple of days.

Squeezes,
Josh

P.S. I want to mention to all the Sierra lovers in the crowd (and I assume that's most of us, if not all) that there's another Sierra-style Kickstarter in progress. This one is from Himalaya Studios. You may not have heard of Himalaya, but their core group were formerly known as AGD Interactive LLC, the people responsible for the commercial-quality fan remakes of King's Quest I, King's Quest II, King's Quest III, and Quest for Glory II. They've only got a few days to go...show 'em the love! They're at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2112639455/mages-initiation-a-classic-sierra-style-adventure!

March 06, 2013 - supplement to the biweekly kickstarter update #7d: attend the recording session!

Courtesy of Austin Wintory, composer of the new score for Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded (and recent BAFTA winner for Journey!), you are hereby invited to attend the final 30 minutes of the scoring session with Austin, Al Lowe, and the Late Night Jazz Orchestra!

This will be streamed live on Stageit.com five days from now, on Monday, March 11th, at 4:30PM EDT (1:30pm PDT).

Here's the link to the event: http://www.stageit.com/austin_wintory/austin_wintory_conducts_the_leisure_suit_larry_scoring_session_with_the_late_night_jazz_orchestra/20805

Note that, per Stageit operating procedures, you'll need to get a ticket with Stageit, using their currency ("Notes"). These Notes are used to "tip" the performers, but the amount of the tip is totally up to you...you can even tip 0 notes and still get a ticket (although we hope you'll consider more). But you do need to have some Notes on account at Stageit, so if you've never used Stageit before, you'll need to buy a minimum number of Notes - 50 at $5.00 - to qualify to get a ticket to the event.

As an added bonus: if you're one of the top 3 tippers, Austin will mail you a conductor score from the session, signed by himself, Al Lowe, and Melora Hardin. (Melora, who portrays Jan Levinson on "The Office," is the singer who will be recording the song that Austin and I wrote for the game. Yes, you may end up hearing that song during the session!) Following the recording, Austin, Melora, and Al Lowe will sit down for a 20-minute chat with the audience.

So please join us on Monday, March 11th, for this one-of-a-kind event. We now return to your regularly-scheduled anticipation of Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded.