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Ralph Roberts really wants you to read this book. He's proud of it. And so is Larry!, and Al Lowe of course!!!!

Chapter 2 The Birth of Larry

©1996 Ralph Roberts and Al Lowe ... all rights reserved
Leisure-Suit Larry and
 Passionate Patti are registered trademarks of Sierra On-Line.

from: THE OFFICIAL BOOK OF
LEISURE SUIT LARRY

(4th Edition) ... Alexander Books ... ISBN 1-57090-050-7 ... 368 pages ... 7.5 x 9" ... $19.95 U.S


by Al Lowe, creator and designer of Leisure Suit Larry

People are always asking where Leisure Suit Larry came from. Let’s see if I can tell you without Larry interrupting too much.

If you’re gonna hang around, Larry, make yourself useful—go get me an ice-cold Diet Coke, man. It’s my favorite.

Let’s see. It all started at a very young age—birth. Larry was born a poor white kid in a small log cabin outside of Gumbo, Missouri. His family was so broke they could barely afford a tattered piece of white polyester to wrap the child against the cold.

“Sounds more like Abe Lincoln or Davy Crewcut to me. Here’s your Diet Coke, Great One.”

Thanks, Larry, and that’s Davy Crockett. It’s about time you showed me some respect. Stop that silly smirking.

Oh, okay. Here’s the straight story.

Larry! Put a napkin under that Coke if you’re gonna set it on the coffee table. What were you, raised in barn?

“Nah, a computer.”

“Was it dark in there, Lar?”

“Nope, it had Windows.”

Larry's Forerunner

Well, first, let’s talk about the forerunner to the Larry games. Or is that the foreplay?

“Definitely foreplay.”

Shut up, Larry. Anyway, in the early Paleolithic period of computers there was a game called Softporn. Softporn was famous because the cover featured Roberta Williams naked in a hot tub. Actually, we probably shouldn’t mention this, but it was in Time, and the game, for that reason alone, is a legitimate collector’s item now.

“Yeah, I got mine framed, right next to my painting of Elvis on black velvet and the centerfold of Miss November, 1975.”

1975? Nah, never mind. I know better than to ask.

Where was I? Yeah. Roberta and a couple of secretaries—because the company was just a few people then—got a guy with a camera. He shot a picture of a waiter with an Apple II computer on a silver tray, and the girls were all in the hot tub with champagne glasses.

That was the best part of the game; the rest of it wasn’t nearly as good. The game itself was a text adventure written in AppleSoft Basic. It was by a guy who had done some programming and wanted to see if an Apple could be a means to do database programs. So he wrote a little database handler in the form of an adventure game, and that’s how Softporn came about. The man’s name was Chuck Benton—still is, I guess. He’s back now in the Boston area and still writing database products.

“Lots of nice chicks in the Boston area.”

Right, Lar. Well, Chuck has written some other games since. These include Donald Duck’s Playground for the Commodore 64 that Sierra published for Disney, and several more really good games. But Softporn was his first try.

It was really a pretty silly story. Softporn was about a guy who tried to pick up three girls. There wasn’t a lot more to it than that. There wasn’t much character development or plot. The guy in the game didn’t even have a name—it was just “you.” The goal was to pick up three chicks and that was about it.

“Sounds okay to me.”

This was about 1980 or ’81 when the Softporn game hit the market. At one time Ken Williams figured he had sold a copy of it to 20 percent of all the Apple owners in the world. Apple said they had sold 100,000 Apple II computers and Ken had already sold 20,000 copies of this game, so you can figure just about everybody had a copy of it in one way or another. A real hot title, but it was a text-only game and silly to the point of dorkiness. It had a brief burst, then faded and died.

“An experience not wholly unfamiliar to many men.”

Larry, this is a family-oriented book!

“You sure?”

No.

“Thought so.”

Get me another Diet Coke, this is gonna be one long night. Break out a bag of munchies, too. I think we got some Granny Goose chips in the cupboard over the sink.

“Granny Goose? Is that a real brand?”

Yeah, and they’re good. Get ’em.

“Well, goose my granny, Big Guy.”

Larry!

“I’m moving, man, I’m moving. You want Granny Goose chips, you got them. But real programmers eat Fritos.”

Larry, just get the chips, huh?

Graphics and Animation Come Along

Let’s see. Yeah. Meanwhile, along came graphics and along came animation and 3-D, and King’s Quest and King’s Quest II, and I did Black Cauldron, and Donald Duck’s Playground, and programmed on King’s Quest III. I did all the music for the Sierra games for about a year back then, too. Anyway, we had progressed quite a way.

“Computer games are always on the leading edge of technology.”

Hmmm, for once you’re correct, Larry. I think games are right now in their infancy. I’ve visited Phillips and seen the forthcoming multimedia machines and think they are the way of the future. I expect games to get bigger and bigger, and more and more realistic, until we’re at the point of real movies. Eight years ago, I envisioned sitting in front of a camera, digitizing your body, and inserting your own image into the software. We’re getting ready for a lot better things, but we won’t be to that point for a few more years. I’m looking forward to it.

Of course, movies are a linear medium, and games are not. We want that freedom to move around, explore where we want to, and do things in the order we wish. Movies don’t let you do that! I think we’re at the 1925 period of Walt Disney—we’ve seen the medium, but we just don’t have the tools yet (color, sound cartoons) to express ourselves fully.

It’s nice today to have 256 colors available for VGA. We determined when the market was ready to support 1.2 meg floppies, hard-disk-only games, VGA-required graphics, and so on. VGA—which, by the way, has really gotten inexpensive lately—is a considerable step up from EGA. The old CGA is not supported for the newer games, so it’s time to upgrade if that’s all you have.

I think CD-ROM and multimedia are wonderful, now that many users have those capabilities. Unfortunately it’s very tedious and expensive to develop a game for CD. However, we have done that for Larry 6, and it’s a wowser!

The enhanced music and digitally sampled sounds in the present Larry games is a real expense, but I think anyone who hears it will think seriously about a music card, though. They are wonderful! The Roland CM-32L is one such that we support, as is the Thunderboard. You’ll have to try the F1-F10 function keys after you install your sound card. We call them the bodily function keys now.

Anyway, as computer games went back then, it had now become possible to do something more than a mere text game. I was starting to get excited about the possibilities, and so were game players out there. The market existed, we just had to figure out what it was and fill it.

One day at Sierra we were talking about the various niches that weren’t being filled in computer games. One of them was Space—science fiction things. Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe have filled that vacuum nicely with the Space Quest series.

“Filled the vacuum? Har, har.”

Quiet, Larry. Another was fantasy role-playing games, and Ken had a hard time finding someone who could do one until Quest for Glory. The other niche, the one I was interested in, was humor and something more adult.

“Real men don’t eat niches.”

I think you mean quiches, Larry.

“Them too.”

Right, well I think there are some beer nuts on the kitchen counter—fetch them in here.

“Is that a medical condition or something?

What? Oh. Watch it, Larry. Just get ’em, huh?

Leather Goddesses

All this was happening about the time Leather Goddesses of Phobos was being released. It was a really big hit, and no one seemed to mind that it was a little dirty. So we said, “you know maybe we should do an updated version of Softporn.”

“Yeah, leather! Reminds me of this chick in South Fresno who—”

Not now, Larry. Well, I looked the game over and I said, “Ken, I can’t do a literal translation of this game. It’s about a guy trying to pick up three girls. I can’t do a game stuck in the seventies like that.”

“Why not? I don’t see anything outdated about it.”

What do you know about dating? Stop interrupting me, Larry! So then Ken said, “Well, work it into something better.”

What we did was to save the puzzles from the game and the premise about the three girls. We also kept the map and the geography of the game. Everything else we threw away, including all the text.

“Three girls are not enough. Now four, maybe.”

Instead of a vaguely defined “you,” we made the person a character. We had another brainstorming session where we talked about what kind of guy this would be and what kind of motivation he would have.

“And it ain’t becoming a nuclear physicist, that’s for sure. Say, can I play with your computers?”

No, but you can get some more chips out of the kitchen. I’m going to need nourishment to survive this.

“Yeah, well there ain’t no more Granny Goose. You’ll have to eat Fritos and like them.”

That’s good, because I do. And bring in a six-pack of TAB. We’ll eat traditional programmer soul food.

“Now you’re talking, Big Al!”

The Real Birth of Larry

So, now, we come to the real birth of Leisure Suit Larry. What we decided was that this guy was really pretty lame. That he was out of touch and stuck in the seventies. Somebody said, “Well, he’s the kind of guy that would wear a leisure suit in the eighties.” Everyone laughed and thought that was pretty funny because leisure suits are so dated.

“What’s wrong with leisure suits? I think they’re cool.”

Put down the chips and be like the government—don’t tax yourself, Larry.

Anyway, I had this friend that most of the others at Sierra knew, too (name deleted to protect all of us). Somebody said, “Yeah, this character’s like him, always talking about picking up girls but probably never gets any.”

So somebody else said he’s like a Leisure Suit Jerry (oops!). And then somebody else said, “No, we have to change the name, he’s like a Leisure Suit Larry.” That’s how it came up, all from five or six people brainstorming. I think it was John Williams who came up with the Leisure Suit Larry name.

The “Land of the Lounge Lizards” business happened because I’m a jazz musician too—I play a lot of clubs professionally. Have since I was 13. So I’ve worked a lot of lounges and stuff, and I said Larry’s the sort of guy who would hang out in lounges. So I contributed that part because that’s what men who hung out in lounges were called.

“Should I be insulted?”

You want to score with chicks in the next Leisure Suit Larry game?

“I’m not insulted, I’m not insulted!”

That’s what I thought you’d say.

Well, for a long time Larry’s last name in the game was the same as my friend’s. Then, just as we were ready to ship the game, John Williams called me and said that I had to take his name out of the game and make it something fictional instead.

I pulled out the L volume of my Encyclopedia Britannica. I grabbed the L book because everything else in the title started with L, and I thought it would be nice to keep the alliteration. The first name I came to was “Arthur Laffer,” and I just cracked up when I read it. The game was a funny game, and to make his last name Laffer got a pun in, so that’s how the name came about.

“Is this the one?”

Lemme see. Yeah, that’s it, Larry. I just have the one set.

“Well, Roberts told me he has ten now. Collects them. Ambushes encyclopedia salespeople with them.”

I guess living up in the mountains like he does, simple pleasures are best.

“Yeah, so does that mean Arthur Laffer is my father?”

No, I am your— Oh my God! What am I saying! Larry you’re just a fictional character in a computer game!

“Wanna bet?”

Yeah, and it was just coincidental that I picked Laffer’s name.

“Maybe so, but now everybody’s gonna want to know who he is. Let’s see here... hmmm...

“Yeah, he’s a cool dude. One of the founders of Supply-Side Economics. Arthur B. Laffer, born Youngstown, Ohio, Aug. 14, 1940. He’s most famous for his ‘Laffer Curve.’ I’m pretty fond of curves, myself.”

Right, Larry, but his is an economic hypothesis using a mathematical model to show that raising tax rates will actually result in less government revenues. He says that government revenues will rise if the present tax rates were lowered. He served on Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory board and was professor of finance and business economics at the University of Southern California from 1976 to 1984. He ran for the U.S. Senate from California in 1986.

“No kidding; he get many chicks?”

I don’t know, Larry. Call him and ask!

“Er... Guess I better not, but maybe I’ll try being a politician next. How’s this for an opening line, Big Al? ‘Hi. My name is Larry; Governor Larry Laffer. Let’s me and you go balance the budget, babe.”

Hmmm. Could work with some female lobbyists, I suppose. And, Lord knows, plenty of dorks like you do seem to get elected on a regular basis.

“You got it, man! I call it Proposition 69.”

Ah, right. Anyway, here’s an interesting story about Arthur Laffer. We decided it might be nice to really call him up and see if we could get him to give us a cover blurb for the Laffer Utilities, the latest Larry product and America’s leading non-productivity tool. I wrote him a letter explaining how Larry came to be named after him, and sent along some Leisure Suit Larry samples.

Well, he thought it was absolutely hilarious and, as he later told me, took the stuff and showed it to his secretary.

“Can you believe this?” he asked her.

“Yes, I play Leisure Suit Larry,” she told him. But, until that moment, the secretary had not realized that Larry was named after her boss.

He later came up for a visit, and we showed him around the Sierra facilities. He’s a very gracious man, with a great sense of humor, and a lot younger than you would think.

“And he likes me! That means he has good taste.”

More like a lot of tolerance, Larry, but people are waiting on us. Let me get back to talking about the birth of Leisure Suit Larry.

“If I can’t be governor, how’s about, President Larry Laffer? ‘Hey, good-looking! Waddaya say I show you what Secret Service really means?’ Wouldn’t have no trouble in bars if I was president.”

What have I done? What have I created?

“The greatest lover since Dobie Gillis. I am without a doubt the—”

Get me some antacid tablets out of the medicine cabinet. The extra strength ones. We’ve got to get on with this.

Larry's Character and It's Development

Larry became, as the Sierra On-Line copywriters described him, “just a polyester kind of guy.” He’s a nerd turned adventurer.

“A what!”

A nerd turned adventurer. Sort of like Pee Wee Herman standing in for Harrison Ford in an Indiana Jones movie. Like Pee Wee Herman in the Temple of Gloom.

“I’m hurt. Besides, man, that Pee Wee is one cool dude. You ever notice those boss threads he wears? Anyway, you made those games downright dangerous for me.”

So stay out of dark alleys. Anyway, in the first game—Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards—Larry is this laughable loser. As players of the game, we live one night in the life of Larry Laffer. Larry is looking for the ultimate thrill of his formerly sheltered life. Of course, he might not survive long enough to enjoy it.

“Did you really have to put in that dark alley? And whose idea was the little dog?”

That little dog likes you, Lar.

“Yeah, well he must love fire hydrants then.”

You got that right. In the second game, Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love! (In Several Wrong Places), we went more to humor, and developed Larry’s character more. He wins a million bucks and the dream vacation of his life.

“And get my fingernails yanked out by the KGB, drowned in quicksand, and we won’t even talk about the helicopter ride.”

You can’t say I don’t pay you well, Larry. A million bucks is a million bucks.

“Yeah, but inflation is hell. And all those hundred-buck haircuts eat into a fellow’s bankroll.”

In that game, Larry 2, our ol’ buddy, Lar, winds up on a strange tropical island. He gets to meet such interesting people as sinister spies, a mad scientist, and assorted tropical island beauties.

“And winds up smack dab in the middle of a volcano ready to erupt.”

Nobody said it had to be easy on you, Larry. But he’s right, it isn’t easy. Especially when you are trying to win the girl of your dreams, right Lar?

“Well, it does have its moments, I suppose. The dark alley was a lot safer, though.”

Then there remains the burning question in Larry 2—will he get off the island alive? Will he notice the piano player? Will he—

“I thought the volcano was the burning question?”

Calm down, Larry. Now in Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals, we get to do a little role reversal. I thought it would be fun to play the game from the perspective of a woman. That’s how I came up with Passionate Patti.

“So how come she gets more on-camera time than I do?”

Because she deserves it, Larry. Not to mention, she looks a lot better than you do.

“Patti is all woman, that’s for sure. I sure do love her.”

Larry! That’s nice, and Patti loves you. Sometimes you surprise me. So you are interested in more than just cheap sex?

“Er... How much more than cheap? My income is limited. You know how little you pay me to act in these games.”

Never mind, Lar. Anyway, the game takes place from the seamy strip clubs of of Nontoonyt Island to a steamy jungle ruled by lesbian Amazon cannibal women. It is, and I’m proud of this, the first Sierra adventure ever to allow players to switch roles in mid-game and see the story from someone else’s point of view. The second, of course,was our next game, Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does A Little Undercover Work.

“Hard to make it with them lesbian cannibals, that’s for sure. They pop you in the pot before you can get your best line out.”

What is your best line, Larry?

“Hi, babe. I’m richer than Donald Trump.”

Not bad. Does it work?

“Yeah, unless they ask you to pay for the drinks or somethin’.”

Leisure Suit Larry games are funny, and meant to be funny.

The humor in the first Leisure Suit Larry game came about because we were just ready for it. I’ve always been a funny guy, always cracked jokes and puns, so when they said “You can do what you want to with the game, just take it and run,” then I started putting more and more funny things in.

The business about the underground room in the old version of Larry 1 is interesting (the new, VGA version, has a different joke down there). Rick Cavin was and still is the general manager of the company, and has been for about nine years now. He’s the guy that works in the underground room in the old version, putting new brains on top of Larrys. When you die and get sent downstairs, that’s really Rick that comes out, and all those characters around down there are from the other games. Sir Graham is one of them, and the dragon from King’s Quest II, I think, and Roberta Williams is one of the people in the white coats.

Speaking of the new version of Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, Chris Brayman did all the music and sound effects. It was a, ahem, noteworthy job. Thanks, Chris. The new version has lots more jokes, also, and graphics like you won’t believe until you see it on VGA.

The general premise and format of the Larry games lets me essentially run wild. I’ve been told one reason they’re both so popular and so funny is because the unexpected is always popping up.

I’m not claiming any great genius here. If you knew me (and probably after this book you will only too well), you’d know that I’ve finally sunk to my highest possible level. I’m not good enough to write a real adventure game, so I think I’ll just stick to these silly little escapades. I would like to do something besides Larry, but I’m sure I’ll always try to be funny (assuming people continue to enjoy them).

“What’s funny about me trying to get chicks?”

Everything, Larry. Everything.

“Huh?”

Never mind, Lar. So, because of the freedom Sierra gave me in the Larry games, I got to put in lots of silly things. Like the toilet paper stuck to Larry’s shoe and the dog peeing, and a lot of those little things that really make the game fun.

“I could do without the dog, Al. Believe me, I could do without the dog.”

Seriously, folks; I do intend to write the Great American Game, as soon as I can make enough money at this sideline to get new shoes for my 486! I have worked on Police Quest and King’s Quest III and King’s Quest IV, you know. I think those are serious enough for me.

As to the Larry games, I thought I could make a sincere contribution to mankind (and womankind).

“Hey! Really?”

Nah! I was just pulling your leg, Larry. It’s the promise of all those fancy cars and new homes that Ken Williams keeps telling me about. When do those start coming, Ken? Seriously, I tried to make a game that was slightly adult, and a lot funny, because that’s the kind of person I am (slightly adult and a lot funny).

Although a few women have mentioned to me that I must be a real male chauvinist pig, I feel they have just missed the point of Larry. It’s really satire against that kind of thinking! I’m an ERA-er from way back (being honest now). Apparently some of the ladies have missed the humor in the Larry games.

“They’re not the only ones missing stuff. I’m the one Ken should be giving cars to—without me you ain’t got a game to stand on, Al.”

Oh, pipe down, Larry.

“You don’t appreciate me.”

Here, use the napkin to wipe your eyes. Blow your nose. I do too appreciate you, Larry.

“Then why did you put that dark alley in Larry 1 with the mugger in it? How come all that KGB fingernail pulling stuff in Larry 2, and that damn helicopter ride? And what about all those cliffs to fall off of and the lagoon in Larry 3? Now Larry 5 is a little safer, maybe, but you just try falling off the boardwalk in Atlantic City. It can be one heck of a long swim! Larry 6 is pretty darn dangerous, too. Take that door on the back wall of the bar that looks into the swimming pool—you can sure get a face-full of water real quick there. Your games just aren’t safe for a fellow like me!”

Well, other than that, what’s your problem? You do want to make it to Larry 7, don’t you?

“Is that a threat?... Al?... Al?... Why are you grinning like that? Is that what they call a ‘wolfish grin’?”

You know, Larry, it’s a little scary when you think what I can do just by warping a little code here, skewing a graphic there. It’s in my power, old buddy, to really make you look bad.

“Ha! People won’t pay to see you make me look dorky.”

Oh? You think not?

“Er... Why don’t you go ahead talking to the nice people, Great One. Your servant but lives to obey.”

Right. Thanks, Larry. Another brew, please. Domestic is okay.

To continue: Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love! (In Several Wrong Places) was based on my last three vacations, but that was just so I could write them off on my IRS forms. Just kidding, just kidding (in case the IRS is reading this).

Seriously, about the time I was designing Larry 2, my family and I took a vacation to Mexico, and some of the things that happened went into the game. There was the mad rush to the airline ticket counter, and a really terrible plane ride. The resort was so heavily landscaped that we kept getting lost. All that found its way into the game. Art sometimes imitates life.

“Art, who? Is that another one of your rowdy musician friends?”

How "Racy" is Racy

Using the word racy, as some have in describing the Larry games, is really more of a compliment than anything else. If you look it up in the dictionary, one of the definitions is: “Full of zest; spirited; often piquant, pungent, brisk, etc.”

“No kidding?”

Exactly, Larry. In fact, I left out a few words that were in the beta version; refer to George Carlin for those. There are no scenes removed; I’m just not dirty enough to think of anything really naughty.

“Sure you aren’t. But, it’s not the language but the sex they complain about, ain’t it, Al?”

Yes. Ken Williams, our publisher (and noted village chieftain) is very wary of bad publicity. He wanted to be sure that anyone who played the first Larry game was at least screened a little, so he insisted on the quiz at the beginning of the game.

It turned out to be a fun thing to do, so all was okay and we’ve done it in two of the games to date. Larry 2, instead, has the “filth level” controller and that’s our “out” there; if someone wants it to be filthy, it’s only filthy because they cranked it over.

We start out clean and you change it. Now, as to if it’s really dirty or not, who knows? I don’t think it is; most people think it bland. Most comments are that it isn’t really that dirty. My goal was to write a funny game, not a dirty one.

Yet, my sense of humor is an adult one, and if people can’t take a joke, ____ ’em, as a wise man once said (or was that a wiseguy?).

Nah, just kidding! Larry 2 is silly, but it’s not very dirty. If you think National Geographic is dirty, then you won’t like Larry 2.

“Well, my favorite is “Women of Bali.” Now they don’t wear no tops and—”

Ol’ Nat Geo has educated a lot of us, Larry.

“The bare facts, ma’am, just the bare facts.”

Isn’t that from the TV show, “Dragnet”?

“Huh? Nah, these chicks let the men do all the fishing. I still got my copy at home if you’d like to—”

That’s all right, Larry. I’ll pass for now.

When Larry 1 shipped, and when it finally started selling and doing pretty well, we said, “Hey, we need to do a sequel to this game.” But we had heard a lot of flack about the sex, and we got some bad reviews. In fact, Macworld just ate me alive. They hated it.

So I thought we needed to tone it down a little and do something less raunchy and more funny. Well, that’s what I did. It was less raunchy and I personally think Larry 2 was funnier than Larry 1.

My thinking on Larry 2 was that I had done as much silly sexual encounters as I could in Larry 1, so in this game I wanted to make him go out looking for true love—an idealistic kind of quest. And also make the game linear so that I could have a little bit more plot development along the way. So that was a big consideration.

“What’s funny about me trying to find true love?”

Everything, Larry. Everything. Trust me.

Fill the chip bowl up again, and watch the crumbs. Margaret will kill me if this place is a pigsty.

“Where is your lovely wife?”

Beats me; she tends to disappear when you’re around. Something to do with good taste, I think.

“Well, what does she want? Good graphics or good taste?”

Good taste, I think.

“And where are the kids?”

Probably hiding with their mother— Er... not here right now.

“How are they?”

Well, Brian’s 17 now and Megan’s 10! They’re doing great.

“Brian, yeah is he the one always on the phone when I try to call you about renegotiating my contract?”

Never mind, in that instance I forgive. Let’s get on with this. So Larry 2 got out on the market and everyone screams, “Hey, this game ain’t dirty enough!”

Everybody was disappointed. Which convinced us that with Larry 3 we should go back where we were.

“Sax and violets?”

No violence, Larry—just the sex.

“Yeah, well what do you call falling off a cliff trying to pick those silly flowers, or drowning in the lagoon? Or being cooked and eaten by lesbian Amazonian cannibals?”

Funny. I call it funny. Which reminds me of a joke that was in Larry 3 at first, but got cut before we shipped the game. When Patti and Larry are in the Amazonian lesbian cannibals’ pot, a voice in the background says, “Let’s cook him and eat him.” And another voice says, “And vice versa for her.”

“I don’t get it.”

Just as well, Larry. But the games are funny.

“You got a weird sense of humor, pal.”

Yeah, Larry, I do. You’re what we call “living proof.”

“Huh?”

Copy Protection

I guess most people don’t like copy protection, but we have to have it for some very good reasons. It costs a lot of money to produce and distribute a game. If it becomes popular, both the company manufacturing and the authors deserve reward for their efforts. Otherwise, we just won’t bring out all these great games—and I’m speaking of the whole computer game industry now.

We’ve always felt that if we could get people to sit down and play just one of these things, that they would come back and do more. So we try to keep the copy protection as unobtrusive as possible. In the first four Larry games, we’ve tried six different schemes, and everyone seems to like Larry 3’s the best.

In the old Larry 1, you always had to have the original distribution disk to start the game. Anything that can be lost, will be lost. That’s a fact of life. And if you lost the disk, you would have to order another one. We got around that in the new version by simply adding one more question to the five we use to see if you’re old enough to play the game. The sixth question is the copy protection.

In Larry 2 we tried something a little different from our original protection of requiring a distribution disk. We included the pictures of girls from Larry’s “little black book.” The game shows you one when it starts up, and you enable play by completing her phone number. The pictures, by the way, are intentionally bad in the book so that they can’t be Xeroxed easily.

This worked okay, but it means you couldn’t play the game at all unless you had the manual to enter the phone number and start it up. Which keeps people from ripping off free copies, but also kills what we decided was a very important benefit to us—people being able to play test the game before buying.

In Larry 3 and Larry 5, you can play the game (up to certain points) without the book. This means that anyone can copy the distribution disks and install the game on a system. You can spend lots of time in Larry 3 messing around with Larry, all for free. It’s much the same in Larry 5, but you will need certain information in order to buy airline tickets. So there’s no getting around the fact that you need the manuals and all the other material that comes in the box to play these games.

Of course, where the copy protection comes in to allow you to progress on toward winning the game—you have to occasionally enter a number or something throughout the game from the Aerodork Airlines travel schedule in, for example, Larry 5. The manual in Larry 3 is also very important as a provider of hints and, also, you’ll want to read Playspy magazine when you are playing Larry 5.

Overall, we’ve found this sort of copy protection good in that it gets people hooked on the game, and they go out and buy a legal copy to get the manual. Also, people give their friends copies, and these friends get hooked and go out and buy the game to get the book.

“A fellow’s got to eat.”

Right, Larry. And that’s why we have copy protection. To get an honest return for our effort. That way, we can keep the price of the games down, too. Not to mention invest in adding new techniques and new effects that will make future games even more fun to play.

Copy protection may not be all that popular, but it makes the system work. It isn’t perfect, but it’s all we’ve got.

Conclusion

If you think I like Larry, and that I’m proud of the Larry games, you’re right. Probably the greatest joy in the world is to do what you love doing, what you would do for free, and to get paid for it. And not only that, but it’s great to know that you’re also bringing some good laughs and a few hours fun into many people’s lives.

What can I say? Thanks.

“Aw. You do like me!”

Don’t press it, Larry! Go get us some more refreshments. We have to get into “The Making of Leisure Suit Larry” in the next chapter.

“Are you going to describe my conquests?”

No, Larry, that wouldn’t fill up enough space.

“Yeah, well can we get a chick in here to like do the ‘making’ of me?”

Be quiet, Larry, and get back out to the kitchen. Whip us up some sandwiches. And make a pot of coffee. At the rate you interrupt me, we’re going to be here for another two or three hundred pages.

By the way folks, if you haven’t taken this book up to the clerk yet, do it now before the store closes.

Thanks.

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