I recently had the pleasure of joining the folks of IGDA Seattle (the local chapter of the International Game Developers Association) to listen to Al Lowe, creator of the hit game Leisure Suit Larry , talk about his experiences and thoughts on the industry.
Lowe is an interesting character. He is quite well known in the video game industry, and yet you wouldn't know it by listening to him speak. He is sagely and eminently approachable with a touch of humility and a dash of mischief. Listening to him talk about his experience working for Sierra and developing his games was akin to sitting by the fireplace and listening to one of my uncles describing some past youthful hijinks. The comfortable environment for the session (in this case, the lounge at Amazon's Van Vorst building) helped reinforce this feeling with its casual couches and bookshelves.
A good portion of the evening was spent as Q&A, with Lowe answering questions that covered the gamut from his early days as a game developer/designer to the recent successful Kickstarter project to do a remake of the original Leisure Suit Larry game. The Kickstarter project, according to Lowe, required much more planning and logistics than he had anticipated in order to handle all the variations of rewards for the project's backers.
I asked Lowe about his thoughts on freemium and its impact on modern games (a topic that is near and dear to my heart). To summarize and paraphrase his thoughts...he doesn't really like it. In fact, he prefers to pay upfront for games. He particularly doesn't like the 'spaminess' of some games that continually ask for money. While he does play some freemium games, he often will stop playing a game after getting hit with too many requests (or sometimes, the first request) for additional payment.
Interesting bit of trivia: some of the Sierra employees became the intellectual property of Sierra as a result of appearing as characters within the games. (Presumably, this only extends to the in-game likeness of the employees!)
Folks, this was a great opportunity to interact with an industry legend. If you happen to see Al Lowe around town, thank him for his contributions and buy him a cup of coffee.