Brian Moriarty (Lucasfilm) – Interview

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Loom was one of our favourite adventure games in the early 90s, and here is our Adrian’s quick chat with its creator Brian Moriarty!

 

Loom is regarded as a true adventure gaming classic. Can you explain your inspiration for this game, and did you have full control of the project?

The inspirations for Loom are summarized in the 25th-anniversary postmortem I presented at the 2015 Game Developers Conference (available for viewing at http://ludix.com/moriarty/loom.html).

The question of “full control” is an interesting one. It’s really not possible to assume full control over a project that requires collaboration with several artists and technicians. To some extent, the project leader and team members must agree on a creative vision, and the leader must then trust the talents and creative instincts of the team in realizing that vision. I was fortunate to have extraordinary artists like Gary Winnick, Mark Ferrari, Ken Macklin and Steve Purcell working with me on the project, as well as the technical expertise of Aric Wilmunder and Ron Gilbert. Their unique perspectives and abilities made Loom richer and more beautiful than anyone believed was possible in a 16-color EGA game.

 

 

Many prior and future LucasArts adventure titles adopted a comedy element to their stories. Were you adamant from day one Loom would take on a more serious fantasy storyline?

I chuckled along with everyone else at the humor in previous Lucasfilm adventures (including Monkey Island, which was under development at the same time as Loom). But from its conception, the aesthetic of Loom seemed to call for a more earnest treatment. I didn’t want it to come across as solemn or portentous, but I felt that adopting the “house style” of sardonic, self-referential humor might detract from the player’s sense of immersion in Bobbin’s world. The game does contain moments of sly humor, a few outrageous sight gags (such as the death of Bishop Mandible), and at least one inside joke (“I have a very bad feeling about this,” a line which appears in nearly all of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies).

 

Can you explain why Loom never received a sequel?

I was too burned out, and no one else cared enough to push one through.

 

 

Would you ever like to see Loom remastered with updated graphics?

If by “remastering” you mean simply converting the original low-resolution 16-color art to high-resolution 24-bit color, my answer is a loud “No.”

Nearly every creative decision regarding the dramatic scope and presentation of Loom was influenced by the severe technical restrictions imposed by the available hardware. Adding more pixels and colors would only serve to emphasize those restrictions. The 256-color “upgrades” of Loom produced after the original EGA release clearly demonstrate this. They not only make the original design seem unduly antiquated, but also manage to obfuscate specific experience goals by adding superfluous colors and detail. The version currently being sold on Steam and other online stores is an abomination (we agree!!! – Ed). It’s based on the 256-color CD “talkie” edition from 1992, in which nearly a third of the original dialog is missing. The horror. The horror.

 

 

If I was asked to “remaster” Loom, I would leave the original 16-color art and animation untouched, using hard-edged upscaling (with aspect-ratio correction) to fit HD monitors. The big upgrade would be the sound design, which I would re-imagine from scratch, using fully-voiced characters, ambient surround and Tchaikovsky’s score played by a real orchestra, presented in Dolby Atmos.

A few lines of dialog might be trimmed. I was a bit verbose in a couple of scenes (DO IT – Ed).

If I could actually RE-DESIGN Loom for modern PCs, the result would bear little resemblance to the original game. It would look like Kubo and the Two Strings, and play like conducting a symphony.

 

If you could travel back in time and work on any video game, which game would you have loved to be involved in?

I would go back and fix all the stuff I could have done better in my own games.

 

Thanks for dropping by Brian, all the best in your future endeavours!

Adrian

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