Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Loom post-mortem with Brian Moriarty

So GDC 2015 took place just a few days before my last post here in March, and I have only now watched the online videos of this year's Classic Game Postmortem speeches, which are always my favourite part of GDC. I also noticed that GDC have made both their new and previous videos available on YouTube, which I think is great, because the video player at the GDC Vault website was driving me crazy!

One of the legendary speakers this year was Brian Moriarty, who had been invited to tell the story of LucasFilm Games' classic point-and-click adventure Loom, released in 1990. Moriarty, or Professor Moriarty (no, that's not a Sherlock Holmes joke - he is indeed a Professor of Practice in Game Design), was a game designer and writer at Infocom before joining LucasFilm Games in 1988. While at Infocom, he created the text adventures Wishbringer (1985), Trinity (1986) and Beyond Zork (1987). After Loom, he also worked on LucasArts' The Dig (1995) as a writer.

This is an extraordinary well-presented post-mortem, and it's clear that Moriarty is an experienced lecturer. Following some obligatory funny anecdotes on LucasFilm Games and Skywalker Ranch, we get to learn how the game was conceived, where the name came from, why Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake was used for the soundtrack, the references to Disney's Sleeping Beauty, the graphical limitations at the time (and how artist Mark Ferrari overcame them with his unique dithering technique), and much more. We also take a look at, and listen to, the different versions of the game. Hardcore fans will be in ecstasy over some previously unseen screens that didn't make it into the final game.

All in all, this post-mortem is a must-see if ever there was one.

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