Retro Gamer: A moment with… Lorne Lanning [2010]

A moment with... Lorne Lanning [Hosted by Retro Gamer]

Date: September 2010

Interviewer: David Crookes

Interviewee: Lorne Lanning

Source: Retro Gamer, issue 81, p.16

Q: Which of your games would you recommend to our readers and why?

Lorne Lanning: Stranger’s Wrath. It’s the culmination of many things we learned over the years in development and gameplay.

Q: What is your proudest memory?

Lorne Lanning: I think it was at GDC in 2000 when Bill Gates was live on stage and I was like 40 feet tall on the big screen behind him. For those few moments I was bigger than the richest guy in the world. Of course, nobody took a picture and I’ve never been able to get a video. Figures.

Q: What’s the most difficult thing you’ve encountered while working on a game?

Lorne Lanning: When people lie. It always catches me off guard and typically precedes a larger crisis.

Q: Who in the industry do you most admire?

Lorne Lanning: After meeting Gaikai, I’d have to say David Perry gets the vote for 2010. He’s like the Energizer Bunny. He keeps coming back but this round he’s a serious force that is going to have game-changing impact.

Q: How would you like your games to be remembered?

Lorne Lanning: Maybe this is silly, But I like to think that our games inspired people, and hopefully this came into their lives at moments when they most needed it.

Q: Which games do you wish you’d made?

Lorne Lanning: Civilization II. The systems and infinite possibilities still leave me blown away.

Q: What opportunities has making videogames given you?

Lorne Lanning: The ability to meet fascinating people from all over the world and from different walks of life. It’s been the greatest reward.

Q: What’s your best memory of being in the games industry?

Lorne Lanning: Definitely getting an all-expense-paid trip to the most incredible resort on a private island in Queensland. Pretty fabulous.

Q: Can you share an interesting anecdote from your time in the industry?

Lorne Lanning: There is one that I’ve been trying to figure out since it happened, as I knew there was great wisdom in what I was told, but as a content creator it was very unintuitive for me to figure out how someone like myself could apply it. Sherry McKenna [Oddworld CEO and co-founder] and I were having dinner in Tokyo with Masayoshi Son, the richest man in Japan. He was the founder of SoftBank and he was starting a new company called GameBank, aiming to distribute console games. He liked Abe but this was before Abe was even released and he was telling us his story over dinner. He said he had graduated from Stanford University and had at least 100 patents to his name already. But he was also realising that the likelihood that any one of this patents might become a success was quite dim, so he started thinking maybe he could figure out a way to deal with the patents that were already the most successful. This led to his founding SoftBank and their beginning in becoming the most powerful distributor of software products in Japan. He was brilliant, charming, funny and inspiring. He still had the energy of a teenager. He was excited about things that one wouldn’t suspect someone of his stature to be excited by. His intelligence and warm character combined with his simple message left an impact on me that, ever since, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do something closer to in my own work.

Q: How has the industry changed?

Lorne Lanning: It seemed like it was evolving slow as a dinosaur, but then in the last few years the disruption has created that frenzy that makes it feel like the early Nineties again. It’s gone from garage shops, to huge publishers/developers, back to garage shops via social and casual app games. Very strange transitions and they are coming at more rapid rates. Check out Scott Steinberg’s video blogs, as I think he covers it pretty well.