Lori Ann Cole

Posted by Jonathan Yalon.
First posted on 09 March 2008. Last updated on 17 July 2010.
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Lori Ann Cole
After a long career as a game designer, Lori Ann Cole now concentrates on her art and photography.

This article is courtesy of HebrewQuest © 2007.

About the author

Jonathan Yalon is the editor-in-chief of the Hebrew adventure game site HebrewQuest and the co-creator of the Israeli adventure game Boundless Osher.

For more information, visit HebrewQuest.

Lori Ann Cole is best known as the creator of the Quest for Glory (QFG) series. Working with her husband Corey, she wrote the series for Sierra soon after joining the company as a freelance writer. The series, which included 5 games (So You Want To Be A Hero, Trial by Fire, Wages of War, Shadows of Darkness, Dragon Fire) released successively between 1989 and 1998, was among the most popular adventure & role-playing games of the 1990s on the PC. The series earned Cole critical acclaims from the industry and an iconic status among her legion of loyal game fans.

We are privileged to have the opportunity to interview Cole to catch up on her present life, nearly a decade after her departure from Sierra. In the interview, Cole speaks of her current whereabouts, her opinions about game development, and her ambition to re-enter the gaming industry.

What are you (and Corey) doing nowadays?

Well, I am concentrating on my art and photography at the moment. We are both looking for jobs in the game industry, but no luck so far.

Do you keep in touch with other ex-Sierra employees and adventure games developers?

We still see some of the Sierra people who live in Oakhurst, and we keep in touch with the Game Designer's groups.

What are your favorite movies, TV shows, music and books?

Corey and I don't actually watch TV. We're too busy working with our computers or computer games to watch it. However, we did get to see the Heroes TV series on video, which was a very good series. We've enjoyed the "Buffy the Vampire" and "Angel" series, "Babylon Five," and some of the "X-files," but we watched those from DVDs.

Our favorite all-time movie is the extended version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I enjoyed the theatrical release of the first movie, but I was blown away by the extended version. The latest Harry Potter movie and "Prisoner of Askaban" were exceptional movies, too. The most recent movie we enjoyed was "Ratatoille," because I really enjoy well-made animations.

Which games are you playing nowadays?

We are both playing "World of Warcraft." It's as close to the world of Quest for Glory as anything else out there. Even the Gnomes are the goofy, funny characters that I envisioned them to be. We can always find something to do in the game that is amusing.

What are your favorite adventure games of all-times, not including the ones you created?

We enjoyed Monkey Island and the LucasArts games. I never cared for pure Adventure games as a genre – I don't like being frustrated by arbitrary puzzles. I preferred playing RPG games. Corey prefers the strategy games like "Heroes of Might and Magic."

In an interview from 2003, you stated that QFG4 had been your series' favorite. From what I hear over the years, does it seem that the general favorite is actually QFG2?

Certainly QG2 was a very good game. However, we made some design decisions on it of setting strict time limits that we avoided on other games. The time limits set up losing conditions too soon. That, and the endless boring alleyways (which were originally designed to have encounters to make them more exciting, but they were cut due to technical issues and time constraints) weakened the game as a whole.

The game I actually enjoyed playing the most was QG5. The game play was entertaining, and I liked the combat and magic system. Because the monsters used Artificial Intelligence, the game required a lot of strategy.

The QFG games are more frequently considered as "adventure classics" than "RPG classics". In your opinion, what is the reason that recent RPGs hardly focus on storytelling and puzzle solving like QFG did?

When we first started the series, RPGs were already defined as combat oriented, leveling games. Quest for Glory was not a blockbuster success, or everyone would have been imitating us. The main problem is that Storytelling and Puzzle-solving are more art intensive, and art takes more time and resources than combat and action.

In the early 1990s you had also designed several educational games, like Castle of Dr. Brain and Mixed-Up Fairy Tales. How was it to work on these projects in comparison to QFG?

I am a teacher by profession and inclination. I was happy to do educational games. The Quest for Glory series actually had underlying lessons in leadership training as well as heroism and ethics. We did research in mythology and geography with every game we made. I really believe that the best education comes from doing things you enjoy.

In 1995, you and Corey developed Shannara for Legend Entertainment. The game was an RPG-adventure game which was based on the highly acclaimed Sword of Shannara series by Terry Brooks. How was it to develop a game based on these novels? How was the work with Terry Brooks?

Terry Brooks is very nice in person and only wanted to make certain we maintained his story universe. It was interesting trying to adapt his world to a game.

In 2001 you designed an online soap opera game. This seems like a very interesting idea. What became of that?

At that time, we were helping to create a company called, "Explorati." It was a multiplayer online world that was based around improvisational storytelling. Soap Operas (and television shows in general) are a dying breed. They do not attract the younger audience. We felt that an on-line game that encouraged role-playing and soap-opera story-lines would be a lot more exciting than actually watching a show.

Unfortunately, the economics of starting a company in 2001 meant we couldn't get funding and the company faded away.

Since the late 1990s, it seems that the adventure genre has lost a great deal of popularity. What do you think was the reason for this, and what are your thoughts about the future of the genre?

The biggest reason that the Adventure genre faded was that they were more expensive to produce than any other genre. That meant the profit margin on Ags was lower, and the game companies avoided them.

Lately, some legendary adventure game figures like Ron Gilbert, Jane Jensen and Steve Purcell, have returned to developing adventure games. Why wouldn't you do the same?

Unfortunately, the bottom line is money. If someone would pay us to make games, we'd be glad to do it.

Given the chance, would you and Corey create QFG6?

Certainly. Of course, it would pick up with the children of our hero rather dragging him out of retirement.

You had plans of creating QFG related books and puzzle games. What's the status of these initiatives?

I co-wrote a book based on the first game with another author who was a fan of the series. Unfortunately, we did not find a publisher for it.

Do you own the rights to QFG? In 2006, Vivendi released renewed compilations of King's Quest, Police Quest and Leisure Suit Larry, but there had not been one for QFG.

Corey and I do not have the rights to QFG. I guess the reason that Vivendi did not re-release our games is that we still get royalties from them, assuming they sold any.

Over the years, a number of QFG fan projects have been taking place: Hero6, Quest for Glory 4 1/2, and most recently, QFG2VGA. You were in touch with the AGDI team about the QFG2VGA project. What is your opinion about the forthcoming release (which is being delayed forever)?

Creating Games is extremely hard work. The longer a project takes, the more energy is lost. People have to have real jobs and that pulls them away from these labors of love that they do. All I can do is encourage people to keep the vision alive!

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