Lisa is described as a game about survival, sacrifice, and perverts. Its creator, Austin Jorgensen, is a man I’d describe as handsome, talented and ambitious. Its Kickstarter campaign is something I’d describe as interesting, successful, and noteworthy. It’s a combination one would describe as powerful, determined and beautiful; in the craziest, most absurdly fascinating way possible, of course. We had a chat with the man behind the madness, and delved deep into the belly of sacrifice-based decision making, end-of-humanity exploits and a world without a lady-friend in sight.
According to Jorgensen, his goal from the very beginning was making sure the entire experience was fresh, “even the simple things, aside from gameplay; giving more purpose to the people within the game, like NPCs and random enemies — It has become so acceptable for these types of things to be reused over and over, and I don’t think it should be.” Personally crafting the huge cast of characters, Jorgensen states on the Kickstarter page that “every character in Lisa will have their own individual spirit and look.”
Many of the decisions that helped form Lisa into what it is today came from the limitations of being an underfunded indie developer, and the inspiration came to Jorgensen from a rather unexpected place; “It all stemmed from the idea of an apocalypse with only Fist of the North Star type dudes surviving, and the more I thought about the reality of that, the more ideas came about.” For those unfamiliar with Fist of the North Star, it’s a Japanese animated film based on a manga by the same name. The story takes place after a nuclear war that destroyed most of earth, leaving the few survivors to fight over the remaining uncontaminated supplies.
Like with any end-of-the-world scenario, there are perilous choices to be made, and that choice-based gameplay is probably the most important aspect of Lisa. Sure, most roleplaying adventures let you make decisions, and some even have an impact on a quest or two, but Jorgensen isn’t content with such a black-and-white approach. “I always wanted there to be choices in the game, but through research I realized something; what the hell is the point of choice if everyone always picks the “right” one?
“Then, you have games like The Walking Dead with great choice-making, which was a step in the right direction, but that game was all story with very little gameplay, so how do you make choices that will affect how you experience the game, not just the story within the game — that’s how that came about, thoughts like what’s more important to me? Brad’s stats, or this new party member I just found that I really like? And if I sacrifice something for him, then whose to say I won’t have to continue to make sacrifices for this guy? I think you can really develop feelings for the character, and it doesn’t involve any real story behind it. You can learn to really cherish a character this way, or even resent them.”
“You can do some real damage on your playthrough, and I want people to be okay with that.”
The gameplay isn’t the only aspect of Lisa inspired by Jorgensen’s lack of interest in modern gaming. With EarthBound influences aplenty, Lisa is designed to incite the same feelings Jorgensen experienced when saving the planet from aliens back in 1995. “It’s really easy to pass EarthBound off as a quirky game, but for me it’s so much more, that game brought out so many feelings in me.
“I feel like an old man yelling about music, “what the hell is all this beep boppin’ noise!? back in my day music had SOUL!!! blah blah blah” — and then you have this newer generation going back to these classic games and not being able to really connect with them for whatever reason, and only seeing these old games at surface value, but you can’t blame the youngsters really; they are growing up with a whole new level of technology, although I think Lisa would suck if it didn’t look as crude as it does; it would destroy the game for me.”
“What the hell do you expect? It’s a s*** world with s*** people, so it looks like s***!”
While the apocalyptic world created by Jorgensen is home to plenty of fun and games — as well as death, sacrifice and sexual perversion — there have recently been a few large-scale debates about certain aspects of Lisa, and they haven’t all been entirely friendly. The concept of a woman-less apocalypse is being received as well as expected, and Lisa has been labeled “anti-feminist.”
Although his game is igniting several troublesome arguments across the web, Jorgensen is pretty happy with the response. “I love it, because with Lisa, every website is selling it as a world without women, which is true, but it’s also just the backdrop to the game — the game has like… nothing to do with that subject; it’s just the world they live in.” Despite his enthusiasm regarding the response, Jorgensen isn’t aiming to please either side of the debate. “It’s brought so much attention to my game, which I don’t mind at all, but my goal with Lisa is to have no agenda or message; I don’t care about that sort of thing, and I’m not going to preach any side on any issue; at least that’s my goal.” With Lisa, the idea is simply to be fun for the player, and Jorgensen promises a classic experience that will remind older gamers of the glory days, and hopefully spur some excitement in the younger generation as well.
Lisa is by far one of the most interesting projects to make its way to Kickstarter, and one that’s already pulling threads across the internet. It’s an aspiring RPG, a parody of the apocalypse genre and a comedy that, without being too offensive, manages to touch on subjects normally reserved for bathroom stall poetry.
“I just want to make a good game with good gameplay that really makes you care about the characters.”
With Lisa successfully funded, the end of the world is approaching, and it’s going to be filled to the brim with muscles, mustaches, manliness and several mind-numbing choices you’ll likely regret. For all the information you could want, stay glued to Hardcore Gamer as we’ll be covering Lisa through its development and release.