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If I Made Another Monkey Island (2013) (grumpygamer.com)
283 points by denisw on Aug 13, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 86 comments

Was actually rather surprised to find that he didn't like MI3 (Curse of)! While I definitely loved MI1 and 2, I actually call MI3 my favorite one. (4 was pretty bad, I couldn't get through even the first 20% of the game)

It takes getting used to the art style, but I felt like 3 really hit the spot with the humor, puzzles, voice-acting (!) and even mostly doing away with verbs (something he stated that he wanted). I totally get that there is a certain charm in 1 and 2 that isn't in 3 because of the major differences in art style. I just feel that 3 is such a strong game that shouldn't be overlooked. If I had to criticize it, I would just say that the last act (or two?) falls short. When the theme park part starts, it felt like they just wanted to rush to finish the game. The rollercoaster ride at the end as the boss battle was also lacking. Though, it was actually structurally quite similar to the final battle in MI2.

It is not really a matter of liking it or not, but just that it is an entirely different game.

Other people took the licence and did their own thing with it.

They disregarded many elements of MI 1&2.

There was always an ambivalence between Guybrush being a pirate or a kid playing at being a pirate. In MI3 this has completely disappeared (the different art style also prevents us from having an ambiguous look). Guybrush being trapped in the carnival (or sent back home) is also evacuated in the first minute of the game.

It does not make it a bad game, but certainly one that does not really offer a continuation of the first 2 games and is more interested in doing its own thing.

That's perfectly fine but I am curious to see what RG would do with MI3

I'm lukewarm on 3 because it's got that feeling of "made by fans" instead of original ideas coming from the original minds. So you see repeats of insult swordfighting, the lazy crew that do nothing once you put to sea, etc.

Murray and the "A Pirate I was Meant to Be" song are both great, though.

Dueling banjos were also great.

MI3 is a good adventure game in its own right, but it's a very different flavor of MI than the first two, which are decidedly more literary/surreal/sardonic.

To elaborate, MI 1 and 2 can very much be seen as the glorified daydream of a child imagining himself to be a pirate. (There are certainly some books that play with this sort of thing, but I'm not remembering them at the moment. Pan's Labyrinth and Sucker Punch are movies in this vein.) Hence the zaniness of the world, and Guybrush having little personality of his own beyond a naive aspiration and a certain wit--he's a sort of surrogate for the player. The ending of MI2 suggests this is very much the case, but leaves it ambiguous. An MI3 by Gilbert would undoubtedly have continued along these lines.

CMI pretty much eschews the MI-as-daydream idea altogether in favor of MI as a sort of off-Disney world/production, meant to be taken at face value, with Guybrush becoming more of a character in his own right rather than a player surrogate.

He didn't say he didn't like it.

He just said it wasn't his game, in the sense that it wasn't his way of continuing the story, and that he'd like to pick off where he left of after MI2.

Given the tone of Gilbert's post I'm not sure he would have been pleased with any version of MI3 that wasn't his.

Not another Monkey Island game (unfortunately). This is from 2013. After that Ron crowdfunded and built Thimbleweed Park (www.thimbleweedpark.com), an old school adventure game using some (not all) of these ideas. I played it and it is just as great as the best old ones.

From time to time Ron complains that Disney wouldn't sell him the rights to Monkey Island. The only reason I believe he doesn't build one more.

Edit: he kept the verbs in Thimbleweed Park and compromised a little in the tutorial (there is an easy mode).

eh...I bought and played Thimbleweed. It's cute. The artwork is really pretty. The characters are funny. The music is fun and I do enjoy the soundtrack.

The story .. I'm not going to spoil it for anyone. You should play it if you're a fan of old sucmmVM/sierra games. They poke fun at the whole genre. It's pretty cute and I was really into it at first. But it devolves into a weird meta/introspective thing and I felt the writing to a bit lazy.

Telltale has really helped bridge the adventure game into the modern era. I feel like Thimbleweed was a step back.

Telltale has morphed into "Choose Your Own Adventure" style stories. Very well executed, but they feel less like games to me than something like Thimbleweed Park.

I feel the best example of an 'adventure game of the modern era' is Broken Age (by Tim Schafer with Doublefine). It's a very modern take on the whole genre, and not a 'choose your own adventure' type of thing

I really loved the first half of Broken Age and felt let down by the second. The puzzles were the perfect difficulty in the first, the artwork was amazing, the characters captivating.

The second half didn't have very many new locations, the puzzles turned insanely hard and the story made no sense at all with super weird and nonsensical reveals. It's sad because the art, music and production value were way up there. Still glad I bought it.

A much needed step back!

thanks - I loved these games as a kid - havent been following Ron in a long time - but will now have my next weekend's entertainment lined up!

I must say, MI didn't age well.

The humor was pretty awesome back then, but now it just feels awkward all the time :/

I thinkk it is more that you aged, rather than the game. It's great puerile teen-age humor about bodily fluids, zombies, pirates wrapped in a picaresque coming of age story -- the perfect mix for a nerdy teenager, not so much for a cynical middle-aged seen-it-all...

Could be, but I know a bunch of old games that are still fun today. A Link to the Past, Fallout, Super Mario World, Tetris, Bomberman...

Your first comment was about the humor of MI being awkward now. Outside of Fallout, none of the games you listed have much writing in them, let alone humor. They are all still great* because they have such tight gameplay.

* Love Fallout, but it's probably the hardest game to go back to out of the list you gave.

Agree, Fallout is too slow for today's standards, the same way old movies are slow

Having recently forced my partner to play through both MI1 and MI2, I must disagree. We played the fan-created hack which is the original SCUMM version but with the full voice from the remastered version hacked on top, and it's super great. We laughed. A lot.

Why the hack? I think you can switch to the old graphics in the remastered version. Or does that switch voices too?

Yes, you can't have the voices with the old graphics in MI1 Special Edition so you need the hack. Unfortunate oversight since I think many people would like to enjoy it that way. I believe they made it possible in the MI2 remaster but never changed this for the first one.

It does switch voices. But also we were playing on a platform not supported by the remastered version, so we needed to use ScummVM anyway.

I didn't even know this existed! Link? Or even just a good search term??

How appropriate! You fight like a cow!

My perception of the humor is still colored from when I beat the game as a child, so I guess that's something to keep in mind when I say that I still thought the whole thing was wonderful when I played through the special edition a couple of months ago.

I played through it for the first time with the remake. Not always laugh out loud funny, but some bits were so witty and creative I loved it (the sword fighting bit was great).

Thimbleweed Parks' website claims there's an Android version. Is that the case?

Not yet. From the home page:

> Avaliable now on Windows, Mac, Xbox One, and Linux. iOS, Android, and other platforms will follow soon after.

I was really, really happy, though, that Linux is supported. The gaming situation on Linux has improved a lot over the years, but the number of available titles is still far behind Windows.

Oh, tsk. I read that carelessly as one list and missed that period after "linux."

Not all that directly related, but if you like these old adventures and don't know it yet then check out ScummVM! It's an open source project allowing you to play all these games on more or less any modern device (including Linux, Android, iOS etc.)

They also have a few awesome games freely available under http://scummvm.org/games/, for example "Beneath a Steel Sky" (which I'm playing right now, probably for the fourth time or so ;)) or "Flight of the Amazon Queen".

I played Beneath a Steel Sky entirely on ScummVM. Fun little indie game. It's kinda amazing the story telling that's possible with that engine. My favorite LucasArts adventure game from that era would be a toss up between The Dig and Full Throttle.

It isn't an indie game though. It was made by Revolution Software (known for Broken Sword) and was published by Virgin Interactive.

I love that game so much. So ahead of its time.

Be Vigilant!

There are also some "experimental" engines, like one for Myst and Riven that make running those games on modern systems much simpler.

Also, there's a sister project called ResidualVM, which covers Grim Fandango, Monkey Island 4, and Myst 3: Exile.

I used to play the Space Quest series. I think it should be made into a movie or series of TV shows. You are a janitor, but not a very good one, but they can't replace you because you are in space. Your broom drifts out of the cargo hold into space, etc.

Red Dwarf borrowed a lot from it I am sure. Instead of a Janitor, they are Vending Machine Repairmans or whatever, but it has the same element of humor in it.

> Fifteen - It would have full voice. It's something we dreamed of back then and we can do it now.

Eh, I don't know. I've never been a fan of voice acting in adventure games. You often have to repeat dialogues and stuff. Voice acting time costs, so it always puts constraints on the content that walls of text don't. Plus voice-over dictates speed in a way reading does not.

Some good ambient-matching tunes and occasional sound effects are all it needs.

The other points sound like a great non-plan though.

Tangentially related - it's a f#cking shame and tragedy that Disney pulled MI1 and MI2 from Apple Store. Those are fantastic remakes of the original.

Disney made the same mistake with Avengers action figures. They didn't have a Black Widow action figure because they claimed it would interfere with their Frozen action figures that are female and that girls don't like comic book movies anyway. After some protesting, they made a Black Widow action figure.

MI competes with their TPOTC (The Pirates of the Carribean) properties.

It is really hard to figure out how Disney makes their decisions as they don't let the public know what they are doing. But if I was in charge of Disney I'd have a series of MI games, and a cartoon series based on it as well on DisneyXD. But that is why I am not in charge of Disney.

Institutional incompetence or some stupid "Disney Vault"-like reason?

Disney will close the MI door and lose the key, to never look back. They don't want it to compete with their main pirate-themed franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean.

But I would love if they called Ron, and in some future movie, they introduced a young pirate-wannabe, Guybrush. That would be great, and would put in good use their MI IP. And maybe then, we would get a new game.

Uncharted 4 had a little nod to MI

Maybe, like many others, the sales didn't justify the cost of constantly fixing the apps just to stay in the Red Queen's race of yearly iOS update breakage.

There have been numerous articles pointing out the similarities between the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise and Monkey Island. Perhaps they felt they didn't benefit from the comparison.

Both PotC and Monkey Island draw heavy inspiration from Tim Powers' book "On Stranger Tides". If you loved either of those then maybe go read it.

(I can't be arsed to find a citation for it but I've seen either Ron Gilbert or Tim Schaefer explicitly mention OST as an inspiration for Monkey Island, and Disney went so far as to loosely adapt it for the fourth PotC film.)

But with no verbs how would you do the gag from Monkey Island where the verbs change for the parrot?!


(I kid; the verbs are mostly superfluous, as "look" and "use" basically cover all the options, but I really do fondly remember the verb-changing gag above...)

> I wouldn't raise huge sums of money or break any records

This guy would raise a ton of money, even if that wasn't his goal and didn't try to oversell anything. His history in making games speaks too much for itself.

Look at how much money Star Citizen raised, largely due to nostalgia and reputation of the Wing Commander games.

"It doesn't need 3D. Yes, I've seen the video, it's very cool"

Anybody know what he's talking about? edit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bInZ7_y4Lw most likely

Looks awesome, is there any first person 3D point and click adventure? I only know the very old Normality but otherwise I'm not aware of any game that follows the "classic" adventure approach... Firewatch is cool but there are not many real puzzles.

I will throw money in his direction to make any version of monkey island he pleases. I loved monkey island 2 so much. I'm old now and actually got monkey island free with our first Creative sound blaster 2 Soundcard. The games after that just didn't have the same humour and the graphics were overdone. I'm guessing if he hasn't made it by now though then it isn't going to happen :(

Sounds like he got to do most of those things in Thimbleweed Park - https://thimbleweedpark.com/

It sound like much more than "thinking and dreaming", he thought about quite concrete points like the number of people being part of the team or the kind of tools he'd use. The only thing holding him back seems to be the IP issue.

I'd add an eighteenth point to the list, if Ron would agree :

It wouldn't include puzzles that require to be a part of a particular culture, or speak a particular language, to solve.

I'm specifically thinking of the "Monkey wrench" puzzle from Monkey Island 2. Let's just say that as a kid, playing the French version of the game, getting past that part of the game was quite frustrating.

>I'm specifically thinking of the "Monkey wrench" puzzle from Monkey Island 2. Let's just say that as a kid, playing the French version of the game, getting past that part of the game was quite frustrating.

Touchè for the german one. Years later I finally understood the joke behind the puzzle after finding out the english/americans call that specific tool a monkey wrench. In germany we call it "engländer" (->english man) but it seems that sometimes or in someparts of germany they call it "franzose" (-> french man)...

"Four - It would be a hardcore adventure game driven by what made that era so great. No tutorials or hint systems or pansy-assed puzzles or catering to the mass-market or modernizing. It would be an adventure game for the hardcore. You're going to get stuck. You're going to be frustrated. Some puzzles will be hard, but all the puzzles will be fair."

Difficult, in the age of the ubiquitous walk-through. You'd need to introduce randomization so that each instance of the game was unique, but even then, sites can describe methods of finding the solution.

I don't agree on that. Of course, if someone wants to bypass a puzzle they can, but that's not the spirit in which I read the "no tutorials or hint systems" bit. What he's really offering is the option for the player to elect to never see hints and training, and puting the constraint on himself that he has to use gameplay and good design to explain the problems and not beat you over the head with the solution.

I believe his goal is not to make it more fun by making the "finished this game" more exclusive, but rather make it more fun by designing it to be intrinsically fun for the audience he's targetting.

There were walkthroughs of Monkey Island back then too - nothing new there. I know I needed them.

But it's like cheats; you could use them, but the game wasn't intended to be played like that.

I think that's part of what makes roguelikes so popular right now. While there's general guidelines, each run's strategy will be different depending on what's available and choices made.

> catering to the mass-market

Instead Thimbleweed Park is full of references and caters to nostalgia. "Remember X? Wasn't that funny?" Yeah I do remember X, that's why I bought this game that nobody who doesn't remember X would ever buy except by accident.

> If I used Kickstarter, there would be no fancy videos of me trying to look charming (as if I could). No concept art or lofty promises or crazy stretch goals or ridiculous reward tiers. It would be raw and honest. It would be free of hype and distractions that keep me from making the best game I could. True, I wouldn't raise huge sums of money or break any records, but that's not what I want to do. I want to make a game.

Whoa, a jab at Double Fine? In the documentary they made a big deal about how Ron Gilbert leaving was a simple change of plan and not because he was unhappy with anything at all. This seems to belie this (as if we didn't know already but still).

I love that he dumps on the art style of the games after MI2. That was the main reason why i never touched any of those.

MI3 was pretty great, despite the change in style.

That man wants to make that game so bad.

"I would lose the verbs. I love the verbs, I really do, and they would be hard to lose, but they are cruft. It's not as scary as it sounds. I haven't fully worked it out (not that I am working it out, but if I was working it out, which I'm not, I wouldn't have it fully worked out). I might change my mind, but probably not. Mmmmm... verbs."

Signature Monkey Island writing style . Ron Gilbert wrote one of the greatest all time scripts - one can read the entire game here: https://www.gamefaqs.com/pc/562681-the-secret-of-monkey-isla...

>>> The only way I would or could make another Monkey Island is if I owned the IP.

Ron is a creative mind, and he proved his value to society (gamers of course, he didn't cure cancer after all).

Reading this paragraph on IP is so disheartening.

First, note that the article is from 2013, before Thimbleweed Park was conceived. Or maybe he had the seeds, the returned urge to write an adventure game again as he wrote this blog, as the Kickstarter was announced in 2014?

> Three - It would be a retro game that harkened back to Monkey Island 1 and 2. I'd do it as "enhanced low-res". Nice crisp retro art, but augmented by the hardware we have today: parallaxing, depth of field, warm glows, etc.

Much of this was Thimbleweed Park's style. It does have both "enhanced low res" pixel art and paralllax too; as part of the very first scenes, no less! I don't think it has DOF effects though, maybe it was deemed they didn't help once he got an actual retro game in front of him?

> Five - I would lose the verbs. I love the verbs, I really do, and they would be hard to lose, but they are cruft.

These were strangely in Thimbleweed Park though, and even from early alpha/beta screenshots. I wonder if they were always there. He must have changed his mind early on. What's weird is that TP doesn't even have the reduced verb set found in later LucasArts games? It's the full, clunky 180 of what he wrote here! I think only three are actually essential: "Act", "Look", "Combine". "Acting" on a door opens/closes it, acting on a light switch turns it on, acting on a person talks to him/her, acting on a book in a bookshelf reads it... Looking is always passive, for descriptions. Combining is to combine items in your inventory to contraptions.

Otherwise he nails a lot of those points in TP. He did rewrite SCUMM, he did introduce humorous conversations, juicy pixelated inventories, use a small team, and even used Monkey Island cameos.

I've had this theory that Thimbleweed Park is secretely played in the Monkey Island universe. I wish that was true, but alas the in my opinion a bit too Gilbertesque ending kinda disqualifies it for that. If it weren't for that, there is a "G <3 E" (Guybrush <3 Elaine) in the elevator, you find a Navigator's Head, etc. It's also been theorized that Thimbleweed Park has an ending originally envisioned for "his" Monkey Island 3 since it would go well along with similar fourth wall breaking in that game, but Gilbert has expicitly said that he wouldn't reuse such an MI3 ending for a different game.

I think TP wasn't really a financial smash hit so I have my doubts we'll ever see MI3 unless Disney on a whim donates him the rights. Maybe then, because Kickstarter funding would obviously be no problem that time? He'd also have his new adventure game engine to build upon. It's a shame Disney is so closed up and uncommunicative like a clam about those rights that has seemingly little relevance to their current works.

> Combining is to combine items in your inventory to contraptions.

Combining is also just acting with you selecting an object first.

Daedalic removed the verbs entirely, and made left mouse button act, right button look.

To combine, you click on an inventory item, and then on another item or object.

To talk, you click on a person.

To flip a switch, you click it.

To look at stuff, you can always right-click.

Daedalic has made many games in the spirit of the old Lucasarts games, and been very successful. And demonstrated you don't need verbs in the game.

The bulk of adventure games use the 'single cursor' control scheme these days; Daaedalic is not the first.

Daedalic actually was the first, they've done it in basically all their games. And they do it very well, which is why I mentioned it.

As a company, Daedalic has only been a company for 10 years. Here are some games older than 10 years that use a 'single cursor' interface:

King's Quest 7 from 1994

Zork Grand Inquisitor from 1997

The Longest Journey from 1999

Blackwell Legacy from 2006

Pretty much, this has been the standard interface for most P&C games since the mid 90s.

> I've had this theory that Thimbleweed Park is secretely played in the Monkey Island universe. I wish that was true, but alas the in my opinion a bit too Gilbertesque ending kinda disqualifies it for that.

Consider the two brothers from the end of Monkey Island 2. Suppose Chucky grew up to be Uncle Chuck, which would make Franklin the older version of the kid imagining to be Guybrush.

I thought that some of these points were digs at how the Broken Age kickstarter went and how that game was compromised on so many levels by modernisation until I've read the date.

Broken Age was good, though. Not extraordinary, but good. I wouldn't say that the old PACAs were a lot better. But maybe I like story more than most.

You might be right. The Kickstarter for Broken age was February 8, 2012, this article was written Apr 14, 2013, while Gilbert was working on The Cave at Double Fine. I wouldn't say it was a dig at Broken Age (or that Broken Age was compromised by modernization), but it is an expression of his preference for a different path, and laid the groundwork for what he chose to do with Thimbleweed Park.

This post is from 2013, maybe add this to the title?

That font..brings back nice memories

I think he used this one, or a close relative? http://style64.org/c64-truetype

He's making another Monkey Island?!

I can't seem to find the kickstarter link.


edit: found in "Final Hours!" Blog post from Dec 17, 2014

> I'd do it as "enhanced low-res". Nice crisp retro art, but augmented by the hardware we have today

I think we now refer to that as "pixel graphics".

Tooth and Tail has this style http://www.toothandtailgame.com/

That looks amazing. However I am not sure how it plays, it says RTS, there are some building in the videos but it looks more like a diablo style hero-focused gameplay.

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