One of the Many Things I get up to in my spare time is helping coordinate the Double Fine Game Club, a community run weekly event where we play through and discuss what we do and don't like about a game (sort of like a book club, but for games), and sometimes we're joined by developers.
Last week, I had the enormous pleasure of conducting (or curating?) a live interview with Ron Gilbert on behalf of Game Club, relaying questions from as many as 90 eager listeners in IRC about The Cave and Ron's career.
For anybody who finds the stream archive of the interview less accessible/searchable/quoteable, I've made this transcript (complete with time indexes). Enjoy!
00:05 Hi, and welcome to the Double Fine Game Club's first session of The Cave!
This week we'll be opening with something a little different, a live chat with The Cave's creator and renowned game developer Ron Gilbert.
I'll be relaying questions from the #DFAdventure IRC channel on Foonetic.net, so hop in and join the discussion!
00:23 Hi, Ron!
Hello, how are you?
Yeah, not too bad. Thank you very much for joining us. We have 40? 50? 60! people in IRC, frantically saying hi, I believe.
00:40 So, to open, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself? You've worked at LucasArts, founded Humongous Entertainment, worked at Hothead, collaborated with Telltale and now today, you're working at Double Fine.
Yep, that would be a pretty good synopsis of everything [laugh]. Yeah. I've been doing games for I guess going on 25 years now. I started working at a company called Human Engineered Software where I made games for the Commodore 64 and then after that, I got the job at LucasArts and worked on a game called Kronis Rift, porting it the Atari 800 to the Commodore 64. And then I went on and did Maniac Mansion with my friend Gary Winnick, and then onto Indiana Jones - we did that game. And then, of course Monkey Island 1 and 2, and then I went off and founded Humongous Entertainment.
01:44 Fantastic. So, how do you feel about the Cave's launch? Do you feel it's gone well? What kind of reception have you had from adventure game fans and the broader industry?
Yeah, I think it's gone pretty well. The fan response to it has been great. I get a lot of email every day from people who are really, really enjoying the game and really appreciate the adventure-game-ness of it all, so yeah, that's been really good.
02:10 Yeah, that's fantastic. Where did the inspiration for The Cave's characters and the Cave's character come from?
You know, the idea is something I've had for a long time. The original idea for The Cave started before I joined LucasFilm, and it was this game about three adventurers that went exploring this sentient, talking cave. Over the years, I've thought about it - ideas popped up in my head and I've changed it a little, but when I started making it a just couple of years ago for real, that's when it changed [from] just being three characters into being seven characters. And those seven characters, I spent about six months or so in the early design, just filling the whiteboard in my office with every possible character that I could think of. Then when Sega came along and the idea was signed and we really started going into the design, I sat down with JP - who was the other designer on the game - and we just went through that list on the whiteboard and we pared it down to the seven characters that are in the game.
03:23 Yeah, cool. In many of your games, bad things happening to side characters as the result of player actions seems to be a bit of a recurring element. What is it that you think makes this appeal to gamers?
Bad things happening? You know, I think there's always, any time you're dealing with any kind of story, any tension is kind of necessary at some level. It's always hard to make really bad things happen to the main character because the player identifies with them quite a bit, so it's going to be easier to have that on the periphery. But you know, with The Cave, one of the things I really wanted to explore was having these characters that just kind of at their core, they were bad people - they were not nice people, and that was kind of a fun thing to creatively play around with.
I imagine it would probably be next week. We're into the review process with Apple, which takes forever for them to get around to doing that. We're in that process now, so I would imagine it's probably going to be next week.
04:45 Goebish in the chat asks for your thoughts on how the Monk and Time Traveler seem to subvert some of the game's "locked door" puzzles.
Ah yeah, that was by design. We wanted to have some of the characters be able to circumvent certain things, and having the Time Traveler be able to teleport through doors, and having the Monk be able to grab things that were out of reach, that was really by design.
To empower players by feeling like they're coming up with their own creative solutions?
Yeah, and you know when you play the game a second or a third time, you find solutions to puzzles that maybe you hadn't found. Maybe you played the monk the first time and you used his ability to get around something, then you play it a second time without the Monk, and now there's a new series of puzzles that you need to solve.
05:41 Yeah. The Cave's character arcs seem to happen almost entirely outside the normal gameplay, in some ways separating character outcomes from the completion of the game itself. With the characters' turning points being so subtle within the game, are you concerned that gamers might miss some of the key aspects of character development?
I'm not really concerned about that, necessarily. There're always these two levels that are happening there's kind of the game itself, you know - running through the game and solving the puzzles, and then at this second layer is all this story and that goes on with them. Some people care about the story, and some people don't, so you want to make it so that people who care about it can explore it and learn about it, and people who don't, don't really need to. You know, I've never been a fan of taking a story in a game and just completely shoving down the player's throat and forcing them to watch it or forcing them to understand it. It should just be something that you can like and enjoy if you want to.
06:53 So, how do you feel about the categorisation of what we typically call adventure games? Do you see them as a distinct genre, or an aspect that can exist in other types of games.
Well, I do see them as a distinct genre, but you know, there are a lot of aspects of adventure games that can be found in other genres. I've always thought of adventure games as being very heavy on storytelling and puzzle solving, but you do see that creep into other games as well. I do see them as a very distinct genre, but it is a genre that's very hard to pin down. It's like, I see a game and I know whether it's an adventure game or not, but I don't know that I can really tell you why. I don't consider LIMBO to be an adventure game. It's a really brilliant game, but I don't consider it an adventure game. It's really hard for me to say why that actually is.
07:52 ReverendGumby in IRC asks what are the chances of finding a hidden section in The Cave.
[laugh] A hidden section? Umm, probably pretty remote.
08:05 Do you feel like you're done with The Cave, or does it have more stories to tell.
Well, I mean, there's kind of an unlimited number of stories because you have those seven characters, and you could do it again with just seven new characters that go into the Cave, so I think there's a lot of room to explore different aspects of different characters going through the Cave.
08:30 salty_horse from IRC asks "What is the secret of The Cave™?"
[laugh] The secret of The Cave? The secret of The Cave... is... not as secret as the secret of Monkey Island.
[pause] I didn't know that they were marked as "series one"...
[laugh] It's a surprise to me! Well, there only are seven characters, so I guess series two would probably be from a sequel if there's ever a sequel to The Cave.
09:11 We'll keep our fingers crossed! Lightprayer on the forums asks what sort of stuff are you likely to be doing in the future?
With The Cave specifically, or just in general?
I think in general, and also jfrisby on IRC asked whether or not you were intending to stay with Double Fine longer term.
You know, The Cave was a fairly long, couple year project, and right now I'm just taking some time off. I always like to take some time off and clear my head and just start thinking about other things before I really figure out what it is I want to do next. So, I won't really focus on any of that until I've got some rest.
09:55 Fair enough. Mimness in IRC says that she was impressed with the gender balance within the game, with half of the characters being female. Was that something you specifically aimed for, or was it something that just happened?
Yeah, that was something that I specifically wanted - to be able to have half male and half female characters. The other thing that I really wanted was there to be seven characters mainly because of Maniac Mansion, and I wanted to call back to that. But because I wanted this equal balance of male and female characters, and there were really seven characters, that's really where the Twins came about, because I could create this little boy and little girl and keep the gender balance the same. So, as we were going through paring the list down... the Twins, we knew they were always going to make it in the game, because they provided that gender balance.
10:55 The Cave seems to separate the notion of players learning lessons from characters learning lessons. How did the choice to take this approach come about?
You know, I think that's just a story thing, about the characters learning the lessons - or not learning the lessons from their journeys into the Cave. But I think players always impart that, I mean any story, whether you're watching a movie or reading a book or playing a game, you are learning something from the story, you know. You're learning it through the characters and what the characters themselves are learning and experiencing. So, you know, in some ways they're kind of intertwined quite a bit.
I haven't had a lot of involvement with that because I've just been completely focused on The Cave, you know, for the last couple of years. So, other than just some very short conversations I've had with Tim about it, I've been mostly focused on The Cave.
12:21 Do you have a favourite character or a least favourite character within The Cave?
Oh! Least favourite character? Wow, nobody asks me that. My favourite character is definitely the Knight. I really like him. I really like the whole castle that he goes into, and I like his story quite a bit, so I think my favourite would probably be the Knight. Least favourite? Umm, you know, I'm going to have to go with the Adventurer.
Any particular reason?
Umm, I don't know. I think that she's kind of a stock character in a way. You know, she's kind of an Indiana Jones a little bit, and maybe she's probably not as interesting. She doesn't have quite the flair that a lot of the other characters have.
13:13 Someone in IRC is asking, "So you write puzzles along with the main story, or does one traditionally come before the other when you make games?"
Well, when doing adventure games, you know, the very first thing I start with is the world. What is the feeling of the world? You know, in The Cave, it was obviously the Cave. In Maniac Mansion, it was that house, you know, that's really where that whole thing started. For Monkey Island, for me, it really started with loving the Pirates of the Carribean ride and just wanting to live in it at some level. So, I always start with the world, and then the next thing that I do is just a general story, for kind of what's going on. You know, maybe like a one page story. For The Cave, it was these quick paragraphs on the characters and who they are and why they're going into the Cave. Then once I have that quick brush of the story, then it's really about fleshing the story out into these kind of main points of the story. Then I assign puzzles to the main points of the story. Then once those main puzzles are attached, then I go through and then start designing all of the sub-puzzles, and then the story and the puzzles just become intertwined at that point.
14:41 Do you write all the puzzles yourself? 14:40
No. You know, it's a very collaborative process, for me. Adventure games specifically, because you're thinking of a lot of puzzle and you really have no idea whether they're going to make sense to anyone else but you, and I think if you design puzzles in a vacuum, you really run the risk of having puzzles that make no sense to a lot of people. So, for The Cave, there was me, and then JP was the lead designer, and then Dave Gardner, he was an animator but he also did design, so it was the three of us and we would sit down and would just do all of the puzzles on a whiteboard. It's really important to be able to bounce the puzzles around and throw out an idea and then people challenge the idea and you kind of work through it, so I think with adventure game puzzles, you really have to design them in somewhat of a collaborative process.
15:38 Lietu in the IRC channel asks, Do you have any interest in developing games in other genres?
DeathSpank. [A game Ron designed whilst at Hothead]
Yeah, I mean DeathSpank was a little bit of an attempt at that, but there still as kind of these adventure game elements to that. I would love to be able to go in and just do a really really good hardcore RPG. I think that would be a lot of fun.
16:14 Brennor in IRC asks if you're already planning your next adventure game.
You know, not really. Like I said, I usually take a lot of time off and clear my head before I start thinking about what I want to do next.
16:31 Somebody is asking if there's any chance that we'll see an iOS version of The Cave.
An iOS version of The Cave? That's something that we're looking at. There are a lot of technical issues and we really want to figure out whether we can do it and have it be something that's really good, high quality stuff, so it's definitely something we're looking at, but haven't made any final decisions.
17:00 Somebody is unabashedly asking what the Secret of Monkey Island™ is.
[laugh] Ah, that Guybrush was really a banana.
You know, I had a feeling. Is it the one that gets fed to the monkey [Jojo Sr.] first?
It all makes sense. If you go back and play the game really carefully, it totally makes sense.
17:20 Have we got any more questions from IRC there? [pause] Tanukitsune says that they read the hermit on the island in The Cave as "Herman".
Yeah, a lot of people have said that, you know - asked me if that is Herman Toothrot. I mean, it's obviously not specifically Herman Toothrot, but a lot of inspiration for that character did come from Herman Toothrot.
That whole section of the game does sort of feel a little bit Monkey Island-ish.
Yeah, it's an island, and there's the pirate flags, and the little pirate den and all that stuff, so that was kind of a little bit of my homage to Monkey Island.
18:06 Who wrote the dialogue for the Cave's voice?
That was done by myself and also Chris Remo - he did a bunch of writing as well, so it was really the two of us.
Yeah, great. And the writing for the other characters as well?
Yeah, all the writing. I wrote most of the NPCs. Umm, I think Chris may have done a little bit of that, but I think I did most of the NPCs and then he and I both wrote the Cave dialogue.
18:51 Somebody asks on IRC, "You're known for story and dialogue. Do you feel like the non-verbal character thing works as a story telling method?"
Well, the reason I wanted to have the characters not talk was I wanted them to be somewhat mysterious. I wanted their reasons for being at the Cave and their reasons for going into the Cave to be a little bit suspect at some level, and if they talked, you know, I just felt that they would be giving away a little too much, and so that was the reason I wanted to have them be these very silent protagonists - or antagonists, depending upon how you look at them.
19:34 Someone in the IRC channel is asking about the "good" and "bad" endings, and whether or not you're concerned with how obvious it is for the player that there are multiple outcomes for the characters.
Well, I kind of specifically didn't want it to be obvious. You know, I wanted the good endings to be something that you actually had to poke around and find. And to me, that really plays into a little bit - the theme of the story is that the characters are on this path for their life or their destiny. And it's easy to just stay on that path in the same way that it's easy to just leave the Cave with the bad ending, and it's slightly harder... not that there's a hard puzzle, but it's harder because it's less obvious that you can actually change and get the good endings. And there's a little bit of metaphor going on there with changing who you are or what you're doing or what path you're heading down, so that's kind of intentional.
20:46 LeMonkey in IRC says, "I like the consistent theme of DEATH in The Cave."
Umm, OK. Good. Yay, me too! [laugh]
20:57 Fireflower asks, "Why a cave?"
Yeah, why a cave? There's a couple of reasons for the Cave. I think caves are just interesting, you know. They're kind of mysterious, they're dark, they're filled with mystery, so that was one reason. I think caves just mean a lot to us as human beings. You know, they were probably our homes for millions of years, and there's just something that we all like and gravitate towards in caves. And, it also harkens back to one of the very first, if not the first adventure game, which was Colossal Cave [Adventure], which was, you know, going in and exploring this cave. So, it's really those two reasons.
21:46 On that note, do you have any adventure games that you admire in the history of adventure games?
History of adventure games. You know, I always enjoyed the Leisure Suit Larry games. I wasn't a huge fan of the Sierra games at the time, but I did really like the Leisure Suit Larry games quite a bit, and I think it was, you know, the humour. Al Lowe's a very funny guy, and its fun to read what he's written and stuff, so I definitely did like the Leisure Suit Larry games.
22:26 Mimness in IRC asks if there's a subtle Plato reference going on, asking whether or not you're trying to sneak some philosophy into The Cave.
[laugh] No, you know, Plato's Cave. The two things are really not related at all. I do get asked that question quite a bit, and I suppose if I was smarter, I would have figured out some way to do that, but they are actually completely unrelated.
Well, you could just say that great minds think alike.
[laugh] If people want to bring that meaning in, of course they're welcome to.
23:07 adaro in IRC asks if you continued to play the Monkey Island games after they were finished.
No, you know, I didn't. And I'm this way with any game. When Monkey 1 and Monkey 2 were done, you know, I didn't play those games again for several years. I mean, it was probably like five years after those games, after we shipped those, before I actually went through and played them again. It's like, I always need space. I can not play The Cave right now, because all I do is I just see everything that I wished maybe I could have done, or every little stupid thing that I wanted to change, and I just need space, and then I can usually go back and play the games and really appreciate what they are.
24:05 Fireflower asks, "Where is the Cave located?" And I suppose "When is the Cave located?" is probably also a good question.
Umm, you know, when the cave is located is actually a really good question, and that's kind of an open ended question. You know, you do have a lot of these strange characters. You have the Knight and the Adventurer and the Twins, and they all come from very separate time periods, it would seem. So, I suppose you could really think about the Cave just kind of existing out of time in some ways.
24:40 Syd in IRC asks, "Moving all characters into place separately is pretty tedious, don't you think? And having to replay the common sections over and over again when trying different characters, too." Would you like to talk a little bit about the reason for not including a "bring everybody together" button.
There's a couple of reasons for not including that. One is it breaks a lot of things, because there are several puzzles that involve one character getting into an area, and then being able to let other characters into areas. If you can just call everybody together, it breaks a lot of those things, or it just involves very complicated AI, and it was one of those things that we kind of looked at... The other thing that we noticed very early on was that people would often want to call characters together when it really wasn't time to do that, and in some ways it became a little more frustrating, because the first instinct is just to call everybody together and then realise "Oh no, I really should have left that person back up there again." So, there were kind of a lot of reasons for not having that feature in.
26:03 Back on the note of leaving some time between playing games, how did it feel to come back together with Tim [Schafer] and Dave [Grossman] to do the commentary for the special edition of Monkey Island.
Yeah, that was a lot of fun, to do that commentary. I'm very good friends with both Tim and Dave, so it's not like the last time we saw each other was back at LucasFilm. I do see both of them a lot, but it was fun to all be in the same room together and joking and having fun again.
If the opportunity to collaborate with those guys again about, would you take it?
Yeah, you know, I've worked with Dave Grossman a little bit - he did work back at Humungous Entertainment. There was a game that I did there called Pajama Sam, and Dave actually did the writing on that game, so I have collaborated with Dave since Monkey Island. Dave is super smart and a super funny guy. He would be a lot of fun to collaborate writing with again at some point.
27:21 A number of people have asked whether or not there are any "easter eggs" in The Cave.
You know, easter eggs are really hard to do these days because of things like the ESRB ratings and the console manufacturers... ever since that whole hot coffee incident, you have to disclose every single solitary thing that can be in a game to the ESRB, and to Microsoft, and to Sony and all the stuff, and it really in some ways has kind of ruined it, because once you do that, that information just gets out. So, I think a lot of those fun times are gone because of that.
The Cave does seem fairly packed with references and homages to other adventure games. Are there any particular favourite bits that you have hiding in there.
Well, there's a fair amount of stuff for Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion. There's right as you're getting into the area with the scientist, there's this pool of water that has the nuclear reactor from Maniac Mansion down in it underwater. There's obviously Chuck the Plant, which you find in the Twins' house. There's also all that Chuck the Flame and all that kind of stuff, so there's definitely references to both Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island.
29:20 Somebody in IRC has asked how long The Cave has been in development for.
Well, you know, the idea's a good 25 years or so, obviously, but I would say the real kind of production was about two years.
29:35 gsm in IRC asks whether or not you're involved in any other of Double Fine's projects, or whether you've been primarily focused on the release of The Cave.
Yeah, I've been focused almost exclusively on The Cave, so I haven't really been involved directly in any of the other things going on there.
29:57 sirhoksu asks what games you're playing right now.
Umm, you know, right now I play a lot of iOS games. Mostly because I spend a lot of time on the train in the morning going to work, and I just find them very conducive to that kind of play stuff. I was playing a game called Pixel People, which I was enjoying quite a bit, but I sort of rage deleted it from my iPad last night because it just kept sending me these stupid push notifications and I could find no way to turn them off. They were irritating me, so I just deleted the whole game. But that was a game I was playing quite a bit and I really liked it. I thought it was a good game.
I played World of Warcraft for quite a while but I stopped playing about a year and a half ago, just because I was getting so busy with The Cave. I didn't really have the time to be raiding three nights a week, but now that The Cave is over, I would probably like to get back into that a little bit. Except my guild has disintegrated, so I'm going to have to find a new guild.
31:04 Computernerd27 asks if The Cave is an existential metaphor for the journey we all go through in life.
[laugh] Yeah, you know, to some degrees, that is true. I think we're all faced with these big decisions at some point that send our life off in one direction or another, and I have kind of thought about what the characters' experience in the Cave to be a little bit about that. You know, what direction are they going to send their lives off in?
31:41 Mimness asks, "Why is the Cave a male?"
Umm, why is the Cave a male. The voice. Umm, you know when we were doing voice casting for it, we had both male and female actors read for it, so we definitely had that, but at the end of the day, we just liked Stephen Stanton's voice. We liked what his voice, and what he brought to the role of it, so we picked him, but I don't think there's any specific reason why the character is male or female. If a cave can actually be male or female.
Somebody is asking if you tried to get Betty White.
[laugh] No, I think she's out of our price range. Unless she's like a huge Monkey Island fan, I think she's out of our price range.
How could she not be?
Yeah, I mean, everybody is, right?
I've never met anybody who isn't.
No, I haven't. I have not been in contact with them yet, but it is definitely something I want to do.
33:02 Yeah, OK. Somebody has asked, "What's with the good and bad endings, and how should a player know that they can get the good ending?" But I think we've already answered that a little bit.
Yeah, I talked a little bit about that - just that I didn't want them to be completely obvious that you could get the good endings. I wanted to reserve those a little bit for the players that poked around a little bit.
33:27 You mentioned before that when you play through games, you see things that you may have wanted to put in, or things that you might not have been happy with. Are there any parts of The Cave that you would have liked to have the opportunity to put in or expand or enhance?
You know, that's a hard question to ask right now. It kinda gets back to why I don't immediately sit down and play my games after they come out. In anything that you do, whether you're writing a book or making a game, there's just so much that you wished could have gone into it that didn't... but you know, in a lot of cases, it's good that that stuff didn't go into it. It's part of the process of doing anything creative, that process of editing is really important. The process of cutting things out is sometimes more important than the process of putting things in. But it's not always completely obvious, you know, when you're done, whether those were good or bad decisions. So yeah, there were a bunch of things that I wished could have gone into the game, but I think at the end of the day, it probably didn't matter whether they were in there or not. Only time will tell.
34:50 Are there any aspects that you're currently feeling particularly proud of?
On The Cave? Umm, yeah, although I didn't have any direct involvement in it, I really like the art. I think the artists did an amazing job with that, and all the art and everything that I think is really good. I'm pretty happy with the puzzles and stuff. I really like the seven characters that we arrived at, except the adventurer. I think they're all kind of interesting and one of the things I really wanted to explore with the game was having these characters kind of be bad people at some level, and I was a little bit worried about whether that was going to turn people off too much or not, but it doesn't seem to have at all, so I'm very pleased with that.
35:49 People seem pretty happy with it. DrSpaceman asks what class you play in WoW.
[laugh] I play two different classes. I play a Shaman which I mainly heal with, and then I play a Warlock when I'm doing DPS.
36:09 adaro asks if you feel that The Cave is selling well, and yama asks whether or not Linux sales are doing well.
Ah, the Linux stuff... Well, Steam kind of merges all sales together, because when you buy something on Steam, you don't buy the Linux version or the Mac version, you just buy The Cave, and then you can download it, any of those versions - which I think it's really great that they do that. So, it's kinda hard to break out the individual sales of the different versions, and the Linux version just came out last week, so I don't know that we have any real numbers on that kind of stuff, but it's done fabulously well on Steam, so that's been really great.
37:00 Would you say that it's done better on PC than it has on consoles?
Yeah, it's actually done extremely well on the PC, and I think some of that is just that we're kind of at the end of the console lifecycle. The console machines have been out for quite a while now and you have sales on them and they're just slowly going down for everything. But the Wii U, I mean it's just done incredibly well on the Wii U, which I think is also just an indication that - it's a brand new console, so people are actively playing it.
37:40 hypro asks whether or not you can talk a little bit about Buddha, the engine used for The Cave.
I can't really talk directly to it. You know, the engine was created for Brutal Legend, and obviously I wasn't around for that. And I didn't do any programming on The Cave, which is kind of rare for me because I love to program, but I didn't do any programming on The Cave, so I haven't had any direct involvement with the engine. Actually, that's not true. I did do work on the Mac App Store version of the game. I did do some programming on that, but I haven't had a lot of direct involvement in the engine. I mean, it seems really great. The programmers were able to get things up and running very, very quick, so it seems to be a great engine.
I don't know specifically why it's happening now as opposed to previously or in the future. In some ways, I think it's just a resource thing - there's only so many people, and there's a lot of stuff to do.
39:06 A lot of people are pleading for a Cave sequel. Do you think there are good chances of that happening?
Umm, you know, I don't know. I really don't know at all whether the chances are good or bad. When I get done making something - I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I'm usually just so sick of it by the time I'm done with it that I don't want to have anything to do with it. Kind of the one exception to that was Monkey Island 2, because I rolled just immediately from Monkey Island 1 into Monkey Island 2, but to me there was this much larger story there - it was all kind of one big entity to me, which made a lot of sense. Yeah, I mean, I think it would be fun to do a Cave sequel, but until I've had some time away from it, it's hard to say.
40:04 mrwonko asks, "If you were to do another Monkey Island, or just do sequels in general, would you be concerned about living up to expectations?"
Yeah, that's always a concern. I mean, especially with a game like Monkey Island. You know, it's had almost 20 years of nostalgia put on it, and going back and doing another one of those... I think it would be fun to do - I think it would be a fun challenge, but I think it would be a real challenge to live up to people's expectations on that. You know, if I do another Monkey Island, I've always wanted it to be a very standard point-and-click adventure game because I think it really deserves that kind of treatment, but even if you look at Monkey Island, there's a lot of people who love the art from Monkey Island 3, and then there's a lot of people that don't like the art from Monkey Island 3, and it's like, well, if I was to do another one, would I follow the art style from Monkey Island 3? Would I do a different art style that was more of what I had in my head, or would I go back and do it kind of old school, you know, pixel version? There's a lot of interesting creative decisions to be made on that, but they will not please all the people. There will always be a chunk of people who will completely disagree with whatever decision I was to make about that, so I mean it's an interesting challenge to be faced with.
You know, I did like his portrayal of him quite a bit. People have asked me was that the voice that I had imagined, and I really had never imagined a voice for Guybrush. Because, back when Monkey Island was made, the idea of having... speech in the games was just not something we even remotely thought of, so I really had not put a voice onto him at all. But I did like his portrayal of Guybrush though, yeah.
Yeah, I was really happy with the Special Editions. I don't know that I necessarily liked the art. It's probably not what I would have done art-wise for the games, but I mean, I didn't think it was horrible - I just don't think it was kind of the direction that I probably would have taken with it. But I think it's great that they did them, you know, because there are a lot of people who had heard of Monkey Island, but had'd never played it because you really can't - unless you want to go to ScummVM and play it, there really isn't a place that you can play that game. So people had heard of it, but they'd never actually played it. And, the special editions gave a chance for a lot of people to go play that game, who had never played it before.
At this point, the stream cut out, though Ron and I continued to talk for a few more minutes covering his favourite programming languages, what game he's most proud of. Here are some notes that I managed to jot down as soon as I discovered that some stuff had been lost.
Thanks for reading!
After the interview was over, we streamed a portion of The Cave, whilst Ron hung around in IRC and joined the discussion. IRC logs, and links to the game and interview streams can be found in the first post of this thread on the Double Fine forums.
I'd like to extend a huge thanks to Ron for giving up a couple of hours of his time to join us, as well as Greg Rice and Chris Remo for helping out with promoting game club and putting us in touch with Ron, and everyone who participated in the discussion and asked questions.
Syd, Fireflower, Mimness (who diligently fed me questions from IRC throughout the interview) and newcomer Alphatt all deserve a special mention as well for their ongoing input and committment to keeping Game Club going.
As I imagine is probably evident, this was my first live interview. It was definitely a challenge to pace and balance my attention between Ron and keeping an eye on the steady stream of questions. In hindsight, I would have been better off with a few more of my own questions to pad things out, and I definitely don't feel like I responded enough to Ron's answers. It was a joy to do though, and Ron's answers were fantastic (which is what matters).
This interview was conducted as a part of the Double Fine Game Club's first session of The Cave on the 23rd of January 2013.