Thimbleweed Park Podcast #16

by Ron Gilbert
Jul 31, 2015

Mark Ferrari joins us and talks about his personal quest for the happy pixel.

You can also subscribe to the Thimbleweed Park Podcast RSS feed if that's 'your thing'.

- Ron

TR. - Jul 31, 2015 at 10:07
Yeah, Germany! ;-P

Sushi - Jul 31, 2015 at 10:10
And Ransome's first name is Richard?!? :D

dada - Aug 01, 2015 at 12:47
Richard Aholeace

dada - Aug 01, 2015 at 12:48

(dunno how the ace got in acethere)

Mattias Cedervall - Jul 31, 2015 at 10:40
I do think that the voice actor playing Mark Ferrari did a good job and should be in a Disney movie. :-)

DuphusDigital - Jul 31, 2015 at 10:43
How many LucasArts/Terrible Toybox logos have you semi-hidden in the games yet?

conradson - Jul 31, 2015 at 11:17
Great podcast, glad to hear Mark Ferrari (both versions).

Swedish fan of The Eagle's - Jul 31, 2015 at 11:43
Two things I want to mention:

(1): It was cool to hear how Mark used photoshop for this. Consider doing a more in-depth look at how Mark and Gary uses photoshop to do this. I really like to hear what tools you use, like Mark did here (because I would love to learn).

(2): Ron you write in the update to the previous post, that there are about 2000 usable book titles in the comments. Making a even more massive library that goes way up in the sky (to the vanishing point-ish) could be great. But if that dosent work out, then consider making a randomizer-thingee in placement of book titles. Like the one you used in placing your names in the credits for Indy3... or atleast that is what I think I read somewhere, that you used a randomizer, so that it wasnt just one of you three designers who was always first. Because I found at least 1000 book titles I found great in the comments.

Ron Gilbert - Jul 31, 2015 at 11:45
I'd like to get all the (non-bad) book titles in the game and a comically tall occult bookstore sounds like a lot of fun to me!

Bobe - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:10
You're awesome.  It's too good a gag to pass up.

man with cat - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:25
yes it is. And the taller it gets the funnier. Especially if it looks like a small building from the outside. But that is what makes it occult i guess  ;-)

Arto - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:38
That's actually a fun idea if the store would be really small building from the outside, and reeeeeally tall inside.

Peter Campbell - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:44
It is an occult book store, it'd make sense for it to not make sense lol

Arto - Aug 01, 2015 at 11:48
It's like the comments in this blog. At first you have no idea how deep the nested comments can go.

Mattias Cedervall - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:38
Non-bad? That confirms my books won't be in there! :-( Unless you, Ron, know that "bad" is the new "good" and you should feel sorry for me because I don't have that many books in my shelf Billy the kid from IKEA (blatant product placement I don't get paid for because I'm Swedish so it's about patriotism).

Dan - Jul 31, 2015 at 18:55
I agree. Moreover to know that there are all the "non-bad" book titles at the same time in the game would be a special motivation for poking around hoping for finding one's own suggestion.

Dan - Aug 01, 2015 at 09:08
I'm happy to see the paraphernalia in the store's wireframe artwork! Some occult decorations and especially a dimmed room illumination (e.g. with oil lamps and candlesticks) would be very conducive to the atmosphere in the bookstore. The voodo houses in Monkey Island could be a good inspiration for it.

Dan - Aug 01, 2015 at 09:32
What about making the shop assistant checking the genuineness of your money in cash with a pendulum when you buy a book?

Dominik - Aug 01, 2015 at 15:09
Really looking forward to a comically tall occult book store :-)

Here are two suggestions:

1. When you get the quest to find this one specific book, how about your character mutters something like "Well, how hard can it be?" And then the screen scrolls up all the way (if there are really 2.000+ good titles than i roughly estimate the shop to be 15 to 20 screens high!!).

2. There should by some funny features in this gigantic tall tower. Like bird nests, birds flying around. Perhaps clouds? The birds could also be part of a puzzle-step. Like getting attracting them and making them crap all over the shop keeper to get rid of her for a moment while she changes. (She could also have a huge number of color-changed outfits)

Question though: How will one travel all the way up to look at the book titles?

man with dinosaur - Aug 03, 2015 at 07:17
1) and when the screen is at the top (of the book case, after "how hard can it be" is uttered)  lightning should flash

Ashley B - Aug 02, 2015 at 21:27
Actually for me, I'd prefer that the top X were used, so that the people whose entries got used get the thrill that theirs was considered by Ron and Gary to be worthy.  That way, if one of mine is used, when I come across it in the game, I can feel elated by it.  And if not, I'll know that there are people out there who experienced that thrill.   I will still be elated to see any of mine (under the 3-guys-who-publish-anything philosophy) but will never know if they got a genuine lol or smile.  Which I would know if the top X were used.  I guess X would be around 50-100.

But I can understand this view being in the minority rather than the majority.

Mattias Cedervall - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:00
I dislike the idea of random book titles! Ursäkta mig. That's Swedish and it means "Excuse me.".

Tommy Wiseau - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:21
Oh, hi Mark

Peter Campbell - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:41
"You are tearing me apart, Lisa!"

Stefano E. - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:29
Ron, Gary, David, and Mark: thank you for really making this dev blog a great entertaining and learning experience. There's something extremely satisfying in asking questions in the comments and see that actually you spend time to respond or talk about it in podcasts. For someone like me who grew up playing your games, this is priceless!

Mattias Cedervall - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:40
I agree!

Zuckerberg - Aug 01, 2015 at 08:28
Yes, thanks guys!

Paulup - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:40
The opening high pitched "it's reeeeally me" by Mark had me in tears. Well played guys.
That also sounded a lot like the owl's voice in King's Quest 5, so I suspect Mark did secret voice-over work for the competition back in the day.

"The Void" sounds a lot like "the cornfield" in that Twilight Zone episode where the kid can banish people to a kind of purgatory.

Observation: the way Ron pronounces "walk box" sounds a LOT like how Fozzy Bear from the Muppets says "wakka wakka wakka" (maybe it's the same accent or whatever).
I therefore suggest renaming the walk boxes as "wakka wakka boxes".

Mattias Cedervall - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:59
Ron, please delete this comment that I forgot to make in the old post, but "Poletergeist dancing - by The Sexorcist" should be "
Poletergeist Dancing - by The Sexorcist". A big "D" makes the difference. It's a pun based on Pole Dancing. This comment will self-destruct in eight years if Ron click the delete button. I apologize!

Mattias Cedervall - Jul 31, 2015 at 13:18
Ron, have you ever considered writing a sitcom? I seriously think it would be great (like Seinfeld)!

Frank - Jul 31, 2015 at 13:46
Is it possible to die in Thimbleweed Park (like Guybrush in the water) ???

smartypants - Jul 31, 2015 at 16:53
The guy under the bridge looked dead to me.

Frank - Jul 31, 2015 at 18:21
But it's not possible to select him! (I mean: to play him)

Gary Winnick - Jul 31, 2015 at 19:30
However you can play Franklin, and he is dead....As far as potential death for other - living- characters
we're still figuring out some of those nuances....

Frank - Aug 01, 2015 at 17:27
Thank you, Gary. I mean in the sense of "loosing the game", like in Maniac Mansion (to be more concret, some kind of Game Over). For example (it's maybe also interesting for David). I recently finished "Zak Mc Kracken" and the alien Mindbenders. I played it via GOG on my Macbook, useing ScummVM. I was nearly at the end and I was on Mars. I realised that I crashed the egg in the Microwave, and that was the reason I couldn't get the Oxygen Tank, so I had the problem with Zak on Mars, leaving to the Spaceshuttle. The possible solution would be that Zak goes back to earth, goes to the airplane and tries to get the Oxygen Tank, without the egg. But it's not possible, because the Stewardess is catching you all the time. So this is a kind of death in the game, or a kind of game over, so I had to load a gameplay from the Internet, at the exactly same position, that I was in the game (shame on me) and finish with this gameplay, because it was otherwhise impossible to finish. Maybe you can ask David, maybe he knows a solution. I was really worried after finishing Zak. That was the reason of my question. I don't like Splatter Ego Shooter.... :D

Dominik - Jul 31, 2015 at 13:49
Hey guys! Great to hear from you again! So mark is -probably- real... But this other dude how alledgedly helps Ron with the programming Sounds fishy to me ;-)

Thank you for the great opportunities to participate so far!
- Puzzle Design (Sewer access)
- Character Design (Delores)
- Dialogs (Drinking Fountain)
- Jokes (Book titles)

If I didn't knew better I would think Ron tries to sneak-teach us game Design 101!

But honestly: It has been so much fun already - time really flies by!

PSA: And now - an inconvenient truth: Perk upgrade and Team page still sorely missing! :-)

Have fun in Germany Ron - and a good flight!

Frank Einstein - Aug 01, 2015 at 11:33
Yes, participating in the design really makes one look much more forward to it, compared to more passive looking at the design progressing (as with other kickstarter funded games)

Arto - Jul 31, 2015 at 16:31
We now heard Mark, but, now that I think of it, I have been aware of existence of Ron, Gary, David and Mark for over 25 years, but never met them. So. I'm quite certain that George Lucas somehow came across an AI system which created these characters, that in turn created the games. Which is plausible, as no human could develop such great games.

Which reminds me of two of my favourite theories/stories.
1. If technology ever evolves to a state where we could simulate whole universes, and there would be two simultaneous simulations, the possibility of us being in simulation is greater than the possibility that we would exist in blood and flesh.

Arto - Jul 31, 2015 at 17:37
Lucas ARtificial Tale System, I think is was later called. But, like HAL and Skynet, it went rogue.

Arto - Jul 31, 2015 at 18:44
Could this technology (from Pro Evolution Soccer 2016) be applied to faces (and faces alone)?
Would be comical.

Peter Campbell - Jul 31, 2015 at 20:23
It's pretty amazing just how dynamic the game is becoming compared to what was previously planned out with the initial kickstarter pitch, from voice acting to Mark Ferrari's art style to dialog trees and so forth.

Mattias Cedervall - Jul 31, 2015 at 20:58
Seckrit info: It will now be converted to 3D!

Zombocast - Aug 01, 2015 at 02:36
Both a dick and an asshole, I just found my happy pixel -Ransom the clown

Rob Osinga - Aug 01, 2015 at 06:23
Great to hear Mark!
I hear you guys talk about 16 Colors for monkey island, but i've read somewhere that it uses 256 Colors??

Arto - Aug 01, 2015 at 08:15
The original EGA version had 16 colors, but it was later redone in 256 colors. The Amiga version had 32 colors.

Rob Osinga - Aug 01, 2015 at 11:04
Thnx for your reply.
I started playing SoMI on MY Amiga. I thougt it looked awesome!  Since i was used to C64 Maniac Mansion graphics!
Never bothered to look up the graphics details.
I Also didn't play the PC EGA version.

Your answer clears this right up!

Man with a duck - Aug 02, 2015 at 06:29
Thanks for the info!

Up until this point (hearing the podcast and reading this exact comment) I thought the EGA version was only the DEMO-version. Seriously: I never thought it was made in EGA and sold. But I can see via lets-plays on youtube that it exists, and the old graphics of Elaine and Guybrush actually made it outside lucasarts.... this just blows my mind

Patrik Spacek - Aug 01, 2015 at 12:24
Mark is right and the process of making the artworks. Research and color variations can take a while. I always hate the beginning when I am looking at blank paper. In my case, I mostly set up 3d scene with lighting on the base of the concept. It saves me lots of time to figure out perspective, colors, shadows and lights. The material already has black outline and one color, so it looks like pixel art after I render it out. It still need some quick polish, but no more frustration for me :o)

Natalija - Aug 01, 2015 at 13:06
Ron,are you now in Germany?

Estranged2 - Aug 01, 2015 at 14:09
Even though Mark doesn't strictly follow the 256 colour limitation, he still uses dithering as far as I saw.

I recently found a tutorial for doing dithering landscapes more easily without having to place individual pixels by hand. It is made by another artist who makes a pixel art indie game. I'm curious if you'll find this technique useful or if you think it takes something away:

Zombocast - Aug 01, 2015 at 15:40
In MS Paint just take a 32 bit image and save it as different file types.
1. Saved as Gif:
2. Saved as Gif then to 256bit:
3. Saved as 256bit:
Down converting from 32 bit gradiant to Gif to 256 looks prety good.
Gif #1. from the late 90's or 256 #2. from the early 90's.

Dan - Aug 02, 2015 at 06:19
Though there are other dithers that effectuate more smoothness.

Dan - Aug 02, 2015 at 06:22
I'm refering to the 256 color sample.

Peter - Aug 01, 2015 at 15:59
Hi Mark, I think I understand you're joke, you mean:

It's similar like the garden dwarf in the film "Amelie", right ???

Peter - Aug 01, 2015 at 16:00
Flat Stanley is like the garden dwarf who is all around the world, that was the joke, right?

So you should Flat Stanley to Thimbleweed Park!!! :D

Mark Ferrari - Aug 04, 2015 at 18:29
Annnnd--we have a winner! Yes, Peter! You are smarter and better informed than Gary. :] But who isn't?

Flat Stanley is a cardboard cut out kid who shows up in children's books and cartoons about a cardboard cut out kid who shows up in...well, YOU, at least, get the idea. Thanks for saving my good name in ill-advised-joke-land. :]

Orcan Ogetbil - Aug 01, 2015 at 16:25
From what I understand, the rooms are 256 colors. Are the character colors picked from the same palette? Else, there could potentially be more than 256 colors on the screen at a given time.

Dan - Aug 01, 2015 at 17:36
I assume that it would be too elaborate to make sure that the number of different colors is never bigger than 256. If there are little bit more than 256 colors in some of the rooms no one will recognize that.
Just take a look at the Quickie Pal ( It has the spirit of 256 colors and this is what counts.

Dominik - Aug 01, 2015 at 20:57
Sticking to 256 colors isn't that hard:

You Simply have an amount of fixed colors (e.g. 32 colors) that you use for the Interface and characters. The rest (256 - 32 = 224) is Free and can be completly different from Room to room.

If you look at old games you can often see that the characters have less colors than the rest.

That being said: I don't think self limiting to 256 colors is necessary for this project. Gary and Mark are excellent Artists and will both be able to give us the warm and cozy 8bpp Flair without having the hassle of actually being confined to this.

Arto - Aug 02, 2015 at 07:20
> If you look at old games you can often see that the characters have less colors than the rest.
Yes. The costume of Guybrush in The Secret of Monkey Island is black and white because of this reason, especially as the original version had only 16 colors.

Natalija - Aug 02, 2015 at 11:03
Where is Pep? Is she in Germany with you?

Liran - Aug 02, 2015 at 16:26
Hi Ron,

As you know, computer screens are getting bigger, with some people having 27" screens or larger, I'm not totally sure if the game will look ideal on a very large screen, it might be nice to have the option of different resolutions for the game in full screen mode, the image remaining totally crisp/not blurred...Would love to get your feedback on this.


Henri - Aug 04, 2015 at 01:54
Great stuff going on! This blog and the podcasts make all this a whole lot more fun to follow :D I'm finally starting to grasp what it's like to work on games...

And to the previous post, I gotta say the library looks kinda like the one in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade game! Oh geez.. now I gotta play that again on my Pi.

Can't wait for the next update!

Derrick Reisdorf - Aug 04, 2015 at 10:45
Ron & crew have been holding out on us!  Did you see that sweet video at Microsoft's Gamescom press conference!?

Derrick Reisdorf - Aug 04, 2015 at 10:48

Peter Campbell - Aug 04, 2015 at 12:22
Wow, lots to talk about from that latest trailer.  Xbox One port seems to be confirmed,  new inventory style and icons (a can of tuna? lol), we get to see the outside of Ransome's trailer in motion, the inside/outside of the radio station, the radio station tower with vertical scrolling (I love the details especially with the fireflies floating around in the air, as well as the reflections seen in the water on the ground where the dead body is found with the train track bridge up above being reflected in the water), the lighting, the huge amount of detail put into every room,  the atmosphere, the game is looking GORGEOUS!

I know on Ron's twitter blog he said he's been having trouble with his phone so maybe that's why this hasn't been uploaded yet.  Reisdorf, since your name sounds like you are from Germany, were you at Gamescom?

Peter Campbell - Aug 04, 2015 at 12:53
Oh, I didn't even know until a minute ago that Gamescom is run by Microsoft lol, the Windows version we've known about but it's a cool surprise that the game will officially be coming to consoles too, with the Xbox One version so far being officially confirmed by Ron Gilbert himself (there's a bunch of youtube uploads from within the last hour of the trailer with Ron giving a quick 15 second presentation on stage before the new trailer plays).  


Ron looking like a lean, mean jogging machine!

Flowo1974 - Aug 04, 2015 at 13:34
Oh no! Does this mean it will *only* run on Windows 10?

The lastest I have is 7, and I won't be able to upgrade soon.

Peter Campbell - Aug 04, 2015 at 13:50
No, that's not what it means.  It just means that it will be compatible with Windows 10 along with the previous versions of Windows, probably from XP upwards.

Flowo1974 - Aug 04, 2015 at 14:04
Gee, I hope so. Thanks!

Big Red Button - Aug 04, 2015 at 15:11
Of course it will support Windows 7 or 8.1, too. As well as it will be available for some other platforms.
It's almost clear that if you get the opportunity to advertise your own game at the Microsoft booth, you're advised to include some surreptitious advertising for the latest Microsoft products in your speech. It's a win-win situation.

Peter Campbell - Aug 04, 2015 at 14:12
Man, I really wish there was a way to edit/delete my old posts lol.  So Gamescom isn't run by Microsoft, Microsoft was just doing a presentation and with Thimbleweed Park running on both Windows and now Xbox One that's why Ron was up there during the Microsoft presentation.

Derrick Reisdorf - Aug 05, 2015 at 04:32
It is German. But I'm American. And not in Germany at the moment.

Mattias Cedervall - Aug 04, 2015 at 12:30
Thank you so much for the link! :-)

Derrick Reisdorf - Aug 04, 2015 at 10:52

Zarbulonian - Aug 05, 2015 at 03:24
Great interview. The dp II guy brush thing has been repeated many times now, but I never heard of the story behind "Threepwood".

Flowo1974 - Aug 04, 2015 at 14:25
Ray and Reyes at the radio tower remind me *a lot* of Zak and Annie at the pyramid.

Great stuff!

Big Red Button - Aug 04, 2015 at 15:13
Looks great!

Zombocast - Aug 04, 2015 at 15:12
Whats Ron doing at Microsoft's exhibit, don't they know he uses Mac :-)

Adam - Aug 04, 2015 at 16:33
Game looks  great Ron, I love the Monkey Island feel to it. I would be more than happy to sign up and review a BETA release in the future


Jon - Aug 04, 2015 at 21:07
Any chance this might come to PS4? Would love to play this on there as well.

Stefan - Aug 07, 2015 at 03:21
Great "dick" joke, Gary! :-D I'm wondering if it will be in the game as well. Would be nice to see how it was translated ...

Mario - Aug 07, 2015 at 13:17
@RON : just watched that video:

how much weight u lost? is TP coding that hard? ;-)

urielz - Aug 17, 2015 at 02:14
I'm fairly new and I only listened to ~30% of the podcasts. But I really like this one, hope Mike Ferrari shows up more in the future.

Schala - Aug 25, 2015 at 01:40
Others have mentioned this, but I really appreciate everyone asking various questions to each other to expound on game making and thought processes and such. It always offers such great insights!