Thimbleweed Park Podcast #20

by Ron Gilbert
Sep 05, 2015

Listen to Gary, David and I describe what scares us the most and curiously, thermal nuclear war didn't make the list. In the 1980's that's all that would have scared us. That and the big hair.

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

- Ron

P.S. Sorry this is a day late.

KKAABRO - Sep 05, 2015 at 14:25
Awesome! Can't wait!

vegetaman - Sep 05, 2015 at 14:49
You guys do a really good job of talking about what it takes in terms of time and money. As a developer, if you figure out what it takes to have two developers work on something for six months and all the tools and overhead that goes with it, it is scary. Plus all the pitfalls of development (bugs, issues with toolchains, money constraints, technological progress issues, etc.). I think that's a big thing a lot of people who back kickstarters don't appreciate when it comes to games or software is how often software timelines just don't wind up lining up with end reality. And I don't fault developers for that; I have yet to see a project where timelines are truly done well. I think it's the abstract nature of the project and even if you've done a game before, you still haven't done this exact game or tackled this exact problem before. Best of luck guys; another great podcast as always. :)

Bobe - Sep 06, 2015 at 17:34
Other than a PC and internet connection, all the tools to make an adventure game are free.  Even if you purchase a license (because let's face it, while free is nice, support is nicer), you're still only looking at a few thousand dollars max.  Paying the maintainer of a free project is another way to get affordable support and updates.  After rewards and Kickstarter fees, there should have been enough money to last a developer for several years in a less expensive part of the country.  That money would take you very far in Texas (where dozens of other game studios have taken root).  Like David said, you've just got to watch out for feature creep.  I don't know what the official budget was, but I'm willing to bet that I could make four adventure game with the production value of Maniac Mansion over the next 8 years.  I'd pay myself modestly, do all the programming, art, and music myself, and just enjoy life.

I don't blame anyone for placing higher value on their time, but these games are running out of money because of the cost of living in an expensive city, and having high living standards.

Natalija - Sep 05, 2015 at 15:13
Can you see eachother when you're doing a podcast? Are you on skype during this conversation?

Ron Gilbert - Sep 05, 2015 at 15:22
It's all done on Skype. I am in Seattle, David and Gary are in California, but live about 1.5 hours apart.

David Fox - Sep 05, 2015 at 15:27
We do it on Skype with audio only, so we're not seeing each other. But we remember how we all look, so that's ok.

Natalija - Sep 05, 2015 at 16:00
But why? You'll forget how you all look.. I mean , talking with Ron Gilbert and not seeing him for half year, you'll forget how he looks.

Bogdan Barbu - Sep 06, 2015 at 09:48

Tyler - Sep 05, 2015 at 15:31
Great episode as always. I think most people understand dates getting pushed back a bit as long as it's not something excessive like an extra two years. Sounds like it's more of a problem for you then it is for us. If money is tight maybe think about setting up a store where you can sell promotional items for Thimbleweed park? I know I'd definitely buy a Thimbleweed park shirt or commemorative drinking glass, especially if I knew the proceeds were going to fund the game.

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 05, 2015 at 15:46
That's a great idea! They should set up a store as soon as possible if possible. I think I would buy a T-shirt. They can sell an official guide to the game when it's released. I like official guides so I own several.

qwerty - Sep 05, 2015 at 16:05
I'd buy a t-shirt.

Ron Gilbert - Sep 05, 2015 at 18:05
We want to sell t-shirt and other things, but the margin on that stuff is really small. It's why the pledge level that gets you a t-shirt is $150.

Tyler - Sep 05, 2015 at 19:42
I'd consider using a print on demand site that does everything for you. No dealing with shipping, inventory, customer service, etc. Just find a good image and slap it on a bunch of different products. It's how we fundraised for a gaming group I'm involved in and were able to make an easy few hundred dollars even with our tiny userbase. You can add however much you want on top of the base price. (+$10/each shirt or mug or whatever) Even though the price is a little inflated, I think people would be happy to pay it if they know they are supporting the game.

Keith Irvine - Sep 06, 2015 at 07:48
As Tyler says, maybe Teespring or one of the other on demand print shops might be the way to go?

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 05, 2015 at 15:44
Boggles your mind? Don't you mean bobbles your mind, Gary? :P

It sounds like it will the sounds in the game will create a great atmosphere! :-)

Playing this game without a walkthrough scares me the most...

qwerty - Sep 05, 2015 at 16:03
These podcasts are amazing! I hope Mark Ferrari will show up again though.

urielz - Sep 05, 2015 at 18:02
+1 for this request.

Natalija - Sep 05, 2015 at 16:18
Ron, did pople really have Monkey island weddings? I'm wondering how they looked.

Mikee - Sep 05, 2015 at 17:12
Not my creation, but this is awesome!

Ema - Sep 06, 2015 at 03:36
Listened to it 3 times, never got a word. so i looked for the lyrics :-)

allen wrenches, gerbil feeders, toilet seats, electric heaters
Trash compactors, juice extractor, shower rods and water meters
Walkie-talkies, copper wires safety goggles, radial tires
BB pellets, rubber mallets, fans and dehumidifiers
Picture hangers, paper cutters, waffle irons, window shutters
Paint removers, window louvres, masking tape and plastic gutters
Kitchen faucets, folding tables, weather stripping, jumper cables
Hooks and tackle, grout and spackle, power foggers, spoons and ladles
Pesticides for fumigation, high-performance lubrication
Metal roofing, water proofing, multi-purpose insulation
Air compressors, brass connectors, wrecking chisels, smoke detectors
Tire guages, hamster cages, thermostats and bug deflectors
Trailer hitch demagnetizers, automatic circumcisers
Tennis rackets, angle brackets, Duracells and Energizers
Soffit panels, circuit breakers, vacuum cleaners, coffee makers
Calculators, generators, matching salt and pepper shakers

Peter Campbell - Sep 05, 2015 at 18:03
In the case that money runs out and you guys need something like $75,000 or $100,000 more to finish up the project as you would like to, is a 2nd kickstarter campaign asking for that amount considered taboo?  The game has become so much more ambitious than originally planned, particularly with the addition of Mark's gorgeous art style, that I think a 2nd kickstarter asking for that small amount (relative to the total cost of developing the game) to be able to properly finish up the game would be completely justifiable.

After all, Kickstarter has become a much more well-known about website with projects like Bloodstained, Yooka-Laylee and Shenmue 3 really bringing the crowdfunding site to prominence across the internet gaming community.  A 2nd Kickstarter would give a lot of people who missed out on the campaign, whether they simply didn't know about it or didn't have the money at the time or whatever, a 2nd chance to back the project and get some nice exclusive kickstarter rewards.  Mark's art alone would attract a large number of people.  As long as they don't get a better deal than the original backers then I don't think anyone should have a good reason to complain about a 2nd campaign.

Just my 2 cents.

Ron Gilbert - Sep 05, 2015 at 18:10
We're not out of money and if things stay like they are, we'll be fine. Running a second Kickstarter is somewhat problematic because it does scream "we can't manage our money and ran out", but isn't the case. The only thing that makes me want to do another Kickstarter (or some other crowd funding) is that a lot (and I mean a lot) of people never heard about the initial Kickstarter and didn't get a chance to donate.

But it feels like we'd need a reason to do that beyond "we want more money".

Peter Campbell - Sep 05, 2015 at 18:57
I didn't mean to give the impression that I thought the budget was a problem, obviously you're being super careful with the budget and spent a lot of time calculating the budget way back when setting the kickstarter goal/stretch goals.  I was just saying in a worst case scenario if you needed 2 or 3 more months to finish up the project and thus needed a bit more money too to do all that.

I think simply running a 2nd kickstarter campaign for the very reason that you give (which i agree with), that a lot of people simply didn't know about the game/campaign and now they have a 2nd chance to back the project, would be a good enough reason to do a 2nd kickstarter.  In return of course would have to be the guarantee that the funds would only be used to enhance the game more so than currently planned, for a sort of Director's Cut Edition of TP.  There'd be nothing wrong with that imo.

qwerty - Sep 05, 2015 at 19:27
Isn't it good that there's lots of people interested in the game that didn't back the Kickstarter? I mean you want there to be people left to buy the game when it comes out, right? If it were me I wouldn't run another Kickstarter unless you need the money.

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 05, 2015 at 20:02
I agree with you. Unfortunately I didn't know about the Kickstarter campaign until it was too late, but I bought the game in January.

Keith Irvine - Sep 06, 2015 at 00:27
Does the engine support 5.1 sound? I know theres probably not a huge requirement for it to, but for the Xbox where there are many systems (like my own) connected to surround sound it makes sense. I guess then you have the issues of testing where you have to check both stereo and 5.1 channel mixes, so it might not be practical?

Ron Gilbert - Sep 06, 2015 at 00:31
I don't know yet, I'm just using SDL_Mix for now, but we'll drop something else in soon. Probably OpenAL. Not sure yet. Sound is deceptively complicated.

Keith Irvine - Sep 06, 2015 at 07:39
Yeah, it's incredibly complicated, and doing 5.1 would mean maintaining 2 separate mixes. One mix will be complicated enough, and given the vast majority of people will be playing with a stereo output (except maybe console gamers) it might not be worth it. Just throwing it out there as a nice to have. I'm not sure how much use 5.1 rear channels would be apart from ambient noise or the occasional action happening offscreen. OpenAL looks interesting.

longuist - Sep 06, 2015 at 08:25
If you have some time left, you may even implement
But PC-Speaker output would be sufficient too..

Paulup - Sep 06, 2015 at 09:38
"It sounds like that dithered pixel is coming from behind me!"

DanVzare - Sep 06, 2015 at 06:14
The great thing is, that thanks to how open you lot have been since development began, if things do go south, most of us will probably understand.

Unlike every other kickstarter project which keeps everything they do behind closed doors.

mr. T - Sep 06, 2015 at 07:34
Positional sound is awesome. I can already imagine the effect it has on the atmosphere.

Bogdan Barbu - Sep 06, 2015 at 09:13
Do you check the comments on the Support Us page regularly? It seems I'm not the only one interested in alternative ways of transfering money to you. A couple of other people asked soon after I did which makes me think there are quite a few others in the same situation.

Ron Gilbert - Sep 06, 2015 at 10:28
Yep, I read them all. I don't know of a way to take money that isn't PayPal.  Also, rewards have to be tracked, etc and places like Humble Bundle provide all that for us. We are working on a solution that will allow current backers to change their pledges, but it's still going to require PayPal or a credit card. If you know of an another way, we're all ears.

Bogdan Barbu - Sep 06, 2015 at 16:28
Well, one obvious solution is to give us your bank account information and we can wire money to you directly. However, if the solution you mentioned only requires a credit card and no PayPal, that's good enough for me.

Mario F. - Sep 06, 2015 at 12:13
just in case you guys are running out, i am willing to lent you 10K USD just for finishing it and u could pay it back to me as soon as you earned it back with the sales. And maybe i am not the only one who could lent some money.

Keep in mind that there are people out there who could back you besides kickstarter.

Ron Gilbert - Sep 06, 2015 at 16:39
We appreciate the offer, but we're not running out of money. This is how silly rumors get started. Like everything we do on this project, we're trying to be open and talk about issues. Budget is always an issue and we worry about it so it doesn't become a problem. We're trying to be very open about what we're thinking, so it's important that it's all put in the right context. If people who read and listen to us have never run or been involved in projects like this, it can all seem scary, but it's not. It's how it works.

Mario F. - Sep 06, 2015 at 17:01
I fully understand your point. As i said, just in case. If you are are on track all is fine, and if not, then there will be a solution somehow.

Ron Gilbert - Sep 06, 2015 at 17:25
Our backup plan is to rob a bank wearing rubber monkey masks.

Natalija - Sep 07, 2015 at 01:10
Or rubber chicken masks. Remove the pulley and that's it.

Mario F. - Sep 07, 2015 at 07:03
could we have that robbery szenario at the TP bank please? cutszene: 3 characters (ron, david, gary) running into the bank while reyes and ray are smoking.

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 07, 2015 at 07:56
That would be funny and Mark can drive the getaway car!

Mario F. - Sep 07, 2015 at 14:25
haha, Great! wouldnt be a shame not to use that funny stuff.

Peter Campbell - Sep 07, 2015 at 15:48
The seemingly cut Bank Vault could make a surprise appearance lol.

Ema - Sep 07, 2015 at 16:05
Ok, man. If anybody in the US, in the next 10 years, will ever rob a bank with a rubber monkey mask, they will come looking for you.... :-/

Bogdan Barbu - Sep 06, 2015 at 17:42
Wait, you're out of money? *calls the press*

Natalija - Sep 06, 2015 at 13:58
Gary, are you on twitter? I know Ron and David are.

Patrik Spacek - Sep 06, 2015 at 14:41
Well guys! bank account goes down, thats common thing...but if you are true fans of what you are doing and you believe in what you are doing, you should not ever give up...even you have 0 on your account. Budgeting is one thing, finish the game is another.

Ron Gilbert - Sep 06, 2015 at 16:32
Well, everyone on the team has rent to pay and needs to eat, I don't think it's realistic to expect people to work for nothing, not unless there is a lot of long term upside for them. I've been in that situation before and it never turns out well, so I just don't do it anymore. Ever.

But... We are not out of money, far from it.  We talked about it being something scares us because it always should, even if you have millions in the bank. It should always worry you. A lot of Kickstarters (and non-Kickstarter projects) get in trouble because they don't worry about.

I worry about things so they won't become problems.

Stefano E. - Sep 06, 2015 at 15:17
Hi Ron,

I was reading your post on grumpy gamer about Monkey Island 25th anniversary, and I went back to read again your post on Monkey Island 3a from 2013. I noticed that pretty much of all the bullet points are what's happening for Thimbleweed Park, with a couple of interesting exceptions:

5) you wanted to get rid of verbs
17) you said you may have not communicated regurarly

I was interested in knowing why you changed your mind (btw I love you did!)

Bogdan Barbu - Sep 06, 2015 at 18:14
I think I may be able to answer that.

5. When they started out, they were aiming for a style quite similar to that of Maniac Mansion. The project evolved a lot since that time but they say they still want the game to have the same general feel.

17. That's part of the promise with any Kickstarter.

Iron Curtain - Sep 06, 2015 at 20:57
Re: #5, When Ron Gilbert changed his mind vis-à-vis verbs, he must've done so at or before the beginning of the Kickstarter for Thimbleweed Park because throughout the project, verbs have been kept and there don't seem to be any plans to abandon them.

Simon Simon - Sep 07, 2015 at 05:18
Indeed, and I am very much looking forward to the verbs interface in Thimbleweed Park.

However, I wonder if Ron "changed his mind" or just made a different (more retro) decision together with Gary for Thimbleweed Park than he would do for other games and proposed in his 2013 blog post. I am sure that Ron and team would only abandon the verbs for a future game if they figured out a different satisfying, innovative interface (which I would be very curious to see.)

It is amazing how much the verbs are part of the "classic adventure" feeling. I think a problem of most games that decided against verbs was that they over-simplified the whole interface - and with that, the whole adventure gameplay experience - instead of just re-organizing screen space.

Bogdan Barbu - Sep 07, 2015 at 16:28
You can simplify the user interface without dumbing down the game, however.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 06, 2015 at 16:44
David: please forgive me, but this time I was not able to understand about 20% of your speech.
At the question: "what scares you most" what did you answer?
Thank you very much!

Ravey - Sep 07, 2015 at 12:55
"I think it's the stuff we don't know about, and the complexities we don't know about. I think back to Maniac Mansion and how long we thought it would take versus how long it did take. We were a lot greener then but, still, it was a pretty huge difference; and I remember having to leave the project to go on to something else after, I think, six months. I don't have a deadline at the end, but you guys sure do because of cash and everything else so, you know... getting to the point where we start testing, realising there are thousands of combinations of things we hadn't thought about that testers start finding. So, just complexity upon complexity."

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 07, 2015 at 16:12
Thank you!

NylonGamer - Sep 06, 2015 at 19:02
zak mac kraken had some stereo sound

MarcM - Sep 11, 2015 at 12:43
Thanks for sharing. :)