Thimbleweed Park Podcast #24

by Ron Gilbert
Oct 03, 2015

Listen to us mangle reader names as we answer Friday questions.

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

- Ron

vegetaman - Oct 03, 2015 at 14:22
Whoo, thanks for answering my "other worldly" question! :)

Really love these Q&A ones; they're fantastic.

Arto - Oct 03, 2015 at 15:14
Haven't laughed this hard during your podcast before. Thanks David.

David Fox - Oct 03, 2015 at 18:18

Orcan Ogetbil - Oct 03, 2015 at 15:37
The end seemed a little rushed for some reason. LOL!

Grafekovic - Oct 03, 2015 at 15:59
Ron's answer to "pixel hunting vs. maze puzzles" matches my opinion 100%, especially the part about highlighting objects in modern adventures. That's maybe the reason, why I like your games so much.
The worst maze puzzles were at Legend of Kyrandia btw.

Derrick Reisdorf - Oct 04, 2015 at 22:39
A pixel-hunting puzzle that I think is okay (especially if the player is new to it) is "feeling" their way around the dark using the cursor.

Sushi - Oct 03, 2015 at 16:03
Dang! I missed the Friday questions post. But let me just iterate how awesome you guys are: you ROCK! I told this to David before: for people like us, who grew up playing your games it feels a bit like it would to you if the Beatles would get back together. Only so much better since you guys aren't dead (obviously) and so much more communicative towards your fans. But just like the Fab Four are on this mythical level and are credited as being the inventors of pop music, the same could be said about you for the point & click adventure.

P.S.: to other readers, please don't start a discussion now about which music or artist is "bigger" or "better". A large part of the internet is already filled with those utterly pointless yet seemingly endless discussions.

Derrick Reisdorf - Oct 04, 2015 at 22:40
Would Sierra be considered The Stones, then?

Sushi - Oct 05, 2015 at 15:56
Leisure suit Larry = Let"s spend the night together and ( I can't get no) satisfaction.
And someone must have been stoned for sure while making Phantasmagoria. :D

Jaap - Oct 03, 2015 at 16:19
What can I say, other than: thanks again for answering my question. For me it was actually motivating to hear you guys are mostly self-tought.

Concerning the word autodidact: it is a quite common word in Dutch. I actually had to verify whether it is a valid English term as well :)

Arto - Oct 03, 2015 at 16:31
I knew the word autodidact before, and thought it was English. Which it obviously is.

About self-taught: I find this is the only way to master anything. Education can give a good starting point, but you really only learn by doing and figuring out stuff yourself.

Ron Gilbert - Oct 03, 2015 at 17:27
I'm all for being self-taught unless you're my pilot or my doctor.

Iron Curtain - Oct 04, 2015 at 10:12
But the Wright Brothers and that Heart Surgeon are not *Ron's*, now are they? ;-)

Jaap - Oct 04, 2015 at 03:13
crap, now I notice the typo I made in self-taught.

Also not a fan of home cooked fugu

Jaap - Oct 04, 2015 at 10:17
yeah I agree with that as well Arto.

I guess in my question I tried to establish that indeed most of the game making process is a creative one and therefore is mostly driven by passion, which can be the driving force to make you spend a lot of energy on learning stuff the hard way.

Gv - Oct 03, 2015 at 17:16
Thanks for answering my question. I always preferred the EGA close ups, and always thought the VGA close ups were scanned, but now that I know they weren't, I think they're awesome, now that I know they are "pixel art".

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 03, 2015 at 17:58
I miss answers to the questions about what you think about the Maniac Mansion TV-series, how many ideas you hade before settling upon this detective story and when will you announce the voice cast...

David Fox - Oct 03, 2015 at 18:17
Ask them again next month... maybe someone will answer them then...

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 03, 2015 at 18:38
David, thank you for answering my question about questions! :-)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 03, 2015 at 18:24
It's midnight in Italy. I'm in my bed, listening to the podcast, with earphones and closed eyes.
Very interesting answers!
And I had a hiccup when i heard my question read by Ron Gilbert, and "Zak (Phoenix) McKracken said by David Fox! In that precise moment, my "joy" emotion pushed its console button! :-)
Well thank you for having closed a gap in my knowledge, talking about Aric. I'm am satisfied, really.
I can go to sleep now.... SEE YA!

Natalija - Oct 04, 2015 at 10:36
It was midnight in Montenegro too..  Were in the same time zone right? I did the same thing : earphones, bed , closed eyes .. I love to do that when I'm listening a podcast!

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 04, 2015 at 15:39
Yes, same time zone. We are not to far each other...
Listening to the podcast in the night is relaxing, and I better concentrate on words...

Natalija - Oct 05, 2015 at 12:44
I understand. I allways put my earphones because,as you said, I can concentrate on words since english is not my native language. Arrivederci! (P.S. I know italian , I'm studying it in school ) :-D

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 04, 2015 at 15:39
Yes, same time zone. We are not to far each other...
Listening to the podcast in the night is relaxing, and I better concentrate on words...

Big Red Button - Oct 03, 2015 at 19:15
I like this plain GUI, except for the boundary lines at the inventory. I think, the items in the inventory would come to the fore even more, if they weren't boxed.

PS: The verbs ought to be anti-aliased a bit.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 04, 2015 at 06:44
They'll probably end up looking nasty because the resolution is so low. And if you render the verbs at a different resolution, then the game will look inconsistent.

Big Red Button - Oct 04, 2015 at 09:30
To date the verbs have even a lower resolution than the rest of the graphics. They just appear to be scaled up. That's a bit noncoherent.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 04, 2015 at 06:46
Regarding the inventory, I'm surprised there are no arrows. Sure, we could use the mose wheel to scroll through the items but there should still be some mechanism to suggest whether the inventory has more items than there are displayed, otherwise someone might simply forget.

Big Red Buttons - Oct 04, 2015 at 09:22
Maybe the arrows appear in the gap between the inventory and the verbs once you have more than eight items with you.

David Fox - Oct 05, 2015 at 14:23
Exactly...scrolling arrows appear when you have more than 8 inventory items.

Sarah - Oct 05, 2015 at 14:28
You need to stop jumping to conclusions. You've very quick to criticize and in most cases you've been wrong. Why don't you leave answering the questions to the devs rather just just assuming they've screwed something up when it's not like you assume it is. I look through all the responses to the last two threads and your icon appears over and over. Post less, but more thoughtfully. Not meant as an attack, just an observation.

Derrick Reisdorf - Oct 07, 2015 at 13:04

Leandro - Oct 03, 2015 at 21:50
In my opinion, usually pixel hunting is a bad idea. I recall a pixel hunting puzzle in Sam and Max Hit the Road in wich you had to locate a magnifying glass that was hided in a one of the carnival's tents. I recall spenting days stucked just because I had to locate the "correct" pixel in order to get that magnifying glass.

Grafekovic - Oct 04, 2015 at 01:42
Still worse than pixel hunting were the old Sierra games, where you had to move your charakter right in front of an object to be able to do something with it. Drove me nuts in Larry 2 when you had to find the sunscreen in the convenient store.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 04, 2015 at 01:48
About pixel hunting... does someone remember Future Wars from Delphine Software and its acetylene lamp in the ruins???

RandomGuy - Oct 04, 2015 at 02:16
Thanks voor a great podcast.
I understand my question was not podcast material, but maybe you can give a short answer here, so I repeat my question:

Can you do more blog posts about the technical side of the game? Like lighting system, asset management, scripting, pathfinding, load and save games, etc.

Cazzeris - Oct 04, 2015 at 04:31
Hey, thank you Ron for answering my question! I also think putting the verbs in boxes doesn't look too good, but if you add a couple of subtle details to the font similar to MI2's shading effect then the interface would look as it should, which is "a load of words that are more relevant and interactive than the rest of the in-game text."'s_Revenge_(Floppy_DOS_VGA)-7.jpg

Zombocast - Oct 04, 2015 at 06:26
Verb boxes in Indiana Jones:
Also helped separate Dialog Puzzles:
Ron talks about it a little in "Podcast #17"

Zombocast - Oct 04, 2015 at 05:27
I started thinking of ways to improve the Inventory Interface.
Concept art:

Using a "Vertical scroll" animation like this:
Or using "Horizontal scroll" animation like this:
You to see 50% more inventory using the "Vertical" method, but both are
mobile friendly, and can cycle through Inventory using the "Mouse Scroll Wheel".

Ultimately there is too many "Verbs" to iterate through using these methods
Despite it being done here:

You could go with a "Verb Icon". Like Monkey Island 3, or Full Throttle

Or go with just "Icons", but I think this is more confusing unless its well done.

Thanks for reading my post, Here's a game I stumbled on while writing it.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 04, 2015 at 08:43
I like the wheel but it has two disadvantages:

1. You can't make it look good in a low resolution scenario without distorting the inventory items to the point where they look like crap. Or by making the inventory take a lot more screen space. In your concept art, you ignored the resolution but you can't do that in the game because it looks totally inconsistent.

2. You can see how many facets the "wheel" has, which puts a hard limit on the number of inventory items (i.e., 24 in your case). On the other hand, I suppose it's bad design to have *too* many items in your inventory anyway.

I also prefer verbs à la Monkey Island 3 as well. If I want to use a lever in the real world, I go next to it, I put my hand on it and either push or pull. Taking the mouse all the way to an imaginary verb box feels like eating steak with a spoon.

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 04, 2015 at 10:38
I want the verbs to stay the classic way and the inventory to stay the way it is now. If the eyes follow the mouse cursor then it would break the fourth wall.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 04, 2015 at 12:03
There are some clear disadvantages to the classic verb interface, such as the verbs taking up a huge amount of screen space that could otherwise be used for pretty (but a bit more expensive) art, most of them being useless or redundant almost all of the time, and the inefficient interaction where you have to drag the mouse cursor back and forth. However, I do realize that people do fall in love with objectively subpar things and won't easily give them up. Some people still swear by the parser. Heck, I'm guilty of it myself: I'm nostalgic enough to love pixel art. So it's not so much about teaching an old cat new tricks. We're all cats. And we can see in the dark and sometimes have lice. Did you know cats sometimes eat their own baby teeth? I think I got a little sidetracked.

Anyway, the only serious response I have is about the eyes. The mouse cursor is supposed to reflect the character's attention, not something that has to do with the actual player. As a player, you tell the character what to pay attention to, where to walk, etc. I don't think it'd break the fourth wall at all, nor do I think breaking the fourth wall is necessarily a bad thing (it is often be used to achieve a comedic effect, albeit not in this particular situation).

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 04, 2015 at 13:58
:-( It's not a huge amount of screen space and it's good to have the verbs close to the inventory. The screen can be scrolled! ;-) Did you know that I take care of my friends' mjaumjau when my friends aren't home? :-)

longuist - Oct 04, 2015 at 14:59
If you get rid of the verbs no one will recognize it as a "lost" lucasfilm adventure at first sight.  "use balloon animal on corpse" with icons wouldn't be as funny as it is now. I'm very thankful Ron sticks with the verbs as they are.

And the same which is true for the icons:
Nice verbs :)

Ema - Oct 04, 2015 at 15:35
Great. This is THE reply. You're totally right. You have understand the spirit. Obvuiously we do need verbs. Or this will be another tasteless adventure with an awkward interface. The only improvement i could approve is the eye movement following the mouse. Easy to do, not expensive at all, and it doesn't breake the fourth wall. If you put your mouse on an object, that means the character is observing it.

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 04, 2015 at 16:06
I guess I was too hasty about the eye movement breaking the fourth wall so you've now changed my mind and I now support the change.

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 04, 2015 at 16:06
Great reply! :-)

longuist - Oct 04, 2015 at 15:36
You are right, the verbs have disadvantages. But so have icon interfaces. They have evolved, got better, streamlined the task. The easiest interface would be no icons or verbs at all. Perfect for tablets. But then you only can get it right. Thats too easy == no voodoo == no fun. Most words are redundant or are used sparsely. But what a joy when you push or talk or .. something  what is not intended to be pushed or talked to. It may trigger a funny line or animation. Call it easter egg. Cant do it like that with a streamlined interface.

About the crazy surveillance eyes. Haven't decided if i like it or not. One should try it and test it in the whole game. Maybe it sucks after a while. The shouldn't follow in the interface area though.

Derrick Reisdorf - Oct 07, 2015 at 13:53
The verb interface taking up a good portion of the screen is not necessarily a bad thing.  It's as if the game (sans verb UI) is being presented in anamorphic widescreen, so it kind of ends up giving the game a bit more of a "cinematic" feel.

I like having verbs- as long as you design puzzles with them in mind- like when operating the safe in (I think it was) Monkey Island 1, you PUSHed the handle to rotate it clockwise, and you PULLed it to rotate it counterclockwise.  There are other similar ways you can implement two opposing verbs into a game; Again you would just want to make sure there are cases where a player will have to use them.
I like having verbs, but not TOO many.  If there was just one generic "use" verb, but the player didn't really understand HOW something was to be used, they could possibly accidentally figure out a solution.  In addition, if they wanted to try to brute force their way around by iterating through verbs and objects it would be a tad more difficult if there were more verbs to iterate through.  I'm not sure if that's a bad thing or a good thing.  It might be just too much frustration for some if they get THAT desperate.
Other than for the sake itself of creating more verbs, I wonder what the purpose is of having to separate the verbs "Open" and "Close"?  The only example I can think of where you would need to Open something that is already open is when you have something like some Russian nesting dolls.  Okay, well, maybe a hidden wall safe behind a painting- You may be able to "Open" the painting, then "Open" the safe.  What about Use/Give, I wonder?  If you USE an object in your inventory with a character, would you essentially be giving the character that object?  Well, maybe not if you have a tazer, for example.  You can give the tazer TO a character, or you can REALLY give it to a character, and taze them (by USING the tazer on the character).  Like I said, as long as there is a need for the separate verb, and that they try to use the special case for the verb on at least more than one occasion, then there would be a need for it.
I would imagine that they will map the Verbs to keys on the keyboard (or button on a gamepad/controller) if moving a cursor over to a verb is bothersome for anyone.  Maybe they could add an option to HIDE the verb UI, so you get a clean (hopefully, vertically centered) letterboxed version of the game without the verbs, if you are able to use hotkeys.

Ron Gilbert - Oct 07, 2015 at 14:10
Getting rid of verbs is a slippery slope that ultimately ends with only a USE verb. You can always make the case for removing a verb, and that's exactly what happen back then and we got watered-down UI with one USE verb. The verbs are going to stay as they are, mostly for historical reasons because that's what the game is, and because I like verbs.

There are keys you can use to quickly selected verbs, but we had that back in the Monkey Island days.

Ron Gilbert - Oct 04, 2015 at 15:57
We will make small changes to the look of the verbs and the UI, but they will be small, like maybe a drop shadow, etc, but the verbs are staying. I never liked the pop-up radials menus or any of the other goofy stuff that was tried in the mid-90s.

My biggest issue was they changed the UI without changing the gameplay.  Maniac Mansion was not a text adventure with a verb interface. It borrowed a lot from text adventures, but it had it's own unique style of gameplay that went a long with it's changes. When people dropped the verbs and went new UIs and only a USE verb, they kept the gameplay the same and it always felt wrong, it may have even contributed to the decline of adventure games as the only innovation was eye-candy that actually made the games less intuitive.

It's also important to remember that the goal of this game and the Kickstarter was NOT to produce a modernized adventure game, it was to make classic adventure game and that includes the verbs and the gameplay that those verbs invoke.

If I was going to make an modern adventure without verbs, it would be a very different game with very different gameplay and interaction.

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 04, 2015 at 16:12
Amen, Ron! I like the song where he sings "verbs don't come easy"...

longuist - Oct 05, 2015 at 03:27
"Thanks a lot" for FR David. This is musical warfare. A friend of mine and me always use it as a rickroll alternative.
Argc, cant get it out of my head. (i heard "earworm" is slowly making it into the english vocabulary. But its not meant to be so bad)

Sushi - Oct 04, 2015 at 16:29
Thanks Ron for setting the record straight!
After answering so many questions in your place, one would think Bogden Barbu could have figured that one out by himself.
Anyway I totally agree that the verb interface is crucial to the classic point and click adventure. Come to think of it, that's perhaps exactly what I subconsciously disliked about Full throttle, the dig ,... even MI special edition!

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 04, 2015 at 20:19
I don't think I answered anything "in their place." I just reiterated some of the answers they had already given in the past where I could. I don't think you really understood my comment above either but I can't really blame you. :P

Sushi - Oct 05, 2015 at 15:50

blame??  now you're asking for it.

Let me explain to you why I did feel the need to comment. If you would have truly understood the meaning of "A new classic point & click adventure game by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick" you would have known that the classic verb interface is essential. If you would have read the previous posts that have "icons are not final" written all over it, you would not have started nitpicking like you did: "Regarding the inventory, I'm surprised there are no arrows". And hey, that wouldn't annoy me at all if anyone else made that comment. But as you are such a high profile commenter (17 out of 91 comments on this thread so far and probably counting while I'm writing this) who pretends to know all the answers, you are bound to hit some resistance. And yes, you did claim to answer as many Friday questions before to increase your odds to get yours picked. Even if it was meant as a joke, you then went on and suggest to use a Reddit poll. Probably so you can up-vote your own?

As to my understanding of your comments, I will quote you:
"I like the wheel but[]"
"There are some clear disadvantages to the classic verb interface"
"I also prefer verbs à la Monkey Island 3 as well. [] Taking the mouse all the way to an imaginary verb box feels like eating steak with a spoon"

So, yeah I did find it funny and ironic when the Grumpy Gamer (TM) deemed it necessary to put an end to the whole "why the verbs?" discussion. *I* for one did saw that one coming.  And any Self-proclaimed Know-it-all (TM) should have too.

As someone else told you before: no problem if you want to reiterate some available information and want to help out Ron, Gary and David to not sound like broken records and/or waste time answering the same things over and over.  But most of your comments are at most partially factual and then you just start pushing your own personal point of views . Or worse making people look "stupid" for asking something which might be obvious to you.

Freedom of speech and all of that, but please keep it fun for everyone and tone down a bit (or a lot).

longuist - Oct 05, 2015 at 04:35
Yes, i think "subconsciously" is the right word here. When i played the games back in the day after a while i preferred the new interfaces. There was more room for art.  The puzzles got less diverse, but this was compensated by more lavish cutscenes. I thought verbs are things from the past which should be buried.
But time told a different story.  I recently wanted to replay Sam & Max. I stopped, mostly because of not having the time atm, but i also found the interface to be very clumsy. It hasn't aged very well in my opinion.
I could talk a lot more about it, but this would be very redundant :)

Cazzeris - Oct 04, 2015 at 16:46
Well said, Ron. As I've mentioned, small details like a subtle shadow effect behind the words are all what I'm asking for. Changing the verbs to icons, altering the basics of the interface design or making the character's eyes follow the cursor are all terrible ideas in my opinion.

Grafekovic - Oct 04, 2015 at 17:05
It always annoyed me, that you can't use "use" in an Infocom textadventure for I was conditined by Lucasfilm Games. So I think thats one of the points you mean, that your games did different to text adventures.

P.S.: Seckrit question answerd wrong AGAIN!

Big Red Button - Oct 04, 2015 at 19:14
That's right. The verbs have been more concisely to use.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 04, 2015 at 20:11
Would you consider making a blog post about how you think the gameplay should change with the interface? This topic seems to have drawn a lot of attention. I suggested that design ought to change in one of my previous comments but that was just gut feeling without any specifics.

Paulup - Oct 04, 2015 at 21:29
The verbs are the best...  my top 5 or so adventure games of all time use verbs and it's a big part of what makes them so good.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 05, 2015 at 05:30
If there weren't pixels, verbs and the sentence line, the game would not have been like "classic" adventure, and I wouldn't have pledged it.
Since Monkey Island 3, I didn't feel comfortable with the interface (even in MI:SE), and at that time I wondered why Ron decided to get rid of verbs. But I was far from the truth at that time... I have discovered it many years later, and I am happy to read that the Creator wants to use verbs as part of the interface.
It's like telling a story.
You have to do something different than "use" something.
For example, I have appreciated when in Zak McKracken you enter the Luan' shop and "Pick up" becomes "Buy", "Give" becomes "Sell". Nice touch!

Big Red Button - Oct 04, 2015 at 19:26
Moving eyes would leave me cold, because they...
1) wouldn't improve the gameplay.
2) would only be visible, if the character is looking to the fore.
3) wouldn't make sense, if the cursor gets moved onto an item that lies behind the character.

longuist - Oct 05, 2015 at 03:51
Your are totally right about that.
But i can think of 2 situations where eye movement could be used.
1. In cutscenes *rolleyes
2. When there is something in the room which is important (and small->no pixel hunting) or bothering (medusa, nuclear fuel rod, 4 headed monkey)
But this is no direct movement like following the cursor. In fact this too would be a non important gimmick, which could be implemented if Ron one day realizes he has too much spare time...

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 04, 2015 at 06:40
We should probably start a poll so that we can vote on each others' questions next time. I propose we use Reddit, which has everything we need and even allows others to answer the less popular questions, when they can. What say you?

Natalija - Oct 04, 2015 at 10:37
I dont like that.. I think its better this way.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 04, 2015 at 12:05
Fair enough, it's just a proposal. I'm curious why you prefer the current method, though.

Natalija - Oct 04, 2015 at 13:25
I dont know. I like the fact that they read every single question and choose what they like and what they think they should answer. If we vote for questions they'll have to answer the question with the most votes weather they like it or not. For example: I asked them what is their favourite cartoon and the answered   the question in the podcast, but do you think that other people will vote for my question? I suppose they wont because the question is personal and they dont care about it.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 04, 2015 at 13:55
I don't know whether their strategy is to answer the questions they like or the questions the listeners would like to hear the answers to. Either way, I'm glad you asked it. Rick and Morty has been my favourite for a while as well. :)

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 04, 2015 at 13:54
I thought the same thing as you!

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 04, 2015 at 14:03
Well, there also seem to be people who don't like it. We should have a poll to see how many people like the idea of having a poll. :)

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 04, 2015 at 14:28
Terrific idea! :-) It would be the pol(l)ite thing to do.

urielz - Oct 05, 2015 at 03:42
I like the Reddit idea. And they don't need to stick with the most voted ones, it would be just a guide...

Natalija - Oct 04, 2015 at 13:28
Plus it will ruin the excitement of listening the podcast.. You never know will they choose your answer until you listen the podcast.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 04, 2015 at 15:48
I don't like a poll like that. I think the method used so far is more "thrilling". You put a question in a certain range of time, and cross your fingers to hope they will read it.
It's a little game, after all, we don't have to be too serious...

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 05, 2015 at 06:56
It's not like you're winning the lottery, man. :)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 05, 2015 at 09:01
I have been on the Caponian Spaceship, so and I am going to win the lottery, man... ;-)

Natalija - Oct 05, 2015 at 12:53
Yes it is! It's like that! You have no idea how these small things make us happy! It's Ron Gilbert, man , Ron Gilbert! Having an opportunity to ask him a question and wait to see if he'll answer is like winning a lottery for us.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 06, 2015 at 11:35
I appreciate them for the stories they tell in their games but sometimes this place feels a bit like a cult of sorts.

Derrick Reisdorf - Oct 07, 2015 at 13:00
Join us.

Carlo Valenti - Oct 04, 2015 at 17:30
I like this ALL, the wait, the questions, the comments, the podcasts: it's all part of the game (TP, I mean). We are already enjoying the game; and, to the developers, this is enjoyment, and also serious as a part of their job. Thank you all for this little corner of... nice.

Patrik Spacek - Oct 04, 2015 at 21:51
Best ending ever! I was just driving when I heard David reaction and my wife was looking at me like I had a heart attack... We got home safely.

David Fox - Oct 05, 2015 at 14:37
Glad you got home safely!

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 05, 2015 at 01:27
I finally got around to listening to the full podcast. It sounds like the engine is implemented as a virtual machine that interprets the game. And it sounds like saving games is going to be implemented as saving the virtual machine's state. And it sounds *terrible*. The game elements ought to be understood by the engine and stored using some serialized higher-level semantics. After all, you want to save the game, not the engine. Interoperability aside, can you imagine if your favourite text editor saved its own state instead of the document's state? This will lead to nothing but problems, such as changes to the engine breaking previously saved games.

I hope my critique is not in poor taste as I only mean it in a constructive way.

Ron Gilbert - Oct 05, 2015 at 01:31
You're right, saving the VM state would be a terrible idea, which is why isn't not being done that way and why the save game is a very complex issue. Give me a little credit.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 05, 2015 at 01:34
Fair enough, since you said you'd write a blog post about it, I'll stop making assumptions. But you mentioned saving thread stacks and I almost had an engineer's heart attack.

urielz - Oct 05, 2015 at 03:48
@Ron: I guess what I don't get is what changed since MI and MM days? Why can't you just save the game as before? What changed since then? (Just writing this now in hope it will be clarified in the upcoming post)

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 05, 2015 at 04:38
Hi, it's me, Ron.

Patches are clearly a big concern that they didn't deal with back then. Suppose you're reading a book. When you're haldway through, you lose it but remember what page you were on and decide to buy a new copy. Alas, the your new copy is the second printing of the book instead of the first, which you had before. Since a few minor details changed, the information you had regarding the page number may now be irrelevant. As a human being, you're smart enough to figure out how to proceed on your own but computers aren't as clever. You can actually see this in ScummVM, which will (usually?) fail to load games saved by previous versions of it.

R.C.M. - Oct 05, 2015 at 04:51
Thanks for the funny and informative answer to my question. BTW, my username is my initials- I changed it a bit now to avoid further confusion :)

Regarding mazes- I don't have a problem with mazes in games per se, it's just that it's difficult to judge where you are inside a maze when it's just represented as a series of flat rooms as it was in Zak. That being said it didn't take me more than 10 minutes to get through any the mazes so it wasn't too bad.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 05, 2015 at 04:56
I saw someone playing through the jungle maze in MI by accident, without ever looking at the map. He probably didn't take the most direct route but it happened quite quickly and he never even realized he was supposed to use the map. I didn't know how to react.

Ema - Oct 05, 2015 at 08:57
I realized now that I understood the meaning of the map only on my second play through. Now that you mention it, I remembered I found the X by di ncident the first time. And it is not difficult. If you wander for a while in the maze you will find it quite soon. It didnt happen to me to find Carla by incident. Maybe is that more difficult because of less matching paths and/or the lenght of the path? Maybe the fact that it is easy to find the treasure wandering was somehow wanted by the developers?

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 05, 2015 at 09:29
I think the map puzzle in Tales of Monkey Island was handled nicely. You have to fold it a certain way, depending on where you need to go. That dramatically reduces the chances of accidental puzzle solving.

Ema - Oct 05, 2015 at 10:05
Sorry for typos. Big fingers and small smartphone...

Ema - Oct 05, 2015 at 08:57
I realized now that I understood the meaning of the map only on my second play through. Now that you mention it, I remembered I found the X by di ncident the first time. And it is not difficult. If you wander for a while in the maze you will find it quite soon. It didnt happen to me to find Carla by incident. Maybe is that more difficult because of less matching paths and/or the lenght of the path? Maybe the fact that it is easy to find the treasure wandering was somehow wanted by the developers?

Necrosis Thanatos - Oct 05, 2015 at 10:23
Thanks for making me feel old, guys.  :-)  I learned Algol, Fortran, COBOL, and Assembler on an IBM 370 mainframe on punched cards back in the 70s and 80s.  Today I'm a mainframe programmer working in COBOL and Assembler.  Of course, we don't use punched cards anymore; we use cassette tapes (just kidding...).

Paulup - Oct 05, 2015 at 11:02
In both Monkey Island 1 and 2, I got through the mazes by trial and error, as I didn't figure out that there were directions given...

Both times I assumed I had to keep track of each room and look at details in each room to "recognize" them... like flowers and tree positions in the forest and then number of doors and the little things over the doors in LeChuck's fortress.

It was only on subsequent playthroughs that I was like, "oh... OHHhhhHHHH!!!"

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 05, 2015 at 12:36
You should've picked pixel hunting as your answer, Ron. After all these years, you find out almost no one solved the game right. :D

Ema - Oct 05, 2015 at 14:30
Come on, Bogdan! Don't be so rigid! ;-)
there's not a way to "solve the game right" or to "solve it wrong".
The nice thing in that kind of puzzle is that you have two options: you can save your brain stamina and "take the long way", or you can make it faster, thinking your way out. If Ron wanted you to solve the maze only if you understood the map puzzle, he would have make it impossible in the other way. Take the example of the maze under Monkey Island. Correct me if I am wrong, but in that maze it is IMPOSSIBLE to get to the ship without using the head. I think the developers, there, simply DIDN'T want people to find the ship randomly.
After all, do you remember what Guybrush says when he first sees the map? He says "I think I have been ripped off", or something like that. That means he didn't solve the puzzle too! :-)
And, of course, in the pixel-hunting book puzzle in TP bookstore you'll have the same two options: the smart and fast one, OR reading all titles book by book.
Someone said: Ron wanted A LOT of title to discourage random search. Are you sure? I mean, are we sure that so many funny titles will discourage people? Or, maybe, will encourage them to check all them out? ;-)

Grafekovic - Oct 07, 2015 at 05:52
Theres a game out today called "Monkey Pirates".... Sounds like a possible subtitel of Monkey Island 3a.

Mathieu Martin - Oct 07, 2015 at 12:34
Gary - I can speak from personal experience when I say that the schools that teach game design courses are not terribly successful at placing their students.  I myself graduated in a class of ten and I can safely say that perhaps one of them is actually working in the industry.