Thimbleweed Park Podcast #25

by Ron Gilbert
Oct 10, 2015

Now, with 100% more Mark Ferrari!

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

- Ron

P.S. I promise I will buy a new mic this weekend so I'm easier to hear. All that Kickstarter money isn't going to spend itself.

Kevin Drum - Oct 10, 2015 at 15:32
I think you sound fine, though Mark sounds an awful lot like KITT from Knight Rider.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 11, 2015 at 03:11
On the other hand, He's a *Ferrari* ...

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 10, 2015 at 16:18
Mark, are you related to Jim Sachs?

ciaps - Oct 10, 2015 at 16:36
Hi Ron,

Regarding characters animations, in the end did you go for Spine?

If yes, are you using SpriteSheets or some more modern bone-interpolation system? I am quite curious, as the animations look super smooth, from the teaser videos.

Thanks and keep up the great work!

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 10, 2015 at 22:59
They've said Spine would potentially be used for cutscenes, not for in-game animation. They've also said that they'd need to wait to see how many cutscenes there are in the game before making a decision.

Although I'm not an artist, as far as I can tell, Spine is an interesting way of reducing costs while not completely giving up on the quality of the work (i.e., it's better than sprite "hinging" but worse than drawing by "hand"). Cutscenes are expensive to produce because they are usually more detailed and because they are typically not reused throughout the game.

ciaps - Oct 11, 2015 at 04:54
Thank you Bogdan!

I missed the part you mentioned. I think that an awesome result is given by the technique used by Tim Schafer's team in Broken Age, everything is 2D but rigged & animated as it was 3D. The result is super-smoothness but also transitions -- meaning that you have to make, say, a run and walk animation, and you get "fast walk" animation for free thanks to interpolation. But this is definitely not something resembling old-school style anims!

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 11, 2015 at 11:07
That, too, is a trade-off. Interpolated rendering basically means that the artists only drew some of the keyframes, leaving the renderer to generate the frames in between by "averaging" things out. While the result will indeed be smooth, it'll also seem a bit "lifeless" (because you can't do anything interesting look good, like muscles flexing, hairs moving around, clothes folding, wounds bleeding, etc.). I'm not trying to belittle the technique, of course. Solving problems always involves trade-offs, whether they are obvious to the users or not.

Sushi - Oct 10, 2015 at 17:41
Looking forward to your post, Mark! If nothing else, we'll finally get to see what your avatar looks like.
Unless I missed it somewhere in one of the comments, I think you are the only one in team Thimbleweed who did not yet show his 8-bit rendition. A team page would come in handy.
Ron, you promised in June to make a team page after your move to Seattle. Just say it out loud. :)

Brian S - Oct 11, 2015 at 23:12
I'm sure Mark has commented on several posts.  I just looked back and found at least one:

It would be awesome to have a team page.  A huge part of the work is already done with that last blog post. :)

Sushi - Oct 12, 2015 at 15:11
Thanks Brian! I totally forgot about that one.
I only found some posts where his gravatar was just a big question-Mark
(Pun initially not intended :D)

Carlo Valenti - Oct 10, 2015 at 18:26
When is the work on soundtrack going to start? Did you ever consider Chris Huelsbeck to work for this game as programmer and/or musician?

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 10, 2015 at 18:30
Ron answered your first question in the last post.

skarsson - Oct 10, 2015 at 21:28
Hey Ron, here are some mic recommendations for ya:

They're awesome for the price, and they connect via plain ol' USB.

Guy who sits on stone - Oct 11, 2015 at 05:05
Wow. Now I am really looking forward to Mark's post. Most because I want to learn a few things about how to create such things.

And I am hoping he is focusing on direct tools, as he mentioned the anti aliasing thingee in photoshop. Because the overall design thoughts are great to listen to. But I also love to hear about direct tools you people use, in the programs you use, so I can try a do the same..... and failing at it, but still learning.

Jammet - Oct 11, 2015 at 05:19
Thank you for the Podcast! Ron, I don't usually run my mouth with suggestions like that, but when you mentioned the save-game system, and that it produces a screen-shot for every save-game slot, I was wondering about cute little eighties details. Wouldn't it be neat to have that old authentic motor and snap of a vintage Polaroid camera when you save? And roll out the screen-shot into view - just the way these old cameras spat out these thick cardboard/plastic pictures?

tomimt - Oct 11, 2015 at 05:58
Looking forward for the art post by mr. Ferrari. The process soudns interesting and I'm sure the post will be insightful.

Giulio - Oct 11, 2015 at 05:59
Will the different parts/acts/sections of the game be announced by a short "graphical screen" with a short title (i.e. "The Largo Embargo") and the main theme playing at the same time?
I am referring to this:

I really loved those as they helped to set the mood (loved looking at the art and trying to guess what would happen) and also made it clear when a section of the game was over and the new one began!

Michael Hoffmann - Oct 11, 2015 at 11:01
I like this suggestion!

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 11, 2015 at 15:14
The Force might be strong with this idea.

Grafekovic - Oct 11, 2015 at 16:04
100% more Mark Ferrari? Does that mean 100% more than usual, than it still would be 0. If it is 100% more than the only episode where he appeared, then there would be two Mark Ferraris... very confusing.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 11, 2015 at 19:10
If you divide Mark into 100 slices and you usually have none (0%), then having 100 Mark slices gives you one full mark (100%).

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 11, 2015 at 19:11
(Note how that's 100 slices more than 0.)

Grafekovic - Oct 11, 2015 at 23:21
That's not how you calculate with percentages.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 12, 2015 at 00:15
No, that's how *you* don't calculate with percentages and I strongly recommend you change that to the correct way. :)

Dominik - Oct 12, 2015 at 05:41
Since this seems to be a very important point about the blog post and the game development in gerneral I just want to add the "correct" solution:

It depends. (As so often in life).

The deciding factor wether the statement "100% more Marc Ferrari" is correct or not is the point of reference.

If the percentage is referenced to the *presence* of the one Marc Ferrari than 0% percent means "nothing of the One Marc Ferrari is present" while 100 percent means that "everything of the One Marc Ferrari is present". Then "with 100% more Marco Ferrari" would be correct.

If the point of reference is the Marc Ferrari *baseline of the previous podcast* than "100% more" is wrong because 100% more of null (baseline of the previous podcast) is still null and not one:

MF(podcast(n-1)) := 0
MF(podcast(n)) := 100% x MF(podcast(n-1)) + MF(podcast(n-1))

MF(podcast(n)) := 100 : 100 * MF(podcast(n-1)) + MF(podcast(n-1))
<=> MF(podcast(n)) := 100 : 100 * 0 + 0
<=> MF(podcast(n)) := 0


That should clear this utmost important discussion up.
If you have a different opinion please feel free to weigh in - this problems clearly needs to be looked at in depth ;-)

Dominik - Oct 12, 2015 at 05:42
Damn'it! The highlighting code just ate up some multiplicators. Here now in TWP-Blog-Safe-notation:

MF(podcast(n-1)) := 0
MF(podcast(n)) := 100% x MF(podcast(n-1)) + MF(podcast(n-1))

MF(podcast(n)) := 100 : 100 x MF(podcast(n-1)) + MF(podcast(n-1))
<=> MF(podcast(n)) := 100 : 100 x 0 + 0
<=> MF(podcast(n)) := 0

Grafekovic - Oct 12, 2015 at 06:34
That should clear it, but it doesn't since it is also not correct. A percent is nothing you have, so you can't put some percent somewhere and then you have something. It is always related to something that is already there.
If you have nothing and now have 100% more of that, that doesn't mean that you now have something.

Dominik - Oct 12, 2015 at 09:09
Damn! I didn't think of the linguistic problem behind this and only looked at the problem from a mathematical standpoint! How naive ;-)
But since we are going interdisciplinary now, I have to weigh in with the REAL philosophical question:

Is there even a Marc Ferrari? Or a Ron Gilbert? Or a podcast for that matter?

Or from a physics standpoint:

Are there different realities? One in which there is a Marc Ferrari in this podcast and one where there is not?

Derrick Reisdorf - Oct 12, 2015 at 12:12
We USED to have 100% LESS Mark Ferrari.


Bogdan Barbu - Oct 12, 2015 at 14:14
Wow, quite a bunch of answers. I don't intend to read any of them because I was only trying to cause my usual mischief but people seem to be taking this a little bit too serious. The phrasing is ambiguous and I was taking advantage of that. It could be interpreted to mean either the amount of Mark (100% more than 0% is 100%) or the amount of increase in Mark (100% of 0% more than 0% is 0%).

Big Red Button - Oct 11, 2015 at 18:31
In my opinion someone ought to code a *pixel art editor* that combines all the advantages of D-Paint and Photoshop.

Ron Gilbert - Oct 11, 2015 at 19:05
I agree. Let me know when it's done.

Brian S - Oct 11, 2015 at 23:07
Thanks for joining the podcast this week, Mark!   It's amazing that you can get these rooms done in 2-3 days.  I'm looking forward to your upcoming blog post.  I'm sure it will take much more time than you want it to, but believe me, it will be appreciated!

Grafekovic - Oct 11, 2015 at 23:25
It is amazing indeed, but on the other hand he simply doesn't have more time for each room, when there are around 100 of them.

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 12, 2015 at 00:16
Or zero, depending on how you count. :) Sorry, couldn't help it.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 12, 2015 at 06:29
Let's continue with "people involved in Maniac Mansion story".
After episode 1 (Aric Wilmunder), programmer and friend of our main TP Team members, here is
Episode 2: Chris Grigg - composer of original music of Maniac Mansion.
What does he do now? Did you have seen him in recent years?

Jammet - Oct 12, 2015 at 10:20
Yeah, the title music is so iconic, I've been known to make "strange noises" (the drums) at the dinner table and nobody really knew where that came from. :D

Derrick Reisdorf - Oct 12, 2015 at 12:18
It'd be cool if the pixel palette (if really limited, like, 16 colors, for example) was built into the engine, and then the gamer could go into the option menu and change the value of each enumerated pixel...just for fun, if it wasn't too hard to implement.
The player would, of course, be able to switch back to default palette at any time, in case he/she wanted to switch back to how it was "supposed" to be.  Maybe it could be an Easter egg.

Derrick Reisdorf - Oct 12, 2015 at 12:22
I was thinking about this being done at a lower level, just for the sake of doing it.  But, the easiest way would probably to create some layer that would render mapped color values (using the user-defined offset) on the fly.

Ema - Oct 12, 2015 at 13:58
I'm not sure if I understand what you described...
Anyway, it would be great to play TP in 16 colors, as in the first EGA lucasfilm titles...
But I think it is simply more work for the art team, and it wastes precious resources... :-( giving the fact that most of the players will try the ega version -just for fun- for, let's say... 5 minutes?