Thimbleweed Park Podcast #30

by Ron Gilbert
Nov 14, 2015

Listen to me be unable to pronounce "walk box" and we're also joined by special guest star Malcolm Stead.

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

- Ron

Mattias Cedervall - Nov 14, 2015 at 14:45
I'm glad that Malcolm joined.

I hate jazz!

Malcolm - Nov 15, 2015 at 04:18
Me too. I'm more a hardcore punk fan... Not sure if that'd fit the game though.

Petri - Nov 15, 2015 at 06:23
Smooth jazz (or elevator music, as I call it) has worked well in some games. It's good for comedy at least :)

If I was making music for a game like this, I'd definitely see the Twin Peaks soundtrack as an influence, with that ominous kind of swing to it. But it would have to be more eighties I guess.. Maybe throw in some U2 guitars and some period synthesizers?

Really enjoying the blog and podcasts, btw.

Big Red Button - Nov 15, 2015 at 07:10
I think it depends on the respective style of jazz. If the musicians are talented, it can sound well. The music in the TP trailer, for instance, has pleased me.

Big Red Button - Nov 14, 2015 at 16:02
How do you make sure that your revisions of the code don't get mixed up? Whenever several people make different changes, all the modifications need to be harmonized. Is the code divided, depending on your areas of responsibility?

The drums from Birdman are an interesting suggestion. Maybe Steve Kirk could supplement such drums with some screaming guitar sounds for dramatic cut-scenes.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Nov 14, 2015 at 17:47
Oh the podcast is already online! Here is almost midnight, now... I'll listen tomorrow morning.... good night.... ronf... zzz....

Arto - Nov 14, 2015 at 18:14
"Walks Bock" sounds about right.
Bock is a strong lager of German origin.

Peter Campbell - Nov 14, 2015 at 18:50
Sounds more like "Wocks Bocks" ^_^

vegetaman - Nov 14, 2015 at 19:08
Oooh, I like the change-up of having a guest. Very nice.

longuist - Nov 14, 2015 at 21:19
Yo Ho Ho. "Little" offtopic, but avast ye:

Ahoy bilge-suckers! Aye just heard about a Monkey Island™ theatre play in Germany:

Blimey! Judging from the last years video it looks a little like the theatre scene from Big Lebowski. Shiver me timbers! For me a big plus :)
Therefore i decided to attend on Nov 20.
I happen to live in Halle atm as a Halunke (rapscallion / scoundrel; You get lovingly entitled this way if you are not born there :)
So if ye plan to attend too, but live far far away (ie Deep in the Caribbean), ask me about ACCOMMODATION™ (Fee about 1 Grog, arrr!)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Nov 15, 2015 at 02:47
Good morning!
I have two questions:
1) Mr. Malcolm Stead: what's the name of the first game you have published when you was just 14  years old?
2) TP team: nowadays there are tools like bug trackers which simplify the process of write, read and change the state of a bug. Everything and everyone is connected. But back to the '80, for example while developing and testing Zak McKracken: how did you manage the bugs? Zak McKracken is a prefect bugs free game, even in the first version on commodore 64!
Answers like "because we are good people" are accepted.
Thank you!

Mr Malcolm Stead - Nov 15, 2015 at 04:11
Xorktrons on the Sinclair spectrum... It was basically a space invaders rip off with large sprites.

Nibble - Nov 15, 2015 at 04:56
At least in 1991 they seemed to have a bug tracking system:

Ron Gilbert - Nov 15, 2015 at 11:38
2) I can't speak for Zak, but for Maniac Mansion, we had one tester and he wrote his bugs on a piece of paper and handed them to one of us. It was that simple. For Monkey Island, the testers entered all the bugs into FileMaker on the Mac and would print me out a bug report everyday. I'd go around to the team and hand out the bugs. Everyone would mark down what they fixed and I'd hand it back to the lead tester. Version control and bug trackers are like heaven.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Nov 15, 2015 at 07:02
Great! It looks like a self-made program to tracks and assign the bugs.

Ron Gilbert - Nov 15, 2015 at 11:40
Monkey Island was done in FileMaker for the Mac.  It was not networked together. There was one Mac that had the DB and it was printed out and handed to the team.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Nov 16, 2015 at 03:47
Thanks for the answers.
In the pre-Internet era, that solution was the best possible simple and efficient, I think!

Giulio - Nov 15, 2015 at 10:07
Talking about shortcuts, will it be possible to skip walking through long rooms just by double clicking on a door or on close to the connection to the next room? (Sort of the "red arrow" idea introduced in MI3) This would save a lot of time.

Ron Gilbert - Nov 15, 2015 at 11:34
I don't know, but it's unlikely. I am not a fan of meta-movement. It destroyed the sense of the world. Everyone wants to speed through the world these days (and I'm talking about the real world). Adventure games should be savored and enjoyed, not speed run from day one.

Giulio - Nov 15, 2015 at 14:23
I actually think you did make a valid point. At the same time I reckon never really having a problem in old Lucas games where either rooms where never that big or eternal room chains were avoided (mazes make an exception of course! :) ). Speed on maps was kind of fine in MI1 and travelling between Island could be skipped on MI2. I'm sure you will handle things well avoiding eternal travelling from one point to another (anyone who played Simon the Sorcerer 1 will know what I mean).

Biggus Dickus - Nov 15, 2015 at 16:56
Great decision. I always use the shortcut, but only because I CAN do it and it's the easy way. I always have the same thought, that it somehow destroys the world I'm playing through. As in real life I need someone to discipline me to do it the "hard" way. ;-)

nikola - Nov 15, 2015 at 20:12
The most memorable room of the Neverhood was the Hall of records: long hallway with all of the history of the world written on the walls of countless screens, that You had to traverse to get one of the discs needed to end the game. It was painfull, felt unnecessary, but it worked and now in hindsight I really like the experience. (10 minutes of constant walking)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Nov 16, 2015 at 03:52
Well, I remeber the dinning room in MM (the one with the old rotten turkey), it was very long, but it was funny to pass through!
On Commodore 64, I placed the cursor on a particular spot near the lower right corner, and simply pushed the fire button on the joystick to update the walking :-)
It was part of the fun...

Martin Wendt - Nov 16, 2015 at 04:26
I fully agree . For the new C64 Adventure we went with a quick-exit System for (open) doors and room-edges, though. So hovering over an empty door generates an exit-symbol and a double-click then exits the room instantly. For stairs we intentionally did not implement that to allow for a smoother transition (i.e. to the next level of the building etc).

Derrick Reisdorf - Nov 17, 2015 at 11:25
Maybe just speed up the character's walk when you double-click a door/exit?

It could be a little frustrating for a player who thinks he/she has the solution to a puzzle but then has to traverse the entire game world to where they need to try their solution.  And, what if what the player tries doesn't even work out to be the solution?  I remember having to do this several times when playing Broken Age and it was kind of a pain in the butt.

Some design keeps or tries to keep players within a compartment when presented with a puzzle, but ultimately when you open up a lot of the game world, that game world traversal can feel a bit tedious when you are stuck.

Of course, if you have puzzles that are dependent on how a player moves, you will have to design special cases to handle this if you allow the player to move faster or to "quick travel" to other rooms or areas.

Derrick Reisdorf - Nov 18, 2015 at 13:10
And, what I mean by "puzzles that are dependent on how a player moves" are those cases when there's a time-based puzzle (like the melting mugs in Monkey Island) or if the placement of an object or character depends on where the player is or is moving (like when the character is being chased by Nurse Edna in Maniac Mansion).  If you allow the player to "quick travel" or change the movement speed, you would have to add mechanisms that would be able to add the proper amount of time to whatever timer is active and also add proper delay for a non-player character to enter the new room if that character is giving chase, respectively.

Monkey Islander - Nov 18, 2015 at 06:22
My son, a bit shy of two years old, just loves walking around the world of Monkey Island 1. He just taps around all the time - granted that it's not the game you created anymore, being played on the iPad, but still pretty much the same idea.

The same goes for board games adapted to computers and the internet - why on earth are the people playing the games if their only intention is to get through them as fast as possible - isn't the whole idea of gaming at least in part supposed to be in actually spending time in the game, not just achieving the goals?
Where's the leisure or the joy of playing the games if the only goal is to get to the end as fast as possible?

Carlo Valenti - Nov 15, 2015 at 14:35
The music! The music! It's soooooo important! Think of any masterpiece without its music!

Alessander - Nov 16, 2015 at 23:46
I knew it was a big lie :-P

Concerning the music, I think they were the heart and soul of many of the best games ever produced, when the graphics were not that good and proper attention was given to music in order to help our immersion into the game. As for  pixel art, IMHO, 8bit songs can be great too.

There are many 8bit masterpieces like Ducktales' "The Moon":

Zelda's "A Link to the Past - Lost Woods"

The new version is also great:

But also soudtracks of new games like The Tapping Dead:

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Nov 17, 2015 at 05:15
You took me into the past, now... at the time when, after school, I turned on my Amiga 500 and played many games... but first of all, watched all the intro/demos in front of them, because they were wonderful artwork, for their music and effects.

Some examples, etched in my memory:

Gods (by Bitmap Brothers) :
Cannon Fodder (by Sensible Software) :
Xenon 2 (by The Assembly Line) :

Further back in time, of course, the unforgettable intro of The Secret Of Monkey Island 2 (PC version) :

Zak McKracken And The Alien Mindbenders (Commodore 64 english version) :
(I never wanted to skip the intro, because I knew there were some clues in it!!)

...and futher back in time... the very first intro I used to watch...
Maniac Mansion (Commodore 64 english version) :
I loved the crickets and the dialogs among Dave and the other two kids, in particular Bernard :-)


Carlo Valenti - Nov 17, 2015 at 08:20
My favourites:
Turrican 2 (music by Chris Huelsbeck)
Monkey Island (I like very much the tracks from Special Edition)
Loom (the guy who composed the score has some chance to become someone :)))) :D )

Big Red Button - Nov 17, 2015 at 10:40
With regard to Loom: In my opinon it's a little bit lazy to use an existing classical composition such as Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky for a soundtrack, albeit it sounds good. A similar example is the movie '2001: A Space Odyssey' which even caused a debate about this topic, since its originally intended score had been replaced by some popular classical works.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Nov 17, 2015 at 11:23
Turrican 2 is one of the best shoot'em up I ever played! Finished (with trainer, otherwise it is impossible!)
And about Loom: I agree with you. Lady cygna is a perfect character for the "Death of the Swan" opera.

Derrick Reisdorf - Nov 17, 2015 at 10:57
These podcasts are all just one big lie.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Nov 17, 2015 at 11:26
My answer to your sentence
(push the Big Red Button) :

Kickstarter-rabbit - Nov 18, 2015 at 06:17
Just wondering, when will those of us having pledged for the audio phone book entryin the kickstarter campaign be getting to record our messages?

Someone - Nov 18, 2015 at 07:19
Please read the FAQ:

"Probably not until Jan 2016. You will receive an email via Kickstarter when we're ready."

rabbity kickdisastery - Nov 18, 2015 at 07:42
yeah, I did read that. Probably. Then again, I was possibly looking for an updated answer. Maby?.

Big Red Button - Nov 18, 2015 at 09:21
Ron repeated it about 2 weeks ago in the comments:

mr. T - Nov 19, 2015 at 05:05
Organ music! Yeah, definitely organ music.

dada - Nov 19, 2015 at 15:46
There is gonna be a rat.. now the game is worthy of promotion on Matt Barton's channel.

Oliver Bachmann - Nov 20, 2015 at 11:23
Don't forget your  white lab coat and a clipboard.