Thimbleweed Park Podcast #4

by Ron Gilbert
May 01, 2015

A nice and short stand-up meeting this week...

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

- Ron

zombocast - May 01, 2015 at 14:30
Amazing how rapid the development process is when performance  is not a factor. What excites me the most is you can push out a game and build off this framework. For example, Sequels, high res texture packs, pirate themes and so on with relative editorial freedom. i"d be excited to hear if you added a game editor tool on release too for the moding community!

T. Benjamin Larsen - May 01, 2015 at 15:34
Any chances of a technical post about the give-logic?

Mattias Cedervall - May 01, 2015 at 16:52
This is the only broadcast I listen to regularly (while sitting). Feel free to feel flattered. :P The game plays itself?! :-( Watch out for Skynet!

Peter Campbell - May 02, 2015 at 01:35
The ironic thing is that sadly many games these days basically do play themselves.  Quick-time events, unskippable cutscenes that last longer than the actual gameplay segments, hand-holding, etc. etc.  The Order: 1886, Final Fantasy XIII, there's a lot of games guilty of this.

Mattias Cedervall - May 02, 2015 at 08:18
I agree that it's sad. :-(

Peter Campbell - May 02, 2015 at 02:57
Believe it or not, I'm pretty excited about seeing the first demo of vertical scrolling in the game.  Being 100% faithful to the original SCUMM engine and it's limitations would have been a major mistake when designing Thimbleweed Park imo, it in no way benefits the game and I'm sure you guys would have loved to have had more freedom like this with the SCUMM engine back in the day but were simply limited by the C64's hardware.

The parallax scrolling/actor scaling demo was great and gives the world of Thimbleweed Park a greater sense of scope and depth and the video made for some really cool atmosphere.  I think I remember Ron saying that the camera will also zoom in and out in certain situations, at least I think my memory is serving me correctly on this, though I could be wrong lol.  But anyway, a fully versatile 2D camera/scrolling system is something that was sorely lacking during the 8 and 16 bit eras, especially for platformer style games where a pit or enemy could be just a few inches offscreen leading to a cheap hit/death.  

Sometimes though, a very zoomed in camera can actually be advantageous for the game designer's artistic intentions, like if he wants the game to have clever, scary surprises for the player like when going into the kitchen the first time in MM and "meeting" Nurse Edna.    Not a single player felt safe ever again walking around the mansion after that happened lol.  So in the case of a point n click adventure game, a versatile camera and scrolling system just allows for a lot more artistic and atmospheric opportunities and is so beneficial for the game and it's world.

mr. T - May 02, 2015 at 03:24
Could the self playing tester be a subject for a future blog post? I would love to see how that would run in realtime (althought that might actually spoil stuff). Or does it just produce some nifty log files as a result? Or perhaps a cool interactive slideshow/video with rooms overlaid by events performed in each room. Not sure if the latter would be actually overkill or not... Though I reckon one could expand the tester to a more extensive tool with various outputs, GUI, etc., if needed.

Guy with broken chainsaw - May 02, 2015 at 03:49
I just came here to say that I hope you will put in a referece to VHS or/and Beta Max somewhere in the game (for the sake nostalgia).

Peter - May 02, 2015 at 06:44
Hi, I just found a super interesting interview with Brian Moriarty: The topic was the graphical concept for Loom, together with Gary Winnick and Mark Ferrari: "Once the basic concept was settled, I discussed it with Gary Winnick, the lead animator, and Mark Ferrari, the background artist. We found ourselves gravitating towards Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty as a model for the look and feel of the game. Sleeping Beauty has a very distinct aesthetic, unlike any other Disney film. The production designer for the film was Eyvand Earle, a painter known for his flat, stylized shapes and planes. Mark did an amazing job adapting this look to the 16-color EGA pallette." ( What I found super interesting is the fact, that the whole graphical concept for the game was inspired by "Sleeping Beauty" from 1959. If you look at the paintings of  Eyvand Earle, you can understand some of the graphical Inspiration for Loom (both together with "Sleeping Beauty").  When you took Minute 50, you can really see Meele Island Forests origin: . Funny that Disney bought Lucas Arts, because the Inspiration for Monkey Island and Loom was the Pirates of the Caribbean and for the design Sleeping Beauty. I hope that "Thimbleweed Park" will be also a little bit "mystical" and "dark", mixed with strange Marvel/ DC Comics Humour -> than I LOVE this game! Best! Peter

Ploe - May 02, 2015 at 07:21
Man... The game playing itself is a really good idea. Especially easy to implement in a point 'n' click adventure! Really useful too to see if anything's busted. Damn fine idea!

I also like how tidy the walk box enable/disable feature is. How do you connect them to each other? Does each box have an array of adjacent boxes and then the engine susses out the direction the Actor needs to walk  to get to the next box?

I think I was swooning when David and Ron were talking about terse code. I wish I could be making this too :) TOO EXCITING!

Simon - May 02, 2015 at 08:43
Great update, I'd love to be part of such a team.

Regarding the game playing itself:
I've been pondering the idea of an adventure game validator for quite some time.

It should be relatively simple to translate a game into an automata and then use a model checker to find dead-ends. The problem is, that the translation process should be as simple as possible for the programmer. However, writing an easy-to-use translator will definitively require some time and it is probably economically totally meaningless, so I guess we will never see this.

Jammet - May 02, 2015 at 19:05
Hello Ron, David, Gary - thank you so much for another update! :) It's probably normal that there will be less written responses to audio podcasts, no idea why that is, really. I'm enjoying them immensely though, and Thimbleweed Park is coming along nicely, I think!

Dan - May 03, 2015 at 15:57
I assume that it's because of the weekends. And on Mondays this blog usually gets a new update.

Julian - May 04, 2015 at 05:02
I think it would be super - authentic to use Roland MT32 for the Sound, combined with programming the Music in General Midi: . Why not Retro - Sound, if the graphics and the Scumm Engine are already kind of retro?

Marco Lizza - May 04, 2015 at 09:43
I second Julian. Some kind of retro-low-fi-chip music would be great for the retro-mood.

Dan - May 04, 2015 at 11:10
Well, recently I played the MI Special Editions and I really enjoyed the remastered score. Thanks to the use of a real orchestra it has a lot more spirit than the original MIDI score.
Besides I like the music from the TP kickstarter presentation, for example, which has also been used for the podcast intros. It features a great electric guitar sound that would also match the game, I think. But unfortunately 8-bit music doesn't allow cool sounds like that. It just provides a strictly limited scope of sounds.

On the other hand TP is intended to be a retro styled game and there are still a lot of 8-bit artists. Moreover there has been a revival of the classic 8-bit chip music (a.k.a. chiptune) over the last years. So it shouldn't be a real challenge to find an experienced and talented chiptune artist and engage him for the TP sound track.

Dan - May 04, 2015 at 12:16
At least I would love to hear simple 8-bit sounds e.g. when I open/shut a door or toggle a switch, similar to the early SCUMM games.

Marco Lizza - May 04, 2015 at 18:43
@Dan, I also played the remastered Monkey Island games (on PS3) some years ago and really enjoyed them. However, the were *remastered* in their nature. That said, having a full-orchestra soundtrack was coherent with the game versions themselves.

In the case of Thimbleweed Park, being a 8-bit-era inspired adventure game, I feel that having a retro-fashioned music would be a better choice.

Dan - May 05, 2015 at 11:10
Sorry, my comment was a little bit capable of being misunderstood, I think. I didn't want to declare an orchestral soundtrack version obligatory. I simply don't have a marked preference in this case. Both options have their advantages.

Maybe a recorded soundtrack would appeal more to modern gamers. But of course you are right: Chiptune music would be a bit more appropriate for a game like TP and it would make me indulge myself in pleasant nostalgia for sure unlike a recorded soundtrack. 8-bit sound would enable a much more authentic retro-feeling. As I mentioned above the enduring popularity of chiptunes is a good incitement to deploy the classic sound chips for what they were originally destined for: Video games.

Though all the classic sound systems, e.g. C64, Creative Sound Blaster, AdLib cards, NES, have their respective sounds. So a lot of players will unpreventably be irritated in case of an 8-bit soundtrack, because they have differing impressions of the output sound of their appreciated SCUMM games. When you intend to create a retro soundtrack it's difficult to make a good decision regarding the chip type. Unfortunately this could be very subjective. I myself used to play SCUMM games with a Sound Blaster 16 configuration, which in my opinion provided the most favorable sound output of all MIDI controllers back then. I'm very familiar with it and I would definitely favor it over other coeval sound systems off the cuff. So I'm not really sure if an authentic C64-style soundtrack wouldn't get on my nerves sooner or later.

Marco Lizza - May 05, 2015 at 15:10
I think you hit the nail, Dan.

Talking about 8-bit-chip-tune is a very broad and subjective matter. Everyone of us, according to his/her respective kid-gamer experience, expects a different and peculiar rendition.

( in fact, years ago I was shocked in discovering that so many people associates chip-music with the NES while in my heart the one and only chip-tunes are the C64 era ones )

In my case, for example, I associate Maniac Mansion with the SID's envelopes and tone, Monkey Island with the Paula's 4-voices split-stereo, Indiana Jones with the SoundBlaster's MIDI.

On a second though, I'm not sure on how I would like the Thimbleweed soundtrack to sound like. Perhaps a MIDI based one would fit better, but I'm not sure.

( as for the sound effects, I've no doubt in thinking that SID's envelopes rocks :D )