Thimbleweed Park Podcast #55

by Ron Gilbert
Jul 10, 2016

Join us this week for a delayed podcast where David keeps dropping the M-bomb, so this one might not be family friendly. Have you talked to your kids about mazes?

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

You can also get the podcast directly from iTunes.

- Ron

vegetaman - Jul 10, 2016 at 12:57
Great podcast, very glad you got your mac fixed and that the podcast was saved. Sounds like things are coming along great!

The Man who feared slugs - Jul 10, 2016 at 13:08
I liked the Warcraft movie. But I really felt it was mostly made for fans of the franchise. Because they really tried to push in all the characters of the lore into the movie, and also tell the whole story of the Warcraft 1 game (less is sometimes more). I personally liked what they did, but I do undestand those who will find it very confusing, not knowing who all the many orcs and humans are.

Bogdan Barbu - Jul 10, 2016 at 21:20
I liked it too and think they did a good job. I don't think it'd be confusing for someone who doesn't know any of the lore but I do think they'll get much less out of it.

Mattias Cedervall - Jul 10, 2016 at 17:42
Everybody, let's DDOS attack Twitter for Ron's sake!

I've played Warcraft 1-3 and I think the movie was pretty good. My buddy hadn't played the games, but I think he thought the movie was okay. We went to the cinema together = very romantic. :P

So it's now confirmed that Son of the beach aka David "M***" Fox's next point and click-adventure game will be based on Baywatch...

Arto - Jul 10, 2016 at 18:32
Nooooooo, no mazes! I hated them on Zak. And in Indy III. And in MI. And in MI 2. And in Indy IV. So all the games I liked the most had the element I hated the most. Except MM and Loom.

"Everybody, let's DDOS attack Twitter for Ron's sake!"
I have tried to proof the Twitter people that their service is a bad idea by Tweeting stuff. So far they are resilient, but I'm sure they will come to a conclusion that it's best to shut down the service.

Mattias Cedervall - Jul 10, 2016 at 19:26
I too hate mazes! It's because I don't have a sense of direction so I get lost all the time, in real life as well. :-(

We should buy Twitter and then shut it down. ;P Ron would be in our debt so he would give us Thimbleweed Park's source code.

I recommend the funny TV-show Son of the beach (it's not in slowmotion):

Francesco Favia - Jul 10, 2016 at 18:42
I did not like the maze in Indy, I like the one in MI a litte less in MI 2 and that' s it...
you have to design a maze extremely well in order to not to frustrate the player... you know that guys right? :D

Ron Gilbert - Jul 10, 2016 at 18:50
We don't expect players to find their way though the maze. It's a puzzle. When you have the right object, it's trivial. When you don't have the object, it's obvious and you won't waste time trying.

Derrick Reisdorf - Jul 11, 2016 at 01:34
I'm cool with mazes of any kind.  So.  Will you not be able to traverse the maze without the clue?  No way to accidentally stumble through it?  Or will it not even be accessible without the clue?

I almost think that a maze puzzle of some kind is mandatory in point-and-click adventure games.  Whether it be a true maze or some kind of pseudo-maze puzzle.

Bogdan Barbu - Jul 11, 2016 at 04:57
I never really liked the mazes in adventure games because they always seem to be tedious. After you figure out the solution (which can be interesting, e.g., the map folding enabling different routes in Tales of Monkey Island), you have to go through a whole lot of screens constantly checking some inventory item (or whatever) along the way.

Big Red Button - Jul 11, 2016 at 08:30
I assume that you think of the maze from MI 2, in which you had to check the arrangements of the bones several times. Don't you? Though, in my opinion, the mazes from the first MI have been the best mazes of all SCUMM games. If the maze in TP is inspired by them, I doubt that it could become any tedious. You only need to solve the puzzle.

Bogdan Barbu - Jul 11, 2016 at 13:40
Checking the bone song, checking the navigator's head, checking the wind direction, checking what sounds in the jungle to follow, etc. It's all the same to me. I got the solution and now I have to do this annoying thing for a while.

Big Red Button - Jul 11, 2016 at 14:09
Of course, iterations may annoy the player, but, in my opinion, these sequences are still too short to really become annoying - at least in terms of the mazes from MI 1 & 2.
Being lost in a maze would be much more annoying. In Zak, for instance, I was lost a few times. :)

Bogdan Barbu - Jul 11, 2016 at 18:34
Well, annoyance is subjective and I was only speaking for myself. I haven't played through the whole of Zak yet, only the first 20 mins or so. I'll try to make time soon.

Nor Treblig - Jul 11, 2016 at 17:07
I think they helped making the world feel more real. You can wander around in the real world and get lost too. In most games this is not possible at all.
If you keep the mazes short and the number low per game they aren't bad IMHO.

Interestingly enough every Monkey Island game had one, even the newer, 3D ones.

Bogdan Barbu - Jul 11, 2016 at 18:38
The point of most video game is to create their own world with their own rules, not to simulate real life. And even if they wanted to simulate the real world to some degree, it's a a valid question to ask whether you also want to also include the frustrating parts of it, like getting lost.

Ron Gilbert - Jul 11, 2016 at 19:01
If you want the character to feel lost, the best way to to make the player feel lost, but in a way that just tickles those feelings and doesn't become full blown frustration. That's the line to find. It's a different line for everyone, so  you have to assume a small margin of error. The problem is game designers that take pride in getting the player stuck and frustrated. That's not fun.

Bogdan Barbu - Jul 11, 2016 at 19:23
It's a shame that spoilers prevent you from talking more about the most interesting part of the development process, which is the actual game design (how you come up with the world and the story, how you construct the puzzles, etc.).

Ron Gilbert - Jul 11, 2016 at 19:35
Yeah, that is a frustrating part of the process right now. There are a lot of interesting things going on, but they would be huge spoilers.

Nor Treblig - Jul 11, 2016 at 20:17
@Bogdan Barbu:
Simulating real life situations can help getting real life emotions.
But of course we don't want real frustation.
And yes, everyone is different. I for myself enjoyed the mazes in Zak McKracken. I also like to draw maps. I'm special :-)

If you come across particular interesting things please write a blog post.
Then schedule it to being posted in one year.

Big Red Button - Jul 12, 2016 at 09:46
@ Nor Treblig:
That's true. A maze in which you may get lost is nonetheless a challenge. To my shame I have to admit that I hadn't noted my path through the maze, when I was lost in Zak™ and I'm therefore not allowed to complain.
By the way, a lot of players complained about the Monkey Kombat™ in Escape from MI™, which was more complicated than the sword fights™. But, if you try it out and think about it, it's not that difficult to manage.

Nor Treblig - Jul 12, 2016 at 11:08
@Big Red Button:
When I got lost in a Zak maze (I didn't really draw maps when I was a kid...) I still managed to get out of them (or accidentally to the target) fairly easy by wandering around some time.
Those locations felt quite large. I was surprised to see they are relatively simple mazes after drawing maps.

EMI (MI4): Monkey Kombat™ was OK. It's very similar to the insult sword fighting in MI1, which also means tedious, but without the (funny!) insults which made the original one far more enjoyable.

Also the very last puzzle of the game was quite evil... but I like challenges :-)

Gffp - Jul 11, 2016 at 14:33
And remember: you won't become a pirate just by asking!
To the shopkeeper: ahem where is the swordmaster?
To the cannibals: can I have the navigator's head? Please can I have it? Oh pleeeeease can I just have it? I'm begging you... Cannibals: Oooook.
The first puzzle solving is more honest, the second one... I always thought there was a little bit of sadism by the writers ehehehe...

Gffp - Jul 11, 2016 at 14:51
Oh I confused the cannibals with the navigator's head, you have to beg him to have the necklace... anyway the essence is the same...

Lennart - Jul 11, 2016 at 13:02
Those kind of mazes I like. The labyrinth below crete is one of my favorize parts of Indy4. I don't know if that counts as maze, but the exploring, and going deeper and deeper is fun. The Sphinx in Zak was also great, although I remember that it took me awhile to figure out the Sun symbols. I don't remember there being any hint to this in the game. Although it makes total sense, considering it's egypt.

Derrick Reisdorf - Jul 12, 2016 at 09:48
(From Wikipedia):

Many contemporary scholars and enthusiasts observe a distinction between mazes and labyrinths.  In this specialized usage, maze refers to a complex branching multicursal puzzle with choices of path and direction, while a unicursal labyrinth has only a single path to the center.

However, it's more commonplace that we use "maze" and "labyrinth" interchangeably.

Jesper - Jul 10, 2016 at 18:56
Ron, did you just say "consol versionS" - as in plural? ;)

Mario F. - Jul 11, 2016 at 03:29
@DAVID , for the next podacast i would like to hear you all singing the song : "We're lot of fun, Lucasfilm games" ?

Gffp - Jul 11, 2016 at 04:56
Maze maze maze, wherefore art thou Ro-maze? The maze I liked the most is the Melée forest. I asked a friend of mine at school (good old days) how to reach the swordmaster, he said: "hey just follow the shopkeeper!" I thought "Follow the shopkeeper? What kind of action is that? There's not even a verb to do that!" I never managed to figure out I had to follow the shopkeeper. It led me to a completely different way to solve a puzzle. It wasn't use this with this, it was just observation! I had a strange sensation like I was cheating, it felt strange but I liked it. What a freshness among the tedious repetition of the games of that era! Even if I didn't solve the puzzle, I felt a good sensation. And you knew you were doing the right thing because that nice tune started, known as "Following the shopkeeper"...
On the other hand, catacombs in Venice are were I abandoned Indy 3. I felt completely lost and there was no fun in it, nor a reason to try to go on. It's also (like Mattias Cedervall) because I had a bad sense of direction back then, but the game no way helped me learn something about acquiring a better one. Dead point. Catacombs, after all.

R.C.M. - Jul 11, 2016 at 07:58
Yay, a new podcast! I can end my hunger strike now! :D

Warcraft is one of those franchises that I'm very surprised that people haven't gotten sick of/lost interest in yet, considering how overused/overexposed/overeverything it's been the past decade. It's certainly a good franchise but I wish Blizzard would stop running it into the ground. They need to revive the Lost Vikings franchise, those were some good games!

BTW, I hope at some point in TWP somebody says 'yikes' at least once.

Nor Treblig - Jul 11, 2016 at 17:08
I think many gamers do get sick of it and take a break for months. Then, when there is a new expansion they start playing again, at least for a while.

I loved The Lost Vikings (1)! I couldn't really get into the sequel. The (3D pre-rendered) graphics are quite ugly and the gameplay/puzzles weren't on par with the original, at least the beginning didn't really catch me.

Marc - Jul 11, 2016 at 14:21
What did you just say? England left the UK?

Arto - Jul 11, 2016 at 14:33
It May (see what I just did there? ;) take even 10 years until UK is out of EU. Most people seem to say it'll take 2 years. If they will leave. Even that is not decided yet.

Steven Don - Jul 12, 2016 at 05:12
Article 50 defines a 2 year period of negotation, which may be extended. It's unlikely they'll be done in less time.

Arto - Jul 11, 2016 at 14:35
Oh yeah, and England may leave the UK. Or rather, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will leave UK and leave England alone.

Big Red Button - Jul 11, 2016 at 14:56
Not to forget London with its financial sector.

Andy Hall - Jul 12, 2016 at 14:38
Wales also voted to leave the EU.

Steven Don - Jul 12, 2016 at 02:15
UK citizens can, for now, still travel within the EU as they are officially still a full EU member. In fact, the EU council presidency just shifted from The Netherlands to Slovakia, and is slated to move on to Malta on January 1st and the UK on July 1st after that -- that'll be interesting. Only after article 50 has been invoked and the negotiations have been completed, will the UK be extricated from the EU. It is likely that they will negotiate access to the common market area and as a consequence will have to accept free travel of people and goods to and from the EU. The extensive preferential treatment that the UK had negotiated with the EU is likely to be nullified when they actually leave, even though it is equally likely they will still have to implement many EU policies, just no longer having a say in the matter.

Sushi - Aug 11, 2016 at 12:14
It should come as no surprise that the man who brought us "Labyrinth: the computer game" has a thing for M*zes