Thimbleweed Park Podcast #60

by Ron Gilbert
Sep 07, 2016

The Trump campaign is in complete disarray after a surprise Wednesday Thimbleweed Park podcast.

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

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 07, 2016 at 22:38
Ron, I submitted a small late change to one my books using the contact form, will the change be implemented?

Ron Gilbert - Sep 08, 2016 at 01:10
The form is closed. If you got around that somehow, it's lost to the ether.

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 08, 2016 at 01:20
I know, so I just submitted the small change via this page:
Thank you for your reply, Ron.

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 07, 2016 at 22:42
I thought that Ron's dog was barking at Mark because he tried to steal Ron's bitcoins! :P I think Mark was possessed and channeling Ransome at Pax! It was a nice surprise to get a new podcast so suddenly! :-) The new music at the end sounds good according to my two biological microphones.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 08, 2016 at 01:36
Agree, very thrilling music. I was imaging it in a dark street...

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 08, 2016 at 03:10
I agree that you agree. I was imagining it in the unemployment office.

Big Red Button - Sep 08, 2016 at 08:02
I also agree. It's very thrilling indeed. It somehow reminds me a bit of the intro from "Welcome to the Machine" by Pink Floyd.

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 08, 2016 at 17:32
I like Pink Floyd.

Big Red Button - Sep 09, 2016 at 06:05
Glad to read this! Me too. It's my favorite band. :-)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 09, 2016 at 06:29
My favourite rock band is Razor and the SCUMMetters!

Big Red Button - Sep 09, 2016 at 15:53
Oh, yes! Though, I think, since we are talking about Razor and the SCUMMetters, Green T and the Sushi Platter must not remain unmentioned.

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 09, 2016 at 16:42
My favorite band is Texas, but I still like Pink Floyd. High hopes might be my favorite song made by Pink Floyd.

Arto - Sep 09, 2016 at 17:18
High hopes is one of the best, but my favorite is Learning to fly. I like the 70's albums, but I prefer the Gilmour era of A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell.
Nightwish did a quite good version of High hopes, BTW.

Big Red Button - Sep 10, 2016 at 05:27
In my opinion, their best concept albums are those from the 70s. But, being asked about their best songs, I would definitely list some songs from the Gilmour era as well, including High Hopes and Learning to Fly.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 08, 2016 at 01:34
Ahahah fantastic! The end of the podcast.  Suspense.... then.... ! ! !

At a certain point, I've heard of 552 bugs, but I didn't understand if they are the total bugs remaining or they were just discovered during the 4 days of Pax. If it is this second one, geez, you are very eagle-eyes guys!

Big Red Button - Sep 08, 2016 at 07:08
Ron said "550 new bugs" at 2:56. That's a high number, I would say. But, as they once told, there are always some bugs that can be fixed within a few minutes. Maybe it wouldn't sound that much, if we also knew how many bugs the team has already fixed. And, if there are some low-priority bugs, which no "average" player notices, these can be fixed even after the game's release.

Dieter - Sep 08, 2016 at 14:10
No, it's not that easy. ;-) This mug knows the programmers life:

Wluut - Sep 09, 2016 at 00:49
I'm pretty sure, you will find wisdom like this in the Thimbleweed Park Library ;-)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 09, 2016 at 03:38
Ah ok, I understood "five hundred fifty TWO bugs" instead of "five hundred fifty NEW bugs".
I rely on your ears!

Uli Kusterer - Sep 11, 2016 at 07:33
Keep in mind that a bug tracker is more of a to-do list for the developers. Many "bugs" in this list could be things users wouldn't consider a bug. Everything from "Mark changed this one pixel in Ransome's hat and you haven't integrated the new graphics because nobody'll notice anyway" to "We forgot to mention Doug Engelbart in the goofy credits" to "The code does what it should but I don't like the way I arranged it, nobody but me understands what it does the way it's written, make a note to clean it up" to "if you have Ransome pick his nose in the Church, you won't see the post-credits teaser for TP2." goes in a bug tracker. Also, often there are duplicates, i.e. several bugs that have the same root cause (and thus no longer happen the moment the first one is fixed).

For a large project like TP on 3 platforms, nearing shipping, I'd say getting 500 bugs in a week or 2 sounds not that unusual, particularly as the whole dev team is away at a conference, so none of them get fixed right away.

Nor Treblig - Sep 11, 2016 at 09:42
"The code does what it should but I don't like the way I arranged it, nobody but me understands what it does the way it's written, make a note to clean it up"

This isn't something that would end up in the bug tracker. A developer would put it directly into code and it would look like this:
// Ugly hack for PAX West 2016, fix ASAP

(also it will never be fixed and 10 years later someone finds this code comment and posts it on Twitter or its successor)

Michael Specht - Sep 08, 2016 at 03:07
Awesome test card music! Is this a track from the game? Can't wait to play!

Thomas - Sep 08, 2016 at 03:09
Why you have removed the pixelated speak font? And why the fat pixelated font in the verb section is remained? Please stay consistent in design!

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 08, 2016 at 03:26
There will be the option "Stay consistent with original design", aka "Pixel purist mode".

Ron Gilbert - Sep 08, 2016 at 09:40
As I've said a hundred times you're NOT looking at a finished game.  Temp stuff stays in games for a long time before being replaced.  Also, the speech font IS pixelated, it's just a higher resolution due to readability.  It will always be that way.

Dieter - Sep 10, 2016 at 06:10
Ron, customers and especially backers are like children. They are impatient and don't listen when adult-ehm-game developers say something. They don't like to read (long) texts and ask every two minutes "are we there yet?" ... ehm ... "when it's ready?".

Balloon Boy - Sep 11, 2016 at 00:53
One time I needed a client to approve an animation but it hadn't been rendered yet, so atop the OpenGL preview with the character rig partially visible, I pasted the words NOT FINAL IMAGE- FOR ANIMATION REFERENCE ONLY. The client watched the animation, thought about it for a moment, then furrowed his brow and asked, "Is this what its going to look like?"

Uli Kusterer - Sep 11, 2016 at 07:41
I've seen designers do that a lot (I'm a UI programmer, working with both designers and clients). This is a usability issue, not stupidity of a client: You've only told them what it won't be. What is "animation reference"? Something like "guidelines will be removed in final render" or so might be clearer.

It's easy to assume everyone knows the intricacies of our terminology, and hard to make assumptions about what others may not know. Tell them what parts of the mock-up are final, like 'positioning mock-up'. Also often helps to actually make a mock-up look less finished, (like a sketch, or B/W or so) to make it more obvious that it's a mock-up.

Nor Treblig - Sep 11, 2016 at 09:40
But... the inventory icons looked final?

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 12, 2016 at 04:33
I fear you could be banned for an assertion like this! 8-()

Balloon Boy - Sep 11, 2016 at 16:30
Sorry but your assumption is wrong. It was for an animated TV spot and the client was aware of the final look, as he'd seen test renders of stills earlier. He was also told that this was only to approve motion and timing. And as I said, I did leave it as unfinished looking as I could (notice I mentioned OpenGL and leaving the rigging visible?). Then, on top of all that, I put the text on. Actually, it was a long time ago so I don't remember the exact wording (I didn't expect anyone to nitpick my funny anecdote!) but its purpose was simply to remind the client he wasn't seeing a final image.

Tim - Sep 08, 2016 at 09:08
That was either Spiffy from the Scumm Bar, or Pep doing a great impression! "Worf woof woof ruff-ruff... warroof, Mêlée Island!"

Zuckerberg - Sep 08, 2016 at 09:31
Hilarious episode (yeah, really). Loved the "Mark and the dough" bit!

Arto - Sep 08, 2016 at 13:58
A podcast on wednesday? That's madness! What's next? A mobile game from Ron Gilbert? Madness I tell you, madness!
(Scurvy Scallywags is a good game BTW. Give it a try.)

Nice piece of music.

Gv - Sep 08, 2016 at 16:46
What about this look for Thimbleweed Park ;)

At least, that is what subsists of Habitat, the ancestor of Maniac Mansion, if I get it right.

Gv - Sep 08, 2016 at 18:05
I mean "After all", not "At least". I had it at the tip of my tongue.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 09, 2016 at 03:43
The style of those character remind me this lost-in-time hilarious adventure.

It was a Sierra adventure.
No, not Leisure Suit Larry saga.
It involved a child who grew up fast, very fast, at the very beginning of the game.

Still guessing? Take a look:

Gv - Sep 09, 2016 at 06:37
Yes, I remember it, but I never played it, it was made by the same guy who made the Goblins games, I think.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 09, 2016 at 10:30
Yeah, that game was a "logical nonsense" :-)
Puzzles were logical, but the story is a bit nonsense, or surreal.
But very very amusing!!

Tim Lammert - Sep 09, 2016 at 20:16
Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azimuth :)

longuist - Sep 09, 2016 at 10:05
I am on my first ever trip to the states. In San Francisco atm. Visited the Musee Mecanique and found this machine:
(video by someone else)
Despite not being a plant at all, a machine like this should be located in a corner of thimbleCon

Btw, if anyone is around, i'm all in grabbing a beer.  (or wine :)

P. S.  Lost all my quarters to the indy pinball :/

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 09, 2016 at 10:32
I LOVE pinballs! Indy pinball which version? That one with 8-balls multiball, where balls are coming out from the ark?

longuist - Sep 09, 2016 at 12:54
Havent played in this mode, just goofing around. So i really cant tell

Nor Treblig - Sep 09, 2016 at 20:28
Starting the video at 0:29 make it look completely different:

Ema - Sep 10, 2016 at 16:53
Musée Mécanique, San Francisco.  Amazing place.

Big Red Button - Sep 09, 2016 at 10:11
I thought about the two difficulty modes. While you're playing such a game, you can easily forget that there are two different modes available. Maybe it would therefore make sense to remind any player who just has beaten the game in "normal" mode of the "hard" mode - maybe by displaying the menu for the difficulty modes, directly after the end credits of the "normal" mode.

Patrik Spacek - Sep 09, 2016 at 11:25
Mark Ferrari is the most funny guy!!  I love his inconspicuously progressing kleptomania...

Gffp - Sep 09, 2016 at 14:55
Hi Patrick, which program did you use to create 3D model and then to animate Professor Henry Jones, Jr.?

Gffp - Sep 09, 2016 at 14:58
...and, BTW, you're really good and I signed your petition!

Ema - Sep 11, 2016 at 04:11
Speaking of te-editions.... I've just discovered this:

It seems they started working in 2009, and in jan 2014 they where still on it...
Do you know if the project is still existing?

Nor Treblig - Sep 11, 2016 at 09:37
This is their homepage:
Last update is from April, so it seems to be active!

Although not a replacement for the original it still would be interesting to have MM in DOTT style!
Btw. they use blue as skin tone for the Edisons. This must be the most colourful family in world.

Nor Treblig - Sep 11, 2016 at 10:00
Oh how I hate this kind of date formats! The last update was actually from 2015-04-07.

Also here is the English version:

Big Red Button - Sep 11, 2016 at 10:57
I hope that they resort to the substructure of Maniac Mansion Deluxe, in order to reduce the effort.
It's funny to see how they use artworks from DOTT, having adapted the architecture of the mansion.
I don't know whether Disney would be okay with this remake, but, if they realize it, they should implement dialogs as well.

Patrik Spacek - Sep 14, 2016 at 21:56
i didnt expect those questions here, but i am gonna answer them quick. I use 3D Studio Max for all artworks and animations, even 2d stuff. You can check HD fan artwork i made for Thimbleweed park. The  Petition been created to convince Disney and open their brains for Indie developers that are in most cases better than some of the big studios. Ron is trying to buy license for Monkey Island and i am sure he knows its unnecessary difficult...its always about who sits there at this moment.

Gffp - Sep 19, 2016 at 09:59
Thank you Patrick for the answers, and good luck for your projects! I agree with you there are some great ideas in indie developers' minds. Too bad licenses are closed in an archive getting dust on them. Personally I lost every interest in monkey island since I abandoned escape from MI after a few days and gave it to a friend. A proper (made by Gilbert) third chapter is the only thing that will renovate my interest in the matter.

Patrik Spacek - Sep 19, 2016 at 11:37
I would say that Disney makes it like its a pain, I haven't had any problems with other studio licenses. I deeply believe that Ron will succeed and get the license. I wish I could be part of his new Monkey Island 2.5. He knows my quality :o)
I didn't like MI4 at all and its mainly for a bad visualization...they ruined it.

Gffp - Sep 19, 2016 at 13:34
About MI4 yes I agree with you, its visual art and its controls were too much distant from my original experience with the first three chapter. I must admit I never desired to go over the first three hours of gameplay.
About Ron Gilbert, I read that he would never make another Monkey Island without owning the whole thing, he doesn't want a license to do a "3a" game for Disney, he wants to buy Monkey Island (TM) in order to work for himself (and I agree with him). Will Disney sell Monkey Island to its creator? We will see. It would be nice to see you on board for that project.

Patrik Spacek - Sep 24, 2016 at 16:15
Crossed fingers! Ron will need strong nerves and deep pocket to buy it out, but he is the only person who can make it right! Will see.

Zombocast - Sep 09, 2016 at 14:33
Surfer Dudes Ron. Surfer dudes love p

Uli Kusterer - Sep 11, 2016 at 07:22
Thanks for keeping to put all the work into these podcasts, they're awesome :-)

Also, I'm currently playing Obduction (from the Myst makers) and they have a total of 15 achievements. Given Steam shows achievements on the player's main page for a game asa progress bar (Apparently game devs can hide spoilerific achievements though), it'd be neat to have general story progress in there. I'm 11 hours in and have 3 achievements... :-S

Any plans for Silver and Gold level achievements, so there is both a sense of "someone did something awesome" and "I'm atleastmaking progress in the game"?

Nor Treblig - Sep 11, 2016 at 09:52
Obduction is very well made and a must for fans of Myst-like games!

Ron stated he isn't really fond of story progress achievements because he doesn't consider them as an actual achievement.

Personally I find them interesting for statistical purposes:

Big Red Button - Sep 12, 2016 at 09:15
It's interesting indeed. At least in terms of the special editions. There are obviously many people who aborted the game. But, I'm pretty sure that the percentage of those people would be even higher, if this wasn't MI.
By the way, the percentage of players who prefered the classic mode is interestingly high.

Nor Treblig - Sep 12, 2016 at 10:33
ad classic mode: You get this achievement when switching to classic mode the first time. It is not tied to some minimum time playing in it so doesn't actually mean anything (other than they found that one button and pressed it).

I would assume that generally many gamers try a game and then never complete it. But what we can see here is, that many of those completing "Largo Embargo Complete" actually finish the game! That percentage seems quite high. (Also it helps that this version has a hint system added.)

Big Red Button - Sep 12, 2016 at 13:08
Re "Largo Embargo Complete": Based on this, I would conclude that the motivation of a player sensitively depends on the first act.

Re classic mode: That's hard to believe. If every other player really didn't try the classic mode at all, I'm very disappointed. Maybe these 50 % who didn't even try the wonderful classic mode of Monkey Island were the same 50 % who didn't finish the first act. Can it be true that 50 % of the players were real philistines? If so, I don't want to know what a pollster would conclude, for the next presidential election, based on this.

Nor Treblig - Sep 12, 2016 at 16:06
1. I wonder who are those 100%. I would assume it's only accounts which started the game at least once (vs. game added to account vs. game installed at least once).
Is this actually known?

2. I would also say that those 50% of the first two achievements are the same.
Why it's so low? Maybe some people just start the game to see if it works. Maybe some don't like this type of game or its graphics at all. Maybe some get stuck really quickly (no wonder if they didn't even find the classic button/key...).

3. LeChuck for president! (sometimes you have to choose the lesser of three evils.)

Big Red Button - Sep 13, 2016 at 17:10
1. You're right. For this reason, I already wrote that I was pretty sure that the percentage of those people would have been even higher, if this wasn't MI.

2. I agree. Some of these people may have bought the game only because there was a bargain offer. Furthermore, it's very usual that someone doesn't find time to play it, after he had bought and installed the game for emotional reasons. When I bought the Special Editions, it took a few months as well until I found time to play it. Nevertheless, I eventually played both games entirely.

3. I wouldn't be surprised if he already has a finger in the pie.

Simon Simon - Sep 12, 2016 at 10:08
Can someone help with this general question about achievements:
Are those Steam-achievements implemented on game level or on Steam level? So so they exist in non-Steam versions of games as well, or are they lacking in, say, the GOG or DRM free direct download versions of a game?

Ron Gilbert - Sep 12, 2016 at 10:18
That's a good question that I don't have a 100% answer to yet.  The achievements are tracked internally and then uploaded to steam, xbox, etc, so displaying them on non-achievement platforms is doable, but it's a lot of extra UI to write.

Nor Treblig - Sep 12, 2016 at 10:42
Ideally the DRM-free version should be complete as possible and not a lesser version than for instance the Steam version (btw. GOG Galaxy also supports achievements).

But I understand that it's additional (UI!) work.
Still it would be nice if you can add it (it's basically just a list to scroll through).
Aaand you can also reuse it in all of your subsequent games! Reusability, wohoo!

Simon Simon - Sep 12, 2016 at 11:43
Thank you for your answer, Ron.

(Personally, I do not think achievements add anything to the game. And progress-indicating stuff like the score in Sierra games were a bit awkward IMO.)

Ron Gilbert - Sep 12, 2016 at 11:44
I'm not a big fan of achievements either, but a lot of people really like them.

Nor Treblig - Sep 14, 2016 at 10:02
Oh, I just realised that the Indy games blatantly copied that score feature from Sierra...

Btw. Dark Souls 3 has the ultimate achievement: "Complete all achievements."
(and I hope the programmers know that it's actually "Complete all achievements - 1")

Dieter - Sep 14, 2016 at 18:02
The IQ wasn't the same as the score in the Sierra adventures. Well, it was a score but not as in Sierra adventures. :)

Achievements could be good if they motivate you to play the game again. In addition they could tell the player: "You haven't seen all places/objects, etc."

Nor Treblig - Sep 14, 2016 at 19:41
I think the only difference is that you can / have to achieve the full score in Sierra games in one playthrough while in Indy you had to play whole sections differently to get a full total score.

Dieter - Sep 15, 2016 at 07:23
Yep. But IMO that's a big difference: In Indy you have to figure out how to get the total score. You have to try different things out and you got different points for different solutions. :) In a Sierra game you have just to solve the puzzles, so there the score was just a progress bar.

Nor Treblig - Sep 15, 2016 at 14:16
I don't know if there really different ways for puzzles to solve, but there were optional things to achieve and you wouldn't get the full score unless you made every of these optional puzzles and everything in the correct order etc.

So not a big difference :-)

Mario F. - Sep 12, 2016 at 06:50
Achievements are BS! i play the game for itself not for any achievements. doesnt make sense at all.

Mario F. - Sep 12, 2016 at 07:47
RON is a vampire. Only worx at night.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 12, 2016 at 09:10
Eheh, about this video, David Fox twitted:
"Good interview… Just ignore @grumpygamer’s glowing red eyes… He’s really not possessed."  :-D

Tweet link:

Big Red Button - Sep 12, 2016 at 10:41
The "cameraman" didn't use a directional microphone, the camera is way too close and the illumination could be better.
All PAX West 2016 interviews I've watched (or listened to) yet are pretty unprofessional. Maybe because there were primarily consumers, other than GDC. Or maybe due to the shivaree.

Nor Treblig - Sep 12, 2016 at 10:58
Great eyes!
If you want to have better light but still having cool eyes there is some kind of ring-lights-around-camera-setup which looks great (some say creepy) when in your face.

You can see something like that here in action (though not about a fun topic, but it was the first video I've found):

Zombocast - Sep 12, 2016 at 14:56
Ron was in Portland, Or. So sorry we missed you!  We'll try to get tickets sooner. Did you go to comic-con too.

Mario F. - Sep 12, 2016 at 16:10
@DEVs: regardingvthe wall safe code in the trailer: do you think of changing the code dynamicly? Like 5 kids or 3 trophyies etc.? If not we would already know 2 left turns, 6 right turns and 10 left turns.

Ron Gilbert - Sep 12, 2016 at 16:13
It is dynamic, we forced the numbers for the demo.

Mario F. - Sep 12, 2016 at 16:31
Thx Ron. Answered!