Thimbleweed Park Podcast #62

by Ron Gilbert
Oct 22, 2016

Join us for the amazing podcast where I forgot to press the record button.

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

Carlo Valenti - Oct 22, 2016 at 14:35
I forgot to post a comment.

Ignacio - Oct 22, 2016 at 14:38
What a surprise! I wasn't expecting this.

Marc - Oct 22, 2016 at 14:59
This podcast was RIGGED!!!

Marc - Oct 22, 2016 at 15:10
Please define "Bugs"? Walk through walls, that kind of things?

David Fox - Oct 22, 2016 at 16:43
Anything that we want changed in the game, from simple misspellings or punctuation issues (really easy to fix!), missing words, confusing text, to the "actors" not doing the correct animation, missing animations, pixels out of place, to logic problems like the game not being able to complete a puzzle, to story/design issues, to crashes and blocks from going further.

We'll later classify these in a bug "triage" into groups from must fix to would be nice to fix if we have time, as well as won't fix.

Carlo Valenti - Oct 22, 2016 at 15:18
Have you ever been able to tell if any game of yours was damn good? I mean : what was your feeling about MI, before receiving the evaluation of the players all over the world?
What is your feeling about this game right now? I mean, I know you can't say "TWP sucks", but, can you tell already "after the fixes and the polishes, it'll be DAMN GOOD" ?

Ron 'fake' Gilbert - Oct 22, 2016 at 18:51
Hi Carlo,
Oh we feel this game is DAMN COOL, DAMN HOT and DAMN GOOD.
From the very beginning! :-)

Someone - Oct 22, 2016 at 19:35
I can't speak for Ron but as a game developer you get at a point where everything is annoying and you would like to cancel the whole project  (this is also true for authors, actors, etc.). This includes a bad feeling about the game. This feeling is going away - at least when you ship the game. So the answer to your question will change over the time. :)

Tim Lammert - Oct 22, 2016 at 15:23
Oh man bugs bugs bugs.
Is that a normal amount of bugs? I have no clue.

David Fox - Oct 22, 2016 at 16:46
Probably... we've been tracking bugs since the start of the project. Last bug entered was number 4890. I now have about 120 left to finish (it was about 90 when I went to sleep last night... that's what you get for having bug testers that live in vastly different timezones!).

We're getting to the point where we're fixing more bugs than we're getting, so that's a good sign!

Necrosis Thanatos - Oct 22, 2016 at 16:14
Have you ever considered porting the game to the PS4 at some point down the line?  Since the PS4 has a larger installed user base than the Xbox One, it may be to your advantage to do so.  Of course, the cost of producing and testing such a port may not make it worth it.

Arto - Oct 22, 2016 at 17:48
There is a 99% chance we will see a Playstation version May 2017 at the earliest.

RC - Oct 22, 2016 at 16:23
Yay, I love those, gotta listen right away. :)

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 22, 2016 at 16:28
What do you think of Nintendo Switch?

Good music in the end! :-)

Big Red Button - Oct 22, 2016 at 17:06
I agree in terms of the music.

And, "big" and "exploration" sound fine as well! Even if it's possible to finish the game within less than 10 hours, I would definitely need longer, because I use to try every dialog and enjoy the artworks etc.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 23, 2016 at 16:27
I have read that Nintendo Switch is not retro-compatible with Wii U (of course!) and 3DS.
But the Nintendo representetive talked about *physical* version of the games. Probably, but we have not evidence of that, the downloadable versions are retro-compatible.

Arto - Oct 22, 2016 at 17:49
Another podcast??? This must mean the release has been postponed to 2018!

noremorse - Oct 22, 2016 at 18:05
How long does it take to read every book title in the book shop, every book text in the library, listen to every voice message, find every speck of dust and unlock all achievements?

Mattias Cedervall - Oct 22, 2016 at 18:22
Have you encountered bugs in the system being used to report bugs?

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 22, 2016 at 18:48
Thank you for the music gift at the very end of the podcast! Thrilling...
One question: I didn't understand if you plan to lock the text after the estimated deadline of zero-bugs (15th of November) or before, knowing that the average estimated translation time would be one month... thank you.

Paulup - Oct 22, 2016 at 20:02
I hope to get so stumped on a puzzle or two that the game lasts me all the way to the next Terrible Toybox adventure game release.
Maybe as well as easy and hard mode there should be a "Moon Logic" mode where puzzles are randomly generated, for the masochisticly inclined adventure gamer.

Nor Treblig - Oct 22, 2016 at 21:53
Of course a proper Moon Logic mode wouldn't be possible with a lot of content changes, but one easy way to achieve this could be to reassign all the inventory item names + icons + look at description to random items at the start of a game.

Paulup - Oct 23, 2016 at 19:32
Sounds good... also when people choose this completely random unsolvable Moon Logic mode the game then starts up with the Sierra logo at the beginning for added zing effect.

Nor Treblig - Oct 23, 2016 at 23:53
Good idea :-)
I've found a compilation, maybe for inspiration:

Kenney - Oct 22, 2016 at 20:24
Ron, what are you doing at PAX/ GCAP?
I can't find you anywhere on the schedules. It is a Thimbleweed booth?!

Ron Gilbert - Oct 22, 2016 at 20:37
We're not showing at PAX. I'm giving a talk at GCAP.

PigeonBoy - Oct 22, 2016 at 20:55
I'm very impatient to play this game ! (even if i missed the KS campagn)
I'm a real fan of your work !

Orcan Ogetbil - Oct 22, 2016 at 20:58
How long are you gonna keep the podcasts, or the website spoiler-free?

Ron Gilbert - Oct 22, 2016 at 21:00
I imagine when the game comes out, the comments will be flooded with spoilers.

Amb - Oct 23, 2016 at 01:56
Don't worry, we will flood back with fake solutions to throw people off.  Eg "You arent meant to turn the chainsaw on, if you just USE CHAINSAW ON TREE one hundred and eleven times, the chainsaw will break and leak oil all over the tree, which you then light on fire." and "The red herring is exactly that.  A red herring.  Give it to the troll on the bridge and he will let you past.  If you cant find a troll and a bridge, you are playing the wrong game"

Unit type 742 - Oct 22, 2016 at 23:17
How large (file size) will the game be approximately and how much will the size differ due to the various platforms?

[Hey, i'm good at playing adventure games. Well, at least when they have a Lucasfilm Games DNA].

Nor Treblig - Oct 23, 2016 at 00:19
"With all the final art, animation, sound, music, code and backer VMs, it's 290M.  I don't know how much voice will add to that, maybe 200M.  But that's just a guess." - Ron Gilbert

Since most of it consists of game resources I wouldn't expect notable differences between platforms.

Unit type 742 - Oct 23, 2016 at 03:16
Thanks. So, if your assumption is right, it might fit onto  a CD. I wonder how large the VM and content of the books will be.

I suspect that the audio compression will depend on the specific platform but will there also be an option with higher quality sounds for the desktops (when using Flac or high compression levels)? Telltale often had problems with the audio quality of their games.

And will there be proper support for high dpi systems as well?

Nor Treblig - Oct 23, 2016 at 04:24
I know what you mean with the Telltale Games. I also had the impression they really wanted to stay under certain file sizes per episode (or season) for various reasons :-(

But since TWP is technology-wise not a complex game (no 3D engine + 3D resources but mostly 2D images + audio) the size footprint isn't that large and also the platform requirements aren't that high (good for mobile platforms).

Text (e.g. the books) is a non-issue for size, even uncompressed. The voice messages should be relatively small (you don't need 48khz 24bit when you actually want analogue phone quality). Check out this blog post:
-> 1848 voice messages, 166M compressed (don't know if this is still true, but if yes they are currently larger than the rest of the game :-)

He estimated 200M for the voice (around 12000 lines, see ). That definitely doesn't sound like FLAC. I do hope the quality will be high enough.
I don't know if it makes sense to prepare resources differently for different platforms for this game (it certainly makes sense for more resource heavy games, e.g. by using specific texture formats). I would guess you can get away by using generic formats like png and ogg?

I would like to see a blog post about engine porting / platform specific stuff!
... Joost, Ron, anyone?

Big Red Button - Oct 23, 2016 at 10:50
A lossless audio compression would be nice indeed. Therefore, flac would be an interesting option. Not only for the separate soundtrack, but also for the audio within the game itself, including sound effects and voices.
Even on my smartphone, I would be able to dedicate several GBs to the game.

Ron Gilbert - Oct 23, 2016 at 10:56
Lossless audio isn't really an option. It more about memory and load times, than disk space.  Music and voice are done as .ogg files, mainly so it can fit in memory, and load quickly.  You'd be surprised how much time I spend trying to get load times down, because a lot of people still have old spinning disk drives, nt to mention laptops with slow spinning disk drives.  There is a lot of code for pre-load data in the background, trying to anticipate when it will be needed. Doing lossless audio would make this a much harder job.

Someone - Oct 23, 2016 at 11:55
Plus: Nobody hears the difference between lossless and compressed audio if it's done right. So there isn't a reason to include lossless audio in the game.

Unit type 742 - Oct 23, 2016 at 12:50
Understandable, it's just that a lossless packed version for systems with enough memory and SSDs sounds tempting. With good audio hardware you can notice differences.

Someone - Oct 23, 2016 at 16:57
"With good audio hardware you can notice differences."

No. Not if the compression is done right. I assume you are thinking of crappy MP3s? :) It's like JPEG: If you use the compression parameters wise, you won't see any artifacts. Even on a 4K display.

Someone - Oct 23, 2016 at 17:08
btw: Even Dolby Digital aka AC-3 is a lossy codec:

Big Red Button - Oct 23, 2016 at 19:40
I think, this is one of the reasons why AC-3 has become deprecated. The compression of AC-3 was very controversial when it came out. For this reason, a lot of people preferred DTS back then.

Big Red Button - Oct 23, 2016 at 19:41
... even though DTS was not necessarily better.

Someone - Oct 24, 2016 at 05:04
But the question is: Do *you* hear a difference to a lossless codec? Ok, if you know it's lossy you will hear a difference, because in your mind you assume automaticaly a difference. But if you are doing a real test with the compression done right, I bet, you won't notice the difference.

Big Red Button - Oct 24, 2016 at 09:33
You may be right. Primarily, it would only give us a nice feeling to read and know that it's lossless. Nevertheless, good equipment may reveal slight differences, at least in a direct comparison. But, if lossy compression is done with enough care, no one of us would notice any difference.

LogicDeLuxe - Oct 24, 2016 at 09:52
I think, dts is preferred by some, since it allows higher bitrates. Especially on DVD, where AC3 is limited to 448 kbps.
I wouldn't call AC3 depreciated, though. DVD still sells better then Blu-Ray, and when you have to put multiple language audio and commentary tracks on it, you would have to lower the video bitrate a lot when you're doing them all in dts. Also DVD players' support for AC3 is mandatory while dts is optional.
Actually, one big advantage of AC3 is the possibility to adjust the dynamics at the decoder. Thus, loudness race issues are very rare on AC3 tracks.

Nor Treblig - Oct 23, 2016 at 14:19
People who are still using HDDs for OS, games and work related stuff are used to slow loading times anyway. They should suffer.

Unit type 742 - Oct 23, 2016 at 14:57
Haha, nah, I think it should run fine on a variety of systems (this always was a big advantage of adventure games, no need for the lastest bleeding edge technology but then again there also were the FM Towns) but I never was fond of lossy compression. Once the amount of data is manageable, it's just not what you really want. If you can handle the data, you use a png, not a jpg, same applies for sound.

Ron Gilbert - Oct 23, 2016 at 15:50
The issue isn't the load times from room to room, it's the game stopping or stuttering in the middle. That's the real issue.  If the game takes an extra .5 seconds to go to a new room, no one will notice, if the game stutters when a new song starts, or dialog/sfx happens, people nptice and it's sloppy.  

Also, we can't ship a version of the game with a variety of auto formats, it creates hug download and quite frankly, it's a ton of extra work and it's not worth it. Sorry to be blunt. I know it doesn't seem like work, but everything had to be tested and packed and you end up maintaining all these formats. It adds up. Quickly.  And, it's one of 100 things like this.

Unit type 742 - Oct 23, 2016 at 16:45
I am aware that it doesn't come for free and I understand your point of view. I'm happy when you won't notice the compression too much already. It's just one of those things, you know, when you had the choice to ... Btw. did you end up licencing an audio engine or are you using the SDL Mixer /OpenAL/...?

[Out of curiosity i ran a script over a bunch of different audio data and from the more common codecs ALAC offered the best compression (36%). Obviously not in the same league as a moderate lossy setup.]

Big Red Button - Oct 23, 2016 at 15:45
Okay. Load times are a good reason indeed, provided that the compression level of the .ogg files is kept within a limit.

Deadite137 - Oct 23, 2016 at 02:21
The timing of that last musical cue was incredible, I spit out my drink

Schala - Oct 23, 2016 at 02:39
I went, "HOLY &%$#@" and got totally freaked out. Heh.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 23, 2016 at 02:42
I hope you weren't talking to anybody...

Iron Curtain - Oct 23, 2016 at 07:43
Interestingly, my definition of "Content Complete" matched up with Ron's, which is "everything is done except for bugs". I never for a second thought that it meant that it was ready to ship, otherwise it meant that the game has "gone gold".

Yes, I'm familiar with industry terminology. ;-)

Geoffrey Paulsen - Oct 23, 2016 at 08:27
What is this Hard Mode you speak of?  This is the first I remember hearing of it.  How do you go about making the game harder?  More puzzles?  Smaller click boxes?  side quests?  different dialog that isn't as straight forward describing clues to puzzles?  It seems almost impossible to change the gameplay of a point-n-click adventure from 4-5 hours to 12 - 15 hours.

Darkstorm - Oct 23, 2016 at 10:03
Yeah, it's been mentioned before quite frequently.

Did you never play Money Island 2 : Lechuck's Revenge or Curse of Monkey Island?  If not you should do so, Curse is great and Lechuck's Revenge is one of the best P&C games ever.

They both have the option at the beginning for "mega monkey" mode, which gives more puzzles and makes existing ones harder.  There were items in normal mode that were just sitting around waiting to be picked up, while in mega mode they had a puzzle associated with them.  For instance 2 had something where you had to get a map piece, on normal mode you bought it in a shop, in mega you could only trade for it, and the item you traded for it was the result of a LONG puzzle chain.  It was great.

Geoffrey Paulsen - Oct 23, 2016 at 10:07
Oh yes, I've played those both many times.  I don't remember a hard mode option, perhaps I never played that?  Or perhaps I did, and didn't realize HOW it was different.

I still can't imagine it doubling the game play time though.

Darkstorm - Oct 23, 2016 at 11:40
Here are the option screens

I can see it doubling the game if you get badly stuck on one of the extra puzzles - which are generally the hardest ones.  Generally I think it probably adds another 50%, but it really depends on the person.

Geoffrey Paulsen - Oct 23, 2016 at 12:10
Wow, MI2 option screen caused a flashback of memory, but I really don't remember the screen from CoMI.
I forsee a replay of CoMI in my immediate future. :)

Bogdan Barbu - Oct 23, 2016 at 21:49
I remember the CoMI option but I didn't know MI2 had one. I own the special edition on Steam, where there is no lite version.

Nor Treblig - Oct 23, 2016 at 23:54
Oh, I didn't notice this. I guess they thought having these two modes would confuse people plus having a hint system makes the lite version unnecessary.

You can still play the lite version using ScummVM.
Here's a link to create the Monkey Island Ultimate Talkie Editions:

LogicDeLuxe - Oct 24, 2016 at 04:59
I think, the lite version of Monkey 2 was meant as a joke. It is ridiculously easy in the first 2 chapters and has barely any difference for the rest of the game. It's obvious that they spent much more thought in Monkey 3 where the easy mode can be considered a real adventure, and the hard mode just adds a few more puzzles, just like it says on the selection screen.
Interestingly, there are a few easy exclusive lines in Monkey 2, which are voiced in the SE, eventhough you never hear them due to no easy mode selectable. Of course, they are available in the Ultimate Talkie Edition.

Nor Treblig - Oct 24, 2016 at 11:21
I don't think it was meant as a joke. Maybe there wasn't enough time to really think the lite mode through?
But still a quick start definitely helps getting inexperienced into the game and hooked to the story. Even if later puzzles are equally hard it could pay off.

Good thing that they extracted the text and voiced all of it (well, most of it)!

Arto - Oct 24, 2016 at 13:51
MI2 Lite is not a joke. It's for game reviewers.

Big Red Button - Oct 24, 2016 at 14:38
As we can read in MI2 (, the "lite" version is designed for absolute newbies. In my opinion, it would have been silly if they didn't make the easy mode significantly easier, because you want those newbies to stay tuned to this genre. Moreover, if these two modes were almost similar, the easy mode wouldn't have any right to exist.

Nor Treblig - Oct 23, 2016 at 14:21
Ron doesn't like pixel hunting, he would never do smaller hotspots.
You already talked with Darkstorm about it but here are my two cents:
The game is not changed from 5 to 12 hours (by adding content) but vice verso from 12 to 5 hours:
- Easy mode more or less just presolves some puzzles, likely the harder/complicated ones.
- The story experience should stay the same.
- Actually if you know what to do then the play time shouldn't differ so much unless there is a lot of backtracking involved.

David Fox - Oct 23, 2016 at 17:43
We've coding the "hard mode"from the start. It's the game with all the puzzles in for you to solve. If you choose the other mode (Normal? Easy?) we'll pre-solve some of the puzzles for you, especially some of the more difficult ones. We haven't done much work on that yet.

Someone - Oct 23, 2016 at 18:16
"We haven't done much work on that yet."

Isn't it "dangerous" to implement the easy mode this late? Because you ...
- have to script the new puzzles (= time consuming)
- run the risk to introduce new bugs with side effects on the normal puzzles
- have to test this mode

Ron Gilbert - Oct 23, 2016 at 18:19
There are no new puzzles to script, easy mode is just removing puzzles.  We're careful about how we remove them.  

Yes, I would have liked to do this sooner, but so much work to do.  Stuff like this happens all the time and every project, you deal with it. Nothing ever goes as planned. part of what comes with experience is being able to deal with stuff like this.

Someone - Oct 24, 2016 at 05:07
Why then doing it? :-) Put your time in the "normal" adventure/puzzles. MI1 had no two modes and it's one of the best adventures of all times.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 24, 2016 at 05:13
Well, new generations or people who never played an adventure before, could feel "scared".
Personally, I started my adventure experience with Maniac Mansion followed by Zak McKracken, and I loved this genre from the start...

Someone - Oct 24, 2016 at 07:30
New generations or people would never play an adventure game with pixel graphics and this "inconvenient" verb interface. They feel "scared" right after the start of TWP. They would buy this "good looking" Broken Sword or a similar game, not TWP.

We were grown up with Maniac Mansion, Zak and Monkey Island. We are familiar with adventures like TWP. I assume the most of us played MI2 in the "hard" mode. :)

Nor Treblig - Oct 24, 2016 at 11:26
Why would you assume younger gamers or non-gamers won't appreciate the looks of TWP?? It looks great!

Ignacio - Oct 24, 2016 at 16:58
Let's hope new generations are not scared and play TWP. If not, we won't probably see many more games like these.

Carlo Valenti - Oct 23, 2016 at 17:13
What happened to ScummVM?!?
Controls in laptop mode have become ugly! And I lost my savegames!
I want my games baaaack!!!

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 23, 2016 at 17:19
Did you check the basket bin?

Carlo Valenti - Oct 23, 2016 at 17:28
I use it on my android device. The files are still on the device, but ScummVM does not retrieve them. Also the controls have become somewhat clunky, and my android device is a good one.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 23, 2016 at 17:37
If you have the Galaxy Note 7, I think it's a *hot* device...
Sorry, I don't know, I use ScummVM only on Pc.

Big Red Button - Oct 24, 2016 at 06:41
Well, ScummVM is not a commercial emulator. I don't like to complain of it, but I also have a problem with the controls in ScummVM on my Raspberry Pi: when I use my Xbox 360 USB controller, the cursor jerks. Seems to be a driver issue. Moreover, I would like to use OpenGL (for fullscreen), but with 4:3 aspect ration on my 16:9 display, so that Guybrush looks more natural.

Patricio Martinotti - Oct 23, 2016 at 21:59
Just blood on the TV, Walking Dead's new episode. I just hate it man, it's not estethical, like a Tarantino movie for example, it's just a repetitive way of telling a story on some stupid series. I just want to play Thimbleweed Park this january... and listen to the Konklin's album, the plesiosaur one. The récord of the year to get her with Bowie's final opus.

Fan - Oct 24, 2016 at 15:45
I hope the next game they make will have more options for fan participation and be a survival game! Pixel art style for sure! :)))))))

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Oct 24, 2016 at 16:50
This game features:
- a phonebook with user names
- voice mail messages by users,  recorded in their native language
- a huge library full of book titles submitted by users
- another library with 2-pages excerpt books, completely filled by users, divided in categories

... honestly, I think this game has enough user heart than any other game that I have seen.

But I like your proposal of having more! :-)

Stef - Oct 25, 2016 at 03:53
Yeah! Maybe next time they can have backgrounds where everybody can choose the color of one pixel!

Brian Small - Oct 24, 2016 at 23:41
I hope Australia is going well, Ron.  With regard to your comment at the end of the Podcast, at around the 23 minute mark,  perhaps the third time's a charm?