State Of The Game #3

by Ron Gilbert
May 04, 2016

It's been a while since I wrote a state of the game post. It was supposed to be done back in Jan, but then things happened.

I'm finding it harder and harder to write blog posts because the most interesting things happening right now on the project would be profound spoilers, but we shall forge forward, none-the-less, and-all-that.

On to the state-of-the-game.

How We Got Here

It's been a long road. We started working on this little game we call Thimbleweed Park a year and three months ago and I feel we've grown to be a nice little family, not just the team, but also everyone on the blog. The project progressed pretty peachy until October, then the holidays showed up and it felt like we hit a snag.  We had a lot of drive coming out of our first sprint, but then we puttered along after that.

Not sure exactly the cause, maybe a little burn out, accompanied with feeling a little overwhelmed with the monster of a game we'd created, but persevere we will and did.

Just about the time were were getting over post-holiday focus back, GDC showed up. Our original plan was to have an open-to-the-public party where people would get to play the game, but as we started making plans, we realized we just weren't to a place where we'd be happy with the game we had to show. On top of that, everyone was very busy, and organizing something like that was just too much work. We gave it a good try.

So we opted to do a press only showing of the game. When you're demoing to the press, it's a lot easier to do hand waving and divert attention from areas of the game that aren't finished or even slightly broken. The press are used to seeing games in this state and generally know how to interpret and project what they are seeing. This is fine for a first look, but not for a preview or a review, but that's all we were doing.

Prepping for the press demo took a lot more work than we anticipated. It hijacked the sprint we should have been doing as we instead entered a phase of polishing. None of it was lost work, it all had to be done anyway, it was just done out of order and distracted our focus.

Polishing included adding special case animations that we often leave until the end (in case the puzzle changes and it's not needed anymore), touch-ups on art, making sure all the verbs that make sense don't respond with "that doesn't seem to work."  We also added a lot of ambient background animation, like waving flags and twinkling stars, so the rooms had a static life to them.

For the demo, we decided to show an abbreviated opening to the game and then jump to the place where the Ransome flashback happens and began polishing and testing those areas.

Around this time, we also decided to switch our backer system to PledgeManager so backers could upgrade their pledges. What started out as a quick few-day project had spanned into weeks, all the while we were trying to get ready for GDC.

And... in the middle of all this, we decide to attend PAX East. Yet another distraction to endure. We briefly thought about showing one of the other flashbacks, but sanity prevailed and we took the GDC demo and continued to polish and harden it.

The GDC demos to the press were "guided" demos. They had the option of playing, but we were always by their side to help and warn. The PAX demos would be unguided. Players were left to their own devices to poke and prod wherever they pleased. We needed to make sure we plugged every hole. We needed to test as if it was a shipping project and this takes a lot more time. To the ThimbleTesting team's credit, no major bugs were found at PAX East, everything was rock solid.

Jenn's job on the project is the programming the Hotel and Franklin, since we weren't going to be showing her area, she was free to help set up our PAX booth and all the merch. As the pictures show, she did an amazing job with a very small budget. One of the smartest things she did was put two stools at each station so a friend could play. Adventure game are always better when shared.

Getting the demo ready for PAX took another 3 weeks out of our schedule. Again, none of it was wasted work, it was just distracting and felt like we weren't making any real forward progress on the game.

I was getting severely distracted with managing the project and struggled to find time to do programming that wasn't just fire-fighting bugs.

The role I've always wished we had was a producer, someone to manage all the schedules and sprints, and keeping an eye on the big picture while we forge ahead with puzzles and art.  It's a role I'd been taking on and the burden was starting to show. I was spending more time working on spreadsheets then doing programming, design and writing.

After some budget analysis, we decided to bring on Chase Martin as our producer, a role I wish we could have filled months ago. We didn't really have the budget for a producer for the whole project, but coming on at this stage was doable.  With Chase on board, I'm hoping to have more time to focus on my other three jobs. Hopefully it will make things better for the rest of the team as well.

The UI was starting to bug me. I love the C64 font, but seeing it on the screen really pigeonholed the game as a retro-game, despite it being much more than that. As more and more people looked at the game, we realized the font was becoming a limiting factor, much more than the verb UI.

Our goal has always been to capture the charm of the classic adventure games, but also to introduce them to a new audience without compromising what the game was. The C64 font was a hard thing for people to get around.

In the weeks leading up to PAX we tried a lot of fonts. Our tester builds had a new font every few days and none of them were clicking. We tried nice smooth truetype fonts, we tried pixelated truetype fonts, we tried crazy bitmap fonts and boring fonts. Nothing felt right. With the help of an outside designer we came across the font you see below. It is a hand-drawn pixel font. It's sharp and clear and you can see the pixels. It's a font we could have used back at Lucasfilm and it felt right.

The plan was, and still is, to retain the C64 font and allow players to switch with the press of a key.  If you like it better, then please play with it. It's a good font and we don't treat it as second class.

For the opening scene of the demo, we wanted a full screen shot of the agents at the body. Mark extended the screen just around the body to full screen. Once the opening was over, we'd switch on the verbs and be back to the black cropped verbs.

While installing the new font, I accidentally left some code commented out and the verbs were drawn over the background, without a black background, and it was stunning to see.  The game had a whole different feel. It took me around 10 seconds of walking around to realize that the whole game needed to be like this.

We had one week until PAX and our demo included over 15 rooms, all of which needed to be extended.

Oh... and Mark was gone for two weeks!

Octavi to the rescue as he took on the job of extending all the rooms in record time. Nothing playable happens below the interface, so it didn't need to be that interesting, and it actually wants to be uninteresting.

It really changes the feeling of the game significantly, but still retains the charm of the verb UI, something I didn't want to lose.

For those of you who want a more retro experience, not only can you switch back to the C64 font, you can also turn on the black verb background. But that's not all! Don't order yet! You can set the opacity of the black background to anything you want.

PAX went well. We had a great booth (thanks Jenn) and had hundreds of people playing the game. Almost everyone who sat down to play finished the 20+ minute demo and no one rage quit. I'll take this all as a good sign.

Where We're Going

Now it's back to work. We don't have any shows coming up in the next few months, so we can get back to focusing on the game.

As our projected summer release date got closer, I was starting to get really worried. Back in Sept, we had a lot of steam and it felt like we'd be done the following Sept or Oct, just a few months out from the Kickstarter date.  But, as we hit April it just didn't look like that was feasible.

Well, not feasible unless we all went into crunch mode.

I don't like crunch mode. I've done a lot of crunch mode in my career and made people do crunch mode over the many years of running projects and it's just not something we want to do. We don't have an oppressive publisher looking over us and we have the flexibility to make the game anything we want (thank you backers!).

When Chase came on as producer, we did a complete relook of the schedule to see how much work we had left to do and how long it was going to take us. If we don't crunch, the workload puts us out to mid October, but we also have to go through the Microsoft cert process for Xbox, which can take one to two months. That would put us out in Nov or Dec and that isn't a time we want to launch. It's important that the AAA games have their day in the sun, and we didn't want to distract from that.

The other option was to start cutting. I feel good about the scope and size of the game, I don't want to cut it down just to make a ship date.

In the course of making a game, you make a lot of cuts for design reasons, and those are good cuts that make the game better, but when you cut for schedule and budget, you run the risk of cutting meat and not fat. That said, it's often hard to tell the difference, sometimes you think you're cutting meat, when in fact you're cutting fat and you're better off. It's often hard to tell the difference when you're in the kitchen.

But in the end, I decided I didn't want to hack large sections of the game away just to make an Oct date.  We continue to make small cuts and refinements, but all those are to make the game better.

So we've made the decision to move the release of the game to January, mostly likely the middle to end of the month.

The budget is looking OK. With the addition of a few new and needed people, plus the extra time, things are getting tight, but we should still be good.

We raised a little bit of extra money through some angel investors for marketing and PR, two things that can be as important as making a good game. I feel good about using the Kickstarter money exclusively to build the game and the additional money to market it. It feels like a nice line, but it's also a little misleading. Marketing and PR is as much a part of building a successful game as music, art, and programming and they should be part of any budget.

In terms of the game, I think we're all feeling pretty good about it. It really feels like a good solid adventure game, just like we would have built back at Lucasfilm.

The one area that I'm worried about happens halfway through the first act. You unlock a large portion of the world and it's a great moment, filled with excitement and reward but players lose direction. It's a problem we'll probably solve with some good dialog and maybe a couple of new pinch points so there aren't too many new places to go. It's important to always give players focus. Player should always know what they need to be doing, but not always how they need do it. Being confused and lost is not a puzzle.

We started outside playtesting with testers culled from the readers of this blog. We did two people in Seattle and will now open it up to San Francisco and London. We have (literally) hundreds of people who signed up, so I don't know if we'll get to everyone.

As I've said many times on this very blog, doing playtesting is critical, but it can be time consuming. You have to organize people to come in, set up the location, spend several hours watching them, and on top of all that, you have to make sure the latest build works and is crash-bug free. It's a lot of prep and it's easy to keep putting it off, but resist the urge. Playtest! Playest! Playtest!

We have three bug testers on the project. Robert (lead tester) is full time and the other two are part time. We're looking to hire a fourth and that should round out the bug testing team until the end of the project. Our testers are amazing, some of the best I've worked with. Bug testing a game isn't fun and games. You're not being paid to play a game, you're being paid to break a game, then document it and figure out exactly how you broke it. It takes a special person to do this well, and they are gold when you find them.

What Scares Me

One thing that scares me at this point is the amount of work that needs to be done. It's a big game, but it needs to be. It's about the size of Monkey Island, 2 and to fulfill our promise of a "new classic adventure game", I feel it needs to be that size. I don't want to cut anything unless it makes the game better to do so.

At this point, it's about making smart decisions about the little things we can cut or rework to save time without compromising the game.

I actually enjoy that process. It's always been the fun part of a project for me. You need to make quick decisions about what is and isn't important. It really focuses you.

But it's also very stressful. It's one of the reasons I don't want to work crunch. Staying sharp can make all the difference.

Moving the game to January puts a lot of pressure on the budget. We had slop if anything went wrong, and although I wouldn't call moving the date "going wrong", it does eat up our budget slop.  There is no more runway.

That worries me, but I feel like we have it under control. I don't think I've ever worked on a project that didn't feel like this towards the end.

The last thing is the amount of playtesting the end game will get. We've done a lot of testing of the early game, but we're still putting the end together and it's not in a outside player playable state, plus it's hard to jump new testers to the end of the game, so we need to pull groups back in for a 2nd or 3rd round.

Thank you to our backers and supporters for making all this possible.

- Ron

Patrik Spacek - May 04, 2016 at 17:33
You will make it guys! There is no worry about that. Get it released in best shape you can afford and the sale brings you additional money for updates (jut in case there are some problems found later). You should be good.

Peter Campbell - May 04, 2016 at 21:18
Back in April 2013, Microsoft ended their policy of charging developers a huge fee every time they released a patch for their game, which I believe was something crazy like $40,000 per patch.  So that's really good news should the Xbox version of the game need to be patched to fix some major bug/glitch, like if the game crashes every time you try to have Ransome perform some act of kindness lol.

Rodrifra - May 04, 2016 at 17:47
Go Forrest, go!!!

Nicolas Ramz - May 04, 2016 at 17:50
Very interesting article!

I like the new change to the UI, the fact that the black background has been removed and the actions are layered on top of the game makes it a lot more immersive.

Why keeping a solid background behind each object in the inventory ? Wouldn't a global dark shadow for the whole inventory makes it better and again more immersive ?

Really looking forward to play with the game :)

doglobster - May 04, 2016 at 17:50
You worry because you care deeply, so take it as a healthy sign.

Not crunching is a great move if you're in a position to make it. Very excited to play this!

Have those who've been selected for play testing been informed yet? I signed up for London but have yet to hear. Just want to know if I'm still in with a chance...!

Ron Gilbert - May 04, 2016 at 17:52
We're selecting people one by one, not all at once since some people can't make it at the times we have.

doglobster - May 04, 2016 at 18:01
OK cool, thanks for responding so quickly Ron. I've loved this blog since day one, it's been a genuine pleasure to follow.

ciaps - May 04, 2016 at 17:57
Crunching kills creativity while a great videogame is a piece of art.

What is couple months, in respect to eternity? Take your time, and give us players a great adventure game, that's all we want !

David - May 06, 2016 at 20:24
Hats off to the comment. A game is a piece of art. Take it easy 😊

Geoffrey Paulsen - May 04, 2016 at 18:10
Nicest post of Ron's ever.  He must be stressed out. :)

Jammet - May 04, 2016 at 18:14
See you in January or around that, Thimbleweed Park! :)

tcmsurfer (Andreas) - May 04, 2016 at 18:23
Take all the time you need and can afford. But don't slack off either! :)

I wish there would be a possibility to get a demo of the game a couple of months before the release. This would fulfill the tradition of a classic adventure game.

...however I don't want to cause you additionl distraction either.

Thank you for all the hard work. Love your posts  and podcasts.

Good Night!

Assaf - May 04, 2016 at 18:25
Awesome post to read. Thanks for sharing.Oh and the new UI is mesmerizing, there's something magical about it. Best of luck to all the crew.

Lee Allan Sanders - May 04, 2016 at 18:25
No worries :-) NO CRUNCH! (please). I am a backer, and I have spoken to those who know you guys in person, and even after that (LOL) I still trust you :-) Please make a great game I can play with my grandkids on XBOX :-) Courage! Onward!

Francesco F. - May 04, 2016 at 18:32
How exactly do you try to crash the game?

PrinzJohnny99 - May 04, 2016 at 18:54
Thanks for the reading. Better take your time than cut off some of the game.

I have one question. There seem to be a lot of options in the game (voice, resolution, font, verb background etc...). Will you tell us what the recommended way to play TWP is as the makers intended it? I have my own way to play the game (no voice, "old-style" resolution, new font, no background), but I'd like to know what you suggest what the most enjoyable way is.

Ron Gilbert - May 04, 2016 at 18:58
The way we recommend playing the game will be the default settings when you start it up. You can tweak the more popular settings in the options dialog and for deeper esoteric stuff, we'll supply a list of options for the config file.

longuist - May 04, 2016 at 19:32
Yay, that is exactly what I hoped it to be like.

hihp - May 04, 2016 at 19:59
I am wondering - how do you intend people to use config file options on the Xbox?

Nor Treblig - May 04, 2016 at 20:58
The config file is intended for advanced users. If you don't know how to start vi on Xbox you are not an advanced user :-)

Mahaku - May 07, 2016 at 04:14
ROFL, touché! :D

Sushi - May 11, 2016 at 15:59
iExactly!<ESC>oCouldn't have said it better!<ESC>:wq

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 05, 2016 at 04:19
... plus some nice macro profile settings, i.e.:
- "Remeber-when-you-were-a-child" profile
- "Old Verbs but New Pixels" profile
- "Old Pixels but New Verbs" profile"

PrinzJohnny99 - May 04, 2016 at 19:09
For the deeper esoteric stuff I will play my Enya cd ;-)
Thanks for the answer.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 05, 2016 at 04:21
I wonder how it should be playing Maniac Mansion with an Enya CD playing in the background... a mix of creepy and trascendent...

longuist - May 04, 2016 at 19:39
Thumbs up for Octavi. Additional art for 15 rooms, matching the style of Mark, in just one week is quite an achievement. Chapeau.

Matt Lacey - May 04, 2016 at 19:51
Not going into crunch sounds like a very smart idea to me... anyone who's ever worked through crunch that not only does your sanity suffer but quality does too, because when you're at the wrong end of a 14 hour day things rapidly become 'good enough'.

This is just going to make for a perfect late Christmas present!

Ben Hines - May 04, 2016 at 19:52
Verb UI is nice, but after playing through Day of the Tentacle Remasetered recently, I find I definitely prefer the later-lucasarts style 'wheel' choice UI.  Clearly you're pretty busy schedule wise but figured i'd put in a vote for that anyway. :)

Ron Gilbert - May 04, 2016 at 19:58
The verbs are staying in Thimbleweed Park, they aren't going away or being replaced with an additional UI.

Mattias Cedervall - May 04, 2016 at 20:37
:-( Don't use foul language in the church!

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 05, 2016 at 04:23
I respect your preferences, but the Verbs-UI is one of the pillars of this kind of game, together its pixellated look.
I find it more immediate and practical then the Wheel-UI.

Dave Lister - May 04, 2016 at 19:57
Would much rather wait longer and get a game you are all completely proud of. Don't crunch!

Jaap - May 05, 2016 at 03:44
My sentiments exactly! So good to hear that things aren't rushed. Working in too many software projects myself and often there is not enough time to really make what you want.

Rowan - May 04, 2016 at 19:57
PAX Aus? Please? Meet half way? I'm so excited to play this.

Ron Gilbert - May 04, 2016 at 20:36
I'll be at PAX Aus, but I don't know if we'll be showing the game. Or maybe we'll do an informal meet-up and let people play.

Cheeseness - May 12, 2016 at 01:02
I'd totally be up for that :D

hihp - May 04, 2016 at 20:07
I do understand why you decided to move the release date. On the other hand, I seem to remember that originally the intended release date was August 2016. Five months later in relation to an original 20 months time frame makes it a whopping 25%  extension... Back when I backed this on Kick-started in the end of 2014, I already thought "August 2016" was quite far in the future. Had it been "January 2017", I might have been more hesitant...

Things aren't gonna change no matter if I like this postponement or not, so all I wanna conclude is this: please make sure this is that last postponement and really publish no later than January 2017!

Dominik - May 05, 2016 at 00:49
Hm, I think pushing the release has to be done for the right reasons and than it's not only OK but more or less the right thing to do.

Pushing because you "designed too much game" for example is a very stupid reason.

Pushing because you tweaked the game's formula for the better is a good reason.

Pushing because the game needs polish to be great instead of average is a very good reason.

So while I wont ever write something like "take as much time as you need" (constraints like time are a GOOD thing!! And taking 'as much time' only leads to loosing focus) I would also never ask to publish the game no matter what...

That all said: Thanks to Rons transparency (he warned us right from the bat about the various perils the end game might hold!) and the grear work and progress we have seen so far I  for my part am super happy with the current state and am OK with the delay.

Oooh! It also means more podcasts and blog entries! I will surely miss those after the game's done.

Thanks Thimle Team for the great journey up until now!

Mister T - May 05, 2016 at 05:28
I too would have been hesitant had the Kickstarter said January 2017. But to a degree because every production has delays, especially on Kickstarter, and that would have meant summer 2017. In the end what I pay for is the game, not the deadline. Since backing I never had a doubt the game would be finished. After a series of very open blog posts making the whole process very transparent, the delay does not really worry me at all.
Those five months derive from a chain of factors, and the choice makes sense: I don't want the blog to get black because the team is in constant crunsh mode for the next four months, I don't want the game to get shorter just to hit a deadline, I don't want the well deserved buzz of this release to get muted by some surprising Left For Dead III or Half Life crashing into the christmas market.

There is not unfounded Schaferish optimism, instead Ron seems to be very aware of all the limiting factors on the road. This is one of those occasions not having a publisher might really be an advantage for the final product and the project diary could turn out to be the must-read for future crowdfunding developers.

Lukas - May 06, 2016 at 06:54
I don't think it's fair to single out Kickstarter games for delays. All software has delays, it's just that you usually don't hear about them, because most projects aren't as public as Kickstarter projects.

Mister T - May 06, 2016 at 11:29
True for the production phase.
However, there are usually no delays between parting with the money and getting a preordered products when it comes to conventionally published games. And if they occur (or a game gets published in early beta stage, leaving everything to be fixed in the next months, or servers are not set up yet for multiplayer experience or even worse copy protection, which both means essentially the same as a delay), it most likely results in an instant shitstorm. In the case of crowdfunding, it all depends on the reasoning: if an overpromised deadline is the result of an underpromised game, delays are accepted. So delay is an option rather than just a failure.

Lukas - May 06, 2016 at 06:53
I really don't understand people complaining about slipping release dates. It's not as if games that are delayed were really finished, and the developers are just holding them back out of sheer malice. The game is not done! There's no magic wand anyone could wave to make it be done quicker, except for cutting stuff, removing content — and as a gamer, I'd rather wait another year and get the full game, than waiting another week and get a game that's really not what the developer intended it to be.

I think a lot of people who aren't in software development really don't understand how freaking hard it is. You're never writing the same product twice, so you never know what kinds of roadblocks you're going to encounter. Asking a developer to give a precise schedule is like asking somebody how long it's going to take them to hike from Maryland to Oregon without giving them a map. Sure, they know roughly how far they'll have to hike, but they have no idea what kinds of things they'll encounter on the way!

So it's really meaningless to ask a developer to "please make sure that this is the last delay". If they had the ability to make sure that there are no delays, surely they would have used that ability right from the beginning!

Zombocast - May 04, 2016 at 20:18
Ron give us access to the PAX demo right Meow! Kidding..

Stefano - May 04, 2016 at 20:21
Thanks for this thorough update Ron, I find it amazing to be informed on all the things that happens behind the curtains of developing a game. I also agree that given all the options moving the release date is the one that made more sense, given there is enough budget for that. I am sure that most backers are okay with that and just want to enjoy a fully polished game, rather than something which is not quite complete - personally I can't wait!

Mattias Cedervall - May 04, 2016 at 20:35
I don't care about so called AAA games and I think it would be nice to give TP as a Christmas gift to someone. I'm very impatient, but I won't be angry if the game is delayed. I got angry when Nintendo delayed Zelda for Wii U. I hope you have time to implement fog that reacts to the playable character's movement! Thank you for creating the game! :D

Mark Bays - May 04, 2016 at 20:47
You shouldn't leave the extended backgrounds un-interesting, you should add a random set of Dino bones, skeleton, treasure chest, old car, Sam n max carcasses, 3 headed monkey, piece o eight, root beer, seagull, etc. PLEASE. :)

Ron Gilbert - May 04, 2016 at 20:51
By "interesting", I mean visually busy.

jfrisby - May 04, 2016 at 20:49
Can we have a "Hide UI" button for pristine screenshots?

Ron Gilbert - May 04, 2016 at 23:45
Yes, there will be a way to hide the ui for screen shots.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 05, 2016 at 04:46
Ahah! Cool!!

Madlen - May 04, 2016 at 21:17
Sorry. but the chosen font for the UI looks horrible!!! Way to bright, way to pushing. PLEASE make it more decent.. so that we can enjoy the fabulous game graphic better.

Jack - May 05, 2016 at 09:18
Definitely not, it is perfect!

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 05, 2016 at 10:07
"De gustibus non disputandum est"  (tastes should not be discussed)

Iron Curtain - May 05, 2016 at 13:28
I translate that as "You can't dispute taste." My father did too.

Ema - May 05, 2016 at 15:38
I'm sorry, I can't get the difference in terms of meaning. Could you please explain?

Anyway, Zak's translation is far more literal and relevant to the original. Maybe is not as grammarly correct as yours in english, but it makes sense: a new yorker is more familiar with english than an Italian, an Italian is more familiar with latin than a new yorker.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 06, 2016 at 04:41
Yes, it's latin and the meaning is that tastes are personal.
Everyone can argument that a particular thing is [adjective you want], but for another person, tha same thing could be [another adjective you want].
It's useless to dispute/argument/fight on tastes, because it's not nice what is beautiful, but it's nice what you like.

T.M. - May 06, 2016 at 08:21
We have that same idiom in my native language, but we also have a different version: you can’t do anything but dispute when it comes to a matter of taste. Meaning there wont’t be any compromises when you’re talking about subjects of personal taste so eventually there won’t be any solution either, so all you can do is dispute until the end of days. I’ve often found this to be more accurate case.

But yeah, I’m loving the new UI also:) That 64 font is neat and suits well for retro feeling but eventually I found it kind of annoying whereas that new font looked first bit odd but now that I’m used to it I think it’s really soothing and an excellent choice.

Big Red Button - May 06, 2016 at 18:47
I don't think so. It's just a dark setting and I'd rather say that the "old" verbs may have been a little bit too dark.

Tom - May 04, 2016 at 22:18
Bugs will be in any 1.0 release. Make the game so it can be easily updated and if any bugs are found release a new 1.n version. It's simple now that you don't have to install from floppy or download on a 300 baud modem.

Andrew T - May 04, 2016 at 23:42
Hey Everyone!

Been following this blog since the beginning and thought I'd say hi! I've got to say that this is the most professionally run kickstarter campaign I have been involved in so thanks for that. The blogs have been fun to read and offer plenty of insight. Also to hear/read developers enjoying themselves and with a cool community behind the developers is rare these days. Truly this is an old-school game.

Ron Gilbert - May 04, 2016 at 23:44
Thanks! It's been a lot of fun for us as well.

Ugo - May 05, 2016 at 00:21
Hi Ron,
I like all the graphical improvements, but now I'm getting worried about hardware requirements. Will a 5 years old entry-level computer be ok for running this game? I hope so! Thanks

Ron Gilbert - May 05, 2016 at 00:23
Don't worry. We're not even coming close to pushing what even the lower end machines can do.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 05, 2016 at 04:59
The game should be as large as Monkey Island 2, so it would fit in 11 floppy disks DS/DD.

Ema - May 05, 2016 at 15:42
Uhm... I hope the game will be released in 5 1/4 floppies, since it's the only drive mounted on my 8088....

Tom - May 05, 2016 at 11:14
I doubt if it would require an i7 skylake but at least a Pentium 4 HT (10+ years old) would help. I think this game uses SDL according to wikipedia.

kringel84 - May 14, 2016 at 12:36
I'm on Linux and hoping the game might run with OpenGL 2.1 (plus ARB extenstions). Because that is all I can run. However other games like Kentucky Route Zero (which is also visually interesting, very pleasing plus "wow"-effects, while still "retro" and pixelated) require already OpenGL 3.0. Yes, I know should upgrade my machine. :) Just saying, somethings can be done perfectly fine with 2.1 plus ARB extensions. (Yes, ok, I'll buy a new used laptop.)

Generally, --if you're not on very old hardware like me-- even with older Intel HD 3000 for example (pre-Haswell) and generally concerning Mesa3D on Linux OpenGL 3.3 is done and really working for all drivers. Double Fine  used to require OpenGL 3.3 for their recent titles on Linux like Grim Remastered.

If you want to look into the situation on Linux (very helpful and frequently updated site:)
(OpenGL 3.3 done for all, OpenGLES 3.0 for all, OpenGLES 3.1 only for intel and radeonsi so far, it's developing *very slowly* on the other drivers. OpenGL 4.0/4.1 developing for under a Christmas tree release, I guess, until it's really upstream in the distributions)

Hope this might help!

Farooq - May 05, 2016 at 01:10
I wasn't very keen on the UI first but after seeing it action I'm gonna say Im all for it. It indeed gives the game some more dynamic. Although the "walk to" feels to me can be a little tweaked but I don't mind. Speaking of your "bussiness" I'd giggle if your name in the credits shows up like "created, directed, budgeted, speadsheeted by Ron Gilbert"

Godspeed, Captain Gilbert!

Christian - May 05, 2016 at 01:28
Are you worried about engine bugs which only occur on certain computers? Or are sound, graphics and savegames battletested enough?
Why not create a "demo", but one without any relevant content (like just one room, or demo graphic, or simply show a shader, some sound and one place to walk) and release it to bakers just to learn whether it crashes anywhere?

BTW: Best kickstarter ever!!

Jens - May 05, 2016 at 01:35
Hi Ron (& team),
if you feel the game needs more time than expected that's fine. You are doing a great job here and from what I saw and heard so far I am all the way excited for the final result!!

urielz - May 05, 2016 at 01:36
Thanks for the update! And relief to read that you're not cutting the game short to make the original deadline.

The extended screen with the fonts and icons on top looks fantastic, I'll still be using the old fonts though :-)

Christopher - May 05, 2016 at 01:56
Make sure you leave in just a little fat. It adds flavour.

Stefan - May 05, 2016 at 02:10
Hi Ron,

thanks for the update. Take the time you need to finish the game and don't cut the storyline only for the release date. I am so happy that you are making this game and can't await to play it :-)

Ivan - May 05, 2016 at 03:16
Wow. I love the new font, and the verbs look amazing without the black background.
Congratulations on rejuvenating the UI.

Also, as a backer, I really appreciate that you are managing the budget professionally and will be delivering the game you promised without having to kickstart for more funds or otherwise turn to episodic distribution.
Would back again :)

dPunisher - May 05, 2016 at 03:33
Would be nice if you share some wallpapers <3 at 3840x2160 (UHD) and 3440x1440 (Ultra wide) resolutions. BTW, I hope the game supports those resolutions.

Great update!

MarcusG - May 05, 2016 at 03:51
I've been following this project since the beginning and I really enjoy the openness of this blog and the "State Of The Game"posts in particular. Just wanted to let you guys know that everything I have read so far - of the various decisions and changes along the way - is making the game look only better and better. Keep it up!

MarcusG - May 05, 2016 at 04:21
I forgot to mention: I totally salute the decision to postpone the release of the game to prevent working crunch.

I'm not in the business of making games and maybe I misunderstood the concept of crunch mode. In every line of work comes a time where you just have to roll up your sleeves and put in some overtime. But turning a few extra hours into something close to 16 hours a day, six to seven days a week for several weeks or even months - it's outrageous! And that it seems to be so widely accpeted as a normal way of doing things in game development (when it really should be regarded as mismanagement) seems - to me - absurd!

Sushi - May 05, 2016 at 20:08
So don't let anyone go all manager on you and tell you "oh my, you are delaying the release date by a whopping 25%. I will let it pass this tine, but don't let it happen again."
We. Don't. Really. Care.

For the majority of people here; that's just 25% extra podcasts, blogs and forum fun!

As stated very clearly in the kickstarter, Ron and Gary know what they're doing, they don't want to promise things they cannot deliver. You can trust them...
Before the budget is gone, the game will be out.

A thought here: had the kickstarter been less successful (i.e. if none of the stretch goals like voice acting,  translations or mobile port been met), that might also spared a few months. So if one want sto blame, or even worse, threaten Ron to not postpone any further than January 2017, one perhaps shouldn't have backed.

Sebastian - May 05, 2016 at 03:56

I am impressed about the progress and the current state of the game. Since you gave us broad insights into your considerations concerning the UI (new font, picture size etc.), a very nerdy retro thing came to my mind: Will Timbleweed Park include a scaler or "tube TV emulator"?
Ian Bogost discusses, for example, these kind of features which have become a part of the "Stella" emulator:

I mean, people will play the game on very large screens compared to the size of TVs we used back in the Maniac Mansion days and, maybe, appreciate a cool CRT television emulation instead of merely palm-sized pixels.

Are we going to see something similar in Thimbleweed Park? Or is this "fat" which has been cut out of the project?


Farooq - May 05, 2016 at 15:17
Well point and click adventures were started off ad computer games so they always dealt with VGA,CGA,EGA screens until the arrival of consoles but I say interesting. I'd love to try similar filter on thimbleweed park.

Franz - May 05, 2016 at 04:23
Once again a great post that gives us invaluable insight on how a game is made, and not only on the technical side of things but also from a project management perspective. Being  a project engineer myself, I really appreciate it.

Meuti - May 05, 2016 at 05:09
Postbone all you like and need to. When I backed Thimbleweed Park I didn't do that to earn the right to tell you what to do or to nail you to a certain release date. I backed because I love the idea of bringing the greatest adventure game(s) ever back to life. The passion you guys are showing in this blog is proof enough for me that I will get exactly that. And I really don't care if it takes a month, half a year or even a year longer to get it all done. Haste makes waste, so I'm glad you're taking the time you need.

Mister T - May 05, 2016 at 05:11
That is such a David Bowie approach:
"While installing the new font, I accidentally left some code commented out and the verbs were drawn over the background.... It took me around 10 seconds of walking around to realize that the whole game needed to be like this."

Richard - May 05, 2016 at 05:15
Thanks for the detailed updated, Ron. You and the team are doing a sterling job.

Seeing as I'm enjoying so much being along for this ride and that ride has now been extended, I've just thown some more dollars into Ransome's Swear Jar. This game thoroughly deserves it.

Gianni - May 05, 2016 at 05:57
It's been some time I did not comment on the blog: I love how everything is turning out. Now worries if it will need some postponing!
And here it comes the controversial question mark: if budget is under stress and the game requires still plenty of playtesting, what about evaluating an early access reserved to only a fraction of pledgers or to a brand new tier of backers?
Sorry guys, I had to do it...

McDrake - May 05, 2016 at 06:54
Don't crunch anything ;)

And the best part of this "delay":
Many more blogs and podcasts.

Martin Wendt - May 05, 2016 at 06:57
Thanks again for the nice update! And nice new UI Font. I like his style alot :-)
January 2017? That's closer to our own ETA for the new C64 adventure, hehe.
Let us know if you need/want something running on a C64 in TWP pleeease. Did I say please?
I hope the infamous 80% work for 20% of the game (or was it 90:10?) provide some fun for all of you as well nontheless!
Cheers, Martin

arvenius - May 11, 2016 at 09:19
Having a C64 standing around in the game with an actual emulator running behind the scenes would be pretty awesome actually and way better than just launching a second dos-executable (hello DOTT, im looking at you - although I wonder if they use any ScummVM for the remaster...).
Nice idea enthusi, but I guess at this stage its more about getting done whats already planned :-/

Nor Treblig - May 11, 2016 at 16:06
They use their own interpreter in the Remastered version. The state of Maniac Mansion is actually saved within the DOTT save file!

Also the DOS executable thing isn't a bad thing: You could replace it with everything you like, including a C64 emulator of your choice. I'd like to see that possibility in TWP!

Andreas - May 05, 2016 at 06:57
I already payed for the swear jar, but in case you need a small budget boost, I'd pay another 10-30$ to be on (And I bet others would too):

- Ray's cigarette advertisements
- Delores' Fortran one-liners
- Franklin's being spooky 101
- Reyes' something (I don't know anything about him...)

Keep up the awesome work! :)

Loftcraft - May 05, 2016 at 07:41
1.  Thanks for the twinkling stars. I have been asking for them on this blog some time ago. They look great and really add to the atmosphere. One point though: the "twinkle" frequenzy seems a little high and if the whole star ambient animation would be slower it would (imho) look a lot better. At the moment it looks very "twitchy" (In German we would say "unruhig").

2. On the budget: What about selling "merchandise articles" like posters on the website? Something like the beautiful landscape panorama on the PAX booth would be great!

3. About playtesting: Will the translated versions be playtested separately?

4. "The one area that I'm worried about happens halfway through the first act. You unlock a large portion of the world and it's a great moment (...). It's a problem we'll probably solve with some good dialog and maybe a couple of new pinch points so there aren't too many new places to go. It's important to always give players focus."

Some players on the other hand like exploration and open gameplay; we don't like handholding and love the process of finding "focus" on our own. But if you solve the "problem" with "good dialog": Nothing can be said against good dialog... :)

Paulup - May 05, 2016 at 09:32
I'm glad you guys are sticking to your guns and keeping the new font -- it's awesome and fits the character and style of the game, and it really conjures up the feel of the kind of bespoke font that would have been used for a LucasArts game...
And the full screen thing also looks really, really good.

I like that the game is getting improvements that feel like natural extensions of things from the classic games...
So you're not ditching things that already work so well (like the verbs) just for the sake of changing things, but instead tweaking things where there is a genuine improvement (like the full screen).

Danny Tunker - May 05, 2016 at 11:25
Excited about the game! LOVE the font, love the whole look of it, don't care about delays. I'd rather play a game YOU want to release and are 100% confident about.

Chuck the Plant - May 05, 2016 at 11:33
Great post, always interesting to get such an insightful peek into the project. The look and scope of this is already far beyond what I'd expected when I first Kickstarted, I certainly don't mind the extra time to get it right (assuming you can afford it).

The last stretch sounds like a challenge in terms of balancing resources, expectations, and sanity. But the only way out is through -- keep it up, you guys are killing it.

Maxxtro - May 05, 2016 at 14:12
Ron, you keep building it and we will come.
If you and your team are aiming for a new adventure in the size of Monkey2 I would gladly wait another year if needed and will be happy to participate in another round of Kickstarter.

You are making a game for us, the true fans of the genre and you are doing it in the best manner possible, going back to the classic era, the golden age of the adventure games.
Delays, budget, bugs, Mac crush, looks like its just part 1 of the new adventure.


Zombocast - May 05, 2016 at 14:21
Ron, I hope those Angel Investors don't come with strings attached because i love the direction you've decided to go with your company.

I'd hate for your intellectual property to somehow get comprimised by a contract; specifically your game engine. With the work your doing with Thimbleweed park your're paving the way for other titles with under the Terrible Toybox brand and making a name for yourself.

The reason why I say this.. is because I saw the movie "Walt before Micky" and I saw his struggles with his own company and vision.

Ron Gilbert - May 05, 2016 at 17:17
No strings. They only invested in the game, not the company. They will just get a small piece of the backend, but there are no conditions attached to it, were still free to do what we feel is best for the game.

Arne - May 05, 2016 at 15:18
Hi Thimbleweed Park team,

been following this wonderful and informative blog for some time. For me it is a journey from childhood C64 days with Maniac Mansion to today's developer days with an insight into game development. Impressive!

Please don't crunch, it isn't worth it. The posts show that you are all working hard. I'll happily read the blog and wait for the game to finish properly.

Transparency and the extended screens look great and I'm looking forward to playing around with the config file. No favourite font yet...

About voicemail: Some printed telephone books had a symbol if a number had an answering machine. It is Unicode U+2315 and looks like a mirrored "Q" or a magnifying glass. Maybe the symbol was used in 1987 in the US.

Daniel - May 05, 2016 at 16:01
There was a publishing date in the Kickstarter? Didn't care then, don't care now as long as you make the game you guys want to make!

A. - May 05, 2016 at 16:54
Okay, so after reading this blog post I can now happily, calmly, assuredly sign off the discussion board and just buy the game come January 2017.
("size of Monkey Island 2" did it for me)
Thanks guys!!!

what is one + two - twowoo? - May 05, 2016 at 17:25
I'm fine with releasing the game like in Q1/2017 but don't push it into the future like 2018/3018. (2d point & click adventures might be outdated by then). In reasonable doses, crunch times can be a healthy thing. In my opinion there exist too many shows/events/... The posters look cool.

A really good UI is worth its effort and i prefer a 'right' one over a bunch of soso options (focused options can be nice though). The old font might look too simple but the Tron like version can look a little bit distracting and unbalanced in respect to the (wip?) inventory items.

A pattern i don't like in some (adventure) games is when they're structured like linear/explode/linear/explode/... Periodically you first step forward in tiny steps and then too much new content crashes on you, which forces you to Look at all the new stuff, Talk to all the new characters, grasp everything and try to get not stuck for too long (you might just not have payed enough attention to one piece in a conversation ). It can turn fun into work. Obviously you also don't want to progress in a linear streamlined bits too.  So, it's about a good balancing and interesting rhythm.

Nor Treblig - May 05, 2016 at 19:55
Yeah, I guess the right balance can be tricky. Also some people like it with more freedom and some don't want to get too overwhelmed with too many possibilities.
One extreme case for example is Rubacava. It's quite awesome experiencing this whole town. But if you are stuck then there are a lot places to wander around aimlessly...

And it seems like it's a similar case Ron was talking about. Btw. his solution to manage this linearity issue (including other stuff like dead ends) are Puzzle Dependency Chartsâ„¢. If you are interested checkout the dependency chart of this game from one year ago: (but don't look too closely if you want to avoid spoilers)

2^2^n+1 - May 12, 2016 at 09:45
Don't get me wrong, i enjoy complexity and large scenes but i dislike when they're offered in too simplistic patterns, like: introduction/get known to everything/solve a bunch of stuff which enables you to move on to the next big thing/ repeat this process x times until the game ends (maybe with a slightly different structure at the end).

Offering a large town which you can explore, sounds good to me but i wouldn't want it to be like do your stuff in town a -> unlock town b, then do all your stuff again -> unlocks town c, and so on. Sadly many games work this way and i think that's boring.

Ideally everything (story/puzzles/rhythm) comes together in a nice way and that progression/exploration is more interesting. Kind of like the Pulp Fiction of adventure games.

Thanks for the link..

Claire - May 05, 2016 at 18:10
Ooo sounds very exciting. Love the idea of a January release. The 17th is a great day to do that on 😉.
Take the time you need to make the game great and to keep y'all healthy and sane. Looking forward to playing Thimbleweed park. You peeps are amazing.

Sushi - May 05, 2016 at 20:20
Big thanks to Ron for allowing the player to put back the black background on the UI as well as selecting a different levels of opacity.
Goes to show he did read *every* comment of that UI blog storm .

Peter Campbell - May 05, 2016 at 20:21
Ron, so there's no plans to show the game at E3?

Ron Gilbert - May 05, 2016 at 20:24
Not currently. E3 isn't a show that really helps us. It's big and noisy and dominated by AAA games. You get lost really easy.

Peter Campbell - May 05, 2016 at 20:59
Understandable, especially considering that there's tons and tons of credible sources citing that Sony's going to announce a more powerful version of the PS4 codenamed NEO with dramatically upgraded hardware specs (faster cpu, gpu, more memory bandwidth). That announcement alone would likely swallow up most of the event's headlines and hype.  If it turns out to be true I am curious if it would have any type of effect on a possible PS4 port of Thimbleweed Park since leaks report that games must run in both a "PS4 mode" and a "Neo mode" and that all games must run in 1080p in Neo mode, but that's just hearsay as of right now.

Ron Gilbert - May 05, 2016 at 21:03
Running a game like TWP in 1080 is easy, it's all upscaled from 180 anyway.  It runs on the xbox in 1080.

Jon Tunnell - May 05, 2016 at 21:18
If the game is as successful as I assume it will be ;-) do you plan on making more adventure games? Now that you have a custom engine, framework, pipeline, etc. it seems like you would be ready to do it again. I would love nothing more than a bunch of wonderful new adventures to play through!

Jonny - May 06, 2016 at 05:56
That's  what I hoped too, at the beginning of this project.

I like the future. It has (real) Star Wars sequels and new old school Gilbert adventure games. (This includes all the great work so far from the TWP team)

Josejulio Martínez - May 06, 2016 at 12:01
I would pay for it!

Insightman - May 05, 2016 at 23:25
Of course you should ignore those self-righteous curmudgeons who demand it now! I'm actually happy for the delayed release because I've been afraid I'll become consumed with TWP and withdraw from society when it finally reaches my computer. Now I have more time to get my affairs in order, so to speak.

But today I came up with an idea to preserve my sanity. I'm going to bring TWP to my Dad's retirement home, put it up on their big screen, and have group sessions where we all try to solve the mystery. I believe they'll find it very stimulating and I'll have an excuse to limit my obsessive behavior. Nah, it won't work--as with Monkey Islands, I'll be a TWP hermit until it's solved.

Cyril - May 06, 2016 at 02:20
First of all thanks for creating such a project that follows the step of so famous 90's point & clisk games. The videos I saw are great but I have only ONE question: why didn't you use midi music with sfx as you did in the 90's ? Since you went back to vintage graphics, I believe you should do the same with sounds

anyway, this is a game I will buy !

thanks again

DZ-Jay - May 06, 2016 at 05:26
I believe Mr. Gilbert answered this in an old "questions" podcast.  The bottom line was that vintage, pixelated, 8-bit colour graphics are charming; but vintage synthy sound and music is cheesy.


Nor Treblig - May 06, 2016 at 09:12
In short: He wants to prevent excessive bleeding. :-)
Here is a related Kickstarter update:

Jes - May 06, 2016 at 03:11
Take the time you and the team needs. It's so well argued why you're deciding to change the release date and I really enjoyed reading this post. I've waited  years for a gaming experience like this and think I can wait some more. Plus I'd really like you all to survive this project :)

dionysos01 - May 06, 2016 at 03:36
well, i'm really positive on this game. i like the art, the new UI is really great, and also to be able to change the UI if needed. Like I said before, i will definitally buy this game when it will be out. wish you the best until next year. I encourage you and your team. (sorry for my english)

Marco - May 06, 2016 at 04:22
"The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time". Tom Cargill, Bell Labs.

Keep up with your great work! Crunch mode isn't the solution. We all love you :-)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 06, 2016 at 07:25
Topic: *An example of adventure puzzle translation fail*
I'm playing Broken Age. The game, automatically, chose italian as default language for texts and graphic (yes, there are graphic parts in the backgrounds or items which are translated).
They did a great job in translations: even measures are translated (inches in centimeters, for instance).
They failed in the logic of a puzzle, because of a too literal translation. I want to report here as an example to help testers and future translaters of Thimbleweed Park not to stumble in the same error.

In short, the puzzle in english is:
- a boy aged 6 wears *size 7 shoes* (the number is visible in a picture)
- in a medical report of the boy aged 6, user can read that he had a growth spurt and *grew 3 sizes* in one year.
The puzzle is to guess what size shoes was the boy at age 5. (the answer is 4, of course).

How it was translated in italian:
- a boy aged 6 wears *size 24 shoes* (the number is visible in a picture, is the literal translations
- in a medical report of the boy aged 6, user can reat the he had a growth spurt and *grew 3 sizes* in one year (literal translation from english)
What size shoes was the boy at age 5? User can say: 21 (24 - 3 = 21) !
The correct answer is 19, that is the literal translation of english size 4 for shoes!

So, my advice is: after a translation is completed, test the game in its normal play-flow, to check the "puzzle logic integrity" even in the translated language.

Brian Small - May 06, 2016 at 12:17
Ouch!  How did you figure that puzzle out then?  Did you report the issue to Double-Fine, and have they fixed it?   That's certainly a good example of a translation fail.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 06, 2016 at 17:43
I figured out in english, and found the solution :-(

Oregondanne - May 11, 2016 at 17:10
Good catch. This (and all the humor getting lost) is what I've been trying to warn Ron and Co. about in other translation posts in regards to assigning volunteer amateur translators (who will probably screw it up a lot more than the supposedly professional translator who worked on Broken Age in your example above). Sometimes "free" is a very expensive price to pay...

longuist - May 06, 2016 at 07:34
I have a question about the UI font. Is it hand drawn like a bitmap specifically for the verbs, or is it a "complete" font. If being the latter, it would be nice if it could be chosen as the text font too. Then everything would be even more consistent.

deanobob - May 06, 2016 at 07:36
Still waiting to be able to order a T-shirt online!

Are you planning on doing Gamescom this year?

Diego - May 06, 2016 at 08:37
Hey Ron! have you seen this article?
Its in spanish but... basically says that you made the game in pixels cause you dont have much money to make a 3d game.

Have to read it!

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 06, 2016 at 08:49
I've read it.
I suggest to tell the author to visit the TP blog...
Everything he wrote in that article is well explained here.

Diego - May 06, 2016 at 20:17
Ill send the author to go and suck a lemon hehe... he is a jerk! Greetings from Argentina!

Ron Gilbert - May 06, 2016 at 08:57
ha... no matter how much money we had, we'd still do 8-bit. It's sad that some people don't see 8-bit as an artistic choice and an art form.

Diego - May 06, 2016 at 20:07
I cant believe the great Ron answered me! Thanks for reading my post! Keep working man! You are my idol. Watch behind you... a three headed monkey!

DZ-Jay - May 14, 2016 at 08:05
I believe that may be related to a comment David said in one of the "Friday questions" podcasts.  In it, someone asked if they would have considered making a 3D game.  I believe David said something like, "in many ways, making a 3D game would have been a lot more expensive than a 2D game."

It most likely was taken out of context because that comment wasn't intended to imply that the choice of 2D was a budgetary one.


DZ-Jay - May 14, 2016 at 08:17
OK, I was wrong, it's a very cynical post accusing Mr. Gilbert of producing a lame "classic" game in the style 1987 purely because he is cheap.

Here's an expert, translated:
"¿Saben cuánto pidieron Ron y Gary para hacer Thimbleweed Park? Únicamente 350 mil dólares. Actualmente han reunido casi 700 mil, pero ellos calcularon poder hacer lo básico con 350 mil. Diablos, Yu Suzuki quería 2 millones (y luego 10) para Shenmue III y a Tim Schafer no le alcanzaron 3.45 millones de dólares para Broken Age, y es completamente comprensible: el desarrollo actual es mucho más caro que el desarrollo en la era de Maniac Mansion. Los equipos de desarrollo actuales no son comparables con los de la era de Zack McKracken. Por tanto, lo de Thimbleweed Park no es nostalgia; es economía. ¿Suena menos épico decir que harás un juego al estilo 1987 porque es para lo que te alcanza, en lugar de culpar a la nostalgia? Sí, sin lugar a dudas. ¿Es más comprensible para un cínico que ya no cree en la nostalgia? Yo diría que sí."


"Do you know how much Ron and Gary asked for to make Thimbleweed Park?  Only 350 thousand dollars.  Actually, they have amassed almost 700 thousand, but they calculated they could get the basics done with 350 thousand.  Hell, Yu Suzuki wanted 2 Million (and then 10) for Shenmue III, and 3.45 Million dollars were not enough for Tim Schafer for Broken Age; and that's completely understandable:  modern development is much more expensive than it was during the era of Maniac Mansion.  Today's development kits are not comparable to those in the era of Zack McKracken.  Therefore, the thing with Thimbleweed Park is not nostalgia; it's economics.  Would it sound less epic to say that you will make a game in the style of 1987 because that's what you can afford, instead of blaming nostalgia?  Yes, without a doubt.  Is it more understandable to a cynic who doesn't believe in nostalgia any more?  I would say yes."

Pity that some people cannot see beyond their own personal biases.


longuist - May 14, 2016 at 09:58
I can't follow his argumentation. Asking for a fraction of the true amount of development cost (to literally kickstart sth.), and then asking for more (or hiding the true cost) is better than propose a game with limited (financial) scope and a more or less realistic cost estimation?
Can't rule out he isn't right (that nostalgia blinded our sight and Ron tricked us), but he should have waited for the release (instead of asking his crystal ball).

disclaimer: I hope his true intention was just lost in translation and i got it wrong :)

(dZ, thanks for the translation, it was much better than the automatic google thingy. Maybe with Parsey McParseface it will do better :)

DZ-Jay - May 15, 2016 at 07:50
I believe his motivation is cynicism, pure and simple; not malice.  For the record, below is a full translation:



"Nostalgia is not a good counselor.   You can tell when you watch a chapter of Thundercats, Here Comes The Grump, M.A.S.K., G.I. Joe, or any other program that you thought was perfect during your childhood; that the standards of your youth are not the same as your current ones.  Sure, there are exceptions (Clash of the Titans, The Terminator, The Jungle Book, you will always be perfect), but it's something that must happen.  It happens to me.  Hell, it happened to Rod Fergusson with Gilligan's Island!  What else is there to say?

"That said, I confess that I love Maniac Mansion, even if I had to use a walk-through guide to complete it.  I love Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, even if I was lost most of the time when I played it (it's unnecessary to say I never completed it).  As a thirty-something video-game player, I view with nostalgia the times when I collected hundreds of floppy disks that I copied on my Commodore 64 (or Commodore 128 or, later on and with less floppy disks, Amiga) following that unforgettable LOAD "*",8,1.  Like any other video-gamer, I love the video-games from my childhood.

"However, Thimbleweed Park, Ron Gilbert's most recent game -- which was shown at the XBox conference in GamesCom -- confuses me.

"According to a post in Ron Gilbert's blog, Thimbleweed Park started precisely due to nostalgia.  Ron Gilbert was chatting with Gary Winnick one day about how wonderful their years at Lucasfilm Games were, and said: "What if we did one of those games again?".  But he meant it seriously.  "One of those games" meant not only a graphical adventure like Maniac Mansion, but a graphical adventure with the same processing limitations, constraints, and game-play mechanics as Maniac Mansion.  Oh boy!

"I have mixed feelings about this.  One the one hand, my nostalgia is in perfect synchronicity with Ron's when he tells me: "Don't you miss those times in which you flopped on a green couch all afternoon and you stuffed a hamster in the microwave, and you played until your parents forced you to turn it off or your head ached?".  On the other hand, I analyse everything that has happened in video-games since then.  Is it really necessary to play something that imposes so many restrictions in an ostensibly voluntary way?  Would subscribing to a graphical style and mechanics from almost 30 years ago, really bring out the best of Thimbleweed Park?  It's evident to anybody -- including Ron, I suppose -- that the answer is no.  But then you notice Kickstarter...

"Do you know how much Ron and Gary asked for to make Thimbleweed Park?  Only 350 thousand dollars.  Actually, they have amassed almost 700 thousand, but they calculated they could get the basics done with 350 thousand.  Hell, Yu Suzuki wanted 2 Million (and then 10) for Shenmue III, and 3.45 Million dollars were not enough for Tim Schafer for Broken Age; and that's completely understandable:  modern development is much more expensive than it was during the era of Maniac Mansion.  Today's development kits are not comparable to those in the era of Zack McKracken.  Therefore, the thing with Thimbleweed Park is not nostalgia; it's economics.  Would it sound less epic to say that you will make a game in the style of 1987 because that's what you can afford, instead of blaming nostalgia?  Yes, without a doubt.  Is it more understandable to a cynic who doesn't believe in nostalgia any more?  I would say yes."


It's indeed an impassioned and nuanced commentary, however misguided.  Like longuist said, the author could be right and Mr. Gilbert is unable or unwilling to make a "real" modern game and therefore is trying to pander to our nostalgic sensibilities in order to convince us to throw money at him for a cheap production.  It certainly is a possibility.

However, I choose to believe otherwise, and to trust Mr. Gilbert's words and motivations that the game is a sincere tribute to a genre which is imprinted in our brains, represents a rather large part of our formative youth, and fuels our own passions.

That said, I can see how others, more jaded than I, can take a decidedly different and cynical view of the same.

The author said he is confused, that his feelings are mixed.  Perhaps its an invitation (or an opportunity) to convince him that 8-bit art is a stylistic sensibility, that the game-mechanics and format is "inspired by" -- but not "constrained as" -- 1980s adventure games.

Mr. Gilbert, if you would like to respond to the author, I can serve as translator.  :)


Ron Gilbert - May 15, 2016 at 09:52
If we had gotten 3 million dollars, we still would have made a 8-bit game. We love 8-bit art. It's an artistic choice, not a economic one. One of the pitfalls of Kickstarters is when you get more money then you thought and you end end up making a game very different from your initial vision. Getting too much money can be a curse. I've seen it happen.  I also think this author is going to be surprised when he plays Thimbleweed park. It's not just a retro-fan-game. It's also too bad he didn't take the time to ask us these question.

DZ-Jay - May 16, 2016 at 05:33
Hi, Mr. Gilbert,

Thanks for your response.  I love 8-bit art as well, and I think you're doing a marvelous job with this game.  At first (well, until very recently), I was concerned that you were changing the game style as originally envisioned precisely because you got more money than you expected (e.g., switching the art style, adding lots of fancy colours and lighting, etc.); but then you talked about the difference between the fond memories we have of the old games vs. how they actually were in reality.

I believe it was Mr. Ferrari in a session on 8-bit art at GDC, who made the same point using the analogy of the Renaissance Fair:  It's like wanting to go to the Renaissance Fair, and instead being transported to the actual Renaissance; you know, with sewage on the street, deformed people, rotten meat, and the actual smell of humans that do not bathe regularly.  That's not really what we want! We want to go to the Renaissance Fair! with the fancy dresses and the clean and safe environments.

I am convinced that that is the most apt manner in which to pay tribute to the genre.  Thanks for sticking to your vision.


Soong - May 06, 2016 at 09:18
Well, they're right.  That's the way development has gone.  In the past, there was not much money in video games, so they had 2D games and very few pixels. Then more money went into the field and they started making 3D games and they could also afford more pixels.  That worked especially well for adventure games and they sold hundreds of millions of copies because they were in 3D.

Pixels are expensive and Ds even more so. But this game has an especially good pixel to dollar and D to dollar ratios, making it one of the most efficient games to date.  And after all, that's what it's all about.

Mister T - May 06, 2016 at 11:32
But what if the parallax scrolling is animated in 3d for VR glasses? That changes the D to pixel ratio a lot. So much D per pixel probably just occurs on the 3DS.

blombo - May 06, 2016 at 13:58
You're joking, right?

Nor Treblig - May 06, 2016 at 16:06
No, I don't think he is joking.

Big Red Button - May 06, 2016 at 19:01
Well I don't speak Spanish, but "malinterpretada" seems to mean "misinterpret". Are you sure that the article is serious?

All I can tell you about it is that if this game was announced to be 3D, instead of 8-bitish pixel-art, I most likely wouldn't have co-funded it.

DZ-Jay - May 14, 2016 at 08:55
I speak Spanish., and the article is not a joke.  It is a cynic view on the Thimbleweed Park effort.  "Malinterpretada" is indeed "misinterpreted."  However, in the context of the article "nostalgia misinterpreted" means that Mr. Gilbert is misleading his audience by purposely invoking a sense of nostalgia, when he is in fact just too cheap or lazy to do an actual modern game.

See a few posts above for my translation of the last paragraph.  The core of the author's argument is that making games is hard and expensive, and that thanks to Kickstarter, people can just go ask for thousands of dollars to make games; but since they don't know how, are not good at it, do not wish to expend too much effort, or just don't want to worry about raising enough funds; they can just do a cheap ass game with self-imposed artificial constraints and claim the badge of "nostalgia" to get attention.

Very cynical and quite unfortunate that he feels so disenchanted.  If he enjoys living in such a dark and sinister world with so much distrust of human nature, then more power to him.

Me? I look forward to playing an old-school game that invokes all the good things I remember about the era, without none (or very few) of the drawbacks that were washed away by nostalgia.  :)


Big Red Button - May 14, 2016 at 17:42
I agree with you. The article is pitiful.

They simply raised "only" about 700 thousand dollars, because they had a rather modest goal - not vice versa. 700 thousand dollars are a reasonable amount for a retro game like TP. If Tim Schafer is able to raise 3.45 million dollars for an adventure game, they probably would have been able to raise the same amount of money for Thimbleweed Park. But if someone raised significantly more than a million dollars for such a nostalgic point & click adventure game, he would probably be looking hard for an excuse. Whatever budget you claim, the challenge is to make an appropriate product out of it!

Big Red Button - May 14, 2016 at 19:49
I have to point out, that "modest goal" refers only to the projected budget, not to the actual game, because the game itself is going to be really awesome and auspicious, in all likelihood! In the face of the 700 k$ budget, it's a bargain! ;-)

DZ-Jay - May 15, 2016 at 08:01
I just noticed the typo on the screenshot and the funny caption.  The bank's screenshot text panel says, "Pick up sandwitch" and the caption says, "'Sandwitch,' of course, it must be a witch selling sandwiches."


Pavel - May 06, 2016 at 10:18
I already love this game.

Nathan - May 06, 2016 at 15:36
Take as long as you want. I want to play the game, but I'm finding this insight into development to be very informative. In a way, I wouldn't mind if development took forever. I'll definately feel a loss when this blog stops being updated.

Le Chantaux - May 07, 2016 at 04:17
Awesome Ron! I hate crunch mode, in my experience it sucks the life out of the team. I feel that working at a reasonable pace that maintains you fresher keeps you more creative and motivated. Also I like a lot the changea in the UI. I pretty nostalgic myself and love classic old school feel , but when you feel in your gut that you have to change , thats the thing  you gotta do. I'll play the game the default way that you'll ship. Also when I backed  I didnt pledge for a shirt, but after seeing those you took to pax I really want one ! Will they be available in a near/mid future? Thanks . Amazing work guys!

Big Red Button - May 07, 2016 at 15:39
Interestingly, Delores' side view is mirrored, as we can see in the video. Just like in MM. Seems to be both an homage and a big saving of labor.

Big Red Button - May 07, 2016 at 15:40
... which is comprehensible, of course!

Big Red Button - May 07, 2016 at 15:44
I mean, it's reasonable.

Kevin Lee Drum - May 08, 2016 at 00:04
The more I watch this video, the more amazed I am by the details.  The little splashes around her feet in the water, Dave's cooking animation, the parallax effect that even extends outside the diner, the twinkling stars, the rippling water...  It's going to be a phenomenal game, Ron.

goodidea82 - May 08, 2016 at 04:06
Really appreciate the option to switch between different fonts and black or transparent background.

Zuckerberg - May 08, 2016 at 11:20
I like the new font. And transparency. Period. -- Would you mind letting us know the details behind the remark the font happened with the "help of an outside designer"? Does that mean you found a ready-made font somewhere and asked permission, or did you know about a designer and asked for ideas/suggestions? I find hiring someone to 'get it right' is mostly a shot in the dark. So how did the font come across, did you know someone who'd nail it, or ..?

mr. T - May 08, 2016 at 14:48
I like these super posts. They are very stately and comprehensive. I have to admit that I'm secretly happy that the deadline is pushed forward a bit, because it means this dev blog goes on that much longer for our delight and joy.

P.S. Thank you for the extensive UI optioning. I didn't expect it to be so luxurious.

McDrake - May 09, 2016 at 02:55
Just upgraded my pledge to "buy" you more time ;)

South Side Tony - May 10, 2016 at 11:55
I find it interesting that TWP getting pushed back is greeted with nothing but understanding and best wishes, whereas Mighty No. 9 is greeted with disdain.  I wonder if the reason is because of the openness of Ron through the blog, a different breed of fans (adventure vs run and gun), or the fact that TWP was pushed back once while Mighty No. 9 was pushed back multiple times.


longuist - May 10, 2016 at 13:49
I guess its a combination of all three possible reasons you already mentioned.

Nor Treblig - May 10, 2016 at 19:38
1. Maybe it's because adventure game players are generally unhurried and slow in reaction compared to twitchy platform gamers? :D

2. Furthermore Mighty No. 9 has five times more backers and more press coverage -> more jerks (who are also vocally louder than non-jerks).

3. On this blog are mostly die hard fans of the creators work or of adventure games in general. You are more likely to find jerks and haters everywhere else (e.g. like comments on press coverage) than here or on the Kickstarter page.

4. The delay of TWP is *less than one year* (presumably). Which means in Kickstarter terms: It's more or less on time.

5. As you said: It was pushed back multiple times, meanwhile Ron said quite early it will be before end of this year or after end of this year which was now fixed to the latter one.

Sushi - May 11, 2016 at 16:23
1. true
2. true (not too many jerks around here- I counted perhaps 2 in total) true

P.S.: never heard of Mighty No. 9

Nor Treblig - May 11, 2016 at 17:38
I've seen it on Kickstarter when the campaign was live but didn't back it either, not my type of game.

Mark G - May 10, 2016 at 19:02
Heh it's funny how you guys have moved the release date to January, partially to ensure you don't release at the same time as AAA blockbuster titles, yet there's just been some news that Mass Effect Andromeda will now be released in Early 2017 D: (hopefully quite a bit after the release of Thimbleweed Park :))

Cheeseness - May 12, 2016 at 01:06
I've been pretty late with catching up on posts. This was a good read - thanks for sharing!

I hope that you and the team have been able to get focus back and feel like you're moving in the kinds of directions you need to go. The more game development I've done, the more important maintaining morale and motivation feel (even when it means working less efficiently or missing timed opportunities).

Glad to hear that GDC and PAX East went well and that the game has had a positive reception so far!

Marco - May 12, 2016 at 08:21
No way to be an Android version backer?
I understand point and click philosophy but these days are good days to point n click with fingers.

Btw the video is impressive as usual, keep the -good- extraordinary work.
I'll wait for the Android version if it will come.

longuist - May 12, 2016 at 10:01
Look at the main page of the Game:

There is an icon which looks like an iconified android??

Ok, referring to the faq:

"Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android. The PC versions will release in late 2016, the iOS/Android versions a few months after that."

The release date is outdated though, early 2017 now. But there will be an android version of the game.
If i remember correctly, if you back the game you only get the PC versions, so you will have to wait for the release and buy it in the app store.

Andi - May 13, 2016 at 06:26
Please go into crunch mode! Usually at an 80% stage of a project, there are still some issues one doesnt know or hasnt decided how to attack (the dark, depressing corners of the project). But they need to be decided/implemented/refactored/whatever. If you dont go into crunch mode then you start polishing more of the shiny parts and never finish. Hard decisions need pressure. Especially since no one is ever really satisfied with ones own work.

Actually a pointy haired boss behind your chair shouting: 'ship, ship, ship!' improves quality at late stages of the project.

Of course, if your character is different from that, pls ignore what I wrote.

Lucian - May 13, 2016 at 23:30
Thank you very much for the post!

I was 11 when Maniac Mansion first appeared and since the first day I saw it I've become a huge fan of Lucas' adventures. (I still remember that day! All the things I felt when I saw the verbs...) I've played several times all of Lucas' adventures through the years (still do!) and I strongly believe that they're the best computer games in the whole history of computer games.

So, imagine my feelings when I first saw the UI demo. I'm thrilled! It looks like an old Lucas' adventure, has that feeling and brings me happy memories of my childhood... But everything is new and fully improved!

I'm really blown away by the game. Can't wait to play it!


Ariel - May 22, 2016 at 18:28
Every video I watched of the game made adrenaline run through my body. It's like you said at the begining of the kickstarter: it's like finding a LucasFilms adventure from the begining of the '90s.

I hope this game turns out to be so successful you'd like to do another 8-bit adventure game after this one.

Rado - Jun 08, 2016 at 04:04
"unlock a large portion of the world... but players lose direction"

That's a very important issue. It actually stopped be from continuing "Syberia 2" at the middle.

Sodapop - Jun 09, 2016 at 16:57
Please change the voice of your female lead. PLEASE......

Ron Gilbert - Jun 09, 2016 at 19:06
No, she is exactly how I want her to sound. It's how Ray would sound.

Davy Keppens - Jun 21, 2016 at 16:16
Hi Ron (and everybody else),

Just popping on and breaking my personal code to never comment on a development blog to say that this is without a doubt THE most professionally run kickstarter campaign i've ever seen, let alone been part of. Thanks for all the great updates, take that extra time. The new UI is nothing short of amazing. You are all doing a fantastic job. Everything i've seen is such an improvement to the game and always stays within the scope of the kind of game your backers signed up for, which is getting rarer and rarer these days. I quickly browsed over the comments and they're solid proof of that. Looking forward to january ! Top Team ! Really !

Ron Gilbert - Jun 21, 2016 at 16:17
Thanks! From the whole team!