Title Cards

by Ron Gilbert
Sep 14, 2016

Several months ago, there was a lot of chatter on the blog about if we were going to have title cards showing the acts or parts, like Monkey Island had.

I've been against them from the beginning. It just didn't feel like it fit the game, but as time moved on and the scope of the game and story became apparent, I've changed my mind.

For those of you clamoring for title cards, I'm happy to report they are in the game. I started by using them to break up the acts, but soon realized that wasn't enough.

Thimbleweed Park (for better or worse) is a big game. It's not only big, but it's a complex story that weaves around, pretending to be one thing, then veering off to be another, and then juts in an unexpected direction just when you think you've figured it out.

It's a complex story.

One thing we noticed while playtesting is there are these big story beats, and while the story felt good at those locations, the game became a little unfocused.  The title cards help to return that focus without long expository cut-scenes. The cards are short and simple and say "Hey! This is where we're going".  It also gives players a sense of progress and completion, despite not knowing how many parts there are.

So, there you go.

- Ron

Brian Small - Sep 14, 2016 at 18:24
Sounds great to me.  I've always like these transition "titles" when in adventure games.  I feel like I accomplished something big, and the game world is about to open up in a new way, which is exciting.

longuist - Sep 14, 2016 at 18:26
For better! Yay for complex

eHenryThripshaw - Sep 14, 2016 at 18:27
Part V: Ransome Kicks Butt

Nor Treblig - Sep 14, 2016 at 20:00
Close enough, is was part three. Sorry for copying your idea :-)

Sebastian - Sep 15, 2016 at 11:30
I'd appreciate something like

"David O. Seltzer Presents: 'Dr E. Henry Thripshaw's Disease strikes Thimbleweed Park' "


Sebastian (Mrs)

Emmanuel - Sep 14, 2016 at 18:27
Were you against the title cards for Thimbleweed Park only or even for Monkey Island? And if you were against them for Monkey Island, who convinced you to put them in?

Ron Gilbert - Sep 14, 2016 at 18:31
Just for Thimbleweed Park.

Emmanuel - Sep 14, 2016 at 18:31
Thanks, Ron!

Sebastian - Sep 15, 2016 at 11:28

I recall that cut scenes have been used since Maniac Mansion to give the player the impression of progress.
Will there also be such cut scenes in addition the title cards?

Thanks in advance,


Big Red Button - Sep 18, 2016 at 16:28
Yes, of course there will be cut-scenes in TWP, too.

Sebastian - Sep 19, 2016 at 13:55
Nice to hear!

Would love to see some references to Maniac Mansion in the cutscenes.



Big Red Button - Sep 14, 2016 at 18:32
I'm very pleased by your decision. :)

Nathan - Sep 14, 2016 at 18:49
Feels a little episodic to me.

Hehe :)

doglobster - Sep 14, 2016 at 19:13
Well I for one love them. Give me title cards over achievement pop-ups any day of the goddamn week

And that thimbleweek park title card looks very tarantinoesque.

Can't wait Ron!

Nor Treblig - Sep 14, 2016 at 19:59

LogicDeLuxe - Sep 15, 2016 at 12:19
Yuck! Best way to make you hate achievements. Completely destroys that nice card. Reminds me on those oversized rating signs on German DVD's.

Nor Treblig - Sep 15, 2016 at 13:32
And that's my second, unobtrusive version!
My first try was a massively oversized, just SLIGHTLY transparent achievement message. But I thought I've gone overboard with it so I've changed it to this one. :-)

Ron Gilbert - Sep 15, 2016 at 13:35
Achievement popups are the bane of my existence right not. We typically delay the achievement so the (required) system message happens later, after the emotional moment has passed.  I like iOS better, where you can disable achievement popups and handle them in the game's UI and themed correctly.

Nor Treblig - Sep 15, 2016 at 14:08
Yes, those popups are the real problem.
How is it handled on other platforms? I have the impression you were particularly talking about X-Box...
I think with Steam the only way (from a user perspective) is to disable in-game overlays completely to disable achievement notifications.

Big Red Button - Sep 16, 2016 at 06:27
Such a delay is a reasonable solution.

Are you bound to implement those achievement points?

Big Red Button - Sep 16, 2016 at 07:35
By the way, do the MI Special Editions also have achievement pop-ups, if you play them via Steam? I own them only on DVD and I can't imagine such pop-ups in MI 1 & 2 at all, especially in the classic mode. For TWP, it's similar, even though it's a more modern game. Those title cards are so much better than those pop-ups!

Nor Treblig - Sep 16, 2016 at 15:32
I've played the Special Editions on Steam but always with in-game overlays disabled, so I wasn't sure how it looks like.

I've found this video of the Steam version https://youtu.be/EtZ1dm6vyXA?t=159 (at least not too obtrusive).
And that's how it looks like on X-Box, just listen to this disgusting sound: https://youtu.be/OL3bFJNU6Cg?t=134

Ron Gilbert - Sep 16, 2016 at 16:40
Achievement popups destroy the moment.  Many of our achievements are delayed, so they happen after the event, at a time where it's "safe".

Nor Treblig - Sep 16, 2016 at 17:55
Delaying is a good idea.
Maybe you could delay them even more by queueing them until an arbitrary point, e.g. when the player goes to the main menu (or quits the game).

Big Red Button - Sep 16, 2016 at 20:48
Thank you for the links! Indeed, the Xbox pop-up is much more obtrusive than the pop-up from Steam. Both the delay and disabling in-game overlays are good ideas.

Big Red Button - Sep 14, 2016 at 19:19
I think, the decision on the acoustic background will be interesting, too. As you know, in Monkey Island, there is a catchy melody in the background. But, would such a piece of music work as well in TWP? Maybe it should be a bit more thrilling, similar to the transition cards from the movie Shining by Stanley Kubrick - a master of title cards.

LogicDeLuxe - Sep 15, 2016 at 12:33
The Deponia Trilogy has very nice chapter introductions. Poki (creative director) sits in the foreground and sings a song for each chapter, and the animated background scenery acts as a teaser. I wouldn't mind, if Thimbleweed Park could do something like that. But I'm sure, a simple card with an introduction melody will do as well.

Ron Gilbert - Sep 15, 2016 at 12:38
The catchy tune worked for Monkey Island. It was supposed to convey a sense of delight.  Thimbleweed Park and a dark-comedy-noir-thriller.  The title cards are supposed to convey a sense of mystery and dread. They do have audio, but it's not a catchy little tune.

Nor Treblig - Sep 15, 2016 at 13:43
So it will be more like this: https://youtu.be/0WtDmbr9xyY?t=51
Although maybe it isn't really mysterious...

Big Red Button - Sep 15, 2016 at 15:22
I rather thought of the sound effects from that teaser: https://vimeo.com/169553539
Maybe with a completely black screen for some seconds after the text vanished into thin air. This might be a suspenseful moment, especially if you play the game in an unlighted room.

Arto - Sep 15, 2016 at 14:13
I'd like to see something like this, but animated:

You know. The scene just before the title card would still animate in background, but it would go black & white, and a bit darker, and the text would appear over the scene. Also the music would transition into title card's (perhaps) more dramatic music.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 16, 2016 at 09:34
The tune played during the title cards in Monkey Island, is so beautiful that it has been my ringtone for incoming SMS since the year 2000 !

Amb - Sep 14, 2016 at 19:55
Part 1
Use a chainsaw

Geoffrey Paulsen - Sep 14, 2016 at 21:35
Sure, sure... we all know they are just there as a thin vaneer over a loading screen...
... LOADING ...
... <insert disk 46, and press "any" key>

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 14, 2016 at 22:06
Ron, can we turn the title cards off? I hate title cards! :-(

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 15, 2016 at 01:32
Option #139: "no title cards between chapters"

Mario F. - Sep 15, 2016 at 02:23
lol. good joke.

so many personal requests would make an option-catalogue where you would be through after a week before you even started the game.

Nor Treblig - Sep 15, 2016 at 02:59
139? I think we are long past that!
We also need an option to set the duration of showing the title card, so people reading very slowly can use a longer duration and Mattias Cedervall can set it to zero.

Mattias Cedervall - Sep 15, 2016 at 05:28
I agree because some people read slowly. Dyslectics for example.

Bogdan Barbu - Sep 15, 2016 at 03:19
Since we don't like the fact that there are so many options, there should be an option to enable/disable having any particular option in the settings menu, this option included. And the one enabling/disabling it, ad infinitum.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 15, 2016 at 05:14
Cool. In the main option page, a single check box: "Enable user-suggested options. WARNING! It seriously damages your health!"

Christopher Griffin - Sep 16, 2016 at 14:01
Option 140: Can we have an option to have fewer options?

Arto - Sep 16, 2016 at 14:41
I posted this before, but here goes again: marketing copy for the game Options Park (working title Thimbleweed Park):
"Enjoy over 100 hours of gameplay in Options Park, where you will have an option to choose from thousands of exciting options, and test their effect in build-in adventure".

Nor Treblig - Sep 16, 2016 at 15:15

"...simulate your options in a game-like test environment called Thimbleweed Park."

Arto - Sep 16, 2016 at 15:48
That's perfect! This was the part I was struggling with :)

Dieter - Sep 16, 2016 at 17:35
Then you maybe like this game too: http://store.steampowered.com/app/354240/

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 19, 2016 at 03:18
"Please don't touch anything" and there is that BIG RED BUTTON!

Dieter - Sep 19, 2016 at 05:13
Yes, but the game is more complex as it seems. :)

Ema - Sep 18, 2016 at 11:02
"Cappuccino chiaro tiepido decaffeinato senza schiuma in tazza di vetro con latte di soia a parte "

Sometimes you hear such requests in in bars in Italy...

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 19, 2016 at 03:20
Ahahahah! Bruno Bozzetto was right, eh?

Gffp - Sep 19, 2016 at 11:20
No it is the funny (imho) "Fumetti pallosi"! Ahagah

Peter Campbell - Sep 14, 2016 at 22:22
Reminds me of "Zombies Ate My Neighbors", one of my favorite SNES games ever, developed by LucasArts =)

Alfred Sterphone - Sep 14, 2016 at 23:19
Any chance you can talk in your next podcast about how - programmatically - you determine when to show the title cards? It seems like it would be interesting / non-trivial given the complexity of the puzzles.

David Fox - Sep 19, 2016 at 15:31
Ask us this question for our next Q&A podcast!

Jammet - Sep 14, 2016 at 23:55
Not so much about title cards - I was wondering about the end credits? Most games have a pretty flavourless, boring scrolly.

But I remember so many games that stood out, too. Or had fun little moving parts. Characters walking around in the text. Pictures every now and then. Or even an after-credits scene. Wasn't the ending of Monkey Island 2 fun, too, with all the suggestions about what you could be doing now, after you've finally finished the game?

I really love the games where all the characters show up again, the entire cast, like on a stage. Seen so many interesting things. Or funny bits, with well known characters from the game you just finished, acting all out of character, and basically being actors in a scene that re-enacts another game.

In Ultima games of old, you had - in addition to normal credits - something called quotes. When really finishing the game, these would show up as well, and it's really just random funny or interesting quotes that had been collected during the creative phases of making the game. You know, where Richard Garriott would say something like: "Kids don't die properly again." XD. Like so: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1htR7X8pPPA

I wonder if TP could have something like this.

MacFrog - Sep 15, 2016 at 00:59
I'd like to second this suggestion!

And since we're at it: How about "outtakes" in the end titles? Some small scenes where the characters/actors just didn't get it right...

Andrew - Sep 15, 2016 at 00:45
I absolutely love you font choice the holes in the letters really matches the state of Thimbleweed Park

Big Red Button - Sep 18, 2016 at 17:46
I agree. Though, in my opinion, it would be nice if the font was a bit more molded, like the font on the title cards from MI. The current text looks a bit flat. But, I'm pretty sure that this is wireframe art. Once the team's artists have reworked it, it will probably look perfect.

Mario F. - Sep 15, 2016 at 02:32
I dont like chapter titles either. They weren't needed in Maniac, nor in Zak and indy. cant remember loom but i think there wasnt any titles too. for me i dont wanna know where the story leds me to. chapter titles can make you think :"I come closer to the END" and that can get you in a very very deep depression coz you know the game will end (sooner or later). maybe just better use cut-scenes to describe a new chapter instead of title cards.

Soong - Sep 15, 2016 at 03:25
Maniac Mansion was a much shorter game and Zak had some problems with telling the player exactly what to do so I wouldn't use that as a standard to judge other adventure games.  I think you are right about Indy, but there's already a really strong story behind it.  Indy 3 follows the plot of the movie, so we already have an idea of what to do and Indy 4 uses lots of cutscenes to explain everything.

David Fox - Sep 19, 2016 at 15:33
In Indy, didn't we use that map scene with the dotted line when he was going to Europe? That was essentially an animated title card...

Soong - Sep 15, 2016 at 03:23
I like the decision to include title cards.  Not that I feel they are necessary, but they remind me of Monkey Island and they also make the game feel more like a book and thus, emphasizes the story-driven aspect of adventure games.  I am also happy about the font choice;  ever since I saw that font in a trailer, I thought that would be the perfect font to use in the game.

Giulio - Sep 15, 2016 at 04:14
YESSSSS!!! This is great news for me! I really loved the title cards with the music theme playing and their captivating titles like "Guybrush Kicks Butt" or "The Largo Embargo". I can still remember reading the title and letting my imagination soar trying to guess what was about to happen in the next act.
I hope they will also be decorated with drawings as they used to be in MI2, but even if the final ones will be like the posted image this made my day!

Marco Lizza - Sep 15, 2016 at 04:14
Quite frankly, I *love* the way the "Uncharted" series display the chapter titles. They appear seamlessly during the gameplay, they fell so natural.

However, I also like the MI title boards.

have you guys considered to implement them in a fashion similiar to the way tv-series does them? Just like they were episodes?

LichiMan - Sep 15, 2016 at 04:30
Great! I loved it from Monkey Island.
We also love maps! I think I read somewhere that the greatest and incomparable Thimbleweed Park will have them. Could you please confirm that?

number 7 - Sep 15, 2016 at 05:01
I like those title cards. They make me feel that I am actually progressing in the game.

Colin - Sep 15, 2016 at 05:47
I am really excited for your description of the story! :)

YAY! :)

Big Red Button - Sep 15, 2016 at 06:07
I agree. Most games feature a very simple story, if any. But, adventure games are predestined for complex storylines. So, this might make this game even more outstanding, even though there are still competitive products on the adventure games market.

Cazzeris - Sep 15, 2016 at 06:06
That one looks so lazy and uninspired compared to MI2's.

Dieter - Sep 15, 2016 at 06:40
It's not final art. But I like the current version: It reminds me on "film noir" films.

Steve - Sep 15, 2016 at 08:26
Awesome.  I think it's a great idea and is really feeding my nostalgia!

Francois - Sep 15, 2016 at 09:05
(Warning, bad english writing ahead) I remember when I was young and playing Monkey Island (LucasArt and Sierra helped me speak english!), I was suprised and pleased to see these kind of Title cards. It was at the time very original in video games.  I think it is still something young people are not used to,especially for those who didn't see a lot of Tarantino movies.  Anyway it brings an "piece of art" feeling... I don't know how to tell it. But it is good and people love it.

Someone - Sep 15, 2016 at 10:22
I like the cards too: For me it's like if you are sitting in a theatre: The curtain goes down after act 1, there is a short break and then the curtain goes up again revealing a new scene. :)

Nor Treblig - Sep 15, 2016 at 13:57
Yes, it's something which originates from theatres and books (i.e. young people truly haven't seen it before), and some games didn't make a secret out of it:
https://youtu.be/16dudF26p98?t=428 (this one is without titles)

Wingis - Sep 15, 2016 at 10:23
I really do like the idea of those title cards and can't await them to see the implemented in the final game. Rock on Thimbleweed-Crew!!!

Paulup - Sep 15, 2016 at 12:56
I really liked them in Monkey Island... were they in Grim Fandango as well? I seem to remember them there...

They give a really good feeling of, "yessss, I am in a new part of the game!" when they come up and a sense of completion.

Also there is often the thing in adventure games where you've spent a long time in one particular set of locations and you enjoyed it, but you've kinda had enough with all the walking around the same parts, so when the title card comes up it also is a good feeling because it draws a line under that previous part and you know you don't have to explore that part any more and get to start exploring a new part.

Nor Treblig - Sep 15, 2016 at 14:13
Grim Fandango was divided into years with large cutscenes inbetween (and swapping CDs :-). But I don't remember title cards in particular?

Another feature it had was this wall painting indicating the overall process. The painting itself was great of course, but the feature itself was probably unnecessary for most gamers.

Paulup - Sep 15, 2016 at 14:45
Ah yeah, I just checked it out again on the youtubes and at least for the first couple of times, the camera pans up to the sky and it says, "One Year Later" and then it pans back down again...
So similar function to title cards I'd say, showing you some large words and letting you know you're done with one bunch of locations and puzzles and are going onto a new bunch...

Farooq - Sep 15, 2016 at 15:47
I just caught this weeks episode of Mr.Robot and there's this scene with a commodore 64 and guess what's on the hard drive? Maniac Mansion! How cool is that!


Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 19, 2016 at 03:23
AHAHA! Good catch!!

Sushi - Feb 06, 2017 at 18:42
Now why on earth would they load "land of ecodelia" in the second screenshot???
Clearly, Pitfall is the game to load!

Me - Sep 15, 2016 at 19:31
Yes! Love title cards! Every time I see them in an adventure game, they remind me the first time I played Monkey Island... Awww, Monkey Island.

Matt Wilber - Sep 15, 2016 at 19:36
Part 33
The Bathroom Break

Zombocast - Sep 15, 2016 at 20:13
Here's a time card idea for ya for the end credits.Tribute to Mel Brooks spaceballs.

Thimbleweed Park 2, the search for more money.

Big Red Button - Sep 16, 2016 at 06:53
I just recognized Ron's re-tweet of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jEqgaZQbyY
In my opinion, it's the best Monkey Island Main Theme cover I've ever heard, so I kind of re-tweeted it here.

JD - Sep 16, 2016 at 11:30
I'm the only one that thinks that the comments are almost as great as the update itself? :-)

criskywalker - Sep 16, 2016 at 11:31
I'm glad the game seems to be complex and big! That's exactly what I need after all those interactive stories with QTE that people call adventure games these days.

And I also love that the there are twists and surprised in the game!

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 16, 2016 at 11:59
Only 4 months LEFT...
...to get the RIGHT game!

Nor Treblig - Sep 16, 2016 at 15:05
The team will probably read it as:
"Only 4 months LEFT...
...to get the game RIGHT!"

Carlo Valenti - Sep 16, 2016 at 17:35
Are we going to get a Ransome trailer, a Reyes trailer, and a Franklin trailer in October, November, and December?
Maybe a special Christmas featurette also?
Thank you!

Nor Treblig - Sep 16, 2016 at 17:57
No problem. But it takes one month to create a trailer so it will be November, January, March.
Game will be postponed until May 2017. Don't forget to post your email address due to expected fan mails. :-)

Sushi - Sep 17, 2016 at 17:12
I liked the title cards between acts in MI. Only the fact I was expecting 3 acts - as in a classical play-, threw me off a bit. I remember from going "Awesome, there is a whole FOURTH act!!" to "What? I finished the game?!" in less than 5 minutes. But overall, knowing roughly how much of the game is still undiscovered/unresolved is nice. Not as an achievement, but rather as setting the expectation of how much fun there is left to enjoy. For the same reason, I always felt slightly disappointed when completing other Lucasarts games (full trottle and the dig come to my mind), at least for the first playthrough.

Big Red Button - Sep 17, 2016 at 20:33
I had the same feeling about the length of the final part of MI. But, seeing that there is an additional achievement system, the number of the current act is not any more the only aid to orientation.

Speaking of "3 acts", I even had forgotten that MI was divided into four parts, instead of three, until I read your comment. But, in hindsight it's absolutely logical. Shame on me! Maybe I wasn't aware of the total number because the fourth card doesn't contain the number of the act. It's titled with "Last Part" instead of "Part Four".

Nevertheless, the total number of acts is not important to me.

Sushi - Sep 18, 2016 at 10:13
Indeed, "last" part.
Achievements? That must be the special edition/steam achievements? I don't care for achievements. A real pirate doesn't need yer stinky achievements!
note : I went back and I got the speedrun achievement in MI2, though, after finishing it the first time in 20 years. Not as much fun as the original experience or just enjoying the real game, but I like a challenge.

Nor Treblig - Sep 18, 2016 at 15:08
Only after completing MI2:SE normally I did a speedrun. I aimed for under one hour and closely made it (btw. the actual achievement requires < 3 hours).

Sushi - Sep 17, 2016 at 17:20
Plus, since you mention the acts often on the blog, it will be nice for the people who follow the blog to understand what you were referring to in concealed words to not give away spoilers. Finally it will all make sense!

john - Sep 18, 2016 at 09:26
Ron, I just want to say we love you man (and the team too). You are doing great work.

MI 1 and 2 created some of the best memories of my teen years (I played them when they came out) so I am obviously happy you are doing an authentic successor to the genre with a "SCUMM-like" UI, humor and style.

Wishing for MI 3a is probably too much due to the licencing issues, but I still hope you continue to make authentic MI-like adventures after Thimbleweed Park.

Greetings from London.

blu - Sep 18, 2016 at 16:52
Can we please turn them off too?

Dieter - Sep 19, 2016 at 05:11
Yeah! More Options! More Options!

John - Sep 19, 2016 at 03:01
By the way, I love the idea of cards, so reminiscent of Monkey Island!

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Sep 19, 2016 at 05:23
Look at   Part One: The Three Trials title card
- "I don't need it, it's for a different game."

Jo-Herman Haugholt - Sep 20, 2016 at 09:09
I like title cards in games for the same reason I like them in books and TV-series. When used right, they give a nice structure to the story. You have a small pause to reflect what happened in the last chapter/episode, and a nice teaser to fan my curiosity for what is coming next. It also gives a good point to take a break and to pick up the game again later.