How can you work at LucasArts and not be a regular reader of Mixnmojo? ...It's our homepage!
The International House of Mojo is a LucasArts fan-site, with a special love for the classic LucasArts adventure games of the 80's and 90's, such as Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Sam & Max and Grim Fandango. We also cover the work of LucasArts alumni that continue to make games focusing on story, characters, and imaginative worlds.
People Who Do Stuff on the Site
News and Opinions
Benny, Kroms, ThunderPeel, and SurplusGamer.
Former staff, whose spirits were devoured by Mojo
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is this place?
The International House of Mojo (often abbreviated as Mixnmojo, The House of Mojo, or simply Mojo) is a fan site that was started by seventeen-year-old Brighton student James Spafford in 1997. In its heyday, Mojo primarily served as a news site for the then-prolific San Francisco based game studio LucasArts Entertainment Company (often abbreviated as LEC, and originally known as Lucasfilm Games), the video game division of Lucasfilm, Ltd.
A flagship of the now defunct LucasArts Fan Network (LFN), Mojo was born amidst a fertile crush of Monkey Island fan sites like The SCUMM Bar back when fan sites weren’t even hip yet. Within a year, Mojo had evolved into an all-purpose hub for LucasArts fandom, albeit with an emphasis on the non-Star Wars titles and especially the graphic adventures. Although the site has undergone a widening of scope and a narrowing of activity over the years, that underlying purpose has remained consistent.
Where does the name come from, anyway?
"The International House of Mojo" is the place of business of the enigmatic Voodoo Lady in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. Our domain name "Mixnmojo" originates from the copy-protection code wheel that came packaged with Monkey Island 2 – it was labeled "The Mix 'N' Mojo Voodoo Ingredient Proportion Dial."
So what games do you cover, exactly?
There’s nothing exact about it, but this list of studios mostly sums it up:
- LucasArts – Natch. Though the studio itself is defunct, its treasured library of immortal graphic adventure games remains the heart and soul of this site. As it happens, that library has been owned by Disney since the conglomerate acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, and while it seems unlikely that The Mouse has any plans to revitalize cult properties when they’ve got Star Wars to monetize, much of the LucasArts back catalog has thankfully been made available through such online portals as GOG and Steam -- see "Where can I buy the LucasArts graphic adventure games?" below for more details. If you’ve somehow found your way to Mojo without having played these games, then you may want to rectify that in short order. You’ll find little here to relate to otherwise.
- Double Fine Productions – This studio was founded by acclaimed ex-LucasArts designer Tim Schafer in 2000. Its debut title was the near-legendary Psychonauts, a platformer with more than a little LucasArts graphic adventure DNA in its makeup. Other noteworthy Double Fine releases include the heavy metal themed Brütal Legend, the crowdfunded adventure game Broken Age, and remastered editions of the LucasArts adventures on which Schafer had originally served as project leader. After standing tall for twenty years as one of the most celebrated independent developers in the industry, Double Fine began a new chapter when it was acquired by Microsoft. To date this development appears not to have impacted their autonomy nor creative identity, but does seem to have ensured that Psychonauts 2 was fully funded. That’s nice.
- Autumn Moon Entertainment – This studio was founded by Bill Tiller in 2002. Bill was an artist during the LucasArts golden era, and his most recognized work is The Curse of Monkey Island, on which he was the lead background artist. Bill launched Autumn Moon with the intention of making consciously traditional adventure games in the vein of Curse, though due to limited success securing financing, the studio has only been able to release two games to date – A Vampyre Story and Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island. Under the label “Venture Moon Industries,” Bill and two longtime Autumn Moon developers also produced a bite-sized Ghost Pirates spinoff called Duke Grabowski: Mighty Swashbuckler!, which we consider an Autumn Moon production in all but name. Though things have been quiet on the Autumn Moon front for some time, we know in our hearts that Bill has more adventure projects up his sleeve.
- Ron Gilbert – While Ron is not a studio, his post-LucasArts games have been published by so many different entities over the years that it is more convenient to treat him as his own category. Upon leaving LucasArts in 1992, the creator of Monkey Island along with LucasArts producer Shelley Day founded Humongous Entertainment, later its sister company Cavedog Entertainment, and after the dot-com collapse the short-lived Hulabee Entertainment. When he got sick of running companies, Ron started making his own games again, though often through one-time partnerships with other studios: he created DeathSpank with Hothead Entertainment in 2010 and The Cave with Double Fine in 2013. He followed that up with the successfully crowd-funded Thimbleweed Park, a throwback adventure game in the style of Maniac Mansion that reunited him with fellow LEC old-timers Gary Winnick, David Fox and Mark Ferrari. Under their label Terrible Toybox, Ron and Gary are already at work on their next classic.
- Telltale Games – Formed in 2004 by LucasArts defectors and team members of the cancelled Sam & Max: Freelance Police, Telltale launched with the ambition of being the first studio to do episodic gaming correctly. Styling themselves as the video game equivalent of a television studio, Telltale’s aim was to release serialized “seasons” of story-driven games based on popular licenses. In the early days, these licenses were cult properties that included Sam & Max (for which they produced three seasons) and Monkey Island (for which they produced a fifth installment). Over time, the studio’s success grew and it became exclusively focused on larger licenses while it slowly but surely lost many of the LucasArts vets it was once awash with. As with LucasArts itself, we found ourselves much more interested in the company’s back catalog than what they got up to since being seduced by high profile IP, and like LucasArts, they ultimately collapsed in disgrace. Several of the Telltale assets and the brand itself were acquired by a holding company called LCG Entertainment, which today sells selected titles from the fallen studio’s library.
- Campo Santo – Founded by Telltale defectors Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman in 2013, Campo Santo quickly emerged as one of the more intriguing independent developers to hit the scene. In 2016, they debuted their first game, Firewatch, to critical acclaim and commercial success, with a film adaptation reportedly in development. Although Jake was once on the Mojo staff, we feel that we can’t take all of the credit for the studio’s achievements -- only most of it. In 2018, the studio was acquired by Valve, and somewhere along the way its much-anticipated second game, In the Valley of Gods, was apparently put in the freezer. It’s unclear what’s next for Campo Santo, but as we await new developments their web presence remains for such services as the hosting of their old development blog and selling you novelty vinyls.
- Infinite Machine – Founded by LucasArts defector Justin Chin in 1998, this promising studio regrettably only released a single title, New Legends, in 2002. The studio closed that same year while it was in development on a nascent Sam & Max action/adventure title called Sam & Max Plunge Through Space for the original Xbox. On the team of that game was Chuck Jordan, a former LucasArts designer who went on to work on the Telltale Sam & Max games. In addition, its shelved design was said to have served as something of an inspiration for the Sam & Max virtual reality game that would appear twenty years later.
- Crackpot Entertainment – Founded by LucasArts vets Larry Ahern and Mike Levine, Crackpot developed the action/adventure game Insecticide, which was released for the Nintendo DS in 2008. Made with the help of other ex-LucasArts talent, the game boasts the spirit of that studio’s classic adventures. Unfortunately, a publisher buyout resulted in Crackpot’s funding being cut off while they were working on the PC version of Insecticide, and we’ve heard nothing from them since. But perhaps someday…
- Skunkape – Veteran developers of Telltale's three Sam & Max “seasons” – Dan Connors, Randy Tudor, Jonathan Sgro, and Jake Rodkin – schemed with Steve Purcell to acquire the assets to those games following Telltale’s bankruptcy and make lovingly crafted remasters of them. The results have been spectacular thus far, and one wonders what exciting plans they might have after they get through the existing seasons.
- HappyGiant – Another company founded by ex-LucasArts vet Mike Levine, HappyGiant came to our attention many years into its existence when it announced Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual. Among its team of vets is Sam & Max mainstay Mike Stemmle as lead writer/designer. Listen, you publish a Sam & Max game, you make the cut. It’s really just that simple.
Where can I buy the LucasArts graphic adventure games?
This is a much more pleasant question to answer these days than it used to be, as for the most part the games have become legally available via digital distribution after a long period of frankly unforgivable dormancy. Here is the present availability status of the fourteen LucasArts adventure games:
- Maniac Mansion (1987) – Available from GOG and Steam. Note that Maniac Mansion is also available in its entirety as a game-within-a-game bonus feature in its sequel, Day of the Tentacle.
- Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (1988) – Available from GOG and Steam.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) – Available from GOG and Steam. Your purchase includes a PDF of the unabridged Grail Diary that the game originally came packaged with.
- Loom (1990) – Available from GOG and Steam. Note that this is the later “VGA Talkie” version of the game rather than the initial EGA version. It lacks the original release’s character close-ups, and the dialogue was rewritten to fit all of the recorded lines on one CD. We point this out as you might consider buying this version, then getting the definitive one "by other means." We would also like to point out that Loom originally shipped with a thirty-minute audio drama that serves as a prologue to the story. You can listen to it on Youtube.
- The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) - Available from GOG and Steam. Note that this is the “special edition” version of the game with revamped artwork and voice acting that LucasArts produced in 2009. However, the VGA version is available via the game’s Classic Mode toggle feature.
- Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991) - Available from GOG and Steam. Note that this is the “special edition” version of the game with revamped artwork and voice acting that LucasArts produced in 2010. However, the VGA version is available via the game’s Classic Mode toggle feature, albeit with some controversial discrepancies when compared with the original release.
- Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1992) - Available from GOG and Steam. The game was also included as an unlockable bonus feature in the Wii version of Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings, if you happen to own that.
- Day of the Tentacle (1993) - Available from GOG and Steam. Note that this is the “remastered” version that Double Fine produced in 2015. Unlike the Monkey Island special editions, the makeover was extremely conservative and tasteful, largely consisting of smoothing out the graphics and offering higher quality voice samples. Nevertheless, the original version is available via the Classic Mode toggle feature. Also note that Maniac Mansion is included as a game-within-a-game.
- Sam & Max Hit the Road (1993) – Available from GOG and Steam.
- Full Throttle (1995) - Available from GOG and Steam. Note that this is the “remastered” version that Double Fine produced in 2017. Unlike the Monkey Island special editions, the makeover was extremely conservative and tasteful, largely consisting of smoothing out the graphics and offering higher quality voice samples. Nevertheless, the original version is available via the Classic Mode toggle feature.
- The Dig (1995) - Available from GOG and Steam.
- The Curse of Monkey Island (1997) – Available from GOG and Steam.
- Grim Fandango (1998) - Available from GOG and Steam. Note that this is the “remastered” version that Double Fine produced in 2014. Unlike the Monkey Island special editions, the makeover was extremely conservative and tasteful, largely consisting of smoothing out the graphics and offering higher quality voice samples. Nevertheless, the original version is available via the Classic Mode toggle feature.
- Escape from Monkey Island (2000) – Available from GOG and Steam, Windows only. For the Mac, you'll need ResidualVM -- make sure it's the nightly build -- and a lot of elbow grease. We have a guide here.
What about the non-adventure LucasArts games?
A lot of those are available, too! Check out the complete collection of LucasArts PC oldies offered by GOG and Steam. As far as console games, a number of classics have turned up on Nintendo’s Virtual Console, including Super NES games like Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures. The situation with those titles seems a bit more fluid than that of the SCUMM games, so you may need to do a little investigating of your own to determine individual availability until we devise that ambitious tracking system we've blue sky'd over the years.
I already own those adventure games from back in the day but can’t get them to run on my PC.
Never fear. You need only download, free of charge, the godsend known as ScummVM, an open source emulator that was invented specifically for this purpose. Simply copy the game files to your hard drive, point ScummVM to them and you are good to go. This fan-made software is so esteemed, Disney has bundled it with their official digital re-releases rather than exerting any effort to write a new interpreter themselves. If you're willing to put in a little more work, you might also try DOSBox for the pre-Monkey 3 games for a more authentic experience. You’ll also find a number of helpful tools over at Benny’s Quick & Easy Software.
No offense, but isn’t Mojo kind of obsolete this days?
A fair question. We are not naïve about the reality that as a news source, Mojo has lost a degree of vitality due to our focus being on older games and because, in the age of social media, relevant news about even niche subject matter like what we cover is liable to have been Retweeted eight hundred times before out unmotivated butts have gotten around to writing a redundant news post about it. If your Mom wants to know what Tim Schafer’s up to, she can just @ him.
In addition, our site struggled with a bit of an identity crisis after it became necessary to expand beyond the LucasArts catalog in the wake of that studio’s creative collapse and then many years later its formal shuttering. Though there are always a few upcoming games we’re keen on following, there’s decidedly less pressing business to talk about than there once was. And we’ll be the first to admit that with all of the original staff gone, this is not the same site that it was twenty years ago.
So yes, we are conscious of being long in the tooth and somewhere due south of the height of our relevance. But we stubbornly believe there is a purpose and a future for Mojo, and that is as an archive. Our ambition is to be the definitive resource for background information, media, trivia, historical artifacts, and collected fan works related to these classic games. Having been deeply involved in that world for over two decades, we feel that Mojo has the potential to collate the driftnet of occasionally obscure material that has accumulated over the years and serve as the ultimate custodians of what remains the Mount Rushmore of interactive story titles. Or at least custodians of the flotsam related to it.
Obviously, we’re a long way from that goal. But in the near future we intend to relaunch Games Database with an agenda to work toward it. And we will be relying on your help to do so. Stay tuned!
Did Mojo ever have any kind of legitimacy as a member of the gaming media?
Legitimacy in the gaming media is overrated, as it leads to the expectations of things like integrity and regular content. Oh sure, there was a time in the distant past when Mojo had a relatively cozy relationship with LucasArts and did quasi-authentic journalism things like attend expos, visit studios, write previews, and get an occasional pull-quote onto a piece of advertising, but for the most part Mojo has simply been the messy expression of a few highly opinionated strangers with no tangible credentials, and who obtained staff logins through means that remain murky.
I was browsing the articles and there seems to be a lot of legacy content. Are there any particular highlights I should be aware of?
There’s a ton of disavowed nonsense among the archive that we only keep around for our own shame, but if we may say so ourselves, a lot of the interviews we’ve conducted over the years – some going as far back at the late 90’s – remain valuable sources of information.
The photo-laden E3 coverage from 2001-2003 is still pretty memorable, and a decent snapshot of Mojo’s heyday in terms of relevance and of getting a sense of the voice of its original staff.
From January 2008 through February 2010, we published monthly retrospective spectaculars for each of the LucasArts classic adventures that received some polite notices. Known as the “Secret History” series (a way-too oblique slam directed at the president of LucasArts at the time, Jim Ward, who made an eminently mockable comment about shelving the studio’s legacy IP for an arbitrary seven-year period), these features begin with a review of the honored game and proceed with a variety of other, Criterion-grade supplements, often including developer interviews. Made in part as acts of rebellion, we think they’re still pretty ridiculous and cool. Or maybe they suck except for the excellent header art. Look for them under Features.
We also point you to an enormous piece we published in 2020 called The Unabridged History of Sam & Max 2: A Mixnmojo Memoir. As its unwieldy name suggests, it’s meant as both the ultimate post-mortem on LucasArts’ infamously cancelled sequel to Sam & Max Hit the Road as well as something of a history of Mixnmojo itself, due to the rather dramatic entanglement the site had with the fate of that game -- and the last project from LEC that there was any consensus excitement about around these parts. It’s for the hardcore reader only, but we’re certain all nine of you will find it rewarding.
But perhaps our best biggest claim to fame remains an April Fool’s Day stunt pulled back in 2002, when Mojo managed to stage a fake Monkey Island 5 announcement. Going as far as to get permission from LucasArts for the gag, Mojo staffers had Guybrush Threepwood’s voice actor Dominic Armato record some lines for the fabricated game which, along with fake box art and music cues, completed the cruel illusion. Here’s the original news post in which Jake Rodkin came clean about the whole affair in the immediate aftermath.
Ironically, two of the staffers instrumental in the prank, Andrew ‘telarium’ Langley and Jake, both eventually wound up at Telltale Games years later in time to work on the actual fifth Monkey Island game, Tales of Monkey Island, and managed to sneak in some of their once-fake lines into the published title, bringing the whole heist full circle.
Can I write an article for Mojo? Oh, and I’ve got this nifty fan art I’d like to share…
We’re always open to content submissions. Hit us up at email@example.com for the opportunity to be promptly ignored.
Are there any other web sites I should check out?
Several of the aforementioned game studios maintain official sites with development blogs and/or community sections that you may want to check out. Outside his company Terrible Toybox, Ron Gilbert keeps the blog grumpygamer.com.
Mojo has historically had a relationship with Adventure Gamers that has only occasionally gotten violent. They probably are doing good work over there, although we can only speculate since we correspond exclusively by snail mail through a network of high-priced attorneys these days.
There’s also Idle Thumbs, a gaming-webzine-turned-podcast-network that was started back in 2004 by some folks involved in and around Mojo, though the community seems to be a bit dead these days.
What about all the hosted sites from back in the day?
While the LFN is dead and hosted sites are mostly no longer a thing, a few of our kin have remained standing throughout the tempestuous decades. Legendary Monkey Island fan site The SCUMM Bar is still serving mugs of corrosive grog to its grizzled patrons, though perhaps out of stubbornness more than anything, while The Legend of Monkey Island has sprung back like somebody sprinkled Ash-2-Life on it.
While The Grim Fandango Network has been placed under glass and left to serve as an archive, it’s a pretty impressive archive indeed.
On the Sam & Max fansite front, samandmax.co.uk appears to be ably carrying the torch these days, though stubborn rumors of a comeback from The Unofficial Sam & Max Website also persist.
And who knows? If Zaarin misbehaves badly enough, we may have to punish him with the task of resuscitating some of the more seminal hosted sites from his warez-laden backups.
You mentioned “the community” earlier…is there one, still?
Against our better judgment, we cut the check to restore the forums. What remains of the community within the halls of Mojo can likely be found there.
Outside of them, we’re told that you can still find pockets of Mojo readership and other likeminded enthusiasts to interact with on various social media and chat platforms, but we're far beyond keeping track of all that stuff now that we've reached our dotage years. Be safe out there.