Interview with Ron Gilbert Page Two

I seem to remember that originally, the idea with Hulabee was that you could purchase a game online and then download each chapter. Are you still interested in adopting that approach?

Yes, very much so. The realities of the Internet has slowed that down a little and we've produced the games as CD-ROM's but I am a huge believer that all software will be purchased on the Internet at some point.

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Sufferin' sailors, 'tis good to be dead! Oops, wrong game again.

People seem to be trying a similar method with adventure gaming these days by making smaller games that are downloadable, so you can avoid the publisher all together. Do you think this has potential for keeping the old fashion point-and-click graphic adventures alive?

You never avoid the publisher, you just become the publisher. That is a common misconception of developers. But to answer your questions, I think there is a big market of "normal" people for adventure games. They need slightly different stories and puzzles, but people love stories and not everyone like reflex games, and believe it or not, most people find 3D confusing.

In designing some of your legendary adventure games, how would you describe the puzzle-making process? How do you devise the often intricate methods used to get just one object?

Top secret.

Well, in the transition from more adult adventures into children’s entertainment, how has that puzzle-making process changed? Is it harder to get inside the mind of an eight year old player?

You have to make the puzzles simple and involve only a few steps. We call it puzzle levels. In Monkey Island you have 5 or 6 puzzle levels, in Moop and Dreadly you have 2 or 3. You need to play to be able to hold the whole puzzle chain in their heads at one time.

Let’s talk a little bit about some of your legendary computer games. Can you tell us a little bit about your work on Monkey Island 1? Were you at all worried about the genre - seeing as nobody had told a decent (and funny) pirate story in years?

I chose pirates because it was close to fantasy but there were no elves. Or if there were elves, the pirates would have killed them.

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Putt-Putt, a game created by Ron Gilbert's former company, Humongous Entertainment.

When Monkey Island started production, was it easier to make knowing what the public had liked in the original and then catering to that taste?

I assume you're talking about MI2. (Oops. - Ed.) The fact is we started on MI2 before MI1 had really gotten out into the market, so we didn't have much feedback at all. We just took what we liked and started designing.

In terms of programming and design, how did Monkey Island 2 differ from its original? Did changes in technology make the game-making process more difficult?

The biggest change in technology was being able to use 256 color backgrounds rather then dithered 16 color ones (gads that was a long time ago). Not much else changed between MI1 and MI2. We had a little more space due to 3 1/4 inch floppies being the norm, and that was nice as well.

Okay, I’ve gotten a lot of requests and bribes to ask this question, so here it goes… in MI2... what is up with that ending?

See my previous answer. I had a plan. Monkey Island 3a. Write your congressman.

Off the top of your head, can you think of any jokes or unused ideas that for some reason (deadlines, etc.) never made it into the Monkey Island games?

There was a gag with Wally being eaten by a shark. I don't remember all the details except it was pure genius. Or at least it seemed that way at two in the morning.

Have you played Escape From Monkey Island yet, and if so, what did you think about it?

I played MI3 and though it was very good. Not the story I had planned, but funny and well done. I have not played MI4.

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Good & Evil, a Ron Gilbert RGP that just wasn't meant to be. I dig the stylized cacti, though.

You’ve mentioned many times before that you had a story for your own Monkey Island 3 in your head. I’m not going to ask you tell it here (but if you want to, I wouldn’t stop you!) However, do you think you ever will tell fans what you had in mind? Or is that a secret never to be revealed?

See my previous answer.

What can we expect in future projects from Ron Gilbert?

More games for kids and maybe an adventure game for adults. Hummm...

What would be an ideal project that you’d like to work on before the end of your career? Any specific goals?

A hilarious episodic adventure game for adults that finally drives a stake though the heart of Quake.

And finally, do you ever get sick of people asking you Monkey Island questions in interviews?

Sick of it? No. Amazed that anyone still cares? Yes.

Many thanks for Ron Gilbert for taking the time from his debugging duties to answer our questions. And don't forget to check out!

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