Articles

Thumb

Limited Run Games: Monkey Island 30th Anniversary Interview Questions, answered

Questions kindly answered by Josh Fairhurst.

How did the project come about? Was it Limited Run or Lucas/Disney who suggested the idea?
Disney approached us at E3 in 2018 to see if there was any interest from us in creating some boxed releases for their back catalog games (this feels like ages ago at this point). As a massive Star Wars fan, I couldn't believe the opportunity was real. I made sure to propose an initial slate that consisted of Star Wars and Monkey Island - both franchises that I'm fond of.

Was the project inspired by the 30th anniversary, or have you been looking to release these games for a while?
We hadn't specifically been looking to release them. To be honest, I never thought there would be a chance in a million years to get to work on these. I figured they would be tightly locked up in the Disney vault with Walt's cryogenically frozen head. It was a shock to learn we actually could release them and I still don't quite believe it.

How did you decide to tackle re-releasing the Monkey Island games initially, and why did you eventually decide that a multi-game collection would be the best way to do it?
We initially sought to do separate releases with individual $60 - $70 Collector's Edition boxes, but there was a lack of print-resolution, or even high-resolution, digital files for most of the Monkey Island art. It didn't feel like we had enough of what we needed to do those individual releases justice. Most of the art currently lives in physical form at the Skywalker Ranch archives. We had hoped to visit and scan some of those pieces back in March, but COVID ensured that couldn't happen. We ended up working with fans like Jan Hofmeister to get restored and print ready art, which has helped us tremendously, but we still lack a lot of stuff we had hoped to have. Maybe we can revisit individual releases sometime in the future when we're all on the other side of this pandemic.

When did you get the rights to include Tales of Monkey Island? It was a nice surprise to see it included, but it hadn't previously been announced.
This happened recently. We had been discussing including it with the new Telltale for a few months, but we did not officially get an OK from both Disney and Telltale to include the game until a few weeks ago.

Onto the pack itself...

Is there a list of which versions of the games will be included? For example, Monkey Island 1 and Monkey Island 2 were both released on a variety of platforms, and Monkey Island 1 had both an EGA 16-colour release and a VGA 256-colour release. Are we going to get these versions in the pack, or is it going to be the "standard" versions only?
We don't have a full list of versions yet, but we're hopeful to include multiple versions of games where possible (EGA, VGA, Mac, Amiga, etc.). We plan to work with a top archivist to preserve the actual floppy diskette images and include those on the USB drive, so folks can utilize those as they like to revisit whichever versions. Floppy Diskette preservation is a bit beyond my wheelhouse, so I'm not really the one to talk about it (we are talking to someone much better to handle the actual preservation of it all). This is all entirely up to Disney to allow, really. Hopefully I can solidify those inclusions soon so we can advertise a list of versions included.

Are the game files the original release files, or are they configured for Scumm VM?
Curse and Escape will be configured like they are on GOG. We're currently still solidifying the approach for the original releases of Secret and LeChuck's Revenge. The Special Editions of both will be in the box, but we know that the originals will be more important to long-time series fans. We'll be doing our best to ensure we include whatever we can in the most usable state.

With Tales of Monkey Island, the first episode was originally released on PC with a different actor playing LeChuck. Telltale Games later re-recorded this dialogue with Earl Boen, the actor from Curse and Escape. Will we get the "Earl Boen" version of Tales episode 1?
I received the files for TMI last week but I haven't had the chance to verify anything yet. My gut feeling would be that I was sent the latest and greatest versions of each episode, so my assumption would be that we have the Earl Boen version.

Are there any digital extras planned for the USB stick (eg. soundtracks, manuals etc.) or is it just the games?
Soundtracks are all off the table, unfortunately, as Disney has a separate music licensing group that controls those rights. As mentioned above, my plan is to have the USB drive contain all of the games and as many versions of each game as we are allowed to include (don't get your hopes up for obscure things like the FM Towns Marty version, though). I'd like to include some other extras, like a digital version of the book we're producing, and maybe the strategy guide scans if Disney owns those rights (I recall the guides having a lot of additional world building in them - they'd be nice to include digitally).

If the games come on the USB stick, what's in the slipcase for each game?
The box on the mockup is actually pretty misleading. I want to mention it here that based on fan feedback we're actually deeply re-evaluating the design and contents. The box missed the mark in a number of ways so it's important that we revisit it and make it better. One of the changes we hope to add to the box is actually the inclusion of some DVD-ROMs in addition to the USB since we received a lot of feedback asking for actual discs.

What's the deal with disk 22 - is it an actual real floppy disk, or just a replica? If it's a genuine floppy, does it have data on it?
It's a real working floppy disk with a glorious 1.44MB of storage space. Adding data is possible but it costs extra for us to do and we have to be extremely cautious about going over budget - the good news is we can add new features or expand existing contents if we sell enough units to allow it (the more we sell, the lower the costs for each piece will be). If we sell enough of the set, we do intend to write data to the floppy but we can't tell you what that would be yet - it'll be a fun surprise when you get it.

How did the Guybrush statue come about? It looks like it uses the design from the special edition of Monkey Island 2 - was it originally planned for release with the MI2 Special Edition? Or is it an original design?
It's an original design. Our intent with the box was to include at least one physical item from each game and the statue was intended to be our item for Monkey Island 2. It's difficult to interpret pixel art into a statue design so we went with something based on the MI2 SE Guybrush. I didn't personally feel that the MI2 SE Guybrush strayed too far from his pixel art basis, at least not in the way the first MI SE Guybrush strayed from the original art. I'm really happy with how the statue turned out. I know there's an anachronism in him holding the rubber chicken with a pulley in it, but that comes from me also wanting to include that item in the box somehow and putting it on the statue was a two birds with one stone kind of thing - anachronism be damned.

Is this collection a limited edition with pre-order windows, or is it open for as many pre-orders as people put in for it?
It will be a four-week open preorder. We originally announced an October 30th preorder launch date, but we have (currently) decided to delay a few weeks to hone the design and offering. A new release date will be announced soon unless we somehow manage to pull off revisions and get approval in time to still hit the 30th.

Finally, looking to the future...

Does LRG have any other LucasArts adventure games in the pipeline? If so, can you share anything? If not, are there any other LucasArts adventure games you'd like to work on, after Monkey Island?
I can't say anything in specific, but I hope to be able to work with everyone's favorite dog and rabbity thing freelance police duo soon.

What are the chances of us getting a re-release of Maniac Mansion for the NES? We've seen you release NES games before and this would be a really special one for LucasArts fans!
It would be great to re-release it - the US version with the hamster microwaving, of course. Having released Thimbleweed Park on Switch and PS4, we're big fans of Ron and Gary. It would be great to release one of their formative works.

Similarly, how about the PS2 version of Escape From Monkey Island - is that a possibility one day?
Sadly, Sony shut down PS1 and PS2 disc manufacturing back in August 2019. With the aggressive copy protection those systems have, it's not possible to replicate our own self-booting PS2 discs. Unfortunately, this means that EMI is pretty much only re-releasable on PC at the moment.

Finally, if you had the opportunity to release all the LucasArts adventure games in one bumper 14 game package, would you do it? Or would you prefer to release each game individually?
From my experience with announcing the Monkey Island Anthology, I think I'd actually opt for singular releases. The reason I say that is that each game means something different to each player. Some would want Maniac Mansion represented more than Grim Fandango, or I don't know - someone might want every item in the box to be from The Dig. Everyone would want something different and there would be so much scrutiny on each item we choose to include. What pleases one person will repulse another and so on. With individual releases we can ensure each game gets the same treatment as the others and we have more room in the budget to ensure each game gets some kind of trinket or thing to make fans of that game happy. With Monkey Island it's so clear that there is a lot of passion for these games - they've defined people's lives - and we're unfortunately limited on the budget side from getting to do everything that everyone wants. We have to make all these hard choices on what to pursue. It's clear we made some bad attempts with this first stab, but we're really trying to figure out the best box for when we re-reveal it. I still fully expect groans about the lack of one thing or another - but I'll at least know we really gave it our all to fix what we originally had.