Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman talk Return to Monkey Island Page One

The creator of Monkey Island got his hooks back into the property while Mickey Mouse wasn’t looking and tagged in dependable caporegime Dave Grossman to share one last (?) heist deep in the Caribbean.

Only one step ahead of the barneys themselves and realizing the game's release was mere days away, seasoned Mojo hacks elTee and Marius thought to crack foxy and catch up by teleconference with the glamorized hoods behind what is being officially numbered the third sixth eighty-ninth chapter in the Monkey Island saga per the Lucasfilm Story Group, depending of course on whether or not you count the Syncro-Vox Mardi Gras special broadcast out of a west Louisiana UHF station in 1994 as canon.

Marius: I’m delighted to see Stan behind you because we wondered if the Stan figure will be behind you for the call. [laughs]

Ron: Yeah, Stan has to watch over all interviews and make sure things are said correctly.

elTee: I’m curious what happened to the rest of Mêlée—is that in someone’s garage somewhere?

Ron: No, it’s in a storage place that Devolver has in L.A. I think.

After some endearing crosstalk…

elTee: I think I’ve got a bit of a lag here. I’m really sorry, ‘cause I’ve got the worst computer that’s ever been created, and it’s not up to this kind of stuff.

Marius: It’s okay, we’ll make it work.

Marius inquires about waiting for Rex and our Devolver contact, and it’s clarified that neither will be making it.

Ron: Yeah, we can say anything we want now.

Dave: That’s right.

Ron: There’s no adult supervision.

Dave: Except for Stan. [laughter]

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Ron. Dave. The men who taught many non-North-Americans what a “monkey wrench” is.

Marius: Well, okay, let’s start this. Thank you so much for your time and being here for this Mixnmojo thing. [laughs] I’m Marius. I make Monkey Island Flash movies. I like Monkey Island. I make video games. And Mixnmojo asked me to join this thing, and I’m very happy about it. And also, here is Daniel.

elTee: Yeah, hi. I’m just a very long-term fan of you guys, and LucasArts, and everything you guys have done since LucasArts. So I’ve been hanging around, working at Mojo for the last twenty years or so, just uh—yeah, waiting for these kind of games to be made. And it’s amazing that we’re actually getting this one, which I honestly never thought would happen, at this point, anyway. So this is such a pleasure.

Dave: We didn’t think it would happen either. [laughter]

elTee: Dave, how was the call when Ron told you he was doing it, then. Did you think he was joking?

Dave: No, no. And it wasn’t—he didn’t say, “Oh, I’m doing this.” He said, “Oh, there’s an opportunity to do this…what do you think? Do you want to do it with me?” And I was like, “Yeah! Alright! Yeah, let’s go!” And Ron was a little hesitant at the time. He’s like, “Well, but, you know, the fan expectations…” and “What if we don’t got it anymore?” and you know, “What if we have nothing to say?” So, we actually, we had to have a summit meeting where we got together and did a little creative work and figured out that we did have something to say with it.

elTee: That is excellent. I mean, I know you guys have still got things to say because I’ve played your games. But I completely understand, because the weight of expectation on this must be completely unlike anything else you’ve probably experienced, I assume.

Ron: Yeah, that’s very, very true. Very true.

Dave: Although I think I’ve gotten more used to that now. It seems like there’s always an aspect of that, and I think I’m finally learning to ignore it after all these years.

elTee: That’s very healthy.

Marius: Were you nervous around Telltale—Tales of Monkey Island time? When that came out?

Dave: What about it?

Marius: I mean like, because you are now a bit more relaxed today. Was it more stressful when you made Tales of Monkey Island? Because that was a release that was ages after Escape.

Dave: Oh yeah. Yeah, that was awful! [laughs] I didn’t have any advance warning about that. I just got called into the office one day and they said, “Hey! We’re gonna make Monkey Island!” And they expected me to go, “Yay! All right!” and I was kinda like “Uh, okay. When are we calling Ron?” “Oh, no, you can’t talk to Ron about it, no no no—” [everybody laughs] “—no one can know that we’re making this.” I was like, “Wait a second, what is this? What are we doing?” So yeah, I was actually a lot—and I was lot more, um, just kind of worried about what the fans would think, and, yeah, just worried.

Marius: I’m sorry Ron that you learn here that there’s Tales of Monkey Island. And that’s like, Monkey Island 5. It’s a five episode thing…and yeah, they didn’t call you, I’m sorry.

Ron: Yeah, do you know why they didn’t call me, Dave?

Dave: Yeah.

Ron: But you’re not gonna say.

Dave: Well, what I—what you said later was that you had been trying to get something going with Monkey Island.

elTee: Oh, wow.

Dave: And Telltale had scooped you in some way.

Ron: I mean, I had been. I had been trying. I’ve kind of always poked at that over the years, but I didn’t know...I mean, when you called me up and told me about Tales, that was the first I’d ever heard about it.

Dave: Yeah, and they were worried I think about—because there was something that was not quite closed about the deal when we started, and they were worried about messing it up. And [chuckles] I didn’t understand that it could have been—but you were working on another game at that time.

Ron: Yeah, I was working DeathSpank.

Dave: Yeah, DeathSpank was happening.

Marius: Mm, right.

Dave: So, it would not have occurred to me that you yourself were trying to get something rolling on it.

Marius: Ron, I wanted to ask you: You tweeted yesterday, or two days ago, you retweeted our countdown page

Ron: Right.

Marius: With LeChuck on it, and it “stresses you out.” Why is that?

Ron: Oh, just because, you know, when you make a game and it’s not gonna be released for two years, you don’t really worry about. But as the day gets closer and closer, you know, you start to stress about it. I mean, I don’t think there’s anything particular about this game. I think every game I’ve done, it’s like, it gets to that moment, and it’s just all more stressful.

elTee: So at the moment, is the game wrapped or are you still putting finishing touches on it over the next few days?

Ron: At this point it’s just bug fixes, right.

elTee: Oh, I see.

Ron: There’s no new content. It’s not like Dave and I are scrambling to get the ending in order. [laughter]

You know, when we finished Monkey 2, I had this really rough idea for Monkey 3 which was: Guybrush goes to Hell, and Stan is there. That is it, right.

Dave: A few more dialogues we didn’t get in and then record before...

Ron: So it’s mostly just bug fixes that we’re doing at this point.

Dave: They just never seem to stop coming up.

Ron: [laughs] No.

Dave: They only appear one at a time now, so that’s good.

elTee: When you say that, it makes me think of something else I wanted to ask you about, which was—I’ve heard you, particularly Ron, on the 30th anniversary stream you did with the Video Game History Foundation, how quickly you could iterate ideas into the old games in SCUMM. And is that completely different now that—like, as Dave says, you can’t just put the dialogue in. Somebody has to do voice recording and that kind of thing. Does that make it harder to quickly sort of add things into the game and see if they work, or can you still do it in that same old way, and just kind of do the voices later?

Dave: You can see if they work, easily enough, you just can’t, they can’t be final quality [laughs] that easily.

Ron: Yeah I mean, we try to record at the very last minute. So, you know, we didn’t record until what, February, or so. Even March. I can’t remember the days. But we didn’t record until the very last minute. So, up until the point that we record, yeah it is very much like, you know, when we made Monkey 1. It’s just, you know, cool idea, throw stuff in, see if it works, don’t worry about it. But once you record, then you’re kind of locked at that point.

Dave: Yup. I will say though that we thumbnailed things early, and so by the time we got to that recording, the game had been playable from beginning to end for about a year.

elTee: Oh, wow.

Dave: So we definitely tested some stuff out before we went into the recording studio.

Marius: Because of the improv nature that the engine allows, were there a couple of scenes that had huge amount of changes during development?

Dave: Yeah. You know, we did some playtesting with a few trusted souls who were close to us. Some real Monkey Island fans and some, a couple who’ve never heard of it before because we wanted those two perspectives. And definitely, there were whole sections of the game where we made some pretty big changes to them, both of the puzzles and the story. And we were trying to sort of iron out Guybrush and Elaine’s relationship and what it should be in this game. And, yeah, we definitely put it through some revisions over the course of that year.

Marius: Did you also at one point have to take a lot of steps back? Or were there even scenes where you felt like, “It doesn’t work, we have to cut.”

Dave: Yeah.

Ron: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s just the nature of doing this. Like I’ve said before, these ideas do not come out fully formed. It’s a matter of doing it, and then playing it yourself, and watching other people play it, and realizing that people don’t understand what you’re trying to do, they don’t understand the story even though the story’s totally clear to you, the writer of it. It’s just not clear to the players what’s happening. So you go back and you adjust and you change things to make it—I mean, don’t confuse that with focus testing. Where we’re gonna focus test the ending, and we’re gonna do the one that’s most popular. It’s not that at all. It’s really making sure that what Dave and I are trying to do with the design and the story is actually landing correctly with people. Because if it’s not landing correctly, then we want to adjust it so it is.

Dave: Yeah. And that’s variable over different—there are some sections of the game that are still very much like they were when we first conceived them a couple of years ago, and some other sections of the game that are very, very different.

elTee: Are there any sections of the game that have been in your head for thirty years or so, or is it a total sort of blank slate in that sense? Is there even like a line of dialogue that you were like, “I thought of that in 1992,” or?

Ron: No, it really is a blank slate. You know, when we finished Monkey 2, I had this really rough idea for Monkey 3 which was: Guybrush goes to Hell, and Stan is there. That is it, right. [elTee and Marius laugh]

Ron: That has kind of been done in different ways by other games. Not because anyone copied me—I never told anyone that—but a lot of this stuff is natural. Like, the Demon Pirate LeChuck. That’s a natural thing after the Ghost Pirate LeChuck and the Zombie Pirate LeChuck. And then in Tales, even the thing with going to Hell, or some variation of it. And I kind of felt like, when we started this new game, I really couldn’t do that. Because it would feel like I was ripping off the other games. So, other than the one thing that I did want to do, is I wanted to start the game right at the point that Monkey Island 2 ended. But that was the only thing I wanted to do. Other than that, Dave and I started with a completely blank slate for where we were going to go.

Marius: Amazing.

elTee: That’s so exciting.

Dave: You mentioned the dialogue lines, too, and I don’t think there’s any such thing as a line that is so good by itself out of context that you can like, save it for some other game and put it in there and be like, “Oh, I love this piece of paint on my wall. I’m going to chip it off, and then next time I paint a room I’m going to use this paint chip and stick it in there.” [laughter] It just doesn’t work.

Marius: What about, “Ahoy there, fancypants.” Will this line get a return?

Ron: It is one of my favorite lines, but I think one of the things that Dave and I were also very clear about is we didn’t want to just rehash a bunch of stuff. Like, we didn’t want to take our favorite lines, our favorite pieces, our favorite puzzles, and just apply a bunch of fan service to them. “Oh, this is when he says ‘fancypants’.” We really wanted this game to be new and to be fresh, and to touch on the things that exist in the past because they’re important to our game now.

Dave: We repeated only a few jokes, and only very deliberately, in specific situations.

Marius: I wanted to tell you something that happened yesterday. I was on a train ride home, and I replayed Monkey Island 1 on my laptop. The EGA version. So I spent some time on Mêlée Island again, my favorite place in the whole series. And I have it here running as well, [gestures toward an Atari ST in his background] on my old Atari ST. I don’t know if you can see it or if it’s cut off, but—


Marius famously is the last living owner of an Atari ST. Here he is seen conducting a critical interview.

Dave: Nice. That’s pretty clear.

Marius: This is the Atari ST I played Monkey Island on when I was little. It’s the same model. And, so, I spent—I was walking through the town, familiar screens, and then in the evening I stumbled upon the second Monkey Island Monday video—I think you posted it, Dave—which is just Guybrush going through this dock, and past the SCUMM Bar. And it gave me goosebumps because it didn’t feel like “Oh, it’s the same place with new graphics”—like a special edition or something—but it actually felt like “Oh, this is like a place I visit thirty years later, and it existed throughout the time, and it’s now older.” I don’t know why, but I had this strong feeling. We’ve seen a lot of Mêlée town now, and they have the same camera angles, so…but how did you do it? [laughter]

Dave: …we got Rex to do that.

Marius: Darn.

Ron: Yeah, I think that you say, we didn’t want it to appear like it was a special edition, you know, that it was Monkey 1 and we were just redoing the graphics. And that kind of comes from—and we touch on this in the story—is that time has moved on. Time has moved on for Guybrush, time has moved on for Mêlée, time has moved on for the pirate leaders and everyone else in the game. And I think it’s just a lot of subtle changes, subtle changes to the art. The little differences that feel like, this is different because time has moved on as opposed to, this is different because somebody made a mistake and didn’t do it right. It’s just a lot of subtle changes like that. And that’s what we really wanted to evoke with it, is that this is a place that has moved on as well as Guybrush moving on.

elTee: Yeah, it was a real treat for me, personally, just to see Mêlée at all when you started releasing those videos. Because, for whatever reason, it never even occurred to me—I guess because Monkey Island 2 doesn’t revisit Monkey Island 1—it never occurred to me that we’d see some of those places again and, exactly like Marius said, it was just that thing of, that this place has been there this whole time, and all these things have happened, and I really want to get in there and see exactly what those things are. Because you can see the difference. You can see it’s the same place, but you can feel the passage of time. And it’s really evocative of the original game, but in a way that makes you want to go in again and start exploring the same place to see what’s changed. So it’s a really impressive achievement.

Ron: Yeah, it was something that Dave and I talked about at the beginning, was, where should we go? We kinda knew that we were gonna go to Monkey Island, because it’s called Return to Monkey Island, but what were we gonna do? This really is kind of a story of unfinished business, right. It’s unfinished business of Guybrush, because he never actually found the Secret. It’s a little bit autobiographical—it’s unfinished business of Dave and I. And because it was unfinished business, we really did feel like we needed to go back to Mêlée. That the jumping off point needed to be there as Guybrush starts his journey into this unfinished business.

Marius: It’s perfect. I had to laugh out loud when I saw today’s video, because technically Guybrush isn’t a pirate! And it made me so happy, because what I also thought yesterday when replaying was, “In what order should I do the trials?” Because the last one, I can never show to the pirate leaders. And now you show this video today. So, is Guybrush technically not a pirate?

Ron: [laughs]

Marius: Yet?

Dave: Technically, I suppose that’s true. Whether that matters or not is sort of up to you. I actually think…it’s not a thing we’d said anything about overtly in The Secret of Monkey Island, but I think for the story—the underlying meaning of the story—it’s actually kind of important that he doesn’t quite achieve that goal. He gets focused on something more important to him before he’s done rather than after. There’s a big difference there.

Marius: [wistfully] God, I wanna play...Sorry! I really wanna play. Um, another thing about Mêlée Island, or Mêlée Town. There’s so many screens that are familiar, but an important character of the original is the silence, because there was no music. But it never felt like a lack of music; it was part of the character of the town. How was it for you now to like, “Okay, we’ll give it now a complete soundtrack”?

Ron: Well, I think that came a lot from Monkey Island 2. When Michael Land and Peter [McConnell] and stuff start jumping in on that music, they really created iMUSE at that point, so we could have wall to wall music and have it seamlessly transition. And so when we started this, I don’t think there was any doubt that we wanted to do wall to wall music. The fact that Mêlée is silent in the original is very much a technical limitation as opposed to an artistic choice.

Dave: As with so many things.

Marius: For me, even more, because on the Atari ST there is even less music. There’s no SCUMM Bar music.

Ron: Oh, really?

Marius: Yeah. There’s the map overview, intro music, LeChuck’s theme, and that’s it.

Dave: Wow.

Ron: I didn’t know that.

elTee: It still blows my mind, the leap from the EGA Monkey Island 1 to Monkey Island 2. Almost back-to-back development, and you go, in audio and visual, these massive leaps of technology. It’s something that’s kind of gone from gaming now. And, you know, on its own, it doesn’t really mean anything, but still, to compare those two games, and to think that they were made back to back, is kind of insane at this point.

Dave: That was when we bought the scanner! That was when Lucasfilm Games got the scanner. There was one—it was a flatbed scanner. It cost ten thousand dollars, I remember being told at the time, and it lived over in the Art Building, which was the next one to ours, and you had to like, book time on it if you wanted to use it. I used to go in there after hours and scan little desktop pictures for my Mac and stuff like that. It was awesome.

Ron: And I think back then, technology-wise, things were just changing really fast, and you want to keep up with that. You know, when we did Monkey 1, there were VGA cards, but nobody had them. And so part of it is not just waiting for the technology to be there, but kind of waiting for people to have that technology. And once they do, you go “Okay, we want to do this,” you know. And we were always just trying to push the technology as much as we possibly could. We were happy to get rid of the PC speakers and to be able to do Adlib or Soundblaster cards. And VGA. And higher resolutions…we were just always pushing that, all the time. And I think changes were happening very rapidly back then, so you just saw a lot of changes.

elTee: Yeah, my memory of the time is very much that you would almost be forced to upgrade your hardware for specific games. But like, you wanted to do it. You’d be like, I need to get a CD drive now, because they’re putting these games out on CD. And if it weren’t for things like the Talkie games...Certainly, my dad—I wouldn’t have been hassling him to get a CD drive in 1993. It sort of feeds into itself. So the games use the technology, and then it forces the people to get the technology, and then there’s space to move it forward again. The nineties were a really wild time for that.

Ron: Yeah. You see a little bit of that in the last few years with things like GPUs or graphics cards. There was this kind of push—it feels like it’s leveled out a little bit now, but certainly, you know, ten years ago, people really were pushing the graphics cards and how many polygons they could render and all this stuff. So you see that a little bit today, but not as much.

elTee: So one thing that just occurred to me is, you say that back in say 1991 everyone was trying to push for the best technology we could get, but I know that the system requirements for Return to Monkey Island are not extremely crazy. Like, older computers will be able to run the game and stuff, so is that something that kind of fell away? Because it’s almost like…there used to be a lot more of a myth of, like graphics, the better the graphics, the better the game is. And is that just something that just across the industry has changed, or is that something for you guys, whether, you know, you can tell a story without it being absolutely bleeding edge technology?

Ron: Well, a lot of the graphics today have to do with 3D, and we knew we weren’t gonna build a 3D game, right, we were building a 2D game. And you still need a fairly decent graphics card, because we use a lot of memory, a lot of graphics memory, because of all the images. But we’re not really stressing the card out in the same way a 3D game would, right. We’re not pushing millions of polygons every second through the thing. What we are doing is pushing very large images through the graphics card. So yeah, we don’t require bleeding edge graphics cards, but I think that’s just ‘cause we’re not a 3D game, per se.

elTee: So there is ultimately, still, then, a desire for there to be, to use the best technology that you can to tell the best story you can.

Ron: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s no different than, you know, a filmmaker that wants to use the best techniques or the best film and the best whatever they can use. You certainly want to do that, but I think you also want to use the stuff that is gonna make your story better, right.

elTee: Right.

Ron: You don’t wanna just use the stuff to technically show off. And so, it’s like, what works for the story? What do we need for the story? And in our game, there’s a lot of animation that goes on, right. And all the animation is done with Spine, which is a tool for doing 2D animation, and we certainly spent a lot of time optimizing that. Going into the standard Spine system and we optimize how it deals with creating things and how it deals with caching images. But that was really important to our story. Getting those characters to animate and to have gestures and emote and everything was important, so that is an area we spent a lot of time on, and making sure that the technology part of that worked well.

Marius: Do you two still script as well, like in the early games?

Ron: Oh yeah.

Dave: Yeah.

Ron: That’s one of the reasons I was really excited about having Dave on the project, because I know he can program. He can script. And having him not just be a writer that’s off delivering text to us, but his ability to actually implement that stuff, and implement those dialogue, and tune them, and fine tune them, was—

Dave: Find all the weird bugs in the dialogue system. [laughs]

Ron: Yeah. [laughs]

Marius: So it sounds like you’ve got the same improv tools, like back with SCUMM.

Dave: Little bit, yeah.

Marius: That’s amazing. That’s a storyteller’s dream.

Dave: Walk characters around and make them say stuff, and, you know. It’s like making little dramas in a shoebox, only the shoebox looks a lot nicer now.

Ron: [laughs]

Marius: Were there “rubber tree” things again, like, I know, I remember, Dave, you added the rubber tree joke super spontaneously and asked an artist, “Can you quickly draw this?” and it’s in!

Dave: It was even worse than that—I drew it! I cut the cliff. It was EGA, and then they had to replicate my expert work for the VGA version.

Ron: There definitely were things where, you know, we just have a brain fart of an idea one day and we put it in the game. It probably initially goes in and it’s just text. And then if we like it and it looks funny, then we’ll get an artist to go ahead and draw it. But, there is definitely that kind of improv way of doing things. I don’t know that I could do a game differently. I would be a really lousy game designer if I had to write everything down on paper in a document that then people went off and implemented.

Dave: Yeah, there was a lot of…we did sort of a morning standup every day with people from all around the world. All the artists were on there, and the programmers and stuff, and plenty of good ideas just came up in those meetings. “Oh! What if it was like that?” And we would all be like, “Yeah! All right! That’s hilarious! Do it!”

elTee: I imagine for some of those guys as well, they must have been a bit like me and Marius, like long-term Monkey Island fans, so the idea of being able to collaborate with you like that must have been really exciting for them.

Ron: Well, I think it was a mix, right. There were some people on the team that were long-time Monkey Island fans, and there were also some people on the team that really didn’t know about Monkey Island. I think that mix is good, right because if everybody has been superfans, you really do run the risk of it just being a fan service game, and we wanted the game to appeal to people that maybe hadn’t heard of Monkey Island. And having actual artists on the project, or programmers, whatever, who really weren’t deep in that world was actually quite useful.

Dave: Yeah.

Ron: Because sometimes they would bring up questions. “Well, why is this person doing this?” And you kinda realize, oh, well, they’re doing it because that is what they did in the past, but we’re not clearly explaining why they’re actually doing this now. So I think it’s good to have a mix of those people.

Marius: Thinking of having a big team—how did you reveal the Secret to them? Like, “Okay, meeting time. So, here’s the Secret.”

Ron: We just—they had no idea what game they were working on until the first of April. [laughter]

Dave: Yeah, I had the enviable task of coming up with a fake game that we were making so that we could give people art tests, and like, tell them a little bit about it. You know, “Draw this street, and here are the shops that are on it.” And then later they would learn what they were really gonna be working on.

Ron: We wouldn’t tell people what the game was until we’d actually hired them. So until we had decided that they were the best person for the job, and they’d passed all our fake art tests, at that point we would then tell them what the game was.

Marius: This sounds suspiciously like SCUMM University as well. [laughter] Like a micro, new, fake game, thing.

Ron: Yeah, I think…wasn’t SCUMM University old Sam & Max art that Steve [Purcell] had done?

Dave: Yeah, we had Sam and Max’s office and the hallway outside, I think, were the two things that were actually provided. And then we went around the company and got a bunch of other art from other games and cobbled stuff together, it was fun. …Did I ever graduate from SCUMM U.? I was just like…today’s Monkey Monday—

Ron: Yeah, I don’t think you turned in your final assignment, Dave. You’re not a real SCUMM programmer.

Marius: It fits perfectly to the whole theme of finishing things! So, Dave, you’ve got one week.

Dave: I can do it!

elTee: We’ve got a scoop now, for Mojo. “Dave Grossman flunked SCUMM U.” [laughter]

Marius: For the team learning that they were working on Monkey Island—of course, exciting, but also, like...Well, maybe this goes far too into the thing without us knowing the game, but, we think the Secret will be revealed in the game, and I wonder if the team just clicked on a Wiki to read it when they joined, or did you have a meeting?

Ron: What do you mean? Explain that a little more.

Marius: So I wonder, like...someone joins the team, and like, “Okay, you’re working on Monkey Island. Now you’ve got this and that scene. Oh, by the way, the Secret is da-da-da-da.” Like, how do you mention it to the team?

Ron: Well, I think for the actual Secret...I mean, if we do reveal it—I’m not saying we do or we don’t—but that came, probably, later in production, you know, and by that point the team was well entrenched and knew what they were doing. And then, when Dave and I put together the ending of the game, it was probably a little bit of a surprise for most people, just because we really didn’t tell people what the real ending of the game was from the beginning.

Dave: Yeah, we were pretty cagey about it internally, even, for a while, with the team as we were messing around with that stuff. “Just draw this! Trust us.”

elTee: Were you guys given complete freedom to do this exactly however you wanted? I don’t really understand what Lucasfilm Games is anymore [laughter] but I know that their logo’s on the trailer and things. And obviously, Disney, technically, are the real owners. But did they just say “You can do whatever you want.” Or did they have anything where they were like, “We’re going to have final pass on this to make sure that we’re happy, that you haven’t done anything that we’re not going to like.”

Ron: Well, they are the IP holder, so ultimately yes, they are going to have that ability. But I think one of the things, one of the initial conversations we had was that we really want to be able to make the game we want to make, and they were okay with that. And throughout this whole process, they have been very true to their word on that.

elTee: That’s really good.

Ron: There were some things that we couldn’t do, but mostly for like, legal-type reasons. And I’m fine with that, you know that we can’t do this because we’ll get sued or whatever. Because they played builds—we had builds from the beginning, and they played them. And they would often suggest things, they’d say, “Hey, what if this happened here?” you know. And we would go, “Yeah, that’s a really good idea,” you know, “let’s do that.” It’s really no different than any other team member who might suggest stuff, but, um—we were working a lot with Craig Derrick, who works at Lucasfilm Games. And he’s a great guy—he knows the Monkey Island franchise, he did the special editions, and it was great to work with him and that team, so. I think we basically, we got to make the game we wanted to make, and suggestions and changes Disney had, they were all good ones, so we did them.

Dave: So if you don’t like the game, you can’t blame them for it; it’s our fault.

Ron: Yes. [laughter] That is true.

Marius: But still no Coca-Cola machine.

elTee: But I think that’s what people want though. Whatever it is, whether they like it or not, they want it to be what Ron and Dave put out there, if you see what I mean. That’s like, part of what the appeal of the announcement is. It’s the original guys coming back, so, you guys kind of have authority to do what you want with it. So, I think real fans of the game are just excited to see what you’ve done. I certainly am, obviously. I know Marius is.

Marius: Yeah. [laughs]

elTee: Was there any stress involved with it leaking before the April Fools that you did? Because that was so well pulled off. I actually didn’t even believe it was real after you’d announced that it was real.

Ron: [laughs]

elTee: I was just like, no. This is a really good joke.

Marius: I have to add, Ron, like, when I read your post before the announcement, I hated it because it played with my feelings. And I’m like, “No, I hate this.” [laughter]

Ron: I don’t know if it was hard necessarily to keep it secret. It was something we had to be very, very careful about. Everybody who came on the project, with maybe the exception of Dave, actually, had to sign an NDA. A pretty strict NDA. So everybody knew that we were very, very serious about the confidentiality of this game. We just had to be very careful. I think in some ways, having the pandemic hit right as we started the game actually helped us, because people were really kind of confined to their homes. They didn’t have a bunch of people coming into their homes, their friends. They weren’t out with their friends. So that probably helped us, in that regard. But I think the whole team was just amazing at keeping the secret. I think everybody on the team really bought into how important that was. They all wanted this to remain a secret as well.

Dave: Yeah.

Ron: So everybody did a fantastic job of doing it. And we also—the other thing we did is we told nobody that was not actually working on the game. If you were not working on this game, you did not know about it. I didn’t tell my best friend about this game. And I got kind of a, very terse email from him on the first of April. [laughter] “How can you not tell me about this?” So, we were just very careful.

Marius: “I didn’t? Really?”

Dave: I didn’t tell my son, either. I kept him in the dark for two years until we announced, and then I showed him the trailer, and he was kinda like, “You made that?” [laughter] It was hilarious.

Marius: Aw, so cute.

Marius looks at the time.

Marius: So, quickly, checking: What is the time window we actually have with you?

Dave: Oh...

Ron: Yeah, I mean, we don’t have our normal adult supervision, so...

Dave: That’s right.

elTee: Because we switched room out, didn’t we, at the last second. So, he might be in the other one waiting for us. [laughter]