The Curse of Monkey Island Retro Interview Bonanza Talk City Chat Transcript

Host: Welcome Larry and Jonathan!!!!!!!!! it's Great to have you both here with us at TalkCity!!!!!!
Larry: it's Great to be here..
Jonathan: it's very great to be here..

Host: Where do you get the ideas for your story lines?
Larry: Oh lord... We looked at the first two Monkey Island games... and there were still swashbuckling things we wanted to do..
Jonathan: Well.... the great thing about Monkey Island... is full of a great many pirate cliches.... so... we watched a great many pirate movies.. and wanted to take a character and have it parady the those movies... ;-)

Host: Can we expect more sequels to the Monkey Island series?
Jonathan: I would never rule it out... but there are none in the works now.. :-)

ezliteguest: Where can I get a hint book?
willy: how can i take the golden teeth?
LucasArts: We'd rather not give out hints because their might be people on this chat who haven't played the game yet! But... You might want to talk to cutthroat bill in the barber shop!

Host: How long does it take a project... from a thought in your mind to completion?
Larry: It has been about two years for Jonathan and I. I had just finished Full Throttle, when we began the design... Jonathan was still working on the Dig, so we worked nights for a while. Then we spent three months designing the game... mapping out the puzzles and doing character concepts... Then it was 16 to 18 months from then before we finished.

toon: You live in Quebec?????
LucasArts: No, I'm afraid we live in the San Francisco bay area.

skyfox-threepwood: Who thought up the idea for the Pirate Ship song... that is a classic, my hat goes off to them :)
Jonathan: Larry and I wanted to do that. Ever since I was turned down for the lead in Pirates of Penzance... I had a song in my heart and...well, whatever. It's interesting actually, because that song really shows how great the music works in Monkey. The actors we cast were not singers... so when we first got the voice file for that song, it was just the voice with no music behind it. It REALLY sucked.
We thought we would have to cut it... But then, Michael put the music behind it and it made the whole thing great. It's one of my favorite parts of the game.

sky: I just have one thing to say........THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR MI3!!!!!!!!!! WOOHOO!!!!!! :)
LucasArts: Hi Skyfox! You're welcome for Curse of Monkey Island. Thank you for the great web page...
If anybody hasn't been to the SCUMM bar we highly recommend it.

grem: Do u guys plan on doing a Monkey 4...Is there any chance at all? By the way, I loved Monkey 3! Thanks guys
LucasArts: There are no plans for a Monkey 4 currently, but you NEVER know!

king_nothing: Will a Mac version of "The Curse of Monkey Island" be made?
Larry: We don't have any definite plans about a Mac version, but I would personally love to see one.

Host: How large is the team you work with?
Jonathan: Initially, it was just Larry and I. Later, we brought on a Lead animator and artist to do conceptual work. Then we added three programmers in addition to myself. Aric Wilmunder, Chris Purvis and Chuck Jordan, Then we had several animators... then it got really outa control All told we had about 50 people working on it.

Host: How did you get involved with LucasArts?
Jonathan: I was minding my own business, wandering down at the docks when a press gang of LucasArts thugs beat me up.
I had a great setup there with them, too.
I was finally the tallest in my class.

mongol: I would like to know when Rebellion will be released?
LucasArts: We're not involved with that project, so we'd prefer the questions be related to Monkey.

tofuhead: How old is Guybrush?
LucasArts: Guybrush is just the right age.

Host: As the computer generation gets more savvy, where do you see games and story lines going?
Jonathan: As the technology gets more evolved and easier to use, we will slowly be freed of the... pain and suffering we have to go through, just to get the images onto the screen.
We will simply have more time, to add every little detail that we'd like. We'll be able to concentrate on content so we can have more complex story lines and puzzles.

skyfox-threepwood: Do you find Monkey Island fan sites usefull for seeing fans reactions... or are you not interested in them?
LucasArts: We don't look to the fans sites for feedback, I'm afraid. Of course we love to hear that people like the game and we're glad to see fan interest in the products. But really, when you get right down to it...we're making the game that we want to see made. The internet is great because it lets everybody express themselves. But it would be impossible for us to please everyone, so we just need to make the game that we are going to love.

amitc: The user interface has evolved a lot, from the early SCUMM interface to nearly no clutter on the screen due to interface commands in MI3? But do you think such a interface limits the abilities of the gamer?
LucasArts: For those of you who haven't played the earlier monkey island games, the interface consisted of nine "verbs" located in the lower left hand corner of the screen. The player would "build a sentence" by clicking on the screen and then these verbs. You could get sentences like "Use gopher repellent on yak" and the like. The truth is that some of those nine verbs weren't all that different.
For Curse we boiled these down into three verbs with a slightly context sensitive interface. If we wanted however, using the new interface we could substitute a new special case interface that could have a different "push" or "pull" effect. So the new interface doesn't really limit the types of puzzles. We can still do it all. Examine, talk, use, use with, push, pull etc. It's just easier to use and doesn't take up all that valuable graphic real estate.

talon: Are you planning on making a "Curse of Monkey Island Soundtrack?" The music is one of the best parts of the game.
LucasArts: We agree with you that the music is great, but as far as we know there are no plans for one at this time. We'd certainly like one.

amitc: What is your idea of the elements that go to make an ideal adventure game? Does MI3 have all those features?
LucasArts: Two parts part comedy.
Non-linearity is pretty key.
Of course the structure of an adventure game is predicated on putting up road blocks that get in your way. So while you're trying to solve one puzzle we try to give you another path of exploration. We also like to have the game be a toy as much as a collection of puzzles. We fill the game with silly things to play with and conversations that aren't needed to solve the puzzles.
We call this "Meaningless Interactivity."
You'll call it "Delicious!"

jo: I'd like to know wich software you use to do great graphics like the one we see in monkey..
LucasArts: We are using a process new to us which allows our animators to actually draw their animations on paper. So for the animators on the project, their process is exactly like that used at any animation studio. Disney, Fox, whatever. From there, it gets sucked into our digital ink and paint package which runs on an SGI. It is vectorized, cleaned up, colored and then reduced to 8-bit. This gives it a nice interior anti-alias on the characters. Then we use our in-game software to anti-alias the outside edges at run-time. We're really happy with how the system worked out, because it allowed our in-game graphics to match the look of our non-interactive cutscenes.

the_jim: Why is CMI dedicated to the memory of Brett Barrett?
LucasArts: Brett Barrett was a programmer here at LucasArts. He was a game tester on Secret of Monkey Island, and a programmer on Monkey Island 2.
Unfortunately, Brett was killed in a motorcycle accident last year. We dedicated the game to him because he was a part of the LucasArts family and we respected him and his work.

skyfox-threepwood: Are you disapointed by some of the Fans negative reactions to CMI?
LucasArts: When you are making a sequel, comparisons are going to be made. Both positive and negative. I remember how much I loved playing The Secret of Monkey Island for the first time. It was like nothing I expected and nothing I had seen before.
Six years later, we all have different ideas about who Guybrush is... what he looks like...what he sounds like. When we made Curse, we made a game that in our hearts we felt was true to the spirit of the previous games. For the most part, the response has been excellent. The reviews have been good so far.
Tim Schafer, a project leader here at LucasArts said something to me at the beginning of the project. He worked on the previous two games...he was a big part of the previous games. At the time I didn't understand what he meant, but I'm beginning to understand now.
He said... "You're not competing with Monkey Island 1 and 2."
"You're competing with the memory of Monkey Island 1 and 2."
Monkey Island 1 and 2 were such groundbreaking products... Because we're following in such a tall shadow, it would be impossible to please everyone.

skyfox-threepwood: How do you think up so many of the great jokes? Do you just sit down and think them up or do you include jokes that other people in the company think up?
Jonathan: Larry and I co-designed the game and wrote the non interactive dialogs together. Of course, with a game so huge and so full of dialog it would be impossible to write the whole thing. We leaned heavily on our two programmers Chuck Jordan and Chris Purvis. They wrote a tremendous amount of absolutely hilarious stuff. The animators, and our lead background artist Bill Tiller also added a lot of visual wit. The artist would also poke their heads in to see what the programmers were doing. They'd have a funny idea and we'd put that in as well.
It's really a product of an entire team of people. Everybody invested so much of themselves and I would really like to thank them all.

the_jim: What future projects are you planning to work on?
Jonathan: Larry and I are in the brainstorming stages right now... but it's a little early in the process for us to talk about it.

tofuhead: Who wrote the song at the beginning of disc 2?
LucasArts: The music was by Michael Land. The song itself was written by Chris, Chuck and myself. We also wrote a really wonderful love theme, called "Plank of Love" but we never got around to recording it. I loved it, because it was really the most horrible thing I've ever seen. Chuck wrote a stanza:
Elaine: Oh, how I love you Guybrush.
Elaine: Not even your corny jokes'll...
Elaine: Make me wish that I was not your bride...
Elaine: When you carry me 'cross your fo'c'sle!
Chuck's a bloody genius!

Host: Larry and Jonathan....we've come to the final question. Let's end with the funniest thing that ever happened while working on your games and....what would you like to tell your fans out there?
Larry: At Christmas of '96, we were working on the proposal scene with Guybrush and Elaine. At the same time, I was preparing to ask my girlfriend to marry me. It was very bizarre directing a proposal at work and the scripting my own in my head at night. My real life proposal didn't turn out as romantically as Guybrush's, but at least she said "Yes."
And she didn't turn into a solid gold statue which is a plus.

Host: Thank you so very much Larry and Jonathan!! It's been a pleasure!!!!! We hope to see you again soon!!
Larry: Thanks!
Jonathan: Thanks!