Behind closed doors today, we got a chance to see Knights Of The Old Republic, the Bioware project that was yet to be named. This game was impressive. Set 400 years prior to Episode I, the game has been created with some great original ideas. The game is a classically styled RPG, with an incredible-looking proprietary engine with some absolutely stunning special effects. It's still pretty early on in development, but they seem to have a pretty clear outlook of what they want to include (in the shape of sub-games and set pieces). It also has some of the best technical features I've seen in a long time, including an incredible system of lip-synching to the speech, and also what came across as a scripting system for the character gestures, to keep them cued to the text. We weren't allowed to take any photos, and there are no screen shots as yet, but the incredible images that appeared in front of us were enough to make even the most "Star Wars skeptical" among us to drop jaws in amazement.
One of the true highlights of this trip (and THE best highlight for me, personally) was the LENGTHY conversation we had with the Escape From Monkey Island project leaders, Mike Stemmle and Sean Clark. No matter what we may have thought of the latest Monkey Island installment, we were really impressed with these guys. We were already in the hall talking to Sean Clark when Tom Sarris brought Mike out to talk to us. These guys are really funny and extremely nice. They didn't seem to be tired of talking about anything at LucasArts. We must have talked for at least an hour and a half about the gaming industry in general, Monkey Island, and many other things. I asked them many, many questions, and I feared that they were getting sick of talking to us. However, they kept bringing up new subjects for us to talk about. We ended up sitting down on the floor in the hallway and talking for ages. Tom Sarris would walk by on occasion and was surprised that we were still talking. When any LucasArts employee walked by our little conversation hall, Sean or Mike asked them if the beer was on ice yet.
At one point during the conversation, I summoned up the courage to ask about the change of the Elaine voice. Sean and Mike cringed, and I thought perhaps I stumbled onto a subject they didn't want to talk about. But they did. They said they considered the first Elaine voice to be too whiny and bitchy. They didn't seem to be very satisfied with the voice that ended up in EMI, though.
Surprisingly enough, they suddenly brought up the subject of Monkey Island 5. "So what would you guys like to see in the next one?"
We were stunned and silent. I think I suggested something insane like pirate ostriches. Mike laughed at this idea. Both Sean and Mike seemed to make it clear that they will not be involved with the next Monkey Island game. They brought up the idea of the next game being a prequel, and we all seemed to think this would be an interesting possibility if done right.
Interesting Monkey Island tidbits? It seems that the idea of making Herman Toothrot Elaine's grandfather was first devised by Sean Clark between Monkey Island 1 and 2. It also seems that the monkey robot idea was first proposed by Tim Schafer a long time ago. However, it's a bit unclear, because Bill Tiller commented that it was Dave Grossman's idea. And also, apparently they had a lot of trouble with the line readings of the actor who played Ignatious Cheese. They even had to cut some of his lines. Speaking of cut lines, apparently the PS2 version of EMI contains additional dialogue that was cut from the PC version. They were also bitter about the fact that some fans thought the name Ozzie Mandrill was inspired by Star Wars. The truth is that "Ozzie Mandrill" is actually a clever play on words. It's a combination of a literary reference from a poem, the name of a type of monkey, and of course, the word "Aussie."
Of course, Sean and Mike couldn't comment much on current projects. Sean is already doing some work on a new ORIGINAL game, but Mike is soon going to take a vacation and brainstorm ideas for a new game. "I'm thinking about a musical." We laughed, but he seemed to be serious. Hell, I'd buy that.
Well that kind wraps it up for today, mainly because I'm far too tired to remember anything else.
The interesting FACT OF THE DAY today is as follows: Back in the day, a sequel to Loom actually went into production, led by Stemmle and Clark, but was killed after little more than a month.