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LucasArts' Secret History: Grim Fandango: Trivia and Resources

30 Aug, 2009

Trivia

The game has the distinction of being possibly the most critically acclaimed adventure game of all time, even being awarded Gamespot's (a notoriously mainstream game site) Game of the Year award. Unfortunately, the game also has the dubious distinction of being thought of as "the game that killed the adventure genre," due to the perception that it garnered low sales couple with LEC basically abandoning the genre afterward.

According to Tim Schafer, the reputation of Grim Fandango as a financial flop is largely inaccurate. He has stated that the game "sold pretty well," "made money," and that he even got a royalty check from it. Although the game was likely viewed as a disappointment by LEC suits at the time (especially given its budget), there's reason to believe that the game enjoyed healthy longterm sales. Nonetheless, it's not a stretch to figure that Grim made publishers wary of producing graphic adventures of that scale and magnitude again, and arguably none have been.

After completing the game, Tim Schafer spent his remaining months at the company working on a "spy game" for the Playstation 2 that never got off the ground. He then departed the company after an eleven year tenure along with a good chunk of the Grim team to found Double Fine Productions. The development studio's first release was also Schafer's first console game, Psychonauts.

Originally titled Deeds of the Dead, it was changed to the decidedly more obscure Grim Fandango (a reference to a poem Olivia can perform in the Blue Casket) when the LEC marketing department decided that they didn't want to release a game with the word "dead" in it.

As with Full Throttle, Schafer made a failed attempt to shoehorn an interactive dream sequence in the game, keen on the idea of presenting a segment that takes place inside someone's head. He was finally able to devote the idea to his next project, Psychonauts.

Hector is voiced by an actor named Jim Ward, who is not to be confused with the Lucasfilm executive of the same name who became the president of LucasArts from 2005-2008.

In the wide shot of the blimp over Max's cat track when Manny is walking across the two large buildings, a brief musical nod to Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe can be heard.

Thankfully, the game does not lack a reference to "selling fine leather jackets."

In order to fit the game across two CDs, the team had to learn new tricks in compression, not the least of which was squeezing the game's many cutscenes down. The trailer actually shows cutscene segments at higher quality than they appears in the actual game.

In the game's resource files are several unused dialog lines, the most noteworthy of which is a lengthy discussion between Manny and Dom at the edge of the world in which Dom reveals the DoD conspiracy in detail, and makes reference to the explosive trap he set for the Bonewagon in Rubacava. A page of unused resources can be found at grimfandango.net.

In Year 2, show Glottis the Rusty Anchor slip to elicit a song. Also, check out this great fan-made Flash animation for the song.

Max of Steve Purcell's "Sam & Max" makes his cameo appearance in the tattoo designs in the Rubacava tattoo parlor. The Corley Motors logo makes an appearance as well.

Hot rods themselves are something of a theme in Tim Schafer games. See also: Full Throttle and Brutal Legend.

A notorious glitch involving the forklift in the elevator puzzle had to be fixed in a patch.

The characters were modeled in a program called SoftImage using Silicon Graphics machines. This is the same animation package that was used at Industrial Light and Magic to do film special effects.

The line "Works like crazy!" uttered by Manny when aboard the resurrected S.S. Lamancha, was supposedly a catchphrase of designer and former film maker Hal Barwood, and in fact the quote was included in the closing credits of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. George Lucas, a personal friend of Barwood, has used the phrase in an interview to describe the status of the Indiana Jones 4 screenplay.

As a birthday present for Tim Schafer, the art team put together a giant cast image featuring ever character in the game. Schafer's birthday, July 26th, is also the same day he founded his company, Double Fine Productions, in 2000.

Like The Dig, the game received an official, though hardly complete, soundtrack release on CD, which is now a coveted and high-selling collectors item.

No less of a collector's item is an extremely rare Manny toy, which can be seen at The LucasArts Museum.

A fan of Blizzard's Warcraft strategy series which was at its height of popularity at the time, Schafer batted around the idea of making a game of the same genre before deciding against it.

Composer Peter McConnell (who has scored all of Schafer's games) has cited this as the personal favorite of all his scores.

Resources:

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