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The Spunk of Spank: Now with Ron's comments 31 Mar, 2009, 00:17 / 23 comments

Hothead had a panel at GDC today, where they mentioned Deathspank. Surprisingly, the game is not episodic, but will probably have DLC later on. Also worth mentioning is the fact that Ron brought-in his own game engine, an "updated version of SCUMM". Interesting, to say the least. I wonder what caused them to change their minds about it being episodic. Possible suspect: Mixnmojo.

Update: Ron blogs about it:

"DeathSpank isn't a very patient guy. He would never be able to play though one episode after another. He'd just run in and play them all at once. He's that kind of guy. He also gets impatient if someone doesn't die fast enough.

So what we did was take all the story, puzzles and fight'n and weave them into one larger game. The overarching story is the same, but the world is larger, more open, more compelling and completely load-less. You can walk from one end of the vast world to the other and never see a load screen or camera cut."

Thanks, Ron!

Random thoughts: is it just me, or does Deathspank seem designed to be sequel-less (i.e.: we're already being told the whole story)? And does this re-shaping of the game mean it will get delayed?

Comments

  • The Tingler on 31 Mar, 2009, 08:20…
    I personally HATE any film, book, game etc (especially the first in the series) that is made with sequels in mind.
  • neon_git on 31 Mar, 2009, 15:34…
    It depends if the sequels are planned as a way of milking an IP or if the story just works best in a serialised format.

    Personally I hate it when a film, book, game or whatever does well and we get a pointless, hastily made sequel. At least with a planned trilogy the story will come together as a cohesive whole, even if it is just an exercise in marketing.
  • jp-30 on 31 Mar, 2009, 10:51…
    But... how would you know?

    Also... you hate A Vampyre Story? You hate Raiders of the lost Ark, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Fellowship of the Ring, Police Academy?

    Boooooooooooooo.
  • jp-30 on 31 Mar, 2009, 01:19…
    There is no such thing as 'sequel-less'. If the franchise can make more money, anything's possible.

    "Son of 'Spank", ahoy!
  • clone2727 on 25 Mar, 2009, 19:13…
    I'm guessing the engine isn't SCUMM itself, but something similar. SCUMM hasn't been used in about 7 years and then even HE replaced it. Not to mention they would have to license it out from LucasArts....
  • tenochtitlan on 25 Mar, 2009, 19:21…
    This is simply Mixnmojo not quoting exactly what Gamasutra wrote:
    "Ron came in with an engine to build DeathSpank, and is an updated SCUMM-style engine."

    So it's not an updated SCUMM engine(which would be perfectly inadequate for an RPG) but a engine which is called in the style of SCUMM (for marketing reasons I guess).
  • clone2727 on 25 Mar, 2009, 21:00…
    Ah, lame Mojo :P

    But, as for RPG, the engine could definitely handle it. Especially with later HE revisions. There was even an RTS "Moonbase Commander" using SCUMM.
  • Kroms on 25 Mar, 2009, 21:15…
    Another source called it an "updated version of SCUMM". I figured it was pretty clear that they weren't using the actual engine.
  • Kolzig on 25 Mar, 2009, 16:22…
    I very much like the idea of Deathspank not being episodic series of games.

    Lets just hope that the game development will turn up good, I hope Ron has had time to develop it and no need to rush it. I hope we can see some screens and other news about Deathspank during this year, perhaps during summer.
  • Capn_Nacho on 25 Mar, 2009, 15:17…
    I really want more info now. I'm kind of glad it's not going to be episodic. Telltale does it beyond well, but I was afraid Hothead wasn't going to deliver. Apparently they felt the same.
  • AlfredJ on 25 Mar, 2009, 09:07…
    Hmm, I was a bit worried about Hothead the last couple of months. They released Penny Arcade Episode 1, with a lot of attention from the press and gamers alike, and not soon after that they released Episode 2, and nobody really talked about it. I liked them, despite not being an RPG- or PA-fan. But things sort of went quiet after that. For the last couple of months, nobody at Hothead said anything about any of their projects, their forums died, and no mention from anyone about future projects. I really hope things go better with future projects for them, they really make charming games. I guess Telltale made episodic seem a bit too easy.

    At least you know when they release Deathspank, you know everyone in Spain and Germany is going to buy it. Those guys worship Gilbert.
  • tenochtitlan on 25 Mar, 2009, 13:58…
    The reason why their forums died (except for some repeating tech problems) is that the Hothead community staff (or what's left of it after Kristin went to work with Child's Play) doesn't seem to care about their forums. When they launched the forum they showed around pics, answered questions etc. Now it's a general silence through mail, messages and through the forums with no obvious reason.

    And yes, us guys (that's in my case Germans) kinda worship Ron. I don't think that's really different from other frequent Mixnmojo visitors ;)
  • Kroms on 25 Mar, 2009, 12:10…
    Episode Two got quite a bit of attention. Mojo stopped covering it because it was pushing the LucasArts+ definition a bit, but other sites did cover it quite extensively.

    Not sure why the forums are dead though, maybe they should release episodes more frequently.
  • AlfredJ on 25 Mar, 2009, 15:29…
    About Hothead's silent treatment, I just remembered I sent them a mail a couple of weeks ago about some technical issue I had with PA Episode 2, but I also asked when we could expect more info about Deathspank, seeing as how no one talked about it. This is what they said on the subject:

    "Thanks for the note Tjeerd.

    We have been kind of quiet lately as we have been really focused on our current projects. DeathSpank is coming along nicely and we're excited for its release this year."

    So, I guess they simply don't have the staff to interact with the community, which is something Telltale does really well, and which is partly the reason why Telltale succeeds where Hothead is having trouble. Also, and I don't know if this was known, but assuming they haven't changed their plans and the person sending me the mail (Joel DeYoung) knew what he was talking about, Deathspank will be released this year. Which is awesome.
  • tenochtitlan on 25 Mar, 2009, 19:28…
    I think the worst mistake a indie developer/publisher could make is letting his community die. Maybe they don't have a second Emily but at least someone responsible for keeping the forums alive and giving out some tidbits to the Swarm and DeathSpank fans shouldn't be much of a problem.
  • Kroms on 25 Mar, 2009, 15:50…
    Joel DeYoung is the CEO, man. I think. Either way he's pretty high up.

    And DS has been on a 2009 release date for a while. We'll see how it goes.

    Some screens would be nice!
  • AlfredJ on 25 Mar, 2009, 17:07…
    He used to be, but he has been replaced by Ian Wilkinson. I think Joel is just a designer know. I know who Joel is, but what I meant to say with 'knowing what he was talking about' was 'knowing how the future looks for Hothead, what with all the management-changes'. I didn't mean to say he was just some intern who got to answer some mail, my bad.

    But yeah, even if they're not ready to show off the game yet, some new art or stuff like those hidden runes on de DS-site would be awesome.
  • Diduz on 25 Mar, 2009, 08:23…
    Wow. Major blow to the episodic model.
    I guess Penny Arcade is suffering some problems...
  • Udvarnoky on 25 Mar, 2009, 03:32…
    Huh, weird. They flat-out lied about it being episodic. Well, bring on the DeathSpank, in whatever form!

    Also, good to know that the game is now officially in full production. Hardly something that could have been taken for granted given the past.
  • Kroms on 25 Mar, 2009, 04:34…
    It's been over a year, man. Business models and game designs change accordingly.

    You really should stop equating "Ron Gilbert" with "liar" so much.
  • Udvarnoky on 25 Mar, 2009, 04:57…
    ¬¬

    I think you may be taking my comments a bit too seriously. That said, the original, official announcement for the game described it as "episodic" and we were even given a title and teaser image for the supposed first episode. Whether or not this change in how the game is being released was a natural decision doesn't make it any less major or noteworthy!
  • Kroms on 25 Mar, 2009, 10:28…
    True, very true. I wonder if it'll still be subtitled Orphans of Justics.
  • AlfredJ on 25 Mar, 2009, 11:12…
    Seeing as how they probably already had some storylines and stuff planned, I think the most obvious thing for them to do is to release one big game consisting of several chapters, with Orphans being the first one. I can't really imagine them rewriting the storyline too much, seeing as how Gilbert spend several years planning and designing this game as an episodic product, and it probably was in development at Hothead as episodic for quite a while.