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The golden age of video chats with LucasArts alum has yet to peak. In the latest news from November 12th, a virtual interview with Noah Falstein was carried out by the fine folks at Arcade Attack. But you didn’t watch it then, because you were naturally waiting for Mojo to embed it in a news post:

Highlights include Noah describing his role in the conception of insult swordfighting, elaborating on his rejection of the “terrible” Monkey King script as the basis for an Indy game, showing off his rare Fate of Atlantis movie poster, his perspective on why the adventure games traveled particularly well in Europe, and general behind-the-scenes goodness.

Meanwhile, GOG is offering some patently ridiculous discounts at the moment. Remasters excluded, Lucasarts legacy titles appear to be 65% off across the board, meaning they’re all about $2 a pop right now. Angling for the record, Tales of Monkey Island is a whopping 90% off and can be had for $1.49. That’s just crackers.

After fans politely noticed that the first pass had subjective room for improvement, Limited Run Games went back to the drawing board to incorporate a number of tasteful changes to their commemorative Monkey Island anthology set with the guidance of Force ghost Laserschwert. Behold what can happen when an audience is listened to:

That's a major upgrade, with only a small growth in price point. Have your credit card at the ready on Friday, December 4th, when pre-orders will open -- for real this time.

What's that? We're several days behind on this rather significant news story? Only because we credit you with being people of taste who have therefore already been discussing it on the forums. For those who have fallen short of our expectations, why not pretend there's still something to complain about and join in on the discussion now?

It's here! The thing you didn't know you've been waiting 30 years for. Previously unseen artwork, deleted scenes, and insights from The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2! Not to mention a two-hour interview with Ron Gilbert where he reveals, amongst other things, some of his original plans for Monkey Island 3.

Gorge yourself on this bounty: The Secrets of Monkey Island's Source Code

All of this is thanks to the hard work of Frank Cifaldi and the other brilliant people at Video Game History Foundation. Look around their website and offer to donate your time or money to support their noble cause of documenting video game history. Thanks, VGHF!

Artist/animator extraordinaire Mark Ferrari recently sat down for his own extended video chat, and it would feel like paying insult to pretend that any more of a sales pitch is necessary:

I don't know what's in the air these days that is impelling so many lengthy interviews with LucasArts veterans to be recorded, but please do keep them coming.

That livestream with Mike Stemmle took place a few hours ago, and you can re-watch it right here at your own convenience. Drag over to 43:09 if you want to skip right to when Mike appears.

Throughout the 80-minute conversation Stemmle gives a lot of great anecdotes and some borderline apologies about Escape from Monkey Island, which is rightly the main topic (it’s celebrating an anniversary too, you know!), but there’s plenty of memories shared about the productions of Sam & Max Hit the Road, Sam & Max: Freelance Police, and the Telltale games Mike worked on. He even talks about some ideas that were pitched at Telltale but never happened, like his Lovecraftian take on Maniac Mansion.

And of course, there’s some pimping of the upcoming Sam & Max VR game, including some new story details. It’s all here, and a must watch.

Comments: 1 / Source: Twitch

Quoth the Reddit

Just in case it’s of any interest, I’ll be chatting to LucasArts’ Mike Stemmle of Sam and Max and Escape from Monkey Island fame on my Twitch stream tomorrow, Friday 6th November from 8pm GMT (as it’s the 20th anniversary of Escape!). Feel free to drop by and ask a question, he’s also working on the new Sam and Max VR game so will be chatting about that too! https://www.twitch.tv/cressup

The Video Game History Foundation conducted their "Secrets of Monkey Island" evening with Ron Gilbert to celebrate the game's 30th anniversary. A finished edited version of the event will be posted soon, but the raw streamed version is now available to rewatch for those who bought tickets and missed it.

The VGH Foundation unearthed previously unseen background artwork, sprites, cut-scenes and locations from Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2. They also demonstrated how a SCUMM programmer would have written code, and revealed the custom tools that they had to hand. It was wonderful stuff.

Oh, and Ron also casually revealed his original plans for Monkey Island 3, too. So there's that.

As soon as the public version has been made available, we'll share it here.

In the meantime, go give some love (or money) to The Video Game History Foundation for their incredible efforts and noble work.

Even though George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, the actual offices have remained at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in The Presidio -- a park in San Francisco. As Lucas owns those facilities, Disney has actually been paying George rent for that space despite owning the assets held there.

With the conglomerate undergoing a period of COVID related belt-tightening, rumor has it that Disney is finally ready to relocate all those assets to their home turf in Burbank.

The move down south for Lucasfilm apparently has been the plan for years. It is unknown what has been the delay in getting them down to Burbank. The goal was to have all of their divisions at convenient proximity to Disney headquarters. With that, they cut down distance and they no longer have to pay Lucas rent.

Why do we care? Well, presumably this means that the Lucasfilm archives are destined to make a six hour road trip, and as elTee's illuminating interview with Limited Run Games revealed, the original assets related to the old adventure games have not necessarily been digitized. And I'm not making judgments, mind you. It's hard to ask a supposedly state-of-the-art studio to make time over a thirty year period to digitally bank Monkey Island key art when there's a hundred other things to do. Those Baby Yodas aren't going to stack themselves.

I'm just asking everyone to join me in a collective prayer that they, you know, have the straps on the flat bed fastened tight as they load it up with irreplaceable diskettes of source code or Ken Macklin artwork for The Dig. And you know, that they throw a tarp over it if the weather forecast looks dicey. Things like that.

Apparently this has been on Youtube for a while, but I know I'd never seen it before, so maybe you'll be as blown away as I was:

If you've been waiting for the Limited Run Monkey Island anthology, wait no more. Or rather, wait until October 30th. Point being, it has been fully announced:

It might run you a cool $160, but you do get a lot for your money, provided you actually want what's bundled. The E-Ticket? Awesome! Ultimate Insult illustration? Amusingly random. Books? Fo' sho'. The rest... well, it might be for some of you, for others, not so much.

Like it? Love it? Disappointed? Let us know in the comment, and let us know if you have any questions for Limited Run -- Mojo Interview(TM) is forthcoming.

As something of a supplement to the upcoming livestream which will delve into some unreleased content from the first two Monkey Island games, Verge has published an interview with Frank Cifaldi and Kelsey Lewin of the Video Game History Foundation to discuss their motives behind preserving vintage source code and the reception they got from Lucasfilm when they approached the company about making Monkey Island the vanguard of their efforts. There's also some good stuff about omitted content that underlines the improvisational nature of the early SCUMM games' development:

They also had access to Gilbert’s sketchbook from when he was making the game, which contained the raw ideas that eventually made it into the finished product. “There is a page that just says, ‘booby trap on bridge?’. And I think that’s like, all it ever was,” Cifaldi continues. “Like, the game wasn’t designed enough, but artists need to be working on something. So it’s like, I don’t know, ‘work on a booby-trapped bridge, and maybe we’ll revisit it,’ and they never did.” It’s not a cut puzzle; it doesn’t mean anything other than it was an idea that didn’t quite make it.

The full article is quite good, so do read it.

Sure, we're all perfectly excited about that fireside chat at the end of the month. But what does Ron know about Monkey Island, really? Was he there or something?

The fact is, if you want the real scoop, you go to the experts. And that would be Youtuber "onaretrotip", who's put together an 80-minute documentary about the making of The Secret of Monkey Island as part of the 30th anniversary internet love bomb we're in the midst of. Included throughout are quotes from the core team, and I think some of these recorded reflections are new. Let me know if I'm wrong, and I'll see to it that the correct people are fired.

Comments: 2 / Source: Youtube

With which I mean the crazy, fun stuff hidden in Monkey Island's SCUMM code. To quote the press release:

The Video Game History Foundation (VGHF), a nonprofit that brings old video games back to life by preserving, celebrating, and teaching their history, is today unveiling the Video Game Source Project, an effort to save and study source code and related development materials before the stories around these games' creation are lost forever.

(some more stuff, then the interesting part)

The first games to benefit from the Video Game Source Project will be Lucasfilm Games' legendary point-and-click adventure The Secret of Monkey Island, which celebrates its 30 year anniversary this month, and its sequel Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge.

So, what will we see? Reconstructed scenes, for one thing. (Presumably the cannibal village scene will be one of them.) And a fireside chat with Ronzo himself. An audience Q&A. You know, the normal stuff.

The event will take place Friday, October 30th, 1pm PDT. Tickets are $10. Run and get them right now!

Another 30th anniversary article for the venerated series comes by way of LADbible. An excerpt:

Which is to say: this game is in my blood, a part of what makes me, me. Not just a favourite game, but an experience of my childhood - like a favourite movie, or book, from a lifetime ago - that always, without fail, puts a smile on my face. It still makes me laugh aloud, even when I can see the jokes coming - which the best TV and film can do, too. Not fall-around-the-place hysterics, as I grew out of that. But a chuckle, a titter, just the gentlest guffaw. It's enough to make me not feel my age, for a moment at least - and The Secret of Monkey Island is an experience that'll forever remind me why I love video games so much.

Who among us cannot relate? Click here for the whole piece.

And while I've got you here, let me sneak in this recent blog post by Chuck Jordan reflecting on Habitat. You didn't even see that coming, did ya.

Say what you want about Escape from Monkey Island -- it enjoyed an interesting spate of promotional memorabilia. Coasters, bottles off grog...and perhaps most memorably an inflatable monkey doll that was presumably meant to be in the divine image of Timmy the Monkey, a character introduced in EMI as a pet of the Threepwoods. Despite being an instant hit with the fan base, Timmy was somehow excluded from Tales of Monkey Island, which is a bit like writing Tom Hagen out of The Godfather Part III. (Jake was unavailable for comment at the time of this writing.)

The doll’s first appearance, we believe, was at the Escape from Monkey Island Playstation 2 release party, which Mojo attended, taking home plenty of photographic proof. The doll had a tendency to pop up on a few occasions in subsequent years, like in the earliest photographs of the Telltale Games office space, way back in 2004, which kicked up a lot of runaway speculation.

Well, his latest cameo is on eBay, where he can be had right now for $275.00. Not sure what LucasArts vet, or what fan that might have mugged a LucasArts vet, needs the money so badly for, but why not help them out and give Timmy a new home?

In the aforementioned Wireframe Magazine spread on Monkey Island for the series’ 30th anniversary (buy it here, or click here for a preview), a fairly remarkable tidbit is casually mentioned. In a section on CMI, a screenshot of The Barbery Coast is featured alongside a revamped, HD version of the location with the following text:

Bill Tiller has recently been repainting some of the game's backgrounds in the hope of convincing Disney to release a new HD version of The Curse of Monkey Island for fans to explore.

This glimpse of the hi-def version is definitely appealing and unsurprisingly reminiscent of Tiller’s more recent adventure game work, although I question whether the spirit of Larry Ahern’s art direction really survives the choice to lose those pencil outlines. Like them or not, they are an elemental component of CMI’s look.

But whatever! The point here is that Bill Tiller has been redoing CMI backgrounds, and that’s headline news. I don’t know how successful he will be at getting Disney’s attention, but maybe the fans can help see this project through somehow. Godspeed, in any case.

I should also mention that there is another magazine spread on Monkey Island this month, published by Retro Gamer in their October issue. You’ll want to buy that too, surely.

It’s looking to be a big month for Monkey Island, which is marking its 30th anniversary. Whatever Limited Run Games has in store with their box set should be unveiled imminently, and a faucet of retrospectives is evidently opening for the occasion as well -- The Guardian published a courtly little piece in celebration, and Wireframe Magazine has a feature devoted to the series in its latest issue.

I would also encourage everyone to keep their eye on Craig Derrick’s Twitter feed. Just today he posted a photo of what looks to be the original acetate layers for the Secret of Monkey Island box:

More is no doubt to come, and if this was 2003 we’d probably be the best place to keep up with it all.

Now that the forums are back up, it’s time to loot them for news items. What did you guys think we restored that junkyard for? Thanks to Nacho for falling for the scheme and doing the legwork for us.

The first item comes from Noah Falstein’s Facebook, where he posted some Terryl Whitlatch concept art from his version of The Dig. Artwork from that version of the game remains relatively rare, so it’s always an event when a new piece turns up:

Falstein also came across an old design document for a never-made Ron game called The TimeFly. A photograph of the game proposal has been posted to Grumpy Gamer, and you can check it out below. Ron estimates it falls somewhere between Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island in the timeline:

David Fox has shared more information on the development of the original Rescue on Fractalus and its aborted sequel on his Twitter account.

Here's some fo what he had to say:

When #RescueOnFractalus launched in 1984, we held a big press conference at the Lucasfilm Ltd C Building Screening Room. We wanted to present only direct footage from the games, so produced this video which starts with 1:20 of VO and SFX only.

We did the same for Ballblazer, with 1:40 of VO/SFX.

Some reporters didn't believe this was actually playing on an Atari 800 at 60fps and peeked under the table, expecting to find a laserdisc player (there wasn't one). David Levine had it screaming fast.

The production didn't always go smoothly, but that made for a slicker final product:

So many delays meant more time to polish. We were ready to release our first games at January 1984 CES. Atari wanted to wait until June. Then in July Atari was sold to Tramiel. Deals changed, found new publisher, had to create disk versions.

Fox then goes into details on the sequel, sharing mock-up videos used to give an idea of how the final experience would have looked, as well as images from presentation and concept artwork. (All of which can't be easily linked to.).

Unfortunately, in the end it was the familiar story...

So, what happened to the game? Our team had multiple meetings at LucasArts with their president Darrell Rodriguez (@drod1000) (who was a huge fan of our old games), Craig Derrick (@craigderrick) (who produced Tales of Monkey Island series and MI special editions), and several other people... And then, as had happened many times before, there was a change of direction/focus dictated from the top. No more reboots of the old games. Focus on Star Wars. Darrell left, and the project died. We were all pretty devastated.

For the full story, read Fox's full Twitter thread. Thanks for sharing, David!

After I posted about the Craig Derrick tweet earlier, it was brought to my attention that he's also commented on the often-scuttled efforts of the LucasArts Heritage team. Since those efforts remain largely mysterious to us - all I'm aware of is that Handsome Halibut title that never got announced and an internal Day of the Tentacle special edition - it merits the notice of the front page when new tidbits emerge.

Which brings me to this Twitter thread in which David Fox mentions this:

We were deep in talks with Darrell Rodriguez to create an iPhone version of Rescue on Fractalus with the original team. And then LucasArts was ordered to change direction and focus on Star Wars and he was replaced. Sad.

It brings a warm feeling to know that there were folks at LEC at the time who even considered such a tribute to the studio's very first game. And based on Craig Derrick's reply, it wasn't the only cool project to get the axe when Darrell Rodriguez stepped down:

Many amazing projects, partnerships, and plans left when he did. I’m glad the remasters found a home after 2013, but there was some cool stuff coming — including the original 1313.

This is intriguing stuff. Not intriguing enough for me to actually start reading Twitter (so do keep referring such findings to us as you spot them) but it certainly sheds some light on what a lot of us assumed about the Rodriguez years: that a slate of projects acknowledging the studio's legacy was attempted, before the powers that be did what they do best. Sort of the Simon Jeffery era in turbo? Maybe what Derrick is up to these days represents an attempt to get this type of agenda cooking again. We send only the best voodoo his way if so.

Comments: 10 / Source: Twitter
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