Why play their games when you can read about them? Double Fine is turning twenty, and what better way to celebrate than to release a coffee-table book filled with concept art and (presumably) entertaining yarns? 20 Double Fine Years -- Jesus Christ, has it been that long? -- is available for pre-order in the US and the UK for $50 ($65 for the luxury "legend" edition) and will ship during the second quarter of next year. Run and buy.
Look: I'm not saying that Mixnmojo, small website though it may be, is in any way important to the universe at large...
I am, however, saying that the world went a bit topsy-turvy around the time Mixnmojo stopped marking Talk Like a Pirate Day, and I'll be damned if in this logic-free dimension of reality correlation doesn't imply causation. With that in mind, I'll now attempt to save the world by pulling a quote, at random, from a beloved mighty pirate. Ahem:
I once had a barber named Dominique.
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.
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.
Craig Derrick is undoubtedly the most vocal - if not the only - Monkey Island enthusiast still on Lucasfilm payroll. Around 2008-2011, he was part of a small group at LucasArts (the-so-called "Heritage" team) who were pushing to get legacy revivals and small, original games off the ground. All they managed to convince Scrooge to greenlight in the end were the (highly outsourced) Monkey Island special editions and Lucidity.
This team no doubt intended to keep going, but inevitably the higher-ups got wind that somebody was being paid to think about something other than Star Wars and consequently ordered all of these developers shot . A bullet-ridden Craig managed to crawl out of the mass grave and even more impressively survive the shuttering of LucasArts by the Disney acquisition; today he serves some nebulous executive role at Lucasfilm.
What Craig does over there is anybody's guess, but every now and then he'll say something on Twitter that seems designed to titillate fans of the company's adventure game properties, which he is clearly a champion of. We're grateful he exists, and hopefully our sometimes moody expression of that gratitude can be forgiven when LucasArts' history with this sort of thing is accounted for. The latest:
Considering that Limited Run Games plans to release their Monkey Island boxed set in October, I have a hard time believing this doesn't relate to that. Perhaps Craig is one of the main Lucasfilm folks interfacing with Limited Run Games on this effort, and there are some exciting details (like extras?) forthcoming. We'll just have to wait and see. Might I respectfully suggest the authentic inclusion of the original versions of the first two games, which the special editions nobly fell short of?