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Thimbleweed Park: A New Classic Point & Click Adventure FROM RON GILBERT! AND Gary Winnick

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Maniac Mansion was the first adventure game I ever completed and the game that made me an adventure game fan for life, so I definitely backed it (and once again, higher than I can afford). I'm really putting myself in debt for Kickstarters, but there's so many designers and artists I admire making Kickstarters these days I really feel I have to help out the cause.

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Backed it, it looks interesting. And as I say that, I realize that I haven't actually beaten Zak McKracken and Maniac Mansion. The shame.....

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I...

don't actually think I'll back this.

Which makes me sad. It seems like I'd be the target audience for this sort of thing, but I don't know how to feel about it. A mixture of emotions, I suppose.

1) It's cool that Ron Gilbert is making an adventure game again. It's obvious he's wanted to for some time.

2) I really don't like the nostalgia-grabbing style. I've no problem with pixel art - I use it myself and it's a fun limitation to work within, but nothing about the look of the game appeals to me. I always remember when a new LucasArts game was revealed the new art style was one of the most exciting things about it, the idea of walking around in this new, beautiful world. Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and so on - all pixellated but they don't look dated. This is brand new and it already looks dated. Not just graphics, but that big ol' verb thing taking up the bottom of the screen. Now, I've nothing against the verbs (although I tend to agree with Ron Gilbert himself when he says that they're not as important as they seem) and if throwback is what they're going for, fine. But I like to think that user interfaces have at least somewhat progressed in the last 25 years, so it just seems like a really self-conscious nostalgia-grab in this case. Not a deal breaker, but maybe not the game I'm looking for.

Or, in short: I don't think I want to play a game that's like 'discovering a long lost LucasArts adventure in a dusty old desk draw' or however they put it. I want to play the game they'd make right now. I'm nostalgic about those games because of how fresh and different they felt when I first played them.

3) I became incredibly annoyed by this passage in the pitch, which it's very difficult to read as anything other than a passive-aggressive jab at modern adventure games.

Why do we want to make Thimbleweed Park? Because we miss classic adventures and all their innocence and charm.

They were fun and would put a smile on your face. We want to make one of those again and we want to do it right. We don’t want to make a game “inspired by,” or “paying homage to” classic point & click adventures, we want to make a real classic point & click adventure.

Thimbleweed Park is a game for true lovers of adventure games. This is a Kickstarter for fans who loved Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, and everything else that made that era great. It strips away all the cruft built up over the years and is distilled down to what we loved about the genre.

Huhm. So much for us 'fake' lovers of adventure games that like the new stuff, too, eh? Also it's interesting that they'd use the word 'cruft' to describe things that modern adventure games have done, when that's the same word that Ron Gilbert in a not-so-old blog post used to describe verbs when he was talking about how he'd approach Monkey Island 3. It feels a bit cynical, a bit dishonest.

---

And it's not like I say this stuff blithely. It genuinely pains me not to be backing a project like this. I love adventure games, and Ron Gilbert was primarily responsible for the games that got me into the genre. I expect I'll buy it and play it when it's out. I hope that I'll even enjoy it.

But I just can't support this approach, this approach which seems wilfully unambitious in a way that those old games never were.

:/

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This is awesome. Without Ron Gilbert, adventure games would not have been what they were. I'd be hard pressed to find a more influential figure after Roberta Williams. He has certainly more than earned my support. Just waiting for payday.

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I just hope they keep it oldschool even if they get 1-2million dollars. I would rather have a longer game.

Old school pixel art is very sexy and pretty to me at least.

Its pretty impressive in the current kickstarter drought and resession, that Ron is already half way there in 2 days :)

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Its pretty impressive in the current kickstarter drought and resession, that Ron is already half way there in 2 days :)

I'd be pretty depressed if it wasn't the case. The adventure community owes Gilbert a huge debt of gratitude and what better way is there to show it than to help him keep making games.

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It'd be cool with me if they simply pocketed any money over 375k and used the scrum engine (perhaps updated to more platforms).

I mean, I'd rather they do that then try to get too fancy adding more people, time and tech to the process.

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It'd be cool with me if they simply pocketed any money over 375k and used the scrum engine (perhaps updated to more platforms).

Ron is a very competent programmer and already has his own engine that supports several platforms:

I already have a great engine that runs on iOS/Android/Mac/PC/Linux. It will do (just about) everything I'd need to make a adventure game or any other 2D game.

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I really don't like the nostalgia-grabbing style. I've no problem with pixel art - I use it myself and it's a fun limitation to work within, but nothing about the look of the game appeals to me. I always remember when a new LucasArts game was revealed the new art style was one of the most exciting things about it, the idea of walking around in this new, beautiful world. Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and so on - all pixellated but they don't look dated. This is brand new and it already looks dated. Not just graphics, but that big ol' verb thing taking up the bottom of the screen. Now, I've nothing against the verbs (although I tend to agree with Ron Gilbert himself when he says that they're not as important as they seem) and if throwback is what they're going for, fine. But I like to think that user interfaces have at least somewhat progressed in the last 25 years, so it just seems like a really self-conscious nostalgia-grab in this case. Not a deal breaker, but maybe not the game I'm looking for.

I think the old pixely art style and the old verb interface is VERY intentional. Obviously the art is dated. And I don't just mean it's "old school" because it's pixely. I mean it uses huge pixels and probably a fairly limited color palette. It is very deliberately supposed to look like something from 1987, in the worst way. You'll find no shortage of people who agree with you that the art style is "bland" and that the verb menu is a bad, outdated idea that we got rid of for very good reasons. But at the same time, there are people who still really really really want those things. Like 8 tracks! Who honestly still wants 8 tracks?! Some people do, though!

I became incredibly annoyed by this passage in the pitch, which it's very difficult to read as anything other than a passive-aggressive jab at modern adventure games.

(snip)

Huhm. So much for us 'fake' lovers of adventure games that like the new stuff, too, eh? Also it's interesting that they'd use the word 'cruft' to describe things that modern adventure games have done, when that's the same word that Ron Gilbert in a not-so-old blog post used to describe verbs when he was talking about how he'd approach Monkey Island 3. It feels a bit cynical, a bit dishonest.

I think you're taking it too seriously or maybe aren't picking up on Ron's humor. Have you ever read his blog? He puts on this Grumpy Gamer persona for fun and laughs, like he's a grumpy old man sitting in his underwear on the porch and waggling his cane at younger gamers/gamedevs as he yells at them. You should read the cynicism in those word choices more sarcastically. It's all for laughs. Ron is great guy.

which seems wilfully unambitious in a way that those old games never were.

I think "unambitious" is the whole point. They're not trying to do anything new and ambitious. They are 100% very deliberately recreating 98% of the wheel. The story and engine and so on will be different, but the appearance and gameplay will be completely and deliberately 1987.

If you think about all the people griping after Broken Age that it "wasn't a REAL old school adventure game like Monkey Island", then you know exactly who this kickstarter is gunning for. There are people who want all of that clunky old 1987 stuff, and Ron and Gary are happy to give it to them.

This looks to be a small, inexpensive project targeted at a highly specific group of people. I think they're gonna do just fine.

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It's nice to see that the campaign is doing fine. Although Gilbert & Winnick most probably would be able to collect even more without some devs enjoying to hurt crowd funding before. It seems like they're going back to the roots, so 1987 instead of 1992-1995. Hmm, i slightly favour an icon over a verb interface because icons look better and can involve some humour/game specific mood already but i'm fine with verbs too. No idea how relevant the gfx in the video are but they indicate that the game will care about inventory items and i'm looking forward to interesting items, combining them and trying out stuff. "Use yer flask with da TV."

I like direction with the MM/Zak gfx and i would go with a hardware restrictions driven palette for a authentic feeling (f.e. a well composed Amiga palette can look awesome but i guess they'll stay with VGA) and a more stylised look. Anyway, i'm hoping for a exciting, well written, humorous, more grown up/complex adventure with exploration and great nicely integrated puzzles. Finally and hopefully a game for the "real" adventure gamers amongst us.

As for the tiers, a DRM statement is missing and i would have balanced the tiers differently. Without calcs just from a feeling: a $20 entry level is good (+1 that there is no early bird bullshit), the $25 is nice too but i think a digital-all-in should be available for $50 already and a game box shouldn't exceed $100. Everything else on top then. You might argue that they did the math properly and you can value it as an collector's item. It would be more flexible if you could flag stuff on Kickstarter. But if you don't offer too much, it's still possible to keep things simple.

Goooooood luck!

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The game has five playable characters – including a cursed clown and a dead guy – and like in Maniac Mansion, you can switch between them at any time to solve interrelated puzzles. Each character has their own story that intertwines the others, and there are five different endings depending on how you work through the game and the choices you make.
And depending on who you play, time will not necessarily be linear. Somebody might be doing something a week before, or ten minutes from now that will affect what other people are doing, depending on where they are on the clock.

Now that's some complexity. The ambitious scope kind of reminds me of Hadean Lands, another recent puzzle focused adventure game.

It should really invoke that feeling you had playing those [classic] games, or more importantly, it should be how you remember those games looking, not how they actually looked.

Sounds a lot like Shovel Knight:

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2) I really don't like the nostalgia-grabbing style.

I see where you're coming from, but I think this project isn't a simple nostalgia-grabbing.

I can assure you that a good number of Italian gamers are complaining because their idea of "retro" is Monkey Island 1-2, they don't go back to Maniac and Zak. This is not a random modern developer who toys with the idea of retro, these are Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick imitating Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick. This is a very peculiar kind of nostalgia: they want to get back to their personal roots as much as the backers want to go back in time.

It's a parallel journey, they're sharing the journey with us. I think it's pretty sweet, I don't think this kickstarter will be detrimental to modern adventure games, it's far too extreme. And that's the reason I think it's fascinating. ;-)

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I really don't like the nostalgia-grabbing style. I've no problem with pixel art - I use it myself and it's a fun limitation to work within, but nothing about the look of the game appeals to me. I always remember when a new LucasArts game was revealed the new art style was one of the most exciting things about it, the idea of walking around in this new, beautiful world. Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and so on - all pixellated but they don't look dated. This is brand new and it already looks dated. Not just graphics, but that big ol' verb thing taking up the bottom of the screen. Now, I've nothing against the verbs (although I tend to agree with Ron Gilbert himself when he says that they're not as important as they seem) and if throwback is what they're going for, fine. But I like to think that user interfaces have at least somewhat progressed in the last 25 years, so it just seems like a really self-conscious nostalgia-grab in this case. Not a deal breaker, but maybe not the game I'm looking for.

I think the old pixely art style and the old verb interface is VERY intentional. Obviously the art is dated. And I don't just mean it's "old school" because it's pixely. I mean it uses huge pixels and probably a fairly limited color palette. It is very deliberately supposed to look like something from 1987, in the worst way. You'll find no shortage of people who agree with you that the art style is "bland" and that the verb menu is a bad, outdated idea that we got rid of for very good reasons. But at the same time, there are people who still really really really want those things. Like 8 tracks! Who honestly still wants 8 tracks?! Some people do, though!

I became incredibly annoyed by this passage in the pitch, which it's very difficult to read as anything other than a passive-aggressive jab at modern adventure games.

(snip)

Huhm. So much for us 'fake' lovers of adventure games that like the new stuff, too, eh? Also it's interesting that they'd use the word 'cruft' to describe things that modern adventure games have done, when that's the same word that Ron Gilbert in a not-so-old blog post used to describe verbs when he was talking about how he'd approach Monkey Island 3. It feels a bit cynical, a bit dishonest.

I think you're taking it too seriously or maybe aren't picking up on Ron's humor. Have you ever read his blog? He puts on this Grumpy Gamer persona for fun and laughs, like he's a grumpy old man sitting in his underwear on the porch and waggling his cane at younger gamers/gamedevs as he yells at them. You should read the cynicism in those word choices more sarcastically. It's all for laughs. Ron is great guy.

which seems wilfully unambitious in a way that those old games never were.

I think "unambitious" is the whole point. They're not trying to do anything new and ambitious. They are 100% very deliberately recreating 98% of the wheel. The story and engine and so on will be different, but the appearance and gameplay will be completely and deliberately 1987.

If you think about all the people griping after Broken Age that it "wasn't a REAL old school adventure game like Monkey Island", then you know exactly who this kickstarter is gunning for. There are people who want all of that clunky old 1987 stuff, and Ron and Gary are happy to give it to them.

This looks to be a small, inexpensive project targeted at a highly specific group of people. I think they're gonna do just fine.

1) If I'm not picking up the humour in the section you snipped out it's because, if it's there, it's really well disguised. I DO think it's patronising, and I'm not the only person to have said so.

2) I'm sure you're right that "unambitious" is the point. That's most likely how they intent to get a game out on a small budget. And that's fine. But the adventures I got excited about in the 90s were never unambitious. Even if they weren't doing anything particularly interesting with puzzle design (and let's face it, they rarely did) they were usually at least ambitious in style or scope or something. I haven't seen much to convince me this is.

3) I think you're also right in that a certain group of people will lap it up. And that it'll do fine. It's clearly doing fine. But again, related to 2) what got me excited whenever LucasArts announced a new adventure game was not the stuff that they're showing off here.

4) It's not specifically pixel, low colour art that I have a problem with. I love pixel art. I sometimes use it in my own games. I like working within limitations, as I think it's a good way to get a fix on a style, especially when on a limited budget. But all those old games felt so stylistic, so individual to me, that it feels like kind of a bummer that none of these screenshots have anything striking about them - to me, anyway. It's just Maniac Mansion style, again. Which is fine, which is intentional, and I'm sure some people will lap it up. But I think it's the most boring choice.

I'm just trying to explain why I can't back this, and yeah, some of it is just personal taste issue - I'm just not buying what they're selling. but some of it is genuinely because I feel like I'm being patronised by this pitch, and it isn't the first time I've felt like Ron has come across as dismissive of other people's work in the genre, whether intentionally or not.

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It's a parallel journey, they're sharing the journey with us. I think it's pretty sweet, I don't think this kickstarter will be detrimental to modern adventure games, it's far too extreme. And that's the reason I think it's fascinating. ;-)

To add to the above, and to be clear, I haven't said, and don't think that this game will be 'detrimental' to modern adventure games. My stance about all games is that there's a lot of room in here for games of all types. Broken Age Act 1 isn't going to destroy harder adventure games with more puzzles any more than The Walking Dead is going to destroy adventure games that are less linear and more puzzle/exploration based. And this game won't hurt other games, either.

I just a) personally don't find it very appealing, or fascinating, and b) do feel like it comes across, in the part of the pitch I quoted, as rather dismissive of other approaches to this sort of game. It's not terrible, but it's also not the first time I've thought this about the way Ron talks about other adventure games.

If it were just a), I might've given it a speculative punt. But b) has just about pushed me into feeling like I don't want to be involved territory. At least for the kickstarter. When it comes out, if it looks good, I'll probably buy it. Apart from anything else, I do like a good adventure game, and some games Ron made were totally formative for me, so of course I want the game to be good, and I want this to be successful. I'm just waiting.

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I think this project is just as ambitious as anything else Ron's done -- it's got quite a lot to do design-wise to succeed, and the lower-res will probably assist in designing all the unique "hand-crafted" adventure 'moments' we keep hearing about [the same way the super-fancy BA graphics probably make adding gameplay/content and iterating a ridiculous hard task). Hopefully that ambition will be in the puzzles/gameplay/exploration/story, since this will make some room for it?

I worry more that this is to sure-up Ron's career as "King of the Adventure Genre public speaker," or that the plot sounds a bit generic so far? I don't view the verbs as outdated mechanics at all (well, maybe this presentation of them is), so even if this is all being pushed as nostalgic, it's nice to see Ron revisit them and hopefully go on the offensive about some of these great, abandoned, features -- it's about time! Hell, maybe people will actually notice that "more verbs = more interaction = more content," or at least Ron's ten next conference speeches will be about that kinda stuff.

Not really what I'd expected from Ron at all though, I figured he'd have some considerably-bigger/sexier Disney project or something going.... this seems like several steps in the right direction? :D

Except he doesn't agree that more verbs are better. Only last year he said he would lose them if he was making Monkey Island 3 today. He called them "cruft" and said that while he likes them losing verbs was "not as scary as it sounds". So I don't understand why the purists hail him as some great saviour of old style adventure games. His views are far closer to my own on this specific topic.

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I think LucasArts came up with their best adventures in the 90s. Till then they went through an evolution whilst later on it turned into a devolution (best examples are Schafer's screwed up interfaces (and controls) in GF/The DFA). I favour a varied but icon based interface because it looks nicer to me, feels less like a text parser but also enables a certain level of complexity.

But regardless of this, the way i've understood things, Ron Gilbert more wants to go back to the very beginning (well, almost considering the icons for the items and the FM-Towns gfx). Text for inventory items would probably look too hardcore for many but verbs are still okay for most of the adventure gamers (at least you can easily differ between items and actions this way). Dunno it's not perfect but good enough for me and it might just be the right thing for this specific game. Ron Gilbert probably isn't a saint (i also doubt that saints are making good adventures) and i guess you've also said contradicting things, due to many different reasons, in your life already.

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I think LucasArts came up with their best adventures in the 90s. Till then they went through an evolution whilst later on it turned into a devolution (best examples are Schafer's screwed up interfaces (and controls) in GF/The DFA). I favour a varied but icon based interface because it looks nicer to me, feels less like a text parser but also enables a certain level of complexity.

But regardless of this, the way i've understood things, Ron Gilbert more wants to go back to the very beginning (well, almost considering the icons for the items and the FM-Towns gfx). Text for inventory items would probably look too hardcore for many but the verbs might still be okay for most of the adventure gamers (at least you can easily differ between items and actions this way). Dunno it's not perfect but good enough for me. Ron Gilbert probably isn't a saint (i also doubt that saints are making good adventures) and i guess you've also said contradicting things in your life already.

You misunderstand me (as usual). People always think that because I enjoy certain approaches I must dislike other approaches and that's not the case. I like old adventure games, new ones, in-betweeny ones and there's room for all of them.

If he wants to make a very self-consciously retro adventure game, cool. I'll look forward to seeing how that turns out! But it's not something I want to pay money to help make happen, and I didn't like the way they framed the pitch, which turned my slight wariness into a decision firmly not to back.

This is not a judgement of someone who does decide to back. There is only one time when I have wished for a Kickstarter to fail, and that's when I had a genuine beef with the creator. I sincerely hope that everyone who backs, and plenty here will, have a great time with it.

What I will say, right now, is if this turns into a this game vs Broken Age conversation in a year's time, you can expect me to get extremely grumpy about this. These are two designers returning to adventure games after a long time, both with different ideas of what the most interesting way to do that would be, and it's not a contest. I have a tentative preference which I've expressed, but there's no imperative here.

The first person to say this is the game Broken Age "should" have been will receive the full force of my mightiest eye-roll.

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This is the game Broken Age "should" have been

Ahh, i couldn't resist. :o)

Well, let's put it this way, i guess people like me are hoping for certain aspects in this game (fun, complexity, humour, puzzles, exploration, interesting characters, ...[uhh, how many times have i written this already?]) which the first episode of The DFA just couldn't deliver. If Gilbert is able to come up with some of these ingredients, i give a fuck about the interface (or this rather horrible colour gradient in the background).

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