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Preview: Grumpy Gamer

Grumpy Gamer



Ron Gilbert's often incoherent and bitter ramblings about the Game Industry



Last Build Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:08:13 -0800

 



Don't fall down

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:02:00 -0800

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How a skier managed to compete at the Olympics despite not being very good

It's a fascinating read and oddly inspirational.

I wonder if this should be my new philosophy for making games: "Make a game and don't fall down."







Micro-post

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 12:35:45 -0800

This is why I'll never go to Disneyland. I don't consider this "enhancing" my ride experience. I find it creepy and invasive. It's not that I'm bothered by Disney tracking me through the park, it's that I don't want my name thrown up on a screen for everyone to see. That is a violation of my privacy.




Micro-post

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 14:22:31 -0800

Pro-tip for new indie devs: Your hardest game will be your second game.




Happy Valentine's Day

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 09:02:00 -0800

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Thimbleweed Park Vinyl

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 14:02:00 -0800

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If your parent's old turntable is gathering dust in the basement, oh boy do I have an awesome use for it!

Also worth noting that vinyl will likely still be playable after the apocalypse. MP3s. Not so much. Think of it as an investment in bartering for food in the future.

BUY NOW




Micro-post

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 10:42:24 -0800

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Micro-post

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 17:14:49 -0800

What other Ron Gilberts around the world are doing.




Micro-post

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 16:51:48 -0800

There are three groups of people I really hate: Grammar Nazis, Password Nazis, and actual Nazis.




BBEdit

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 16:02:00 -0800

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I'm a big fan of BBEdit, as a Mac user, it's my text editor of choice for all but Xcode/C++ programming.

David, Jenn, and I used BBEdit on Thimbleweed Park. I even created a custom syntax coloring scheme for our proprietary language and David added some great keyword based auto expansions.

It's feature rich and has everything a coder could want. Except for one thing and it drives me crazy to the point that each time I need to do it, it puts a stain on what is by all other accounts, a perfect editing experience.

In Xcode, I can select a word (or words), right click on it and the pop-up menu shows this.

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It's my bread-and-butter for searching.

I can't do this in BBEdit. The closest I can come is selecting the word, then hitting ⌘-E to Use Selected Text In Find, then ⌘-G to bring up the Search In Project window and click on Find.

This is cumbersome as it requires me to move my hands to the keyboard. (yes, I know super programmers only use the keyboard, but clearly, not all of us do).

If I could get BBEdit to add just one thing, it would be this. Then it would be perfect.

During Thimbleweed Park I wasted several afternoons trying to hack this in with macros, etc.

P.S. To head off the griping/astonishment I get whenever I post a screenshot of my text editor... yes, I enjoy programming with a light/white background. But only for C++. For other languages (in BBEdit), I use a dark/black background. As I am switching between the two all day long, I find my brain needs to strong visual distinction to differentiate the two.




Statistics Question

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 10:01:00 -0800

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I took a statistics class in college, but I didn't pay much attention due to never seeing a need for the knowledge. Much of my education is like this: "Why the hell would I ever need this", only to find out years later that I desperately needed it (yeah, I'm talking to you, high school algebra).

Thimbleweed Park is out on seven different digital stores and each of them has a completely different way of reporting sales. It's time-consuming and frustrating to download each sales report once a month and hand massage the data into a useable format.

I spent the last few days writing a python script to take all the data and move it into a single SQL database so I could quickly query tons of useful information.

SELECT countries.country, SUM(sales.units_sold) AS units_sold
FROM sales JOIN countries
ON sales.country_code = countries.country_code
WHERE units_sold > 0
GROUP BY sales.country_code
ORDER BY units_sold DESC

One thing I want to know is an "average" units/day for each store, so I can keep an eye on long-term trends. Sounds easy, except for sales and promotions happening all-to-often, and they produce huge spikes in the data that I don't care about. I just want to see an average for average non-sale days and I don't want to go in and remove the sale ranges as sometimes they happen without my knowledge.

I'm looking for a way to take an average that removes spikes that are well above the average. This doesn't have to be in SQL, that computation will most likely happen in a spreadsheet, or could happen in the report generation if it's too complex.

Maybe this isn't possible, but I figured I'd ask.




Micro-post

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 08:01:00 -0800

If your website is full of assholes, it's your fault

"Our communities are defined by the worst things that we permit to happen. What we allow tells the world who we are."




Quentin Tarantino's Star Trek gets its first trailer

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 16:01:00 -0800

class='youtube' width='595' height='385' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/v3Nv2R9Acec?rel=0&fs=1&hd=1' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen>

In all seriousness, I hope the rumors are true. I might actually see a Star Trek movie again.




Micro-post

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:59:47 -0800

The best way to train a neural network is with a combination of reward and punishment.




Friday Questions #3

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:01:00 -0800

Yay, it's time for the answers to last Friday's Questions. I'm posting them a little early because I'm going skiing tomorrow. Yay! Skiing!Let's get moving before global warming melts all the snow.Romulus: What your programming environment looks like? Headphones and music while doing? How you divide your time between making games and living "real life" ?I work on a Mac exclusively. When I need to compile a Windows or Linux build, I start up a VM. I can't listen to music while I program, I need complete quiet. When I write, music is helpful. Dividing my life between making games and real life is a struggle. I need to leave the house to fully disconnect. In the winters, I go skiing. I'm off skiing today.Giorgio Novelli: Why did you leave Lucasfilm? I never found a satisfying answer on the internet and it still kind of haunts and confuses me.I had worked at Lucasfilm for 8 years and learned a lot, not just about game design and programming, but also marketing, PR, and production and I felt like I needed to try it all for myself. I also had the idea of making adventure games for kids. I floated it by Lucasfilm Games and they weren't interested. It feels like the confusing thing for a lot of people about me leaving comes from them thinking I was leaving an amazingly successful franchise and why would I do that? That's because, at the time, Monkey Island wasn't. It sold well, but not amazingly well. Sierra Online was selling 10x the copies we were and it's was only 20 years later that Monkey Island has taken on this almost mythic nature in people's memories. That wasn't true back then. PiecesOfKate: Considering the potential benefits of social media (such as Twitter) for promoting a game, versus your personal dislike of those channels - if you were to make another game would you rejoin, or avoid it? For clarity I'm referring to a personal Ron Gilbert presence, not the game brand.I've thought about this a lot. If I was just releasing a new game, I don't think I would need to come back, but if I was doing a Kickstarter, it would be really hard to not leverage social media.Gustavo: Hi Ron. I have always wondered about the "Extra 5 USD for Guilt Absolution" tier on the Kickstarter campaign that I and 3047 other people choose. Where did that idea come from? Did you expect to have so many people voluntarily choose to pay 5 USD more than the "standard" tier?I don't remember who came up with this, but we knew it was going to be popular, and if not popular, then funny.Nathan: Given the engine and assets of TWP, would a sequel be significantly cheaper / quicker to produce?I don't think it would. The engine didn't add that much to the development time and cost. Maybe 20%, but saving 20% isn't significant and that savings would get eaten up in engine enhancements and me wanting to do more artistically with the presentation. Holding true to the spirit of Maniac Mansion (dollhouse view, no close-ups or cinematic presentation (think about the difference between Maniac Mansion and DotT)) saved us a lot. We could make a new game cheaper if it had the same look and feel, but that isn't creatively interesting for me. If I do another point-and-click, I want to push what a point-and-click can be, but still staying true to the form.LostTrainDude: Where do you think improvement and evolution lie in the future of adventure games, considering their heavily-scripted nature? Is it in technology or in better design? What is it that you would like to see in an adventure game and didn't yet? This discussion rises from my curiosity in Chris Crawford's work on Interactive Storytelling (which you may be familiar with as well).The future of interactive nar[...]



A better Steam

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 14:01:00 -0800

I was in the middle of writing a post about how to start a better online game store than Steam when Lars Doucet posted his, which is a much much better than mine was going to be, so I deleted it. There was also about an hour of pouting, but that's over now.




Micro-post

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 17:04:57 -0800

This sucks. The Awl was one of my favorite sites.




Favorite Game Dev Blogs?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 09:01:00 -0800

In my relentless pursuit of ditching shithole social media and re-powering my RSS feeds, last week I asked for readers favorite Programming Blogs, this week I'd like to ask for favorite Game Dev blogs.

Currently, I follow:

Fortress of Doors
game design aspect of the month
INTELLIGENT ARTIFICE
Lost Garden
Raph Koster
The Ludologist
Zen of Design
Sir Tap Tap
Critical Distance

Feels like Game Dev blogs aren't updated as much as programming blogs. Not sure what that means, so let's go with game designers are lazy. Like any good scientist, I'll make the data fit.




Micro-post

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 11:01:00 -0800

The number one question you should ask when designing your Loot Box system is: is this fair? and the second: is this fun?




Friday Questions #2

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 08:01:00 -0800

A lot of good questions this week, I'll chock that up to being the first week. I might do a bonus post on Wednesday answering some of the ones I couldn't get to, and of course, there is next week to eagerly look forward to. Let's get going...Let's start off with Octavi. I wonder where I know that name from?Octavi: When making any kind of artistic work we know there's always a disappointingly huge difference between our first idea and the end result: which one of your games you'd say it's the most faithful to your original vision?None of them. I've mentioned this before, but the creative process is a messy process and everything I've done has changed significantly from idea to finished game. I can't think of an idea that ended up being something horribly distorted from my original idea (or maybe I just blocked it out). I don't tend to work with publishers, so I've never had a 3rd party come in and take my idea in a direction I disagreed with. The important lesson for anyone making something is: don't be afraid to let your idea evolve during production, even radically. There is no prize for stubbornly sticking to your vision.Romulus: When deciding on 2D vs 3D was money the only factor? We all know 3D sucks eh? Also, how you decided what were the components required on the engine? Based on your previous scumm experience?To start off, I don't dislike 3D, it's just not something I have the skill set to do at a reasonable level of quality. 3D is more expensive, but it's not massively more expensive if you make good tech and artistic choices. I'd love to make a true point-and-click adventure in real 3D (not that fake 2D/3D). I don't think anyone's done it well yet, and it would be a fascinating challenge. But my tech skills are in 2D, so I would need to partner up with someone who had good 3D chops. The problem is finding that person. They need to share a vision and passion with me and not just be a work-for-hire gig.Jensan: Could you see yourself coding a C64 game from scratch in 2018? If so, what type of game?Oh god no! Don't get me wrong, I love the C64, but I'm too used to modern tools and platforms. Only 2G of free RAM! WTF!Kim Jørgensen: What was the best and worst design decision for TWP?Best: Having a hard and easy mode. When I did it for Monkey Island 2, it was more of a joke than anything else, but in today's more casual/grown-up world, I think it was greatly appreciated by a lot of players with less time than they had as kids.Worst: I wish we would have had custom responses for every verb and object in the first few rooms of the game. Players were just getting used to the interface and mechanic and default responses threw people off sometimes. We couldn't realistically do this for the entire game, but we could have done a better job of setting the mood without misleading expectations.Bonus: Not shipping with a hint system. We fixed this in an update, but it should have been part of the release. I fought against it for most of the project, and I was wrong.Yrface: If you were to punish a visitor for unauthorized copyright infringement of your website, how/who would administer the punishment?Me. Human dismemberment is a hobby of mine.Jon N/A: Hey Ron. There used to be posts here - "excerpts" from a novel you have *not* been writing. I loved those! I found them hilarious and very inventive. Would you put them back up again? And better yet, write more of those?Those were part of a daily writing exercise I used to do in the mornings. I would sit down with a pad and paper and just start writing, neve[...]



Micro-post

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 11:01:00 -0800

One advantage of indie game dev is weekday skiing.

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Micro-post

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 17:01:00 -0800

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Nothing more disappointing than rushing to Steam to purchase a game and be greeted with this. And no, I'm not going to install a VM to play games that are Windows only. I just won't be able to play them. 😞




Game Informer 2017 Adventure Game Of The Year Awards

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 13:01:00 -0800

I knew a lot of people would hate the ending, but a lot of people love it as well. I don't find things everyone loves very interesting. They tend to be boring and not tell me much. The ending of Thimbleweed Park doesn't come out of nowhere. It's kind of the whole point of the game (and before the game). It only bugs me when people call the ending lazy. It was very purposeful and anything but lazy. You can call it stupid, dumb, pointless, or anything else, but don't call it lazy. Of course, hating my endings is nothing new.

Gameinformer 2017 Adventure Game Of The Year Awards

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Best Ending – Thimbleweed Park
This homage to older adventure games pokes fun at the genre as well as embraces it. Thimbleweed Park feels new and nostalgic at the same time, and it has one of the best endings we've seen this year. Seeing how just the story wraps up and how it takes its self-aware jokes to crazy levels, makes this a wild ride.




Favorite Programming Blogs?

Sun, 07 Jan 2018 13:01:00 -0800

As I abandon Twitter and other forms of corporate social media, I am diving back into RSS and blog feeds. My RSS list is quite old and there are a depressingly large number of websites that haven't been updated in years. To get started, I'm looking for good programming blogs. Currently, I follow:

Blobs in Games
Coding Horror
pagetable.com
Prog Stuff
DEV

I'd love to find some more. I primarily program in c++, so I'm not too interested in blogs focused on Java or Swift unless they also have good general programming articles.




Escape the room in a box

Sat, 06 Jan 2018 17:01:00 -0800

I've never played a real-world escape the room game. I still haven't, but last night we played an escape the room in a box game. It was fun, but also a little odd. I'm not sure how the real-world ones work, but this in-a-box one feels like a poorly designed adventure game. That's not a bad thing, it's a different type of game under very different constraints, so I give it a big pass. It was also fun, and that's what's actually important. I also don't know that I could do better, but hey! This is the Grumpy Gamer blog.

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We finished the game with 22:50 left on the timer. Not that I'm bragging.







Friday Questions

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 10:01:00 -0800

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Hey, it's time for Friday Questions*, but since I've never done this before on Grumpy Gamer, there are no questions to answer, so you have a week to ask some. If you have a question, put it in the comments below and I'll pick 4 or 5 and answer them with a stark honesty that will amaze you. Questions can be about anything, but please keep them game or game industry related. Please don't ask the same questions I've answered a hundred times in a hundred different online interviews. Unlike the Thimbleweed Park Friday questions, these will be answered in old-fashion text-a-reno.

* Friday Questions can be canceled at any time due to lack of interest. Both yours and mine.




Micro-post

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 09:01:00 -0800

David Letterman was the only late night talk show I watched (recorded on my VCR) and I loved it. I think I mesh well with Letterman's dry humor and I'm really excited about his new Netflix show. I'm glad it's coming out once a month and not 12 episodes at the same time that everyone will just binge-watch and forget.




Unit Testing Games

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 17:01:00 -0800

It's not uncommon for me to get asked on Twitter (when I was active there) why we don't unit test games? They would mention how they work in blah blah industry and do unit testing all the time and it's virtually eliminated the need for human testers. They then go on to call me a jerk face and tell me I make stupid games.OK, I made up that last part, but sometimes it feels like they said it.It does bring up an interesting question. Why don't we unit test games like you would other software? I can't speak for others, but for me, it just isn't that useful.What is unit testing you ask? It's basically where you write programs that feed data (sometimes random data) into program's functions or modules and make sure you get the expected results or proper errors. That's an oversimplification, but you get the idea.Unit testing texture or asset loading can be useful, as is unit testing many other backend engine routines like memory managers, but that's just not where most (and by that I mean 99%) of the bugs comes from.Most of the bugs in a game (or at least my games) come from users doing stuff, and not stupid stuff, but normal expected stuff and the game logic just being wrong. This is really really hard to unit test and the failure states are hard to identify. src='//player.vimeo.com/video/170316769' width='640' height='360' frameborder='0' webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen>For Thimbleweed Park, we had the TesterTron 3000™ that randomly played the game for hours on end. This was useful in that it found occasional crash bugs, but it wasn't very good at finding game logic bugs because, after an overnight run, it was hard to spot that something had gone wrong 6 hours ago. This is especially hard if the logic issue was very room-local and hard to spot later.TesterTron had a mode where it would jump into each room one-by-one and this was useful in catching missing assets or bad packaging.But we encounter a lot of bugs where the game works fine, but something is just visually wrong. The Sheriff picks up the phone and his animation isn't aligned correctly. Or worse, it's not aligned correctly only after he's also open the jail door. Or Delores stands in the just the right spot and she clips into the desk.I just don't know how to realistically unit test this stuff. It's possible, but the cost and effort involved would quickly outweigh the benefits. We're not making flight software for 777s. No one of going to die or lose their entire bank balance because of our bugs. We're not writing enterprise level software, we're making video games and the cost of most of our bugs are negligible compared to monitoring a nuclear reactor.It's not that we don't care, we care a lot. One of the largest expenses in Thimbleweed Park were testers.I say "most of our bugs", but not all. Post Thimbleweed Park launch, we did discover some bugs that caused players to lose progress and these are very painful to us.We fix them as fast as possible and release a new build, but with each of them, I don't know how unit testing would have helped. We had a problem on the PS4 where savegame data would get corrupt due to threading. We could have built a stress tester for this, but that's all 20/20 hindsight. I can think of 100 other places that worked fine and without that hindsight, w[...]



Micro-post

Wed, 03 Jan 2018 17:48:03 -0800

New rules for Settlers of Catan




Micro-post

Wed, 03 Jan 2018 10:01:00 -0800

If you're wondering why Thimbleweed Park isn't anywhere to be seen in the IGF awards, it's because we didn't submit it. I have some issues with the IGF. The IGF doesn't do this, but I also won't submit to any awards that make you pay just to be considered (BAFTAs, DICE). Awards are basically cool-kid popularity contests and often have nothing to do with how good the game actually is. This is also true for movies and music. The academy award isn't the best movie, it's the best movie made by people academy voters think are cool or "in".

Update: apparently you do have to pay to be considered for the IGF awards... it's only $80, but still.




Waldschattenspiel

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 11:01:00 -0800

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Waldschattenspiel is one of the best board games I've ever played.

The gist of the game is you place wooden trees on the board, then one player hunts the other players (dwarves) using a tea candle. The candle cast light that creates deep shadows behind the trees, which is where the other players hide. It's surprisingly effective, spooky and even (actually) scary.

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The game is a little unbalanced in favor of the dwarves (the hiders), but I don't think that distracts at all. Originally it was designed as a kids game, with the parent playing the hunter with the candle, so that makes a little sense.

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If you play it, make sure the room is very dark. While playing one of the dwarves, I could feel my heart rate rise as the candle moves around threatening to reveal my position. If the room is pitch black, the player playing the hunter can't see the dwarves at all, so becomes much more than a game where you're arguing the technicality of if the dwarf was in shadow or not.




Roll for the Galaxy

Mon, 01 Jan 2018 15:01:00 -0800

A review I read before buying Roll for the Galaxy said it was much simpler than Race for the Galaxy. That's not true at all, but I do think the dice and other elements make it a better game than Race for the Galaxy.

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2018 Goals

Mon, 01 Jan 2018 09:01:00 -0800

As a little kid growing up in the 1970s, 2018 seems like an unimaginable future. Moon bases and rocket ships. It didn't quite turn out the way 8-year-old Ronnie imagined. Some ways better. Some ways worse. I'm not sure my life turned out the way I imagined. Some ways better some. Some ways worse.2017 was the year Thimbleweed Park came out. It was also the year a dipshit narcissistic asshole became president. I would gladly trade Thimbleweed Park for a mentally stable president. And so should you.But enough reminiscing and fostering armed rebellion... it's on to 2018.I've never been the kind of person that does New Year's Resolutions. Like 99% of all people, I just forget about them a month later and have now decided to be honest with myself and stop making them. So let's call these "goals" for 2018. It's also worth noting that these are just my professional and career goals. My personal goals are another whole can of worms that I won't be sharing on the damn internet.Let's get going...● Play more gamesYeah, I can't say enough about this one. I hardly play any video games. 2016-2017 were busy years for me, but deep down I know that is just an excuse. At the end of the workday, I'm burnt out and I just don't want to play games, they always feel more like work than relaxation. It's also really hard for me to play a game without deconstructing it and that saps a lot of the enjoyment away.I did play Golf Story for many many hours until rage quitting (more on that in a future post). I quite enjoyed West of Loathing as well (no rage quitting). But besides a few mobile games to waste some time, I didn't really play anything else.I hear from friends about all the games they played and I wonder "where do you find all the time?" Well, all that is going to change in 2018, and now that my blog is fully operational, I hope to write about what I'm playing. And I promise not to just bitch about them.Then again... maybe I don't enjoy playing games. That's a terrifying thought.● Do a Twitch steamI've always wanted to do this. I doubt it will be a gameplay stream, I am way too quiet when playing games. When I watch Streamers, I marvel at how they can talk non-stop while playing. When I play games, I get very quiet and contemplative. I don't tend to "think out loud."What I'd like to do is a programming Stream. I joked about adding floppy disk sounds to Thimbleweed Park when it's loading data, so my goal is to stream me implementing that. Streaming from a Mac is a little harder, but I'm sure I can figure it out.● Give a talkI really hate giving talks. It's not stage fright, it's more that I over prepare and end up spending months writing the talk and stressing about it. It's just not a good use of my time, so I tend to avoid it.Also, when most people ask me to talk, it usually about Monkey Island or some retro topic. I really don't want to only be known as "the guy that created Monkey Island and made point-and-click games" and that's all anyone wants to hear me talk about. It would depress me greatly if that was actually the truth.So my 2018 goal is to give a talk about a non-monkey-island-point-and-click t[...]



Micro-post

Sun, 31 Dec 2017 16:06:18 -0800

Whenever I sign up for a website and it asks me for my birthday, I always enter Jan 1, 1901. This cause two things to happen. 1) On New Years day I get a stream of happy birthday wishes from websites I rarely visit. 2) Chris Remo always wishes me a happy 116th birthday.




My 2017 Year in Review

Thu, 28 Dec 2017 11:12:00 -0800

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I released a game on eight platforms and didn't die in the process. Isn't that all we can ask for?




Micro-post

Wed, 27 Dec 2017 20:04:15 -0800

You'd think RSS feeds would be simple, but they are anything but. One of the most frustrating things with online readers is they are often cached, so it takes hours to tell if your feed is being digested or not. Feedly stop reading my RSS and I don't know why.




Giving up on MongoDB

Wed, 27 Dec 2017 14:12:00 -0800

Part of quitting Twitter necessitate rebuilding Grumpy Gamer. The Thimbleweed Park dev blog was based on the Grumpy Gamer blog code, but I'd made a lot of improvements that I loathed losing, but even the Thimbleweed Park blog code was starting to feel old and worn.

It was time to start over, and by start over, I mean completely start over. I crave change. When I find myself in a rut, or lacking motivation, I strive to change as much as I can to spark my imagination.

Writing a new blogging platform from the ground up (again) was what I needed. It's not rocket science, which is exactly what I needed.

My first decision was what to do about the database. The old-old Grumpy Gamer blog used MySQL, but when I rebuilt that into the old Grumpy Gamer blog I became fascinated with MongoDB. I'd worked a lot in a structured database, and the unstructured nature of MongoDB was enticing. Need a new data column? Just write to one.

MySQL was feeling very heavy, MongoDB felt light and fast.

Three years later, I am back to MySQL and I can arbute that to two things:

1) The lack of a web based tool to quickly manage and query the DB. There are web based tools, but none of them (that I found) can display your data in anything that resembles a table to quick scanning and editing. Any time I needed to "massage" the DB outside the blogging admin tools, I dreaded it.

2) The MongoDB query language is a mess. You're basically constructing JSON/Javascript queries and it just reeks of being wedged into that format. SQL might not be much better, but at least I know it well.

After a few years with MongoDB, I'm also realizing that I was incorrect in one of my initial assumptions: MongoDB is no faster than MongoDB and the footprint on the server is about the same.

I'm sure MongoDB is better for certain tasks, and MySQL for others, but it largely comes down to what you know and what your comfortable with. For me, that was SQL.

P.S. I don't like that MySQL is owned by Oracle, but I'm not sure I want to make the jump into PostgreSQL. Maybe the next time I'm feeling bored and unmotivated.




Micro-post

Tue, 26 Dec 2017 17:00:48 -0800

I'm still waiting for Animal Crossing to come to the Switch.




Micro-post

Sun, 24 Dec 2017 09:12:00 -0800

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The Twelve Days of Crunch Time

Sat, 23 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

Clayton and I did this back in Dec of 2004. Interesting how much hasn't changed. I might have more "male" spouses now, something about loot crates, and maybe change the last verse to be more "indie", but it's shockingly accurate 13 years later.

The Twelve Days of Crunch Time

A poem by Gilbert and Kauzlaric

On the twelfth day of crunch time,My project gave to me...

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Twelve cents in royalties,

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Eleven kiss-ass previews,

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Ten nerdy testers,

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Nine patent lawsuits,

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Eight unplanned for features,

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Seven frames a second,

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Six angry spouses,

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Five focus groups!

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Four unstable hacks,

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Three days without sleep,

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Two surly artists,

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and a crappy publishing deal.




Mastodon

Fri, 22 Dec 2017 12:57:36 -0800

You can find me on Mastodon and follow me there, if you want. It's 100% optional (at least until the GOP 2018 tax bill is in effect).

I'll give it a few weeks, but I'm not sure it really solves my issues with social media. I guess it depends on how many people use it. Not enough and it's boring and pointless. Too many and it's Twitter all over again.

I do think Maston has a huge "on boarding" problem. It's very confusing and the idea of separate instances just makes it worse. My name (grumpygamer) is only unique on my server, anyone else can create that username on any number of servers and there is no way for you to know.

I think this is a recipe for disaster. It would have been nice if they had created some kind of repository for usernames. I know this goes against the "distributed" nature of the service, but to all but the technically elite, it's confusing. Mastodon even recommends using keybase to verify your identity, that's a nice idea, but why isn't it built into the service? How many people even know what keybase is?

How do I find people? Is there a central place to search for users? If there is, I can't (easily) find it. I wasn't even sure the url for link to my account, I just guessed. This should be on my account page. Discovery is going to be a issues.




Micro-post

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800

Today is the winter solstice, my favorite day of the year. It will be the darkest day of the year and that's OK by me. I'm a winter person, not a summer person. I like the cold and I like the dark. It feels cozy. The summers in Seattle can be light until 9:30pm, in the winters, it's getting dark at 4:30pm. I also like Christmas, not for the joy of giving, peace on Earth and all that rubbish, but because of Christmas lights and they work best at night. I wish it was night all the time and everyone had Christmas lights up year round. But that's just me. You're free to be wrong.




Vacation 2017

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 17:12:00 -0800

Went on vacation a few weeks ago. Everyone loves vacation photos, so I thought I'd share mine...

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Grumpy Gamer v3

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 10:12:00 -0800

Welcome to the all new Grumpy Gamer Blog!It has all of the content from the old blog minus the stupid stuff. I removed a lot of the old posts teasing the lead up to my new games like The Cave, Scurvy and, of course, Thimbleweed Park. They were just noise.Now that Thimbleweed Park is done and I won't be blogging there as much, it felt like I needed a new outlet to gripe and complain.Also, for the most part, I am leaving Twitter.It's a hostile crap-filled dumpster-fire of shit. I stopping checking and posting on Twitter a few weeks ago while I was on vacation and I realized how much better my life was. When I got back, I had no real desire to go back, so I haven't.And no one has noticed.Twitter is like an F2P game, they both tap into a horrible part of our lizard brain. F2P games trigger dopamine associated with gambling and the become an addition. You aren't playing them because you enjoy the game, you're playing them because you're addicted. You are just convincing yourself you're having (true) fun,Twitter (and social media in general) is the same. You're addicted to likes, followers, and mentions. People have found the best way to get the proceeding is to post angry shit and enrage people. As we are seeing, this is not good for us as people, or us as a society. I'm tired of it and I'm not going to be a part of it anymore, at least until it (or we) change.I do worry about staying connected to what is happening in the world of making a game. It seems like Twitter is a good place to do that, but it's also filled with hype and egos and bitching and probably not the "best way" to stay in touch.The final straw for quitting Twitter was when I got back from vacation, there was a Twitter thread about Monkey Island being ranking 172 of the best games ever by some big website. My mentioned were filled with people dumping shit on the website and expecting me to jump in. Look... I don't care. It is of no importance to me where Monkey Island falls on some list. Lists are made by people and people have different opinions.It just struck me how much pointless anger there was, and worse, they expected me to join in.I. Just. Don't. Care. I'm done.If you are on Twitter and want to know what's up with Thimbleweed Park (including the new Ransome unbeeped DLC), please follow @thimbleweedpark.There are no comments on the new Grumpy Gamer blog. I haven't decided if I'm going to add them or not.Update: 1) There are comments on the Grumpy Gamer Blog now. 2) New blog posts will be echoed to Twitter, but I won't be logging on, so I won't see your replies or likes.[...]



Micro-post

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 18:00:00 -0800

Be skeptical of the advice of successful people, they suffer from deep survivor bias. Hundreds of other people did exactly what they did and failed. Chances are their success has more to do with luck than the advice they are given you.




Happy Birthday Monkey Island

Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:09:00 -0700

I guess Monkey Island turns 25 this month. It's hard to tell.Unlike today, you didn't push a button and unleash your game to billions of people. It was a slow process of sending "gold master" floppies off to manufacturing, which was often overseas, then waiting for them to be shipped to stores and the first of the teaming masses to buy the game.Of course, when that happened, you rarely heard about it. There was no Internet for players to jump onto and talk about the game.There was CompuServe and Prodigy, but those catered to a very small group of very highly technical people.Lucasfilm's process for finalizing and shipping a game consisted of madly testing for several months while we fixed bugs, then 2 weeks before we were to send off the gold masters, the game would go into "lockdown testing". If any bug was found, there was a discussion with the team and management about if it was worth fixing. "Worth Fixing" consisted of a lot of factors, including how difficult it was to fix and if the fix would likely introduce more bugs.Also keep in mind that when I made a new build, I didn't just copy it to the network and let the testers at it, it had to be copied to four or five sets of floppy disk so it could be installed on each tester's machine. It was a time consuming and dangerous process. It was not uncommon for problems to creep up when I made the masters and have to start the whole process again. It could take several hours to make a new set of five testing disks.It's why we didn't take getting bumped from test lightly.During the 2nd week of "lockdown testing", if a bug was found we had to bump the release date. We required that each game had one full week of testing on the build that was going to be released. Bugs found during this last week had to be crazy bad to fix.When the release candidate passed testing, it would be sent off to manufacturing. Sometimes this was a crazy process. The builds destined for Europe were going to be duplicated in Europe and we needed to get the gold master over there, and if anything slipped there wasn't enough time to mail them. So, we'd drive down to the airport and find a flight headed to London, go to the gate and ask a passenger if they would mind carry the floppy disks for us and someone would meet them at the gate.Can you imagine doing that these days? You can't even get to the gate, let alone find a person that would take a strange package on a flight for you. Different world.After the gold masters were made, I'd archive all the source code. There was no version control back then, or even network storage, so archiving the source meant copying it to a set of floppy disks.I made these disk on Sept 2nd, 1990 so the gold masters were sent off within a few days of that. They have a 1.1 version due to Monkey Isl[...]



Thimbleweed Park Dev Blog

Fri, 20 Feb 2015 10:10:00 -0800

If you're wondering why it's so quiet over here at Grumpy Gamer, rest assured, it has nothing to do with me not being grumpy anymore.

The mystery can be solved by heading on over to the Thimbleweed Park Dev Blog and following fun antics of making a game.




I Was A Teengage Lobot

Fri, 09 Jan 2015 00:49:00 -0800

This was the first design document I worked on while at Lucasfilm Games. It was just after Koronis Rift finished and I was really hoping I wouldn't get laid off. When I first joined Lucasfilm, I was a contractor, not an employee. I don't remember why that was, but I wanted to get hired on full time. I guess I figured I'd show how indispensable I was by helping to churn out game design gold like this.This is probably one of the first appearances of "Chuck", who would go on to "Chuck the Plant" fame.You'll also notice the abundance of TM's all over the doc. That joke never gets old. Right?Many thanks to Aric Wilmunder for saving this document.Shameless plug to visit the Thimbleweed Park Development Diary.[...]



Micro-post

Tue, 02 Dec 2014 16:12:00 -0800

The C64 version of Maniac Mansion didn't use a mouse, it used one of these:

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A year later we did the IBM PC version and it had keyboard support for moving the cursor because most PCs didn't have a mouse. Monkey Island also had cursor key support because not everyone had a mouse.

Use the above facts to impress people at cocktail parties.




Micro-post

Sat, 18 Oct 2014 02:59:00 -0700

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Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah.

Blah Blah Blah Blah, Blah Blah Blah, Blah Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah Blah Blah, Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah!!!

Blah, Blah Blah Blah Blah, Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah, Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah? Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah.

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah, Blah Blah Blah Blah, Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah, Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah, Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah Blah Blah?

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah Blah!

Blah.




My Understanding Of Charts

Wed, 27 Aug 2014 00:57:00 -0700

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Puzzle Dependency Charts

Sun, 10 Aug 2014 03:03:00 -0700

In part 1 of 1 in my series of articles on games design, let's delve into one of the (if not THE) most useful tool for designing adventure games: The Puzzle Dependency Chart. Don't confuse it with a flow chart, it's not a flow chart and the subtle distinctions will hopefully become clear, for they are the key to it's usefulness and raw pulsing design power.There is some dispute in Lucasfilm Games circles over whether they were called Puzzle Dependency Charts or Puzzle Dependency Graphs, and on any given day I'll swear with complete conviction that is was Chart, then the next day swear with complete conviction that it was Graph. For this article, I'm going to go with Chart. It's Sunday.Gary and I didn't have Puzzle Dependency Charts for Maniac Mansion, and in a lot of ways it really shows. The game is full of dead end puzzles and the flow is uneven and gets bottlenecked too much.Puzzle Dependency Charts would have solve most of these problems. I can't remember when I first came up with the concept, it was probably right before or during the development of The Last Crusade adventure game and both David Fox and Noah Falstein contributed heavy to what they would become. They reached their full potential during Monkey Island where I relied on them for every aspect of the puzzle design.A Puzzle Dependency Chart is a list of all the puzzles and steps for solving a puzzle in an adventure game. They are presented in the form of a Graph with each node connecting to the puzzle or puzzle steps that are need to get there. They do not generally include story beats unless they are critical to solving a puzzle.Let's build one!I always work backwards when designing an adventure game, not from the very end of the game, but from the end of puzzle chains. I usually start with "The player needs to get into the basement", not "Where should I hide a key to get into some place I haven't figured out yet."I also like to work from left to right, other people like going top to bottom. My rational for left to right is I like to put them up on my office wall, wrapping the room with the game design.So... first, we'll need figure out what you need to get into the basement...And we then draw a line connecting the two, showing the dependency. "Unlocking the door" is dependent on "Finding the Key". Again, it's not flow, it's dependency.Now let's add a new step to the puzzle called "Oil Hinges" on the door and it can happen in parallel to the "Finding the Key" puzzle...We add two new puzzle nodes, one for the action "Oil Hinges" and it's dependency "Find Oil Can". "Unlocking&q[...]



SCUMM Notes From The C64

Tue, 05 Aug 2014 17:00:00 -0700

More crap that is quickly becoming a fire hazard. Some of my notes from building SCUMM on the C64 for Maniac Mansion.

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I'm not sure who's phone number that is on the last page. I'm afraid to call it.




2D Point and Click Engine Recommendations

Sun, 03 Aug 2014 13:08:00 -0700

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I'm looking for some good recommendations on modern 2D point-and-click adventure game engines. These should be complete engines, not just advice to use Lua or Pascal (it's making a comeback). I want to look at the whole engine, not just the scripting language. PC based is required. Mobile is a ok. HTML5 is not necessary. Screw JavaScript. Screw Lua too, but not as hard as JavaScript.

I'm not so much interested in using them, as I'd just like to dissect and deconstruct what the state of the art is today.

P.S. I don't know why I hate Lua so much. I haven't really used it other than hacking WoW UI mods, but there is something about the syntax that makes it feel like fingernails on a chalkboard.

P.P.S It's wonderful that "modern 2d point-and-click" isn't an oxymoron anymore.

P.P.P.S Big bonus points if you've actually used the engine. I do know how to use Google.

P.P.P.P.S I want engines that are made for adventure games, not general purpose game engines.




Best. Ending. Ever.

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 02:07:00 -0700

An email sent to me from LucasArts Marketing/Support letting me know they "finally" found some people who liked the ending to Monkey Island 2.

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Maniac Mansion Design Doc

Sun, 20 Jul 2014 17:00:00 -0700

Even more crap from my Seattle storage unit!Here is the original pitch document Gary and I used for Maniac Mansion. Gary had done some quick concepts, but we didn't have a real design, screen shots or any code. This was before I realized coding the whole game in 6502 was nuts and began working on the SCUMM system.There was no official pitch process or "green lighting" at Lucasfilm Games. The main purpose of this document would have been to pass around to the other members of the games group and get feedback and build excitement.I don't remember a point where the game was "OK'd". It felt that Gary and I just started working on it and assumed we could. It was just the two of us for a long time, so it's not like we were using up company resources. Eventually David Fox would come on to help with SCUMM scripting.Three people. The way games were meant to be made.If this document (and the Monkey Island Design Notes) say anything, it's how much ideas change from initial concept to finished game. And that's a good thing. Never be afraid to change your ideas. Refine and edit. If your finished game looks just like your initial idea, then you haven't pushed and challenged yourself hard enough.It's all part of the creative process. Creativity is a messy process. It wants to be messy and it needs to be messy.[...]



Micro-post

Fri, 18 Jul 2014 02:48:00 -0700

More crap from my storage unit.

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Print your own today!




Maniac Mansion Design Notes

Tue, 15 Jul 2014 17:00:00 -0700

While cleaning out my storage unit in Seattle, I came across a treasure trove of original documents and backup disks from the early days of Lucasfilm Games and Humongous Entertainment. I hadn't been to the unit in over 10 years and had no idea what was waiting for me.Here is the first batch... get ready for a week of retro... Grumpy Gamer style...First up...A early mock-up of the Maniac Mansion UI. Gary had done a lot of art long before we had a running game, hence the near finished screen without the verbs.A map of the mansion right after Gary and I did a big pass at cutting the design down. Disk space was a bigger concern than production time. We had 320K. That's right. K.Gary and I were trying to make sense of the mansion and how the puzzles flowed together. It wouldn't be until Monkey Island that the "puzzle dependency chart" would solve most of our adventure game design issues.More design flow and ideas. The entire concept of getting characters to like you never really made it into the final game. Bobby, Joey and Greg would grow up and become Dave, Syd, Wendy, Bernard, etc..A really early brainstorm of puzzle ideas. NASA O-ring was probably "too soon" and twenty-five years later the dumb waiter would finally make it into The Cave.I'm still amazed Gary and I didn't get fired.[...]



Ten Years Running!

Mon, 14 Jul 2014 17:00:00 -0700

Time flies. The gaming and internet institution known as the Grumpy Gamer Blog has been around for just over ten years.My first story was posted in May of 2004. Two thousand and four. I'll let that date sink in. Ten years.The old Grumpy Gamer website was feeling "long in the tooth" and it was starting to bug me that Grumpy Gamer was still using a CRT monitor. He should have been using a flat screen, or more likely, just a mobile phone, or maybe those Google smart contact lens. He would not have been using an Oculus Rift. Don't get me started.I coded the original Grumpy Gamer from scratch and it was old and fragile and I dreaded every time I had to make a small change or wanted to add a feature.A week ago I had an the odd idea of doing a Commodore 64 theme for the entire site, so I began anew. I could have used some off-the-shelf blogging tool or code base, but where's the fun in that. Born to program.I'm slowly moving all the old articles over. I started with the ones with the most traffic and am working my way down. I fundamentally changed the markup format, so I can't just import everything. Plus, there is a lot of crap that doesn't want to be imported. I still need to decide if I'm going to import all the comments. There are a crap-ton of them.I'd also like to find a different C64 font. This one has kerning, but it lacks unicode characters, neither of which are truly "authentic", but, yeah, who cares.But the honest truth is...I've been in this creative funk since Scurvy Scallywags Android shipped and I find myself meandering from quick prototype to quick prototype. I'll work on something for a few days and then abandon it because it's pointless crap. I think I'm up to eight so far.The most interesting prototype is about being lost in a cavern/cave/dungeon. The environment programmatically builds itself as you explore. There is no entrance and no exit. It is an exercise in the frustration of being lost. You can never find your way out. You just wander and the swearing gets worse and worse as you slowly give up all hope.I have no sense of direction, so in some ways, maybe it was a little personal in the way I suppose art should be.I worked on the game for about a week then gave up. Maybe the game was more about being lost than I thought.Rebuilding Grumpy Gamer was a way to get my brain going again. It was a project with focus and an end. As the saying goes: Just ship something. So I did.The other saying is: "The M[...]



Micro-post

Mon, 14 Jul 2014 03:05:00 -0700

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Booty From My Seattle Storage Space!

Thu, 10 Jul 2014 09:48:00 -0700

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Monkey Bucks

Wed, 09 Jul 2014 17:00:00 -0700

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Who Are These Pirates?

Tue, 29 Apr 2014 10:48:00 -0700

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This has always bugged me. Now that I've pointed it out, it's going to bug you too.




What is an indie developer?

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:00:00 -0700

What makes a developer "indie"?I'm not going to answer that question, instead, I'm just going to ask a lot more questions, mostly because I'm irritated and asking questions rather than answering them irritates people and as the saying goes: irritation makes great bedfellows.What irritates me is this almost "snobbery" that seems to exist in some dev circles about what an "indie" is. I hear devs who call themselves "indie" roll their eyes at other devs who call themselves "indie" because they "clearly they aren't indie".So what makes an indie developer "indie"? Let's look at the word.The word "indie" comes from (I assume) the word "independent". I guess the first question we have to ask is: independent from what? I think most people would say "publishers".Yet, I know of several devs who proudly call themselves "indie" when they are taking money from publishers (and big publishers at that) and other devs that would sneer at a dev taking publisher money and calling themselves "indie".What about taking money from investors? If you take money are you not "indie"? What about money from friends or family? Or does it have to be VCs for you to lose "indie" status?What about Kickstarter? I guess it's OK for indies to take money from Kickstarter. But are you really "independent"? 3,000 backers who now feel a sense of entitlement might disagree. Devs who feel an intense sense of pressure from backers might also disagree.Does being "indie" mean your idea is independent from mainstream thinking? Is being an "indie developer" just the new Punk Rock.Does the type of game you're making define you as "indie"? If a dev is making a metrics driven F2P game, but they are doing it independent of a publisher, does that mean they are not "indie"?This is one of the biggest areas I see "indie" snobbery kick in. Snobby "indie" devs will look at an idea and proclaim it "not indie".Do "indie" games have to be quirky and weird? Do "indie" games have to be about the "art".What about the dev? Does that matter? Someone once told me I was not "indie" because I have an established na[...]



Monkey Island Design Notebook Scribblings

Sun, 06 Apr 2014 17:00:00 -0700

More scans from the Monkey Island Design Notebook. I'm glad I kept these notebooks, it's a good reminder of how ideas don't come out fully formed. Creation is a messy process with lots of twisty turns and dead ends. It's a little sad that so much is done digitally these days. Most of my design notes for The Cave were in Google Docs and I edited them as I went, so the process lost. Next game, I'm keeping an old fashion notebook.

Mark Ferrari or Steve Purcell must have done these. I can't draw this good!

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A lot changed here!

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Getting the Main Flow right is critical!

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Even More Monkey Island Design Scribbles.

Sun, 30 Mar 2014 17:00:00 -0700

I am not going to throw these out! That was a joke! Several years ago they got water damaged, so now they are sealed in water proof wrapping and kept safe and insured for $1,000,000.

Also, this is not the "design document", they are just notes and ideas I'd jotted down. There wasn't a formal design document for the game, just the large complete puzzle dependency chart I keep on my wall. I have no idea where that went to.

Many more to come. Posting these is easier then writing actual blob entries. I'm lazy.

Notes and ideas for Ghost ship and on Monkey Island.

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The dream sequence had to wait until Monkey Island 2.

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Room layout sketches.

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More Tales From The Monkey Island Design Notebook

Thu, 27 Mar 2014 17:00:00 -0700

Very early brainstorming about ideas and story.

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First pass at some puzzles on Monkey Island

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Just writing ideas down. I'm surprised "get milk and bread" doesn't appear on this.

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Map when ship sailing was more top-down and direct controlled.

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Monkey Island Design Notebook #1

Wed, 26 Mar 2014 17:00:00 -0700

I'm doing some house cleaning and I came across my Monkey Island 1 and 2 design notebooks. It's interesting to see what changed and what remained the same.

I'll post more... If I don't throw them out. They are smelling kind of musty and I'm running out of space.

My first sketch of Monkey Island

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Early puzzle diagram for Largo (before he was named Largo LaGrande)

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My 2013 year in review

Sun, 29 Dec 2013 16:00:00 -0800

I've never written one of these "year in review" posts before. They always seemed silly and the beginning of a new year is just an arbitrary milestone.Also, it's hard to believe it is 2014. The 8 year old boy in me is disappointed that we don't have moon bases and flying cars, but I guess the Internet is pretty cool. Didn't see that one coming.The CaveFirst up is The Cave. It didn't burn up any sales records or get amazing reviews and was largely forgotten a month after it came out, but you know what? I don't care. It's a game I am incredibly proud of and the team at Double Fine did an amazing job and working on it was a lot of fun. I'll stand by the game until the end of time.While snowboarding over Christmas, I rode the chairlift with a complete stranger who played and loved The Cave. Suck on that Metacritic.Scurvy ScallywagsNext up is a iOS game called Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG (actual title) that I built with my good friend Clayton Kauzlaric. Another game that wasn't wildly successful but I'm extremely proud of.Scurvy Scallywags is Candy Crush for smart people.While the game didn't come close to making enough money to pay for the time and effort that went into it, Clayton and I decided to port it to Android, which should be out in early 2014.I guess one of the personal triumphs of Scurvy Scallywags is that I've been in this wretched (I mean wonderful) industry for close to 30 years and I still make games and love it. Every morning I get up and program and design and write and build something. I'm very thankful for that. Maybe I'll die poor and in the streets, but at least I get to do what I love. I'll be the one holding the cardboard sign that says "Will Design Games for Food".Got in shapeI lost over 75 pounds in the first half of 2013. I now run almost everyday and workout and am probably in the best shape and health of my adult life. It was a lot of work and I didn't use any silly gimmicks or diets, just exercise and completely changed the way I eat. Losing weight is really hard and I've struggled with it my whole life, but it's was rewarding and worth it.AustraliaI went to Au[...]



Scurvy Scallywags iOS Reviews Are In

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 17:00:00 -0700

Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG is out on the App Store and the reviews have started pouring in and people seem to like it! WTF!It's currently in the top 50 of paid games and the top 100 in all paid apps in the first 24 hours. WTF!Who knew scurvy could be so much fun. Diseases involving bleeding gums and tooth loss get a bad rap."Scurvy Scallywags bleeds the charm and personality of Ron Gilbert's classics, and is something to appreciate in a landscape of games that often find themselves without an identity."Touch Arcade Review"[they have] taken a genre amalgam that's been dear to my heart since Puzzle Quest and injected a heavy dose of humor and a penchant for breaking into song. It's almost the perfect game."Kotaku"Scurvy Scallywags might be a match-three puzzler, but it's also a romp through a pirate musical, complete with spectacular sea shanties, vast ships, terrible nautical jokes, and a fiercely addictive central premise that takes the match-three template and shakes it until it's fun."Pocket Gamer"Scurvy Scallywags is an enormous breath of fresh air if you've been spending a bunch of time with the current generation of match-3 games."Touch Arcade Hands On"Scurvy Scallywags is a noteworthy game because of how different it is. I was skeptical at first that it could blend so many different genres and game mechanics together, but it did so with ease."148Apps"Here's our bold statement of the day: Scurvy Scallywags is what every puzzle game secretly wants to be like."Jay is Games"I don't know, I kind of like everything about it. This scream ten dollar game!"IGN Video Review"It's one of the best match-3 games we've played for ages and it has kept us entertained for hours at a time."Entertainment Focus"With addictive gameplay that kept me glued to my iPad and constantly coming back for more, I can't recommend Scurvy Scallywags enough."Nerdy But Flirty"I tried [it] out during one lazy afternoon at home. I eventually stopped playing and went outside only to discover that the authorities decl[...]



Got Scurvy?

Mon, 03 Jun 2013 17:00:00 -0700

I know what you're thinking. Finally! Making games can't be that hard and take that long, and you'd be right, I just spend too much time screwing around and surfing the web.

Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG will be out for iOS on June 6th!

Mark your calendars and stock up on lemons and oranges!

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My Favorite Authors

Mon, 27 May 2013 17:00:00 -0700

My favorite authors in no particular order:

● J. G. Ballard
● Kurt Vonnegut
● Dan Simmons
● Stephen King




Scurvy Scallywags Is Almost Here!

Wed, 15 May 2013 17:00:00 -0700

I know everyone has been doing match-3 finger exercises and visual match training in preparation for Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG or SSITVTDTUSS:AMMTPRPG for short and it's almost here!

A build has been submitted to the App Store and now we wait. And wait. And wait.

But to make the waiting more bearable, here is the amazing game play trailer Clayton put together:

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I feel Scurvy coming on!




More Scurvy Scallywags

Sun, 21 Apr 2013 17:00:00 -0700

Some more screen shots from Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG or SSITVTDTUSS:AMMTPRPG for short. This time from the iPad version. We now have close to 100 different hats, shirts, pants and heads to collect. I know what you're thinking: "That's crazy!". And you'd be right... we are crazy! It's probably from scurvy.

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Just To Clarify Point Twelve...

Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:00:00 -0700

I just wanted to clarify what I wrote in point *Twelve* because a lot of people have misunderstood it, probably because I did a crappy job of writing it.

*Twelve* - It would be called Monkey Island 3a. All the games after Monkey Island 2 don't exist in my Monkey Island universe. My apologies to the all talented people who worked on them and the people who loved them, but I'd want to pick up where I left off. Free of baggage. In a carnival. That doesn't mean I won't steal some good ideas or characters from other games. I'm not above that.

I loved Curse of Monkey Island. Jonathan Ackley and Larry Ahern did a masterful job on the game, which is quite a feat given the ending I left them with. They - and the game - showed nothing but pure respect for the world, and they created some new characters that are just as memorable as the ones in Monkey Island 1 and 2.

When I said "but I'd want to pick up where I left off. Free of baggage. In a carnival.", I meant the very literally. My story for Monkey Island 3a takes places 2 minutes after the end of Monkey Island 2. Free of baggage was not meant to imply that I felt Curse of Monkey Island was "baggage", but rather, as I (hypothetically) designed and (hypothetically) wrote Monkey Island 3a, I'd want to be free to take the story where I wanted it to go and not feel compelled to adhere to the games that followed. If I end up being able to make this game at some point, we all might find that it fits nicely in between Monkey Island 2 and Curse of Monkey Island.

The only thing I objected to in the games that followed was Guybrush and Elaine getting married. She is too smart for that.

I hope this clarifies what I wrote.




If I Made Another Monkey Island

Sat, 13 Apr 2013 17:00:00 -0700

Yeah, I know, that sounds like the title of the O.J. Simpson book. I realized that after I typed it, but I'm not going to change it.So, before I get into this fanciful post, I want to make one thing perfectly clear... actually, I'm just going to make it my first point. It's probably the most important one. Actually, I'll make it the first two points.*One* - I am not making another Monkey Island. I have no plans to make another Monkey Island. I am not formulating plans to make another Monkey Island.*Two* - Let me say that again. There is no new Monkey Island in works and I have no plans to make one. I'm just thinking and dreaming and inviting you come along with me. Please your keep your hands inside the boat at all times. No standing or you might get wet.But, If I made another Monkey Island...*Three* - It would be a retro game that harkened back to Monkey Island 1 and 2. I'd do it as "enhanced low-res". Nice crisp retro art, but augmented by the hardware we have today: parallaxing, depth of field, warm glows, etc. All the stuff we wanted to do back in 1990 but couldn't. Monkey Island deserves that. It's authentic. It doesn't need 3D. Yes, I've seen the video, it's very cool, but Monkey Island wants to be what it is. I would want the game to be how we all remember Monkey Island.*Four* - It would be a hardcore adventure game driven by what made that era so great. No tutorials or hint systems or pansy-assed puzzles or catering to the mass-market or modernizing. It would be an adventure game for the hardcore. You're going to get stuck. You're going to be frustrated. Some puzzles will be hard, but all the puzzles will be fair. It's one aspect of Monkey Island I am very proud of. Read this.*Five* - I would lose the verbs. I love the verbs, I really do, and they would be hard to lose, but they are cruft. It's not as scary as it sounds. I haven't fully worked it out (not that I am working it out, but if I was working it out, which I'm not, I wouldn't have it fu[...]



ASM

Wed, 10 Apr 2013 17:00:00 -0700

I first learned to program on a TI-59 programmable calculator. My dad "the physicist" would bring it home on weekends and I would monopolize it for the next two days. I'd make games and type in programs from Byte magazine. It was a magical device. I don't know what it was about programming that enthralled me, but I was obsessed with it. It was an odd skill to have back then, even at the level of programmable calculators. Computers were still the stuff of science fiction or only owned by huge companies or universities and housed large noisy air conditioned rooms with punch-card machines.One summer the college got two Commodore Pet computers that were destine for the local High School. My friend, Tom McFarlane and I spent that entire summer in the computer lab programming those Commodore Pet computers.It was my first experience with BASIC and it blew the socks off of the TI-59. Tom and I devoured everything about those Commodore Pet computers. We wrote every game we would could think of from Space Invaders to Astroids to Space Wars to little platformers (although we didn't know that's what they were called). We challenged and pushed each other and became masters of the PEEK and the POKE.I do blame the Commodore Pet from one nasty habit that's followed me for over 30 years. Tom and I realized that if we removed all the comments (the REM statements) from our BASIC code, the game would run significantly faster. To this day, I find myself deleting comments or whitespace under some misguided pavlovian notion that my code will run faster.The summer ended and the Commodore Pets made their way to the High School, were I was starting as a freshmen.As I continued to read about programming and computers (mostly in Byte magazine) this odd and strange concept kept coming up: Assembly Language. What was it? How did it work? And more importantly, what could it do for me?I started to realize that assembly language was *real* programming. BASIC was just[...]



Goodbye Lucasfilm Games

Mon, 01 Apr 2013 17:00:00 -0700

It will always be Lucasfilm Games(tm) to me, never LucasArts. They changed the name a year or so before I left when they rolled a bunch of divisions into this new company called LucasArts and the games group was one of them. Many years later, all that was left in LucasArts was the old games group, so the name became synonymous with games.It's hard for me not to be sad. I haven't worked there since 1992, but it was still home to me. I grew up there. I learned just about everything I know about designing games there. I became a real programmer there. I made lifelong friends there. Eight of the most memorable and influential years of my life were spent there. I would not be who I am today without Lucasfilm Games.I was hired at Lucasfilm Games by Noah Falstein as a Commodore 64 programmer porting his game Koronis Rift from the Atari 800.I had just been laid off from a company called Human Engineered Software (my first job) and had moved back to Oregon and was about ready to start college again when the phone rang.It was someone (I don't remember who) from Lucasfilm Games and they were looking for a Commodore 64 programmer and wanted to know if I was interesting in coming in for an interview. Holy Crap I said/thought/shouted to myself. I didn't even know Lucasfilm made games. Lucasfilm as Star Wars and the foundation of my childhood. I idealized George Lucas and ILM. I said I could come in for an interview that week and immediately packed my car and moved back to California. I just moved back. There was no way I wasn't going to get that job.I vividly remember interviewing in an office with Noah and Aric Wilmunder explaining the way you wrote pixels to the C64 screen using their screwed up memory mapping. They seemed impressed. Or confused. Either way as long as I got the job.My first week at Lucasfilm Games was mind blowing. I had never met a smarter group of people in my life. From Noah to Aric to Gary Winnick to David F[...]



Scurvy Scallywags

Sun, 17 Mar 2013 17:00:00 -0700

Here are some screen shots from Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG or SSITVTDTUSS:AMMTPRPG for short. It will be coming out for the iPhone and iPad in a couple of months. I might have found a way to get xcode to build objective-c for Android, if so, we'll port it there.I've always loved match-3 games, there is something zen-like about playing them. Seems like whenever I'm testing out a new engine or code base, I always create a quick match-3 game.A few years back, Clayton and I made a match-3 game called Realms of Gold that had a interesting way the board collapsed.In traditional match-3 games like Bejeweled, when you match three shapes they disappear and the gap is filled by pieces falling in from the top. In Realms of Gold, the piece could come in from the sides or even the bottom depending on the type of match you did.It was fun, but it was also a little confusing. The game was a RPG, but we were told by the publisher that no one wanted to play a match-3 RPG, so that part of the game was watered down. Of course, a year later Puzzle Quests comes out and sells a billion copies.A little over a year ago I pulled a match-3 prototype out of the closest and started working on it. There was something about the way the board collapsed in Realms of Gold that I really liked. Clayton and I screwed around with it for a bit, then he hit upon a way to make the collapsing work a lot better. Rather than the type of match you made dictating the direction the board collapsed, have the board collapse in the direction you swiped. I made this change and it felt fantastic and very intuitive.An odd side effect of doing this was you could move pieces around the board. So unlike Puzzle Quest - and just about every other match-3 RPG that sprang up after it - in Scurvy Scallywags you actually move your hero/pirate around the board and position her/him next t[...]



Deep Inside The Cave - Part 2

Fri, 15 Mar 2013 17:00:00 -0700

Here are some behind the scenes photos taken during The Cave's early development.Each of our design weeks would focus on one area of the game. The first day was just to talk about overarching ideas, the character's backstory, the purpose of the area and what the main goal of the player/character was. During that first day we'd just throw out wild ideas and see what stuck.The next day we'd take all those crazy ideas and try to arrive on the core puzzles. We'd also start to sketch out what the area looked like and where the puzzles might go.On the third day we'd look at what we had and make refinements. It was common to have most everything figure out by the end of the second day, with just one or two issues remaining. On day three we'd resolve those and have a day four if needed. We tried to design for only three days a week to let our minds rest (as well as get everything else done that needed doing).This is Dave Gardner mapping out The Scientist area during one of our design meetings.This is a shot of the whiteboard for The Miner's area during day two.Once the area had been designed, a quick grey-box was made using Maya. At this point we could run around using the game's engine and see how it felt. This is a picture taken during one of our team walk-throughs of The Scientist's area.The camera is pulled all the way out so we can see the whole thing. You'll notice the red text that calling out objects and the locations of puzzles. At this point, none of the logic for the puzzles is working, we're just running around.This is a picture of the beginning of The Island with The Hillbilly.[...]



Deep Inside The Cave - Part 1

Wed, 13 Mar 2013 17:00:00 -0700

As promised, here are some behind the scene images from designing The Cave. J.P. LeBreton, Dave Gardner and I spent several months in a back room designing all the area and puzzles of the game. I have to say, it was the most fun I've had designing in a long time. J.P and Dave where amazing to work with.

This is an early layout for the Intro section. It's much bigger than we ended up with and you will notice we had areas where players would be required to use each character's special ability. This was also back when The CIA agent and The Mobster were still in the game. This didn't make it past the greybox stage. After running around, it was clear it was way too big. We also felt requiring the training of the special abilities was not really needed.

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This was an entire section that we cut. The original game was about twice the size of what we ended up with and this was one of the sections that didn't make the cut. It never made it out of the paper stage.

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A Complete Map Of The Cave And Other News...

Sun, 10 Mar 2013 17:00:00 -0700

Now that The Cave is done and unleashed on an unsuspecting world (ok, we did do a bunch of PR, so it wasn't exactly unsuspecting), it's time for me to move on from Double Fine and plot my next move.

So many games left to be designed.

I want to thank all the amazing people at Double Fine for all their hard work on The Cave. It was a true pleasure to work with every one of them over the past two years. So much fun. I will miss them all. And of course to Tim for creating the opportunity to come there and make The Cave.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to post some behind the scenes pictures we took during the game's development and stuff like this...

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That's a complete map of The Cave exported from Maya by designer J.P. LeBreton. Bonus points if you can figure out what the pink dots are.

For the short term, Clayton Kauzlaric and I have been toiling away on another iOS side project that I'm going to focus on over the next few months. It's called Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG. I'll post some screen shots in the next few days.

I also have that PAX Australia keynote to write. How did I ever let them talk me into doing that. So much fun. So much pain. Maybe I'll just do a 45 minute Q and A session.




Progress Bar Porn

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 16:00:00 -0800

I try and keep this site kid safe... but...

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The Cave Is Out! The Cave Is Out! The Cave Is Out!

Tue, 22 Jan 2013 16:01:00 -0800

I can't believe The Cave is out and people are actually playing it. You thought I was joking and it was all an elaborate prank that involved making all these fake trailers and a big fake European press tour, but you were wrong.

Steam (Mac and PC right now, with Linux coming next week)
PlayStation Network for PS3
Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360
Nintendo eShop for Wii U
Commodore 64

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...or were you.




The Cave Is Coming! The Cave Is Coming!

Tue, 15 Jan 2013 16:00:00 -0800

The Cave will be out on the 22nd on PSN and Wii U and the 23rd for XBLA and PC on Steam. It's also coming out on the Mac and Linux! They should just change the name of the month to Cavuary.

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More The Cave Art

Tue, 18 Dec 2012 16:00:00 -0800

If you missed the carnival this summer, all is not lost...

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The New The Cave The Trailer

Thu, 29 Nov 2012 16:00:00 -0800

I knew The Twins were going to be trouble. I should have cut them.

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The Big Big Castle!

Sun, 08 Jul 2012 17:00:00 -0700

Sometimes it feels like Clayton Kauzlaric and I have a game-making addiction problem. We both have day jobs where we sit around all day long and make games for money, but then we go home and make games for free. If God didn't want us to make games he shouldn't have made it so much damn fun.Over the past few years we've made around ten iOS games in our spare time. We'd work on one for a month and then some new idea would hit us and we're on to that. ADD game designers. The Big Big Castle! is the second one we've actually gotten around to finishing. The first was a word game called Word Spiral. Both are for the iPad.The Big Big Castle! stared out because I wanted to play around with Box2D, then Clayton brought up this idea he's had for the last 10 years about building stuff and watching it fall down, so we started working on that. Clayton's nine year old son said he'd like to blow up the castles he'd just built, so we added that, then we thought it would be fun if you could destroy castles your friends had built, so we added that.The Big Big Castle! is the result of a few months of spare time on the weekends. It's just a fun little game. A labor of love we thought we'd share.It's FREE so what have you got to lose. If you feel guilty about pirating Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, DeathSpank or Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo, buy a coin pack and we'll call it even.[...]



The Color of Money

Sat, 30 Jun 2012 17:00:00 -0700

I watched The Color of Money last night. Two things struck me about the film: 1) Holy crap is Tom Cruise young and 2) I really wish Paul Newman wasn't dead.I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know Martin Scorsese directed it. He's one of my all-time favorite directors and I keep thinking I've seen every movie he's done, and then some movie pops up with his name on it.The reason I watched The Color of Money was I had just seen The Hustler.The scene with "Fast" Eddie playing Fats is simply amazing. It's goes on and on and you're feeling the exhaustion Eddie must feel. Then Jackie Gleason gets up, goes into the restroom, freshens up, puts his coat back on and comes out for more. A new man. My heart sank with Eddie's.It's hard to imagine a scene that long in a modern film. Movie audiences need things to go go go. It feels like we've lost the ability to sit back and enjoy something that slowly unfolds. Really slowly unfolds. Sometimes that's important. A few quick cuts and we could have been told "Fast" Eddie was tried, but we needed to feel it with him.People said Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was a slow movie in the mold of 70's thrillers. True, it was slow by today's standards, but still felt like it moved along. Try going back and watching The French Connection. That's a slow movie, but it doesn't suffer one bit as a result.Adventure games are slow affairs. I worry few modern gamers have the patience for them anymore. Today, if someone spends more than 5 minutes trying to figure a puzzle out, they wonder where the pop-up hint is? They become anxious. Go go go. Good puzzles are meant to be chewed on for a wh[...]



The Cave

Tue, 22 May 2012 17:00:00 -0700

class='youtube' width='595' height='385' src='https://www.youtube.com/embed/KVcTQKAq3qI?rel=0&fs=1&hd=1' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen>Rock, Paper ShotgunEurogamerThe VergeKotakuGiant BombInternational House of MojoArs TechnicaJoystiq (No, I didn't do all the programming, that was done by the much-better-than-I-am Double Fine programmers)PC WorldPig MagDestructoidDer StandardInside Gaming DailyXBIGY GamesGameZeboSEGA PortalGamers GlobalGaming BlendInside Gaming DailyLet me know if I've missed any.[...]



What My Father Meant To Me

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 16:00:00 -0800

My father passed away in Feb 2012. He suffered a massive stroke a year and a half before and after a few months of optimism on our part, he started a slow and fateful decline, so his passing was not unexpected.This is how I will always remember my relationship with my dad.The two of us sitting around doing something nerdy involving computers or electronics. He taught me to program and fueled that passion as often as he could. We owned a home computer before the Apple II existed and even before most people knew a computer could fit in someone's house.He had a Ph.D in Astrophysics and it's hard to describe how wonderful it was growing up with a father who could answer absolutely any question I had about spaceships, rockets, planets, stars, galaxies, quasars, black holes, asteroids, the sun or the moon. I could point into the night sky and ask "what's that?" and he could tell me after only a moment's hesitation.I am who I am today because of him. Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Putt-Putt or Pajama Sam would not exist if not for him and the way he taught me to think and devour learning new things. He taught me to love to read, appreciate art and to always question my own beliefs and to be curious and inquisitiveness.I'm sad he is gone and will miss him terribly, but I will forever be grateful for what he left me. Our life on this earth is not only what we did, but what we left behind for others.David GilbertScientistAvid fisherman (ok, never understood this one)Ham operator (ke7gi)Best. Dad. Ever.1939 - 2012[...]



More Concept Art

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 16:00:00 -0800

Well, I think it's "time" to "leak" some more concept "art" for the amazing game I've been working on at Double Fine for the past 9 months.

After posting the previous concept art of The Scientist and The Mobster, I started reading all the adventure game forums and other gaming sites and I noticed a common reaction along the lines of "Hey Ron, those are great and all, but what we really want to know is if the game will have an old carnival ticket booth and a ceiling mounted laser cannon!"

Well, I'm happy to officially confirm that the game has both an old carnival ticket booth and a ceiling mounted laser cannon in it. I don't want to reveal any spoilers, but one of them is going to hurt like hell.

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What is an Adventure Game?

Sat, 21 Jan 2012 16:00:00 -0800

What makes an Adventure Game an Adventure Game?

Is Limbo an Adventure Game or just a puzzle game? Some people called L.A. Noir an Adventure Game but it lacks some of the basic components of an Adventure Game. Or does it?

Why do we call them Adventure Games? If you faithfully made Monkey Island into a movie, I doubt it would be called an Adventure Movie or even an Action/Adventure Movie.

I guess we call Adventure Games Adventure Games because the first one was call Adventure. I see no other reason they are called Adventure Games.

Semantics aside, what makes an Adventure Game an Adventure Game?

Inventory? Pointing? Clicking? Story? Low Sales?

Certainly not Adventuring.

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First Concept Art

Sun, 27 Nov 2011 16:00:00 -0800

Here are a couple of fine pieces of concept art from the game I'm making with the amazing folks at Double Fine. I'm so excited. This is an idea that has been in my head for a long long long time. It predates Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island. It's a game that needed to be made.

These are two of the playable characters. That's all I can say right now, but more will follow later.

UPDATE: I just want to clarify, these are not from the kickstarter adventure game, these are from the game that is the real reason I'm at Double Fine.

UPDATE 2: The Mobster was cut from the game a while ago. It's why it's called concept art.

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Meeting Steve Jobs

Wed, 05 Oct 2011 17:00:00 -0700

Several years ago I had the great pleasure and privilege of meeting Steve Jobs.I had a meeting at Pixar and I heard that Steve Jobs might be there. First thing I did was ask a good friend of mine that knew Steve Jobs what he was like and was there any advice she could give me.She said that Steve Jobs is an incredibly intelligent and passionate person and the one piece of advice she had for me was: don't argue with Steve Jobs and everything will go fine. Argue with Steve Jobs? He's probably one of the smartest people in the whole world and someone I have unequalled respect for, why would I ever argue with him?I arrived at the meeting and went into the conference room. John Lasseter was there (who I casually knew from when Pixar was part of Lucasfilm) and we chit-chatted.A few minutes later Steve Jobs came in. He sat right across the table from me and the first words out of his mouth where: "I don't believe you can tell stories in games."Now...Steve Jobs could have told me the sky was green, he could have told me that dogs gave birth to cats, he could have said just about anything and I would have nodded thoughtfully and probably been totally convinced, but he had to say the one thing in all of creation that I could not let go.I spent the next hour arguing with Steve Jobs.My advice to God: Don't argue with Steve Jobs.Goodbye Mr. Jobs, you really did change the world and we will miss you.[...]



The Vertical Slice

Fri, 08 Jul 2011 17:00:00 -0700

The vertical slice is one of the dumbest things the game industry has ever come up with. I threw this together to show how dumb it is. Not sure why I was thinking about it today, but I was. The publisher I'm working with now doesn't want a vertical slice, some don't, but there are quite a few that do.It's just a dumb way to build a game and it results in wasted time and money and doesn't produce the best game possible.A publisher handing a developer a big chunk of money to make a game should mean a carefully planned preproduction, and if it's risky from a game play or tech stand point, absolutely build a prototype (not just for them, but for you as well), but doing a vertical slice is just kowtowing to the uncreative.We work in a creative industry, I expect the 'execs' to understand that creativity. Given that they are the ones getting stinking rich off of all our hard work, shouldn't we expect that from them?What if movie studios required vertical slices of movies. It just doesn't work.Vertical slices might work in a medium where you start at the beginning and grind though in a fairly linear fashion and what comes out is 90% complete. Maybe writing a novel works this way, but making movies and games do not. They are an iterative processes. You build foundations and the build up from there.Da Vinci didn't paint the Mona Lisa one strip at a time, he slowly built it up from sketch to finished painting. That's the way games should be built.[...]



The Making of Maniac Mansion

Sun, 09 Jan 2011 16:00:00 -0800

The fine folks at Game Forum Germany have been trying to get me to speak there for the past three years, but something has always come up and prevented me from attending, but this year I vowed to go. This year was going to be different.I've only been to Germany once before and most of that three days was spent at a hotel attached to the Munich airport doing PR for Total Annihilation. Our hosts did take us into town for dinner one night where we ate at an Italian restaurant. I feel a proper trip to Germany is due and I expect to see lederhosen and lots of them.I was told I could talk about anything I wanted, which always presents itself as a dilemma. The easy thing to talk about is Monkey Island. Everyone loves to hear about Monkey Island. The next easiest thing would be to talk about DeathSpank since it's shiny and new and I get a lot of email asking me about the game, but in the end I decided to give a talk about the making of Maniac Mansion.Maniac Mansion is a game that is close to 25 years old and started the whole point-and-click adventure genera in addition to coining the term 'cut-scene' used throughout the civilized world. Maniac Mansion is a game filed with dead ends, backwards puzzles and no-win situations. Maniac Mansion is a flawed game, but that's what makes it so interesting. Gary and I had no idea what we were doing when we started making Maniac Mansion; we didn't even know it was going to be an adven[...]



Monkey Island 2 Bug Report

Tue, 16 Nov 2010 08:08:00 -0800

While cleaning out my bookcase a few weeks ago, I ran across a large and mysterious black three ring binder that contained a brittle and water stained printout of the entire Monkey Island 2 bug report. I have no idea why I had it or why I kept it.

Granted, it's not quite as impressive as Steve Purcell's Monkey Island concept art, but hey...quit your bitching.


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Several hundred pages later...

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Game Designer+Artist or Game Designer+Programmer

Mon, 31 May 2010 17:00:00 -0700

I'll be honest, I used the + signs in the title because I know they screw up some RSS feed readers and I'm just that kind of person. My next post will have lots of & and ? symbols and then we'll move into utf-32. The Internet is a house of cards ready to come down with one seldom used Chinese character.But onward we march, content in our ignorance...So, my question is: would you rather be a game designer that is also an artist, or a game designer that is also a programmer?For the sake of this brain twisting exercise, let's assume that you can't be a game designer+artist+programmer, because that combination just goes against god. And also, for the sake of argument (and because I like to argue), let's assume if you're an artist or programmer, you have no talent in the other profession, and by no talent I really mean no talent.I ask this questions because I fall into the second category. I started programming back when disco was cool. I started with Basic on a CP/M machine, then moved to Pascal before discovering Z80 assembly language. I had always heard assembly language was fast, but I was not prepared for the shear speed of it over Basic. Running my first assembly language program was a religious experience. My eyes stared wide at the screen as it filled with the @ character in what seemed to be instant. I literally said "oh my god" and that was t[...]