4. July 2015

More than 25 years ago, they made great adventure games for Lucasfilm Games. Now they’re getting the band back together.

That’s right – Ron Gilbert, Gary Winnick and David Fox of Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken and Monkey Island fame are making a new game called Thimbleweed Park – but it’s not just any game. Reminded of their good time they had at Lucasfilm Games, later LucasArts, in the late 1980s when they revolutionized and practically invented the genre of the Point & Click Adventure, Gilbert and Winnick decided to make a “new old game” in the classic style, like a lost Lucasfilm adventure that was never released. Because time is money and creating something like this just as a hobby would be problematic at best, Gilbert and Winnick decided to fund their project with Kickstarter and were greeted with a phenomenal response – a budget of over half a million dollars enabled them to start working on the game in earnest. The kickstarter video trailer was already amazing and it’s only going to get better…

The greatest aspect of Thimbleweed Park, which is going to be a snarky cross of murder mystery, fantasy and science fiction, is that Gilbert, Winnick and also David Fox, who joined the project too, are completely open about their work. They have their own blog on the Thimbleweed Park website with literally tons of information and they also do a short podcast and blog post each week to chronicle the progress on the game. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, game developers were some mythical rock star creatures, but now they are all just some great guys who are coming together once again to create something amazing – and they’re letting everyone watch them doing it. Thimbleweed Park was only announced in November of last year and they have already begun working on it in January, so a lot has happened and will still happen, because the projected release date is still a year away in Summer 2016.

Recently they also announced that Mark Ferrari, who created the beautiful graphics of Loom and Monkey Island, is joining the project too to collaborate with Gary Winnick on the visual design of the game. There are only few example graphics in existence at the moment, but it has been mentioned numerous times on the blog and in the podcasts that the graphics will be digitally drawn as pixel art in the computer, although they are also doing hand-drawn concept designs which sometimes appear on the website.Thimbleweed Park is in the developer’s own words a sort of successor to Maniac Mansion, but visually it will probably a cross between the early 16-colour-graphics of Maniac and Zak and the later 256-colour renditions that really started with Monkey Island.

The four developers have also opened up their blog for comments and are sometimes actively seeking suggestions from the users for the design, which has been quite popular recently and judging from the podcasts, they value the user opinions very much. Their musings on the game development are hightly interesting and often amusing – but they always leave the imnpression that they know exactly what they are doing even if they sometimes insist that they don’t. 

I have to confess that I missed backing the Kickstarter when it happened, but I certainly will be buying the game in whatever shape or form it will arrive sometime next year. This is maybe the best thing that happened to adventure gaming since Telltale Games continued the Monkey Island saga back in 2009 with Tales of Monkey Island – but this time we’re getting something new and original and we can actually see how the sausage is being made this time. Thimbleweed Park is not just going to be a quick moneymaker, but a real product made especially for the fans of the classic adventures from way back when. Who knows where this is going to lead – maybe they are going to make even more of them if the backing is still there! And I think there is absolutely no question that Thimbleweed Park will be finished in about a year, but until then there’s still a lot of work to do for the game developers.

It’s going to be like 1987 again, and I’m all for that :-). Now I’m off to play a little bit of Maniac Mansion – but on my Android tablet instead of a bulky 8-bit computer hooked up to a TV!

Kategorie: Games, Lucasarts
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