Maniac Mansion in 9

Apr 12, 2007 ten to ten am

David Fox forwarded me a link to Maniac Mansion being played through in nine minutes.  This is about 2 hours and 27 minutes faster than I could do it.

I found it fascinating to watch this video.    It's was like thumbing through an old family album of childhood photos.   Memories long forgotten are jarred to the surface by the smallest of details.   An old and forgotten toy.  The front grill of your fathers car.   Things you could never have remembered if you tried become so clear they could have happened yesterday.

I'd see little things like Dave hitting the edge of the porch, turning around, then walking forward and then continuing on his way.  I remember this from development.  It was a weird bug having to do with the walk-boxes that told the character where they could walk.  I knew how to fix it, but it would have broken oh-so-many of other things.  It always drove me crazy that he did that.

There is also the scene when Dave walks into Weird Ed's bedroom for the first time.  The ladder on the left is just off screen.   Scrolling was pretty unique at time (i.e Kings Quest didn't do it), and I wanted players to have to go into the rooms and explore - not just walk in the door, look around, wave the cursor over the screen and leave.   Several of the rooms are designed this way.  It pushed the player inside.

Seeing Dave walk behind the big dinning room table triggered a flood of memories.  Note that he walks behind the table, not in front of it.  Clipping behind objects was a big technical achievement back then.  I was very proud of the tech behind this, and the dining room was the first room we did.  It was the showcase.

The animating clock in the foyer was also the first animation in the game.  In todays world of run-a-way particle effects and million polygon scripted animations the simplicity of it seems ridiculous, but seeing that pendulum move in the background really brought the world to life for me.

If you don't blink, you also see the worlds first cut-scene.  It's a cut to Sandy and Dr. Fred in his lab.   I named them "cut-scenes" (it was also the name of the SCUMM command) because they literally cut away from the action.  Games before Maniac Mansion had non-interactive scenes that would play between levels or after a big event, but the ones in Maniac Mansion are different.  They cut away.  get it?  cut-scene.   Oh, how I can amuse myself.

Self-amusement aside, I consider the way Maniac Mansion did cut-scenes to be one of the biggest mistakes of the game.  In later games like Monkey Island, the cut-scenes happen only in response to an action by the player.  They were no longer tied to an arbitrary timer.

As the memories of long weekends and late nights tolling away in the salt-mine we called Skywalker Ranch rush over me, I think: "Hey, I should take this video and do a designer's commentary for it".  Then I think:  "Hey, that's going to be a lot of work".  Then I stop thinking about it.

Other people's comments:

Posted by uncleMatt on Apr 12, 2007 half past ten am

'In later games like Money Island [...]'
ah, that's what you really think about that, gotcha :P

Posted by SIMCGA on Apr 12, 2007 half past ten am

David Fox owns me money!!!!

Posted by Ulm on Apr 12, 2007 twenty to eleven am

Ron, you magnificent bastard, I'd read your book!

(Or commentary. Or whatever.)

Posted by Haggis on Apr 12, 2007 five to two pm

Yes, good idea. Ron, write a book! Please? Pretty please with cream and a cherry on top?

Posted by Joe Davison on May 19, 2007 quarter past ten am

Yeah tha't really isn't a bad idea,

"How I Created Adventure Games
How I changed the face of gaming forever - A babbling biography by Ron Gilbert"

Posted by Pobre_diablo on Apr 12, 2007 twenty to eleven am

Cut-scenes in Maniac Mansion = Heaven.

Posted by Luca on Apr 12, 2007 eleven am

Dear Mr. Gilbert, thank you very much for what you gave us. :)

In my view, you made those games thinking of them not only as a job, but as your job, putting your heart into them.

This is something uncommon, especially today.

Thank you very much.

Posted by Mustafa on Apr 12, 2007 eleven am

Ron wrote:

>I think: "Hey, I should take this video and do a designers commentary for it".  
>Then I think:  "Hey, that's going to be a lot of work".  Then I stop thinking
>about it.

Don't stop thinking ... well at least don't stop thinking about the designer's documentary ... or do us (your fellow readers and players of your work) a favor and take the time to compile behind-the-scenes stories from the glory days, either in book / online or podcast form. You may also go for them all :)

Posted by Keko on Apr 12, 2007 twenty past eleven am

Aside from the fact that the game may end badly in a cut-scene (because the mansion exploded or whatever), I loved the way they worked.

After too many games, you can sense when a cut-scene is coming. I can recall the 'Shit. They've got Bernard in jail' feeling as a good random thing.

And for the designer's commentary... beautiful. Just beautiful.

Posted by Rich Wilson on Apr 12, 2007 five to noon

I think the timer based cut scenes were actually pretty cool because they lended a sense of urgency to the game. I felt that if I didn't hurry up and save Sandy, that something horrible was impending.

Posted by Pananag on Apr 12, 2007 twenty past noon

Indeed, the past was great (glorious I may say).The remembrance of those wonderful games and the magic moments they gave me brings tears to my eyes.Despite the poor technological means (compared to today's) those games were small miracles based on creativity to become appealing, not on  impressive graphics .Can a today's game be playable after 15 years? Because I know many people who play and enjoy MI even in our days.

Ron you were the spirit of these games.How long has it been since a game of yours was released? During the last decade I haven't played but a handful of games that rely on smart gameplay and creativity rather than graphics. You are one of the best game creators (certainly my favourite). Why can't we have more of your games?

Posted by Denny on Apr 12, 2007 twenty five past three pm

I only played the PC version through once.  When I was little (5th grade or so), I remember playing it over and over on my NES.  I loved how every kid had his own theme music.  Michael's music still gets stuck in my head every once in a while.

I remember how excited my friends and I got when we discovered Syd and Razor could blow up the hamster, and get killed by Weird Ed :)  You scarred us for life Ron.  Thank you.

Posted by Alex on Apr 12, 2007 five to five pm

Oh go on, do the commentary.. don't just dangle it in front of our noses.. :)

Posted by Vincent Hamm on Apr 13, 2007 twenty past four am

I suppose that to get the commentary, you would have to ask blizzard to shut the Quel'dorei WoW server for a few days :)

Posted by Csar Brando on Apr 12, 2007 twenty five past five pm

Adventure games tend to be sort of disposable. Most people play it only until the end and there is not much to do after solving it. However, games like Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island will be worshiped forever. I have no clue why Lucasarts gave up the game industry where it seemed to have an awesome reputation. I have no idea if they still develop games but I am pretty sure that no one knows and no one cares.
That is to say, game designers like Ron have had a lot of influence in what we play and what we expect from games. Hopefully, there is more to come.
Despite the fact that single player games are dead, there will always be room for zombie pirates.

Good luck Ron!

Posted by Alex on Apr 13, 2007 five past nine am

Surely they're not anymore disposable than a book or a film?

I don't see why solving an adventure game wouldn't be enough of an experience.

Posted by Winston on Apr 12, 2007 twenty five past eleven pm

While this may seem stupid, or pathetic, or any number of other unflattering things depending on how you look at it, to me it's just a simple fact: Maniac Mansion is, to this very day, an important part of who I am.

Throughout the years, a fundamental chunk of my self has remained unchanged, and it is made of equal parts SCUMM interface, EGA graphics, and the unique cheeky humor you put into your games.

I was so fascinated and engaged with the stuff that I used to draw comics featuring the Lucasfilm Games designers (particularly you, Mr. Gilbert), battling monsters like the next game's deadline and staying up all night to iron out kinks in Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. Yes, I was that much of a geek and I loved your work that much. There it is, for what it's worth.

Loved this post; it brought back long forgotten and deeply treasured memories for me too. I hope you'll keep Grumpy Gamer going so old-schoolers like myself can continue to keep track of you. And if you ever were to make a designer's documentary, I for one would certainly pay to see/hear it.

Thanks for all the memories!


Posted by Kroms on Apr 13, 2007 five past one am

I always considered the scripted cutscenes to bring the game so much more to life. While Monkey Island brought-out their cutscenes when, say, Trial One got done, the scripted cutscenes of Maniac Mansion showed you that there were people in this house, who lived and walked around and didn't just stay locked-up in there. Now if you had the game without those, it would immediately seem less alive. I thought that was both an advantage and disadvantage in Day of the Tentacle, but you couldn't have Weird Ed walking around in that one because you actually needed the guy to solve puzzles. Also, in Maniac Mansion, you could die (I distinctly remember Green Tentacle screaming "TENTACLE MATING CALL!" and Bernard ending-up in a graveyard), but you couldn't do that in Day of the Tentacle, so what would a psychotic nurse do to you if she caught you in her kitchen? It would be an unfair puzzle solution/red herring since you can't die and so whatever she does to you would lead to some some clue of some puzzle, right?

It's an interesting dilemma. I think it works both ways if you knew how, but I'm just theorising.

Posted by David Thomsen on Apr 13, 2007 twenty to five am

With Flash these days people could easily make adventure games like this. You'd have to learn some computer code, but not as much as required to build a game from scratch. And you could have a whole room full of grandfather clocks. And tables to go behind. And ladders on the left-hand wall.

So it's interesting that with half their job cut out for them, no one in the world has bothered to make an adventure game with the same quality as Maniac Mansion or Monkey Island. And there's quite obviously a huge number of Classic Adventure Game Fans out there who would really appreciate it.

Posted by Kroms on Apr 13, 2007 twenty five to noon

The largest difference between making a Flash and non-Flash game is the fact that, with the former, you get paid - so you've got people willing to shell out time. With the latter, you don't. Try finding someone who'll find time and is willing to help with the art/programming and you've got quite a mountain to step-over. It gets easier after that, yeah. But you also have to find decent actors who won't demand pay (it's a Flash game after all), good animation, etc.

It's quite a hassle.

Posted by David Thomsen on Apr 14, 2007 ten past midnight

I think one of the problems is that because some people do get paid money to make computer games and stuff, most people won't make computer games unless they get paid for it. But then I guess that not very many people are rich enough to work on non-profitable computer games for a living. Most creative people spend their lives trying to produce the work that's going to get them out of their office job.

But I do think a huge amount of people would PayPal, for example, $5 to unlock the full version of a good adventure game if the introductory 'free' chapter was a good enough quality. I think I'd pay up to $20 depending on what I thought of the first chapter or whatever.

Posted by Kroms on Apr 17, 2007 half past noon

Hey man, I plan to do it because I'll probably like it. Not for the money.

As for people actually paying ... I dunno. Some people will. The guys who frequent Idle Thumbs would give it a shot, I guess. But $20 is way too high.

If I saw that the developers were actually trying hard, then yes, I'd buy it.

Posted by wrg on Apr 14, 2007 twenty to three am

I think you may have your former and latter mixed up, Kroms, though I expect most readers can still perceive your point.

More significantly, though, I think the distinction you mean to draw is between commercial and noncommercial games.  Although I can't think of many commercial games that rely heavily on Flash, I can think of many noncommercial games that do not use it.  Flash is not a unique route to producing a game with relatively little technical work, as there are various tools designed to facilitate development of particular types of games, for example AGS for graphical adventures and the various IF systems for text adventures.

Furthermore, relatively low-tech adventure games are being produced as we speak.  Naturally, the quality varies, and few are of the same quality as the Lucasarts classics, but of course they aren't commercial development projects.  I haven't tried that many, but among the AGS games I particularly enjoyed 5 Days a Stranger and 7 Days a Skeptic, for which you can see  (The faint of heart should note that these games feature horror themes, including violent scenes, though at fairly low resolution.

Also, noncommercial interactive fiction development continues, with new games and new tools.  In particular, Inform 7 was recently released (last year, if I recall) and offers developers a syntax resembling natural language.  I'm not a developer, though, and for the rest of us who are more inclined to be users, the IF archive at links to many games.  One might also look at the IF competition site at where games are rated by the competition's judges.

Posted by David Thomsen on Apr 14, 2007 six am

Those 'fullyramblomatic' games don't even specify whether they run on Mac or PC or both, so I'll assume they're PC games. The reason I mentioned Flash specifically is that Flash games run on any computer, and I have a Mac...

(Presumably I could get an emulator to run those games for me, but I've never found a plug-and-play emulator, which is all I have patience for ? screw configuring three dozen settings I don't even understand)

Posted by Kroms on Apr 17, 2007 half past noon

Sorry, my bad. Thanks for the links :)

I'm using AGS, actually. It's really quite wonderful.

Posted by pablo on Apr 24, 2007 ten past nine am

"With Flash these days people could easily make adventure games like this"

Indeed, the technology allows that. But there is a lot more than just a "game engine".

You need graphics, music, and A STORY. The game engine is not enough.

Check it out:

Posted by Fred on Apr 13, 2007 quarter to five am

please make another maniac mansion game! <3

Posted by John Rudy on Apr 13, 2007 five past six am

I just wanted to say thanks for the insight, and moreso, thank you very much for the games. The classic LucasArts SCUMM games are, in my opinion, the best adventure games ever made. There were ups and downs, but overall, the highest quality games of that nature.

If it weren't for Maniac Mansion, I'd have never gotten into that genre. Thank you very much.

Posted by Fajerkaos on Apr 13, 2007 ten past six am

Designer's commentary!
Designer's commentary!

Please Ron.

Posted by lorenzo on Apr 14, 2007 twenty five to five pm

yeah, we like some "behind the scenes" commentary...
please do some more ron! ;)

Posted by Rachel J. Morris on Apr 13, 2007 quarter past six am

Heh, actually, as a little girl I was scared of Maniac Mansion, even though I loved Day of the Tentacle.  I should go play it now, but I only know where my Monkey Island 1 CD and Monkey Island 2 disks are (and mix-n-mojo wheel, oddly). @_@

Another group of your games I really enjoyed as a kid were all the Humongous Adventures.  I didn't even know you made it (and I KNEW YOU made Monkey Island since it says so on the box) until later on.  I played almost every one I could get my hands on until I was about twelve.  Fatty Bear, Putt Putt, Pajama Sam, Freddi Fish, Spy Fox...
I still play SpyFox for the mini games. >.>

Posted by cordsie on Apr 13, 2007 quarter past six am

I'd like to hear more about these walk boxes! Now that you've mentioned it, I just noticed that all of the areas in the game are confined to very rectangular looking walk regions, with a few exceptions around things like staircases (that look like a series of rectangles from the way the characters move around them). My favorite version was the Commodore 64 version, and I don't think modern pathfinding algorithms like A* were even dreamed of then, much less in a manner fast and efficient enough to run on the C64. and  I'd really love to hear a couple of details on that.

Unless, if course, LitigousArts decides that would constitute divulging copyrighted information.

Posted by NES MM veteran on Apr 13, 2007 seven am

I like the cut scene in Manic Mansion precisely because they weren't related to the player actions.  It suggested that there were characters and events occuring independent from the gamer's actions.

Posted by gnome on Apr 13, 2007 quarter to nine am

Just like a short "post-mortem". Brilliant.

Posted by Jeff on Apr 13, 2007 five past eleven am

Ron - I always thought that Karateka (1984) had done cutscenes before you did.  Before Karateka, there were loading screens (PacMan and Ms. PacMan chasing each other around) but even though Karateka was an action game, it had a movie-like feel.

Posted by Bashar on Apr 13, 2007 one pm

9 minutes! How on earth can he do that? Ohh well... I have a confession to make, and don't take it personally. I never actually finished Maniac Mansion :(
Now I have the chance to bring some pop corn and enjoy watching it :)

Posted by Jason on Apr 13, 2007 quarter to two pm

Your mention of randomly timed cut-scenes reminded me of how the wizard in KQ3 would appear and disappear based on realtime instead of player action.  After that, I always considered such things to be a no-no and Lucas Arts always did a better job (IMHO) than Sierra of avoiding ridiculous crap like pixel hunts and impossible situations.

To this day my two favorite adventures ever are Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango.  Perhaps I'll go home tonight and play through MM and Zak McKracken for that old-school flava.

Posted by carlo on Apr 14, 2007 twenty past three am

Ach! Didn't he cheated? How the hell did he know the combination for the entrance of Dr Fred's Lab?

Posted by Wouter on Apr 14, 2007 twenty five past five am

This is fantastic. I've never finished Maniac Mansion, in fact I played it for the first time about a year ago. Unfortunately I saved it at a point where the house was about to explode and there was not enough time left to make it out of there alive. Kind of like saving Zak McKracken on Mars just before his oxygen is about to run out. I just hate that sort of thing... ;-)

On a positive node, I finished the EGA version of Monkey Island 1 once again, yesterday evening. It remains my favourite of them all and it is still a miracle how the forest on Melee Island could be given so much atmosphere with just a few shades of black and blue. Man, before I figured out as a twelve year old boy that you had to follow the shopkeeper from town, I was literally lost for hours, wandering through the randomly generated Melee forest. Ah, how I cherish those memories...

Posted by Aidan on Apr 14, 2007 quarter to midnight

I never knew you could follow the shop keeper until i'd finished the game twice.
I used to just wander the forest and I just randomly pushed  that sign. Same with the treasure... never knew the dance steps were directions haha. I was pretty young when I played it, so I hope i'd work it out now.

Posted by David Thomsen on Apr 15, 2007 five past four am

I made a map of the forest...

Posted by carlo on Apr 15, 2007 ten to eight am

Me too, the first time. Then I found some mnemonic paths for both the treasure and the Sword master. To go to the treasure site, just always go straight on, and turn north only when there is no other way (eventually you'll also reach the stump with the disk 118 gag :) ). To go to the sword master, you always have to turn north, and continue to left or right only when there is no other way.
I never used the correct way of following the shopkeeper, because 1) i really discovered it lately and 2) there was actually no need, because the forest was not random (in opposition with the caves below Monkey Island), and my mnemonic trick worked pretty well.

Posted by David Thomsen on Apr 15, 2007 five to one pm

Come to think of it, I think I navigated the forest exactly the same way...

Posted by randomshinichi on Apr 14, 2007 five to seven am

Man, I used to play that game! Then I moved to XP, and everything got lost... I still remember puzzling over how to beat that game. I didn't know anything about 3D and Quake II back then... come to think of it, when I played Monkey Island 2 the game that came to my mind was Maniac Mansion.

Posted by Johnny W on Apr 14, 2007 seven am

Please do a commentary! It'd be great! It would be amazing if Gary Winnick could do one too!

Posted by JL on Apr 14, 2007 half past nine am

I still remember the first time I played Maniac Mansion when I was a kid, I had Dave walk into the kitchen. When he ran into Nurse Edna and she ran after him, I nearly crapped my pants.

Thanks for the memories.

Posted by Rob on Apr 15, 2007 five past midnight


I must know...HOW did Chuck the Plant come about? The rumor mill has turned for years, but I have never found out the truth!!!!


Posted by Bashar Abdullah on Apr 15, 2007 quarter to one am

If you really had to make him reveal a secret, it would better be the secret of monkey island. By now you must know Ron' way of keeping things secret ;)

Still, I like to know as well.

Posted by lorenzo on Apr 15, 2007 five to three pm

actually a wikipedia page has been created on this topic...

can u imagine it?
yes ron come on, share with us some more little secret... ;)

Posted by Fajerkaos on Apr 15, 2007 quarter to four pm

Wow... Just wow...

When (or rather, if) I ever get to be a succesfull game-maker, I'm going to include a plant named Chuck in it, just to mess with peoples minds.

Posted by NatsFan on Apr 15, 2007 twenty five past noon

So Ron, how does it feel to see one of the biggest achievements of your life crammed into 9 minutes?

I don't see how anyone could possibly do that, I can't do it in less than 6 hours, I always forget the bulk of the puzzles.

Posted by BrainFromArous on Apr 16, 2007 quarter past three pm

Two friends of mine finished Ultima 9 in under 10 minutes... That is, it took then 10 minutes of playtime to realize they shouldn't bother with it...

Posted by Dimitr Bitu on Apr 16, 2007 half past eight pm

Fantastic! This game is very hard. I've only finished once and never played again.
Ron, you're the greatest!!

From Brazil

Posted by El-Nino on Apr 17, 2007 ten to one am

Thank you very much, for all the great games. You are the greatest Ron.

I hope you all enjoy the videos. Compact memories banned to video.

greetz El-Nino

Posted by Robby on Apr 17, 2007 five past eight am

The first time I had to laugh while playing maniac mansion, was when I discovered the key beyond that doormat. Just because it was the time, my mom put our key there in front of our house when I was coming home from school and she wasn't at home. And hell yeah, she thought it was the greatest place to hide a key in the universe (tm). Haha xD Thanks for all the fun we had, Ron!

Posted by Sven on Apr 17, 2007 five to five pm

"I think the timer based cut scenes were actually pretty cool because they lended a sense of urgency to the game. I felt that if I didn't hurry up and save Sandy, that something horrible was impending."

Same, I mean, TOTALLY. What's even more: I'm partially shocked to read about it at this very place as a bad design decision. It felt like a very natural design decision, like ABSOLUTELY natural for such a game and its premise. Truth be told, I just crapped my pants reading this. Not nearly as much as when I had my first date with nurse Edna (in the kitchen! Of all places!)for the first time, but phew.. you know...

it was damn close.

Posted by Sven on Apr 17, 2007 five pm

To elaborate: Yes, the pseudo-realtime component was part of what made Maniac Mansion special, immersive and ultimately alive instead of being a rigidly scripted rollercoaster ride through a bunch of "inventory puzzles", twenty years without sleep, toasted hamsters and beyond.

Now about that pants of mine...

Posted by Tuncay on Apr 18, 2007 twenty to two pm

Ron, you are a genious man, I mean it. How did you make such good games in 64 KB memory? You made a revolution in gaming and we all have respect to you.The Secret of Monkey Island determined my favourite game genre.For years I have looked for decent adventure games like yours. I would like to thank you, you really deserved it.

Posted by Jihan Joo on Apr 18, 2007 twenty five past three pm

Great idea!!!
I for one would love to hear your commentaries on different LucasArts adventure games. I'm even willing to pay $40+ to hear one.
Have you considered doing some kind of a podcast with your ol' friends? (Schaffer, Stemmle, Clark, Wilmunder, Purcell, etc.)

Posted by Sven on Apr 19, 2007 twenty to six am

"I'm even willing to pay $40+ to hear one."

I'd be willing to pay a hundred if only he took that comment about the cut-scenes back. :/

Posted by Freax on Apr 21, 2007 ten past one am

Maniac Mansion was and still is a great game and i didnt exist when it first came out so i never found out about it until I wanted to find a way to get Sam and Max working on Windows xp, then I discovered that the game was available as an easter egg in DOTT which i got from a Lucasarts compilation.

I loved that B-grade horror style and the famous hamster/microwave bit. How that guy finished the game in 9 minutes is beyong my knowledge. Speaking of which, Ron you are one of the top game designers- whats your perspective on cheat codes and walkthroughs?

Posted by Me2 on Apr 23, 2007 ten to two pm

"Commenting a post whitout reading it" - ask HE how!

Posted by on Apr 24, 2007 one pm

Hi Mr. Gilbert!
I'm from Italy! I've 19 years and i'm a big big fan of Monkey Island (expecially the 2)
Now i finally make the congratulations to the genie behiand this game!

You're the Best Ron!!!

Posted by Fred on Apr 25, 2007 five to eight am

do a Maniac Mansion Remake. New characters, some gas, new rooms and a little different story. more endings and more ways to die. come on!

Posted by R0n Gilbert on Apr 26, 2007 quarter past two am

Ok, It's done. I call it "day of the tentacle". Have fun ;)

Posted by Dont Bea Couchpo Tato on Apr 26, 2007 quarter to two pm

yah... ther are too much people asking ron to do things... "ron should make mi 3 ron's edition" "Ron should wright a book"  "Ron should make his own video game console" "rom should lose some weight"...

I just wanted to do Something... Seriously, he has lot's of ideas, but he never does nothing... I have the feeling that his 1/2 RPG + 1/2 adventure game project will never even get started...

Ron Gilbert: Do something!

Posted by Someone on Apr 26, 2007 ten past five pm

Seriously, he has lot's of ideas, but he never does nothing...

Yeah, 'cos Ron spends all of his time in front of the TV in his underwear, pining for the 'good old days'...  =)

Perhaps if we're all really annoying we can irritate him into making a new game!

Posted by Spieler on Apr 26, 2007 ten to five am

Thanks that is very good !!

Posted by Alex on Apr 27, 2007 five to six am

So I read your IGN interview, and you mention that you play the DS? That is AWESOME because the DS is, like, totally the platform where adventures are having something of a rebirth. Have you played the Phoenix Wright games? They're basically text adventures, but they're getting to be VERY popular, in Japan and also over here! I'm sure you could design an AWESOME adventure game for the Nintendo DS! I believe in you!

As for the issue of replayability...hmm! It's kind of difficult in an adventure game if you don't want to see the same story again. I mean, you can't really offer incentives for playing it again like in the Metal Gear Solid games, because cutscenes aside, the gameplay in that game offers itself open to more variations in the action, whereas an adventure game gives you a much more limited number of options to proceed (and with good cause to, otherwise the player will be lost with too many!).

I know! Maybe don't even worry about replayability, and design them more like a DVD where you can skip around to the parts you'd like to see again after you've finished them!

Posted by Alex on Apr 27, 2007 six am

For instance, I can remember just wanting to do the insult sword-fighting again, and getting annoyed because I have to wander around doing all the other bits first.

Also, a developer's commentary might be a neat unlockable feature, now that I think about it. Of course, in a text-based game, you'd have to have it as some sort of sidebar or something. Maybe an optional pop-up window? "CLICK HERE FOR COMMENTARY!"

Dude! If those were just inserted randomly into the game after you've finished it, I would totally replay it just to poke around and find them! I mean, I already would do this to see if there were any jokes that I had missed the first time around, why not cater to that instinct?

Posted by Alex on Apr 27, 2007 ten past six am

"and I wanted players to have to go into the rooms and explore - not just walk in the door, look around, wave the cursor over the screen and leave.   Several of the rooms are designed this way.  It pushed the player inside."

Damn! this was a nice subtle touch that I hadn't thought of until reading it now. It really supplemented a sense of urgency with Weird Ed and Edna's rooms.

Oh, and the first time that Edna chased me out of her room and then ACTUALLY FOLLOWED ME scared me so damn much. I think the fact that Weird Ed didn't do this was what lulled me into a false sense of security.

Posted by Sven on Apr 29, 2007 ten to ten am

<i>I know! Maybe don't even worry about replayability, and design them more like a DVD where you can skip around to the parts you'd like to see again after you've finished them!</i>

Thanks God games haven't reached that "interactive movie" status yet again. In the 90s you got movies touting to be games, in this age  it's the other way around. What a waste. :/

Like Warren Spector in a recent series of articles over at eloquently put it : "..people who believe their creativity is more important than the player's creativity are crazy."

Posted by Valadur on May 3, 2007 twenty five past four pm


I don't think the cut scenes where a mistake. I was pretty young, maybe  8 (?) or a bit older, when I played Maniac Mansion. Back then on the NES. When - for no reason - the cut scenes appeared it was always very exciting and scary :-)
Maniac Mansion was the first game that I finished, I very rarely finish games. But MM was just so captivating :-)

bye :)

Posted by tentonipete on May 4, 2007 ten past six am

FYI Ron Gilbert

I recently bought my 24 year old sister a laptop because she needed it for work/study. when i asked her what software she wanted me to put on there she replied:

"word, excel, firefox.. and... MONKEY ISLAND!"

Posted by Furius on May 4, 2007 half past seven am

Hang on hang on hang on. Why is the big metal door on the first floor open? I played this when I was about 7 for months and could never get it open. Eventually I assumed it was some sort of copy protection, but I had a legitimate copy of the game. One of the biggest mysteries of my life still unsolved. Such disappointment!

Posted by El-Nino on May 20, 2007 quarter to three am

The door on the first floor is the copy protection. I am playing the Enhanced Version of Maniac Mansion which is included in Day of the Tentacle. In this version there is no Copy Protection, Lucas Arts has removed it.

BTW: If you use ScummVM ALL copy protections are removed.

greetz El-Nino

Posted by Someone on May 25, 2007 five past eight am

Do you think the shop I bought the game from would give me a refund for not giving me the manual with the copy protection in it? Come to think of it, I think that shop was owned by the guy who went on to create GTA. Come on Dave Jones give me my money back!

Posted by Furius on May 25, 2007 five past eight am

Do you think the shop I bought the game from would give me a refund for not giving me the manual with the copy protection in it? Come to think of it, I think that shop was owned by the guy who went on to create GTA. Come on Dave Jones give me my money back!

Posted by Jamal Abdou-Karim Bengeloun on May 6, 2007 five pm

And then, it takes half that time to get this kid ( to transform himself into a "who stole my hamster" kind. What were you saying about the time a game takes to load (can anybody say PSP?) nowadays? lol!

Posted by Tobias on May 7, 2007 five past two pm

This video is a fake, though. As fake as lonelygirl15 or wax lips. :)

Posted by Ari on May 8, 2007 one pm

The first Adv. game I've ever played and just one of the many that gave me so wonderful moments during my childwood. But this game, which I had in only one disk, remains in my heart since that day in 1990, when I played it for the first time.
Ron...I can't thank you enough for Maniac Mansion, the first two Monkey Island, the first two Indiana Jones and Zak Mc Kraken. Games are released all days...none like those adventures released during the golden age of graphic adventures.

Posted by Jerrett on May 9, 2007 quarter past one pm

Thank you for making adventure games not suck. Please do it again :)

Posted by mattia on May 14, 2007 ten past noon

Another vote for a book on the golden age of PC adventures! I would definitely buy one on Amazon. I truly, really love the first two Monkey island games and I learned English by playing them (together with Indy) -> I'm Italian :)

Please do write a book on the Lucas Arts years. Just after you've ended your work on the PA game :)

Posted by mattia on May 14, 2007 twenty past noon

Ops, I wrote "PC adventures" but I meant C64 and Amiga. :)
I still remember the day I got my copy of Zak for Amiga and saw the stunning graphic, waaaaay better than the C64 version. Those were really cool years... :)

Posted by Pendorcho on May 31, 2007 twenty to five pm

As the memories of long weekends and late nights tolling away in the salt-mine we called Skywalker Ranch rush over me, I think: "Hey, I should take this video and do a designer's commentary for it".

Posted by Pendorcho on May 31, 2007 five to five pm

I tried to quote something it but i send the comment anyway.

What i was trying to say is that maybe you should reconsider doing that "designer's commentary video", not only for the fans but also for amateur adventure game developers. It is always interesting to see the point of view of other people regarding programming and other ideas that would come up during the design of a game (specially if it is Ron Gilbert were talking about).

I know it could be a very long work to do, but maybe if you divide it into parts, it would be easier to finish.

Posted by Jonas Enderlein on Jun 12, 2007 quarter to four pm

Hi Guys! I guess that I�m one of the biggest Fans of the old Lucas Film Games ;-) and I always ask myself for the reason why we let them "Rest In Peace". We are so many Fans and I think that we could finance the production of a successor of one of our favourite oldgames by just spending 5 Dollars per head. I guess Ron and David would also be happy about it :-9 . Why don�t we make some kind of Donation account at a Bank and try to get the money together somehow....
I can�t live without Lucas Arts Adventures :(
Best wishes from Germany

Posted by Lestat on Jun 16, 2007 ten to four am

"The legend tells that when the proper day arises, a treasure of ages will float from the bottom of gelid waters of the free seas of net. Carved memories of gold will be it`s fortune, and will be signed by a legendary pirate protected by anonymity keeping him safe from dreadly bucaneers in thirst of power...

One day, Monkeys will awake from their last sequel, not the cartoonish third, much less the scummless fourth. They`ll arrise from  where they`ve been left; from it`s shiny second vga...

Be aware, the monkeys are rising..."

I know dear Ron, one day, if not you, someone will... Maybe in a fan game mode with out copyrights and etceteras...

I know because i`ve dreamt about it...


Posted by Gartenfackel on Jun 16, 2007 five past ten am

I think this game was the best game in C64.
I played it all the time and it was called too Zak Mc Cracken, I think.
Perhaps there are a new version for actual Pc gaming.

Posted by Kroms on Jun 16, 2007 quarter past eleven am

Zak McCracken is a different game :)

Posted by elend on Jun 22, 2007 twenty to three am

Oh how I would love videos of your old games with added commentary. Please consider doing something like that. It shouldn't be that much work anyway.

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