If I Made Another Monkey Island

Apr 14, 2013

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 fully worked out).  I might change my mind, but probably not.  Mmmmm... verbs.

Six - Full-on inventory.  Nice big juicy icons full of pixels.  The first version of Monkey Island 1 had text for inventory, a later release and Monkey Island 2 had huge inventory icons and it was nirvana.  They will be so nice you'll want to lick them. That's a bullet-point for the box.

Seven - There would be a box. I imagine most copies would be sold digitally, but sometimes you just want to roll around in all your adventure game boxes. I know I do.  Besides, where would you store the code wheel?

Eight - There would be dialog puzzles.  They weren't really puzzles, but that's what we called them.  Being able to tell four jokes at once and meander and getting lost in the humor of a conversation is the staple of Monkey Island.  No one has done it better since.  Just my opinion.

Nine - I would rebuild SCUMM.  Not SCUMM as in the exact same language, but what SCUMM brought to those games. It was a language built around making adventure games and rapid iteration.  It did things Lua could never dream of.  When Lua was in High School, SCUMM beat it up for lunch money.  True story.  SCUMM lived and breathed adventure games.  I'd build an engine and a language where funny ideas can be laughed about at lunch and be in the game that afternoon.  SCUMM did that. It's something that is getting lost today.

Ten - It would be made with a very small team.  Not 30 or 20, but 10 or less.  It means the game would take longer, but it would be more personal and crafted with love. Monkey love. Wait... that's not what I meant...

Eleven - The only way I would or could make another Monkey Island is if I owned the IP.  I've spent too much of my life creating and making things other people own.  Not only would I allow you to make Monkey Island fan games, but I would encourage it.  Label them as such, respect the world and the characters and don't claim they are canon.  Of course, once the lawyers get ahold of that last sentence it will be seven pages long.

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.

Thirteen - It won't be the Monkey Island 3 I was going to make in 1992. I'm not the same person I was back then. I could never make that game now.  It is lost to time.  Hopefully this one would be better.

Fourteen - The press won't get advanced copies.  I know all the reasons they want to get a game in advance, and they are all valid, but I feel they should play it at the same time you do.  I hope they won't be mad at me.  My Metacritic score hopes they won't be mad it me.

Fifteen - It would have full voice.  It's something we dreamed of back then and we can do it now.

Sixteen - If I used Kickstarter, there would be no fancy videos of me trying to look charming (as if I could).  No concept art or lofty promises or crazy stretch goals or ridiculous reward tiers.  It would be raw and honest.  It would be free of hype and distractions that keep me from making the best game I could.  True, I wouldn't raise huge sums of money or break any records, but that's not what I want to do. I want to make a game.

Seventeen - The game would be the game I wanted to make.  I don't want the pressure of trying to make the game you want me to make.  I would vanish for long periods of time. I would not constantly keep you up-to-date or be feeding the hype-machine.  I'd show stuff that excited me or amused me.  If you let me do those things, you will love the game. That, I promise.

I hope you've had as much fun reading this as I had writing it.

Samuel Varg
Will you ever reveal the secret of Monkey Island even if 3a isn't made?

Keith T
It's the gate to hell Sam.

Huh. That does make sense.

Did anyone else ever notice that the giant monkey head was attached... to a giant monkey body? Creepy stuff.

I love MI 1 + 2 and Maniac Mansion... and The Cave and Zac McK... and and and... For me all these creations are art. So e. g. MI 3 - 5 are "Pictures" painted by the wrong artist. I don't want a pollock picture painted by van gogh...

Yes I would love a new MI, but I also hope for a new game created by Ron. A grummpy game made by the grummpy gamer.

Sorry, my englisch is crap...

I would love this so much. MI3 was fine and all, but it didn't feel like the first 2, (The Less said about MI4 the better in my opinion, and I haven't played Tales)

I looked at the box art for MI2 today and compared it with MI3, The same theme is there, but I really don't like the "Cartoon" look. I know that with the higher res stuff, creating those nicely rendered semi-realistic (close ups of certain conversations in MI1 were excellent) images is hideously time consuming, but the time taken to make the whole thing a bit less "goofy" would be awesome.

I thought that sword fighting was really great in MI1, but wasn't too keen on it being recycled in the later games. That puzzle was done, that joke was had, and it was time to move on.

MI1 and 2 were great because they were mostly In Setting, and then took the anachronisms and used them as gags, they're everywhere in the later games. I love everything about the first two games.

I don't have much money, but I swear I'd find a way to sink a couple of hundred dollars in if Gilbert did MI3a. Those games were my childhood and I still go back to play them. (admittedly on steam as I no longer have a floppy drive)

I know you're not going to do it. But Do It.

Come on Ron, just start a Kickstarter, you know you can have the money in a very short of time.
There is a lot of people waiting for this, of course i`m one of theese, i rise up whith this games i whis one day you will start this  project i will be there.
Sorry my english :'(
Come on Ron¡¡

Christopher Ford
Please do this.

You know a Monkey Island kickstarter would go through the roof. The Neverhood guys are doing a kickstarter game!

For the benefit of future generations - give us your masterpiece.

If you have a plot in your head you won't be satisfied until the game is out there. Kickstart this baby! We'll back you up.

alright, now we only need the Monkey Island IP !

its funny to read that you did not count any monkey island after 2 into the "canon.
Neither did i,  somehow when playing the "third part" there was this feeling "something is not right"
and still i am riddled on how the second part continues and ....what IS the SECRET of Monkey Island ? ;)

Keith T
It's the gate to hell Ben

For the love of our childhood and those GREAT years back then you should start the Kickstart and do this. Its like the ultimate tribute for the great old times and I think all of us (old gamers and adventure lovers) deserve it and we will support it ( I know I'll do). I still play the first 2 games witch are my favorites and the only true Monkey Island games out there. But the truth is that I still have the same feeling at the end : I want to know the Secret of Monkey Island and see a REAL 3rd game that concludes the story and fells like the first 2 games. Please! Take all the time you want but do it! For all those years back then... for all of us who loved adventure games because of Monkey Island...for you! Otherwise , as you said, it is only a dream and we are dreaming with you :)

So your making it then. Grand.

Seth H
Life would surely be worth living if this MI was in the future.

MI 1 and 2 are part of a transcendent classic. There's as much to love and learn from this series as there is in a classic movie like Casablanca or a Monet painting.

Maybe we don't see it this way as a culture yet, but someday we will. MI is beautiful and you would be letting everyone including your own legacy down if you give up on this!

Great minds shall overcome their obstacles!

Austin Storm

Keith T
Man, this is one of those projects I'd love to get on board for, like Shenmue 3. The adventure game is far from a dying genre, but it doesn't appeal to the Call of Duty fan. Everybody now wants a piece of that pie, ironically Call of Duty fans only play Call of Duty.

I love the idea of "intimate development" Something else we've lost in the mess of multi-million dollar budgets and greenlight fodder.

Independent my tooth, what ever happened to well funded passion?

Robert G
1. Figure out what budget you need for IP + development and marketing
2. Kickstarter
3. Shut up and take my 2000 USD

I'm sure there's more like me, I love the fact that you'd like to keep the same resolution! :)

Ps. <3

TBH I would love some new IP. I long wanted a proper Star Control sequel, but in past few years and after seeing that a new IP can do succeed in doing similar things (Mass Effect 1) and as a big bonus, be fresh and avoid the need to do direct comparisons.

One such comparison:

A particular pet peeve of mine with modern games is the use of very generic/bland typefaces (even the old favorite MTG just changed their cards typeface to look as if they were shipping labels instead of illustrated fantasy - I'm not the only one who noticed this mismatch), where as old games with bitmap typefaces had custom ones that felt appropriate for the context.

Some old games with many "alien races" like Star Control 2 made their aliens feel unique not just by looks and personal score, but by having unique typeface. That added so much character that when I first heard the voice acted version it felt disappointing in comparison - I've since learned to like some of the voices a lot but I feel that voice acting is often done on budget in these indie adventure games and they might be better off by using variety of typefaces without voice acting.

Edit to previous comment:
" I long wanted a proper Star Control sequel " meant to continue that I think even if the original team was doing it, since they've not done one in a long time, logic tells me that things would go similarly as in a recent kickstarter of old IP - the kickstarter game turned out to get mediocre reviews but the sequel to that got reviewed very well.

So I think it would be less risky to do a practise round with starting up small with new IP (small and effective like Samorost 1) before doing the bigger thing like sequel to old IP with more expectations, or just a bigger game in general (Machinarium). I know there's been a ton of adventure games in past few years but I looked at all of them in YouTube and so far only Amanita Design seem to have the kind of thing going on that opens up my wallet - you can see from just one screenshot that there's true perfectionists working on there. I didn't fund LSL1 remake in Kickstarter since it was plain obvious from a single screenshot that they didn't have what it takes and the reviews were mediocre. And we already had good enough VGA remake of LSL1 so that was not needed either.

I agree with the guy who suggests you to start a Kickstarter. I live in Italy and I can tell you, dear Ron, that in all over the world people are waiting for something like that. Even if you couldn't collect enough money for Monkey's IP, I'm sure everybody, who loves for real MI, would be glad to help you.
You may say: "What if I could not earn enough money from the Kickstarter?".
Well you could use them for a new game, different from MI, but with same ideas you listed above.
Let's be honest here: 90% of videogames nowadays sucks, and I think it's because during last 15 years game developers completely forgot the main goal of a game. Something that, on the other hand, we can find in almost all of the productions from 80's and 90's. I know that you know what I'm talking about. I can't just understand how much you have been "corrupted" by "the ideas of the third millennium", and if you still care for people like me.
By the way, i'm 24 and I grew up not just with Lucas and Sierra games, but with those coming from Nintendo and Sony too; however I can honestly tell you that what I got from you, and from people who have worked with, has been unique.
Making a jump into the past would may change our future. Thanks for reading, and sorry for my not perfect english.

Hi there!
Any news about that 23 years awaited idea...?


sorry. I meant: do it!

Sounds epic, from a big monkey island fan, do it for your fellow pirates.

wait a second.. i just found out i still didnt understand, why dont you kickstarter it?

Ron Gilbert
Kickstart what? I don't own the rights and the people who do own them are NOT interested in selling them. Yeah, it sucks for all of us.

oh, i'm not fluent in legal terms and from the comments here i didnt understand they arent willing to sell the rights, sure do sucks. i do want to use the fact that i'm talking to the man who made monkey island to say RESPECT for one of the few real epic vibes (i dont really know how to describe it, i keep explaining my girlfriend that it's not simply a "game", its a part of me, and i hope you dont understand it the wrong way) that are part of my life. whatever adventure game youll do i hope to see more of that soul/mind. dor kova, mighty pirate.

and btw, while im still ignorant in legal shit, for me it doesnt matter if the name is guybrush or whatever it will still be monkey island, sorry for the drunkness

Run Gilbert
You could make a finished game with different characters and different names, but with the ability to change both.
Then "someone" would release an asset pack substituting the names to the ones we would really like to see.
No one would of course know where said package came from if asked. ;-)
I don't see how any lawyers could object to that.
You'd still make money of of the game and you would probably make Disneys interest in the franchise null.

You can kickstart not MI, but "Tales of a shitty pirate". Shut up and take my money!

Well, after reading you I only have one question: Is it possible to have your Monkey Island IP back? That's our next goal!

Ron Gilbert
Disney is not interested in selling the IP. That might change in a couple of years. Who knows.

And you'd definitely not do it if you didn't own the IP. Even if they gave you complete creative freedom. Even for old time's sake. Right? :(

Monkey Island games were designed by you with the help of other two talented guys: Dave and Tim. If you make a new monkey game, will you try to work with they again? If you make it alone, it would be a real Monkey game?

Shit man ! As another kid who remembers Monkey Island as one of the best moments of my childhood, please do it.  Take our money, develop it as you see fit, and give our adult selfs a once in a lifetime treat.  lets take advantange of todays oportunities for somethin useful for once.

Take care

Do it. Do it. Do it. My hands are getting wet, sorry. Open that Kickstarter campaign, copy paste this entry, and give us the Monkey Island 3 we are still waiting for.

Please do it ! The people of the world will fund it !

I admit that it's been really fun to read and imagine ... but also, Ron, this is so cruel ...

OK, so what if WE made a HUGE NOISE and a change.org petition with hundreds of thousands of sings begging you to make this game... would that work? I mean, you can make a kickstarter and get the money in less than 1 day, and that's a fact...

A Monkey with FIVE heads
So... you are doing a new MI or what?


if you can why not?

That is the way, I bet the ten number is the most important of all (and that is why it is a 10). Fast implementation of morning jokes in a small team. And you get a great game and an awesome history.

So, who wants to join the dream team?


I hate you Ron, you just made me think about the time I loved playing games so much I could not think about anything else. I hope you really are not serious about point 1 and 2 but if you do, thanks for Monkey Island 1 and 2.

Jaime Cuesta
Space pirates. A new environment for a new time.

I was a child when I played (and loved) MI 1 and 2. Now I am father and I would love to play with my little boy to a MI 3 that thrill both the father and the son. Put up a kickstarter!

we won't buy it then because you are not making it.

pretty please with sugar nuts a cherry and CHOCOLATE SPRINKLES????

I might be an all-mighty pirate
Arrrrr. What are ye waiting for, ye grog-snarfing privateer?

OMG, please do it!

Ron Gilbert
Do what? I do not own the rights to MI and Disney IS NOT interested in selling them. The is NOT a problem Kickstarter can solve.

Then just go public, I'm sure Disney will sell once they see all the support you get just to avoind pissing fans!

Enough money can solve any problem, even Disney has a price.

Who owns the code MI? Release would be exciting.

Ok, you don't own the IP. What about calling it "The mistery of Ape Island"? The main questions are the playability, the feel and the soul of the game. Nobody will care if the guy is not brush.

Louis Avelson
An original Monkey Island... Not driven by marketing requirements... A pure Ron Gilbert experience??? I would sell one of my kidneys in the black market to finance it!

Hi Ron! Which is the secret of SCUMM? Why is it so good? which is the philosophy behind it? Thank you!

So. Thimbleweed Park is happening.
It's got verbs. It's got sharp pixel retro charm. And takes advantage of some technical feats we have today.

It is a dream come true.

Thank you. Stay grumpy ;).

And maybe, when you are done with Thimbleweed Park, just maybe, you feel like working with David Fox to create a spiritual successor to Zak. And maybe, just maybe, after that ...

... after that ... uh ... after that stupidity epidemic ...

Well after this, there could knock a spiritual successor to Monkey Island on the door.

Meat Hook
Forget the IP. Why not just create Ape Isle starring Manshrub Peeltree? The rest stays the same.

Monkey Business

Ofcourse you are able to buy the rights. "they dont sell" isnt true.

You should own the rights, an entire generation (or two) thinks this is fair and true. And this generation have money now.

Dont forget that!

Make the game, and call it monkey island 3. Not "3a"

Kickstart what?
Kickstart this: "Buy the rights back - Monkey island"

200'000 usd?
500'000 usd?
1'000'000 usd?
Whats their price?

5'000'000 usd?
50'000'000 usd?

If Chris Roberts managed to crownfund 65 MILLION USD by selling spaceships in a game that isnt made yet, need i rant more?

Dont underestimate yourself or the true power of Monkey Island.

When you visit the other side, the rights should be with you!
// Legal council of LeChuck

ppl may hate me for this, but I loved MI 3 and its hand drawn design . it's what got me into going back to MI 1 & 2
missed out on playing no. 4 and played MI 5 full series.

the whole MI 5 series is seriously lacking in my opinion, there's just not that much attention to detail put back in it as MI 1 - 3 had. it just prompted me to reminisce on how good previous gags were and the level of intuitive jokes.
this wasnt my point but whatever.

the majority of those points aren't useless mr MI Maker. make a new game, rebuild scumm feed it to kickstarter, allow it to be sold via steam (ideally) be honest, have a small team make a game you'll love crowd funding shouldnt b too hard, youve got a fan base somethere. at least maybe they can have the game earlier than the rest or something. so the hardcores and the press can fund you (why not have the press pay you for early access? ) MI is dead, pheonix a new game in its ashes. have the game style just like you wanted for MI. LoVe it

Mancomb Seepgood
This needs to happen.

Disney need to let the IP go for a token figure.

The Secret of Monkey Island was the very first game I played as a kid on my 386 all those years ago and I have never loved a game as much since.

I played all of the Monkey Island series, even the awful MI4, and none of them can touch the original two.

I would give my right arm to see MI3a!

Wow! It really feels good to read something like this. I agree with you 110%. I guess every Monkey Island fan always dreamed of a REAL third sequel for the game.

If you ever do talk to Disney about this, maybe you can make this comparison to them: if Monkey Island were Star Wars, then  it would have stoped at The Empire Strikes Back, and all that ever came out after that would be Ewoks the Battle for Endor...

One question: Did Guybrush open Big Whoop when he dropped the chest? I.e. A portal to another world. And why wasn't LeChuck freaked out by it?

Ow, my head. The pain from 1992 is starting again.

One. If you made this game I would buy it, not that you're making it. So I wont be buying it.
Two. If the fact that I plan on buying the game makes it a game, I think I might do just that. Except I'm not buying it, but I might.
Three. Is Monkey Island 3a one of those annoying houses that has been converted into maisonettes? The island will probably be rented out to council tenants, in which case I wouldn't not buy it.
Four. Even though you're not making it, you should make it. That is how you get a head in business after all.
Five. Employ me. But don't.
what is two + two + three?