I love when people dig up new dirt on my favorite things from 30-ish years ago, in this case a playable prototype of a never-developed “talkie” version of LucasArt’s The Secret of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge. The folks at the venerable MixNMojo site have a good writeup, including a detailed archeology on the differences and new sound resources discovered, along with information and images of LucasArt’s internal debugging tool called Windex (which ran on a second monitor in Hercules monochrome graphics mode!). Neat.
Notes about computer games
Jordan Mechner’s game development diaries from when he made the original Prince of Persia are a good read, and now available in what looks like a nicely illustrated hardback edition — he was a teenager when he released his first commercial game and roughly 20 when developing the even bigger hit Prince of Persia, and his diaries illuminate both the remarkable technical accomplishments he was able to pull off on the limited 1980s hardware but also the mind and outlook of a teenager diving into an increasingly commercial world.
This also reminded me that I’d also seen his name on early Lucasfilm Game products — he was the one who had to bowdlerize the NES port of Maniac Mansion for the NES! Go read his Expurgation of Maniac Mansion post, it’s worth it if you’re a fan of that era of adventure game.
Anyhow, I kind of envy his career path.
From a short essay by elTee on Mixnmojo considering “The Secret of Monkey Island” as a satire of and rebuke to Sierra’s adventure games, a major shift in the genre that would signal the end of the (strangely death-obsessed) Quest series:
Did any of you ever play Police Quest? It was an interesting game because it actually expected you to act like a real police officer. I didn’t realise that cops had to perform a 360-degree vehicle check every morning (duh) and so when I drove away, I got a flat tyre outside of the station. If that were LucasFilm Games’ The Secret of The Death Angel, I’d probably be able to get out of the car and change the tyre, but not so in Police Quest with its grimly predictable ‘game over’. But in a weird way, it was more annoying when I finally managed to get that first day at work under my belt and it was time to get changed and head home. There’s a locker room, and I realise I have no idea which one of the lockers is mine – and then I further realise that the game isn’t going to help me out because of the logic that… the character knows which locker it is.
The Secret of Monkey Island throws that kind of crap out from the opening line. Guybrush doesn’t know shit, and that puts him and us on a level playing field. It’s subtle and incredibly liberating.
Very true. You could learn a lot about storytelling and game writing, good and bad, by studying the early adventure games.