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.
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 Mansionpost, it’s worth it if you’re a fan of that era of adventure game.
Game designer Brian Moriarty delivered quite a talk at the 1997 Game Developers Conference, touching on everything from interaction design, emergent play, community-created art, creativity, self expression, and even an unexpected but interesting tangent about 101 Dalmatians. In hindsight, many of subjects he talks about would become evident over the next decade, from the Sims to Etsy to Minecraft to social networking. From Listen! The Potential of Shared Hallucinations:
Before we can learn, before we can grow, we have to be prepared to listen.
What does it mean, to listen?
The word is commonly understood to mean “attentive hearing.”
It has its etymological origin in the archaic verb, list.
“List!” they used to say. “Ssh! List! The wild boar is outside!”
But the verb “list” also means to tilt something to one side.
When a sea vessel leans to starboard or port, it is said to be listing.
So how did the word “list” turn into the verb “listen?”
Because when we try to hear something, we sometimes cock our heads in the direction of the sound.
So to listen means more than to hear attentively.
The word also implies a change of inclination.
A new slant.
To listen is to put ourselves into a receptive attitude.
A position to be re-aligned.
Also worth reading (the talk is also available for watching as a video in the GDC Vault) if you fondly remember the days of Hypercard, MUDs, and when text adventures reigned supreme on AOL, or if you like crazy 1990s Photoshop anaglyphs…
A fan-made port of the pixel font built into the adventure game classics The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge. As a bonus, a separate version is available that is properly kerned and hinted. (double bonus: opening the .ttf file in Font Book reveals that the demonstration string for the font reads “You fight like a dairy farmer!”)
A post combining Lucasfilm Games and typography? Immediate reblog!
Nice write-up by Ars Technica on the ScummVM project’s history and developers. Hard to believe it’s been around for over 10 years already! (also, I hadn’t heard that they had a brief-lived controversial build that supported Eric Chahi’sAnother World, one of the best games of all time…)
OMG OMG, some kind soul is posting good-quality, full-page scans of all of the old LucasFilm Games / LucasArts Adventurer magazines! Created at the company’s artistic height, these gems were half retail catalog, half inside scoop trivia treasure trove, decked out with never-to-be-seen-again Steve Purcell art (including single-page Sam & Max comics parodying the major Lucas game release featured that issue). They now sell for an arm and a leg on eBay.
If you’re a fan of the old Lucasfilm Games (and the kind of video game nerd that likes this sort of weird find…), don’t let your week go by without watching this internal Lucasfilm Games parody video unearthed by Mix n’ Mojo. Shots of Skywalker Ranch, Ron Gilbert, Larry Holland, jokes riffing off of the “Bo Knows” and “Spielvergnügen” (erm, Fahrvergnügen) ads, and even a song sung on the Ranch’s porch about their adventure games. It doesn’t get much more 1990 then this, folks!
(Bonus: watch for the boxed copy of King’s Quest V on the desk at around 8 minutes in — how’d that get in there??)
If you love the old Lucasfilm games and want a peek into how their venerable game engine worked from a very technical perspective, you should read this article that walks through a disassembled Maniac Mansion. Extra bonus: Ron Gilbert, the creator of the SCUMM scripting language, drops a lengthy note in the comments section with insider info:
One of the goals I had for the SCUMM system was that non-programers could use it. I wanted SCUMM scripts to look more like movies scripts, so the language got a little too wordy. This goal was never really reached, you always needed to be a programmer. 🙁
actor sandy walk-to 67,8
This is the command that walked an actor to a spot.
actor sandy face-right actor sandy do-animation reach walk-actor razor to-object microwave-oven start-script watch-edna stop-script stop-script watch-edna say-line dave “Don’t be a tuna head.” say-line selected-kid “I don’t want to use that right now.”
I think it’s amazing that they managed to build a script interpreter with preemptive multitasking (game events could happen simultaneously, allowing for multiple ‘actors’ to occupy the same room, the clock in the hallway to function correctly, etc.), clever sprite and scrolling screen management, and fairly non-linear set of puzzles into software originally written for the 8-bit C64 and Apple II era of computers.
Know who assembled the retail boxes and whatnots for the original Secret of Monkey Island launch (including putting together the Dial-A-Pirate™ codewheels, as seen above)? The actual developers! I believe that’s Hal Barwood in the red glasses, and maybe that’s Dave Grossman on the left? If you have positive ID’s on anyone in the photo, let me know! The GameCola blog scored these photos of launch assembly from Tim Schafer’s Facebook page, including this good bit of trivia:
In one of these boxes, the developers slipped a five-dollar bill, signed by the whole team. It hasn’t been seen since.
The game industry’s definitely a bit different these days.
A private school principal once told me that in the history of literature, the greatest translation of all time was the English translation of Waiting for Godot, because Samuel Beckett had personally translated it from French, in which he’d originally written it, into English, his mother tongue. Well, Steve Purcell just might be the Samuel Beckett of comic book video games.
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.