Friday, February 18, 2011

Insult swordfighting with Ron Gilbert

If there is one man that's had the average adventure gamer wandering around, collecting weird items and solving obscure puzzles ever since he released his first game back in 1987, that man is Ron Gilbert. The 'Grumpy Gamer' himself is among the highly respected few that defined the graphic adventure game back in the golden era of adventures, the eighties. Ron is, of course, responsible for the most famous mighty pirate to ever grace an EGA monitor, Guybrush Threepwood of the Monkey Island series. Ron was a writer, programmer and director on The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge. More recently Ron worked on the awesome Deathspank games, action RPG's flavoured with Ron's trademark sense of humor. Ron currently works over at Double Fine, Tim Schafer's development studio. It's still a mystery as to what these two adventure gaming legends are working on over there but my guess is that it's going to be awesome.

Ron was kind enough to answer a few questions for me recently via email.

Me: Where did the concept for your original adventure game, Maniac Mansion, come from? Were you always interested in adventure games or were action/arcade genres discussed by Garry Winnick, yourself and Lucasarts?

Ron: Funny. I just gave an hour long talk in Germany last month on this very subject. I'll be giving the same talk at GDC this year and the video will be free online. The short answer is that Gary and I had a funny idea for a game about a bunch of kids that go into a creepy mansion and that was it. It wasn't until several months into the project that we figured out that it was going to be an adventure game.

Most of your games, classic and current, have a strong component of humor. Where do you think this stems from?

The humor in my games come from games being kind of ridiculous in the first place, so it's better to just have fun and not take yourself to seriously.

Of your classics, which are you most fond of?

Maniac Mansion. You never forget your first love.

What do you think of Telltales continuation of the Monkey Island series?

I think they did a good job. I'm glad Dave Grossman was there to watch after the project and make sure it was good.

You're somewhat of a legend of early adventure gaming among the classic gaming community. How do you feel about that?

It's a little mind boggling, but it's fun to have so many people love something you made.

Where did the concept for Deathspank come from? Is he a character you think you'll revisit after the first two games?

DeathSpank started out as a comic on my website that Clayton and I made ( He was this over the top video game character and he was so fun to write for that we decided that he needed his own game.

You described Deathspank as "Monkey Island meets Diablo". Are there any other genres you'd like to bring your trademark humor to?

FPS really need to be funnied up!

If you had a free afternoon for pure, uninterrupted gaming, what would you play?

I do, everything Sat and Sun, and I play WoW.

Unlimited budget. Expert development team. Total creative control. What dream game would you make?

Monkey Island 3a. The true 3rd game.

If you could change one thing about the game industry today what would it be?

That developers were correctly compensated for the work they do, rather than asshole CEOs.

You probably have no favourites, but if you Guybrush Threepwood and Deathspank were marooned at sea, who would get eaten first?

Guybrush. No question. DeathSpank wouldn't even ask.

Thanks so much for you time Ron.

My pleasure!

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