Do you have any idea what the background artists from the first two MI games thought of the CMI look? Did you ever get to show your work to someone like Steve Purcell?
Looks like I jumped the gun on this question. I ought to thoroughly read these questions before I start answering them. But like I said, they all liked it a lot.

CMI had its coming-out party at ECTS in 1996, I think, and our PR department wanted Larry and I to design a temporary box cover to grace the front of the sell sheet, a nicely printed piece of paper that the company gives out to distributors and store mangers to help promote the game. Larry drew the pencil line and I made six color compositions for Larry Ahern and Tom Byron, our PR guy to look at. We ended up using a combination of the two middle images for the final cover.
There are a lot of Monkey Island references in Indy3D... since you worked on both games, can we assume you had something to do with this?
Absolutely, but I wasn’t the only one. I kind of got the ball rolling and many of the Indy crew added significantly to it.

It started when Jonathan and Larry were working on a new game idea (this was before Jonathan left to start his own company). They were interested in the idea of a real time 3D-adventure game but they weren’t sure how it would look. So just for fun one night I mentioned the idea to Reed Dereleth (Jedi Knight) who is one of Indy 3D’s level designers and huge Monkey Island fan, that it might be neat to model the Barbery Coast using Indy’s level design tool. Reed, being a huge CMI fan, loved the idea and got to work on it right away. He was finished the next day. I made some textures for it and messed with the lighting and it looked pretty cool.

It did seem kind of odd that Indy was walking around in Monkey Island, so I asked our Indy 3D-character modeler, Mai Nyguen, to make a Guybrush model. Three hours later he was finished! Derek Sakai was on the Indy team and he had also worked on Monkey III (he animated Blondebeard and others), so I asked him if he would do a walk cycle for the 3D Guybrush, and viola! One hour later he was done.

I was amazed how fast that came together. I started to think, “This looks good and can be done in no time! That means we can add more art and animation into the schedule for adventure games without raising the budget!” Larry and Jonathan were definitely impressed with this little experiment. But Jonathan wanted to make his own company so their game idea was put on hold.

The Indy team forgot about the Monkey Island level for about a year. Then we were trying to think up ideas for the Aetherium level when I joked “Wouldn’t it be cool if Indy walked through a portal of reality and ended up in Monkey Island?” Hal Barwood (Fate of Atlantis) and Tim Longo (Star Fighter) to my surprise actually liked the idea as an Easter Egg. Hal modified it so the player would actually turn into Guybrush as he walked down the hall. Then I suggested that we put pictures of the Indy team on the walls. Tim then programmed the Athereal firefly to lead the player to the tunnel. Our art tech Harley Baldwin said that it would be easy to replace Indy’s model with Guybrush, so she did it and code was added to the game that allowed you to change to Guybrush anytime by our lead programmer, Paul. One of our programmers, Randy Tudor, coded the rubber chicken coming out of the bazooka.

I put El Marrow and Melee on the maps just for fun. But I have seen a lot of speculation about the Monkey ‘in jokes’ on the web, but the above story is really all there is too it.

Also, there is an island in Indy3D that looks a lot like Plunder Island or Melee Island... could you tell us which island it is meant to be, if it is an island from MI at all.
No, not a Monkey Island island, though that is good idea. I wish I had thought of it at the time or I would have done it. It was just suppose to be the Canary Islands, a place for Indy to escape to in the middle of the Atlantic.

"Can you tell the difference? Free signed copy of the Dig to the first..."
You were the final background artist on The DIG, I believe the artist before you was Bill Eaken. How did your work differ from his originals, and can you tell us more about the original look?
Our looks didn’t vary much at all. In fact I just copied his style as closely as possible. As I said before, I started out as an animator on the Dig and Bill was the lead and only background artist at the time. I was really interested in doing backgrounds for SCUMM games so I hung out with him and learned his technique. When he left to do freelance illustration I just slid in to the position. But I had to prove I had the ability to do the job to Colette Michaud by painting a test room. I painted it in four hours. It must have done the trick because I got the job. The test room was used in the game as the control room for the underwater trams. I think the only difference between Bill’s room and mine were that he tended to use three colored light sources and I tended to use two, and I used a lot of natural light. But that is about it. Can you tell the difference? Free signed copy of the Dig to the first person who figures out CORRECTLY all the backgrounds I did and THE ones Bill Eaken did! (Send your answers to if you think you can take on this mammoth task - Skyfox)

I kind of wish I had been told the ship for the final scene in the game was going to be done with a 3D model before I went through the trouble of drawing the backside, excuse me, the stern of the Sea Cucumber. Oh well, I forgive them. Besides Dan Colon, our lone 3D artists, did a great job creating the model. Here we see it before the textures were applied, and with a 2D cartoon filter used to render the image. Any scene where a shipped moved was done in 3D. The best scene using the 3D ship model was the one where LeChuck's ship blew up in the beginning. I couldn't tell it was 3D model!
Where was inspiration for each of the games' art from? CMI, The Dig and Indy3D?
Peter DeSeve, Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, N.C Wyeth, Nightmare Before Christmas inspired the CMI art. Other inspirations were Disney features from the forties and fifties.

The Indy movies as well as hundreds of National Geographic magazines and books inspired the Indy 3D art.

The Dig wasn’t really inspired by anything in particular originally. I mean, I was inspired by Bill Eaken’s art, but I am not too sure what he was inspired by. I do know Spielberg wanted the planet to always be in twilight and have Indy-like alien ruins. He wanted it to be a combination of the movies The Treasure of Sierra Madre and Forbidden Planet. I think Bill kind of drew off of those movies and his own and Brian Moriarty’s ideas for what an alien planet might look like. Bill drew a bunch of rock spires. Brian saw these and came up with the idea of island spires that sort of looked natural and sort of looked constructed. Brian also liked the world to be fairly barren of plant life, thus all the rocks.

When Sean Clark and I took over for Bill and Brian we made a lot of changes, so there needed to be a good number of new rooms and alterations to old ones. So I just tried to follow what Bill did and add some new twists. My inspirations, again, were probably Bill Eaken, Peter Chan and Greg and Tim Hildebrandt.

This version of the Brimstone beach burning sand area was too boring. The perspective is only one point and the composition is too symmetrical. I do like the two feral chickens sun bathing in the foreground. We had to throw that gag out because we were worried players might want to go up and interact with them instead of Palido. I roughed this out on the computer in about ten minutes and it shows.
I'm sure there is a lot of concept art drawn while making a game… are there any backgrounds that you can show us from CMI or The DIG that never made it into the final game?
There are some backgrounds for CMI that were not used, and some backgrounds Bill Eaken created but were ultimately cut from the final version of The Dig.

Why were they not used?
In the case of Monkey Island, Larry had to cut back on some rooms to save on time, but for the most part they were combined with existing rooms. We just used our space more efficiently. There were two cut scene backgrounds we didn’t use, but they were never fully painted, - only drawn. We had to cut those out because we were running out of time and money. They were going to used for the scene where Guybrush runs up to rescue Elaine who is about to ride the Monkeyhorn roller coaster into the mouth of Big Whoop. I’d show them to you but they belong to LEC and you would need to ask their permission to show them. (It just so happens that LEC did give us permission, you will see them around the Interview. - Skyfox)

All artists want their art to be the best they can make it. I was no different. But there is a time to make beautiful art and there is a time to just crank out as many composition variations as possible so as to give your art director, in my case Larry Ahern as many versions to choose from. I learned that with this drawing. I spent a whole day on it before showing it to Larry and it is clearly too busy and the Barbery coast is too far off center. It just got squeezed into the long shot of the town anyway. After this I decided just to draw a bunch of small rough sketches instead of putting all my eggs in one basket. Another thing I was trying to do with this image is show some after effects of the battle with LeChuck, seen here in the form of a boat blown out on to the docks. I was too busy trying to paint the town the way it normally looked that I forgot to add the battle damage in the final image.
Are you a Monkey Island fan yourself?
You bet I am! Before I got the job at LEC back in ’92 I ran out to buy some Lucas games just before my interview. I wanted to have some idea of what kind of games Lucas made now days. I had Rescue at Fractulas and Ballblazer for the Apple II, but I needed to see some recent games. Colette had shown me clips from Fate of Atlantis, and I was blown away. So I rushed out to get it. But it hadn’t been released yet. I asked the guy at the store if he had any other Lucas Arts game and he gave me this box with some weird pirate guy writhing around in pain while a pirate zombie was stabbing a voodoo doll. “What is this?” I said to myself somewhat disappointed, because I was really psyched up about this new Indy game.

So I took it home and my brother Brian and I started playing it. From the first instant I saw it I was hooked! I loved it! It reminded my of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride I love so much at Disneyland, but a lot funnier, and less crowded, and really, less expensive too if you add up the cost of parking, eating, and souvenirs. My brother and I took turns solving the puzzles all summer until I started at Lucas. When I got to work I started playing the game there and Dave Grossman and Tim Schaffer would walk by and say, “Hey, I wrote that puzzle. What we really want to do is…blah, blah, blah.” And “Here is how you solve this puzzle.” That was pretty cool. It helped to have the game designers there to aid me in my quest for the fabulous treasure known as Big Whoop. They kept saying I should play Monkey Island 1. I didn’t like the looks of the graphics and I didn’t think it was possible to make a game funnier than Monkey Island Two. But sure enough, when I got around to playing it I loved it even more than MI2!

Do you have a favorite moment in any of the 3 games?
There are so many. But I will narrow it down to three or four. In MI1 I wanted to know what would happen if I escaped from the cannibal village and then got captured again. To my delight, the locks the cannibals used kept getting more and more outrageous. And when the cannibal says (I probably have this wrong) “I don’t know what is a bigger mystery, how you keep escaping the locked hut or why you keep coming back.” I about fell off my chair laughing. In MI 2 when Guybrush digs up the bones of Largo’s relative and he lifts the bone over his head, and we see his pants drop in the lightning flash, milk comes out my nose every time! It cracks me up every time Guybrush falls off the cliff on Blood/Duck Island and slams into the rock, just missing the water. Or when the fat pirate says, “Look, I really am big boned!” and he really has big bones. I don’t know. Maybe it is because those were my jokes or something.

What other games do you play?
Currently I am playing Everquest, Baldur’s Gate I and II, Icewind Dale, Crimson Skies, Madden Football 2001 for PSX 2, Metal Gear Solid, EMI and System Shock 2. Sitting on my shelf starring at me are unopened copies of the Sims, Age of Kings, Vampire the Masquerade, Starfighter, Deus Ex.

"Monkey Island 1 is my all time favorite..."
Do you have a favorite game of all time?
Monkey Island 1 is my all-time favorite (and I am not just saying that to kiss up to the interviewer). In descending order would be Sim City 2000, War Craft II, X-Wing, Baldur’s Gate, Full Throttle, Monkey Island Two, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Choplifter, Ultima III, Bard’s Tale, Street Fighter, Ecco the Dolphin, Spy Hunter, Tron, Donkey Kong. I could actually go on for a while here. I am going to stick with Monkey Island I as my favorite, and I am also kind of partial to Curse of Monkey Island for some reason.

I mention in my interview that one of my CMI influences was Peter DeSeve, an illustrator who does a lot of magazine work, especially for the New Yorker. This image was an attempt on my part to import his style into the world of Monkey island. Except for a few changes this is exactly what the hallway looks like in the game. I must have done a good job of mimicking Peter DeSeve because a friend of mine, Anson Jew, walked up from behind and said that this looked just like a Peter DeSeve drawing.
A lot of adventure game creators have left LucasArts (Tim Schafer, Jonathan Ackley, etc), and there are a lot of Star Wars titles being released, is there anyone left at LEC with an interest in designing adventure games?
There are many people who want to make adventure games at LEC but there aren’t a ton of game players out there who will buy them. Adventure games were one of the best forms of computer entertainment 'til the CD-ROM, Pentium and 3D accelerator cards came out. These technologies allowed game makers to create different kinds of games and new genres, or make old genres even better. I think people still like adventure games but with so many types of games on the market adventure games have kind of fallen off people’s ‘must have’ list. Another factor is that to keep adventure games looking current (i.e. beautiful) we have had to up the budget five to six times what they were in 1992. The problem is the sales revenue hasn’t kept up with this rise in the budgets.

The real trick for us game designers is to create a game that keeps all the great things about adventure games while at the same time incorporating other types of game play. I have also noticed traditional action games bringing in more adventure game elements. So I don’t see that adventure games are dead, I just see them evolving. I can’t predict the future but I think Lucas Arts will always make traditional adventure games. I just don’t see LEC or any other game company making as many as they have in the past.

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Goblin April 28. 2004

you are the greatest Bill, your style of art is just so beutifull and mysterious. Man, you got skills. if there will be another game after EMI, pleace do the graphics!!!

DarkMonkey January 29. 2004

[what exactly is cmi is it a type of animation. what else is like it]
You don't seem to know a lot about Monkey Island =P. CMI is of course Curse Of Monkey Island.

DarkMonkey January 29. 2004

[what is EMI and how did guybrush threep wood get his name]
Read the trivia in Monkey 1 section. And EMI is Escape From Monkey Island.

Sir Inyasha January 16. 2004

what is EMI and how did guybrush threep wood get his name

Sir Inyasha January 16. 2004

what exactly is cmi is it a type of animation. what else is like it

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