What are your future plans? Would you like to design a game yourself one day?
Yes, I would like to publish a game someday. I have designed a few myself. None published. Games are expensive to make, so not everyone gets a chance to do it. I just hope that some day I can garner enough trust from the Powers That Be to earn that privilege. I am still looking into creating an adventure game for the amateur game making community. I hope I can use it to show off my game design skills. But my full attention is creating beautiful environments for Arena.net. My adventure game is just sort of a hobby.

So, what do you think The Secret of Monkey Island is? Any thoughts?

"...the ending to Monkey Two seemed to indicate it was all a dream..."
Well, there are a couple of secrets to Monkey Island arenít there? The fact that you can only get there by the use of a spell is one secret. The fact that the Ghost Pirate LeChuck had his hideout under the monkey head is another secret. And of course it is the home to Big Whoop, the portal to hell, that is the third secret. I bet more secrets will be revealed. I think the ending to Monkey Two seemed to indicate it was all a dream, but Elaine was outside waiting for Guybrush. It could be that the real world and the world of Monkey Island exist side by side and the secret is the doorway between the worlds and Guybrush was a kid riding an amusement park ride who then inexplicably got transported there. My guess is that was the original secret, but that idea was abandoned for the whole "Portal to Hell/ Carnival of the DamnedĒ secret. I havenít finished EMI yet so the fourth secret must be the "Monkey Robot."

I wasn't sure how much the duck on Skull Island should really look like a duck. In this version I decided to make the duck look a bit cartoonish, and I was worried about how unrealistic the bill would look, because no piece a rock like that would hold up under it's own weight, thus the two wings holding it up. But when it came time to do the final design I just decide to make him look as much like a real duck as possible. For reference I used one of my step-father's hunting decoys. Even with that as a model I still had a lot of people come to me and say that it looks like a pelican, seagull, or even a bunny - if you tilt your head to the right, that is.
You're playing Wing Commander or X-Wing, it asks for a call sign. What would you use as a call sign and why?
It would be Ass-Kicker! A friend of mine, Gordon Miller, created a super hero for Marvel Super Heroes pencil and paper RPG and he named it Ass-Kicker! It is funny because he was absolutely the weakest super hero ever created. Ass Kicker! had the ability to change the temperature slightly and could run as fast as a track star - pretty pathetic. So I use that name all the time now. I am sooo not an ass kicker in real life. But people get so annoyed with my call sign thinking I am being a braggart, but really I am just being ironic.

On a totally unrelated note, in honor of my friend Gordon Miller, I have slipped him in every one of the games I have worked on, either his picture or his name. In Indy 3D he is the one with the sunglasses on in the Barbery coast. Also a lot of people wondered what the alien looking picture was in that same room. It is a sonogram picture of my daughter Zoe. I wanted to put her picture in it but the game shipped before she was born so I had to use the sonogram.

Many of the final designs for SCUMM rooms were done by Larry Ahern. This is a good example of one of them, and it is so much nicer than my rough sketches.

This version of the windmill reminded one of artists of the tower in Mortimer and the Riddle of the Medallion. He was right, though this similarity was unintentional. Larry wasn't too fond of this version anyway, so when I showed him the squat fat windmill design we ultimately used instead, he was pleased. To make the game more efficient, we put the sugar water barrel out on a balcony instead of in the windmill where it was originally going to go. Again this changed worked out better for game play.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to enter the computer games industry, and the computer game arts in particular?
If you want to be a game designer, learning how to program would really help. I suppose if one were to practice making a game using freeware like all those Quake editors or engines like SCRAMM, or use an off-the-shelf program like Director, one could gain a lot of game design experience that way.

I would suggest starting small and not worrying about art so much. The game design is the most important thing to work on, so concentrate on that. A good way to start would be to plan out the game on paper using flow charts and bubble diagrams. Show it to your friends and see if they like the idea and the game play.

If one were to try and get a job as a level designer, I would suggest playing tons of level-intensive games and pay attention to how the level is designed. Try to think like the level designer. See if one can figure out what the level designer was thinking. Then get a level design program off the net (some games come with tools already). Then build one. Start small, and again, donít worry about art so much, then have your friends play through and get their feed back. When you are happy with the level designs, go online to a company job web sites and look for a good level design position. Remember that your level is the proof that they are a good designer. It is the artistís equivalent of a portfolio. So it is important for it to look as professional as possible.

To be a game artist one needs to do what every artist needs to do - learn the basics of traditional art. I want to emphasize this to 3d artists especially. The best 3d artists were first really good 2d artists.

Before Larry and Jonathan decide to move the game in a more cartoon like direction, I created this early concept piece of the volcanoes on Blood Island. Before I started work on CMI I spent a week at the Disney World resort and was inspire by a ton of things there. This was one of them. In the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot center is a Mexican restraint where it is always night and across a lagoon a glowing volcano simmers. It is quite enchanting. I chose the color green because I had viewed a painting done by Atkins Grimshaw of a woman viewing the moonrise over an English country manor. The sky in that painting was pale green. the painting inspired me to take a risk and use the intense green for the sky. For the final CMI skies I eventually toned the saturation down and slanted the green hue more toward teal.

I suggest drawing from nature, still life and models. Artists are not unlike athletes; they must train and practice constantly. Very few professional game artists that I know of ever got a job straight out of high school. Generally they had a portfolio that was good enough for art school or college, and that is where they learned how to be professionals. So I strongly suggest formal art training, even if it is just one class. Most studios or companies look for good anatomy drawing skills, so I suggest taking a lot of life drawing. Peter Chan wonít let a day go by without drawing something in his sketchbook. He says it keeps his skills sharp. Getting a sketchbook and drawing in it all the time is a good idea.

I hear lots of students say to me that they donít want to learn traditional art, but they would rather just jump on to a computer and learn the newest trendy 3d program. 3D packages come and go, and knowing a 3d package in this current game environment is a definite plus, but traditional art skills translate to any medium and can really make their 3D art a lot better. I can tell the difference between 3D artists who were traditionally trained versus the 3D artists who just mastered the software. It is really obvious. And it is obvious to employers too. In summary, learn how to make good art, then worry about what software package to master. And be flexible. At LEC we have used five or six different 3d packages. Donít fall in love with one or the other.

What did you think of Escape From Monkey Island?
I like what I have played of it so far. I am not very far I have to admit. I am still partial to CMI, as you might imagine. Iíll have to reserve my final critical analysis until after I have played it all the way through. So far so good.

Additional Links:


Game Developerís Conference speech

Lightsource Studios


The DIG@Mixnmojo

CMI Section

Email Bill Tiller

Anything else you'd like to say to all the fans of the Monkey Island games?
You guys are pretty incredible. I am so impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm Monkey Fans show toward the games. All one has to do is type Monkey Island in a web browser and fifty plus choices will pop up. That is a testament to how loyal the MI fans are. I am happy that Monkey fans are so discriminating and so demanding of quality. I felt special because I helped create and continue such a revered and loved game series. When I was working on Monkey III, I knew everything I drew was going to be scrutinized and compared to previous Monkey Island games by very demanding Monkey Fans. I often put in subtle references to Monkey Island I and II in the backgrounds where I was hoping fans would find it and know what is was. In a way, Monkey fans are partially responsible for pushing me to produce art at a higher level of quality than I had done before. I just kept thinking to myself ďI hope the Monkey fans will like this and think this is cool.Ē

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, and we wish you all the best in the future!
Thank you. It was fun. I hope I didnít drone on too long. I probably did. Also, periodically check out the Arena.net Webpage. We will be having updates, news, and concept art as well as screen shots on there from time to time. I canít talk about the game much right now, but I can say, being that the company is made up of ex-Blizzard programmers, the game will feel a lot like a Blizzard game. Also, it wonít be like any other game out right now, thatís for sure.

One night back in '98 I was waiting for my wife to finish work - she was a production coordinator on Star Fighter and Jedi Power Battles- when I got bored and decided to draw something. I had just finished messing around with the 3d Barbery Coast, the one that ended up in Jones 3D as an Easter egg, and I was still in a Monkey Island mood. So I decided to draw the SCUMM bar just for fun. I only painted about half of it that night, and only got around to finishing it this last month for this interview. Hope you all like it.
So you thought that was a great interview, right? You enjoyed the information and insight? If you ask me... (and you haven't yet) it's one of the most informative interviews I've ever read, big thanks to Bill! But, there is more... Bill has kindly drawn up a picture of what the SCUMM Bar would look like in CMI style graphics. This is an amazing picture, as I'm sure you will all agree, perfect for use as a Windows Backdrop.

Please remember though... this interview and art is exclusive to the SCUMM Bar, the concept art belongs to LucasArts and used with their kind permission... so don't be stealing any of it!

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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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