Due for release any day now is Lucasfilm's Monkey Island 2. Judging by the initial PC release this one looks like a biggy! So, to give you a taster of this adventuring extravaganza here is an excerpt from a Compuserve conference which placed Ron Gilbert centre stage answering all the questions from one and all.
John: Okay, well as I have heard from Liz at Lucasfilm, Ron, you will be leaving the company and starting your own. Does that mean you will be writing a Monkey Island 3 and selling it to Lucasfilm, or will it be given to a different project team to do at Lucasfilm?
Ron/Lucasfilm: It is true that I am leaving. As for Monkey 3, I doubt I will be the one doing it if it happens, but I have no doubt that I will be involved with it in some way.
John: Does this mean that MI3 has been slated for production and you will be a consultant on design and/or coding?
Ron/Lucasfilm: MI3 has not been slated for production. If everything worked the way I'd like it to, then I'd be the designer (or co-designer) of the game.
mama: The entire game is fun but I noticed that Guybrush has developed a bit of an "edge". I hesitated to get into some of the tricks he pulls. Is this one intentionally meaner?
Ron/Lucasfilm: I intended this game to have more of an edge to it. I like things that are a little bit dark, which is why I had voodoo play a bigger role in the game.
mama: What I would like to know is do you find it difficult to maintain fairness in a sequal since a lot of us are "hip" to where and how puzzles developed in the first story?
Ron/Lucasfilm: It's not really the game being a sequel that makes it hard to make puzzles fair. It's how hard you want the game to be. Most of the new adventure games coming out can be solved in a few hours. I wanted MI2 to be tough and to do that you need to make puzzles obscure, but not unfair. That is a hard line to follow.
Gary: OK Ron... Is there a hidden significance to all the spitting and do you have any tips for us amateurs?
Ron/Lucasfilm: It all goes back to when I was a small child... But I don't want to get into any of that right now.
Herc/Ass't Sysop: Thank you. Someone could be having dinner.
FT/Ascoc. Sysop: (groan)
Mike: Were you concerned with the size of MI2? And if you think CD ROM is coming real soon as the standard.
Ron/Lucasfilm: Yes, I was concerned about the size of the game, but not nearly as much as our accountants were! I had to cut out 5 very large scenes from the game to get it to fit on 6 disks. I think CD ROM is coming very soon, but I also believe that it won't last more than a few years. It has so many drawbacks that you can't really do the kinds of things that we want to do. It's also 10 times slower to read from than a hard drive and very slow to seek anywhere. There are other technologies out there that will take over in 5 to 6 years.
Herc/Ass't Sysop: I applaud what you said earlier, that you intentionally set out to design MI2 to be a more challenging game, unlike most of the recent adventure releases. At the same time, there have been some complaints from several players who finished the game that they were shocked at just how difficult MI2 was. My question is this: Did the game end up to be more difficult than you originally anticipated and do you now regret the decision to make MI2 more challenging?
Ron/Lucasfilm: I think the game ended up just about how I wanted it. The only thing I would change was something that we took out about 4 weeks before the game shipped originally, there were three modes of difficulty. If the middle one had been left in, there might have been a better balance. As it is right now, you get a really hard game or a really easy game. But I am still very happy. If you're going to error, error on the side of making it a little hard.
Bob Bates: First, Ron, congratulations on a great series of games….I am intrigued by your comments about wanting to make MI2 more challenging while still wanting to reach further into the mass market. From what I can tell these days the mass market may not be interested in challenging games so much as a good story (as you've mentioned). Don't tough puzzles just get in the way?
Ron/Lucasfilm: Wow, good question Bob. This is partly the reason that MI2 has an easy mode. I wanted there to be a way that someone could play the game and not be stumped by advanced puzzles. The hard core game players are our bread and butter, but we can't get caught in making games hard to suit these people. In the future, adventure games might be a lot easier and only cost a few dollars (like renting a tape). Until that time we need to release both groups.
mama: Josho, of Sierra, while defending the exclusive use of point 'n' click noted that most gamers never finish an adventure game, that the people on this forum are unusual, and not the primary consumers of adventure games. I like your multi-difficulty approach, do you think this may change the market and do you agree that most don't finish?
Ron/Lucasfilm: I don't know if it will change the market, it might change my sales numbers. I agree that most people never finish an adventure game. It's sad because I spent so much time on the game and most people don't see 50% of it. We joke all the time about not doing the last part of the game and no one would notice. I hope with the easy mode that more people will finish and see the whole story.
Interview/forum with Ron Gilbert taken from the magazine "Amiga Mania", 1992 brought to you by Howlinmad (email@example.com).