From Monkey Island to Cavedog - An Interview With Ron Gilbert, From Finnish Pelit-lehti. Originally added December 16th, 1998
Ron Gilbert made LucasArts a famous adventure game maker with such games as Maniac Mansion, Secret of Monkey Island, LeChuck's Revenge and Day of The Tentacle. This interview is from November 1998.
Ron works in his and Shelley Day's company called Humongous Entertainment and a smaller company owned by Humongous, Cavedog. The most famous game by Cavedog is Total Annihilation. Bigger company, Humongous Entertainment, is famous of it's kiddy games like Putt-Putt and Freddie the Fish. Humongous and Cavedog are owned by GT Interactive but they work themselves.
"I wanted to make a company, where game designers could make their own games. In Cavedog, everyone has possibility to make just the game they want to. Many companies tell their designers, what they want to games be like", tells Ron.
"Good designers often start their own company after a good game. We are trying to build good atmosphere so that everyone will like to be in here and stay here. Sometimes it's the right time to leave like I left Lucasfilm. I worked there for eight years and I left because it was the time."
Why did Humongous make games for kiddies? Ron told that it was cheaper to make games to children than to adults. "Kids are very different than adults. They aren't interested in technology, they are interested in story and good puzzles. It's refreshing to make games for kids and I can learn a lot."
Ron's favorite games have always been adventure games: "I like telling stories. Total Anni- hilation has a story inside the game but it isn't a story itself." Ron thinks that adventure games are in a ban because people want games, which they can play again and again. "Adventure games have that problem that when it's cleared that's all. And they are expensive to make: It's easy to spend 2-3 million dollars only because they have so much art. They don't even sell too well", says Ron. He believes that adventure games come back in couple of years because now there are many people who haven't played good old adventure games.
What about LucasArts' new games and especially Curse of Monkey Island? "Monkey 3 was pretty good although I was afraid of the worst. Biggest mistake was that Elaine felt in love with Guybrush. That's something she never should have done." Ron says he would make a new Monkey Island game immediately if he had the rights. He won't tell THE secret of Monkey Island yet.
"I would like to make a game, which sells 2 million copies. Deer Hunter is great example for that, what people want: No matter of technology'if the game is easy to play and learn. It's simple enough for people, who have just bought their computers. I still think that good game could sell as well."
Multiplayer game is important nowdays. It may even effect how the game sells. "I myself didn't like the multiplayer game of Total Annihilation: It's stupid to fight for the last man. We made the multiplayer game of Kingdom better and we've added different modes. Our purpose was to leave the code more open so that the people can make their own multiplayer game"
Ron thinks it's easy to make mistakes with 3D-technology. "We have a 3D-version of Kingdoms- technology but it requires very fast computer and we think it's too early to publish it. Camera can be moved freely but we noticed, that we didn't want to do it. If you play real-time strategy, you want to watch the game from the air, nowhere else. Advance compared to hardware requirements wasn't good so we decided to put 3D-idea in ice and worked with sense.
Total Annihilation 2 will be 3D and it's going to be couple of years' project. "We want enough time to make it. We'll think what you really can do with 3D camera instead of just rolling around."
"I don't envy George Lucas with his next Star Wars movie. When you start from nothing, people don't expect so much but there's always big pressure for a sequel."
Was the success of Total Annihilation a surprise? "Actually, we weren't so surprised about its great success but we were a bit worried about that there were many other real-time strategies at the same time. We did have few things we believed to bring the victory to us: 3D-forces, physics, unlimited building material etc. For example, in C&C there's limited amount of ore and the winner usually is the player, who has most ore. We also had over 150 units against Warcraft's 13.
Good & Evil
Ron's own game, Good and Evil, is a combination of adventure, fantasy RPG and strategy. "Telling stories and puzzles are the adventure part, growing characters and their own points are RPG and fights are real-time strategy. I don't like the RPG-way of fighting with turns; I want real action."
Ron doesn't want to tell anything about the story, because it changes all the time. Happening place is traditional mediveal fantasyworld but there are lots of different places like wild west antiqe Rome, kung-fu fights, space aliens etc.
Good & Evil has one main character, who doesn't have name yet. "I gave name to Guybrush very late too." He finds friends from his journey. What are puzzles like then? "If you collect a mushroom here, you can use it long time later with something and reveal completely different world. If you forgot to take it, the game continues with a different way. You still can go back to get the mushroom.", Ron tries to explain his world.
"It's cheaper to make a game like this than an adventure and the player group is bigger because it has fights and RPG. It will also have Multiplayer game, which will be more fighting." At this moment they're making Good & Evil's technology. The game itself will probably come in year 2000.
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