Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
Ron Gilbert: A New Adventure
View All     RSS
September 2, 2014
arrowPress Releases
September 2, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


 
Ron Gilbert: A New Adventure

December 21, 2009 Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next
 

[Adventure game veteran and Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert talks to Gamasutra on the production processes behind his once-episodic title DeathSpank, and how the very nature of game development influences creative direction.]

Ron Gilbert is best known, perhaps, for his work at LucasArts on Maniac Mansion and the Monkey Island series, as well as creating the SCUMM scripting language for the studio. While Monkey Island may have recently been revived by LucasArts and Telltale Games, the series would have endured without that revival; it's never been far from the minds of its fans ever since its release.

However, Gilbert, who founded Humongous/Cavedog after his LucasArts departure, before striking out on his own earlier this decade, has his own project in the works: the awesomely named DeathSpank.

In development with Hothead Games (Penny Arcade Adventures), it's a blend of adventure gaming and Diablo-style dungeon crawling; it's a humor game with the clichés of video games squarely in its sights. Originally announced as an episodic game, it has been reformulated into a more traditional release.

Here, Gilbert discusses the genesis of the DeathSpank project, how rapid prototyping has allowed him and the team to redesign its combat system repeatedly until they got it right, and how the production process for games can shape their contents -- in good and bad ways.

How is DeathSpank's development going? How long have you been working on it?

Ron Gilbert: I've been working on the game for almost four and a half years, and it started out as a concept on the Grumpy Gamer website, which is my website where my friend Clayton and I were doing this series of Flash cartoons parodying the games industry.

We needed this video game character for one of them, and he needed to be completely over the top and completely ridiculous. In a way, we wanted to come up with the dumbest name we could think of for him, and we called him DeathSpank.

He just took on this life of his own a little bit. We started talking about him, and I started thinking about his world more and his stories around him. I put together a little adventure game design around him. That blossomed into what DeathSpank is today, which is this mix of Monkey Island and Diablo.

I started pitching that to a lot of publishers, and it met a lot of resistance because it was just weird and different -- weird aspects to the art style, stuff like that. Eventually, I ran into the guys at Hothead, and they really liked it. They decided to make it with me. I went to work with them a year and a half ago or so. It's really been worked on for about a year and a half. That was a very long answer to your very short question.

What phase are you guys in now?

RG: I don't know what phase [laughs]. I can't put a word to that. We're getting very close. The whole world is completely carved out, totally textured. Everything's all done. All the adventure game is done. All the monsters are placed. It really is just about playing and tuning, playing and tuning, over and over and over, just making sure everything just works perfectly.

When the game was originally semi-announced, it was going to be episodic. Now it's not. Why did you originally want to do it that way, and why is it no longer in that format?

RG: I like episodic stuff. I'm still very interested in that. I would still love to do episodic stuff at some point. With DeathSpank, as we started fleshing out the whole design, we had all these episodes done for him. He was this very large, epic character. We were always pushing the edges with these episodic things. He always wanted to be bigger.

After struggling with this for a while, we sat down and thought about it -- "You know, what if it weren't episodic?" We played around with that a little bit. We took all the episodes, and we didn't stack them end to end linearly. We merged them into one big, very non-linear story, and it just worked so perfectly. So, we just said, "You know what? We should probably not make this episodic."

When you look back to games like the Monkey Islands you made, and I think particularly Monkey Island 2, that almost is an episodic game. You have these acts that are very defined, and they have their own arc within the larger one. Is that part of the reason for your interest in that in that format?

RG: I don't know if that's the reason itself. One of the things I do like about episodic, which is ironic given the DeathSpank stuff, is that I would like to make a lot of games really fast.

That was one of the things that I really enjoyed about the adventure games I did at Humongous Entertainment. It took us [fewer] than nine months to make those. It allowed us to do a lot of games over a very short period of time and learn a whole lot from that. That is what I really like about episodic, being able to go in and build a whole bunch of things very, very quickly.


Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next

Related Jobs

YAGER Development GmbH
YAGER Development GmbH — Berlin, Germany
[09.02.14]

Visual FX Artist (f/m)
Quantic Dream
Quantic Dream — PARIS, France
[09.02.14]

Animation Director
Vicarious Visions / Activision
Vicarious Visions / Activision — Albany, New York, United States
[09.02.14]

VFX Artist-Vicarious Visions
Vicarious Visions / Activision
Vicarious Visions / Activision — Albany, New York, United States
[09.02.14]

Animator-Temporary-Vicarious Visions






Comments


[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Bryson Whiteman
profile image
I think that's the point.

Joe Nies
profile image
Refreshing to be reminded that people are still trying to make real games.. storytelling is the key word here!

Stevan Zivadinovic
profile image
Wooo, Deathspank!



Hey Ron, if I may critique something here: I think it would be best if it were either Death Spank or Deathspank, but not DeathSpank. Spaceless, capitalized DeathSpank makes me think of camelcase variable names at best, and tech companies from this past decade at worst. It doesn't make me think of an epic warrior.


none
 
Comment: