Adventure Game Design with Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick

This week on the cast, Ken and I had the pleasure to talk with two veterans of the Game Industry — Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick. Co-creators of the now famous adventure game Maniac Mansion stopped by to talk adventure game design and their kickstarter for a modern old school adventure game: Thimbleweed Park.

Ron Gilbert

We started off with introductions and talking about Ron and Gary’s time at Lucasfilm Games back in the 90s and how they designed Maniac Mansion, Ron’s development of the SCUMM engine and more. We talked about their thoughts on how the adventure genre has changed both with the greater changes to game development and how the digital age has affected the work that goes into making a game.

Ken asked their thoughts on VR and the Oculus Rift which brought up the possible future of virtual-virtual reality that could be Ken’s next goal. We also talked about backwards compatibility and game preservation which both Gary and Ron felt strongly about.

Throughout the cast we heard both their thoughts on adventure game design and I also asked them about what goes into making a good adventure game and the four way conversation we had was really interesting. We talked about how good adventure titles bring the player into the world and ask them to explore and solve puzzles from that setting and not by trying to read the developer’s mind. I also asked them about crowd-funding and their thoughts on it as a viable platform.

Our final topic was about Thimbleweed Park — Ron and Gary’s modern take on old school adventure game design. Talking to them about it, they are trying to capture that feeling of Maniac Mansion and what they loved about older adventure games, while still appealing to both old and new fans of the genre. Combined with their thoughts on good adventure game design should make for a great game and one that should be funded hopefully by the time you listen to this cast.