Ron Gilbert is not making a Monkey Island game. He will not, to the best of his knowledge, be making another Monkey Island game. Acknowledge and remember this now, and the mouth-lathering sweet shop of ideas to follow won’t be soured by the taste of acute disappointment.
Okay. If Ron Gilbert remade Monkey Island, he’d do it in “enhanced low-res” in a remade SCUMM with an inventory but without verbs or even hints and and and –
Okay. Let’s start again. A new Monkey Island wouldn’t need to be 3D, says Gilbert; it’d be developed by a small team of 10 or less, in a SCUMM-like scripting language that would allow for “funny ideas [to] be laughed about at lunch and be in the game that afternoon”.
“It would be a retro game that harkened back to Monkey Island 1 and 2,” said Gilbert during a trip through the unrestricted-flight areas of his brain. “I’d do it as ‘enhanced low-res’. Nice crisp retro art, but augmented by the hardware we have today: parallaxing, depth of field, warm glows, etc. All the stuff we wanted to do back in 1990 but couldn’t.”
Gilbert envisions a new Monkey Island as a “hardcore” adventure game, set after the events of Monkey Island 2, and driven by “what made that era so great”. That means no tutorials, no hint systems, “pansy-assed” puzzles or any concession to the young or stuck.
“You’re going to be frustrated,” he says. “Some puzzles will be hard, but all the puzzles will be fair. It’s one aspect of Monkey Island I am very proud of.”
This new, hypothetical, sequel would feature full voice-acting, a proper inventory (“nice big juicy icons full of pixels”), and dialogue ‘puzzles’ (“Being able to tell four jokes at once and meander and getting lost in the humor of a conversation is a staple of Monkey Island”). But like Gilbert’s latest, The Cave, is wouldn’t feature a verb system.
“I love the verbs, I really do,” protests Gilbert. “And they would be hard to lose, but they are cruft. It’s not as scary as it sounds. I haven’t fully worked it out (not that I am working it out, but if I was working it out, which I’m not, I wouldn’t have it fully worked out).
“I might change my mind, but probably not.”
Fascinatingly, given Gilbert’s connection with the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter, he advocates a far more hands-off approach to crowdfunding:
“If I used Kickstarter, there would be no fancy videos of me trying to look charming (as if I could),” he writes. “No concept art or lofty promises or crazy stretch goals or ridiculous reward tiers. It would be raw and honest. It would be free of hype and distractions that keep me from making the best game I could.”
And: “I don’t want the pressure of trying to make the game you want me to make. I would vanish for long periods of time. I would not constantly keep you up-to-date or be feeding the hype-machine. I’d show stuff that excited me or amused me.
“If you let me do those things, you will love the game,” he concludes. “That, I promise.”
Only, there is no game. Right, Ron?