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Interview: SCUMM of the Earth

Ron Gilbert chats about Maniac Mansion, the current state of adventure games, and 300.

April 26, 2007 - This year marks the 20th anniversary of the SCUMM engine, the Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion, which powered most of the classic LucasArts graphic adventures. SCUMM streamlined the process for coding these intensive, epic games and greatly decreased their development times. IGN recently caught up with the man behind SCUMM, the Grumpy Gamer himself, Ron Gilbert.

IGN: You worked on the SCUMM engine with fellow Lucasfilm Games employees Aric Wilmunder and Brad Taylor. What was your contribution to the engine?

Ron Gilbert: I created it. It was kind of my concept because I really needed it to build Maniac Mansion. I did most of the Commodore 64 programming for the engine. Aric and Brad's contribution came in when we did the PC ports of the engine.

IGN: What do you think of the current state of adventure games? Anything you've been impressed by recently?

Gilbert: Well, certainly the Sam & Max games. Those are really, really good, and they show what a good adventure game can be -- especially with the writing and the humor. I think Sam & Max is kind of a shining light for adventure games. I do think for adventure games to succeed they need to be melded with some other game genre. I don't know if a pure, pure adventure game could really survive today. Maybe with different distribution mechanisms. I could see a very pure adventure game working distributed through something like Xbox Live Arcade, where people are getting them almost episodically.

More @ http://pc.ign.com/articles/783/783847p1.html
21 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Well that's praise and a half! :D
  • Also: on Ron's own website -
    http://grumpygamer.com/2905697
    Goto June 21 and a bit.
  • It'll be hard for adventure games to ever change when the fanbase won't even let go of the point and click interface...
  • Seeing as the direct control interface has time after time proven to be confusing and not anywhere near as intuitive as point and click, that's probably part of the reason why.

    Or it's me just proving your point about the fanbase. Whichever.
  • It was only tried twice, and not even on full 3d environments. If games like KOTOR and Fable worked so well with a controller, there's really no reason why graphic adventures shouldn't.

    I don't know, I've been playing these games since the '80's, and the way I see it, point and click only restricts the player, just like Sierra's parser interface did. With point and click, you're not really inside the game, you're just ordering a guy around.

    This isn't meant as a knock on telltalle, btw. You guys are doing great with the interface you have. :)

    I just think that if you're gonna try to add other types of gameplay to graphic adventures, the first thing that needed to be changed would be the interface. It just doesn't let you to do much.
  • I'd seen someone knock the interface in Grim Fandango, but I thought it was fantastic.
  • i liked the interface of Magna Cum Laude. the game might not have been as good, but at least they were tryin a new interface for adventure games and i think it worked.
  • Can't say I've ever played a LSL game - are you aware of any games that might have used a similar interface?
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    Mel
    ReverendTed;38286 said:
    I'd seen someone knock the interface in Grim Fandango, but I thought it was fantastic.
    If you aren't used to using a keyboard to move a character (which I was not), it wasn't that terrific. I started that game using the keyboard and got so pissed off, I gave up on it. I finally got a gamepad and it was much easier. Keyboard direct control has a pretty steep learning curve for some people (especially if you don't play any other genre besides adventure).
  • That's kind of surprising to me - I wouldn't see much difference between a gamepad and keyboard in terms of Grim Fandango's interface.
    What do you think it was about using a gamepad that made it more intuitive?
    Was it using the thumb instead of the index\middle\ring fingers?
    Are you primarily a console game player or a PC game player?
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