Questions for Mike Stemmle? Post 'em here!

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  • edited June 2009
    Hi Mike,

    A non Monkey Island question to start. Telltale have so far either brought back old franchises or built an adventure game around established characters. While I'm not expecting you to spill the beans, do you have any wonderful ideas for a new episodic series and if so do you think they are likely to eventually become a reality?

    On a Monkey Island note, what is your favourite running gag of the series?
  • edited June 2009
    Hi Mike.

    When I preordered I wasn't expecting the private forum to be a genuine perk - how wrong I was! This is great fun.

    As one of a seemingly large British MI fanbase, I have a few related questions.

    Has Europe, and particularly the UK, been a large target market for TTG and is that even more so with the Monkey Island IP?

    Has any British humo(u)r been a major influence on you and your writing?

    Have you visited the UK often?

    One other unrelated question - Was moral in the team affected by some negative comments (especially about graphics) that appeared when Tales was announced?
  • edited June 2009
    Hi there!
    I'm sorry if this question has already been answered, but how will the player interact with the hot-spot objects on the screen? Will you have the option to 'examine', 'use', 'talk to' and 'pick up'? Or is it just one-click interaction like Sam & Max?

    Thank you!
  • ttg_Stemmlettg_Stemmle Telltale Alumni
    edited June 2009
    Arodin wrote: »
    It was commented in an E3 interview that you guys are all 10-15 years older now than when you last worked on Monkey Island and other classic adventure games. It also follows that most die hard fans of the classic Monkey Island games are also 10-15 years older now. How has that influenced your writing of the jokes and puzzles, if at all? Do you feel that you are purposely trying to go for more sophisticated humor to appeal to us old farts or trying to think 10-15 years younger to match the humor of the classic games?

    I can absolutely guarantee that my humor hasn't gotten any more sophisticated over the years. If anything, I've become more fascinated with bodily functions, words that sound dirty (but aren't), and the timeless comedy of blows to the head.

    Hopefully, the rest of Monkey fandom has regressed with me.
  • ttg_Stemmlettg_Stemmle Telltale Alumni
    edited June 2009
    LuigiHann wrote: »
    What? No. Just that you and Mike Chapman have the same first name. It was kind of an "I can't think of any good questions" question.

    Har! Congratulations on inadvertently discovering a sore spot in my writing armor! Seriously, if you go take a look at the first draft of the script for SBCG4AP episodes 1 and 3, you'll find, like, a gazillion uses of the word "hey." It's a conversational crutch that I lean into like Don Baylor crowding a strike zone.

    And yes, both Mike C and I did respond to "hey Mikes" simultaneously on occasion. The prevalence of Mikes in the world is one reason I'm typically referred to as "Stemmle" in the office.
  • ttg_Stemmlettg_Stemmle Telltale Alumni
    edited June 2009
    mhaley wrote: »
    Hey, Mike.

    I have a question, but I don't know whether or not it can be properly answered until after the game is released to the public. While designing Tales of Monkey Island, were there many ideas that were tossed around, but in the end, left on the cutting room floor?

    I'll let you know after we ship :)
  • ttg_Stemmlettg_Stemmle Telltale Alumni
    edited June 2009
    PariahKing wrote: »
    Why did Stone LeChuck die at the end of Escape?

    True evil can never die. Just look at Dick Cheney. Or better yet, don't. If you ignore him, maybe he'll go away.
  • ttg_Stemmlettg_Stemmle Telltale Alumni
    edited June 2009
    Hello Mike!

    First, it's a great privilege to talk to you and I want to thank you (as I thanked everybody on the team) for bringing back our childhoods once more.
    Second, the questions (I'll try to keep them short):

    1. What was the first line that you wrote for the game (the first thing you actually put on paper)?
    i.e. One of Guybrush's lines, the plot summed up in one sentence, a minor detail regarding one character or something more practical such as "must buy milk" etc.
    According to the database, the first line I actually wrote is something about "Pink Pajamas Pierre." How weird. Of course, by that time, we'd already worked out the plot, written a whole bunch of story outlines and whatnot. I couldn't tell you what came first.
    2. How does a normal work day go for you? Do you enter work place - sit down - drink coffee - write ideeas - watch youtube - write some more - draw - go home? :) I'm really curious how much work there is to be done on a normal day.
    During non-crunch my days start at 8:30 (I'm an early riser, especially with Charlie and Max getting me up at 5:30), with coffee and emails. Then it's a full day of writing, coding, and reviewing, usually punctuated by a one-hour design meeting for projects down the road (right now it's episode 4) and a one hour lunch at my desk (inexpensive and healthy). On normal days I go home at six. Right now that's stretching out a bit.
    3. What exactly did you work on in MI4? I am talking about an ideea that was 100% yours that made it into the game (i.e. the duck or Giant LeChuck Statue)
    Sean Clark and I pretty much designed the whole kit and kaboodle of EFMI together. I couldn't tell you which idea came from where at this point.
    4. Would you work on a Monkey Island Movie? (I know it will never happen, but if someone would just have sooo much money on his hands and was a MI fan?) :p
    I'd be glad to, but they'd probably cast Owen Wilson as Guybrush or something, and that would kinda suck.
    5. What is the most dearest memory of them all, regardin the MI series?
    The skeleton dance of Guybrush's parents. No wait, Insult Swordfighting. Or maybe it was the spitting contest. Or the puppet show. Do I really have to pick?


    Okay, I've got to go polish the finale,
    Mike
  • Sean ASean A Telltale Staff
    edited June 2009
    Hey Mike ole buddy ole pal!

    Let's say I want to write for Telltale, but I have no game experience or marketable skills of any kind. Several questions that might help me along:

    What are the chances a resume written on a scrap of toilet paper will get me anywhere?

    If I stalk you, is that a bad thing? (Keep in mind I give a mean footrub.)

    What's the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?

    How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if his father forced him into it?

    Do I have any recourse at all? How did you get into it (I'd imagine it was a different world back then, but it's always interesting to find out)?

    Has anything this blatant and pathetic ever worked?

    Thanks ahead of time if you answer these. If not, ampersand off.;)
  • edited June 2009
    shoemonkey wrote: »
    what's the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?

    42 duh!!
  • edited June 2009
    I can absolutely guarantee that my humor hasn't gotten any more sophisticated over the years.
    I love the Sam and Max Seasons too. Love the puns and jokes and all that!
  • edited June 2009
    How often do you think of the good ol' days back at LA? Where do you think is more creativity florishing: back then at LA or nowadays at TTG?
  • edited June 2009
    42 duh!!
    Not quite "duh". The joke is that they asked for the answer to the ultimate question. Then, when trying to find the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything, they found that the ultimate question wasn't "What is the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything?". The whole joke doesn't logically stand up if you say "42" is the Meaning, because it simply isn't.
  • edited June 2009
    Hey Mike,

    Surprised nobody asked you this yet.... But, It's my understanding that Freelance Police was pretty much finished when it was canceled.....

    With that said my question to you is:

    Freelance Police vs Save the World & Beyond Time and Space?

    Which did you like better as a finished product... also which do you think was more true to the original.... and as a finale of sorts (I already know the answer but I'm gonna ask anyway) Which did you think was better and what has working on Telltale's version rubbed on you the most?

    (Oh and by the way... us Sam n' Max fans really love that wide screen.... Season 1 is on XBLA with widescreen support and we were told that you wouldn't retro fit the engine... so, my suggestion is to make the re-releases on PC too... or Patch it. Which ever works better :-)....)
  • edited June 2009
    How can you type with boxing gloves on?
  • TeaTea
    edited June 2009
    When you look at the general opinion of EMI, how do you feel?
  • edited June 2009
    TheJoe wrote: »
    When you look at the general opinion of EMI, how do you feel?

    Hmmm... I absolutely adored Escape. I actually started playing it again last night and remembered how great it was. I had just got done playing CMI and the first thing I noticed in EMI is that I was actually laughing out loud--frequently. Don't get me wrong, CMI is perfect in everyway and I enjoy it immensley, but I find EMI more witty and hilarious. I never did understand why it was the "odd duck out." Maybe I am just weird.

    Although, I do understand two things: I missed Lechuck as the lead villain and...

    When I control the game I DO feel like I am operating heavy machinery. Accursed post 1997 belief that point and click was dead!
  • edited June 2009
    I was wondering how you got into the whole game business.
  • edited June 2009
    True evil can never die. Just look at Dick Cheney. Or better yet, don't. If you ignore him, maybe he'll go away.
    This is a funny joke answer to my question because it leads into another question I was thinking of asking you. Ironically I happen to be a conservative Republican and a theologically conservative Christian. (I am not trying to imply I took offense at your joke or anything.)

    Basically what I want to ask is: Will that kind of political and/or religious humor be present in Monkey Island? There was this kind of borderline environmentalist and anti-capitalist undertone in Escape.

    To clarify I don't particularly care if you like or dislike Dick Cheney purposely nor do I mind if you make jokes about him - he wasn't a great vice president by any stretch of the imagination. Nor was I huge a fan of Bush's policies, even as a conservative Republican. I don't want to fight about religion or politics or give any one a hard time.

    My concern is that Monkey Island becomes divisive or contreversial. I don't want any political or religious issue to be more than a throw away joke in the series even if it's something I support. That's just not what Monkey Island should be to me. I would be upset if the theory from the "What's his theory" button was the theory of evolution where people who disagree with ideas or tenants of it are made out to be idiots and lunatics as a focal point of the game and more than a throw away line. Nor would I want Monkey Island to focus on the proof of theism and god or to mock atheists. I want it to be a fun adventure game that everyone can enjoy. That's what Monkey Island has always meant to me

    If the answer is "We're going to use Monkey Island as a political or religious football" I will be disappointed. I would not picket the site or complain or whine or expect the whole world to tailor to my personal religious beliefs - whether I think they apply to all people or not. I would be unhappy. If I can get a solid "We're not going to do that" I'd be thrilled. If I get a "I don't know/ignore" I understand. If it's like "It'll be kinda like Escape level" I'm OK with that - Escape wasn't so overtly so that I didn't like it. I actually really liked it. I'd just like to know what to expect.

    And no, I am not implying in any way I think anyone who disagrees with me in the forums is stupid or that I blindly believe stuff. Nor do I disrespect those who disagree with me. I have reasons for my opinions that I believe are valid that I have researched. I understand that people disagree with me and that I am not the only Telltale customer.

    Thanks.

    P.S. I thought that Sam and Max 104 was done well.
    The president was an obvious parody of Bush but it was portrayed in a way that made fun of multiple presidencies (I did not have sex with that woman) and without extremely direct morality "lessons" or mocking of real parties of people.
  • JakeJake Telltale Alumni
    edited June 2009
    PariahKing wrote: »
    This is a funny joke answer to my question because it leads into another question I was thinking of asking you. Ironically I happen to be a conservative Republican and a theologically conservative Christian. (I am not trying to imply I took offense at your joke or anything.)

    Basically what I want to ask is: Will that kind of political and/or religious humor be present in Monkey Island? There was this kind of borderline environmentalist and anti-capitalist undertone in Escape.

    ...

    My concern is that Monkey Island becomes divisive or contreversial. I don't want any political or religious issue to be more than a throw away joke in the series even if it's something I support. That's just not what Monkey Island should be to me. I would be upset if the theory from the "What's his theory" button was the theory of evolution where people who disagree with ideas or tenants of it are made out to be idiots and lunatics as a focal point of the game and more than a throw away line. Nor would I want Monkey Island to focus on the proof of theism and god or to mock atheists. I want it to be a fun adventure game that everyone can enjoy. That's what Monkey Island has always meant to me.

    If the answer is "We're going to use Monkey Island as a political or religious football" I will be disappointed. I would not picket the site or complain or whine or expect the whole world to tailor to my personal religious beliefs - whether I think they apply to all people or not. I would be unhappy. If I can get a solid "We're not going to do that" I'd be thrilled. If I get a "I don't know/ignore" I understand. If it's like "It'll be kinda like Escape level" I'm OK with that - Escape wasn't so overtly so that I didn't like it. I actually really liked it. I'd just like to know what to expect.

    And no, I am not implying in any way I think anyone who disagrees with me in the forums is stupid or that I blindly believe stuff. Nor do I disrespect those who disagree with me. I have reasons for my opinions that I believe are valid that I have researched. I understand that people disagree with me and that I am not the only Telltale customer.

    Thanks.

    I'm going to sneak in here and snipe Mike's answer sooner rather than later, because last time someone expressed a similar concern, it caused the thread to fester and go insane. So to answer your question, no, we're not going to use Monkey Island as a political or religious football. We're going to use Monkey Island as a political and religious football.

    Really, though, the focus of Tales of Monkey Island's big picture story is all about the piracy, seafaring, legends, nationalized health care, and voodoo-infused goodness that we all "remember" when thinking about MI. In short, going topical with the overarching story and themes isn't something we see as part of Monkey Island, unless those topics happen to be humor and awesome, hopefully evocative, pirate stuff.
  • edited June 2009
    Jake wrote:
    We're going to use Monkey Island as a political and religious football.
    A++ humor, would pre-order again.

    ...

    All right. Thanks. That makes me very happy. :)

    And I apologize for almost bringing disaster and destruction upon us all.
  • edited June 2009
    Jake wrote: »
    Really, though, the focus of Tales of Monkey Island's big picture story is all about the piracy, seafaring, legends, nationalized health care, and voodoo-infused goodness that we all "remember" when thinking about MI. In short, going topical with the overarching story and themes isn't something we see as part of Monkey Island, unless those topics happen to be humor and awesome, hopefully evocative, pirate stuff.

    References to Captain Jack Sparrow?
    Pirate ships with overtly politicized bumper stickers?
    "Don't Download This Song" By Weird Al in the soundtrack?
    :p
  • edited June 2009
    Dionysus wrote: »
    Hmmm... I absolutely adored Escape. I actually started playing it again last night and remembered how great it was. I had just got done playing CMI and the first thing I noticed in EMI is that I was actually laughing out loud--frequently. Don't get me wrong, CMI is perfect in everyway and I enjoy it immensley, but I find EMI more witty and hilarious. I never did understand why it was the "odd duck out." Maybe I am just weird.

    Although, I do understand two things: I missed Lechuck as the lead villain and...

    When I control the game I DO feel like I am operating heavy machinery. Accursed post 1997 belief that point and click was dead!

    I think Escape was the first Monkey Island game I ever finished, and I really did enjoy it. Personally I liked that Lechuck wasn't the lead villian, in the same way that I really liked that Gannondorf was absent in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. It gave it the chance to be something really different.

    I also liked the topical humor and was glad that the new Sam and Max episodes also have that.

    What I didn't like was when I went back to play the other games and finding out how the story doesn't fit together so well because of story elements introduced in EMI.

    It probably bothers me more than it should, but there are so many direct contradictions to things said in past entries in the series. Were you aware of these contradictions present in EMI when it was released?

    I'd like to see the story get straightened out so the chronology makes sense but I'm doubtful that will happen.
  • edited June 2009
    1. As a fan of the original games, for me the story of the first two games are the only one I consider the real story. The third game was something as an alternative story arch that I accepted because it was funny and entertaining. But in my opinion, the fourth game was......blasphemy. It rewrote the story arch from the first games, which are my all time favorite games. For example, the robot monkey destroyed much of the part in the first game where you were on Monkey Island. What was previously a port something that resembled hell, was now a robot?

    My question is; Can I expect these new games to ignore references to the fourth game, or is it a a continuation of the series, that accepts such things as the "Monkey Head Robot"-failure? (which it is imho)

    I may sound negative there, but I have quite high hopes that Tales of Monkey Island will be something like the Curse of Monkey Island. Which means that it might not be something that we can feel is Ron Gilberts true vision of a sequel (I say feel, since I can´t read Ron´s mind), but something that at least tries to the story arch from part one and two. Which is way I have pre-purchased the whole season.

    2. I still hold the puzzles from the first games as something of the best in the genre. That is because if didn´t rely so much on plain "use object A on object B" inventory based puzzles. They had many of those, but at the same time, they varied them with other. For example, the treasure hunt based on dancing lessons, the "the hip bone connected to..." song, the spitting contest and so on. Can I accept puzzles and problems like those, or do you think such puzzles are to hard for the target audience for Tales of Monkey Island?

    3. Which adventure games besides those from LucasArts and Telltale (like Broken Sword, Syberia, Blade Runner, etc) would you say that you really like? None is an answer to. ;)

    4. Do you have any opinion on the subject "is it possible to continue the story in Grim Fandango"? :)

    I have high hopes that you will deliver some very entertaining adventure games in this first season, and I´m really glad that you are giving this a try. I have purchased many games from you before, and even if don´t like Tales of Monkey Island, i will continue to support you. :)
  • edited June 2009
    Mike,

    I have a really weird question for you. It is so improbable, that there's really no point in me asking it. But, then again, if you never ask, you never might find out, so here goes:

    How about you gather all the fans from the Private Pirates Club, and work with them on a sequel to one of those great games (Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango etc)? I'm sure noone will ask for money, and plenty of us have different talents (or, at least friends with different talents), and you could control a workforce that may not be 100% reliable, but true to it's wishes.
    Fangames usually die due to lack of interest or leadership. If we would work with you, you can invest a smaller budget into the creation of this game. We could all sign a digital contract, to keep this whole thing secret under penalty of law.
    Have you ever thought of that? Would it work? Could we at least try it?
  • edited June 2009
    And here I thought Guybrush would prefer a healthcare system that allowed him to seek his fortune through the means of obtaining private health care specifically designed to aid pirates. After all, I haven't exactly seen Threepwood deal with the government, um, ever. Other than sleeping with it, I mean.
  • edited June 2009
    And here I thought Guybrush would prefer a healthcare system that allowed him to seek his fortune through the means of obtaining private health care specifically designed to aid pirates. After all, I haven't exactly seen Threepwood deal with the government, um, ever. Other than sleeping with it, I mean.

    I think Guybrush is more likely to start a Pirate union and organize union health care :-D

    He seems like a card carrying pirate union kinda guy to me ;-D
  • edited June 2009
    parabolee wrote: »
    I think Guybrush is more likely to start a Pirate union and organize union health care :-D

    He seems like a card carrying pirate union kinda guy to me ;-D

    Except, who would the pirates unionize against? The captain? In that case, Guybrush, being a captain, would have to actually deal with unionized pirates. There could be a lot of humor in that. (Though I'm glad it's not in the game)
  • edited June 2009
    hplikelike wrote: »
    Except, who would the pirates unionize against? The captain?

    I think that's called a mutiny.
  • edited June 2009
    I've finally come up with a question.

    I know that Telltale only works with licenses from other companies, so you can consider this hypothetical. If you were given free reins to design a game from scratch, without having to pay attention to market, budget or other boring restraints, what would you do? What would the story be like; would it even be an adventure game? What's your "dream project"? Apart from Monkey Island and Sam & Max, that is.

    This forum = the bestest fan service imaginable. Keep it up, Telltale! We love you.
  • ttg_Stemmlettg_Stemmle Telltale Alumni
    edited June 2009
    PariahKing wrote: »
    This is a funny joke answer to my question because it leads into another question I was thinking of asking you. Ironically I happen to be a conservative Republican and a theologically conservative Christian. (I am not trying to imply I took offense at your joke or anything.)

    Basically what I want to ask is: Will that kind of political and/or religious humor be present in Monkey Island? There was this kind of borderline environmentalist and anti-capitalist undertone in Escape.

    [/spoiler]

    Borderline? I assume you're being polite :)

    That said, we won't be using Monkey Island as a political football. Maybe a bocce ball.
  • edited June 2009
    Borderline? I assume you're being polite :)

    That said, we won't be using Monkey Island as a political football. Maybe a bocce ball.
    I didn't want to put any words into your mouth in case I was a bit off.

    Thanks for answering my question and being polite as well. Perhaps we can go gardening sometime. >_>
  • edited June 2009
    Hey Mike!
    I know that the fourth episode is called "The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood", so would that have anything to do with the goodsoups and/or blood island? Also, if you were able to fix any plot holes that were in EMI with TMI, what would you fix? I guess for me i would probably fix the herman story, but thats just my opinion :D
  • edited June 2009
    Sir, I was wondering, what does the writing process for adventure games look like? I can imagine that in order to write standard shooters, you only need to slightly copy and alter the plot from a major Hollywood movie (apologies to anyone who ever worked on a shooter, but often they give me the idea that plot takes a backseat to the various ways in which you can dismember alien species). However, adventure games often give me the idea that copious amounts of mind-altering substances must be abused before the witty, creative and often exceptionally imaginative puzzles and dialogue come about.

    So, how do you write for these things? Is it sitting down in a fit of giddyness, with ideas springing forth from your head like a modern-day literary Athena, or do you sit down and think hard on all the possible puzzles and dialogue in the game?
  • TeaTea
    edited June 2009
    Zygomatico wrote: »
    I can imagine that in order to write standard shooters, you only need to slightly copy and alter the plot from a major Hollywood movie

    No you fill a room full of monkeys and get them to throw poop around and smear the walls with something that makes a certain amount of sense.

    Do you really think modern shooters have real writers?
  • edited June 2009
    TheJoe wrote: »
    Do you really think modern shooters have real writers?
    Yes.

    np: Aesop Rock - No City (None Shall Pass)
  • TeaTea
    edited June 2009
    Leak wrote: »

    Quick read of the story says: Monkeys with an understanding of space.

    Now give me a shooter that doesn't have the same story as every other shooter and I might change my mind about this.

    (id software games are exempt, since they came first pretty much)
  • edited June 2009
    TheJoe wrote: »
    Quick read of the story says: Monkeys with an understanding of space.

    Now give me a shooter that doesn't have the same story as every other shooter and I might change my mind about this.
    Except, of course, that there's probably far more story during the game than there is shooting...

    np: Aesop Rock - Fumes (None Shall Pass)
  • edited June 2009
    Leak wrote: »
    Except, of course, that there's probably far more story during the game than there is shooting...

    np: Aesop Rock - Fumes (None Shall Pass)

    Is it truly a shooter if there's more story than shooting in a game? And technically wikipedia calls it an action rpg, But, that wasn't really the point of the question, to incite an argument about shooters. More an argument about.. creative writing processes in the modern adventure-game creating workplace?
  • edited June 2009
    I love adventure games as much as the next guy, but games like Half Life 2 do have epic and compelling stories - even as "shooters." I don't see adventure games having a monopoly on the genre.
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