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Q+A with Dave Grossman (Design Director) from Facebook

posted by tomo_cjt on - last edited - Viewed by 700 users
I thought I'd do a transcript of Dave's Facebook Interview from earlier today, since the one with Mark Darin had quite a few views.

*I've cut out all the "Hey Dave's" and people gushing about the games he's worked upon unless Dave directly responds to the comment to make this easier to read - there was a LOT of love for Dave, MI1+2 and DOTT*

Here Goes:

Dave: Hi! I'll be here for the next hour, scrawling on the wall. Thanks for showing up and giving me stuff to post about!

Q: Mr. Dave Grossman, you recently said you would want to continue the Loom games if it were popular enough. It's definitely a universe that would lend very well to be expanded upon.

If a that magically happened and new Loom games were to be made, would be able to find Brian Moriarty from wherever he wandered off to to come and help with the series?

A: Loom! I think I did say something like that; I certainly wouldn't mind reviving Loom in episodic format. It would be really good for our format - ahead of its time in many ways. And I do know where to find Brian.
Don't read anything into this, though, I tell you flat out we are not currently working on it.

Q: Who is doing the new voice of LeChuck, and how many islands will we visit each episode?

Thanks for bringing back Monkey Island again and keep up the good work

A: Thanks and you're welcome - or would that be you're welcome and thanks, and I will? Anyway: I'm not actually sure what is the name of the actor who will be playing LeChuck this season. She's really good, though. [How do I put a smiley face into one of these things?] As for islands, there are several of varying sizes. The first episode just has... the one, sometimes there's more than one, and there are some shipboard environments and other things that are not islands as well. Generally, there's a similar amount of real estate as you'll find in our other series.

Q: First thanks for Monkey Island 1, 2 and DOTT. They are games that I can still pick up in the UK in 2009 and still laugh and enjoy. I have to say that whole era (MI, DOTT, Sam and max, Fate of Atlantis) was a big part of my childhood and I cant wait for the return of MI.

I wanted to get your views on Adventure gaming around the time that Lucasarts turned their backs on that genre in favour of Star Wars and Action/Adventure games.

What did you make of the fans backlash towards Lucasarts back then and what was it like for you to see a company who had really got behind the likes of you, Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer in making these quality games turn their back on the genre and basically (from my view anyway) forget that those games existed?

Did it take alot to convince the higher-ups at Lucasarts to invest in these games again?

A: Thanks for the compliments!
About adventure gaming, and the post-DOTT era: I've always loved adventure games, and have always thought them to be a viable format (as we hopefully continue to demonstrate at Telltale). However, I've also always been aware of the economics behind adventure games, and can tell you that, particularly in the time period ... you're talking about, other kinds of games looked a lot more attractive from a pure business point of view. The landscape has changed now, with the advent of digital distribution and the episodic format, and I think that is making them a lot more attractive again.
So I can't really fault LucasArts for making what was probably an astute business decision. I was always glad to hear about the fan response, though, because I do like adventure games, and I like making adventure games, and I'm glad there are people out there who want us to keep doing it.

As for convincing the higher-ups at LucasArts, I was not personally involved in those discussions, but I think that the changing business model around adventure games had something to do with it, as well as the fact that LucasArts has a new president as of last year. I think there's more changeover than people realize - I was at LEC five years, ... and by the time I left the crew was completely different from the one that had been there when I started. By the time Freelance Police was being made it was different people again, and there's a whole new set of folks now.

Q: What was your favorite puzzle from the entire Monkey Island series thus far...

A: Yikes! Let's see, how many puzzles can I even remember... well, like a lot of people, I thought the insult swordfighting was inspired, not so much the implementation but the basic idea behind it, that what really mattered in a movie swordfight was who was wittier. I'm not sure I would count that as favorite, but it's a good one. I liked dropping... the rat in the soup to get the chef fired, that had a delightful touch of urban malfeasance to it, and pointed up the selfish aspect of Guybrush's character. He would do just about anything to a stranger in order to achieve some trivial goal of his own. I think part of the fun of playing Guybrush is that it gives you license to be naughty in that way.

Q: Dave, What was it like for the TellTale team to be told they would be working on a new Monkey Island game, was it a dream come true for those who've not worked on the previous games and for yourself was it like meeting up with an old school friend?

A: That's about the size of it, yes. Some of the people here hadn't had the opportunity to work on a Monkey Island game before, and I think they were the most jazzed about it. For me the territory is familiar, and I frankly didn't expect I'd ever be working with the monkeys again, so it was like meeting up with an old school friend, but randomly, like in a supermarket in the middle of Wisconsin or something. "Hey, don't I know you?"

Q: I just have one question... is there some SDK for the Scumm engine? I'm actually looking foward to make old school point&click games.

A: There's no SDK for the Scumm engine, unless you want to ask the folks at Lucas to provide you with all the old development tools, and you can find a working 286 to run them on. And nobody's supporting Scumm anymore, but there is still ScummVM - possibly you could convince those guys to put something together?

Q: Will Tales ever make it to XBLA?

A: XBLA: Possibly. Right now we've got Wallace & Gromit and Sam & Max both running on XBLA, so we want to spread the love around a bit. But that's not to say we won't do it at some time in the future.
Murray: Murray seems to have a lot of supporters (I'm one of them, I think he's very funny). I'll say this: most of the cast of Tales is new, but not... Read more all of them. But I'm not going to promise anything about any particular character making an appearance - you'll just have to wait and see if it's your favorite or someone else's.

Q: Are we ever gonna know "The Secret of Monkey Island"

A-Other poster: Yeah, Dave has said we won't learn the Secret in this game already because it's up to Ron to reveal it.

A-Dave: Yep, I did say that. You will have to be contented with secrets of other islands for now.

Q: I really really loved the graphical style of "The curse of monkey island" and I don't think the switch to 3D looked all too great in "Escape From Monkey Island". With today's graphical engines, why did you decide to use very rough static 3d models?

A: Rough? Static? I must respectfully disagree with your characterizations, I think Tales of Monkey Island is both beautiful and lively.
As for the use of 3D, I've said it before and I'll say it here: We do all of our titles in 3D, and we do it because of the freedom it affords us in both animation and cinematic camera placement. Our engine and our whole production pipeline are built to leverage the advantages of 3D, and I'm frankly not sure we could have pulled off episodic development at all if we were trying to do it with fewer Ds.

A- poster of question above: Thanks for answer, I must admit I hadn't seen the whole thing in movement and it looks really lively. I feel ashamed now

Q: What are your thoughts on internet distribution, do you think games like MI are compromised because this is the best distribution mechanism economically. Were there times when file size limitations got in the way creatively? A lot of people are winging about this, but I say if it allows great games like Sam and Max and MI to be popular again then it ROCKS and we need to be grateful and excited! I know I'm both!

A: I do think that downloadable distribution in its many forms is a factor in the renewed viability of adventures games, so I'm willing to work with whatever restrictions I find there. Working small keeps you honest; it's like writing poetry. You have to think hard about what is most important.
And you know, I can't remember a time when file sizes WEREN'T an issue. There's a reason that close-up of the dog on the back of the SOMI box is not in the game, and it's because we were desperately trying to fit on some set number of floppy disks.

Q: Will there be any way that the player can make the game unwinnable? For example, in the first Monkey Island game, if you put a whole lot of money into the grog machine, you would not be able to complete the game. Anything like that in TOMI?

A: As far as I know, there is no way to make Tales of Monkey Island unwinnable. Then again, I thought we'd covered the case of putting all the money in the grog machine by having it stop taking it or spit some back out or some such, but apparently I was wrong, so maybe someone will figure out a way to lose TOMI as well. (Of course, with Secret there is also the one way to get Guybrush killed, which I suppose counts as losing.)

Q: Will the new Monkey Island game(s) and the new MI1 remake come in cardboard boxes like the first 4 did? Because I miss the old days when the packaging of a game was something special; I get bored of these empty plastic cases that come with everything now. They make me lose all incentive to own the disk :/ and I like decorating my room with them.

A: Tales doesn't come in a big box like the old games, but you can get a Steve Purcell-painted cardboard sleeve for the DVD as part of a pre-order deal. But you'll have to act fast, I think that's only good until it releases on the 7th.
As for the Special Edition, I'm not sure if it will be available in a box at all. Ask the Lucas guys, they'll know.

Q: When will Forge (Loom 2) come out? I miss Bobbin.

A: No idea! (There's a Loom question down below with a bigger answer.) **ABOVE IN THIS POST**

Q: All hail Murray and his EVIL plots to Conquer the World. Bwaahaahaahaa

A: OK then, if you say so: "Hail Murray and his EVIL plots to Conquer the World!"

Q: Dave, one question I forgot to ask you at E3 - What color is your toothbrush?

A: Ah, a meaty question for the ages, which I'm sure has been on the minds of many. The TRUE secret of Monkey Island! If you must know, it's usually the green one. That's the handle, though - the one with the green bristles belongs to someone else.

Q: hi dave! would the new monkey island be available on sony ps3 or psp too?

A: Right now it's just PC and Wii. We might do other platforms and channels later... but that's later.

Q: Guybrush's character design has made some interesting progressions. Which MI do you feel best represents Guybrush's true character?

A: Guybrush himself, of course, has not progressed at all. He's still the same irrepressable, naive, selfish guy who loves two things: Elaine, and pirateyness. But I think you're speaking visually, in which case I like what we're doing with him now. I thought the lanky guy in Curse was great for character, but a bit too exaggerated. In Tales he's still got character but he's more subdued, and I like that. Also, he's finally managed a silly chin beard like he always wanted!

Q: Can we expect a new trailer before TOMI chapter one is released?

Is there any plans to do any MI machinima like what was done with Sam and Max Season 1?

I have to say the S&M Machinima shorts were awesome, it would be really cool to be able to visit the MI characters the same way in the time between episodes :)

A: No, we're not planning any kind of machinima - I liked doing that, but it took people away from working on the game, and I've got my priorities.

Q: A built-in scene editor would be pretty fuqn awesome! Place characters in the scene, give them dialogue, a list of canned gestures (point, shake fist, sigh, shrug, scratch head, etc), record vocals, upload to youtube. Sounds like a perfect fit for PSN's "play. create. share." theme!

A: Boy, that WOULD be cool. Then we wouldn't even have to make games and I could retire....

Dave: Whoops! It's 4:30, and I'm being called away to a meeting. It's a review meeting for the first episode of Tales of Monkey Island, so I really should go to it.

Sorry for missing the last few questions, small possibility of me getting to them tonight but no promises. Thanks for having me!

Dave: Whoops, I spoke too soon! I'll be here another few minutes apparently.

Q: SBCG4AP suffered from some terrible audio quality issues on WiiWare (usually end credits music, in-game songs, or specific characters like Marzipan) -- will this be a problem with TOMI as well, or have the WiiWare size limitations been expanded a bit? Is there a way we can buy the whole TOMI season on WiiWare up front for cheaper using redeem codes of some kind? The high price of purchasing one at a time was a big put off for us with SBCG4AP.

Also, let me put in my vote for PSN releases (with lossless audio)!

A: So far there isn't a way to do a bundled purchase on WiiWare - they just don't support it. I expect that will change at some point. As for size limitations, I expect that to change at some point as well, but so far it has not. We do optimize pretty amazingly though - I defy anyone to get more into that 40megs than we do.

Q: Dave, were you as disappointed with MI4 as the rest of us?

[Two posters state they liked MI4]

A: From the previous comments, it sounds like even "the rest of us" doesn't agree with the rest of us. There are things I like about it, and things I don't. Same as all of my own games.

Q: Will adventure games ever be like they were 20 years ago?

A: I sure hope not. I replayed some of those games recently, and they're occasionally downright mean to the players. I like to think we've learned a few nuances since then.

Dave: OK, now I really am going. See ya!
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