What I did during the Pandemic
By Ron Gilbert
As I write this on the 9th day of May in the year of 2020 the Pandemic is far from over. Different people deal with isolation, fear, social distancing and hoarding toilet paper differently. I built a game. It helped keep me sane.
As I mentioned back in March, I began rewriting the Thimbleweed Park engine with no real goal in mind, it just seemed like something to do and I had a few ideas about UI I wanted to explore.
What began as a way to waste time, turned into a fun little game prototype. A little over a month ago David Fox came on, then Robert, Katerina, and Octavi jumped on to help. The game was built almost entirely from existing art, sounds and music from Thimbleweed Park, more of a remixing into a new game that can be seen as an addendum to Thimbleweed Park. It is not a sequel.
Did I mention it's FREE.
Stay safe and I hope this little game helps, even a little.
In the coming weeks I'll be posting more about the new engine and how it's different and hopefully better.
Zak Phoenix McKracken
Thanks for having released it even free, for all of us.
Happy to hear that!!
I feel like Franklin during this pandemic. At the beginning of all, I had a big 2do list with a lot of constructive and positive things... Among these, one was that to begin studying AGS engine and try something with it, after I left it almost 15 years ago.
At least I played a lot of Adventure Games of all times since now! XD
Is there a Linux release on the horizon for this, perchance? (I recognize that we're an essentially-zero minority, so if it's no longer worthwhile for you to target Linux, thanks for all the releases that you did make available!)
I'm really curious about engine rewrite. Is the new one also based on squirrel? What was the old one missing?
Any chance of a direct download for us casual adventurers without Steam accounts.
Gail P. Sherman
Also, thank you so much for all your magnificent present and past artworks =)
Immediately installing ;)
It looks like you've got people offering to help regarding Linux stuff, but I'd be happy to share my knowledge/experience as a porter if that's of value.
Congrats on shipping a new thing and making a new piece of tech!
You are equal to Lucas and Spielberg in importance.
The rest of the world just haven't totally caught up yet.
I hope you have the success you surely deserve.
Even if not, knowing you did what you did, and that the quality is acknowledged by so many so loyally, must be heartening.
Won't Proton from Valve run the game? That would be easier than porting.
Oh, and I wanted you to know that, if I could only have a tiny suitcase to pick the most meaningful things in my life, I think now I know which single book and which single album I'd take. As for the game, well it'd be one of yours, and that's something I knew immediately while I was wandering through the tunnels of Dinky Island as a child, 17 years ago. An emotion still bigger than me.
Thank you so much Ron, 'cause you're wonderful!
I suppose you're looking to test things out, see how it goes.... and well, I like the new interface however it felt like I was opening folders on my windows PC and right clicking for menu options a lot of time
In a way, it was more intuitive... it just makes sense to have the options on the item. In another way, I felt like it made things a little too easy at times and playing with a trackpad was more challenging.
With the old interface, I could click on the keyboard shortcuts to open a drawer and then pick up an item... and now, I have to double tap click on the trackpad. I assume this would be a non-issue with a mouse (the way it's probably intended to be played).
While the start seemed easy, I did really enjoy the ability to take a photograph of multiple items that don't do anything. In a way, it adds a level of difficulty without harming/killing the player.
Unfortunately, I think there might be a bug with saving the state of the game as after an hour of player, the game is saying I have 5 pictures but Natalie won't accept any. (She just says: "Yes", those are good. Let me remove the bad ones.) And since I can't submit the photographs, the game doesn't save. In other words, it feels like I have to restart the game after playing for an hour. (Not complaining, I understood there might be bugs / this was free / proceed at your own risk)
Overall, this is very pleasant. The ability to take photographs of nearly everything makes it much more challenging (in a good way) and the interaction is quite intuitive. You could put someone into the game without any instructions and they'd figure things out. For example, dragging items from the inventory works really well and is something that a new player would intuitively do.
I do kind of wish there could be a hybrid mode where you could still use classic keyboard shortcuts to do things like open drawers, look inside, pick things up AND/OR use the new interface.
The new interface works well (but I feel in some instances, it makes the game feel a little easier as it essentially gives you the second option without making you think about it).
Does the new interface make the game MORE fun to play? It's new, it's improved but I feel quite neutral about it. I think it opens up more options beyond just pick up... (you had 'move ladder right' / 'move ladder left') but then again, in the past, you could have used pull / push to accomplish the same thing.
However, I felt a bit less accomplishment as a player because I didn't have to specify pick up, pull, push, look at, talk to, etc.
Thanks for the free game, I really appreciate it and you've certainly made a lot of us happy. I'm definitely enjoying running around trying to solve the puzzles. You make great games and I hope this feedback is useful!
PS Please do Monkey Island 3, even if it is illegal. We will bust you out of jail if it comes to that.
Until then I will play Thimbleweed Park once more ;-) All the best for you and thank you again!
1) Overall – very nice. Getting rid of the verbs while cleverly keeping them should keep both ye olde verb-clickers and the contemporary "What are all these words doing on my screen?"-people more or less happy. Eating the cake and keeping it at the same time – while not confining oneself to a fixed set of verbs.
2) Not having to read / hear a line like "That doesn't seem to work." hundreds of times during the course of a game is a big plus.
3) Pressing period to skip a line of dialogue strikes me as a weird remnant of some bygone interface that shouldn't be a thing in 2020. What's wrong with (right) clicking to skip a line? I found myself keeping one finger constantly hovering above the period key while playing the game. It's not intuitive, and that makes it feel like it's working against to the need to make a new interface in the first place.
How is this handled on a touch interface? By making line-skipping impossible or by introducing a new UI button during discussions?
4) Hiding alternate verbs in a popup menu has the disadvantage of making the player right-click anything and everything just in case, mostly to discover there's nothing new in the menu (at least in this game). This amounts to nothing but a lot of pointless clicking, and could end up being more annoying than "That doesn't seem to work." in the long run.
It would be great if the mouse pointer could visually indicate that there's more to the object being pointed at than left-clicking? A little plus sign or something? This is harder to implement on a touch-based device, of course, but could something be done for the desktop users?
5) The slow non-pixel-perfect zoom at the beginning didn't look very good. Pixels and zooming don't go well together, in my opinion. But that's nitpicking at this point, I guess, as it has nothing to do with the interface...
The interface fells pretty good, overall. It's not exactly reinventing the wheel, as far as adventure game interfaces go, although I can't seem to remember games that would work exactly like this, for some reason... It does remind me of Kult (aka. Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess, for some reason...), one of my favourite old games. Clicking on things in Kult brings up a selection of verbs that are specific to that object. Many of the verbs are superfluous and only brings up different (and not necessarily useful) descriptions of the object or have no practical use at all, but it's a fun system. The results of clicking those verbs are perhaps closer to what would happen in an Infocom adventure, as most of it is text – there's no way anybody would have the time or the resources to animate all that extra stuff.
Check it out if you're interested. Exxos (later Cryo), France, 1989. fantastic pixel art (based on concept art by French comic book artist Philippe Caza), and in my opinion excellent sound design for the time. Flawed as an adventure game, but really good atmosphere and environment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm2r5ZqZg6k
The new engine seems perfectly fine too. However one wouldn't know that this is a whole new engine unless told so. As others have said, it would be nice to hear in more detail what compelled you to make a new engine when you already had one that appeared to be very good?
I'm happy that you guys are still keeping at this. I hope this means we'll get a whole new adventure at some point!
Any chance you could make it fallback on Direct X 11 if you're not on Windows 10, for all of us Windows 8 and 7 users?
Thimbleweed park has single-handedly rekindled my love for adventure games, so this totally made my day!
On the topic of engines, have you looked at engge? It's a new implementation of the TP engine.
Feedback on the interface:
1. I liked being able to click on something and for the default action to happen quickly and easily, but I ended up having to right-click on everything to see if there were any hidden options. It was a bit frustrating.
Possible suggestion: Left-click brings up options. Right-click does default. (This is because I was playing on a track pad and right-click was slightly more annoying than left.)
2. Dragging an object was annoying on a trackpad.
Suggestion: Left-click selects object (right-click releases it). Right-click while in inventory Looks At.
3. Traipsing around Thimbleweed Park isn't the most fun. A map to fast-travel to ANY visited location would have been great.
Thanks for this!
Just completed the new Delores mini-game.
LOVED it! Was so good to be back in the town
(I'd forgotten how much I missed that music, art and atmosphere) ☺
In case it's of any use - I've passed on some of my thoughts & observations while playing to David
(didn't wanna include the link here in public)
Overall, VERY impressed with it - it felt just like being back in the original (with some nice additions! 😀 )
I'm also excited to learn more about the engine - especially now that I've realised that you're blogging about it again (I might even try to nick a feature or two, should I ever get 'round to updating SCUMM-8 ever again! :skull: )
Anyway, hope it helps.
Stay safe, & all the best! 😀
Unfortunately I have issues with shound - it stutters and distorts for a split second at random intervals, it's hard to describe but it's really annoying. Does anyone else have that problem?
Cheers from Argentina!!
Please keep making video games !!! <3 <3 <3
As a long time fan and a backer of Thimbleweed Park I'm super happy to get "in there" again!
Cheers from Sardinia.
Please fight for Monkey Island. One day they have to understand how much it means to you and us. We'll support you!
Best regards from germany
But it is not free - because I have to use Steam or Epic. Why the hack?
I am wondering why an old stager like you supporting structures like that. Why not just offering a download link?
And +1 for a Linux version.
Thanks a lot, greetings from Germany.
Also, how does Dinky work under the hood? Parser generator or hand-rolled parser? Interpreter or bytecode?
I didn't expect to return to Thimbleweed Park, I've enjoyed the short drive!
I've noticed a BUG in the text, it seems a charset issue.
Here is a screenshot: https://pasteboard.co/J7UqNDq.png
I really enjoy the photojournalism puzzle. IMO that kind of puzzle is exactly what I am hoping for in adventure games. Not just simple "use X with Y" inventory driven puzzles, or "linear room unlocking", but puzzles which are truly interactive with the whole game world. (Now imaging also sound being involved, or more complex dialogues, switching between characters, etc).
Replay value is also very high - e.g., for each playthrough a slightly different subset of tasks could be presented. Please, keep on designing puzzles like this one!
If you want feedback on the new UI: I like how it makes things flow but I feel that causes me to read less and thus Perhaps I miss details (that make your games so adorable). I dislike the options of items being hidden behind a right-click; maybe a classic menu at the bottom could slide up on a hover or click of an item instead.
Anyway, I love what you do, stay healthy and keep on rocking!
Best regards from Germany,
Hey Gilbert, the game in only in English. I could fix a quick translation to Spanish for free if you let me :)
thanks a lot and I mean it! I loved Thimbleweed Park and I'm happy to see this little... spin-off? I grew up with all you other games and am happy to see that there's still new material coming out. Likewise with the C&C guys next month. Good old times, right?
I hope you've got a new project in line. Can't wait to play the next game made/produce/directed by you.
Have a nice day and stay healthy!
Am I the only one who gets the little graphic bug from time to time where parts are flashing and showing different art?
For example if you meet Willie and he leaves the scene and you go further to the left. Then the violin repair shop flashes and shows a broken down house for a second before it restores to normal.
But anyway...loved playing it....and bad luck for you since I now know your password ;-)
could be, if I'm not mistaken there was a different place (was it before the bank?) where it showed serveral character art overlapping for a flash of a second....Anyway....both didn't give me a clue....it was more like a glitch (in the matrix) .....but hey....it didn't stop me from playing ;-)
Delores (not that one)
I miss the days when games came on floppies and inserting a disk and running the game's executable (or boot from the floppy, especially for non-PC platforms) was all you needed to do to run it. Now it's all packages this and Internet that, but it's not gotten any easier.
Big Red Button
Thank you very much, Ron!
I was wondering if it's a way to download it as off-line package, to keep it safe on my HD instead of depending on internet connection and somebody other's computer, as I did with Thimbleweed Park...
There's no Prefs.json; this is the Delores directory:
I tried to make a text file named Prefs.json with the given sentence, but it's ignored by the game.
Ron, you have the power to do what nobody else does: to make me upgrade my PC to Windows 10, LOL
(ok, not on my main PC, I will do that on the backup one... there's a limit to everything ;-)
Devs can upload a zip file to Itch .doesn't need to be an installer.
What about a Hamilton parody? Perhaps a musical point and click?
One of my first ideas for MI was that is was a musical. That's where the SCUMM bar first appeared.