With the gash left by the LucasArts shutdown still a bit raw, this one’s either going to feel like salt in the wound or a spark of hope.
Ron Gilbert, creator of LucasArts’ much-loved Monkey Island series, has published a list outlining the sequel he’d make if he could. The bad news: he swears up and down that he’s not making it. Yet.
For those of you who don’t keep track of where legendary game developers end up (Hey! Everyone needs a hobby), here’s what you need to know: after leaving LucasArts in the early 90s, Gilbert went on to found Humongous Entertainment (remember Putt-Putt or Freddi Fish? That was them), which is now owned by Atari. In 2010, he joined DoubleFine, the game development house which you’d remember as having one of the biggest Kickstarters ever, led by fellow LucasArts alum and industry legend Tim Schafer. Last month, Ron parted ways with DoubleFine to “plot his next move“.
His full post is here (and absolutely worth reading), but to recap some of the bigger points:
- He’s not currently making a Monkey Island Sequel, primarily because he’s “done making stuff other people own.” (Remember: Disney owns the rights to the game and, though they’ve shuttered LucasArts, they plan to license out select properties to other developers) But if he did…
- It’d be called Monkey Island 3a. While Monkey Island games have been made after the two he had a hand in, “games after Monkey Island 2 don’t exist in [his] Monkey Island universe”.
- They’d sell physical copies, not just digital ones, because “sometimes you just want to roll around in all your adventure game boxes”.
- It’d be done in a visually respectful, “enhanced low-res” style. It’d be jam-packed with beautiful pixel art, while still tapping some of the modern graphical tech available today.
- It’d have full, voice-acted dialogue. This is something of a point of contention amongst fans of the classic, many of whom swear by the text-only dialogue of yore.
- He’d build a new engine in the same vein as LucasArts’ SCUMM, with a scripting language focused completely on the rapid creation of adventure games. He’d encourage fans to make their own Monkey Island games, as long as they were clearly fan games.
- His dream team would be less than 10 people large.
Gilbert goes on to suggest that he might consider using something like Kickstarter to get it done. Interestingly, he then prods a bit at campaigns with “fancy videos,” “crazy stretch goals,” “ridiculous reward tiers,” and the accompanying “hype and distractions”… which, you know, sort of describes DoubleFine’s hugely successful Kickstarter down to a tee.
It’s particularly interesting to watch the way Gilbert’s tone begins to shift as he continues through the post. While he starts by dedicating not one, but two points to clarifying that he’s not working on a sequel, he ends with talks of theoretical Metacritic scores and statements like “If you let me do those things, you will love the game.” This is clearly something he wants to do — he just can’t.
The very day Disney announced that they’d acquired LucasFilms (and in turn LucasArts and all of its game properties), Gilbert quite publicly disclosed that he wanted to buy his game back:
While he mentions having no money, that’s not a problem without a clear solution. If Disney would sell him the IP for anything resembling a sane amount, the fans have already made it quite clear that they’d be willing to throw a small mountain of money his way. (What the hell is Disney going to do with the license, anyway? They’ve already got the similarly piratey but way larger Pirates of the Caribbean property. Plus, Disney could use probably some positive PR surrounding the LucasArts acquisition/shutdown right now.)
Back in December, Gilbert mentioned in an interview with PCGamer that he still wanted the property, and that he planned to contact Disney “at some point”.
Could this be his way of getting that ball rolling?