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February 27, 2008

Gilbert interview

Just wanted to point out a new interview posted over at Eurogamer with Ron Gilbert, he of Monkey Island fame. Gilbert was recently hired as creative director at Hothead Games to assist with their upcoming games, "Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness" and "Deathspank". I'm not a Penny Arcade fan, so the former doesn't really appeal to me very much -- particularly the way Gilbert describes it:

"It's kind of a light adventure game; there aren't going to be these really intricate, mind-boggling puzzles you would find in Monkey Island."


The latter, however, sounds a bit more intriguing, although not much has been revealed about it except that it will be released episodically -- which apparently is the hip new thing these days. Said Gilbert:

"The adventure game aspects in Deathspank are a lot more traditional and hardcore. You are going to get a lot of really intricate puzzles...it is melded with what I would term classic Monkey Island-style puzzles."


That sounds like something I could look forward to. In the interview, Gilbert is very enthusiastic and hopeful for the future of adventure games, which is encouraging -- as long as companies like Hothead and TellTale are successful and continue to publish good quality pieces.

Towards the end of the interview, Gilbert is asked to comment about this year's GDC, when Dave Jones (from Realtime Worlds) apparently said something about leaving storytelling to books and movies, not games.

"I think that's completely unfair. The main reason games don't do stories well is we don't have good storytellers. That gets lumped in, 'Well, games don't know how to tell good stories.' Well, no, games can tell stories, but you have to tell good ones...Adventure games did a really good job of telling them, but as graphics got better, the games industry became more action-oriented."


I think he's on to something, but I find it interesting that interactive fiction still isn't really part of the discussion. IF did, and still does, a good job of telling stories without graphics. But even though his solution is to blend core adventure game elements with other genres, such as RPG, we're not really sure what those core elements are that he refers to. In many respects, IF is at the core of most adventure games, at least historically, so perhaps asking "What works about IF?" can really get at the heart of the question "What works about adventure games?"

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