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Did Ron Gilbert raise a hidden army of software developers with his games?

I spend the last weeks reading several threads in this forum and one thing that I noticed is that a lot of people here in the forum seem to have a software development background.

So I wondered if that is a coincidence or if there is a connection between playing Lucasfilm adventure games as a teenager and getting into software development as an adult? And if there is a connection: was this by chance or are there “hidden signals” in the classic game that took control of our minds and actually drove us in the direction of getting a developer?

And what does this all mean for Thimbleweed Park? I mean by :delores: - a main character - being a developer herself, maybe the main goal of the whole game was only to reunite the secretly build developer army in this forum :laughing:


I think a lot of gamers who are into adventure games have that kind of mind - they enjoy the mechanics and cause/effect nature of solving puzzles and therefore naturally enjoy creating games or software that involves detailed construction. I suppose I should say that’s the case for me at least - I guess not everybody necessarily. I’m not a coder (more of a words person) but I’ve dabbled, and easily could’ve fallen into that industry.

Though I like the idea of being controlled by the signals more :smile:


While I found enjoyment in software development at a younger age before Maniac Mansion even came out, adventure games did have an important effect. These included text adventure games that I played, Sierra on-line quests, and later on Lucasfilm/arts games.
Some of my development efforts at the time revolved around writing my own adventure games that I developed with a friend of mine. I was in charge of the programming, he did the graphics and music. This was done on PC (8086/8088, CGA), and it was basically a text adventure with graphics (a-la the Hobbitt, and other games of the era). A later effort would include a character that would walk around, in front and behind objects on the screen. Doing that required lot’s of learning and invention on my part as I didn’t have any official training, or anyone to really learn from. It was really hacking into the environment, observing, taking little bits from here and there. Some of the things that are now trivial to do were much more complicated. There was a limited amount of memory to use, the pixel to memory mapping wasn’t trivial (for me at least) – interlaced, 4 pixels per byte (CGA). What motivated me was the idea that someone else already figured it out, so playing these graphical adventure games really pushed me.
Some other experience that I mentioned it once elsewhere – I didn’t have (up until a few years ago) a legitimate copy of Maniac Mansion (or any other game at the time; where I lived there was no where I could buy any, and even if there was I never had any means to buy anything). So I couldn’t really finish the game because there was a copy protection in the form of a keypad and a code that you needed to punch in. I worked around it by hacking and disassembling the game, removing that copy protection. Modified the function that handled that keypad to return true, or something like that. (as a side-note: the problem iirc is that the function was used for all the keypads in the game, so it pretty much opened up areas that I wasn’t supposed to go into and made the game extra short and easy). This type of experience was not unique to MM, it was one out of many that taught me a lot. It was all part of the experience I gained through middle and high school, and these games certainly helped. Later on when I went into college and afterwards, all that experience pushed me ahead.

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Interesting questions. In my case it was the other way around: I was addicted to computers and coding before I discovered the Lucasfilm adventures. They influenced me “only” in two ways: I have learned more English words (*) and that I would like to develop an adventure game sometime. :slight_smile:

Beside that, I fully agree with @PiecesOfKate :slight_smile:

(*) I’m the perfect example that you can’t learn a language with games. :wink:

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I played more Sierra games as a child, but I agree with @seguso’s point: these games came out during the early 1980s, so if you have an emotional attachment to them, it is most likely to be because you played them as a child back then; and for that to have happened, it means you already had an affinity to computers at the time.

Remember, although we may remember the 9189s as some golden age of microcomputers and video games, the reality was that they were still a very small minority of the entertainment market. :wink:


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Also one difference to today is that back then you needed to be much more into computers to get games to work/run (like typing!).
People using such computer systems are probably more into tinkering with computers than people who preferred console or arcade games, and there weren’t a lot adventure games on such devices, especially not text adventure games.


I think that’s very true. I remember really wanting a console for Christmas but my parents thought it’d be more educational to give me a PC. At first I was a bit miffed, but I’ve got them to thank for introducing me to systems like DOS and igniting my interest in computers.

I think I learned a lot more from playing games like Space Quest than I would’ve from my Mega Drive (which I did eventually get :smile:) and also lots more about hardware/software and how computers work.

I also didn’t have a mouse so became a whizz at keyboard shortcuts. cmd-z! F5! shift-tab! POW!

(I should clarify that it gave me an inclination to use keyboard over mouse - back then it was more like spacebar to access the menu! F for formatting! C for colour! R for red! Not quite as snappy)


I know what you mean. Imagine my parent’s surprise that their 9 year-old son went from “hunt-and-pecking” to “touch typing” without even touching a typewriter! :laughing:


Nah… it’s just that the “seed” of this forum is made by people who came here from the official development blog. So they were people interested in following the technicalities of game design. :stuck_out_tongue:

If you’ll go to other forums about the game, you’ll observe a more diverse kind of users and topics.

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I guess I´m an exception because in my mind computers work by having blue and red glowy guys having gladiator fights to the death on the game grid.

I thought it was miniature gnomes inside the computer that speak low-level languages. That’s why if your 1541 disk drive isn’t working, you can hit it and make the gnomes do their job.

Yes, there is even a software to make them become visible!


bite me gnomes

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Ah that makes sense. So then there is probably no need to put my kids into a giant pizza costume while they’re playing classic LucasFilm Adventures in order to protect them from the strong signals :wink:

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I would do that anyway because 1) you never know and 2) it’s funny to use kids as guinea pigs for unscientific experiments.


Are there others? (Not counting the one on Steam)

No, I was referring mainly to the Steam forum.

But I have also read other discussion boards, like this subreddit, or long threads in game forums, like this one.

What about Godot and Visionaire?

Pico 8 :smiley:

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