The first printed book to cite Thimbleweed Park?

I’m not absolutely sure that the following book will be the first one to cite Thimbleweed Park, but I’m sure that it will be one of the firsts.

The book, “100 Greatest Video Game Franchises”, coming on August 15, 2017 (it can be preordered) cites Thimbleweed Park on page 156, when the author writes about the Monkey Island franchise. I’ll highlight the passage that was more interesting to me:

[…] Monkey Island continues to leave its mark culturally. The first two games in the series were rereleased for console gamers in 2009, with updated graphics and voice acting. The fifth game was designed and released as a series of episodes by independent publisher Telltale Games in the same year. And more recently, after a successful Kickstarter project, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, creator and art designer of the original Monkey Island games, raised over $600,000 to produce Thimbleweed Park, a retro, 8-bit adventure game building on the same SCUMM game engine from the mid-1980s.

This success demonstrates how through multiple iterations and continued engagement with current developments in the production and consumption of video games, there remains an audience for narrative-driven, discursive gaming. Despite economic imperatives driving a global video games industry to ramp up the intensity of gamers’ experiences, slow, satirical, and lovingly ironic pieces still have their niche, and it is Monkey Island that provides the touchstone of such games.

As sociologist Fred Davis writes, nostalgia is “a deeply social emotion.” One cannot escape the wistful nostalgia that surrounds the Monkey Island universe. This love of a better yesterday infuses not only the game’s setting, characters, and themes but also the ways in which a community of journalists, reviewers, developers, and fans write and reminisce about the game, generally with a rueful Smile. It is a series of games thought of fondly primarily because, it seems, Monkey Island refused to take its own excellence too seriously. Such an attitude is, in the turbulence of today, much missed.

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Well, not exactly, but very close. :slight_smile:

I wonder if “building on” in this case could have been used in the sense of “building on the concept”. Would it be a possible interpretation?

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How did you know that, if it’s not out yet?

When a publisher decides to publish a book in digital format and provides it in advance to Google Play Books, so that the book can be pre-ordered, Google usually indexes the book also in the Google Books index, which is searchable.

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The use of the word “same” casts doubt on that theory. It suggests a lack of difference due to seemingly multiple objects or entities in fact being one and the same. To use a different software example, “…Ubuntu, an operating system building on the same Linux kernel famously developed by Linus Torvalds.” We know for a fact that Ubuntu is built on Linux, so the use of the word “same” makes more sense there. Removing the word “same” from the sentence would support your theory much better, though the wording would still be a bit awkward and ambiguous. “Inspired by” instead of “building on” would be a better choice of wording, since Ron Gilbert chose to build a new engine from scratch instead of relying on any existing SCUMM code.

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Thanks for your analysis. Yes, it’s the word “same” that makes the interpretation difficult for me because, being referred to a game engine, moves the sense towards a more concrete meaning of “building”, in this case related to software development. I think I’ll ask the author for clarification.

[quote=“LowLevel, post:1, topic:737”]
a retro, 8-bit adventure game
[/quote]It’s not even 8-bit either. Neither CPU nor graphics mode.
I wonder what else in that book would be based on wild guess instead of research.

Well, I’m not sure what the author meant for “building on the same SCUMM game engine”, but I’m sure that he was using the expression “8-bit” not in its original technical meaning but as the more “relaxed” and ambiguous way in which “8-bit” is used among artists nowadays.

For example, musicians often use the expression “8-bit” as a simple synonym of “chiptune”. I listen to a lot of “8-bit” tunes and they are labeled and tagged in this way by the artists themselves, but I assure you that the samples of those tunes are not restricted to 8 bits nor the soundwaves are restricted to a resolution of 8 bits. In this specific context, the language has changed and “8-bit” has now a different and more ambiguous meaning: not tunes made in 8 bits but tunes made in the style of the old ones.

The same has happened with graphics: many graphic artists use the expression “8-bit graphic” not to refer to actual hardware or color palette limitations but to describe a kind of graphic style inspired by the one used in the games of 8 bit computers and platforms. The following video explains this modern usage of the expression:

[…] You could never really know what someone means when they say 8-bit. It could be that they’re using a 256 color palette, it could be that they’re trying to mimic the graphics of one of many 8-bit powered consoles or it could just mean that’s all a bit pixelated. […] Its use has become so ambiguous that it’s not really useful anymore.

[quote=“LowLevel, post:9, topic:737”]
but to describe a kind of graphic style inspired by the one used in the games of 8 bit computers and platforms.
[/quote]Isn’t that called retro design?
Anyway, computer were usually classified by the CPU, which makes the style of Thimbleweed park 16 bit, being a mixture of Maniac Mansion V2 and Monkey Island.

That’s another synonym.

Yes, but it is also common to call pixel art (or retro design) as 8-bit graphics. And yes, that is confusing. :slight_smile:

Common where? I don’t know of anybody doing so. On the other hand, I read a lot about “pixel-this” and “retro-that.” The only “8-bit” I hear used in this context is regarding chiptune music and that is specifically because it is made with 8-bit machines and chips.

I know it seems to be de rigueur to attribute ambiguity and personal interpretation to everything nowadays, but words have meaning, and assuming always that they can be anything is not very useful.

Sometimes people meant what they said and happen to be mistaken. In the case of the book author saying “building on the same SCUMM game engine…” he was probably misinformed, or perhaps didn’t care enough to get down to technical differences and thought it was a useful enough analog. I would agree with either. :slight_smile:


For example in the comment sections of german game-related websites.

Ah, so it could be a cultural thing.

This discussion reminds me of Mark Ferrari’s very interesting presentation at GDC 2016 (watch it on Youtube), in which he explains the difference between “8 bit art” and “8 bitish art” at the beginning.
Technically, there is a big difference, but it’s not so eye-poking, which might be the reason why the term “8 bit art” is also common for “8 bitish art” nowadays.

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Yes, could be. I’ve heard and read it several times. Grown up with the 8-bit (C64) and 16-bit (Amiga) art, I don’t like the term “8-bit art” either.

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Let’s just observe how some people in the game industry have used the expression “8-bit”:

“This is 8-bit art. We’re doing that because we all love 8-bit art, we’re not doing it for technical reasons like we did back then. There’s a lot of new things we can do now, we’ve got all the parallax layers sliding in and out from one another. There’s lighting, if you look at Rey as she walks in and out of the streetlight, she actually changes as the light hits her. We’re using shaders now, there are all these light sources that are actually projecting light in the world.” [Ron Gilbert on PCPowerPlay]

“Mark Ferrari, who did all the backgrounds for Monkey Island, he did some of the backgrounds for this game. The technology has advanced. There’s a lot more we can do, all this nice parallaxing when things are moving. Mark has just grown as an artist over 30 years. He’s a lot better than he was back then. So we want to use what he does really well with his 8-bit pixel art.” [Ron Gilbert on Venturebeat]

“With its 8-bit, big pixel style and old-school interface, Thimbleweed Park “strips away all the cruft built up over the years and is distilled down to what we loved about the genre,” the game’s creators say.” [Polygon]

“Now, though, Thimbleweed Park has a task on its 8-bit hands, looking to reinvigorate the genre for a new realm of gamers while meeting the expectations of Rob Gilbert’s fans.” [XBox: The Official Magazine]

“Bring back the '90s: Ron Gilbert and the return of the 8-bit adventure game”

“Ron Gilbert is another person looking to recreate those '90s feelings. The adventure game maker behind the likes of Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island is creating a new one called Thimbleweed Park, a point-and-click adventure with retro 8-bit visuals that raised $626,250 via Kickstarter.”

“An 8-bit town with a Twin Peaks backdrop. A campy cast of bobblehead characters. A murder victim lying face down in the river.” [Gaming Nexus]

"Adventure games have seen a huge resurgence in recent years, and with LucasArts pedigree like Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick behind it, Thimbleweed Parks has a lot of anticipation resting on its 8-bit shoulders. " [PCGamesN]

I often see people talking about 8-bit and also 16-bit graphics referencing the graphics of old consoles. Especially NES vs. SNES style pixel graphics.