Thimbleweed Park Podcast #3
“The third exciting Thimbleweed Park podcast, this time with more David Fox.”
Released April 24, 2015
Transcribed by Sushi
(Ron): Welcome to the third Thimbleweed Park stand up meeting podcast. I am Ron Gilbert…
(Gary): I’m Gary Winnick…
(Ron): …and today we are joined by David Fox!
(David): Hi! I’m here too.
(Ron): And we’re gonna be very quickly going over what we did last week and what we expect to do next week, and we’ll start with Gary.
(Gary): Okay, so anyway, I’ve been continuing to work on wireframing rooms. There’s a great deal of those and I’m concerned certainly about cranking them out because there’s just so many of them to do, but we are getting through them. It’s just a little bit slower than I thought.
I will continue to concentrate on that. I might get some help on that as well.
Also I have been talking to Ken Macklin, he’s been working through a number of layouts on the cover. I think we’ve landed on a layout we like and we’re sort of continuing to pursue that to a little bit more finer detail…
(Ron): Yeah, we should get some of that stuff up on the website as soon as it’s ready.
(Gary): Actually, Ken said he would be willing to write a blog post about his process, so that would be interesting.
(Ron): Yeah, that would be.
(Gary): Also, I am talking with a logo designer who is going to be working with us on the actual game logo. So that’s pretty much been keeping me pretty busy.
I expect to try to concentrate a little bit more on finishing rooms, then I may move on to some animation related stuff , as far as also getting some more objects defined.
(Gary): The only other thing that happened, which is kind of interesting, which shows you kind of the reach of all of the stuff we did at Lucasfilm, is actually I received a fraudulent bill in the mail that I had to contact the police department about. And when I talked to the detective, he actually played Maniac Mansion and played Monkey Island and he was like thrilled to talk to me even though I was not thrilled to be talking to him [Ron laughs] And conversely, he went ahead and backed us on PayPal. So obviously, law enforcement is behind Thimbleweed Park, it looks like.
(Ron): Ah, that’s great. So when you contacted the logo guy, what kind of criteria did you give him about the Thimbleweed Park logo?
(Gary): Basically I feel we’re doing an homage to what we did at Lucasfilm, so I’m sort of having him look at a bunch of 1980’s packaging that was stuff that we did. Also wanting to sort of look at the sensibilities of TV shows and movies both in the vein what we’re talking about with, whether it’s Twin Peaks or the X-Files or True Detective - that kind of thing - So we’re trying to sort of… you want to be careful not to give somebody too many parameters, but definitely sort of a 1980 sensibility and the feel of sort of this parity of -I’m gonna call it - sort of X-Files/Twin Peaks type of story.
(Ron): Yeah, I really like what Ken has been doing with the cover. It kind of has this Maniac Mansion-feel too, which i think is really nice.
(Gary): Well if anybody can do Maniac Mansion-cover-feel, it would be Ken Macklin.
(Ron): Well, that is true! That is true! 1
(Ron): All right, I guess we’ll go on to David. David?
(David): Okay, well I wasn’t on your Podcast last week but the brainstorming session we had in that week was great! And it’s really good to see the game coming together and refresh my memory, at least like how everything is gonna hang together. At some point I’ll be able to keep it in my mind, but not quite yet.
(Ron): Oh, it’s gotten to the point where I cannot keep it in my head anymore. Gary and I were just talking about this yesterday that we really got to start getting better documentation 'cause stuff is just slipping out of my brain.
(Gary): Well yeah, as much as we were out of control before at Maniac [Mansion].
(David): Well, one of the things you asked me to do, Ron, was to put together a spreadsheet showing all the objects in the game and the room they’re in and whether they’re inventory objects or not and that definitely helped. By just going through stuff like that helps me to remember where everything is and what’s supposed to happen and where the holes are we don’t have yet.
(Ron): Yeah, that was interesting. Looking through that list, I was just realizing that we actually have quite a few rooms that NOTHING happens in them, you know, and so those are things that we need to either cut the rooms or we need to figure out interesting things to happen in them.
(David): Or in one case you have a whole series of rooms where there’s only one inventory object and there’s a great opportunity for other things to do there. So we have to look further on that because those rooms are great.
(Ron): Yeah, we still need to do the puzzles for the character specific stories and I think that once we get all of those puzzles figured out that there definitely are some rooms that will fill in.
(David): So the other thing was going through and taking the artwork for the [Edmund] Mansion and wiring up all the rooms, so that you can walk from one room to the next, where objects are touchable -although I did not spend any time writing funny comments for these yet…
(Ron): Yeah, I noticed. Like the Zak McKracken poster that’s hanging in the Arcade… you didn’t even write “Look at” text for that!
(David): I was afraid it might go away so that one… 2
[Both Ron and David laugh]
(David): … And then doing walk boxes for the first time. Though it just came up, so I went through all the rooms that didn’t have walkboxes - which was most of them - and adding those. And that’s basically defining where the actor or character can walk within the room so they don’t start climbing the walls when you click up high. And make sure they’re connected properly.
I also went through the [Puzzle] Dependency charts that Ron created image [I] actually went through that in the process of coming up with the objects for the inventory list.
Both Ron and I used BBEdit for editing text and I created a bunch of completion scripts so that when you type the first part of command it can fill in the rest, like all the brackets and parentheses and put the cursor where it’s supposed to go. I just have to get that polished and make sure it works for Ron too.
And that was pretty much it!
(David): a little bit debugging too - going through and giving Ron feedback on things that didn’t seem to work right and going through some of those.
(Gary): Are you finding that the tools that you’re using now are similar to what you used before? You’re sort of picking them up quicker? I mean, how do you feel about the tools that you’re using in general now that we’re doing something like what we used to do, but with new stuff?
(David): Yeah, I think they’re actually better. One thing that helps is to have a computer that’s thousand times faster than what it’s been before.
(Ron): Yeah literally.
(David): Yeah and so there’s no pause, there’s no wait for something to happen. Everything just goes really fast, so that’s that’s a dream. Imagine how much time we’re saving by not having to wait for disk loads on this whole process. We should be able to get the game done six months earlier, I think.
(Gary): Don’t say stuff like that, David!
(David): Well, we would have taken three years, otherwise six. I think that’s pretty much it.
(Ron): Okay, great. So last week, as David kind of mentioned, I got all the walk boxes working so… - it defines the areas that characters can walk. The tricky thing I wanted to do with walk boxes was I wanted you to be able to turn walk boxes on and off. So if there was like a gate that was closed we could just shut off the walk box under the gate and they would just naturally produce a barrier because the characters wouldn’t be able to pathfind through the gate, so… That took me a little bit of time to figure out . I have what I call the first pass of the walk boxes. The pathfinding isn’t perfect: sometimes people take a path that’s not the most optimal path to get to where they’re going, but I think it’s good enough for now, so I’m just gonna move on. Walk boxes are one of those things that you could literally spend weeks on the path finding so I just want to move on. So I’m kind of done with that.
I did some more work on the verb system so it’s a little bit better on understanding if verbs don’t exist for objects and passing default verbs back, so there’s not a lot of redundant code in the game.
And big news is I got the Windows build working, so you can actually play Thimbleweed Park on Windows now. So the Mac and the Windows builds have a perfect parity right now. so that’s good.
And I did the big giant Puzzle Dependency Chart for act 3. So that was last week.
Next week I want to give the “Give to” verb code working, so you can pass objects from one player to another. I got most of that working yesterday but I ran into some weird situations where when you’re gonna give an object to somebody… there’s almost these three different conditions that need to be checked: is the actor that’s giving the object willing to give the object? Is the actor receiving the object willing to receive the object? And is the object itself willing to be given? So I feel we need almost three different verbs that each of the object or actors can have and then those kind of get passed around, so… I may talk to you about this offline, David and figure out whether I have the best solution to this or not.
And I want to get the Puzzle Dependency Charts done for the flashbacks. We have those all designed but we never puzzle-dependency-charted them. And then I’d also like to start the Puzzle Dependency Charts for the character specific stories.
So that is my next week.
(David): Good. For my next week… I’m probably only working part time so far, like one or two days a week because there isn’t that much to do, yet. It’s clearly much faster to wire a room than it is for Gary to draw it. So when new rooms come out, I’ll be doing those, wiring [them in]. Also just playing around with the system and the tools and making it so that I know everything.
(Ron): Okay, well I guess that’s it. Anyone have anything to add?
(Gary): No, we’ll see you all next week. Same Thimbleweed time, same Thimbleweed channel, I guess. 3
(Ron): Alright, see you guys later.
(David): Bye bye.
1: Ken Macklin is the artist who did the Maniac Mansion box cover.
2: Disable the Annoying in-jokes option to see the poster
3: Paraphrasing the 1960s Batman TV series that always ended with a cliffhanger, urging viewers to tune in “next week, same Battime, same Batchannel!”