Transcript Podcast #68

Thimbleweed Park Podcast #68 (part 1/2)

“The last Thimbleweed Park podcast.”
Original airdate April 2, 2018
Transcribed by Sushi


(Ron:) Hi, I’m Ron Gilbert and welcome to the Thimbleweed Park Standup Meeting Podcast! This is a very special podcast because we released almost a year ago today. I think the last podcast we did was right after or maybe right before the game shipped, so it has been quite a while 1 . And as always, I am joined by David Fox…

(David:) Hey there!

(Ron:) … and Gary Winnick.

(Gary:) Hello everyone.

(Ron:) So, it’s been a year!

(Gary:) Yeah…

(David:) It just seems like 25 years ago.

(Ron:) [laughs] We’ll do our next adventure game together in 25 years. So like every 25 years the three of us will get together and we’ll make an adventure game.

(Gary:) Yeah and then like our heads are in glass, like on Futurama, we’ll get together and do that.

(David:) As long as you can hire someone to type, I’ll probably have arthritis by then.

(Gary:) Nah, your mustache will be able to do that, David. Because the nanotechnology in your mustache before then will allow it to move freely.

(David:) Smartstache!

(Gary:) It’ll fly off your body and attack people and stuff like that.

(Ron:) The latest adventure game from Ron Gilbert, Gary Winnick and David’s mustache!

[They all laugh]

(David:) Yes, I am planning to have it frozen in ice and saved for …

(Ron:) [laughs] Is your tombstone just going to have a big mustache on it?

(David:) We should go back and modify the game and add one.

(Gary:) Hey Ron, there should have been a checkbox for mustaches or no mustaches and then all the characters will either have mustaches or not. Maybe for next time.

(Ron:) So, this is our 1-year anniversary podcast and I’m not sure what to talk about, since we don’t actually have a game that we are working on and we’re talking about what we’re doing on the game. So I’m not sure what the topic of our 1-year anniversary podcast should really be…

(David:) Maybe… It’s an anniversary since we launched, but it’s not really a year since we stopped working on it.

(Ron:) No, that’s the downside to modern game development: I have been… I think I actually stopped working on the game when we shipped the Ransome DLC. It’s like when we shipped that, I have actually been able to relax and work on some private projects and stuff.

(Gary:) I keep saying “why does Ron keep building shit that breaks and stuff like that?” So you’ll have a job, I guess!

(Ron:) Job security.

(David:) That was just shipped, what, a month ago?

(Ron:) Yeah…

(David:) OK. So, you have been on it up until the last month.

(Ron:) Almost. It wasn’t full-time. I was probably on it pretty much full-time until we shipped the Switch version, that was the last version we released. So I was pretty much full-time until the Switch came out and then I was… I took a little bit time off and did some stuff and then started doing the Ransome stuff. I mean, the Ransome DLC should have been done a lot earlier. It just turned into a really much more complicated job than I anticipated it being. Mostly just because of the edge cases, you know, there is lots of weird places that it was just kind of breaking, so I spent a lot more time working on the Ransome flashback.

(David:) You mean you didn’t just trow all the old files in and…

(Gary:) …just push button?

(David:) …push button?

(Ron:) [laughs] Aww, now your being mean, David.

(Gary:) It’s just another problem with Ron’s engine that he couldn’t just push a button to do that. It’s Ron’s fault all the way around here.

(Ron:) Yeah, we pretty much had to charge $1.99 for it because of my sheer incompetence.

[Gary and David laugh]

(David:) I was helping for that too. I think I spent like a week reviewing all the files and make sure we had them all and there were issues were we use the same recording in a couple of places but didn’t have copies of it, so there were bugs where he’d started beeping instead of swearing in a few places.

(Ron:) We also spent a lot of time testing that too.

(David:) Yeah, it took a lot of time.

(Ron:) As well Katerina and Robert pounding on that for quite a while because there were just lots of issues. Doing that DLC was not just a matter of copying some files over.

(Gary:) Ron, I have a question for you that you may or may not answer. In any case, regarding the Limited Run games deal, is that something where they approached us or what? How did that come about?

(Ron:) Yeah, they approached us. They came to us and wanted to know whether we wanted to do the limited run stuff with them. And I think they’ve never done Switch before, so Thimbleweed Park will be the very first game that they have ever done on Switch.

(Gary:) So that means they’ll never do another one, right?

(David:) Heh heh… Or if people who have Switches out there do want more, then they’d better buy Thimbleweed Park to prove how important it is.

(Gary:) Yeah. Buy twelve copies at least. They can pre-order and I believe there is not a quantity limit on that, right?

(Ron:) I am not exactly sure how it works, since Jenn set everything up mostly, so she’s the one that most of that work. But I think there were an unlimited number of Switch pre-orders but then once that’s done, there is kind of a limited number of things after that. I don’t quite know how the whole thing works with Limited Run, I think it’s just great that we are on physical media.

(Gary:) And then in terms of the PC and big box, you can still get that from Fangamer? They will do that to as many orders as they get, I guess.

(Ron:) Yeah, I mean there’s two big box versions. There’s the Switch and the PS big box collector’s editions: those are limited. But the normal PC version of Thimbleweed Park through fangamer isn’t. If the demand is there, they’ll probably keep making those boxes.


(David:) So, are we gonna do like an iOS hard copy? Like ship an iPhone with it built in?

(Ron:) Yes! It’s a $1000 copy. You get an iPhone X, pre-installed with Thimbleweed Park. Burnt into ROM, you can’t even delete it!

[Gary and David laugh]

(Ron:) It’s kinda like their calculator. You just can’t delete Thimbleweed Park from the phone.

(David:) Have the Thimbleweed launch screen on it and background screens.

(Gary:) Oh, you mean it has like a Thimbleweed Park outer box case that has it printed on there.

(Ron:) Yeah, it’s the ThimblephoneTM!

(David:) And add a bunch of Ransome sound effects for beeps and…

(Ron:) The ring tones? So the ring tones are ALL Ransome swearing. It’s the only ringtone they offer.

(David:) “Pick up the god-damn phone!”

(Gary:) You know, there’s probably a market out there for 4 of those at least, Ron.

(Ron:) Well, Ray has that big chunky 1980s cellular phone. We should make a Thimbleweed Park one of those.

(David:) How about just an iPhone case in the shape of one of those old phones?

(Ron:) Now, that’s… that we could… That would be a big case.

(David:) Yeah [David and Ron start laughing]. The bell truck.

(Gary:) David, and people wonder why you are not like out designing products ?

(Gary:) Do we want to talk about what we are working on now or what?

(Ron:) Yeah, we could talk about that. Or what we are not working on now.

(Gary:) Assuming we are actually doing something else besides this, if you know what I mean.

(Ron:) So what are you working on, David?

(David:) Well, let’s see… I feel like I went into hibernation mode afterwards, just relaxing, sleeping more, watching more [TV], catching up on all the TV shows that I missed over the period. And also because of Apple’s iOS, they made that change where you had to ship 64-bit compatible.

(Ron:) Oh yeah.

(David:) So I had to go back to all the old apps I shipped and redo those in 64-bit and that broke something in the Rube Goldberg one and I had to find workarounds. So I was in a kind of production mini hell for a few months, trying to get them out before Apple was going to remove them from the store. So it’s old stuff, really. I had been doing editing podcasts for Annie, for my wife, and I think the last one I had done was back in July before we were in crunch mode, so I went back to things she recorded like a year ago and caught up on all those. And it’s really just catch-up mode.

(Ron:) Do your laundry, stuff like that? Stuff you didn’t do during the entire project?

(David:) I’m really good at laundry. I do that, I’m the laundry guy in the house. And the dog poop in the backyard, cleaning it up, so we are okay there.

(Ron:) [laughs] I let the rain deal with the dog poop in my backyard.
[Gary laughs]

(David:) Well, unfortunately, we are downhill and the slope is uphill so it would just rain down into our front porch if we did that, so that wouldn’t be too cool.
What was the other thing… oh yeah! I’ve always been interested in Virtual Reality and all that, so I’ve been going to more meetups. I’ve not purchased equipment yet, but I’ve been researching a lot there.
I went to Universal Studios in Florida again to check out the Harry Potter thing a second time. Took Annie [with me] this time.

(Ron:) You and Harry Potter…

(David:) Yeah, I still like it. It was really fun.

(Gary:) You are one of the six people who still like that.

(David:) There’s also this place called “The Void”, which is a VR location based entertainment center, where you actually go and they have a physical space setup to match the virtual space. So like, they have a Star Wars game and if you see a bench, you can actually walk up to the bench and sit down on it. And if you see guns on the rack, there’s actually guns on the rack and you can pick them up. So it’s a melding of physical with what you see virtually. That was pretty cool. I really enjoyed it the first time. The second time I did it, right afterwards, it wasn’t as fun, because it wasn’t deep. It’s pretty much they did it for a one-off and if you went through it faster, it just ended faster.

(Ron:) Kinda like an adventure game.

(David:) Yeah.

(Gary:) So Ron, you still consider doing that Oculus Rift version of Thimbleweed Park maybe someday?

(Ron:) Well, I think that would be fun to do, but I just don’t know that I’m going to get around to it. I certainly don’t have the experience to go do that.

(David:) Yeah, I did the screens for the Viewmaster version, what we call the Thimble…erm… What we call that?

(Ron:) The ViewTron TM
(David:) And all these things I didn’t think of before were issues… you basically have to make sure that their feet are always hidden by foreground stuff.

(Ron:) Right.

(David:) Otherwise, they’d be floating. So I had to go back and add crap on the foreground so you never see their feet on the ground, since it wouldn’t look like it’s perfect. I think it is harder than we thought it would be to do.

(Ron:) Yes, that could be.

(David:) But it was fun, though.
So that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing. No new projects I’m working on yet, full-time, just kind of catching up on old stuff.


(Ron:) What about you, Gary?

(Gary:) OK. So I have been messing around with comic book stuff. Actually, it is interesting when David said he’s looking at stuff he hadn’t touched for a long time, I actually had this comic book idea when I worked at Lucasfilm, for this comic book that looked like a comic from the 1960s. It’s called “The Variants” and I actually worked on it with my friend Brent Anderson 2 , who’s a fairly known comic book guy.

(Ron:) You know that Lucasfilm owns that, and now Disney owns that idea.

(Gary:) Yeah. Sure.

(Ron:) You are going to get a cease and desist letter that you can no longer work on that comic book.

(Gary:) [laughs] Well, it’s too late. Because I finished it! But in any case, it’s something that I think Jenn might post a picture of it on one of our updates coming up, because I gave her one. And it’s a weird thing, because what I’ve decided to do is to print this comic book and have it look like an old comic book from the 1960s and sell it for a quarter. This is my great business sense at work. So I went out and printed this thing and it cost me $3 a piece to print these.

(Ron:) And you are going to sell them for a quarter?

(David:) Ha ha hah!

(Ron:) [breaks up in laughter]

(Gary:) So I have them actually in two comic book stores, because I can’t even get into the regular distribution channels with this. Because Diamond 3 I think wants to take like some percentage and they don’t want to take a percentage of something that is selling for a quarter, if you know what I mean. Because everybody’s losing money and they don’t want to lose money along with me. So I put it in two comic book stores: my friend Joe Ferrara who’s at Atlantis in Santa Cruz 4 and my other friend Alan [Bahr] who has Heroes in Campbell, California 5 . Those are the only two places you can get it. It’s called The Variants. It’s a quarter. And it looks a quarter annual comics book that came out in 1960. I will probably…

(Ron:) Have you sold any?

(Gary:) Yeah, actually! [laughs]

(Ron:) So you are rolling in the quarters.

(Gary:) Actually, I am letting those guys keep the quarters [Ron and David laugh] in order to have it compensate them for even bothering to put it on their shelf space.

(Ron:) Wow! So your business sense REALLY is bad, Gary! Not only are you charging a quarter for a three dollar comic, you’re letting them keep all the money.

(Gary:) That’s right. Because…

(David:) Support your local comic book store!

(Gary:) 'Cause I don’t know. I’ll figure out what to do about it. But like I said, it is in those two places. I’m going to do some sort of a posting about it eventually. If you guys think it makes sense, I’ll do a posting on it on our blog at some point in time.

(David:) You should just put the PDF online and then let people buy it directly to you for a quarter. And print it out themselves.

(Gary:) I might put it out through ComiXology and that way I think I’ll make a whole 13 cents a download or something. You know, there’s big money in those downloads, Ron!

(Ron:) I’ve heard that.



(Gary:) So that is what I’ve been doing.
Oh. That and we got a new puppy and unlike Ron, we do have to clean up the poop because it’s all over our house.

(Ron:) Well, you have a puppy. When Pep was a puppy, we were definitively cleaning up poop around the house.

(Gary:) So… other than that, things are going great! [laughs]

(Ron:) All right.
So, let’s see. What have I been doing? I’ve been working an a little top-down view RPG game. That’s been most of my time. I had a weird little story in mind and it’s a kind of a story that doesn’t really work as an adventure game, it works much better as a little RPG-type thing. So I’ve been screwing around with that, but mostly I just been having fun programming up the stuff. I just really enjoy programming. I don’t know if the game will ever amount to anything, but I’ll probably spend another month or so working on it. Still a little bit of Thimbleweed stuff, mostly just around getting sales and promotions and stuff like that to figure out. But that’s pretty much…

(Gary:) Are you still planning to do any shows, Ron, or any conferences?

(Ron:) No. I think we are done. I am going to some conference in May that is in Norway.

(Gary:) Huh.

(Ron:) I’m going to that, but that’s the only thing I’ve planned. We are not going to do anything for Thimbleweed Park, like we won’t be at PAX this year or any stuff like that, so. You know, those PAX shows are a LOT of work.

(Gary:) Oh yeah.

(Ron:) I mean most of that work Jenn did, she’s really really good at that stuff. But it is just a lot of work to go to a show like that and I don’t know if it would be hugely beneficial to us to do shows with Thimbleweed Park at this point.

(Gary:) That reminds I’d like to give a shout out to Jenn and Robert and everybody on our team who’s continuing to do great stuff for us.

(Ron:) Yeah, everyone has been great. Especially Rob and Katrina have been wonderful, because stuff will come up with product support, you know someone will try and run the game on some strange Linux flavor or whatever and they both kind of jump on it and try to figure out what is going on and fix it. So the team is still working and I would imagine that we’ll probably still be working on the game for another year. Just on this low-level tech support type stuff and promotions and little low-level marketing type things. I mean, that kind of stuff never ends, right? You can’t just forget about the game, because then it really will just go to sell one or two copies a day.

(Gary:) Ron, I have question for you. Relative to things you have done in the past - because now, we are pretty much, aside from a few physical copies that are collector’s things, everything is completely digital download on all these different platforms - do you find that this feels much different to you than the last things you’ve done or when you were doing The Cave and stuff, was that still part of the way this worked or is this really a different kind of experience?

(Ron:) Certainly different than The Cave was. Because [for] The Cave, I didn’t have to deal with any of the marketing and sales issues. So once I was done with the game, I was really done with the game. Whereas this game, I am still dealing with a lot of the issues about, when it goes on sale, when it doesn’t go on sale, how much does it go on sale, should we be a part of this promotion, you know, Nintendo is doing some promotion in Spain and they want to know whether we want to be involved on that. Those are the kind of things that- you know Jenn does a lot of dealing with that stuff- but I deal with that a little bit as well. Like I said, that stuff is just going to keep going, it almost never ends.

(Gary:) And in actuality, people don’t necessarily realize, I guess, since we are an indie publisher, we actually have a real company that has to fill out real paper work and pay real taxes and all this other crap…

(Ron:) Hah! Taxes…

(Gary:) And actually Ron has handled a great deal of that stuff. I mean, we do have accountants and lawyers and crap like that, but there is just a ton of other stuff associated with that that a human being who’s responsible as “the president of the company” or “the chairman of the board” has to deal with all this stuff.

(Ron:) Well, I’ve engineered everything with taxes, so you are the one that is going to go to prison.

(David:) [laughs]

(Gary:) Well, like I said, I’m just gonna go “Hey look, I paid 3 dollars for this comic book and I sold it for a quarter and I let the guy who sold it keep the quarters.” So do the math, IRS!

(Ron:) I am sure you violated some tax law doing that.

(Gary:) The you-are-not-allowed-to-NOT-make-money-on-stuff ordinance that the government. The new government ordinance that came into effect recently because of…

(Ron:) But I think that is an interesting point that Gary brings up. You know, when you’re doing stuff like this, for any indie developer, it is not just about making a game. Because you probably have a little company, it might be an LLC or something that you’ve got and there’s just a lot of work that goes into that. There’s a lot of bookkeeping and there’s a lot of taxes and there’s a lot of all this kind of stuff that we have to deal with. It’s like we have a bookkeeper, you know we pay a bookkeeper just because I don’t know anything about that kind of stuff and we pay a tax accountant and we pay lawyers and all these types of things you have to do that go along with actually making a game. I think I would be much happier if all I did was just make a game, but there’s all these other things that go along with it and I think that’s where indie developers are wearing so many hats. They are business people and they’re marketing people and they’re sales people and they’re programmers or they’re artists, and they’re just all of these things at once.

(David:) Well, you have that experience with Humongous too, didn’t you?

(Ron:) Well, you know, in their early days Humongous grew fairly quickly to the point that we hired an in-house accountant and we hired sales people and hired marketing people and so I was involved in that stuff and very aware of that stuff, but I didn’t actually have to do that stuff myself. Where with Terrible Toybox, a lot of that stuff is falling on this very small team of people to do and in a lot of respects we are learning this stuff for the first time. I mean, I never dealt with Steam and sales and promotions and I am just floundering around that with everyone else.

(Gary:) I’ll say it outloud, Ron, I am impressed with the job you’ve done with all the stuff, having seen it a lot more than people who are not intimately involved in the day-to-day operation of this company, I am pretty impressed. I know that one day, you just want to have a company that’s nothing but just accountants and overhead.

(Ron:) [laughs] Yeah, that’s my dream.


(David:) Yeah, and I think that you’ve done a great job of keeping it in the forefront, between the sales and the special releases, the physical verisions of it, all the goodies people can buy - ThimbleTron stuff or whatever, the record, a lot of which I had no idea you were working on. I didn’t realize until it was anounced and it was “Oh! An LP! Well, that’s cool.”

(Gary:) Yeah, Ron are we gonna get all this crap or what?

(Ron:) Yeah, we should. You should definitely talk to Jenn if you haven’t, but I know that she has some of that stuff.

(Gary:) Well, she’ll listen to this and go “Oh!”. [Ron laughs] She’s very efficient, you know?

(David:) I still haven’t opened my box.

(Gary:) Oh, I haven’t opened mine. I’m not gonna open it!

(Ron:) Oh, the PC box?

(Gary:) I have it next to my sealed Monkey Island and sealed Maniac Mansion, just as David has it next to his sealed Zak McKracken.

(David:) Uh-huh… yeah… I should have bought a box of these. I wish I had done that back when our old games came out.

(Ron:) I don’t think I have a Zak. I’m just kinda looking at my … Oh, no I don’t have a Zak.

(David:) I don’t even know if I have sealed copies of most of those. I have a few of each game that we worked on.

(Ron:) I have a sealed Loom and I have a sealed original Monkey Island - this is like the 16-color Monkey Island.

(Gary:) OK, I have a sealed Rescue on Fractalus and a sealed Coronis Rift here, and a sealed Ballblazer, a sealed …

(Ron:) Really? You know, I don’t have any Coronis Rifts. I don’t have anything like that. I’m really the opposite of a pack rat. I hoarded a lot of Thimbleweed Park stuff because I realized that I just don’t have any of that stuff. Like I don’t own a single Humongous Entertainment game.

(Gary:) Huh!

(Ron:) Of all of those games we made and all those different boxes, I don’t own a single one of those. So I kinda hoarded a lot of Thimbleweed Park stuff.

(Gary:) Yeah, so after you’re dead and mummified, people will be going through the storage locker and go "oh look, there’s a big box of what the hell is this?

(Ron:) No, I’m gonna be buried with it all, so I can take it into the afterlife. [Gary and David laugh]


(David:) So, I just want to talk about one of the biggest differences for me on this game and any game I’ve worked on, especially the games back in the old days - and I mentioned this before- was the immediate feedback we get and often…

(Ron:) Good and bad!

(David:) …good and bad. I’d say more good. I mean, the bad I tend to ignore it, but I spend maybe, I don’t know, half an
hour on Twitter every day still between Thimbleweed Park stuff and looking at Rube Works and just to see what people are saying [dog barking (Pep?)] and sometimes interact them and that’s really cool. And it’s really cool as I also get feedback from people who played our games way back and people who were affected by those games and how many people ended up in the game industry because they were inspired by the games we used to do, which is mostly good I think. I think they are happy about that [laughs]. But it’s kinda cool, we never got that kind of feedback before.

(Ron:) No, not at all. There was very little direct interaction with people.

(David:) Sometimes, we get sales numbers but that was so divorced from reality of actually imagining that many people sitting and playing the game. So I like that. That’s one part I’ll probably continue doing for as long as there’s people talking about it, you know, just interact with people on Twitter. So, THANK YOU ALL!

(Gary:) Yeah, certainly I will second that in saying that it’s really nice to be able to get this immediate reaction which has been for the most part positive and it’s nice to be able to see stuff. I look every day, you know? I never spent this much time looking at something every day because I never had anything come out in this [way]…you know, now the way the world is and where something comes out and for a year, every single day there’s new stuff about it on the internet, which as I said has been generally positive.

(Ron:) Mostly. Yeah, I think it’s been overwhelmingly positive, right? I don’t think it’s like 51% of the people love the game and 49% of people hate and despise it. I think it has overwhelmingly been positive. I think the negative stuff for me, and I don’t tend to go trolling forums and stuff, but the negative stuff to me it stings sometimes when people are being negative about things that they either are misunderstanding or things that are just… I don’t know what the word is… like the Ransome DLC stuff, right? We got a lot of negative shit for the Ransome DLC and it’s just everybody worked very hard to do that DLC. It was not a matter of copying some files over and to have people just accuse us of of trying to screw them out of money or trying to do this or [that] or something that should have shipped with the original game. And just stuff like that kind of stings because it’s like, well, we actually spent a lot of time on this stuff and we didn’t ship an incomplete game and now we’re trying to do DLC and you know, the fact is if you don’t want to spend $1.99 to hear a clown swear…[in unison with Gary] DON’T spend the money, right? It’s like we weren’t trying to screw anyone over with this stuff and I think we have bent over backwards with people to help out and to be open and to be honest with this game and so that stuff stings. And I realize it’s a very very small number of people. It’s not like there’s this huge number of people, but when someone posts some big ranting thing on Steam about how we’re trying to screw everybodu over with the DLC, that stuff sticks, right? It sticks on the main page of Steam and it’s like “Oh, whay is that up there?”

(Gary:) People don’t take into account we did major upgrades like the arcade and other stuff like that that we just put in, the hint system, all of that stuff.

(Ron:) Yeah and that stuff was all free.

(Gary:) Which was a ton of work.

(David:) I guess I just mostly let that stuff brush off me. It irritates me for a second and then I just have to think “OK, this person…”. I mean, whenever I’ve interacted with someone who said that stuff, they’re amazed that they were actually heard and they get really humble and maybe a little embarrassed for having sped it off. I think that is the downside for social media that you can say whatever comes into your head before you really have a chance to think whether you should say that and what the ramifications are. Actually, would you say that, would they walk up to you on the street and say that? Probably not.

(Ron:) And I think that’s a really interesting point because there have been people who have just attacked me on Twitter or other places where if I was sitting with that person face to face, they would not be that way. But there is this weird…

(Gary:) separation

(Ron:) …anonymity or removement that happens that you just lash out at people with stuff, rather than treating people a little more respectfully. And again, I don’t want to reiterate it, I think the vast majority of people are incredibly respectful. We get a lot of tech support emails from people and most of these people are very polite and they’re asking questions and we help them out. And the number of people that rant at us on that stuff is really small, I think it just kinda stings sometimes when I feel like… I mean there have been people who have ranted about stuff that I kind of agree with. Like people were kind of upset when the game first came out that the characters couldn’t talk to eachother, right? And I was like that was very valid, right? That was one of those things that we discussed a lot and ultimately didn’t do and that was my call to not to and that kind of stung because it’s like “yeah, you’re right…”. And we did an update for that stuff, but the stuff that I don’t agree with and just seems very vicious is the stuff that stings a little bit for me.

(David:) Well, often I’ll see a conversation between two or three people on Twitter amd where they’re complaining about something and one or two things could happen. If I pop in, since this is an open channel - people forget that anyone can see what they’re saying - then it transforms it immediately usually into a discussion where we actually talk about what worked and what didn’t work. Or often I’ll see someone else who’s a fan of the game jump in into the conversation and defend or maybe quote something that was said on the blog from one of our blogs or whatever.

(Gary:) Certainly, we support everybody having their own opinions and everything else and by the same token, you’re not going to make everybody happy and we just do the best we can, you know? We have to make ourselves happy first I think, that’s always part of good creative development. [It] is make yourself happy and hopefully other people will like it, but you have to be your own best critic.


[END OF PART 1 - read on below]


1: The previous “The Last TWP podcast” was #67, which aired on May 1st 2017, one month after the game was released. :leftwards_arrow_with_hook:
2: :leftwards_arrow_with_hook:
3: :leftwards_arrow_with_hook:
4: :leftwards_arrow_with_hook:
5: :leftwards_arrow_with_hook:

Source for cover picture of The Variants comic


Thimbleweed Park Podcast #68 (part 2/2)

“The last Thimbleweed Park podcast.”
Original airdate April 2, 2018
Transcribed by Sushi


(David:) Yeah. So in looking back, Ron, Gary, to pre-Kickstarter days and in seeing what it took to do it and the whole thing all in all, would do it again? Do you think it was a good choice to go ahead and push that button to turn on the Kickstarter? Or would you have second thoughts and say no?

(Ron:) I don’t have any second thoughts. I think if I can magically do it all again, I think there’s no doubt that I would do this again. I think it’s been a wonderful experience. There’s certainly things that I would do differently in 20/20 hindsight. Things that I probably didn’t understand initially and [now] kind of understand it a little bit more, but then there’s other things that I wouldn’t do differently. There are things that people have been a little bit critical and things things that I think may have hurt the sales of the game, like having those verbs down there on the screen. I mean, some people have said “oh, you would have sold twice as many copies had you gotten rid of those verbs”, you know? And maybe, maybe not, I don’t know whether that’s true, but that’s a decision that we made I’m happy with that decision because I think having those verbs on the screen was really a part of what we were trying to do. Which was to recreate the charm of those games and I think those verbs were a part of that charm. And I think it was a part in some ways of what we were experimenting with, or the kind of big bobble-headed Maniac Mansion characters, so I wouldn’t change that, right? Some people have been critical about those characters but I don’t think you want to change that stuff. So there is a bunch of stuff that I just wouldn’t change even though people were kind of critical over
it. It’s an interesting question. Let me ask that question to each of you: what’s the one big thing that you would change about the game, looking back one year later?

(Gary:) Mmmmh. I’m gonna say I certainly agree with Ron about the intial question. Yeah, I would have pushed the button and there are things you learned along the way and I don’t know if I would have changed any of those things. In hindsight, I could change them, but at the time I wouldn’t have changed them, because we decisions that we were based on our feelings and guts. I think we were true to that and we did accomplish what we set out to accomplish, which was to see whether or not we could recreate this feeling. Certainly for me, working with the two of you guys and Mark and everybody else on the team was a very cathartic and nostalgic process, because that really brought home to me what it was like to make these things before. I really enjoyed not only the project but certainly the people I work with. As far as what I would change in the game, I don’t know… Ron brings up the verbs and I think maybe that’s something I might have looked at more deepluy, but we were trying to recreate that experience so that’s why we did the verbs. But that might have been interesting to maybe even try something different than what we’ve seen out there with more minimal interfaces, something in between - I don’t know what that is right now, but I might have wanted to explore that a little bit more. That’s about it.

(David:) For me, though the whole experience was super positive, there were a couple of times when I was feeling some frustration but that was mostly with a bug that I couldn’t figure out or bugs that kept on coming back to bite us.

(Ron:) Or my crappy tools?

(David:) Yeah, Ron I need some… where’s this feature? Having a tools person on the team to actually polish some of the tools would have been nice, but we could work around pretty all the issues, so it wasn’t critical.
The one thing that would have been nice if we had, either more time and/or our budget say for voice would have been to have gone through and maybe added more interactions that are really not game related for inspecting objects. I think there was a point where we realized how many lines of dialog we had and we were trying to cut down the number of recorded lines that the actors are going to have to say and so we started coming up with macros that would read… you know, if they were close enough, we would just use the macro to say a certain line instead of actually coming up with a bunch of more options. So maybe having more options for some of those.
And I know for me when I was wiring up a lot of the rooms, I want to get them working enough so you could play the game, but got tired of adding clever comments for every object in the screen and more of those might have made it a little bit richter and without getting burned out by doing all that. But I think that’s comparatively minor.
I know, Ron, you’ve talked about maybe it would have been great to have more stuff early on in the game when people were still exploring the UI. More interactions and more screens, things to touch or different responses for different things that we might have missed.

(Ron:) Yeah I think especially on that bridge scene, when you first get control of the two agents or Boris at the very beginning, almost having gone overboard with that screen just in the amount of variety and the amount of different responses for stuff and dealing with negative stuff a little better. Because people were getting used to it and I think that would have been a good thing to have done. But other than that I just don’t know, right, because we set out to accomplish a goal and that goal was to recapture the charm of those old Lucasfilm games and I think we had to operate under a certain set of constraints to be able to accurately do that and I think we did that. And I think I’m kind of pleased with that. Now if I was to do another point & click adventure game, would I have verbs? Probably not, right? I think that’s the point were if it’s a brand new game and we’re not involved in this kind of experiment that we were, that’s when I go through and I start to want to innovate on all these things like the UI and how characters interact and how puzzles are constructed. Because I think if we had done all of that stuff on this game, I don’t think people would have seen it as what the game was really meant to be. It would just be “oh, this is just another kind of point & click-ish type adventure game out there” and really wouldn’t have accomplished what we set out to do.

(David:) Yeah and I think that we did exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to capture, like you said, the kind of games we did back 25 years ago, but with today’s aesthetics and today’s sensibilities in terms of game design and combine the two. And I agree, if we were to do another one, I don’t think I’d want to be constrained in the same way that we were.

(Ron:) They were fun constraints to work under, but I don’t know that I want to work under them again.

(David:) I think of that black & white movie that came out of silent movie, which was kind of [an hommage]

(Ron:) Oh, The Artist? 6

(David:) Yes, The Artist, which is an hommage to the old silent films. And I guess that that filmmaker would never do one like that again because he just did it and he wanted to get it out of his system and he had something to say artistically.

(Ron:) It wasn’t the rebirth of black & white silent movies.

(David:) Exactly. Right. He wanted to do something within the constraints of that genre or that time period and did it. So if I were to do another game like this, I would probably want to do something without any constraints and just come up with something that… just the best in a different way, like you said, innovations and changes. I mean, someday I would love to do a VR type adventure game or say an adventure game in a VR space.

(Ron:) Yeah, that would be fun. VR makes me sick. That’s a big problem. I couldn’t work on the game for more than like 20 minutes a day.

(David:) [laughs]

(Gary:) I want to do VR of Thimbleweed Park because I want to be able to walk around a thing of bushes and have it be like a flat piece of cardboard and come around either side and it’s just like this flat thing with like basically half an inch of thickness or something? I mean I will give it a little bit of thickness, I just think that would be real amusing.

(David:) On the other side of the cardboard there’s still the shipping containers… you know, fragile!

(Gary:) And when you get behind the buildings, then there’s just little sticks holding them up on the other side, you know little broom sticks or something.

(David:) All right.

(Ron:) Yeah, that would be fun to be able to do that.

(David:) I could see [myself] doing something like that. And it is really fun to do this, but I don’t think that there’s so much I’d really change.
Ron, you were thinking about doing a talk at one point about things that we messed up on?


(Ron:) Yeah, I had a talk I wanted to give, it was called “Thimbleweed Park: everything we fucked up”.

(Gary:) [laughs]

(Ron:) And it was basically just going through and talking about all of the things that we screwed up on the project. But ultimately I decided not to give it, I had a chance to give that talk at GDC and I ultimately decided not to because I’m not sure I could’ve pulled it off the way that it needed to be pulled off. Because I was a little bit worried that it would just be an incredibly negative talk about everything we screwed up and I would have been giving it to a bunch of game developers so I think they would have understood a little bit of the context. This stuff happens in every project, right? All the things we’ve screwed up with on Thimbleweed Park it’s not an anomaly. It’s not like we screwed up on all this stuff and nobody else does. Everybody screws up stuff and it was really just talking about all that stuff. But, yeah, I kinda ultimately decided not to give it. I think mostly because I had gotten to the point where I was coming down from Thimbleweed Park and I felt like I was enjoying a bit of the relaxedness and then jumping back into having to give a talk at GDC would put me back into the stress bucket and I didn’t want to do that.

(Gary:) Right. You can just write one of those papers about it, Ron. Like your Rules of Adventure Game Design. 7

(Ron:) We do have a big list -David and I brainstormed a little bit on all the stuff we screwed up- and I’ve got this big giant document of everything we fucked up on the project, but there’s just no way I want to release that publicly without context. Because releasing that publicly would just create a whole bunch of people arguing with all these things or agreeing with them without the context that would really be needed for them.

(Gary:) Yeah, people argue with anything you post online, Ron? I find that hard to believe, but OK.

(David:) [laughs]. Well, if you look at this game in relation to all the games that each of us have worked on in the past,
and I would have rank this in terms of “total disaster” or “it went perfectly”, I’d say this is -at least from my point of view, and I wasn’t involved in a lot of the stuff that Ron was in terms of managment and scheduling and budgetting and all that other stuff - this was towards the top of the list of good things, you know games that went well. Other than the fact that it took longer than we first hoped - compared to some of the games at Lucas[film], we were way over by like years. This I thought was a really positive experience, so to say that we really messed up… it’s not really fucking up as much as it’s that is the nature of the beast when you’re doing development and engineering and something new, you really can’t uncover a lot of this stuff until you 're in the middle of it and then you resolve it, you figure it out and you fix it.


(Ron:) I think that was kind of the point of what I wanted to talk about. Which is, externally people look at Thimbleweed Park as a really succesful game, it sold quite well for what it was and we were very open during production and we had a succesful Kickstarter and I think from the outside people look at it as a very succesful game. And what I wanted to do with the talk was go “OK, it was a very succesful game, you know probably one of the most succesful games I’ve worked on, BUT here’s all the things we screwed up. So next time you are working on a game and you’re screwing everything up, just remember that this is really normal.” That was really the point of the talk and that’s where I think releasing the brainstorm list of everything we screwed up or even releasing it in print form, you lose the point of the talk and I just didn’t feel that I really wanted to spend the effort that I would have needed to have gone through to put that talk together.

(Gary:) Yeah, and on top of that you love standing up and talking in front of people, Ron. I know how much you love that, so…

(Ron:) [sarcastic] Oh yeah, it’s awesome! Especially when I’m just in my underwear. [Gary and David laugh]. Oh wait, oh wait! That’s THEM you’re supposed to imagine [in their underwear], that’s the audience. You see, that’s the problem, when I go up on stage I don’t imagine the audience in their underwear, I imagine ME in my underwear.

(David:) And that’s just what I dream about.

(Ron:) What? Me in my underwear?

(Gary:) There’s just something a matter with you guys! Uhm… I imagine the audience naked, actually.

(Ron:) I think we are entering into very inappropriate territory.
Yeah, well it’s like 50 minutes.


(Gary:) OK, so I am going to say one last thing - at least we can all weigh in on this but- a little bit of a sad note, earlier this week we lost a friend of ours who worked with us at Lucasfilm/Lucasarts, Martin Cameron who we affectionately referred to as “Bucky”. He was one of my art guys, one of the art guys, he worked on Zak McKracken, he worked on a lot of other things, and I just want to mention he was a great guy, a very talented guy, a funny guy and he will be sorely missed.

(Ron:) Yeah, I think for me Bucky worked on Monkey Island and he did, at least on the 16-color version, he did a lot of the close-ups. So when you cut to the close-ups of the Pirates and Guybrush and all those, those are a lot of the things that Bucky had worked on on that game. He also bought my car. [David laughs]. The very first car that I ever owned I sold it and Bucky bought it.

(David:) He did the 256-color art for Zak.

(Ron:) Really, did he? I didn’t know that.

(Gary:) Sounds right. 8

(David:) And he’s great! I wish I could have… I got to have coffee with him a couple of years ago and had a really fun reunion and he was as funny as ever and I talked about what he was into and… I’m gonna miss him.

(Ron:) Yeah, he was a great guy.

(Ron:) Well, I think that’s it? And that whole story that David told about the donkey, I’m gonna cut that out. [David laughs]

(Gary:) OK [laughs] Yeah, but that…? OK…

(Ron:) I am totally editing that out.

(David:) Thanks Ron, I was hoping you would.

(Gary:) All right. Maybe it won’t be another year before we do another one of these.

(Ron:) Well, we’ll do the 2-year anniversary…

(Gary:) podcast? OK. All right.

(Ron:) All right! Thanks guys!

(Gary:) Take care!

(David:) Bye bye!

(Ron:) OK, bye.

(Gary:) Now wait for it to to finish buffering


[Bonus material]

(Gary:) Oh, it looks like we are recording now, all right.

(Ron:) We are recording.

(Gary:) Ron, remembered to at least push the record button this time 9 [Ron and David laugh]

(Ron:) All right. Are we ready? OK.

[8 seconds of silence]

(Gary:) And then you do “Hi and welcome to…”

(Ron:) Yeah, I’m just thinking about what I want to say. That it’s our anniversary podcast.

(Gary:) That’s right, it’s been a year hasn’t it?

(Ron:) Yeah. Okay, okay. I think I’m ready, OK.

[440 Hz tone]


6: :leftwards_arrow_with_hook:
7: :leftwards_arrow_with_hook:
8:,1407 Plus his name shows up in other stuff like the hintbooks for Maniac Mansion :leftwards_arrow_with_hook:
9: He forgot to push the record button on podcast #62, so they had to recreate the whole thing again :leftwards_arrow_with_hook:


Super Great work, Sushi (and Someone and all the others, for the invisible part).

It’s very helpful to me, I realized that I had understood near the 90% at first listening.
This will help me to improve my english :blush:

Yes, thanks @Sushi ! Great work!

Yes, it’s incredible how the LucasArt’s and Ron’s games (and the stuff around) help others to learn English. I remember that we learned a lot of new English words with Zak McKracken. And this continues until today. So maybe TWP is an educational software and I can set it off against tax…? :thinking: