Thimbleweed Park Podcast #8
“Yet another, in what industry experts are calling a complete waste of bandwidth, Thimbleweed Park Podcast.”
Original airdate May 29, 2015
Transcribed by Sushi
(Ron:) Hi, I’m Ron Gilbert and welcome to the Thimbleweed Park stand-up meeting podcast. And today I’m here with Gary Winnick…
(Gary:) Hey, there!
(Ron:) David Fox won’t be joining us. He is off, I think in Yosemite 1 looking at our beautiful mountains and what not. And I think we’ll start with Gary.
(Gary:) My weeks seem to be blurring a little bit together because I’m doing the same thing from week to week to a certain degree. I know that you’re kind of doing that [too], but also I think you get a little bit of concentrated development time when you’re fixing bugs. Those are kind of different, whereas if I’m just doing art -and all there is to do right now is rooms and animated characters-, it’s like this sort of cycle of rooms and animated characters, so…
(Ron:) Well, I think we’ve entered that dull-drum 2 stage of the project, where all that initial exciting stuff is over, you know? All the new… everything’s new and now we’re just grinding out stuff.
(Gary:) Yeah, cranking stuff out.
(Ron:) Yeah, it gets a little bit boring.
(Gary:) Not boring relative [to] -[and] no offense to anybody out there who works in a bank-, but not boring relative to working in a bank but certainly [boring] as relative to doing the stuff where we thought we’re doing a lot of new things every week. I think it’s kind of settled in time [to] sort of a cycle or a rhythm, which is both good and [bad] - not really bad but good and kind of boring to a certain degree when you’re doing the same things over again. When Ron has me fix a door seven times or whatever like that. It’s not like fixing a bug, it’s just figuring out how to do it and then just doing a whole bunch of those. So I’ve done a bunch of that.
I’ve also continued working on characters and there’s a certain amount of repetition in that, because once a character is designed then it’s a matter of doing generally the same animations for them. There’s some variation [and] there are some new ones but not a great deal of new ones in doing that.
One of the things that’s interesting that we’re doing this week as well and we started last week: we’re looking at the design of characters and maybe taking one of our main characters which is Delores -and we put this on our [blog]post- and sort of rethinking her backstory and rethinking her look. And for what it’s worth, I’ve actually gotten a lot of good feedback from people. That’s real helpful to me because what I’m gonna try to do… The only thing that’s a little distracting is when you ask for something like that, especially on a blog where people are engaged, you don’t get like five responses. You get like over a hundred responses, so I’m sifting through that and I want to distill that down because in real life what I would do is I would show somebody maybe three or four examples of a character to pick from. It’s just too difficult to look at more than like five things, relatively speaking, when you’re trying to create a large world. We want to be able to focus that down as succinctly as possible. So that’s kind of what I’m doing right now and it’s all engaging and thought-provoking but it is a process that you just have to go through and we will sort of report and talk to people about how we do that on the blog as well. So that’s kind of it for right now.
(Ron:) OK. Yeah, it’s fun to look at all the Delores stuff that people are posting. It’s a lot of weird flashbacks to the '80s. I did not realize how bad '80s hair was. 3
(Gary:) One of the things that was weird is people thought… I keep seeing things about how sexy people thought Razor 4 was [Ron laughs] and I’m like … [really?]
(Ron:) She was 6 pixels wide!
(Gary:) … anyway that’s interesting to me that you can have sex appeal and feel in something that’s like a dozen pixels.
(Ron:) Yeah, but I don’t see Delores as a sexy character, right? I mean, that’s not the character she is in any way.
(Gary:) No… she’s not somebody who’s trying to entice you to watch her punk band or whatever.
(Ron:) She just would rather you go to ThimbleCon. 5
(Gary:) She would rather you go to Thimblecon and possibly and we may talk about this later she’ll be working… well she might be working on a game that she wants you to know about or something like that . We’ll figure those details out.
(Ron:) Yeah I liked your idea that when she goes to ThimbleCon she dresses up in different costumes, every time she goes. Of course you have to draw them all… you have to draw Delores in every one of those costumes, but I think that could be funny.
(Gary:) In the end: anything for comedy, Ron! 6 It’s kinda like that’s the way things go around.
(Ron:) Yeah. Alright so what I did last week: a lot of bug fixing. Mostly little bugs getting all those down getting the engine in top shipshape… ship shop shape…whatever that…
(Gary:) “tip-top shape”
(Ron:) … getting the engine in tip-top shape. One thing I did was the verb interface: the colors and the actual text of the verbs is now being generated from the scripts. It used to be that [that] was hard coded in the engine but now the text and the placement and the colors of the verbs all come from script. And that’s gonna be important for the language translations so the scripts can set the language of the verbs. the language of the verbs.> Well, that happened and also we were trying out the thing -somebody had mentioned this on the blog right at the beginning of the project- is when you switch characters that the UI actually changes color. So detective Ray kind of has a blue UI and Ransome might have a red UI and maybe Delores has a slight green UI so when you’re switching characters it’s very clear who you are. So I implemented all of that and I actually like it. I think that’s working pretty well.
I got vertical scrolling working, which is actually big news. I was really dreading that because that involves math and I really suck at math. [Gary laughs]
So I got that all working.
(Gary:) Epsilon! 7
(Ron:) We did the occult book store [which] is a tall vertical room and its really neat! Vertical scrolling is nice, I like it.
(Ron:) Let’s see… I put in a new font for the debug menus. Did you see the new font for the debug menus?
(Gary:) Yeah, I did. I liked it a lot, actually.
(Ron:) Yeah, it’s a nice menu.
(Gary:) Because I can actually see it now .
(Ron:) Yeah, it was impossible to see the debug menus. New font, big win!
The other thing I did is I got the right-clicking for default verbs. We didn’t have default verbs in Maniac Mansion but in Monkey Island , if you’d mouse over an object and its default verb was “open”, like [on] the doors, you could just hit right-click and I would trigger the “open” [verb]. So I got the whole default verb system working, so that’s pretty nice. And with that came opening doors. Before that you just kind of walk through doors and now you can actually open and close the doors. And believe it or not, it actually adds a lot to the game…
(Gary:) I think it does.
(Ron:) …to be able to just go through and open and close doors.
(Gary:) I mean one of the things I will say is that I’ve been playing… you know, I play a new version of the… a new build of this one every time you put it up, which is typically every other day or something like that and it is amazing to me how far each build seems to progress beyond the previous one there is. It’s significant! You can notice it.
One other thing that I found also very helpful -and I don’t know if it’s something we’ll talk about in a post or whatever- is just kind of the whole way you’re managing the bug database because we have a bug database that you know we can go into and see everybody’s particular tasks. Everything is prioritized and you can go and like you know do all of your notes and stuff in that database and that’s real helpful as well.
(Ron:) Yeah, bug databases are so critical and there really aren’t any good ones. I’ve never seen a good bug database. They tend to want to do too much and it’s too cumbersome. So a couple years ago when Clayton 8 and I were working on the iOS stuff, I just wrote my own bug database.
(Gary:) OK, so that’s your own?
(Ron:) Yeah, that’s my own bug database and it’s just simple and it’s focused and you don’t get encumbered of much of stuff. And it’s really nice 'cause we use it not just for bugs but also for a task list. It’s kind of tasks lists and bugs all in one.
(Gary:) Yeah, I don’t want this to go to your head, but it is probably the most fluid, intuitive one I’ve ever used.
(Ron:) It’s 'cause it’s simple. You know, things like Bugzilla and Jira 9 and all these others, they just want to do so much and entering a bug you’re presented with 30 different options you have to fill in and I just don’t want to be doing that. It’s about keeping people focused.
(Gary:) I like this 'cause I do three things and the bug is either recorded or updated or whatever. That’s all I do. I just enter my thing, I hit refresh and it’s done.
(Ron:) Yeah, glad you like it. Well I think that’s it. I can’t think of anything else…
I am having a lot of fun playing the game. Like you said, it’s you get your head down building a game and you’re putting all this stuff in and just yesterday, I came back and I started just actually playing through the game and it is kind of shocking how much of the game is done and how much of it is actually playable. You don’t see that on a day-to-day basis. You only see it when you take a step back.
(Gary:) Well, the other thing that’s really interesting too - aside from that- is the fact that you really do get a feel for this and it does feel to me like one of the games we would have built in 1987.
(Ron:) Yeah, it really does… it does I’m very I’m very happy with it
(Gary:) That’s good. Glad to hear that.
(Ron:) Okay, well I guess I will talk to you later and next week… Oh next week I’m gone because I’m moving to Seattle. So next week I’m gonna be mostly moving but David will be back on the podcast next week.
(Gary:) OK, thanks! Take care!
(Ron:) All right, bye!
2: Slang for extremely boring.
3: Yes Ron, hair styles in the 1980’s were really bad.
4: One of the characters in Maniac Mansion. This is how she looked like in the original C64 version and some more, from all angles here. Fan remakes range from this to that
5: In case you missed Thimbleweed Park’s second Nerd and Geek convention… https://www.fangamer.com/products/thimblecon-87-poster
6: Too bad the idea for those costumes changes was cut.
7: refers to the previous podcast where Ron explained having to add an epsilon to fix a math issue with walk boxes.
8: Clayton Kauzlaric, artist and game designer with a shared history of working with Ron Gilbert at Cavedog Entertainment and Beep Games where they made a couple of iOS games like Scurvy Scallywags and The Big Big Castle.
9: Two different bug tracking software systems (although both a play of words on Godzilla). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugzilla and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jira_(software)