Ron Gilbert reveals how he'd make a new Monkey Island - stresses that he isn't
Ron Gilbert isn't making a new Monkey Island game. This is a fact he's very clear about. A whole two parts of his seventeen point speculative design brief for the definitely-not-happening sequel are dedicated to ensuring you understand that it's definitely not happening. That aside, it's an interesting look at how the series' creator would handle a follow-up. Which he isn't.
For starters, it would be an "enhanced lo-res" game, combining retro art with modern techniques like depth of field and parallaxing. But the old-school vibe would go beyond the visuals: Gilbert also states his desire to make it a hardcore adventure. "You're going to get stuck. You're going to be frustrated. Some puzzles will be hard, but all the puzzles will be fair."
It would also do away with the latter games in the series. "It would be called Monkey Island 3a. All the games after Monkey Island 2 don't exist in my Monkey Island universe. My apologies to the all talented people who worked on them and the people who loved them, but I'd want to pick up where I left off. Free of baggage. In a carnival. That doesn't mean I won't steal some good ideas or characters from other games. I'm not above that."
Gilbert claims his imaginary sequel would be fully voice acted, retain the series' dialogue puzzles, and feature a rebuilt SCUMM engine. "Not SCUMM as in the exact same language, but what SCUMM brought to those games ... I'd build an engine and a language where funny ideas can be laughed about at lunch and be in the game that afternoon. SCUMM did that. It's something that is getting lost today."
So far, so promising, so why isn't the game being made? For one thing, Gilbert notes that he's no longer interested in working on games whose IP he doesn't own. "The only way I would or could make another Monkey Island is if I owned the IP. I've spent too much of my life creating and making things other people own.
"Not only would I allow you to make Monkey Island fan games, but I would encourage it. Label them as such, respect the world and the characters and don't claim they are canon. Of course, once the lawyers get a hold of that last sentence it will be seven pages long."
You can read the full thought experiment on Gilbert's blog, where he also goes into how the Kickstarter pitch might work: "No concept art or lofty promises or crazy stretch goals or ridiculous reward tiers. It would be raw and honest. It would be free of hype and distractions that keep me from making the best game I could."
Then, take a look at how our resident adventure expert Richard Cobbett would reboot the series.