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Ron Gilbert says modern adventures "get too lost in story"

Thimbleweed Park

Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick drew in more than $626,000 in Kickstarter support for their new game, Thimbleweed Park. It's a point-and-click adventure in the style of the LucasArts classics of the 80s and 90s, and in fact the Kickstarter pitch described it as "the true spiritual successor to Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island," two games (among many) they helped create. And that, Gilbert told our sister site, GamesRadar, means puzzles, not story, will be the priority.

"Classic adventure games were really about the puzzles," he said. "We want to get back to that. Puzzles drive everything and it seems that modern adventure games tend to get too lost in story, and puzzles are just something tacked onto that. Also verbs. I loved the verb interface and I do think something was lost when adventure games got rid of them."

Perhaps predictably, he also believes that games have gotten easier since he got into the business. "That’s not necessarily a bad thing, there are very different kinds of people playing games these days and they are a lot more ‘casual’," he continued. "But there are also people that like hard games, especially adventure games, and for us the difficulty is part of making a classic adventure game."

I agree wholeheartedly that modern games are easier than their forebears from decades past, but in the case of adventure games I don't actually mind at all. Story-focused adventures like Primordia, Book of Unwritten Tales, Machinarium, and Memoria are what drew me back to the genre after a serious early-90s burnout on Sierra-style fare; and to this day, few things enrage me as quickly as having to open a stuck window with nothing but a coffee cup, a handful of badger fur, and toothpaste. Fortunately, Thimbleweed Park will have an "easy mode" for players (like me) who don't want to put up with a game that's designed specifically to confound them—a smart concession, I think, to changing times.

Andy Chalk
Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.