|Hmmm that chainsaw looks familiar - and so does that user interface|
Over the past couple of years we've had a whole bunch of ex-Sierra developers going to the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter in order to bring back point 'n' click adventure games. Al Lowe and Replay Games managed it, Jane Jensen managed it, the Guys from Andromeda managed it, Lori and Corey Cole managed it and even Jim Walls gave it a shot (but unfortunately his project Precinct did not meet its target and was cancelled). Of course, it all started with an ex-Lucasarts employee, Tim Schafer with the hugely successful Double Fine Adventure campaign (now known as Broken Age) raising a whopping $3.3 million - although as you know, even the money raised was insufficient to fund the entire game.
So it's been pretty quiet in terms of big name developers over the past few months but out of the blue comes Ron Gilbert, one of my favourite developers of all time, and Gary Winnick, another legendary Lucasarts developer (mainly known for his awesome artwork). What they both have in common is that they were designers on the very successful 1987 point 'n' click adventure Maniac Mansion. What set this game apart was the fact you were able to control up to three characters; two of these characters you picked at the start of the game from a roster of six. Each character had their different strengths and weaknesses when it came to solving puzzles - they even had their own theme songs! Unfortunately, Maniac Mansion was a bit before my time, but its sequel Day of the Tentacle wasn't and it still ranks as one of my favourite games of all time (judging by how much of the game I can quote off by heart). Like its predecessor, Day of the Tentacle also had you controlling multiple characters but this wouldn't be the last game that allowed you to. Last year, The Cave was released allowing you to control three characters selected from a roster of seven. The game was fun but it was mainly a puzzle platformer and sadly not a point 'n' click adventure. What I find funny, reading the review again is my comment saying "I still don't understand why Ron Gilbert doesn't just make another point 'n' click adventure game!" Well it seems that almost two years later, my prayers will finally be answered!
Fast forward to today and we have Ron and Gary pitching a new, but retro-styled, point 'n' click adventure game called Thimbleweed Park. The Kickstarter project has only been around for a couple of days but it's already managed to raise over $200,000 - so it's looking pretty likely that it will reach its modest target of $375,000. "But wait", you say, "isn't there a chance they'll pull a Schafer and say that $375,000 isn't enough later down the track?" Well I guess there's always that chance but the difference here is that Ron and Gary are working on a game that is very similar to their previous efforts in the 1980s - to the point that it will look almost identical to Maniac Mansion thanks to its retro graphics and interface. So in a way, there's nothing new here. These guys are experts at this sort of thing and they're basically just creating another 1980s style point 'n' click adventure - so I think the risk is pretty low considering they're not entertaining thoughts of using a newer, sexier interface, gameplay formula or graphics engine.
Anyway, the game apparently has multiple endings, five characters to control and is set in an eerie town very similar to Twin Peaks (as one backer mentioned). I've backed the game along with almost 6,000 others and it's still got another 28 days to go before the funding deadline. No news about stretch goals yet or if they're even going to introduce stretch goals but let's hope they can do something awesome - like getting one of the original composers on Maniac Mansion to score the soundtrack or something. Or even Michael Z. Land! That'd be a dream come true.
[ SOURCE: Thimbleweed Park Kickstarter Project ]