Kotaku has revealed that legendary videogame designer and humour architect, Ron Gilbert, has recently joined up with fellow laughter-machine (and equal industry luminary), Tim Schafer, by signing up for duty at Schafer’s San Francisco-based Double Fine Productions (Psychonauts, Brütal Legend).
In a post on his own site, Grumpy Gamer, Gilbert confirms the news in his own typical fashion, writing:
“According to Kotaku I’ve gone to work for Double Fine. I don’t even know where to begin with this completely unsubstantiated fact-less slanderous rumor… oh wait… my mistake… it’s totally true.”
Gilbert and Schafer would of course be very familiar with each other having both worked at LucasArts’ during the company’s adventure game heyday, creating Monkey Island 1 and 2 together, as well as fleshing out portions of Day of the Tentacle.
Basically, Gilbert and Schafer are two of the reasons LucasArts even had an adventure game heyday at all. The third reason would be Dave Grossman who now calls Telltale Games his home.
Ron Gilbert would best be known for games like Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and the first two Monkey Island games, before he set off to form Humongous Entertainment and Cavedog Entertainment – the most well known game to came out of that venture was Total Annihilation.
Gilbert’s most recent work would be consulting on the Penny Arcade adventure RPG games, and his design and writing contributions to this year’s DeathSpank. Once DeathSpank was completed, Gilbert left developer Hothead Games without announcing what his next move would be.
According to the interview on Kotaku, Schafer has at times given Gilbert office space at Double Fine, letting him ‘loan a desk’ in the studio while he worked on his own projects, such as Penny Arcade and DeathSpank, not because Gilbert has no office of his own, but simply because (as he himself admits) he’s “really horrible working at home” as he finds “other things rather than work” to do:
“Being able to come into an office and be surrounded by other people helps,” says Gilbert.
This is what led directly to Gilbert finally working at Double Fine for Double Fine, rather than simply being another body in the office:
“For the last couple of months Tim has been loaning me his desk here, as he has in the past,” said Gilbert. “We have just been talking about different ideas I’ve had for games, kinda going back and forth like we do, and then Tim suggested, ‘Hey why don’t you come here and build this thing.’ It kind of sounded like a good idea.”
The timing is perfect, says Schafer, as Double Fine has now committed itself to working on four smaller projects at a time, with new projects being swapped in once games are completed.
Now that one of Double Fine’s current games, Costume Quest, is wrapping up development and is due for release in the coming month, it’s an ideal time to start development on a fifth game – Ron Gilbert’s game.
Schafer and Gilbert are tight-lipped on what this mystery game will be about, but they have confirmed that it will represent an entirely new concept, and won’t be a sequel or remake of any existing game or property.
If you’ve been following Gilbert’s work for many years, he may have given a tiny clue as to what the title may be though:
“It’s an idea that I’ve been batting around for many, many years,” Gilbert said. “I’ve been talking to Tim over the last couple of months about it and it sort of percolated back up. It’s very different than DeathSpank, it’s a bit of a departure from that. It’s going in a very interesting direction. Fans of those old adventure games will like it.”
“That’s not saying I’m making an adventure game,” he added.
The new Double Fine game will be Gilbert’s, but Schafer will help to come up with ideas through brainstorming sessions:
“We’re already brainstorming about it together,” Schafer said. “I expect to be brainstorming a lot with Ron and helping to put the team together.”
“The key to making really great games is having a hell of a lot of fun when you’re making them,” quipped Gilbert. “Tim and I always have a hell of a lot of fun when we’re together, so I have high hopes.”
While all four of Double Fine’s currently in development games are already signed with publishers (with THQ taking up at least two of them), Gilbert’s game hasn’t yet been pitched to prospective publishers just yet – a process they expect to begin in a few weeks once the design and vision of the game has been tightened up.