The ups and downs of Ron Gilbert’s journey to make Thimbleweed Park sans publisher

“Even with 30 years of experience, I still got caught with stuff on this game.”

– Ron Gilbert, speaking to Waypoint about the tricky bits of developing Thimbleweed Park.

Veteran game designer Ron Gilbert has worked on a lot of projects at a bunch of different companies — from Maniac Mansion and Secret of Monkey Island at Lucasfilm Games, to Putt-Putt Goes To The Moon at Humongous, to DeathSpank at Hothead and The Cave at Double Fine. 

Now he’s getting ready to ship his own Kickstarted adventure game Thimbleweed Park, and in a new interview published by Waypoint he opens up a bit about what it’s been like to work without a publisher.

Fellow game devs may appreciate his balanced perspective; rather than come out as strongly for or against publishers (which may or may not be back in style, depending on who you talk to), Gilbert explains the ups and downs of self-publishing a crowdfunded game.

“There are some things in the game that I know a larger publisher would have probably stood in the way of,” said Gilbert. “The game takes some weird detours, that are not a part of the main path, that perhaps a publisher would have shut down. The argument would be that it wouldn’t be worth spending time and money on what was essentially just a joke at the end of the day.”

On the other hand, the game missed its initial 2016 release date and ran into production problems late in development — problems Gilbert thinks a publisher’s involvement might have helped him avoid.

“A good publisher will be there to pull you back when you’re about to derail. They’re look over your shoulder and keep you honest,” he added. “They’ll question your decisions, and not in a bad way. They’re making sure that everything has been properly thought through. I think that’s where a lot of Kickstarters run into problems, because people don’t have the experience to really self-censor, and self-regulate.”

For more of Gilbert’s comments on the process of making Thimbleweed Park, as well as his thoughts on the state of humor in games these days, check out the full Waypoint feature.


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