Eurogamer: Ron's had a bit of influence, then, but how do you go about replacing such key talent?
Dave Grossman: Well, we have a pretty talented staff of designers and writers here at Telltale and mimicry is an important skill for a professional writer. We did go back and play the old games again and think, "What are the important things here?" And get the characters back in our heads, so that we would be able to write in the proper voice. It's the same kind of process that we would do with any other licence. But in this case we had a head start, since lots of us have worked on different incarnations of Monkey Island before.
Eurogamer: Is there more pressure because people cherish the Monkey Island IP so?
Dave Grossman: I suppose so. I'm feeling it a little bit.
Eurogamer: What are the cornerstones of Monkey Island that need recreating in order to maintain the magic of the series?
Dave Grossman: There's that thing that I mentioned already: how the overarching story is a more serious pirate story and the underlying bits are more humorous. There's lots of deft wordplay and snappy one-liners.
The essential nature of the characters: when I watched the Pirates of the Caribbean movie I got to thinking that the two principal characters - Will [Turner] and Jack Sparrow - were the two sides of Guybrush's personality. On the one hand he's the young, fresh-faced guy that is enthusiastic and out to get stuff done, but on the other side he's incredibly selfish, and willing to sell out just about anybody to achieve the most trivial of goals. That comes out of the whole adventure gaming aspect of it - he'll steal a guy's precious monocle and leave him there blind just because he needs it for some puzzle he needs to solve.
Also, the relationship between Guybrush and Elaine is important. She's a very empowered, intelligent woman, and always seems to know more about what's going on than everyone else.
Eurogamer: Does Guybrush really die and come back as a pirate god? Tell us about the story, Dave!
Dave Grossman: Sure. It's set a couple of years after Escape from Monkey Island. Guybrush is oming in to save the day, thwart Le Chuck's plans and rescue Elaine. In the course of doing that - and this is your introduction and tutorial mode for the game - you solve some puzzles and Guybrush showboats at exactly the wrong moment, messing something up.
He's trying to enchant this cutlass on the instructions of the Voodoo Lady and because he makes the substitution, things go a little bit wrong. LeChuck is just supposed to explode when [Guybrush] hits him with it, but instead, the voodoo part of him explodes and spreads all-over, and infects Guybrush's left hand with this weird LeChucky Pox. People around the Caribbean start catching this. You can see it in the air; it's like this green, swirly stuff. And they all start behaving a bit like LeChuck, including some of the people you've met before.
Each episode cliff-hangs into the next one, and we always leave you with some burning questions. There are lots of developments of trust: you have to work with people you don't like sometimes across the series. Everybody's got a take on this Pox and the cure. The line between good-side and evil-side is not so strikingly sharp.
Eurogamer: A curse. A dead hero who rises again. That sounds like Pirates of the Caribbean. Did you pinch the idea from there?
Dave Grossman: No, not really. You may recall Guybrush died before. It's interesting to watch Pirates of the Caribbean and Monkey Island go back and forth. I heard rumours at one point - I can't confirm them - that there was a Monkey Island movie being worked on with a script by the same guys that, a few years later, went on to write the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. And those had some notable similarities.
So I felt like, "OK, now I've seen the Monkey Island movie! It's pretty good. I like it." Everybody on the team probably has seen those movies, so more stuff has leaked into our consciousness and dribbled into our game. There's probably some back-and-forth inspiration there.
Eurogamer: What's your favourite part of the Tales of Monkey Island series so far? I imagine not all episodes have been made.
Dave Grossman: Hmm. My favourite bit; wow - so many good ones. I hate it when I have to think of something! I'm going to pick a whole episode. We've been working on the middle one - the third one: "Lair of the Leviathan" - and I think just the way the puzzles and scenes are arranged in that episode is really cool.
Eurogamer: Classic Monkey Island?
Dave Grossman: Um, no, it isn't! And that's sort of what I like about it. In classic Monkey Island usually given a great big goal to work with and a lot of territory to cover. And in [Lair of the Leviathan] you feel like you're in a scene all the time, and that the gameplay is based around whatever is going on in that scene.