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Double Fine's Ron Gilbert explains why adventure game The Cave has no inventory

Looking "really, really closely" at iOS port.

Upcoming Double Fine adventure The Cave sees genre veteran Ron Gilbert return to his roots. Gilbert's latest creation - an exploration of a sentient cavern filled with puzzle-based traps and outlandish solutions - will be immediately familiar to fans of earlier projects Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island.

The Cave's story has been knocking around his head for just as long, Gilbert told Eurogamer in an interview conducted this week. But while the story has been set for "25 to 30 years", Gilbert began actual development two years ago with a trio of "core tenets" designed to modernise the genre.

The first may come as a surprise - there's no inventory.

"That was a very challenging part of the design," Gilbert sighed. "I think if there was any one 'most challenging' part to making this it would be designing a classical adventure game with no inventory.

"You don't have the ability to just load people up with crap and call it a puzzle - when you just had to scroll through your inventory to find something. That's not a puzzle, that's just boring. But we did that a lot back then."

Games with inventories containing hundreds of items were "sloppy", Gilbert added, however difficult an alternative was. "It was one of the core tenets of this design, and we were stuck with that."

"It was one of the core tenets of this design, and we were stuck with that."

The Cave creator Ron Gilbert
Gilbert guards the entrance to The Cave. You're not allowed in until January (exact date TBC).

The second central idea was to include a light platforming element that could entice gamers not interested in puzzles - players have to jump from one gondola of a Ferris wheel to another, for example.

The third was the ability to choose a trio of characters from a cast of seven, each of whom has their own skills and access to exclusive areas. It's an idea that Gilbert has touched on before.

"Some of that occurs in Maniac Mansion, but we hadn't done enough to make the characters individual or interesting," Gilbert explained. "No one replays Maniac Mansion to be Jeff. When we designed this we wanted all the characters to have their own story, their own special ability or skill that's different to everyone else.

"And it was to get that re-playability [factor]. You can play it once and that's fine, but if you want to explore every nook and cranny you do need to play it again."

You'll actually need to play through The Cave three times to discover each of the seven characters' back-stories and individual areas. Gilbert insisted it wasn't just a trick designed to extend the game's lifespan.

"The changes are quite significant, it's not like you play it again and 95 per cent is the same. You'll get into completely different areas and entire groups of puzzles that are different.

"Once you get into the Knight's area there's an entire medieval castle with catacombs and a dragon - they're quite big. It's not just one little drawbridge with a puzzle."

The level we played was a testament to this. This was an area dedicated to the Hillbilly character and took us a good half hour to puzzle through and complete. We explored a demented circus full of cardboard cut-out carnies from whom you had to trick and steal a number of prize tokens.

Due for release on PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U and Xbox 360 in January, Gilbert admitted that he would also like to see The Cave on iOS.

"We are looking at touch-based platforms really, really closely," he explained. "We haven't made a final call on it but I do most of my gaming these days on my iPad and iPhone. Having it on those devices would be really, really great."

Double Fine is currently examining technical issues which might halt an iOS version's progress.

"We're seriously looking at it. There's some technical issues. What we don't want to do is Cave Lite," Gilbert concluded. "It's got to be the full game."

A freshly-inked gallery of screenshots lies below.

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Tom Phillips


Tom is Eurogamer's Editor-in-Chief. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon.

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