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Ron Gilbert explains Thimbleweed Park's character dialogue, hint system additions

"It wasn't a matter of me writing or hanging out at the beach."

Retro-themed adventure game Thimbleweed Park has gained a couple of big additions - dialogue between player characters and an in-game hint system.


But, rather than just popping these changes in patch notes, creator Ron Gilbert has gone into detail on why the additions were necessary. Or, in the case of chatter between characters on the same screen, part of the game's original scope.

"This was something I attempted during initial production but abandoned due to me being unable to think about it as anything more than an a overly complex hint system," Gilbert wrote in a new blog post.

"It always felt to me that all you'd want to do was talk to the other characters and get hints, and the early iterations of the system really showed that, so I abandoned it. Time was also getting short and there was a lot of work to be done, so it wasn't a matter of me writing player dialogs or hanging out at the beach.

"This turned out to be a mistake. I should have pressed forward and implemented this."

The new dialogue should help explain why characters are working together, Gilbert continued, make the world feel more alive and clarify plot details.

"I regret not pushing forward and implementing them from the get-go," he concluded.

The other big change lies in a new in-game hint system, designed to be an in-universe cheat phoneline of the kind seen back in '80s and '90s.

This addition is a completely optional, Gilbert stressed, and not something he seemed particularly enthusiastic about.

"I know this will cause the hardcore adventure gamer's blood to boil (as it does mine), but the lack of hints was widely criticized by some of the more casual press."

Still, it was eventually deemed a necessary inclusion, especially for the game's mobile versions. The blog post above includes detail on the feature's prototyping - at one point hints were due to be doled out by an actual in-game item - the HintTron 3000™ - which ended up junked. Other ideas included a currency needed to access the hint helpline, also discarded.

It's unusual to get such an unfiltered look at the decision-making and design process behind the addition of such things - including how these features needed to be made to work with existing save files.

PC versions of the game should have the new features now, with app and Xbox One editions set to get the changes in the near future.

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