If you love adventure games, you love Ron Gilbert. Some of LucasArts' classic late eighties and early nineties games owe much of their success to Gilbert's writing; Maniac Mansion, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure, The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge were all written by Gilbert's witty hand.
More recently, Gilbert designed upcoming downloadable game DeathSpank. Although he's no longer with Hothead Games, the developer behind the project (more on that later), he's still doing the public relations rounds telling the world why DeathSpank's so great. So, we thought it would be nice to grab him on the phone and find out.
[Laughs] Well, I guess a long time ago I created a couple of games called Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island, and a lot of people seemed to like those games quite a bit.
Yeah, they were very funny. That's always the foundation of anything I've worked on, is humour. Both of those games were adventure games. They were very story-heavy games, which lent themselves a lot to humour. Adventure games and story-based stuff and humour are the kind of things I enjoy doing, the kind of games I like making.
DeathSpank's a combination of things. It draws a lot from adventure games. It draws a lot from the way adventure games tell stories and the way adventure games do puzzles. Monkey Island, they way it did dialogues, the way you conversed with people - it draws really heavily from a lot of influences of Monkey Island. But it also draws a lot from other genres of games that I like. I like RPGs. I like games like Diablo. I like stat-based combat and those things. I really wanted to fuse those two things together - take two genres of games I enjoy playing quite a bit and make one game out of it. That's where DeathSpank started - fusing those two things together.
[Laughs] Yeah, I was born to make DeathSpank! Actually, the character DeathSpank started out as a little comic character that a friend of mine, Clayton Kauzlaric, and I created for my website. We needed this videogame character who is completely ridiculous and over the top. So we created this guy named DeathSpank. We did a couple of cartoons about him, and then he really started taking on a life of his own in some ways. We just said, ‘You know what? He really needs his own game.' That's when I sat down and started designing the game and thinking about that marriage between the adventure game and the RPG game. That's where the game came from.
That was probably a good five years ago. There was a period of a couple of years of shopping the game around and looking for a publisher for it before I ran into the guys from Hothead Games. I was consulting on the Penny Arcade Adventures that they were doing. That's when the game became real. That was about a couple of years ago.