Mike Stemmle worked at Lucasarts during the 90's and at the start of this decade with a number of well known adventure games such as Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Sam & Max: Hit the Road and Escape from Monkey Island. He now works as designer and writer at Telltale Games who launched the first episode of Tales of Monkey Island last month.
What will the old school Monkey Island-fans appreciate most in Tales of Monkey Island?
- We hope they'll appreciate the fact that we're peeling back a few more layers on the juicy onions that make up the relationships between Guybrush, Elaine, LeChuck, and the Voodoo Lady. Not to mention the cameos and copious in-jokes.
Will the episode-based structure limit the open gameworld we know from previous games? I.e. will each new episode open up a new territory that you have to finish and move on to the next one, or will the world be more open for exploration and backtracking?
- The episodic structure of Tales of Monkey Island WILL necessitate a little bit of forward exploration at the expense of backtracking, but that's nothing new for Monkey Island. Most of the original Monkey Island games moved the player from one environment to another between acts (e.g. Melee to Monkey Island). Of course, that's not to say we won't be go back to some of the earlier environments later in the season...
Is Tales of Monkey Island considered an official sequel in the Monkey Island saga?
- Oh yes. We're not getting paid to do fanfic.
Only a few guys seem to work with comedy in video games. Why do you think this is?
- I'm not sure I agree with the premise. It seems like a LOT of people inject comedy into their video games... of course, not all of it is intentional.
What makes a funny video game? How is the process of creating a funny vide game different than creating a funny cartoon or comic og sitcom or movie?
- In answer to your first question, a funny video game is like a regular video game, only with inherently amusing words, copious use of the Rule of Three, and dangerously un-hip wordplay.... Sometimes all at once (e.g. "Lions and tigers and Berlioz, oh my!")
Creating a funny videogame can be trickier than a funny movie or television show because you have to compensate for the interactive nature of the medium. You always have to be prepared for the fact that the player is going to do something to stomp all over your exquisitely-timed comic moment.
Do you still stay in contact with Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer? Do you know what they think of Tales of Monkey Island?
- Ron came in for several rounds of discussions as we were working through the big plot and puzzle points for Tales of Monkey Island. It was a hoot, as I hadn't worked with Ron for more than 15 years. I last saw Tim at a LucasArts reunion a few years back, and was more than a little disturbed by the fact that he doesn't seem to be ageing.
What do you miss most from the old days when point-and-click adventure games were a big deal, before the market sort of disappeared and everyone just wanted to fund 3D shooters and RTS games?
- I do kind of miss the absurdly experimental vibe of the old days, when just about anyone with a half-baked idea and a tubload of moxie could get a big-budget video game greenlit. But I much prefer the more modern incarnation, in which crazed creativity is tempered by a dollop of grown up fiscal responsibility... it's far less stressful.