Video Games

Return to Monkey Island Creators Discuss Puzzle Design for the Modern Age

What Return to Monkey Island actually does is a modern day miracle of the gaming industry in and of itself. In the 30 years since Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman last worked together on a Monkey Island game, the point-and-click adventure game genre has proliferated, been left for dead and finally revived. When Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge was puzzling players with “monkey wrench” puzzles, online wikis, walkthroughs, and hint guides were just as nascent as the internet itself, so the hint line was still real. was. Ahead of next week’s release of Return to Monkey Island, we spoke with Gilbert and Grossman to find out how puzzle-making has changed (and stayed the same) since the duo finally left Guybrush Threepwood. ) was discussed.

“We had a different sensibility to puzzles back then,” says Gilbert. “We were new, the puzzles were new, the adventure game was new. I don’t think the rules were really established. [And] The audience back then was completely different. So when designing his Return to Monkey Island for 2022, the two designers’ approaches have evolved with the audience they’re creating the game for. “We want puzzles to be fun, challenging, and challenging, but I think people can’t tolerate frustration anymore,” Gilbert began. “I think people do so many things with media, from TV shows to movies to games. We have 500 now. [but] They don’t want frustration.

And Gilbert continued: He doesn’t want to give them a click-only experience. But we want to build more logical and sensible puzzles. When someone solves a puzzle, or accepts a hint for a puzzle, you’re thinking, “Oh, I should have thought that.” You don’t want to be told, “I never thought of that.” So I think what Dave and I really try to do with puzzles is make sure everything makes logical sense for the game. “

“When someone solves a puzzle or accepts a hint for a puzzle, you don’t want them to say, ‘Oh, I should have thought of that. ‘I never thought of that.'”


“I think a lot of it has to do with being clear,” Grossman added. “Be clear about what the goal is and what the tool does. We weren’t always good at that.” That monkey wrench puzzle comes to mind. “

Gilbert continued the topic of this conversation. His voice was very humble and introspective. You’ve vagued things so you don’t want to challenge them… I recently spoke with people who played Monkey Island 1 or 2 for the first time and they really complained about the puzzles. is the only thing to say It doesn’t mean that there is a puzzle, that you are challenging the puzzle, but it is not really placed, so it does not make sense. And for people who are big fans of MI, it can be hard to understand because they are so steeped in what MI is that they don’t remember that something can be very confusing. I don’t want the game to be paralyzingly difficult for players. We want you to enjoy the game and enjoy the story. “

“I think you want to challenge your audience, but you want to challenge them in a fair way.


To that end, Return to Monkey Island also presents the (ahem) return of Monkey Island Lite, known here as Casual Mode. So is that version of the game intentionally “too easy”? How easy are they aiming for? “I don’t think people worry that Monkey Island Lite is too easy,” he says Gilbert. “I think people who play casual mode either have little experience solving puzzles in the first place, or are just interested in the story. I don’t try to make it work, but I’m not too worried about it being too easy,” added Grossman. [Casual Mode] Get your own puzzle. It’s not just a matter of “Oh, I used a hatchet to cut something off one day.” We actually had him spend a lot of time on two versions…so for a while he was actually creating two games. “

Ultimately, Gilbert and Grossman want to create a fun game that blends perfectly with the original two, especially since Return begins right after LeChuck’s Revenge ends. “The story of this work is more closely related to his first two stories than any work that has been made since,” said Grossman. “Generally, it’s all canon,” Gilbert said of other Monkey Island games, referring to Curse, Escape, and Tales. And I think Dave’s rule was “if the canon fits, use it, if it doesn’t, ignore it”. We are not going to deny it. We’re not doing anything to poke canon that doesn’t particularly fit our story.

“I don’t want facts to get in the way of telling a good story,” Grossman said with a laugh. “especially if they are fictitious facts and not real facts”

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