In a rare interview, Monkey Island designers tell Ars about the long-awaited Return

Welcome back.  We've been waiting for you.
Enlarge / Welcome back. We’ve been waiting for you.

Nine years ago, The secret behind Monkey Island creator and designer Ron Gilbert wrote a blog post in which he described what he would do if he made another Monkey Island game. But now that Gilbert is actually working on Back to Monkey Island– his first job at the franchise in over three decades – he told Ars that the blog post from 2013 appears to have been written by a completely different person.

“That article was just this strange stream of consciousness,” Gilbert told Ars in a recent interview. “I do not remember the exact incident, but I do remember feeling a little depressed that I would never get to do another Monkey Island, and that really spawned that article.”

“I think if I could remake that article, I would probably encapsulate it a little differently because it’s not things that will definitely happen or absolute things that I will do,” Gilbert continued. “Everyone involved in a creative process knows that as soon as you start, everything changes. To come up with ideas, you change the story, you change characters, you change puzzles. Everything is not written in stone.”

A long time is coming

Today, Gilbert describes the process that eventually led him back to Monkey Island as “a star-alignment thing.” While Gilbert said he had considered returning to the series many times over the years, it was not until a pitch from publisher Devolver Digital a few years ago that “the ball began to move forward on things.”

Before diving back into Monkey Island, however, Gilbert said he wanted to make sure any new game could live up to expectations, which have skyrocketed after three decades in which the first two Monkey Island games were hailed as the top of the list. Classic adventure game design. . “That was my No. 1 concern when Devolver first approached me about this – just the weight of [expectations]he said. “Was that something I really wanted to wear?”

To get past this fear, Gilbert consulted with another Monkey Island programmer and author Dave Grossman to discuss whether it would actually be valuable to revisit the surroundings. The couple asked themselves a series of questions before committing: “Do we have a good idea? Can we get on with this? Do we … have a story that fits the legacy?”

LeChuck's ship is being loaded to sail.
Enlarge / LeChuck’s ship is being loaded to sail.

Devolver Digital

“For me, [the prospect of] It was certainly a great move to work with Ron, “Grossman told Ars.[But] just to check ourselves, we pulled ourselves together before we absolutely said yes to make sure we had something to say to [a new game], that we would be able to take it in some interesting directions. So we met for a weekend and decided that yes, that was the case and we had to make a match. “

Once that was settled, Gilbert said Devolver took the lead in handling the business termination of the deal with Disney, which owns the IP rights to the Monkey Island franchise through its 2012 LucasArts acquisition. Since then, Gilbert said he has had some “long conversations” with Disney and ended up being “very pleased with the answers” and the assurances he received that his team would have full creative freedom on the project. While Disney “has certainly received feedback, good feedback, [and] we have taken some of their feedback, “said Gilbert, he has been glad that the company has allowed him to” build the game I wanted to build. ”