Kickstarter Shout-out: Thimbleweed Park

 photo thimble01.jpg With Tim Schafer and many other industry veterans returning to the gaming scene with Kickstarter projects that pan out positively for the most part, I was wondering why more of the industry veterans like Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick don’t take a shot at Kickstarter? Well, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick are now on Kickstarter with their newest project Thimbleweed Park. For those that need a refresher course, Ron Gilbert and his partner in crime, Gary Winnick, were two of the other bigwigs alongside David Grossman and Tim Schafer of LucasArts. They created famous adventure games like Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis, and Day of the Tentacle. Of course, Ron Gilbert is also known for his recent hits like Deathspank, Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue, and The Cave. Garry Winnick has also had success and popularity with his comic book series “Bad Dreams.” So, what do you get when you have two of the adventure gaming world’s biggest names go to Kickstarter and make an original old-school adventure game that is inspired by Maniac Mansion? You get this Kickstarter project! Let’s see why Thimbleweed Park is getting my Kickstarter Shout-out!

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The story revolves around a couple of different characters. The first story focuses on two washed-up detectives who are called in to check out a body that was found outside of town. The second story is set around a woman named Delores, who is with her siblings at the reading of her rich uncle’s will. The third story centers around a clown named Ransome the Clown that has a curse put onto him where he can’t remove his makeup. The fourth story is about a guy named Franklin who wakes up in a room on the 13th floor of the Edmund Hotel and finds out that he is dead. He doesn’t know how he got there, and needs to find that out. So, you’ve got two detectives, a regular woman, a creepy clown, and a dead guy, and a rotting body outside of town. I wonder how all of this is connected. Since this story is being crafted by two of the head honchos from the LucasArts adventure gaming days, the story will be dark, but satirical as the game will reference films and shows like “The Shinning,” “True Detective,” and “Twin Peaks.” I think this will be very interesting, and I hope the dark themes and humor mix well, but I have 100% confidence that they will do a great job in telling a compelling, but funny story.

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By design, if you have played Maniac Mansion or its sequel Day of the Tentacle, Thimbleweed Park has a similar adventure game design like those two games. Instead of having a simple point-and-click interface like later LucasArts adventure games, you will have a menu of verb commands like “look at,” “pick up,” and “Give.” For example, in the Kickstarter trailer, you can “use” a balloon animal on the dead body. What does this do? Does it solve a puzzle? Or is it just something silly? You will also have a small inventory system beside the commands to old a multitude of items from a balloon animal, to a gun. You will be able to switch between the five characters at any time and the game will offer multiple hours of gameplay and different and “meaningful” endings, depending on how you tackle the game. That is really all I have to say about how the overall game will work.

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Graphically, I personally like the look of the game. It really does remind me of the original Maniac Mansion, and I hope people are not turned off by this. I know art styles are subjective, but I adore this art direction. It looks like no other adventure game coming out. Again, I have always said that the element of game design that needs to be more varied and unique is art direction since having said unique art style will differentiate you from everyone else. The music from the trailer definitely sounds like something from a detective show or the opening to a Tarantino movie. Unfortunately, the team does not have a composer yet, so I don’t know who will compose the music for the game.

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So, any concerns? Even though they said that the verb command menu will have some streamlined features, I hope the interface isn’t too clunky. The only other concern that I have for this Kickstarter is the difficulty. For those that haven’t played the original Maniac Mansion, it could be an incredibly difficult and unforgiving game depending on who you have with you in your party, and how you approached the real-time movements of certain characters in the game. I want there to be challenge, but I don’t want there to be shenanigans as to where I need pixel-perfect timing to get away from a certain character that wasn’t possible with the control set up.

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Even with my concerns, I have full faith that Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick will pull off this Kickstarter, and will make a fully satisfying adventure game. It can come as no surprise that this game already reached its funding goal of $375K. If you want to get a copy of the game, all you need to do is donate $20 for the Kickstarter. I kind of wish there was an early bird $10 reward, but with how fast the funding came in, I doubt many backers mind the $20 entry level. I can’t wait to see more of this Kickstarter in the future. Congratulations, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, Thimbleweed Park gets my official Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this project, go to this link!)