With Tales of Monkey Island plundering PCs across the globe, it's easy to forget that the episodic series' first chapter is also out on Nintendo Wii through download channel WiiWare. With Chapter Two inbound and Chapter Three waiting in the wings, it's fun times for Wii-owning Monkey Island fans. So, at Nintendo's recent Media Summit in London, we caught up with Telltale chief Dave Grossman, who wrote and programmed the first two games in the legendary Monkey Island series at LucasArts, to find out why the Wii is great and what Telltale's going to do next.
VideoGamer.com: What can players expect from Chapter Three?
Dave Grossman: Well, a spoiler for anyone who hasn't played Chapter Two yet, Chapter Three begins inside a giant manatee, which has swallowed a couple of the principle characters. They will meet some more people inside the manatee, so there is a good chunk of gameplay that takes place in there. And there's some interesting inter-personal situations that come up. We develop the relationship between Guybrush and Morgan, the woman who's been trying to kill him, now that they're kind of stuck in the same boat as it were, down in the gullet of the manatee and they both want to get out. So they have to kind of join forces a little bit. That's kind of an ongoing theme for the series. This teaming up with people you don't necessarily trust or like and seeing what that's like and testing relationships you do normally depend on. They're gonna keep looking for La Esponja Grande, make a little progress on that. And a, oh, Murray, Murray's in it.
VideoGamer.com: The community created promo videos you are using, is that something only Monkey Island brings out in people?
DG: We find in general that Telltale fans of all the different series we do are pretty active, some of 'em.
VideoGamer.com: Is active a diplomatic word?
DG: No. I mean that only in the best way. Our forums are really interesting. There are always people discussing interesting things on them and we get a lot of fan art sent in, all kinds of stuff. That said I think there is something about Monkey Island that evokes a certain, I don't know, disturbed fanaticism. I don't quite know what it is. The thing that I like the best about the Monkey games is just that there is humour on top and a serious story underneath, and the way that those two things work together to grab you in the immediate moment but then leave you with something to feed off of later, is a really kind of compelling way to tell a story. Maybe people are responding to that, I don't know. We have been getting some great stuff, like the trailer that you saw.
VideoGamer.com: What other crazy stuff have you had from Tales of Monkey Island fans?
DG: People have done some singing videos on YouTube I've seen. There's always lots of good fan art.
VideoGamer.com: Have you had any people contact you saying you've ruined my childhood memory?
DG: Um, no I can't remember anybody going that far. There's always a little controversy. There's usually more controversy before the first episode comes out. We had a special section of the forum that was just for people who pre-ordered the game in the month between when we announced it and released the first episode. I was paying a lot of attention to that just because I figured these people are the biggest fans, right? They're the people who were willing right up front to pay money just because we said we're doing Monkey Island. And they were like, all right I'm in. But then once they were in they made a lot of comments about what kinds of things they expected to see and what they were worried about. A lot of times it tends to be they're really worried about the voices. People were very concerned about having the right voice actors in there. Which we do. We got Dom Armato to come back and do GuyBrush again. He's fabulous at it. But people were worried that we weren't going to do stuff like that. And then once the game comes out they're oh, okay good. It's good. It feels good. We like it. It's funny. It's working for us.
VideoGamer.com: Is it a challenge to make Tales of Monkey Island appeal to long-running fans of the series as well as newcomers?
DG: We did have to walk a little bit of a tightrope on that actually, because we did want to be sure that a new audience could start right here with Tales of Monkey Island and jump into the franchise there. Just actually as part of our general design philosophy we try to make the games friendlier now, because we actually want you to finish the game by the end of the month so that you can be ready for the next episode when it comes out. It's very important. So we've been drawing the line on the puzzle level between challenging and frustrating. On general principles we want to avoid frustrating the player. That's never fun for people. We're just better at it now than we were 20 years ago.
VideoGamer.com: Some of those old school puzzles were pretty hard, weren't they?
DG: Some of those old school puzzles are downright mean. If I could go back and redesign them I would. But, ah, we'll let that stand as history and move on from there.