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Groggoccino

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Everything posted by Groggoccino

  1. I've always loved Monkey 4, and I always find it very surprising when it's criticized for getting the delicate balance between whimsical pirate story and anachronisms wrong. For me, that's exactly the point. Besides being an excellent adventure game in its own right (with the caveat of the Monkey Island chapter, which I think is lackluster, design-wise), I think that's one of the reasons why it's such an interesting, fitting addition to the series, thematically speaking. In the original games, anachronisms and fourth-wall breaking seeped in here and there. Especially in Monkey 2, they were used to create a very particular vibe: this weird feeling that, beneath the surface of the Monkey Island world, there's a different world. Our world. Reality. Lurking. Struggling to come up to the surface. Like a game Guybrush can't or doesn't want to stop playing. Maybe. Maybe not. If you decide to analyze the series from this perspective, Escape fits the theme like a glove. The whole vibe of the game seems to be: the world of Monkey Island is unraveling. The balance (the fourth wall) has been broken and reality is taking over. The tale is about to end. "Playtime" is about to be over. Of course the anachronisms are out of control: the "fantasy" is becoming unsustainable and Guybrush himself is becoming the anachronism. Even to this day, I remember the feeling I had while playing the game for the first time, so many years ago. The vague feeling that an indefinable point of no return was about to be reached, and that the world of Monkey Island was going to end in an irrecoverable way. Massively underrated game, in my opinion. Also, I have to say I agree with what @madmardi said about there being a double standard with Escape in the fanbase, which I think has only become more obvious with the announcement of Return. With Return, it seems that, as a counterreaction to the initial backlash, we've quickly reached a point in which criticizing the game (particularly the art style), even when done in a respectful way, is kind of frowned upon. Whereas making snarky, dismissive or outright insulting comments about Escape seems to be totally fair game, as it's always been. I mean, in the Monkey Island subreddit there's a featured post literally asking people not to say anything negative about Return because "those opinions have already been heard". Strangely enough, after 22 years (and counting) of people regularly referring to Escape as if it were an irredeemable steaming pile of crap, almost nobody seems to think that there's enough negativity about that one.
  2. Two small tips for those who are playing or planning to play some of these games, in case you find them useful: 1) The Special Edition of the first Monkey Island is known to have very long, awkward pauses after every spoken sentence, which completely ruins the flow of the dialogue. Indeed, many people have complained about this in this forum. However, there's a very easy fix for that, which I have never seen reported anywhere: switch to the classic version with F10. Press "+" a few times to max out the text speed. Switch back to the Special Edition mode. Enjoy the dialogue without weird pauses. 2) The control scheme of Tales of Monkey Island is usually criticized as well. As a matter of fact, I think this was briefly dicussed in the "Return to Monkey Island" main post, but I'm mentioning it here because it feels more on-topic and so that it doesn't get lost there. There were some comments about how the control scheme feels dated and convoluted, and I was wondering: is everybody aware that the game includes an alternative control scheme that, for some reason, is not mentioned (I think) in the tutorial at all? I agree the hold-the-mouse-botton-to-walk system is not very comfortable. However, you can also use the WASD keys to control Guybrush directly (hold Shift to run). So you move Guybrush with the keyboard, and you control the pointer with the mouse to interact with objects, as you normally would. I actually think this is a great control system, and I even found myself using it instinctively quite a few times when I played the Sam & Max remasters.
  3. I've had high hopes for this ever since I read the interview where it was first mentioned, but this looks even better than I anticipated. Absolutely amazing; thank you so much. I read the documentation from top to bottom, and I have a quick question: how is scaling to modern resolutions handled when the Smooth Graphics option is not enabled? Does it use nearest-neighbor filtering? Bilinear filtering? Pixel-perfect scaling? A feature I really appreciate in both ScummVM and DosBox is that they allow you to combine both nearest-neighbor and bilinear filtering. In fact, although this was changed recently, I think the "traditional" ScummVM default was to use nearest-neighbor to double the game's original resolution (320x200), and then upscale the result of that with bilinear filtering to match the desktop resolution. This way, the image is blurred a bit to reduce blockiness, but not as much as if you were to only use bilinear filtering (you can also adjust this by choosing to triple the game's original resolution instead of doubling it, for example).
  4. Darragh O'Farrell was the voice director on Curse and Escape (also The Dig), but not on the Special Editions. David W. Collins is the credited voice director on those (O'Farrell was the head of the sound department by then, from what I've read). In 2009, I listened to a very interesting audio interview discussing the first Special Edition. I don't remember where, and I can't seem to find it now, but I do remember one of the interviewees was O'Farrell. I remember that very specifically, because he mentioned how the recording script they got for The Dig was very disorganized and uncinematic, but that he had listened to the voice acting again years later and thought the result was good and that the actors responded well to each other. Interestingly, they also discussed the Earl Boen situation. Contrary to what Wikipedia might suggest (it says he retired in 2017), it seems Boen was already retired in 2009, and living in Hawaii, so special arrangements had to be made to have him in the games. As I said, this I remember very specifically. I also have a vague recollection (so I wouldn't swear on it; take it with a grain of salt) of them mentioning that, because of this special situation, and even though David W. Collins was the voice director for the rest of the game, it was actually Darragh O'Farrell who directed Boen when he recorded his lines. I wish I could find that interview again, but it seems to have vanished from the internet (it was an audio interview, so that makes it trickier).
  5. I don't consider Stan an outdated stereotype at all. If anything, I'd argue that he's more current than he's ever been. The world has been completely engulfed by marketing, self-promotion, ever-changing "personal brands" and serial entrepreneurialism. I've actually lost track of how many real-life Stans I've run into in recent times.
  6. If I'm not mistaken, the exact reveal was that Gavin Hammon (who voiced him in Tales) is part of the cast of the new game, not that he's voicing Stan specifically. Of course, that would be the most obvious assumption, but I think it's not been actually confirmed.
  7. Okay, I'll admit it. I only pretended to misremember that interview as an intricate way of prompting Jake to share more behind-the-scenes stories.
  8. That's true. He actually mentioned that in the recent Adventure Gamers interview: Basically, I was referring to the fact that a lot of people kind of seem to think that the two original games were single-handedly developed by Ron Gilbert, and that every puzzle and every single line of dialogue was his creation. To the point that the fact that one of the other original writers/designers was involved in the development of Tales (in whatever capacity) was not perceived as particularly noteworthy. Or at least that was my impression. As for my other point, I was thinking of this Eurogamer interview from 2009: But actually, after skimming through it again, it does look as if I might have filled the blanks a bit too creatively. As in Guybrush-telling-the-story-of-how-he-defeated-LeChuck creatively. Feel free to completely disregard that.
  9. One of the things that surprise me the most about this widespread fixation with the "authorial purity" of the Monkey Island games is what happened, and still happens, with Tales of Monkey Island. Is it just my impression, or is there absolutely no general awareness of the fact that Tales was directed by one of the original writers/developers? By one of the three persons who shaped the primordial "voice" of the series? Sure, there were some interviews where it was mentioned that Dave Grossman was part of the original team. But the general perception, even among enthusiasts, doesn't appear to acknowledge this at all. Judging by everything that has been written about it, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the game was helmed by a complete newcomer. Having said that, am I the only one who thinks that there's a somewhat distinct contrast between Grossman's obvious enthusiasm when discussing this upcoming game and the interviews he did while promoting Tales? Obviously, I'm not saying he wasn't interested or anything of the sort. But I do remember him saying words to the effect that he kind of felt the series had run its course; that he was a bit surprised to see the team so eager to make a new Monkey Island. Things like that (I think Tales is great, by the way). Now, with Return, he keeps talking about how this is the perfect project for him, so it seems particularly promising. I hope we get a firing-on-all-cylinders adventure game, with an ambitious puzzle design.
  10. Thank you very much for your insight, Serge. As I said, I already knew the Ultimate Talkie edition was amazing, but I guess it's even better than I thought. Absolutely superb work. So, from what I understand, the official CD version simply disregarded this feature completely? That seems like a pretty unfortunate oversight. It's not that it doesn't look as good as the Ultimate Talkie; what's really surprising is that, at least in this regard, it looks actually worse than the older VGA floppy version. I didn't include a video of the CD version in my previous post, but some scenes do look a bit weird. Especially if you compare them to the VGA floppy version. For example, take a look at the Mêlée woods scenes here: And compare that to the same scene in the VGA floppy version (same video as in my previous post, but I've marked the appropriate moment): Guybrush really sticks out in the CD version, doesn't he? He integrates much better with the environment in the VGA floppy version. It's pretty weird; the feature was already there but they removed it entirely in the supposedly superior release. I assume it was some sort of mistake when converting the game to a later SCUMM version. I wonder if it would be possible (and inside the scope of the project) for ScummVM to "fix" this so that it at least looks the same as the VGA floppy version.
  11. The CD version of The Secret of Monkey Island is known to have introduced a number of bugs, or what appear to be bugs. The clock tower, Lemonhead's missing lines... These are well-documented issues, and have in fact been (optionally) corrected in recent ScummVM releases. But there seems to be another bug in the CD version which I have never seen mentioned anywhere. I was checking out this playthrough of the rarer VGA floppy version (the one with VGA graphics, text-based inventory and the original soundtrack) when I noticed something: It seemed to me that character sprites looked a bit darker than the ones in the more common CD version (VGA graphics, icon-based inventory and CD audio; the one included as Classic Mode in the Special Edition). After checking different scenes in that video, I realized that it's not that the sprites are darker per se: instead, the VGA floppy version seems to have a a very basic "lighting system". The colors of character sprites change a bit depending on the scene (or "room", I think would be the more technical term). They use slightly darker colors when it's a dark or night scene, and they use brighter colors when it's a bright or daylight scene. Presumably, they do this so they integrate better with the environment. You can check it out in the video: compare Guybrush's colors when he's, say, inside the circus tent to his colors when he's talking to the Voodoo Lady. However, in the CD version this feature is nowhere to be found: all characters default to the brightest setting in every single scene. As a result, whenever there's a particularly dark scene, characters kind of appear to be glowing in the dark. And this is where it gets really interesting: the Ultimate Talkie edition mod (which as you probably all know uses the Special Edition to generate an enhanced, fully-voiced CD version) seems to fix this and includes a similar feature. In fact, it appears to do more than just fixing it: it improves it. There's at least one scene/room in the game (the very first one, with the lookout by the fire) where Guybrush's colors changes depending on where he is standing inside that particular room. He looks brighter when he's near the fire, and darker when he walks away. You can see it in this video: Notice how the colors of the sprite become brighter when he approaches the fire. In the VGA floppy version, this specific transition does not seem to exist (the darker colors are used even when he's near the fire), but the colors do change from scene to scene. In the CD version, they don't change at all: all characters use the brightest colors everywhere. Therefore, it seems to me there are two possibilities: a) LucasArts completely forgot about this feature when creating the CD version. The author of the Ultimate Talkie edition added it from scratch as an enhancement. b) This "dynamic lighting system" was originally developed as a feature of the CD version, but for some reason it was bugged/not properly enabled (if I'm not mistaken, the CD version was upgraded to the same SCUMM version used in Monkey Island 2, which did use some form of "dynamic lighting", so it would make sense). The Ultimate Talkie edition fixed this bug so that it works as intended. Now, the Ultimate Edition is fantastic. It has many enhancements and it shows an amazing attention to detail, so option A is entirely possible, I would say. Still, option B strikes me as a bit more likely, if only because the improvement to the lookout scene seems weirdly specific. And even if you disregard that particular improvement, it's pretty bizarre that LucasArts would deliberately remove an entire feature of the VGA floppy version when developing the CD version. But I'm mostly a layman in all these SCUMM intricacies, so I really don't know.
  12. Thank you very much. I'm a longtime visitor, but actually a first-time poster. Not that I'm an expert on this (far from it), but it is my understanding that LucasArts games as a whole were perceived this way back in the day, even within the industry. Not too long ago, I read a recent interview with a Sierra alumni (I think it was Josh Mandel), and he mentioned that Sierra staff used to be a bit jealous of LucasArts because of their no-expenses-spared, blockbuster-like approach. I also seem to remember reading (citation needed, though) that one of the reasons which led Blizzard to cancel the Warcraft adventure game was that, after seeing how technically impressive The Curse of Monkey Island was, they felt their own game felt too cheap by comparison. It's kind of crazy to think about it nowadays, but there was a very brief period in videogame history in which adventure games as a whole could not only go toe-to-toe with the "big guys", but were actually early adopters of many technologies. I mean, some of these adventure games had massive scripts which were fully voiced by professional voice actors (with very decent sound quality), in a time when other major franchises, belonging to other major genres, still only included some sporadic, barely-comprehensible synthesized voice samples. And didn't Creative bundle the CD version of The Secret of Monkey Island to promote one of their Sound Blaster cards? Anyway, more on topic: since we are discussing the prospect of a potential Loom remaster/sequel, I think this extract from a 2017 interview with Brian Moriarty might be of interest (it kind of relates to what I mentioned in my previous post, too):
  13. Hi everyone. Longtime visitor, checking in after all these years. In addition to all the issues you have already discussed, there is an extremely subtle, almost conceptual reason which makes these recent(ish) remasters feel somewhat "off" to me. It applies to the two Monkey Island Special Editions, but also to the more faithful Double Fine remasters (less so with Grim Fandango, but still). It's basically this: the original versions look and feel like state-of-the-art, early/mid 90's games (because that's exactly what they were). The remasters look and feel more like modest, 2009-2017 indie games (because that's kind of what they are). Back then, these games were bona fide technical juggernauts. They have a very specific place in videogame history, and you can feel that even when playing them today. With these new-coat-of-paint-on-top-of-the-old-game remasters, however, they stop being products of their time and become something else. Their place in history is palpably different to that of the originals, and I think that colors the experience of playing them. Substantially so.
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