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The Secret Project thread

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17 hours ago, Jenni said:

I never watched the pilot or played the game, but Gary Winnick's comics were pretty enjoyable.

 

I have yet to read them. I will one day! But credit where it's due: I believe Purcell wrote the scripts (although Winnick invented the world). 

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There is almost certainly an archive of cut content somewhere, even if "archive" is used in the loosest sense of the term. I direct theatre, and my directing books are stuffed with half formed ideas, abandoned concepts, and the pages of my scripts look like the ramblings of an insane man. I use them, sometimes, to teach theater history courses as a condensed archive: the students have to examine the process of the show from beginning to end based only on my book, journals, notes, pre-production design documents, and, eventually, photographic evidence of the show -- only at the end do I show them a finalized recording of the production. All of this counts as an archive.  I can't tell you the number of times students have made crazy claims about my shows based on what is in the material I give them ... it's a good lesson in the danger of doing history, and of finding your own narrative in the archive, as much as you find the narrative of the archive itself. 

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The human brain searches out narrative all the time. It's what we crave. I guess it's easy to project one wherever we look.

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Some food for thought:

 

Several of the drafts in LOOM are in-jokes or puns of some sort: eg, the Closing Draft is DECE (as in "deceased"), while two possible combinations for the Rending Draft are ABBA and BAAB (suggesting that Brian Moriarty doesn't much care for Swedish pop music or similar songs like Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe").

 

But the Waking Draft includes the combinations EFGA (AGFE backwards) and DEFA - allusions to German Agfacolor film stock, which was used by famed Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein for a scene in Ivan the Terrible; and to East German film company DEFA, which made the SF film The Silent Star, which influenced The DIG in things like the naming of Ludger Brink.

 

The use of these combinations for the Sleep/Waking Draft suggests that Moriarty may have intended them as allusions to a future project he wanted to do. Which naturally brings to mind The DIG, since as I've said in the past his design for that game was heavily influenced aesthetically by East German and Soviet SF films.

 

But according to the official narrative of LucasArts history, Moriarty had no intention of taking up The DIG at that time, since Noah Falstein was supposed to be working on it. (Though between Last Crusade and doing The DIG at the same time as MI2, what was Falstein working on exactly?) And yet, here's Moriarty with science fiction on the brain already.

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There probably wasn't a huge gap of time between Last Crusade and the first version of The Dig, and Falstein has credits during and after that period which indicate he was lending a hand with other projects. When the first version of The Dig was shelved, its team was dispersed to assist with Monkey Island 2 and Fate of Atlantis, and I believe Noah was laid off shortly after Fate.

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32 minutes ago, ATMachine said:

Some food for thought:

 

Several of the drafts in LOOM are in-jokes or puns of some sort: eg, the Closing Draft is DECE (as in "deceased"), while two possible combinations for the Rending Draft are ABBA and BAAB (suggesting that Brian Moriarty doesn't much care for Swedish pop music or similar songs like Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe").

 

It could be a reference to ABBA. An easy one to make with a musical scale and four notes. His feelings on the group is pure speculation on your part.

 

Quote

But the Waking Draft includes the combinations EFGA (AGFE backwards) and DEFA - allusions to German Agfacolor film stock, which was used by famed Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein for a scene in Ivan the Terrible; and to East German film company DEFA, which made the SF film The Silent Star, which influenced The DIG in things like the naming of Ludger Brink.

 

And this is where you enter A Beautiful Mind territory.

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You dont' have to be psychic to guess that putting an ABBA reference in the Rending Draft (the one that tears apart the Loom and kills Hetchel) is not meant to be flattering.

 

And as for the influence of retro SF films, including Soviet/East German ones, on The DIG - I've been talking about that for years, since long before this Secret Project business came to my radar. I even mentioned it in my old Mojo article.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Udvarnoky said:

There probably wasn't a huge gap of time between Last Crusade and the first version of The Dig, and Falstein has credits during and after that period which indicate he was lending a hand with other projects. When the first version of The Dig was shelved, its team was dispersed to assist with Monkey Island 2 and Fate of Atlantis, and I believe Noah was laid off shortly after Fate.

 

The earliest design doc we have for that version is dated December 1990, while the infamous kickoff meeting (the one with the Loma Prieta earthquake) took place on October 17, 1989. That's over an entire year, at a time when it wasn't unheard of for LucasArts to put together entire games in nine months.

Edited by ATMachine

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The early design period could well have been that slow if Falstein was flitting between projects (note his "Additional Design" credit on Monkey Isand 1) or if it was not yet a priority. Remember that Ron had submitted his Monkey Island 1 proposal before being pulled onto Last Crusade, which forced him to table it for close to a year. So there is probably a Monkey Island pitch document dated 1988 out there. (Or maybe it emerged already? I forget.) Just looking at dates can paint a misleading picture if you remove the circumstances.

 

We also have to remember that we are talking about a studio that had a pretty unique culture, especially in the 80s. Did you see Ron's post-mortem on Maniac Mansion? It took two years to make that game, and it sounds like Ron and Gary were allowed a staggering amount of time to just kind of percolate on their concept before even figuring out what genre it was.

 

There are just too many specifics we do not know to assume that the most sensational possible scenario is more likely than the ten mundane ones.

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Here's a screenshot from the manual of the Spanish translation of Monkey Island 1, showing a different font than in the published version:

 

mi1spanishmanual.png

 

It looks like the GUI was pasted onto the lower area of the screenshot. But the text is fairly accurate (though not exact) to the game. What's more interesting is that the font looks very similar to, but not quite the same as, the font used in the published game - like an in-house variant of the same design.

 

In the second line the "h" in "Oh" has a tall stem to match the capital O next to it; in the fourth line, where it's not next to any capitals, the "h" has a shorter stem. Likewise, the "u" in "Cuanto" on the third line has a pixel in the lower-right corner that's absent in the "u" letters seen elsewhere.

 

Now this could be a SCUMM feature that never appears AFAIK in any published games: letters whose design varies based on the surrounding letters, for the sake of legibility.

 

Or it could be just a simple Photoshop job.

 

In fact, I'd have opted for the latter, if the same feature didn't appear elsewhere - in early screenshots of The DIG, no less.

 

digjoyc.png

 

Here the letter "r" in Brink's surname is shorter than the "r" in "tourniquet".

 

Mind you this is supposed to be a screenshot of actual gameplay. (Aside: there's also a graphic filter that's visible in this image; probably the same one that was put into various LucasArts adventure-game Macintosh ports by Aaron Giles, which he later imported into MAME as the Advanced Mame 2000 filter.)

 

It'd make sense, in an in-joke-y sort of way, for Brink to have a letter glyph in his name that differs from other instances of that letter - because Toshi Olema's surname too has a very un-Japanese L in it.

 

But that would require special coding, and probably isn't the sort of thing one might do for a one-off gag. It'd make far more sense as a borrowing from an already existing codebase - like that in the Spanish MI1 image above.

 

That in turn raises the question of why this feature doesn't appear in other LucasArts games. Not least the published version of MI1 in Spanish. Too buggy? Too much work to program? A combination of these with wanting to save some stuff especially for a crazy "secret library archive project" time capsule thing?

 

Hardly conclusive evidence, but it does make me wonder.

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Maybe what we see in these screenshots is the actual font that the in-game UI is based on, but the real font has more complex ligature data than the purely sprite-based version SCUMM supports.

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Maybe so. But The DIG apparently supported that in-game somehow at least.

 

On the other hand, as Marius posted in another thread, screenshots on the MI1 German version box instead go with a font that is totally different for the inventory, while keeping the same font that's in-game for the verb bank. Plus a dialog font that was seemingly ripped straight from DPaint - but nonetheless has only one space between letters, like the font in MI1 proper, instead of the erratically wide letter spacing of actual DPaint text.

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Maybe by the time of The Dig they supported tracking/kerned pairs, etc in SCUMM fonts. It would probably make regional localization and non-latin fonts easier.

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Posted (edited)

If so, it doesn't show up in any published games AFAIK. It'd be an interesting case of "hiding your light under a bushel." Like the overall argument proposed in the rest of this thread.

Edited by ATMachine

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