Game Designer Ron Gilbert on Making 'Thimbleweed Park'

Meet Ron Gilbert, the game designer behind classic LucasArts adventure games like Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island. In 2014, he and Gary Winnick raised over $600,000 on Kickstarter to create Thimbleweed Park, a video game following two washed-up detectives as they explore a very strange town. Three years (and a lot of work) later, Thimbleweed Park is ready to play.

Read on for a conversation with Gilbert about the Twin Peaks and X-Files-inspired game. 


What should everyone should know about Thimbleweed Park?

One, Thimbleweed Park is a classic point-and-click adventure game, but with a lot of modern design sensibilities. Two, it’s a dark-noir comedy. Three, the ending is very controversial — and I like that.

What are five things every good adventure game needs?

  1. An interesting world to explore.
  2. Interesting characters that inhabit that world.
  3. An interesting story about what those characters are doing in that world.
  4. Puzzles that inform the player about the world, characters, or story. (If the puzzle doesn’t do one of those thing things, cut it.)
  5. Humor is vital. Players are often asked to do weird things, and humor allows them to embrace that.

Tell us about the game’s soundtrack, which is a throwback to the wonderful sounds of ‘90s gaming.

The soundtrack was meant to evoke the feeling of TV shows like Twin Peaks and The X-Files, where the music is slow and mysterious. With action games, you want music to drive the energy, but for a game like Thimbleweed Park, the music needs to create a mood of uneasiness.


Recommended viewing

I am really bad at math, so I find everything they do one step away from being magic.

The Games Developers Conference
For anyone interested in game development, these (free) talks are a must-watch.

Susan Cain on the Power of Introverts
I’m an introvert, and spent the vast majority of my life thinking there was something wrong with me. Five years ago I read an article on introverts and realized that I’m normal. Unfortunately, we live in a world that prioritizes and normalizes extroverts, while introverts are often considered abnormal, antisocial, or even rude.


This piece originally appeared in our Handpicked Happening newsletter, where Kickstarter creators share their recommendations for things to read, watch, and listen to. 

Want to get Happening delivered right to your inbox? Sign up here.