Mark Darin – Telltale Games Interview
Adventure games never went anywhere, but if there’s one developer that’s given the genre a massive resurgence of late, then it’s the guys at Telltale Games. Taking some well loved and fondly remembered classic properties like Sam & Max, Wallace & Gromit and Homestar Runner, they appear to be the only company that has truly made the episodic gaming formula work on a long term basis. Their latest treasure comes from the booty of a collaboration with the former masters of the genre, LucasArts with the bloody good Tales of Monkey Island series. So we at The Reticule decided to send some questions (in a bottle, of course) to one Mark Darin, designer on the new Monkey Island games. His reply washed ashore recently, and here’s what he had to say:
The Reticule – So why choose Monkey Island, and how did it come about?
Mark Darin – Monkey Island is generally considered one of the most beloved point & click adventures of all time! Almost all of us here at Telltale are big fans and a lot of us have actually worked on Monkey Island games in the past! The fans continual insistance, the cooperativeness of LucasArts and the stars aligning perfectly with a dash of voodoo magic all came together to make this happen!
TR – Monkey Island is obviously a highly valued and treasured franchise with many factors to consider with an undertaking like this – what were the most important ones to the team?
Mark – The things that were most important to us were, deciding upon an art direction, making sure the humor and puzzles are spot on, and maintaining a pirate story that was silly in the moment to moment bits, but kept serious with occasionally dark undertones. Oh, and we really wanted to have Dominic Armato come back to do the voice of Guybrush.
TR – How has your work on Sam & Max, Wallace & Gromit etc effected development on Tales of Monkey Island?
Mark – Because we knew we were going to develop Tales of Monkey Island as an episodic series we were able to use a lot of what we have learned about making that kind of game with this series. It certainly effected design decisions. We have a much better feeling now about what kinds of puzzles tend to hold up production and what it takes to make sure the important moments get the development attention they deserve. We are constantly learning from every game we make, so each new series or episode can more easily avoid pitfalls leaving room to occasionally try something new.
TR – What was it like to be working with the voice talent?
Mark – I LOVE the recording sessions! These are probably one of the most enjoyable moments for me. The talent has been consistently great! A very friendly and colorful cast of folks! And as a writer, it’s particularly thrilling to hear talented actors and actresses breathe real life into the words you have spent days typing in a dimly lit room in front of a flickerly monitor.
TR – Can you give us any more information on what’s in store this season? Can we expect to see some Insult Sword Fighting of any kind in the future of this series?
Mark – I can’t give too much away, but in future episodes look forward to seeing more of the “human” LeChuck! And insult swordfighting will be featured in the game, in that you’ll see Guybrush attempt to fight this way, but after three games and some really bizarre variations of insult swordfighting, we decided to sit this one out. Especially since most Monkey Island fans were going to get their insult fix by playing LucasArts Special Edition remake of the original game anyway!
TR – Finally, can you give us any hints on which famous franchises you would like to resurrect
Mark – If it’s got good characters and potential for fantastic stories, we’re interested!
You can find out more about the new Monkey Island games on the Telltale website and check out our verdict of the first episode hither.