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Ron Gilbert’s “The Cave” Will Have Silent Characters, Platforming, And Self Discovery


Sega are publishing Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert’s next adventure game, which is being developed at Double Fine, the studio behind Psychonauts and Brutal Legend. In a Q&A published to Sega’s blog, Gilbert answers some of the questions fans recently asked him about the ongoing project. You can view the entire Q&A here, but we’ve picked out some of the questions below:


I see that will have dragons and a climate medieval, but at the same time with technology and soda machines. What is the storyline of the game?


Ron Gilbert: The story is about a sentient talking cave that draws people to it so they can enter and hopefully discover something about themselves. Of course, we should all be careful what we ask about ourselves. We might not like what we find. As to why there is soda machines and dragons in the same game? Prove they didn’t exist at the same time. Exactly.


A group of oddball adventurers waiting at night outside of a single mysterious location — there’s some definite Maniac Mansion vibes in the Cave. How does Maniac Mansion inform this game, and are there any unfortunate microwave puzzles we should know about?


Ron Gilbert: No microwaves. Heh. Maniac Mansion had a pretty big influence on The Cave. I’ve always wanted to revisit that game and do the character selection right. There is something that has always appealed to me about choosing a “team” of characters to go into an adventure game. One nice thing The Cave does that Maniac Mansion didn’t is co-op. You and a friend/spouse/whatever can sit down and play the game together, controlling different characters.


What are the biggest differences between making an adventure game now as opposed to making one 20 years ago?


Ron Gilbert: 20 years ago, players didn’t mind being stuck for hours or even days on a puzzle, in some ways they expected it. Today, that isn’t true for the bulk of people playing games. There is so much that is pulling on our “entertainment time”. So the challenge is to keep players engaged, but also not make an overly simple adventure game. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to put “running and jumping” in The Cave. The game is not a platformer, but just having that fun activity while you go from place to place is a nice addition to adventure games.


What inspired the art style of the game, and how do you feel it fits in with the story?


Ron Gilbert: We wanted something that was fun, but not too cartoony. We didn’t want to go with realism because that brings with it a lot of problems (having to make all the animations realistic) with it, plus it’s just not as interesting as being about the have some fun with the style. We also wanted a style that really allow the fun animations of the characters to come out. The seven characters you play with don’t ever talk, so relied on the animators to bring out their personality, and having a fun art style really helps.


The Cave is in development for the PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.