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Interview: SCUMM of the Earth

Ron Gilbert chats about Maniac Mansion, the current state of adventure games, and 300.

April 26, 2007 - This year marks the 20th anniversary of the SCUMM engine, the Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion, which powered most of the classic LucasArts graphic adventures. SCUMM streamlined the process for coding these intensive, epic games and greatly decreased their development times. IGN recently caught up with the man behind SCUMM, the Grumpy Gamer himself, Ron Gilbert.

IGN: You worked on the SCUMM engine with fellow Lucasfilm Games employees Aric Wilmunder and Brad Taylor. What was your contribution to the engine?

Ron Gilbert: I created it. It was kind of my concept because I really needed it to build Maniac Mansion. I did most of the Commodore 64 programming for the engine. Aric and Brad's contribution came in when we did the PC ports of the engine.

IGN: What do you think of the current state of adventure games? Anything you've been impressed by recently?

Gilbert: Well, certainly the Sam & Max games. Those are really, really good, and they show what a good adventure game can be -- especially with the writing and the humor. I think Sam & Max is kind of a shining light for adventure games. I do think for adventure games to succeed they need to be melded with some other game genre. I don't know if a pure, pure adventure game could really survive today. Maybe with different distribution mechanisms. I could see a very pure adventure game working distributed through something like Xbox Live Arcade, where people are getting them almost episodically.

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