Return to Monkey Island came out today! I worked on it as a programmer from June 2021 to June 2022 to take a break from Mr. Sun’s Hatbox. It was a really cool opportunity! I learned a great deal from my time there and I worked with a lot of amazing people. Most of my work was in programming overarching gameplay systems, so I’ve had my hands on basically every corner of the game. Below is a list of everything I worked on, I’m keeping things very general so there aren’t any spoilers or specifics about what happens in the game.
I wrote and implemented almost all of the hints in the game. The hints are all in a huge dialogue tree, which I wrote in the engine’s narrative scripting language, called Yack. They dynamically react to the player’s game state and try to determine the most relevant information to display. Yack is closely integrated with the engine’s gameplay scripting language, called Dinky, which made it very easy to access in-game variables related to the player’s progress.
I did most of the scripting for the gamepad controls. Every interface or interaction in the game that required different behavior between mouse and controller needed custom code. Player movement and object selection were a big part of it. Internally it was called Direct Drive, since it allows the player to control Guybrush directly with the left stick (as opposed to controlling a virtual mouse, which most mouse-based point & click adventure games seem to do).
I wrote and programmed all of the tutorial prompts in the game. Additionally, I did most of the programming work in the main tutorial area (internally called the Playground). You’ll probably skim or skip through these parts, oh well.
I wrote a lot of code for the game’s UI, particularly the options screen. There is no visual editor for the UI, it’s all generated and positioned manually in code.
One of my first tasks on the project was to implement the Trivia Book, an in-game collectibles system. Throughout the game you’ll find Trivia Cards scattered around. If you pick them up, they’ll get added to a book in your inventory, where you can look at them and answer trivia questions about Monkey Island and Lucasfilm Games.
Remunging Art & Animation
A lot of my time working on the game was bringing in assets from the artists and animators into various areas of the game. The artists and animators did not have access to the engine or git repository, so any changes they made would have to go through a programmer to bring it into the game. The word “remunge” was thrown around a lot, which basically meant a programmer running a python script to convert PSD’s or animations into files that the engine could use. Then, we’d manually place each asset in-game through an editor interface.
I programmed the last major chain of puzzles in the game. I also implemented a few of the Hard Mode variations of a few puzzles.
I scripted most of the interstitial cutscenes in the second half of the game (cutscenes introduced with ‘Meanwhile…’ text).
I’m excited to announce my next game, Mr. Sun’s Hatbox! It’s a roguelite slapstick stealth platformer with base building elements and unconventional headgear. It’s my most ambitious project yet, I’ve been working on it since 2019. I’ll be partnering with Raw Fury to release it, my first time working with a publisher.
Here’s a trailer! Created by Marcus Herbertsson (Trailer Producer from Raw Fury) and featuring voice talent by Nick Huber. I’m really happy with how it turned out!
Here are the key art and logo. I commissioned them from the incredibly talented Carles Dalmau, who did an amazing job and was nice enough to take time out of his super busy schedule to work on it.
For reference, here’s the mockup I sent him with my initial idea for the art:
I initially came up with the idea for the game in 2015 after playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I really enjoyed the Fulton recovery system so I stole it for personal gain. I actually started to prototype it in 2016, but quickly abandoned it after realizing how huge of a project it’d be given my limited free time (I had a full-time job back then). I picked up the idea again on my birthday in 2019, as a treat to myself, and I’ve been working on it on-and-off since then.
I decided to look for a publisher around the end of 2021, for a few reasons. At that point I’d been working on this game for over 2 years and was expecting at least an additional year to finish it. I’m pretty good at making games but pretty bad at selling them. Given my huge time investment, I wanted to protect myself against a worst case scenario. So, I sought funding to finish development along with marketing support and help with all the other things that go into releasing a game (QA, localization, porting, etc.). After a few months of searching I got a few offers and ultimately decided to go with Raw Fury. They’ve been great, I’m very happy with my decision.
I’m excited to share more about it as we get closer to release!
I updated my website and added a Blog section! The plan is to post announcements and detailed breakdowns of stuff I work on. We’ll see if I’ll stick to it, maybe not.