‘Thimbleweed Park’: LucasArts crew reunites for new game

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Thimbledweed Park
Ron Gilbert & Gary Winnick
PC, Mac, iOS, Android

If you grew up in the 80s or 90s and played video games, you are likely familiar with LucasArts titles. The LucasArts team created classics like Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, The Dig and Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire. The company eventually went out of business and took a hiatus from game making. The game makers have now reunited to make a new game called Thimbleweed Park.

LucasArts shut down in April of 2013 after its video games weren’t living up to the standards previously set by the company’s blockbuster titles. Yet it wasn’t only the quality of the games that caused the company’s fall. Deals failed at the last minute, projects were canceled and developers had conflicting visions of what direction the developer should take. The situation made it nearly impossible for developers to steadily build high quality games without interference from above. Games like Star Wars: Underworld would go through early designs that management would alter to suit their own personal tastes. This resulted in games like Underworld morphing from an RPG to an action to a shooter and so forth. George Lucas himself would get involved and offer his own unique input that would further change titles in the midst of development. It was a dysfunctional situation rife with indecision that had to be broken apart. In short, there were too many cooks in the kitchen and the company imploded.

Thimbleweed Park represents a fresh start for the creative minds of LucasArts. It is a point and click style game like the company’s famous PC game Myst. While these games are typically slower paced than other modern games focused on rampant action, they are incredibly intriguing and mentally stimulating. Since the LucasArts video game development team is behind Thimbleweed Park, industry experts are expecting a hit.

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Aside from LucasArts’ involvement, the masses are also lending a helping hand. The game is actually being financed with crowd-sourced funding. This means that there isn’t a gigantic corporate budget in place. Rather, game players and fans of the LucasArts brand are pitching in to make Thimbleweed Park a reality.

A large part of the public’s motivation to finance Thimbleweed Park through crowd-sourced funding is the sheer number of classics LucasArts has brought game players in the past. One of the developer’s most famous games is Maniac Mansion. This game was played on old school PCs with a floppy disk. There’s no doubt that it is a video game classic thanks to its incredibly fun gameplay. Although the gaming market was limited when Maniac Mansion came out, it blew most of the competition out of the water. The mind behind the game, Gary Winnick and Ron Gilbert also created the insanely popular Monkey Island. The Monkey Island series consisted of 5 action-adventure games in which players battled with pirates in tropical settings.

Winnick and Gilbert are back as a part of the Thimbleweed Park team. Thimbleweed Park allows players to choose between one of five characters and rotate between them on the fly throughout the game. The game is going to cost merely $20 and it will run on Windows, Mac or Linux operating systems. LucasArts is anticipating a summer of 2016 release date. The public has already contributed $400,000 towards the game’s development. It took only

3 days of a Kickstarter campaign to raise an initial $265,000. LucasArts was only asking for $375,000.

It is widely believed that the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, has motivated some gamers to donate towards the creation of Thimbleweed Park. The movie will be released on December 18, 2015 and will be produced by Lucasfilm. This would make sense: talk of the latest Star Wars installment has re-invigorated the general public’s interest in all-things-Lucas — with toy lines in the stores and older Lucas films (such as the Indiana Jones anthology) being shown regularly through Direct TV. Lucas already has another film project, Strange Magic, slated for 2015. LucasArts are “striking while the iron is hot,” and fans of the series are intrigued to see what they can conjure up with Thimbleweed Park — so intrigued, they’re even willing to help fund it.

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