Monkey Island Creator: Why Ignoring Fan Expectations Can Make A Better Game

Ron Gilbert is a legend in the world of adventure games. He created Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island, touchstones of the great, long-gone era of the LucasArts SCUMM-engine adventure.

In a new interview with the Gameological Society, Gilbert spoke candidly about the challenges of making a game funny, the difficulty of creating ensemble casts, and what does and doesn't make adventure games tick.

But near the end of the interview, Gilbert addresses one major hot-button topic. In the wake of Kickstarter successes, audience-sourced funding, and fan feedback fiascos like the Mass Effect 3 brouhaha, what are a creator's obligations to the audience? "You should have no responsibility to them," Gilbert flatly answered. Creators need to succeed or fail with their creations on their own terms:

You have to do what you want to do, and you have to do what you think is the right thing to do and what you think is the best thing to do. People who like what you do and are fans of your work are just going to like what you do as long as you do something true to yourself. You can get into a lot of trouble when you start to worry too much about what people are going to think because then you start to get into this weird self-censorship cycle. You do something that might be interesting and different and unique, but you become too worried what people are going to think, and you censor it.

Creative things, no matter what they are-books, video games, whatever-if they're really good, they have lots of pointy little edges, and that's what makes them interesting. It's all these pointy little spikes and all these little things you can cut yourself and prick yourself on, that's what makes creative work interesting. If you get into self-censorship mode, you start to pound all those pointy edges away because you're very afraid of offending somebody or worried what somebody will think of it. And then what you're left with is kind of blah, just not interesting. I think you just need to do what you think is the right thing to do, and hopefully people like it.

Funny People: Ron Gilbert, Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island creator [The Gameological Society]


    So true for all creative fields. Design by committee just doesn't work- it' all compromise and lowest common denominator stuff.
    Now if only the beancounters/ managers/ shareholders would LET you have creative freedom...

    I have better advice fr developers. Stay out of your own forums :)

      Ah yes, you must be one of those beancounters with no imagination.
      "change it so it fits in the box!"

    That very closely reflects what Jon Blow said in IG:TM about sharp edges.

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