Thimbleweed Park is Ron Gilbert’s attempt to create a game that looks like it was transported straight from the glory age of Lucasarts graphic adventures to the present day, without a single visual tweak. It’s a project I’m very excited about. But it’s a complicated story and a complicated video game. It’s so complicated it can only be explained using a flowchart.
Because much like Maniac Mansion, which featured multiple different protagonists doing different things, Thimbleweed Park is going to feature more than one main character that you can switch between throughout the game. Unlike Maniac Mansion, which allowed you to select different characters at the beginning of the game, Thimbleweed Park has five playable characters that you don’t get to choose. They simply exist in the game and you can switch between them at any time.
This is tricky, because Ron and his partner Gary Winnick want to tell a cohesive, unalterable story using this technique, which sounds super tricky. It’s also tricky to explain how it’s all going to work.
In Ron’s words…
The main story is broken up into 3 acts, with the final act triggering the ending of the main story. Blowing up the Death Star was act 3, the medal ceremony was the ending, to put it in globally understood Star Wars terms.
Each of the 5 characters have their own sub-stories consisting of 3 acts. Character first acts are told through the flashback, the character’s second act is required as the puzzles are intertwined with the main story’s second act, but the character’s 3rd act is optional. You can choose to play them or not.
Also, the acts are not linear, you will have to switch to other characters to complete puzzles, so it’s not like players will be able to play all of Deloris, then switch to Franklin and play all of his story. Like any good adventure game or story, it’s all intertwined, related and connected.
When the main story ends, there will be a satisfying ending, discovery of the killer, justice, closure and all that, but you can keep playing. If you haven’t completed all the character stories, you can go back and do those. Once they are all done, you will move into a small playable epilogue that ties everything together.
Nah, not really. Hence the flowchart:
I’m not going to bother trying to get my head around the whole endeavour. I’m simply going to trust that the whole thing will work while I play. I’m going to just go with the flow(chart) and enjoy the game itself, which continues to sound awesome.