Archive: Ron Gilbert’s early design documents for Maniac Mansion

Ron Gilbert, formerly game designer at Lucasfilm Games and co-creator of The Secret of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, found and published some early design documents.

He writes: “If this document (and the Monkey Island Design Notes) say anything, it’s how much ideas change from initial concept to finished game. And that’s a good thing. Never be afraid to change your ideas. Refine and edit. If your finished game looks just like your initial idea, then you haven’t pushed and challenged yourself hard enough.”

Read the whole document at

Adventure game “The Last of Us” becomes a live theatre play

Adventure game “The Last of Us” will be coming to a new format next week: the theater. I wonder what Brenda Laurel would say.

Polygon writes: “To commemorate the launch of The Last of Us Remastered, a live theatrical performance called The Last of Us: One Night Live will consist of a live reading of selected scenes from the game from actors Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, Merle Dandridge, Hana Hayes and Annie Wersching. It will be performed under the direction of creative director and writer Neil Druckmann from Naughty Dog”.

Read the full article at

With thanks to Giovanni Caruso and Patrick Coppock for sharing this in the first place.

PhD Thesis: Modes of Play, A Frame Analytic Account of Video Game Play (S. Deterding)

Sebastian Deterding is an influential game scholar, especially known for one of the most accepted definitions of “gamification”. Here is the freely-available PDF file of his PhD thesis. From the abstract: “This thesis developed and empirically applied a frame analytic theory of video gaming. It combined Erving Goffman’s frame analysis with ecological psychology and theories of situated action. Frames were modelled as socio-material nexuses of actors, actions, communications, objects, settings, and events that stabilise their re-occurrence as types of situations across time and space, and framings as situated activity systems that organise both covert perception, understanding, and experience and overt action, communication, and events as reproducing-and-changing a frame”.

The full text is available for free at

Thanks to Enrico Gandolfi for sharing it with me in the first place.

Article: Text Games in a New Era for Stories

“Interactive fiction, which once went by the name «text adventure» is having a moment”, writes Chris Suellentrop on the New York Times. “A more novel, even radical, form of digital storytelling with text arrived last month on the iPad in the form of Blood & Laurels by Emily Short, an author of interactive fiction. […] Blood & Laurels made me feel more like an improviser than a reader, someone who was asked to perform a role in a troupe, responding to the unpredictable decisions of my fellow actors, who in turn had to adjust to my decisions.”

Read the full article at

Thanks to Patrick Coppock for sharing this link in the first place

Article: New Algorithm Finds the Most Beautiful Route for GPS Navigation

The way we navigate in cities has been revolutionized in the last few years by the advent of GPS mapping programs. Enter your start and end location and these will give you the shortest route from A to B.

That’s usually the best bet when driving, but walking is a different matter. Often, pedestrians want the quietest route or the most beautiful but if they turn to a mapping application, they’ll get little help.

That could change now thanks to the work of Daniele Quercia at Yahoo Labs in Barcelona, Spain, and a couple of pals. These guys have worked out how to measure the “beauty” of specific locations within cities and then designed an algorithm that automatically chooses a route between two locations in a way that maximizes the beauty along it. “The goal of this work is to automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant,” they say.

Read the full article at

Thanks to Scott Mainwaring for sharing this in the first place.

Article: Exploring freedom in games

Celebrating the 4th of July, Tim Turi of has curated a short list of video games that express the concept of freedom. His analysis is brief, but the list (from Ultima VII: The Black Gate to Assassin’s Creed) could be an interesting point to start a broader study.

Read it at

Thanks to Roberto Di Letizia for sharing that link.