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Interview with David Fox

David Fox, one of the mainstays of the LucasArts adventure games, can be considered responsible for what's the particular style of those games. We could chat with him about the genre and his experience at Skywalker Ranch, as you're about to read.

# By Paco García |

Interview with David Fox

Also, I set out to make the game feel much broader than MM - after all, I had spent months stuck in that mansion programming the game. I wanted to see the world, and take the audience along with me.

AyC: After Zak McKracken, you sided with Ron Gilbert and Noah Falstein to make an adventure based upon the third film of the Indiana Jones trilogy. How does one carry out with the task of transferring the script of a film to an interactive one intended for a game?

DF:In some ways, this was harder than coming up with an original story. We were limited by what we could do - everyone knew who Indy was, and if we made him say or do something out of character, it wouldn’t work. We assumed that 90% of the people playing the game would have already seen the film, so we didn’t want to do just a rehash of the film’s plot. We thought of the places in the film where we could expand the story (kind of like the Special Features we now get on DVDs showing the outtakes and deleted scenes).

We worked from the shooting script, and in fact, some scenes in the script showed up in the game that were eventually cut from the film (for example, an extended scene in the zeppelin with the radio operator).

I think what we ended up with was very successful. People felt the game really complemented the film.

AyC: We know there was some controversy between Falstein and Gilbert about the ending of Indy 3. In teams such as that, I take it is necessary to reach an agreement on how to continue when there are any discrepancies. You have always worked along with other scriptwriters and designers in your adventure games, so how to come to an understanding? How to convince your mate your idea is better than his (or vice-versa)?

DF:In the case of the ending, Noah wanted something fairly serious that matched the tone of the film. Ron wanted something irreverent and off-the-wall. I liked both endings, so came up with the solution to put both in the game, and use a random number selector to determine which one would be played.

Having three people made it pretty easy since one of us tended to be neutral, or maybe side with one or the other. But since we all very much respected each other’s design sense, the discussions (though sometimes intense) were never uncomfortable. We’d just debate the different options until we could win the others over.

In the case of Maniac or Zak, there was one person who was the "keeper of the vision" – Ron in Maniac, and me in Zak. We’d always have the final say on a controversy, though we were open to be convinced otherwise. And these discussions were often where some of the best ideas came from.

AyC: You worked in some of the best (if not the best themselves) adventures of all time, so you surely know some of the secrets that made LucasArts’ adventures the most appealing ever. The brainstormings you held in those times in LucasArts produced for sure some of the ‘magic spells’ from the book of the company. What were these meetings like? Do you remember any of them specially?

DF:These brainstorming sessions were probably my favourite memories of being at LucasArts. We’d fill the room with 4-8 designers, and one person would lead the discussion. Any idea was fairplay, and we’d often get off onto pretty funny tangents (many of which we knew couldn’t be used, but were fun to think about). I don’t have any specific memories - just the strong sense of the creative energy in the room.

AyC: After Indy3, you took part in one of the most emblematic adventures, if not the biggest myth in the genre: The Secret of Monkey Island. Although it is well known that you, Dave Grossman and Ron Gilbert are the only ‘connoisseurs’ of that secret, we will resist the temptation of asking you so trite a question. Instead, we would want to make a different inquiry: apart from the humour, the exciting story and the perfect design, there was also something behind the game that made it irresistible for players. Some say it is because of its charisma, others think it is simply because of the LucasArts seal. We don’t accept any of these theories, so we just want to ask you: what is THAT ‘Secret of Monkey Island’?

DF:I had very little to do with this game. Ron was the project leader, and both Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer were onboard as junior game designers. They did much of the scripting in the game. The core of the humour is definitely Ron’s, but Dave and Tim quickly picked up on his style. So, the secret? Brilliant designers!

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