SCUMM and villainy, sorry, time

My fact of the day appears to be that time itself started on Monkey Island. In his Games and Culture paper Michael Black argues that one of the key innovations Ron Gibert introduced with the graphical adventure game Secret of Monkey Island, was a “sense of temporal narrativity.” It was pretty basic of course, and as Black reveals its a clever illusion create by manipulating the SCUMM engine’s spatial structure, but it was a major narrative improvement on the text adventures that preceded it.

I am by no means a computer gamer, and I’ve only experienced a few games, but Monkey Island and its sequel were two that I did, all-be-it over the shoulders of the couple I was rooming with at the time, as they played on their Amiga. (Though using the monkey as wrench was MY idea.) I remember being impressed, and I recall them borrowing my Mac (at that time the only machine connected to the net), to email Ron Gilbert and tell him how much they loved the game.

A modern day equivalent of SCUMM is Bethdesa’s Radiant story engine, which means, after many recommendations, the Skyrim is the next game narrative I will study.

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