A prototype Thimbleweed Park engine rewrite by Ron Gilbert has turned into a spin-off adventure starring Delores, and you can play it right now for free.
People get a bit obsessed with productivity during lockdown, don’t they? If you’re not learning to bake or play a new instrument or setting up some money-making side hustle, you’re just not isolating right, in some people’s eyes. And if you don’t keep up with your language lessons, the Duolingo owl will come for you, social distancing be damned.
Ron Gilbert, the legendary adventure game developer, has been passing the time by working on the Thimbleweed Park engine. For no reason in particular, other than he has a lot of time on his hands, he can, and he might make some improvements and learn a few things for future adventure games.
“Different people deal with isolation, fear, social distancing and hoarding toilet paper differently,” begins Gilbert, in a blog post on his website titled What I did during the pandemic.
“I built a game,” he continues. “It helped keep me sane.”
“As I mentioned back in March, I began rewriting the Thimbleweed Park engine with no real goal in mind, it just seemed like something to do and I had a few ideas about UI I wanted to explore.”
Gilbert was passing the time by noodling with Thimbleweed Park, and before long, realised he was working on something good. Something worth playing. Something he wanted to take more seriously and share with others.
“What began as a way to waste time, turned into a fun little game prototype,” Gilbert says. “A little over a month ago David Fox came on, then Robert, Katerina, and Octavi jumped on to help. The game was built almost entirely from existing art, sounds and music from Thimbleweed Park, more of a remixing into a new game that can be seen as an addendum to Thimbleweed Park.”
“It is not a sequel,” he seems keen to stress, it’s just “a strange little game for the strange and stressful times we find ourselves in.”
(Is Gilbert giving us hope of a proper Thimbleweed sequel, then? We’ve no idea. But the fact he’s working on the engine is a positive sign.)