Ron Gilbert and Clayton Kauzlaric on picking pirates over zombies with Scurvy Scallywags

Gilbert: 'Free-to-play is destroying game design'

Ron Gilbert and Clayton Kauzlaric on picking pirates over zombies with Scurvy Scallywags

The latest creation of legendary Monkey Island architect Ron Gilbert and his co-conspirator Clayton Kauzlaric is Scurvy Scallywags.

Or Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG, to give it its full, and ridiculously long, name.

As that mouthful of a moniker might indicate, Scurvy Scallywags is a match-three puzzler. In the game, you move a sea scoundrel around a specially designed game board by - naturally - matching three of more similarly themed tiles.

Your aim is to nab treasures, battle other grog-swilling pirates, and find the lost verses of the greatest sea shanty ever written.

We recently got a chance to chat with Gilbert and Kauzlaric about Scurvy Scallywags, point-and-click adventures, and pirates. Here's what they said...

Pocket Gamer: Ron - you recently left Double Fine, and now you're involved in mobile gaming again. Why the change?

Ron Gilbert (RG): There is an old saying among writers that goes "write what you know". For game designers, it's design what you play.

I find that I spend 90 percent of my time playing mobile games. This field is something that has interested me for the past few years. I also love to program, and this gives me a chance to do that.

Did any of the lessons that you learnt from The Big Big Castle! inform the development of Scurvy Scallywags?

Clayton Kauzlaric (CK): I think the experience of making an iPad-only game showed us the value of going Universal.

The design for The Big Big Castle! was already pretty far down the road before we started thinking about it [developing a Universal build] seriously. But we didn't want to just shoehorn it onto the iPhone.

With Scurvy Scallywags, we spent a lot of time figuring out a really seamless cross-device setup. We played the game every day on both iOS devices to make sure it felt right.

Scurvy Scallywags The iPad is basically the ultimate point-and-click adventure machine, right? Will we ever see a mobile point-and-click from you, Ron?

RG: I think I'm going to save all my adventure game mojo for the unlikely event that I get the IP to Monkey Island back and can make Monkey Island 3a.

I'm trying to get in contact with the Devil as we speak. One soul. Slightly used.

Match-three games are often seen as ideal for "casual" gamers. In what ways, if any, have you tried to court more hardcore gamers with Scurvy Scallywag?

CK: Scurvy Scallywags is a pretty deep game. Putting the player's character and enemies directly on the board leads to interesting strategic decisions. Plus, it gets more intense as you gain levels.

When you mix in all the stats, skills, and buffs (from pirate costumes, shipbuilding, and quests), it's a big game. We were insane to make it.

Ron - you're really going to be typecast as "the pirate guy" with this, you realise, right? Did you consider any other themes before you settled on pirates?

RG: Clayton and I considered a lot of different themes. The game started out as a romance-themed match-three where you tried to find your true love.

We then went through several themes before we landed on pirates. I'm embarrassed to say we briefly considered zombies.

CK: Yeah. I think we also kicked around the idea of 1930s gangsters and fantasy.

Scurvy Scallywags What payment model have you chosen for Scurvy Scallywags, and why?

RG: The game is premium, not free-to-play. Free-to-play is destroying game design.

There are in-app purchases for people who are impatient, but we've tuned the game to be completely playable and fun without the need for forking out for IAPs. That was a major design goal.

Scurvy Scallywags will surface on the App Store in a week or two.