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Tales of Monkey Island: Why It Isn't 2D


Sorry. I've talked about Tales of Monkey Island plenty and there's more to come. I admit, I love this series of games and I want to see people playing it, so I'm doing everything I can to keep people informed about it in my own small way. It's true. I'm a bit of a fanboy when it comes to these things - but things I have said before, like the fact that the visuals will be polished up quite a bit since E3 are clearly borne out in these new screenshots, so I like to think that I'm a realistic and honest fanboy, at least.

One of the most common negative things I hear about the game around the internet is people saying how it should be in 2D. There are reasons for this: the first three games were 2D and 1997's Curse of Monkey Island was beautiful for it. By contrast, the 3D (with pre-rendered backgrounds) Escape from Monkey Island was ugly as sin, and people don't want to be reminded of that (even though this new 3D style is actually closer to the art direction of Curse than Escape).

Curse of Monkey Island

I understand the desire for a 2D game - really, I do. But let's look at the practicalities involved. For cinematic moments each frame of animation would need to be individually drawn, a time consuming process. Even if this would be possible for Telltale to do under their business/production model of ~6 months initial development time followed by monthly releases while working on three episodes at a time, it would be limiting.

With 3D, if they want to create a cinematic moment, they can do so just by placing a camera and getting their animator to move the characters around, enabling them to create very dynamic scenes at any point in the gameplay. With 2D the best they would be able to muster is a few bespoke animations here and there when particular situations demand it, and some pre-animated cutscenes - but I have my doubts that even this is practical under their working schedule.

Escape from Monkey Island

So, the choice is: cheaper, faster to produce graphics that are arguably much more flexible and versatile to work with OR more expensive, time consuming graphics which arguably might look prettier. It's easy to see why they went with the first option, particularly since they already have a 3D engine and artists/animators geared up to work in 3D.

In conclusion, sure, it would be nice to see a brand new 2D Monkey Island game from Telltale. In the same way, it'd be nice if everything I touched turned into money, too - but a) it's not something I can reasonably expect to happen and b) even if it did, there are plenty of disadvantages, too, so why waste time thinking about it? To my eyes, Telltale are doing a fantastic job with what they've got.

Tales of Monkey Island
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About KestrelPione of us since 4:37 AM on 07.16.2008

Age: 30
Location: S.E. London, UK
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