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Ron Gilbert (1964)

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  Summary  

Ron Gilbert is an American computer game designer, programmer, and producer, best known for his work on several classic LucasArts adventure games, including Maniac Mansion and the first two Monkey Island games. Gilbert was also co-founder of Humongous Entertainment and its sister company Cavedog Entertainment. His games are generally focused on interactive storytelling. Additionally, Ron founded Hulabee Entertainment with Shelley Day after leaving Humongous Entertainment. He was Creative Director at Vancouver-based Hothead Games development studio. He is currently working at Double Fine Productions, with former LucasArts writer/programmer/designer Tim Schafer.

  Biography  

 early life
Ron Gilbert was born in La Grande, Oregon, United States in January 1964. He is the son of David E. Gilbert, a physics professor and former president of Eastern Oregon University .

He became interested in games when he was 13 years old thanks to a Texas Instruments TI-59 programmable calculator his father used to bring home. That calculator included a simple game in which the player had to guess the location of a battleship by entering the coordinates and the calculator would answer if the player was high or low. But it wasn't the game itself what captured Ron's attention as much as how this simple calculator was capable of making decisions and reacting to his choices.

Another thing that made him approach the gaming world was a film, Star Wars . The combination of programming technology, which allowed gamers to interact with characters and situations, mixed with his love for telling stories, like that of the aforementioned film, were the main reasons that made him start making games.

The impact of Star Wars and his love for telling stories was so big that Ron Gilbert, at the age of 14, and his good friend Tom McFarlane made a couple of films on a Super-8 camera.

The first film they shot in 1978 was Stars Blasters; it was directed by Ron Gilbert and acted by friends Tom McFarlane and Frank Lang. In 1979 they filmed another movie, Tomorrow Never Came, acted by Ron Gilbert, Tom McFarlane; it was also directed by Ron Gilbert.

In 1979 his parents purchased a NorthStar Horizon home computer. At the age of 15, he took his first steps in game programming. He used to study and analyze games for hours; capturing in his mind every frame of the layout of games like Donkey Kong, Pacman, Asteroids, Space Invaders or Robotron: 2084; taking notes of every detail and then trying to replicate them on his computer. Once the games were replicated he would start doing experiments with them, adding changes. He also used to look at Atari 2600 games' advertisements in magazines, then imagined what the game was like to play and tried to make them on his computer. Once the games were finished he used to bring his friends home to test the games and tell him what did they like or did not like.

 career
Gilbert began his professional career in 1983 while he was still a college student by writing a program named Graphics Basic with Tom McFarlane. They sold the program to a San Francisco Bay Area company named HESware, which later offered Gilbert a job. He spent about half a year at HESware, programming action games for the Commodore 64 . None of them were ever released; the company went out of business. Shortly thereafter, Gilbert joined Lucasfilm Games, which later became LucasArts. There he earned his living by doing C64 ports of Lucasfilm Atari 800 games.

In 1985 he got the opportunity to co-develop his own game for LucasArts together with graphics artist Gary Winnick. Maniac Mansion was about a dark Victorian mansion populated by a mad scientist, his family and strange aliens.

Gilbert created a scripting language that was named after the project it had been written for, the Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion, better known as SCUMM. The technology was used in all subsequent LucasArts adventure games, with the exception of Grim Fandango and Escape From Monkey Island. Despite being an internal production tool, the SCUMM acronym became well known to gamers since a location in The Secret of Monkey Island, the SCUMM Bar, was named after it.

Gilbert created many successful adventure games at LucasArts, including the classic The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. In 1992, he left the company to start Humongous Entertainment with LucasArts producer Shelley Day.

While at Humongous Entertainment, Gilbert was responsible for games such as Putt-Putt, Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam and the Backyard Sports series. Many of these games continued to use an offshoot of the SCUMM engine. In 1995, Gilbert founded Cavedog Entertainment, Humongous' sister company for non-kids games.

While at Cavedog, Gilbert was the producer of Total Annihilation and worked on a game called Good & Evil. Widely regarded as his pet project, Good & Evil was said to incorporate many different themes and gameplay styles. The game was previewed by several publications, but the project was cancelled when Cavedog closed down in 1999. In an interview with GameSpot conducted a while after Cavedog's shut-down, Gilbert said the Good & Evil project had suffered due to him trying to design a game and run a company at the same time.

As of 2005, Ron Gilbert was independently designing an unspecified new adventure/RPG game, which he was pitching to publishers. He also started a blog called Grumpy Gamer offering game industry commentary, occasionally in the form of animated cartoons that he created with Voodoo Vince designer Clayton Kauzlaric.

In January 2007, Gilbert created an exclusively Monkey Island themed guild on the World of Warcraft server Quel'Dorei, under the name Threepwood.

In May 2007, Gilbert began to collaborate with Hothead Games on Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, a game based on the webcomic Penny Arcade.

In January 2008, he joined Hothead Games as Creative Director, with whom he was developing DeathSpank, an adventure/RPG game.

Although still working at Hothead Games, Gilbert contributed to the design for Telltale Games' Tales of Monkey Island, taking part in the brainstorming process early in the development of the game. The episodic fifth entry in the Monkey Island series marked the first time Gilbert worked on a Monkey Island game since 1991's LeChuck's Revenge.


He was chosen to be the Keynote Speaker for Penny Arcade Expo for 2009.

On April 6, 2010, on his blog he announced that he left Hothead Games. He will continue to promote DeathSpank with Electronic Arts.

On September 27, 2010, it was revealed through Kotaku that Gilbert had been hired by fellow former LucasArts game designer Tim Schafer, to work at Schafer's own Double Fine Productions. While it has not yet been announced what game Gilbert is working on, he has said that it will be "an entirely new concept" and that "fans of those old adventure games will like it".

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Ron Gilbert", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.