Douglas Crockford

(Directory of Technology for Maniac Mansion)
Interviewed by RoyalRanger

When did you start working for LucasArts?

In the fall of 1984.

What kind of work did you do there?

I was Director of Technology.

Did LucasArts produce, or attempt to produce, any other NES games, besides Maniac Mansion, that you know of? If so, did you work on any of them?

MM was the first and only, at least while I was there.

So... do you happen to have any idea of what motivated LucasArts to produce NES games in the first place?

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Did you do any of the programming or graphics for Maniac Mansion?

No.

When converting the game from the PC to NES, did the storyline change at all, or was that kept the same?

We struggled to make it as similar as possible to the original. All of the art had to be redesigned from scratch because of limitations in NES graphics. Some of the content had to be modified because of censorship.

In order to convert the game from the PC to the NES, you would have needed a NES development kit, correct?

Not necessarily.

Did this require the code to be reprogrammed, or was it at all possible to convert any of the same code from the PC version to the NES version?

Much of the game was implemented in scripts of a language called SCUMM. We were able to reuse the scripts. Everything else had to be rewritten.

I know the artwork had to be totally redesigned to work on the NES. How difficult was this process?

Really, really difficult. Harrison Fong did a brilliant job on the art.

I love the soundtrack to Maniac Mansion. Was the music the same from the original PC version, or was that redone as well?

The original only had the title theme. All of the other music was composed for the NES version. I especially liked the talk show theme.

Altogether, how long did the entire conversion process take?

Longer than I can remember. It was a big project.

Of the many companies that could have released Maniac Mansion, why Jaleco?

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Was Maniac Mansion released in any other country besides the US?

There was a completely different version that was made in Japan under license.

Many classic gamers, including myself, seem to love Maniac Mansion to this day. Did the game become a success as soon as it was released, or did it take a little time before it rose in popularity?

I don't think the game was ever as popular as it should have been, perhaps because it required literacy.

I know LucasArts released a PC sequel to Maniac Mansion later on, but from what I heard, it had nothing to do with the original, which I found pretty surprising. Were you involved at all in this sequel?

I had left Lucasfilm by then. It used many of the original characters and settings. Also, somewhere in the game there is a PC. If you turn it on, you can play the original MM on it.

I'm a little surprised another sequel was never made for NES, or even a later system. Did LucasArts ever plan to make a sequel of the kind?

If it had been a hit, I'm sure they would have.

I've heard rumors that a Maniac Mansion game is in development for the PS2, but I haven't been able to find anything about it, or even facts to back the rumor up. Do you know anything about that?

No.

That's all I have. I'd like to thank you for agreeing to take this interview and allowing me to reprint your article, "The Expurgation of Maniac Mansion for the Nintendo Entertainment System", on the site. I appreciate it very much.