Maniac Mansion was 310K. The entire game. Zak was on two sides of a disk, so it's probably in the same range - maybe 350k. I'm probably really good at Twitter, because we had to do text in 80 characters. Two lines of 40 characters each – that had to be funny. So everything was in shorthand. You couldn’t do much with the graphics, so it all had to be suggested. It was like doing a little puppet show. The little guy smiles, you turn this way and that way, and it worked. People maybe used their imaginations more to fill in the parts that were funny.
Constraints and limitations are a really powerful creative motivator," says Ron. "Sometimes if you remove constraints and limitations, you end up wrecking what you're trying to create. Just because you have too much money or too much technology. I felt, with those early games, especially Maniac Mansion, we were so constrained that we had to make really smart choices on stuff. I think that's a benefit."
"The fact that we couldn't use Star Wars was a constraint," says Chip. "It generated a lot of creativity."
"I think of that as an anti-constraint," exclaims Peter.
"If we could have done Star Wars that's all we would have done," says Ron, "That's all we would have made."
"The whole interface for Maniac Mansion came from David. He experimented a little bit with that kind of stuff in Labyrinth, where you could choose things. I hated playing text adventures, where I had to type everything. I just hated that. So it was about coming up with an interface where I could point at the words. Again, it was reducing that verb set, picking from this small set of verbs and small set of nouns and simplifying that."
"You didn't have to guess what word they were looking for," says Chip.
"Yeah," says Ron. "You would just point at the thing or touch the thing."
"You knew what the universe of possibilities was," says Peter.
Chip continues, "The other thing that was really innovative in Maniac Mansion was the fact that you were controlling three different characters and switching back and forth, which was something I'd never seen before."
"That was an insane thing to try to do," says Ron.
"And it was great," says Chip.