I have been – to put it lightly – bothered by the fact that Ron Gilbert’s The Cave only has seven playable characters. Six or nine, you see, would make each playthrough nice and clean – no character overlap. But seven? That’s messy. I’ll get juicy character development and thick, fibrous hunks of plot thread all over my shoes as I wade through The Cave’s murky depths. It’ll be gross. But why? What diabolical plan could Gilbert possibly have in store that would warrant such numerical absurdity? During PAX, I asked him about it, and he explained to me the grisly fates of two characters that didn’t make the cut – as well as why he kind of really doesn’t like DLC.
“I think there’s always stuff left on the cutting room floor,” Gilbert told RPS. “As a designer, I tend to design big. I tend to over-design. And then, as the project goes on, I start pulling stuff out.”
“I mean, there were two whole characters who never made it into the final game – just because they weren’t quite as strong, and there were time constraints. Their backstories weren’t really coming together, and we really only had enough time to do seven characters. So they had weaker backstories, and the stuff we’d been putting into the cave for them was just – on some level – maybe more complicated than we wanted to take on at the time.”
“So yeah, there’s a lot of interesting stuff that – if we had, like, five years to make the game – probably would’ve gotten in. But that’s part of the creative process to me. I don’t look at it as a bad thing. But yes, if they were in, it’d be three groups of three.”
The Internet, however, has rendered the cutting room floor something of a revolving door – which makes walking kind of terrifying, but also gives us plenty of DLC that couldn’t quite make it into games’ “final” release versions. Somewhat surprisingly, though, Gilbert’s not really feeling the idea of putting his personal Humpty Dumpty back together again.
“I’m kinda not a big fan of DLC. It’s not something I really like a lot. It’s nothing that we’ve ever planned for The Cave – doing DLC or anything like that. But, that said, the natural thing would be to add more characters if we were to ever do anything like that.”
Granted, that’s not the kind of statement you hear industry luminaries making very often these days. And though Gilbert’s a bit of an old-fashioned guy at heart, he makes a pretty convincing case.
“I think DLC works for certain types of games,” he explained. “If I’m playing a first-person shooter, being able to buy map packs is fine. But the issue I have with a lot of DLC is more of a marketing thing. The whole game is planned out – including all the DLC. And for the most part, the developers are working on the DLC at the same time as the rest of the game. And then, it’s just more of this marketing thing to want to pull the DLC out and sell it separately. And I’m just more like, ‘No, make the game you should be making.’ That should be the game. And then, if there’s something extra you can do that really dovetails into it nicely – like map packs – then do DLC. But pre-planning it all and then acting like it’s new – that’s my problem with DLC.”
So probably don’t expect any DLC for The Cave, then. Oh well. No Hillbilly armor for me.