Article Lead Image

‘Manic Mansion’ creator reveals the classic game’s design secrets

These are like Maniac Masion's baby pictures. 


Dennis Scimeca

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 23, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 10:06 pm CDT

Fans of the storied adventure game Maniac Mansion, and anyone curious about game design, were given a treat yesterday when game developer Ron Gilbert posted the pitch document for Maniac Mansion on his blog.

Maniac Mansion is one of the legendary LucasArts adventure games released between 1986 and 2000. It was the origin of the SCUMM engine, the Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion, which is considered one of the best game engines ever created, and was regularly updated to power LucasArts adventure games until 1997.

Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick are the creators of Maniac Mansion, and as such, Gilbert is one of the fathers of the entire adventure game genre. His influence is felt today in the success of studios like Double Fine Productions and Telltale Games. Maniac Mansion was the game that made Gilbert’s reputation.

The pitch document for Maniac Mansion is effectively a design doc, the guiding document that sets forth the aims and basic construction of a game. Fans of the wacky adventure game will love the concept art.

Concept art for Maniac Mansion

Concept art for Maniac Mansion by Ron Gilbert via

“If this document (and the Monkey Island Design Notes) say anything, it’s how much ideas change from initial concept to finished game,” said Gilbert in the blog post about the pitch document. “And that’s a good thing. Never be afraid to change your ideas. Refine and edit. If your finished game looks just like your initial idea, then you haven’t pushed and challenged yourself hard enough.”

Image via Syntactus/YouTube

Share this article
*First Published: Jul 23, 2014, 8:50 am CDT