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In the second part of our interview with Double Fine‘s Tim Schafer (the first part is here), we get to talking about the nature of the adventure game, and reflect on some of Schafer’s defining classics from the 90s, Day Of The Tentacle, Full Throttle and Grim Fandango, to consider what lessons they offer for today, the reasons for avoiding 3D altogether, and I almost trick him into making a sequel to Day Of The Tentacle.>
Industry legend Tim “Industry Legend” Schafer has been at the front of gaming news for the last couple of weeks. After the twitterstorm that followed Notch’s somewhat speculative offer to fund Psychonauts 2 came the record-breaking Kickstarter project, that saw Schafer’s company, Double Fine, raise over $2 million in a fortnight. I spoke to him over the weekend to find out how the process has been, what the intentions are for a new 2D adventure, to reflect on the classic adventures of the 90s, and to see if there were any other dream projects he has left. In the first part of this two-part interview we discuss the reactions to the Kickstarter, the role dads play in playing adventures, and where things are with Psychonauts 2. Tomorrow we’ll go into the lessons learned from Schafer’s previous adventures, memories of Day Of The Tentacle, Full Throttle and Grim Fandango, and how that will affect design today.>
The Psychonauts soundtrack was composed by Double Fine mainstay-maestro Peter McConnell. While no soundtrack may ever replace McConnell's own Grim Fandango in my heart, this one perhaps demonstrates his depth to an even greater degree.
For all of its Danny Elfman-ish flourishes, psychedelic country guitars, and emotionally charged Spanish bullfighting music, the theme that plays whenever Raz goes to Agent Cruller's HQ is my favorite.
It crept up on me, the slowly building horns, the choir, that noble melody... and the single chord change that lifts things ever so slightly… yeah.
It felt like a good first "Listen Here" for Kotaku Melodic. If ever you need to get in the mood to mete out some justice, this piece is a good place to start.
Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson gained a lot of attention for his offer to chip in personal funds towards Psychonauts 2. The internet responded the way you'd expect for a dormant, cult-hit property, so Persson has taken to his blog to set reasonable expectations.
He says that he and Tim Schafer have only exchanged "a couple of e-mails" and might meet at the upcoming Game Developers Conference. He says that the budget for the game is three times higher than he though, and Double Fine will most likely be busy with its Kickstarter project for a while anyway.
"I would not be investing in this as a charity," he says. "It would be because I think the game would be profitable. And naturally, I wouldn't want to have any creative input in the game. It would be purely a high risk investment in a project I believe in." He also points out that other investors have expressed interest.
Persson says that this kind of investment would require a lot of discussion, but he says he has advisers to help him with that aspect. "All I know is that IF the numbers work out and IF they still want to do it and IF they don't decide to self fund a sequel by doing more crowd funding (which is honestly what I would've done if I were them), I would be most interested in doing this type of investment."
He says his reasons for setting more realistic expectations is that he's "incredibly scared of the very real risk of people feeling let down just because I took a chance at something that doesn't end panning out." He jokes that if the deal doesn't work, he'll "just go into hiding for a few years."
Even if the investment is higher than expected, Persson seemed unphased by the dollar amount as of a few days ago. He said he "can do" $13 million if necessary. Whether this is ultimately determined as profitable, though, is unclear -- and with Double Fine focused on its adventure game, we might not know for quite a while.
Minecraft maker Notch has downplayed his potential funding of Psychonauts 2.
Notch set the internet alight after offered to fund the game in a tweet to Double Fine boss Tim Schafer.
Schafer later said it would cost at least $13 million to make the game, to which Notch apparently replied: "I can do that."
But now it appears as if Notch isn't sure the game's a goer.
In a blog post titled "Hype" the Mojang chief said Schafer's development budget estimation was three times higher than he expected.
"Tim and I haven't spoken much at all other than a couple of emails," he said. "We mentioned meeting at GDC, I hope that will happen. I assume Double Fine will be very busy for many months with the Kickstarter project.
"The budget for doing a Psychonauts 2 is three times higher than my initial impression. A couple of other parties have mentioned also being interested in investing in it. I would not be investing in this as a charity. It would be because I think the game would be profitable. And naturally, I wouldn't want to have any creative input in the game. It would be purely a high risk investment in a project I believe in."
Notch's mention of the Kickstarter project is in reference to Double Fine's hugely successful crowd-sourcing of funding for an adventure game.
Schafer raised $1 million in a day after setting a $400,000 target on Kickstarter. The total raised is now approaching $2 million.
This game, Notch believes, is of higher priority than any Psychonauts sequel.
"I have NO idea if this is actually going to happen," he said. "The Kickstarter stuff obviously changes the playing field a lot. Investing that incredibly high amount of money also requires a lot of planning and discussion, and I've never done anything like that before, but I do have contacts and advisors to help me out.
"All I know is that IF the numbers work out and IF they still want to do it and IF they don't decide to self-fund a sequel by doing more crowd-funding (which is honestly what I would've done if I were them), I would be most interested in doing this type of investment."
Notch called for calm: "Point is, stop hyping over this, internet! You're going to scare me into doing things secretly instead of being open and transparent via Twitter. I am incredibly scared of the very real risk of people feeling let down just because I took a chance at something that doesn't end up panning out.
"Also, I realize you won't stop hyping, so I'll just go into hiding for a few years if it falls through."
A Tweeted offer to back a sequel to Tim Schafer's cult favorite Psychonauts was "a semi-joke," said Markus "Notch" Persson, the creator of Minecraft and a guy who's not hard up for cash in light of that game's success. Notch rattled off a host of reasons why we shouldn't get our hopes up, especially the cost of the project.
"The budget for doing a Psychonauts 2 is three times higher than my initial impression, Notch wrote on his personal blog today in a post titled "Hype!" He also assumes (rightly, one thinks) that Schafer's Double Fine studio will be tied up with the Kickstarter project, which has raised $1.8 million in about a week.
"Tim and I haven't spoken much at all other than a couple of emails," Notch wrote. Also "a couple of other parties have mentioned also being interested in investing in it."
In one of those conversations, Schafer told Kotaku that he informed Notch the original Psychonauts budget was $13 million. It released in 2005. "I was like, 'I don't think you can make [it] for a million dollars,'" Schafer says he told Notch. Yet, "as soon as I mentioned the amount of money he said, 'Yeah, I can do that.'"
Evidently that figure moved up to about $40 million. That's not to say Notch hasn't seriously thought about it—he has, to the extent that he would be very specific about his reasons for doing so. "I would not be investing in this as a charity. It would be because I think the game would be profitable," he said. "And naturally, I wouldn't want to have any creative input in the game. It would be purely a high-risk investment in a project I believe in.
"All I know is that IF the numbers work out and IF they still want to do it and IF they don't decide to self fund a sequel by doing more crowd funding (which is honestly what I would've done if I were them), I would be most interested in doing this type of investment," he said.
Hype! [The Word of Notch]
Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson is able to match Tim Schafer's $13 million Psychonauts 2 development budget valuation.
"I can do that," he told the Double Fine boss.
"I was like, 'I don't think you can make [it] for a million dollars'," Schafer told Kotaku.
"The original game was, I think, $13 million, I think you have to match the original game.
"As soon as I mentioned the amount of money he said, 'Yeah, I can do that.'"
It's unclear whether Notch is willing to invest the $13 million from his own bulging bank account or contribute a certain amount before helping raise investment from elsewhere.
Notch's millions were made off the back of the phenomenal success of sandbox creation game Minecraft.
At the time of publication, over 22 million people had registered to play and just shy of five million people bought the game.
Last week Notch shocked the gaming world and Schafer himself when he said on his Twitter page that he was willing to personally fund a sequel to Double Fine's cult classic Psychonauts.
Double Fine head Tim Schafer has continually stated he would like to develop a second Psychonauts game, but has been unable to secure publisher-funding to back the project.
"Let's make Psychonauts 2 happen," Notch tweeted to Schafer.
"Also, I'm serious."
Psychonauts was first released in 2005 to positive reviews but disappointing sales. Double Fine recovered the rights to the game's publishing proceeds last year. Since then, the digital PC version has been seen a substantial update via Steam, and a new Mac version has been launched.