Amnesia Fortnight is how Double Fine turns creative people into games—everyone on staff is hit on the head with a brick or some other amnesia-inducing device and spends two weeks prototyping new ideas. It's how Costume Quest and Stacking were greenlit, and last year Double Fine introduced us to the process by letting us vote on concepts in its first Humble Bundle collaboration. Those prototypes, and a few more, are now available again through the current Humble Double Fine Bundle.
Along with Psychonauts, Costume Quest, Stacking, and Brütal Legend, beating the average price (currently $8.15) will now also get you Windows-only concept games Autonomous, Black Lake, Hack n’ Slash, Spacebase DF-9, The White Birch, Happy Song, Brazen, and the Costume Quest prototype.
Also added are the prototypes' soundtracks, as well as 2 Player Productions' Amnesia Fortnight 2012 Documentary, which was originally released as daily video updates during the two-week prototyping crunch. Check out the trailer below:
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Nathan Grayson)
“Double Fine?” someone somewhere has probably said at some point maybe. “Who do they think they are, claiming to be twice as fine as the rest of us? I’m no fool. I don’t believe it for a second.” But, Mr Somewhere, what if you’re wrong>? Then you’ll just look silly, your only solace coming in the fact that going off the grid in shame would be simple, given that you have the least Google-able name of all time. Clearly, the only solution to your conundrum is a test. You need to play most of Double Fine’s back catalog, but your gleaming shield of skepticism must be kept aloft. Buying these games full price would only create suspicion that you might harbor legitimate interest. We can’t have that. The solution? A new Humble Double Fine Bundle. It’s offering all of the laugh factory’s PC games except Iron Brigade on a pay-what-you-want basis, and a pre-purchase of Broken Age if you’re willing to part with $35. Exceedingly strange, vaguely arousing video after the break.
The launch of The Humble Double Fine Bundle means that for a limited time you can get Psychonauts for the low price of whatever you want. You'd be a psycho not to take that offer!
I'm so sorry about that, but it's true. And for whatever price you choose, you'll also get Costume Quest and Stacking. Pay more than the average ($8.29 at the time of writing) however, and Double Fine will throw in an extra umlaut in the form of Brütal Legend.
Pay $35 or more, and you'll get all the games plus a "slacker backer" pre-order of Double Fine's Kickstarted adventure game, Broken Age. The post-Kickstarter backing program grants you the following:
Access to making-of documentary episodes in HD
Access to private forums featuring concept art, development updates, team and backer discussions
Participation in the closed beta
A Steam code for the finished game on PC & Mac, or a DRM-free download on PC, Mac, or Linux
The bundle also features the Psychonauts and Brütal Legend soundtracks, and all games are available on Steam or as DRM-free downloads for Windows, Mac, and Linux. As always with Humble Bundles, you can partition your contribution any way you like to support Double Fine, charities, and the organizers, Humble Bundle, Inc.
Oh, and for a less-humble contribution—$75—you'll also get a classy Double Fine t-shirt. Unfortunately, the shirt is not available as a download, but worldwide shipping is included.
We're a week away from the PC release of Brütal Legend. Three and a half years late, but considering true metal originates from the Edge of Time, that's not too bad. But it seems, just as we seem like we're reaching the end, our blood brothers at Double Fine might have more to give for the rocktastic franchise... and maybe even Psychonauts, while they're at it. In an interview with RPS, Tim Schafer hinted at some possible DLC, and didn't leave a full expansion out of the question.
“I think is the most plausible to me,” Schafer told Rock Paper Shotgun, in reference to new Brütal Legend content for the PC. “Because single-player requires content, which means reengaging all the voice actors—which is something that was a lot easier for EA to pay for. Also, reengaging music licensing. I’d love to do that too, but I think that would involve more funding than we have cash on hand to do.”
While DLC is all fine and dandy (and in a single instant, I lost all of the metal cred from the references earlier in the article), a full-blown sequel would rock even harder. Schafer says it could happen, but they're likely to look to their less blast-beat-driven franchise first.
"It’s been longer since Psychonauts and we wouldn’t have to do any music licensing,” he said. “So we could probably afford to do it more if we got some funding. I feel like a Brutal sequel would cost twice as much as Psychonauts. It’s easier to imagine Double Fine doing a sequel to Psychonauts. But for creative reasons, there’s no preference of one over the other.”
So there you have it. The eyes of the world are on Double Fine, and only time (what is time?) will tell what might emerge.
If you find all the metal references in this article, tweet at AsaTJ and I'll tell everyone how special you are.
Shacknews - Steve Watts
Around this time last year, Psychonauts fans had reason to get excited after Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson suggested throwing a few (million) bucks in Double Fine's direction to make a sequel. Valentine's is a great time for breaking hearts, though, so it's only fitting that Persson recently dispelled that notion.
"I somewhat naively thought 'a couple of million' was two million," Persson said on Reddit (via VentureBeat). "I had no doubt in my mind that a Psychonauts 2 would earn that money back easily. Turns out they wanted 18 million dollars, haha. I don't have the time at the moment to even try to get educated enough to make an 18 million dollar deal. Perhaps in some distant future when I'm no longer trying to make games, I could get into angel investing. I've made one private investment into a game so far, at $100K, and it's frankly a lot more work than I thought."
The comment from Tim Schafer that kicked off the proceedings mentioned "a few million dollars," but Persson later reportedly said $13 million was a "can do" proposition. It may be disappointing, but it's hard to blame Persson for his hesitance. $18 million would be a large chunk out of almost anyone's budget, even at his 2012 earnings of more than $100 million.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Alec Meer)
How we had hoped to see Pat Garratt enjoying a hearty feast of broiled denim and shallow-fried zipper, but it was not to be. The editor of VG247 last year swore to eat his own trousers in the event Minecraft man Markus ‘Notch’ Persson made good on his talk of funding a sequel to Double Fine’s Psychonauts. Alas, Persson has recently confessed that such a thing is not currently possible/desirable, as Double Fine’s estimated $18 million budget for the game was beyond even his mighty means (or, at least, what he considered to be a lucrative investment of his mighty means). (more…)
Feb 5, 2013
It was almost a year ago to the day when Notch publicly proposed to Tim Schafer. No, not that sort of proposal. This one: "Let’s make Psychonauts 2 happen."
But any plans for a follow up to Tim Schafer's weird and inventive platformer were put on hold when Double Fine launched an adventure game Kickstarter. Now, in a thread on Reddit thread, the Minecraft creator has revealed that he'll no longer be funding a Psychonauts sequel.
"I somewhat naively thought "a couple of million" was two million. I had no doubt in my mind that a Psychonauts 2 would earn that money back easily," Notch writes. "Turns out they wanted 18 million dollars, haha."
While the Reddit thread was celebrating Minecraft's success - Notch himself made over $100 million from the game in 2012 - he admits that the complexity of making such an investment would have been too much of a time constraint.
"I don't have the time at the moment to even try to get educated enough to make an eighteen million dollar deal. Perhaps in some distant future when I'm no longer trying to make games, I could get into angel investing."
"I've made one private investment into a game so far, at 100k, and it's frankly a lot more work than I thought."
A statement by Double Fine said the company was "excited about the prospect of making a sequel to Psychonauts, but we’re currently focused on making our Kickstarter game and haven’t been able to budget it out. Once we get around to it, we’ll likely explore alternative funding methods that will require multiple sources to make it a reality."
You can read more about Minecraft's success in our Making Of feature. It includes Markus Persson saying things like, "I think I was already fucking rich by the time I realised, 'I’m gonna be fucking rich.'"
Thanks, Venture Beat.
Oct 29, 2012
Announcement - Valve
Freaks of the night, rejoice! Steam has unleashed monster savings on ghoulish (and not so creepy) titles. From now until about the time all the pumpkins are smashed*, over 80 titles (including The Walking Dead, Bioshock, Left 4 Dead, and many more) are available at prices so low, its scary.
For more info, click here!
*Discount offers end November 1st at 10am Pacific time
For more info, click here!
*Discount offers end November 1st at 10am Pacific time
Sep 8, 2012
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Nathan Grayson)
Yesterday, you probably read the first part of my chat with Valve’s Erik Wolpaw and Double Fine’s Anna Kipnis. If not, it’s right here- but FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY. By which I mean until the Internet ceases to exist, which, you know, could happen someday. Anyway, in today’s installment, we branch out a bit from yesterday’s story-centric beat. Valve’s newfound love of wearable computing, virtual reality, heaps behind-the-scenes info on Portal, crowd-sourcing, and more are all on the docket. OK, there wasn’t actually any sort of docket involved. I’m not entirely sure why I said that.>
In an interview over on GamesIndustry.biz (currently not published in its entirety, so just to be fair, there may be additional information that adds context to this), 2K boss Christoph Hartmann talks about the need for games to become photo-realistic. Not simply for its own sake though, as a visual marker of technology. No, because without such technology, we apparently won't be able to get new genres, or any real emotion from the ones we already have. Here's the relevant snippet from the site.
"It will be very hard to create very deep emotions like sadness or love, things that drive the movies," he said. "Until games are photorealistic, it'll be very hard to open up to new genres. We can really only focus on action and shooter titles; those are suitable for consoles now."
He's certainly not the first person to say this over the years, and he won't be the last - and this isn't intended to be a hatchet piece about someone saying something silly in a much longer interview. It is however an example of a commonly held position that's not simply wrong, but that actively hurts the drive for realism and in-game humanity by missing the point of what makes us laugh and cry.
The argument about genres can easily be summed up in one word: No. Photo-realism is no automatic boon to anything not intended to be set in a realistic world. Better graphics are something to strive for, sure, but every genre that exists got its start without photo-realism, and while many of them obviously benefit from visual improvements over time, cool new experiences are always popping up without that crutch. This is a non-discussion. The answer is no. End of story. No. No. Thrice: No. If you believe that, even a little, you have no imagination or understanding of just how awesome gaming is.
When it comes to the emotional side though, things get much more interesting - not for what needs to be done, but for what already happens. There are certainly games like 2K's own Spec Ops where modern graphics play an important part - walking through the carnage of a mortar strike for instance wouldn't work anything like as well if it was a few splattery sprites instead of, say, this:
It's not however usually the graphical fidelity that makes a moment emotional, but the combination of concept and response. It doesn't matter if it's 'realistic' as long as we're sufficiently swept away by the moment to consider it real. When Bambi's mother is shot, we don't see ink and paint; we see loss and confusion, desperation and emptiness. To use a later Disney movie, Jessie's heartbreaking song in Toy Story 2 works regardless of the fact that she's both a 3D model and within her own universe, a doll - the emotional descent from happiness to the cruel moment that sense of belonging is just snatched away is something that can resonate with us just as well as anything else. Or, proving that it can go both ways in the same scene, how about the opening of Up and its amazing adult life montage?
It's no surprise that animation tends to do these moments so well. While realistic to a certain point, the real magic is in control; animators and voice actors alike can focus so tightly on the details like the glimmer of a tear in an eye, or take things grander with the understanding that we won't object to something like a character having expressive almond eyes that we'd find creepy as hell if applied to an actor.
Just as importantly, because the visual experience is inherently divorced from reality, we're not subconsciously looking for problems - in any way. In most cases, we don't even have a mental line - nobody thinks of "Pixar's Wall-E" in the same way we subconsciously see "Christian Bale's Batman." We just accept the fictional construct and embrace it for what it is - the only real exceptions being when the reality intrudes with something like a celebrity voiceover so that we're constantly reminded that we're just watching Will Smith bop around the screen as a fish or whatever.
(And of course, the more realistic things get, the greater the chance of problems emerging. LA Noire for instance offered phenomenal facial animation, but its character work - while far from great - constantly jarred by being not... quite.... right. This is usually referred to as the "Uncanny Valley" effect - that in getting close, but not close enough, our response becomes one of revulsion/distance rather than acceptance. It's not hard to think of examples from film or games.)
Games have far more in common with animation than they do film, but with an important extra element - we're not simply passive observers. We get far, far more time to get to like and empathise with the characters, even over a relatively short 10 hour game, as well as being the instigators of the events that spark powerful emotions - love, happiness, pain, betrayal, the fear of not belonging, whatever.
If those emotions are tied to realistic characters, as in (apologies, but it's the highest profile recent example) the PS3 game Heavy Rain, then that's great. The work just as well though with Psychonauts' Raz realising his father loved him all along (not to mention many smaller details, like discovering seemingly happy-go-lucky teacher Milla's hidden pain in one of the most startling secret rooms ever), the scene in Sanitarium where a ghost girl walks through the devastated family her death has left behind, or many, many, many other examples from games cartoonish, grounded, dramatic - or even outright comedic. Comedy after all is the genre that really knows the value of an emotional sucker punch. If it can make you laugh, it can make you cry. Two words: Jurassic Bark. Sob.
(And this is only if we're talking about things with a foot planted in a desire to even be vaguely realistic. There's many an effective art game out there that finds emotion by different routes entirely.)
In short, photo-realism is a perfectly fine thing to aim for, but as far as emotions go, it's just a shell like any other - a creative choice, not an end-goal. Emotions themselves are always going to be inside it, and powerful enough to breathe life into anything from a real person with carefully modelled sweat on their brow, to the unexpected death of a cartoon rabbit. Why, with the right writing, character design, and concepts, a good designer can even make us feel sympathy for a coloured rectangle.
Maybe there's even a few new genres somewhere in that. Stranger things have happened...