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It was a year ago, almost to the day, that Double Fine showed off some Psychonauts 2 "prototype gameplay" in a recreated version of the original game's summer camp. The elements on display "looked nice but weren’t designed to be part of the full game," the studio explained in a Fig update. "They were simple spaces that didn’t incorporate any of the tricky platforming and open exploration we want to be be central to Psychonauts 2." The new video released today, however, is much closer to what the final game will deliver.
"The 'First Playable' is an area of the game that we’ve built to test our new pipelines and workflows across all departments—art, animation, tech, design, cinematics, etc," Double Fine wrote. "We’ve tested all of this a lot during pre-production, but this is our first big attempt to create a fully arted up, fully playable chunk of gameplay with all the systems, art, gameplay, and tech working in the same place."
The segment is basically a "vertical slice," although the studio isn't using that term because it implies "a level of polish and completeness" that isn't currently there. But it's a fully playable area with "player movement, combat, quests, experience, UI all working together with scratch dialogue and audio, some rough visual effects, textures, lighting, even a cut-scene," which enables the studio to test and iterate on the systems—and show off what it's doing.
There is, around the midpoint of the video, an unexpectedly up-close look at a goat butthole, and it's not entirely just a cheap joke: The Fig update also digs into "how a goat gets made," from simple sketches to more detailed drawings, a 3D model, texturing, and animation, which actually involved a real visit to a goat farm so the subtleties and nuances of goat movement could be properly captured.
"It takes nine goats to the say the F-word," Double Fine boss Tim Schafer explained helpfully. "I've done a lot of goat porn. Graffiti. Goat porn graffiti."
Double Fine is also "pretty close" to sharing details on backer rewards, which it expects will be shipped out in three batches: "One batch of stuff that doesn’t take too long to make (shirts for example), another batch of stuff for the more complex or custom things (like action figures) and a final batch for stuff that requires the game to be complete." Backer surveys should start arriving "really soon," it added.
Psychonauts 2 is still far from a proper release date, but the last time we looked it had an "estimated delivery" window of summer 2018. More information about what's cooking is up at psychonauts.com.
I have mixed feelings about Psychonauts. I loved the writing, the voice acting, and the bizarre, beautiful game world that was filled with things to discover. But the platforming could be repetitive, and often outright infuriating. I never did finish it—I ran out of patience midway through the godawful Meat Circus, and decided I was close enough to the end to call it a day.
I've never gone back, in part because I don't want to spoil the magic of the memories, but "free" is awfully tempting, and according to the Wiki the level has been made considerably easier in the Steam release. Which is what you'll get with this Humble freebie: Go here, add it to your cart, and after you check out you'll be emailed a Steam code.
Since we're here, a few other Humble Store deals of note:
The Humble Store End of Summer Sale runs until 10 am PT on September 21, while Psychonauts will be free until the same time on September 16.
Following the recent announcement of a crowdfunding campaign for Psychonauts 2, Double Fine and 2 Player Productions put out a three-part documentary about the origins of the original game. It s a lovely, candid look at how Tim Schafer and co. scraped together their first platformer without much of a clue how to pull it off. I ve yet to watch part three which just came out, but based on the previous installments it will be a fascinating combination of old footage from the game's development, other stuff from Double Fine s early years, and some hokey Tim-Schaferisms.
Rarely does the public get quite this sort of inside look at game development, particularly these days. A particular note of interest: Psychonauts was actually cancelled after leadership roles shifted at Microsoft, and some of their feedback said that the game might be too funny for a wide audience. Luckily, Double Fine finally secured a deal with Majesco to publish.
Watch the Psychonauts Retrospective: The Color of the Sky in Your World, parts 2 and 3 below.
Psychonauts 2 was announced at The Game Awards today, albeit in a roundabout way. It's not officially guaranteed to happen yet, with a $3,300,000 crowdfunding campaign underway on Fig. But Fig will only provide one portion of the development funds. Double Fine will be providing a big portion of the funds themselves and an unnamed outside partner will be providing the remainder.
The campaign page is live now, and is ticking up at a pretty quick rate. Rewards are doled out in tiers, similar to Kickstarter, and you can pick up the game, once/if it's completed, for $33 bucks. Donate enough to be an official investor, and you can pick up a piece of the profits.
Be sure to watch The PC Gamer Show next Tuesday, as we'll be talking to Tim Schafer himself. Join us as we try to take a peek into the industry veteran's mind about Double Fine's surprising endeavor.
Watch the pitch video below.