Q&A

EDGE - - THE MAKING OF... - Tim Schafer Founder and CEO, Dou­ble Fine

What did you take away from Psy­cho­nauts that might af­fect how you ap­proach the se­quel?

I think in the first game I ap­proached it like an ad­ven­ture game, where I worked on the story and the en­vi­ron­ments first. We were work­ing on the pro­tag­o­nist at the same time, and by the time his move­ment came on­line it broke all of our lev­els. Ed Fries saw some of the strug­gles we were hav­ing nail­ing the game­play and said, “When I visit de­vel­op­ers in Amer­ica, they al­ways have th­ese big, beau­ti­ful en­vi­ron­ments first and then they work on the cen­tral char­ac­ter; but when I go to Ja­pan, they al­ways build the char­ac­ter first and build out from that.” So for Psy­cho­nauts 2, the first per­son I need is an an­i­ma­tor, so we can get Raz work­ing and then build a world that’s fun for him.

Are you aim­ing for a sim­i­lar scale?

Yeah, I be­lieve we have 11 lev­els and two hubs in the first game, and we’re go­ing to shoot for that. It might change here or there, but the idea is to make it a true se­quel. We’re more ex­pe­ri­enced now, and we’re also us­ing Un­real, so we don’t have to write an en­gine from scratch. We can fo­cus on build­ing the world.

If Ed Fries hadn’t left, do you think you wouldd have ended up pub­lish­ing with Mi­crosoft? If so, would things have turned out dif­fer­ently?

I think we would’ve pub­lished with them, but I don’t know if the game would’ve been as good, be­cause we would’ve con­tin­ued on that spiral of chas­ing fo­cus groups and pub­lisher feed­back ap­proval. Some­times you need a nice, quiet en­vi­ron­ment to lis­ten to the game be­cause I feel games tell you what they want to be if you play them. They tell you [adopts con­spir­a­to­rial whis­per], “I want to be big­ger; I want some more me­chan­ics.” I think you need to have a lit­tle peace to hear the game talk­ing.

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