Interview: Tim Schafer On Kickstarter, Passion And Dads

By John Walker on February 27th, 2012 at 1:12 pm.

The man, the hairstyle.

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.

RPS: Do you need a new F5 key yet?

Tim Schafer: We got one of those automatic refreshers set up in the conference room, and right when we were about to hit a million we crashed the site.

RPS: Congratulations. It’s been amazing to watch.

Tim: Thanks! It’s been fun! On so many different levels, just an incredible experience.

RPS: Can you describe the range of emotions you’ve had over the last couple of weeks?

Tim: In the month previous to this we had a project cancelled, and we were feeling pretty down. It’s a roller coaster here, and we were in this little bit of a down period, then we put this thing out and it’s incredible. Like I said in the video, it feels like an enormous love-bomb exploding. All these people saying, “We don’t even need to know what the game is, we just want you to make it, here’s some money.” It’s an incredible message to send. There’s probably a lot of different kinds of messages that people are sending. Some of them are just “we love Double Fine”, some are saying “we love adventure games”, and some of them want to say “we hate the existing payment structure of games and we want our kind of game to be served.” They’re all good messages.

RPS: You must be aware of the passion that’s out there for games like Psychonauts, Grim Fandango, Day Of The Tentacle… I was just planning on spending the entire interview just talking about Day Of The Tentacle.

Tim: Come on, let’s do it!

RPS: But you must have an awareness of this passion, but did you realise how big it was before this?

Tim: There’s a difference between someone who’s passionate on a forum, and someone who’s passionate and sending you money. It’s a moment when people are saying, “No, we’re not kidding. We want this.” We knew our fans are passionate, but sometimes it’s hard to guess. Before a game comes out there can be a ton of tweets, people Twittering at me, saying how much they love the game. And I think, oh this game will be a huge hit. I got a hundred messages on Twitter about it! And then the game will maybe not sell that much, and I’ll be like, well it seemed like a lot of people when they were Twittering me. When you look at the backers for this project, it’s only 63,000 backers – which is a lot, it’s the record for Kickstarter – but that wouldn’t be a high-selling game. If you made a game that sold 63,000 copies, it would not be considered a hit. So it’s interesting how this whole Kickstarter thing has given a megaphone to those fans, and those 63,000 people have produced over two million dollars now.

RPS: Have you spoken to publishers since, heard their reaction?

Tim: Yeah, ‘cos we’re still out pitching our other games. This is just one of our projects. We have four teams here. Those other teams are still out there pitching new games to publishers, and their response has always been, “Oh that’s great – congratulations on that. Now let’s talk about games like we always have.” I don’t think any publishers are quaking in their boots – they’re like, “Oh, two million dollars, that’s cute! That’s the marketing budget for the little game I’m working on.” It’s not a big amount of money for them. It’s a big amount of money for us though.

RPS: What obligations come with that much money? You asked for $400,000. Is there anything that stops you spending the other $1.7m on an island?

Tim: There’s no legal thing. But I totally would get sued! The obligation is the same, which is to make a great game. This vote of confidence is really touching, people saying they trust us to make this really great game. I don’t want to let them down, I want to make the best game we can make, but that was the plan all along. Instead of waiting until the end of the project and people buying the game, you’re hearing it at the beginning of the project. Which is great.

RPS: It’s amazing publicity for a project, but is it at the wrong end of the development time?

Tim: I think that’s changing. That’s the difference between indie game PR and big publisher PR. Big publisher PR is you hoard the information until the end, and then you spend all your marketing money at once – your shock and awe campaign. Indie gamers, if you look at the blogs for Braid, or Super Meat Boy, they’ll tell you when they first think of the idea. That gives a chance for a small game to get word of mouth, more and more people learn about it, so by the time it comes out there’s a big buzz about it. So maybe this is exactly the right time.

RPS: It’s also put a real weight of expectation on you guys. I know you’ve joked throughout that it could be a big flop in front of lots of people, but how are you protecting yourself and your team from that weight?

Tim: We’re not! We’re just going to experience it. It’s almost like a performance art piece, which I think is what makes it interesting to me. It’s not just that we’re making a point and click adventure, it’s that we’re sharing the process. I’ve always wanted people to know more about how we make the games, because I think it only helps people enjoy them, to realise how they’re created by people, and how hard our teams work to make them right. Sometimes when you see people doing a flame post, I think that person feels that the creators of the game is some anonymous, large unfeeling entity. I want to humanise game development in the eyes of the fans. Let them see those people care just as much as they do about games. Not so they go easy on games, not at all, but to really see first hand the love and care that goes into making them.

RPS: Have you been playing other people’s adventures recently?

Tim: I’m going through a list. Right now I’m playing Machinarium on my iPad, which is a really beautiful game. It’s been enlightening to see how some of the puzzles are fair, some are not fair. It’s different from a modern console game, where all the rough edges are smoothed out, and right about where you’re about to get confused you’ll see some on-screen text telling you what to do, because it was focus-tested and someone like you got confused in that same spot. In adventure games you hit these hard stops – like, I do not know what to do at all right now – it’s really informative. It shows you how much work you have to do to put in-game contextualised hints, like characters who give a little piece of the puzzle every time you talk to them. Machinarium does it with an embedded hint system. It means I don’t have that anxiety that I’m going to have to put the game down because I can’t figure it out. We’d never have thought of doing an in-game hint system. And I think you can do it better, have it be part of the gameplay, you talk to people when you’re confused, you run into a character and then give you one little piece, and you think, ah! You still feel like you figured it out because you did it in the game.

RPS: What really strikes me about playing older adventures is how much more impatient I am now. Do you think you have to pace a game differently now?

Tim: There’s a lot of stuff we would have done [back then] if we had information. We did as much play testing as we could, which really mostly meant people in the office – we’d drag someone in and make them play it, and watch them. We can now be much more rigorous about play-testing – not focus-testing the content – but watching how people play it. We’ve learned a lot more about how to make something fair, as opposed to unfair. Nowadays people expect to get through games. They expect to be entertained, and to get through them. You really don’t expect to hit a wall. But there’s this resurgence in hard games recently, like with Super Meat Boy, or Dark Souls, some people are really lamenting the fact that games aren’t hard any more. There’s something really exciting about overcoming a challenge. I don’t know if adventure games can ride that wave in, but it’s possible. There’s just an art to making a challenge that’s hard, but also entertaining as it’s hard. I think the secret is to make the confusion feel like entertainment. You don’t know what to do, but the game’s egging you on, going, “Oh, you’re just about to figure it out! You’ve got it! You’re looking at all the pieces, think about it!” It’s the way a human being would make you interested in the puzzle if they were giving you a live demonstration. It has to nudge you, prod you, and encourage you to keep trying.

RPS: In the 90s, if I got stuck I’d have to phone my dad’s friend Ted. That was the system at the time.

Tim: You’d phone him? And explain the situation over the phone?

RPS: And he would always have a subtle and brilliant clue.

Tim: That’s everyone’s memory. We always bring up our dads, and sometimes our moms, but mostly I think of me and my dad sitting down to play the Scott Adams text adventures, or the Zork adventures. You would have to get up and let him sit down to try something. Or maybe your friend would try something. It was a different kind of multiplayer game. I think there’s an exercise in how people need to have their brains shaken up in order to solve problems. You’ll go down a road of thinking, hit a dead end, and you’ll feel like you’ve tried everything. Then you’ll go away, take a shower, go for a walk, or go to sleep, and then you’ll wake up and your brain knows what to do, and you instantly solve the puzzle. It’s like your brain was working on it while you were in this altered state. Or you just got out of that rut. I think having someone else, like your dad, he’s not down that rut. The game design challenge now is to somehow get people into that altered state, where they are freeing themselves from those mental ruts while they’re still playing your game. Nowadays, if you’ve put your controller down, you’ve lost people for good.

RPS: Are you talking at all about the project, any ideas you have for it?

Tim: No. I’m even trying not to think about. I’m trying to have all that happen during the filming of the documentary.

RPS: So you haven’t kicked ideas around, even before you started the Kickstarter?

Tim: No, except for the concept of doing an adventure game.

RPS: How are you stopping your brain from going there?

Tim: [Laughs] It’s surprisingly easy. You just get writers’ block… No, you have to put time… ideas do percolate in the back of your head, but unless I actually sit down with a notebook, and write a whole bunch of stuff every day, then things will wait for you.

RPS: Are you tempted to try to get Dave Grossman on the project?

Tim: Well, you know, he has a job.

RPS: I know, I know, but…

Tim: I can’t poach people from my friends’ companies.

RPS: But I feel like it would be putting the three Transformers together that form the super-giant robot.

Tim: Maybe they’ll give him an exchange student visa for a couple of meetings.

RPS: I can’t let you go without asking about the Psychonauts 2 thing.

Tim: Psychonauts 2 thing?

RPS: Do you think the Kickstarter has got you out of that?

Tim: [laughs] It’s a distraction! [Notch] made that comment right before we started the Kickstarter thing. I was like, oh god, do we still launch the Kickstarter? This is becoming a thing. Then we launched it anyway. He made one tweet, and I think he was very surprised that it exploded. We’re taking a step back and thinking about what we could do, because he’s an interesting guy, and he can make interesting things happen. We need to take a breath and thing about what we can do.

RPS: We’re keen for it to go ahead, as Notch said we could have the credit.

Tim: [laughs] Well, maybe it will happen! I don’t know.

RPS: Are you planning to meet with him at GDC?

Tim: Should I say? Well, I’m sure we’ll meet at GDC and talk about things. We’ve got a lot going on!

RPS: It seems like amazing times.

Tim: I know! It’s exciting, isn’t it? I wonder if a lot of people are going to do- Supposedly a lot of indie games have picked up a lot of funding on Kickstarter. The guy who made Pixel Sand put up a graph that showed how his funding had increased when we launched our Kickstarter. I’d love to see it lead to more crazy and alternative ways of funding games.

RPS: What other dreams do you have left? I mean, a dream I have is to work with the Muppets. I can’t imagine anything better.

Tim: I would like to make a game that cures disease.

RPS: Uh-huh, Uh-huh.

Tim: That cures cancer, that would be awesome. I’ll keep thinking about that one, it’s going to take a while… But it’s crazy. On Brutal Legend I met all my teenage [heroes]. I got to meet Ozzie! And then I met all my idols from when I was four years old on for Once Upon A Monster. I could make a game with Michel Gondry. That would be awesome.

RPS: Thank you for your time.

Tim: I wonder what crazy offers this interview will spur. I should fish for more money… If only Michel Gondry would tweet at me.

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52 Comments »

  1. InternetBatman says:

    I hope Psychonauts 2 does happen. I’m sure that he’s not really thinking that far right now.

    Also, I really look forward to the effect this has on the traditional publisher model. I would like to see more small studios with dedicated fanbases achieve independence. They don’t have to make huge games, just games they want to make.

    • Bassem says:

      Sadly I don’t think it will affect them at all. Tim already mentions in the interview that the reaction of publishers is largely “oh you got this much? that’s cute. It’s our marketing budget.” As far as major publishers are concerned, this is a drop in the lake, financially speaking and also in terms of the number of people.

      EDIT: I do hope, like you said, this will encourage smaller studios to follow suit, like what happened with Minecraft’s success.

  2. udat says:

    I’m not sure what I’m most happy about. The fact that I’ll Soon-ish get to play a new Tim Schafer adventure game, or just the fact that I know there’s going to be a lot of interesting stuff like this interview and the making-of documentary going on for the next good while. His interviews are always great.

    Of course, some of the credit for the good interview goes to RPS :)

    • Grapeykins says:

      Credit must definitely befall RPS. Capital interview!
      At the same time, something tells me Tim Schafer is the kind of guy who would be absolutely fascinating even if you put him in a small room and told him to converse with a stack of laminated business cards reading “Interviewer.”

    • edit says:

      Especially if, I’d imagine.

    • Skabooga says:

      Did anyone see Tim Schafer’s recent interview of Ron Gilbert? That was worth the price of admission to the Kickstarter alone; my sides were in stitches half-way through. I could watch that man talk all day.

      Edit: I really should start reading the RPS articles from oldest to newest every day. I just get so excited when I see Tim Schafer, I can’t help but stop and read.

    • Grapeykins says:

      “You, Tim Schafer, enter the small space and find a Spartan scene unfold before you. Well, unfolding in the sense that the room is probably not much larger than a few sheets of paper lying side to side, but shut up that’s beside the point. Perched atop a modest stool in the middle of the ‘room’ sits a stack of laminated business cards, all reading ‘Interviewer’ in an appropriately extravagant font. Confusing it for a reporter from Destructoid, you grudgingly reach out your hand in greeting. The stack of cards ignores your courtesy. Letting your hand fall back to your side, you furrow your brow and, through gritted teeth, whisper menacingly into the sterile confines of the room: ‘You’ve made a powerful enemy today, cards.’ “

    • Ruffian says:

      Yeah that Ron Gilbert interview was indeed tops, I could watch guys like those two talk shop for the rest of my life and never get bored.

      Also – psychonauts sequel aside – How awesome would it be if Mojang and Double Fine even just did a game together? Pretty Damned Awesome.

  3. Stuart Walton says:

    I’d donate a kidney if someone pitched a Michel Gondry game on Kickstarter.

    I think I’ll watch The Science of Sleep later today.

  4. CaspianRoach says:

    Not enough [laughing]! There’s usually more in the interviews, what’s up?

    • The_B says:

      To be fair, if John was anything like me, I dare say the RPS Edit-o-tron has had to remove about a hundred or so [Excited squee]s from the original transcript.

    • SurprisedMan says:

      Seems like there’s an opportunity for more of that in tomorrow’s reminiscing.

    • S Jay says:

      MORE

  5. Premium User Badge Hodge says:

    Wonderful!

  6. Cinnamon says:

    I will send Tim a whole (sealed) packet of hobnobs if he convinces George Lucas to let Ron Gilbert make Monkey Island 3.

    • Premium User Badge MonkeyMonster says:

      Do we need jaffa cakes for full throttle?

    • LionsPhil says:

      As much as I rate Full Throttle one of the very highest peaks in adventure and PC gaming in general, I’m not sure it needs or would benefit from a sequel. (Likewise Grim.)

    • edit says:

      I’m just glad Lucasarts cancelled the Schaferless production of “Hell on Wheels” (you can find a trailer on Youtube). It was looking a little… dicey. According to wikipedia, any Full Throttle sequel would also have the unfortunate setback of the death of Roy Conrad (the voice actor for Ben) in 2002.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Quite. While the first game’s art was animated, despite Ben’s run, it didn’t really fit to have it be so cartoony as the trailers.

      The little tale of them auditioning Roy is great, too.

  7. JackDandy says:

    Great interview! It seems the project’s in good hands.
    I really hope it comes up alright.

  8. edit says:

    It might be worth mentioning all the new Kickstarter rewards, in the hope of drawing more people in. 2mil is still a small game budget.

    • thesisko says:

      It’s not a “small game” budget. It’s the budget for a game without cutting edge graphics and celebrity voice actors. There have been countless “big” games with far lower budgets.

    • gekitsu says:

      i don’t know… something just sounds fishy when we are talking how small and big budgets are while:

      1) of a smallish audience (63 000 people, considered “not a hit”, according to tim)
      2) each paying about half of what a game usually costs (2 000 000 usd / 63 000 people = in the ballpark of 31 usd / person)
      3) results in an amount of money that is considered, at the same time:
      3a) relatively large for what one of the most legendary developers of our time gets for making an actual game and
      3b) relatively peanuts for those who handle the moneys for game production (see 3a for how much money lands there), marketing and their own welfare.

      i cant quite put my thumb on it.

    • edit says:

      When Tim said that number was “not a hit”, my interpretation is that he was portraying the perspective of publishers.

      Somewhere (Twitter, I believe, and possibly an interview) Tim pointed out the budgets of many of the classic adventure games. When considering inflation, and that a portion of the money goes to the documentary and the production of the Kickstarter rewards, it has been estimated by a few people that $2.7 million would give the team an equivalent production budget to the one Full Throttle had. If you ask me, that’s a great place to start, but it is a long, long way from overkill. Full Throttle was great but it was one of the shorter LucasArts point&clicks from that era. More resources can only mean more freedom for the team creatively and potentially more scope to the game, be it in the form of length, more animation, more dialogue, etc.

      Just for reference, the current amount raised is also quite a way off the budget of Double Fine’s first game, Psychonauts, which was $13mil if I remember correctly.

  9. Premium User Badge Lars Westergren says:

    Great interview. I’m so excited for this game, and the Ron Gilbert one he is teasing about with concept art.

    And BTW: If you haven’t heard about it – a game which just one day might cure cancer: http://fold.it/portal/

  10. LennyLeonardo says:

    Wow, that Full Throttle screenshot brought back some memories. Polecats rule.

  11. Meat Circus says:

    *throws panties at the screen*

  12. MichaelPalin says:

    Well, I wouldn’t like at all if indies get used to talk about their games from the beginning of development. Personally, I only want to know about games when they are released and ready to be played. I get very annoyed when PR starts talking about a game months or even years before release. Just look at Fez, I bet those guys wont talk about their next games unless the release date is a sure thing and very close to happen.

    • SurprisedMan says:

      What’s it to you? Read what they say or don’t. People who are interested in following the development process win, so do you.

    • MichaelPalin says:

      In this case I will follow the process, but mostly because I cannot for the life of me play a graphic adventure for more than 30 minutes, so I will probably not play the game. But for me the best way to play a good game will always be with as little previous knowledge of the game as possible, especially if it is hype. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of backers that will regret following the development process when they boot up the game for the first time to realize that they know practically everything of the game and the engagement for them is ruined.

    • SurprisedMan says:

      But who’s to say what is true for you is true for everyone? For example, I gained even greater appreciation for music after studying composition and music theory, as as well as the beauty of the music I could appreciate it on a technical level. Professor Richard Feynman always said that science only adds to the beauty of things. And as someone who is very interested into game design, puzzle design and so on, I can certainly see how I might appreciate a game even more if I can see what went into making it.

      Now, I mean, I do get it. Spoilers and everything. But people are more or less bothered by spoilers. Personally, if a story is inherently good, spoilers don’t spoil it for me. If I can only enjoy it once before it is ‘spoiled’ then it probably wasn’t much cop in the first place. But if I want to revisit the world again and again, I don’t see that it matters whether I knew a little bit about it beforehand or not.

      In any case, 2PP have spoken a little about what their approach will be to this on forums and stuff, and it seems they’re going much more for insight into the process than specific spoilery stuff. They’ll have to show some stuff, of course. But (as an example) I’d love to watch an episode outlining the genesis of one particular puzzle, knowing that I’ll still be able to solve all the other puzzles for myself. It seems unlikely they’ll be detailing every puzzle and plot point ahead of time – they still want a fun game for people to discover at the end.

    • Premium User Badge Mo says:

      When there’s a game I’m super looking forward to, I just stop reading about it. It’s not that hard. :P

      While I’ve funded Double Fine Adventure Game, I’m just going to skip out on most of the documentary stuff until after the game is released and I’ve gotten through it.

    • eclipse mattaru says:

      @MichaelPalin: I think you worry too much. I followed the Frictional blog religiously during the developemnt of Amnesia (and mind you, they posted quite often back then), and the game didn’t have any less of an impact on me when I played it, simply because Grip would be very careful of discussing ideas and mechanics in an abstract enough fashion that even though he was being very informative, thought-provoking, and he managed to stir very interesting debates in pretty much every post; he was never letting out specific details about the game itself. He would just analyze examples of things he liked and didn’t like in other games, and then pitch ideas of how such and such could be improved. It’s not that hard when you know the trick, really.

  13. hosndosn says:

    >”I could make a game with Michel Gondry.”

    Whenever I think I couldn’t love this guy’s way of thinking more, he says something like this. Gondry could make amazing games, unfortunately, he isn’t much of a gamer, more of an “analog guy”. If anyone could make it happen, though, it’s Tim Schafer.

  14. Auru says:

    My dad and me played through Monkey Island 2 together.. it actually took us alot of time back then, he would come home from work with notes written down about ideas how we can progress :)

    The damn dog + the pile of papers had us stumped for days.. it was one of the moments in gaming I will always remember when we were both sat there in utter disbelief when we finally used the dog on the paper :)

    Great interview, really looking forward to what they put together.

  15. SurprisedMan says:

    I have a few memories of phoning up those automated hint lines for Monkey Island 2 and maybe some others. First it would ask me what part of the game, then exactly where I was and what puzzle I needed help with. Sometimes it would take AGES to get to the right bit. For Monkey Island 1 I had an unofficial guide book I could refer to. I must have seen walkthroughs in magazines, too, because I don’t remember phoning up very much.

    I was young then, though. Later on from about Full Throttle onwards I became determined to figure out things on my own as much as I could.

  16. Radiant says:

    It’s interesting what you said about pacing.
    The entire first 6-7 minutes of Pyschonauts was just loooong dialogue.
    I then spent the next 15 minutes running around aimlessly picking up cards and arrowheads for no discernible reason other then they were shiny and I could.

    I sort of got through that opening by telling myself ‘the internet has destroyed your patience’.

    • MondSemmel says:

      I watched the psychonauts intro on YouTube, then immediately decided to buy the game. I don’t think I have ever gone that fast from learning about a game to buying it. (not counting Steam Sales etc.)
      But I have also bought tons of games (for cheap) only to stop playing after less than half an hour. I don’t think all that impatience is necessarily negative: Much of that impatience comes from higher standards we necessarily demand because we have much less free time than when we were younger.
      (That’s just speaking for me. But by “when we were younger”, I mean the me from school, and I’m just 23 years old now. University studies already consume so much of my time…)

  17. Metronome49 says:

    He stole my “video game that cures cancer” idea! I had it on Feb 12th! Proof: https://twitter.com/#!/Metronome49/status/169893154575745024

  18. MadMatty says:

    “the man, the hair, the penis”

    sorry, couldn´t resist.

  19. Arglebargle says:

    I’ve always loved the backstory and set up of these games. Couldn’t play ‘em though. Grim Fandango? Awful interface. Monkey Island, nope. Pyschonauts? Bought it three times, but after a bit of time away due to a dead computer issue, I found I’d lost all my chops and just couldn’t continue. Still I am glad that these sorts of things exist for the folks who love that sort of thing. They are all exceedingly clever stories.

    The Adams reference reminds me of my final opinion of ‘Hitchiker’s Guide…’ though. I took scissors and cut the dam floppy up, to express my disgust at ‘guess the word’ gaming.

    This is the telling concept for me: “There’s just an art to making a challenge that’s hard, but also entertaining as it’s hard. I think the secret is to make the confusion feel like entertainment.”
    If you can’t make it fun, I am out of there. Bad UI, most likely out of there. Poor writing…you get the drift. There are a lot of games out there. Maybe a Hundred in my personal collection. I can easily find something new to try, or something gold to play again. No more hair shirts for me.

    • Berzee says:

      That’s a different Adams.

    • SurprisedMan says:

      I never quite understood people who had such a problem with Grim Fandango’s controls that they couldn’t play it. I get that it’s sort of a clumsy way to control it, could have been made better by better feedback about what object was currently selected, and so on. I mean, it’s not as if it was really asking you to do things that needed fine mastery of the controls. I’ve had it demonstrated to me fairly convincingly that point and click controls would have made it much more restrictive with what camera angles they could have used in the scenes.

      I guess I’m apologising for it a little. But only because everything else is so good, it was a fairly early attempt at 3D adventure games and because, like most adventures, it’s a leisurely paced game that doesn’t ask much of you in terms of dexterity, and so in my mind it can be more easily forgiven for issues that would have made it very unplayable as, for example, an action game

    • Arglebargle says:

      @SurprisedMan. Oh, Grim Fandango is great — at everything except your input and controls. I was real happy to find the site were you can watch the game as a movie though (Thanks RPS guysngals).

      Personally, user interface is extremely important to me, as having to do something irritating hundreds of times a session pushes me to not play. Quality level has to be much higher to justify it. Never understood the folks who buy an expensive computer box, and then use the cheapest mouse and keyboard. Yuck.

      Opinions may be slanted by my attempt to play GF again a year or so ago. The control scheme got compared against modern games’ systems, and came up even more wanting.

      I still listen to the Grim Fandango soundtrack regularly. Brilliant work.

      Oh, and apologies to the ‘Wrong Adams’ and more curses flung in the general direction of infocom….

  20. Jason Moyer says:

    Psychonauts 2 with the layouts designed by Gondry. Make it happen.

  21. Beebop says:

    I too dream of working with the Muppets! Lifetime ambition.

    That is all.

  22. Zeewolf says:

    “Tim: [...] I could make a game with Michel Gondry. That would be awesome.

    RPS: Thank you for your time.”

    I just found that funny.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      I always wondered if rps actually says “thank you for your time” or if it’s just something they stick on the end of every interview.

      It always comes off so robotic and abrupt and highschool newspaper sounding to me. I mean, obviously, journalists will thank interviewees for their time, but the way they insert it awkwardly at the end of every article has always kind of amused me.

      thank you for your time

      thank you for your time

      thank you for your time

      thank you for your time

      thank you for your time

  23. Ankheg says:

    I wanna hug Tim!

  24. edit says:

    A ‘director cameo’ in Psychonauts 2 would be spiffy… Going into Gondry’s mind, as designed by Gondry. That would be something to behold.

  25. Jimbo says:

    “You’ll go down a road of thinking, hit a dead end, and you’ll feel like you’ve tried everything. Then you’ll go away, take a shower, go for a walk, or go to sleep, and then you’ll wake up and your brain knows what to do, and you instantly solve the puzzle.”

    I feel like this is really where the magic happens in adventure games. It’s the genre that keeps on giving even when you aren’t playing it – the reward comes when you finally figure something out. If you ‘smooth out’ the ability for the player to become stuck, with an over-zealous hint system or something, you risk being left with not much at all. You’re left with a wholly passive experience which may still be fun, but will rarely stack up against other passive media. It’s no coincidence that the genre kinda died in line with everybody getting easy access to the internet and having all of the solutions at their fingertips. The genre doesn’t really stand up as a passive experience; it requires that enforced mental interactivity.

    For me, this is kinda similar to the ‘fast forward through gameplay’ debate: players like to think they always know what’s best for themselves, but that isn’t always true. Having your hand held through -or walkthroughing your way through- an adventure game ultimately isn’t as satisfying an experience as making your own way through it in your own time. That’s why they used to work and why they don’t work now.