DF On Stacking And Costume Quest: ‘Anything Is Possible’

I, for one, think it's pretty obvious what's going on here.

Hey! Did you hear the news about Stacking and Costume Quest? No? Oh, right, that’s because I’m still in the process of reporting it. Well, the short version is, Double Fine – after what Tim Schafer describes as “a daring and top-secret midnight raid” on Nordic Games HQ – has reclaimed full rights to both Stacking and Costume Quest. Distribution, production, whatever else goes into making a game – all that good stuff. So what happens now? I got in touch with Double Fine to (double) find out.

The first order of business is retail (yes, games are still sold in five, maybe six stores across the globe) releases for both games during the first half of 2014. And after that? Well, Double Fine’s not taking any options off the table. VP of business development Justin Bailey explained to RPS:

“Anything is possible now that we have the full rights back, but we have not decided what to do yet in terms of new content and/or sequels.”

If Double Fine decides to spend more fortnights on the Amnesia Fortnight duo, it probably won’t be for quite some time. The studio that’s named after a highway sign has its plate stacked triple-high with Broken Age, Massive Chalice, and Spacebase DF-9. And then there’s still a backlog of Amnesia Fortnight 2013 prototypes on the backburner, as well as any other top-secret experiments Schafer and co might have brewing in their unrelentingly zany brains.

So probably be patient. Or just accept both games as rather good one-offs, and maybe be pleasantly surprised someday down the line. Whichever soothes the anguished existential screaming that echoes off the walls of your mind, only allowing you a silent second in the rarest of moments.


  1. MrEvilGuy says:

    I, for one, would love to have a stacking doll that looks like Tim Schafer.

    • beatdarwin says:

      All of the dolls in the game already look like Tim Schafer. ALL of them.

      But, I imagine you must mean merch.

  2. KirbyEvan says:

    Man, it’s a good thing Double Fine is managing their fund perfectly, I mean considering Broken Age is getting 5 times it’s original budget it’s going to be fantast–


    • zeekthegeek says:

      You have so many layers of smarm I have no idea what you’re even attempting to say.

    • AngoraFish says:

      A highly successful, completely solvent company with dozens of employees working on a number of projects across multiple teams that is willing to throw their own future profits into making a labor of love game even more fantastic… and that can still find cash to purchase back the IP from some of their previous games? I’m struggling to see a problem here.

    • karthink says:

      This snark is tiresome.

      • Teovald says:

        I am not even sure what it is all about ? DF is still working on BA. Yes, the kickstarter schedule will be absolutely ignored but that’s to be expected when the scope of the project changes so radically (and that’s one of the main issues with kickstarter’s way of handling projects durations).

        • karthink says:

          I meant in addition to being ill-informed. It’s a terrible way to express disapproval or to censure DF, because whatever the intention, it serves only to rile the reader.

      • Jackablade says:

        At least it isn’t a Boojum.

    • Yachmenev says:

      Quite a lot of fail in that post. If you have this urge to talk about the Broken Age funding, even when it’s not the topic, at least try to undertand that situation.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      Wow. You don’t know what you’re talking about at all. Congratulations.

      • jrodman says:

        Snark is one of my favourite things.
        But this snark is kind of turning me off it. :-(

        • HothMonster says:

          Well we would all hate that, wouldn’t we everyone?

          (snark reserves are low this morning but hopefully that gets you back on track)

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        Mine or Kirby’s?

        • jrodman says:

          Oh, I don’t even register your sarcasm as snark. I feel like ‘snark’ has to have more edge, more bitingness anyway. Which I love when used well.

          I meant Kirby’s. Which has bite. But it’s kind of annoying and tedious.

          Blasé sarcasm I am cool with but it doesn’t really turn my crank.

        • Premium User Badge

          Ninja Dodo says:

          I figured. I mean, if you’re going to be a jerk about something on the internet, at least be informed. I agree though, when justified, snark can be pretty good. This one is fairly delicious: link to digitaljournal.com

  3. Ross Angus says:

    The joke near the end of Stacking, where you perform an action and it goes slow-mo is one of the most perfect jokes in videogames.

  4. Low Life says:

    Stacking 2: The Stackening.

    • Runty McTall says:

      Double Stack.

      The DLC expansion will be called Short Stack.

  5. MeestaNob says:

    I love Double Fine games but they have absolutely zero depth.

    For example, I would have liked to have seen Costume Quest as a full JRPG experience rather than the twee 3 hour toy that resulted. It can be argued that the short adventure is its strength, but DF excel in making wonderful worlds and doing very little with them.

    I’ll keep giving them money though.

    • alex_v says:

      I completely disagree. I think both games’ strength is that they are light-hearted and don’t overstay their welcome. If lack of depth means beautifully observed, original milieu then I’ll take more of that lack of depth anytime.

      • Lemming says:

        I agree concerning Stacking, but I think Costume Quest could easily afford to expand its scope. After all, it seems to work for the Final Fantasy franchise.

    • grimdanfango says:

      But that twee little toy somehow managed to have more character and more solid writing than almost every full-length JRPG I’ve ever played.
      The whole endless argument about how long games should be is getting really old too. I would so much rather play four or five unique and interesting experiences than spend the same time slogging through some padded out “epic”.

      It’s certainly possible to have a long game that doesn’t artificially pad its length, but it’s most definitely a rarity.

      • Tacroy says:

        I know, I always end up cheating my way through JRPGs in one manner or another because I don’t care about grinding to the brink of insanity.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I could not imagine trying to play a 50 hour version of Costume Quest. It was lighthearted and funny but there was nothing about the actual gameplay that I would want to experience for that long. As it is, the combat is sort of tiresome half an hour in, being both way too easy and full of unskippable animations that you have to sit through over and over.

    • sonson says:

      Costume Quest is a near perfect exercise in balance of features, writing, mechanics, design and playtime. You could give the CQ design brief to any number of studios and they wouldn’t craft anything nearly as good.

      I would gladly welcome 50 hours of that level of quality, but I think it’s sort of inherent in it’s design that its sugary goodness needs to be confined to something brief, and their comprehension of the fact is in part what makes it such a good videogame.

    • Zekiel says:

      I love Double Fine, but Costume Quest gave me a blue screen or death 1 1/2 hours into (solidly) playing it and I found myself with no interest in restarting it. So colour me uninterested in a sequel!

    • DuneTiger says:

      Please point me in the direction of a full JRPG experience that has depth. I am not saying JRPGs are good or bad, but let’s be honest – the traditional JRPG experience is about 15 minutes of game mechanics coupled with 40+ hours of repetition and padding. The only ‘depth’ that I have ever perceived in a JRPG is min/maxing, which is arguably not a very deep mechanic. Again, not saying JRPGs are good or bad (to each his own), but I find it hard to come up with one that I would have considered to have actual depth.

      • jrodman says:

        Depth in what sense? Story? Combat mechanics? Characters? Interplay of systems? Something else?

        Most games aren’t deep in all areas, so it’s hard to answer this request.

        I get what you’re saying, but I think there are examples that have had interesting engaging combat systems, or branching stories, or self directed environments. I have typically played them since the SNES days for the mostly-directed experience though.

        • DuneTiger says:

          Oh, I don’t disagree with you. I guess what I was after was, “If Costume Quest lacks depth and the solution would be a ‘full JRPG experience’, please show me how that would do the trick.” There are always examples that could be pulled, but I’m almost certain that the same argument could be levied at them just as easily as it is levelled at Costume Quest. I don’t find CQ shallow or particularly deep, but I don’t feel that JRPGs (at least the bazillions I’ve played) are high watermarks for depth, either.

    • Stevostin says:

      I get that feeling yet I keep coming back to them. The more it goes, the more I need the fresh aire they’re bringing on the table – not only the world but the fact they never feel able to stick on one gameplay genre. I liked the cave a lot. Sure you can argue the platform to be very non challenging but even if it’s simple gameplay is really its own, works on its own idea, stands by itself. It’s not the new mario but actually, it has a soul and an identity.

      Also, it’s great game to play with your kids.

  6. nimbulan says:

    #1 on my wishlist: The end of the 30 fps cap. They did it in Brutal Legend and these games are on the same engine. Anything else is just icing on the cake.

  7. Niko says:

    Are they still making Brazen?

    • zeekthegeek says:

      Nah that never made it past the prototype stage afaik, that game was Brad Muir’s baby before he went on to Massive Chalice.

    • Screwie says:

      Brad Muir spent about a year pitching it to publishers but never got anywhere, so they stopped working on it.

      • grimdanfango says:

        Incidentally, go and watch the Massive Chalice kickstarter pitch video to witness the terrible toll that the Brazen pitch took on poor Brad :-P

  8. Niko says:

    Oh well, that’s a shame. Putting my hopes in Canto then.

    ED: Oops, missed the comment thread. Too bad Double Fine’s stopped developing Brazen, anyway.

  9. googoogjoob says:

    “VP of business development Justin Bailey”

    really? is that his REAL NAME? REALLY?

    if so that’s amazing and apropos

  10. Stromko says:

    I’d be more excited if they got back the rights to Iron Brigade. Lovely fun game, but the GFWL implementation is particularly atrocious. It’s a perfect game to play with friends, but dropped sessions are not only commonplace but extremely jarring; clients are immediately dumped back to the menu with no loot or mission progress, while the host, if they’re lucky, must continue the mission alone with no option of being rejoined.

    There is also an incredibly irritating sound glitch in the last 20% of the game that is said to be tied to the GFWL implementation, but occurs in all single and multiplayer modes on those levels.

    From what I’ve heard, no further fixes for Iron Brigade– up to and including the ability to still play multiplayer sessions after GFWL goes offline– can occur unless Microsoft asks for it to be done. I can’t see Microsoft really caring that much, even if they would get more sales as the publisher.

    For my money, Iron Brigade is a far more entertaining game than Sanctum or Payday with a far more interesting setting (obviously a matter of taste), and in terms of game play sits somewhere inbetween the two. There are also very few good ‘mech games available for the PC, especially in the last decade. So I believe it’s still a hot property, the only flaw being a very flaky matchmaking service that is soon to be shut down.

    I predict a relaunch, with a discount for previous owners perhaps, that included a working, non-intrusive multiplayer solution, maybe a few new parts or remixed levels (and oh yeah, a way to skip the in-mission dialogue once you’ve already heard it once, PLEASE) could be very successful, very profitable, and a very fun game.

    • Kollega says:

      I also want Double Fine to do something about Iron Brigade. When it came out on Steam, I wasn’t allowed to buy it at all (because of GFWL, I assume). A friend gifted it to me, but matchmaking plain doesn’t work for me. And playing alone is just hard and tedious.

      Of course, getting the rights back from Microsoft is probably hellishly difficult… but DF got the rights for Brütal Legend back from EA, so anything’s possible.

      • SurprisedMan says:

        I don’t think EA ever had the rights to BL – it was published under the EA Partners scheme which means that EA was the exclusive distributor for a time but not the IP owner. The Iron Brigade situation is trickier as MS have the IP rights there. I don’t think Double Fine would have done that if they’d been able to release it any other way, because they are philosophically opposed to giving up IP.

  11. Jalan says:

    Not quite certain how a sequel to Stacking would work out. The story in the main game was a fair and satisfying end and the add-on chapter felt the lesser in quality after the main storybook came to a close.

    I feel oddly similar about Costume Quest but mostly due to the obvious drawback of all that’s left there is to tell the same story, just in a different setting and they already did that with its add-on content.

    I’d rather get the news that they magically acquired the rights to Grim Fandango and are working on a PC release that doesn’t require a VM just to run adequately.

    • Urthman says:

      The Hobo add-on didn’t do much with the story, but it sure had a whole bunch of creative, clever, silly puzzles and stacking-doll design.

  12. The Random One says:

    Mascot racer! Mascot racer!

  13. welverin says:

    “VP of business development Justin Bailey explained to RPS”

    Huh, I would have expected an interstellar bounty hunter in a bikini.