This is sad news: Our friend and expert environment modeler, Lydia Lu, had to move back to Taiwan. She had to leave us on important family business, and now we are all really sad. It has only been two weeks since I put that tiny picture of her over there in the left margin, in the pile of dead mice. Back then we were laughing and laughing, and it was all fun (except for the horrible gash on her foot from the mouse trap). And now she’s gone, gone, gone. It seems kind of weird to have her picture over there now. I’d take it down, but I know she liked it. I mean, I think she liked it. It’s not like I ASKED or anything. What kind of touchy-feely boss do you think I am?
Anyway, if you’re still reading the news page Lydia, hi! We miss you! All mice killed from this day forward are killed in your honor!
I wonder if that little box of dead mice over in the margin is haunted. Hmmm… All I do know is I’m not putting any more staff over there, in the haunted box. Unless they do something really, really bad. Do you hear that, beloved team? Do not mess with me or you go in the box of haunted mice!
Mouse update: I thought they were all gone, but programmer Wilson Hom spotted one the other day, peeking out of Dave’s trash can. The cocky little mouse was doing that thing where he’s flipping you off, but he’s holding his hand below the trash can lip so you can’t see it, but you can tell he’s doing it because of the way he’s holding his arm, and the smile on his little face. You know, like mice do? Ahhhh! I hate them.
Trap deployment efforts are redoubled.
But none of these, of course, will affect the big, KISS-boot wearing rat that lives in the ceiling above my desk. Gene Simmons, the God of Thunder—he never comes down. He will scamper forever. And if he tripped one of our little mouse traps he would just stick out that long tongue of his and laugh and laugh.
Our friend Chris actually mailed in a king-sized rat trap that I think would do the trick. But I’d have to cut a hole in the ceiling to get the trap up into Gene’s house. And to do that I’d have to stick my head in the hole at some point, and what if when I’m doing that I turn on my little coal miner’s headlamp and I see a million rats coming at my face, just like Bill Paxton saw in Aliens, and what if I still wore head gear like I did in junior high? And what if my head gear got caught on the wiring up there and I couldn’t pull my head out of the hole? And what if the rats kept bearing down on me while I was screaming and screaming, and then they jump on my face and start eating my cheeks and my eyes, and what if everybody from the office heard me screaming and they came running up and tried to pull me down, but my head gear is stuck and the rats keep eating my face until they eat so far through my neck that it just gives way when everyone pulls on my legs, and my head pops off and my bloody body falls down and the rats carry my head off and lay eggs in it and roll it around and what if the team keeps working on the game even though I’m dead, but some times when they work late there will be a little drop of blood on their desk and they’ll look up and see that the rats have eaten a little peep hole in the ceiling and have pushed my decomposed head through to make it look like I’m spying on everyone from above and the rats snicker and imitate my voice and make my head say, “Ok, everybody get to work!” and what if one of the team looks at the rest of them and says, “Well, no big change there!” And everybody laughs? What then?
Okay, this silence has gone on too long. I’m just going to have to say something, before things get awkward between us. But, actually, one of the things I’ve always liked about our relationship is that we don’t HAVE to be talking all the time, you know? Sometimes we just hang out, and we’re quiet together, and its okay. It’s nice. It shows that we’re comfortable with each other. That we can just be together.
Like, when you’re asleep, or unconscious for some reason. Or when I have an deafening ear infection, or when I’m just choosing not to hear you because I don’t like what you’re saying. These are the special times that tell me that we’ll be together forever, or for a short amount of time that just seems like forever.
I appreciate this quality of ours the most at times like these: when I have nothing to say. No real Double Fine news. To tell you the truth, nothing really goes on here at Double Fine, except for the relentless creation of quality, the unyielding extrusion of excellence from our doors. The unstoppable “clang-clang” of creativity from the anvils of our… uh… radiating from the red-hot horseshoes of… Man, how many cups of coffee is this going to take? Let me try again.
I mean, is it news when the Moon orbits the Earth, when the Earth orbits the Sun? No, and yet these are momentous events without which our lives would end. Just like Psychonauts, they are a cosmic certainty. Was I going somewhere with this?
Oh, I hear the garbage guys out front! That’s news! That doesn’t happen every day. It only happens once a week. On Tuesday night. Wait a second, it’s not Tuesday. That can’t be the garbage men. Who’s messing with our garbage?
That reminds me of some news: I replaced the trash can in the upstairs bathroom. Oh, and also: We ate Chinese food tonight on the ping-pong table in the conference room. Milestone 11 is due tomorrow (or today, since it’s 1:30am). The team is working late. I think I’m going to go downstairs and find out what they are up to, and come back here and REPORT on them. Like a snitch. Okay, here I go.
* * *
(Imagine Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass playing.)
* * *
Okay, I’m back with a snapshot of activity at Double Fine Productions. Here’s what the graveyard shift is up to:
Paul Du Bois is trying to make characters in the game not stick to each other.
Steve Chen is making a demo room to show off the new collectibles.
Kjeld Pedersen is putting objects in Dr. Loboto’s laboratory.
Brian Christian is building the Lungfishopolis com tower.
Paul Zinnes is applying textures to the outside of the insane asylum.
Geoff Soulis is texture-mapping the battlefield under the lake.
Gaurav Mathur is hooking up the sublevels of the asylum.
Joe Ching is creating collision geometry for the—no, wait. He just booted up Battlefield 1942.
Chris McGee is wiring up the exploding train puzzle in Lungfishopolis.
Lance Burton is fixing the “spline motion sending people off into infinity” bug.
So there you have it. The wheels of productivity, guided by love and deadlines, powered by sweet-n-sour pork.
* * *
This week, in the free press: There was this whole International House of Mojo article on Double Fine, but I’ve been afraid to mention it because sometimes they post news items on their site about news items I post on our site. So if I post a news item about one of their news items, and they post an item about that news item, this cyclical-posting could start a feedback loop that grows and grows and creates a deadly harmonic capacitance which could blow up the entire Internet, and destroy all the goodness it contains. Hopefully, it will be okay, but just to be safe, right after you read this do what I’m about to do: turn off your computer and leave the country immediately.
The excellent game Psychonauts also appears in the new issue of another magazine, but I'm not going to say which one until they
send me some dang free copies. Why can't they just send me some like-- Hey, wait a second! Official XBOX didn't send me any yet either! Don't these people realize how poor Double Fine is? They think we're rich because we've got this flashy, world-class internet destination site here? Hey--I'll have you know I'm typing this web page out on a Timex-Sinclair 1000 I built myself in 1982! I don't even have a monitor! I'm just guessing at what it looks like! I've been lucky so far, but send me free magazines!
Oh, but everybody else, you go out and buy a copy at the newsstand. We have to support the free press in America! Other countries don't have it so good--In those places the GOVERNMENT chooses what games appear in print. The state sets the review scores. Cheat codes are tightly controlled by the secret police.
Here's a motivator: If you buy a copy of the August Official XBOX Magazine
for its coverage of the excellent game Psychonauts, you will also get to read an article in there about nudity in video games. That's right. NUDITY. So GET MOVING. Of course all the actual nudity in the magazine is censored. But I'll tell you what. If you buy a copy and send me your proof-of-purchase, I will draw you a picture of a naked lady myself. And if you go out and buy an actual XBOX: Two
Killing Spree Takes Deadly Turn
I knew these joyful, mouse-slaughtering days couldn’t retain their innocence forever. Our noble campaign has finally claimed its first human victim. Over the weekend, Lydia Lu, Double Fine 3D Artist, accidentally set off one of our mouse traps, and was very tragically snapped at.
Reports indicate that the mechanized killing machine made a noise that was “very loud” and kind of “scary.” Lydia’s motive for throwing herself onto the trap is unclear. Most of her co-workers were not even aware that she was a mouse.
Lydia was immediately sent to see a grief counselor in another building, so we could all snicker and make fun of her behind her back while she was gone. When she returned she had no idea, and the plan was deemed a great success.
Once, in a men’s room, my brother Danny urinated next to Stewart Copeland from the Police.
That’s right. Bonus post. Second post of the day. To make up for yesterday’s non-posting. The cost to you? Nothing. Free to you, because we are friends. I only do this because you and I are so close. Other people, who I only pretend to be close with, they cannot see this post. They get another dumb update about mouse feces. While we, true friends, can sit here holding hands, reading these lovingly crafted words together, watching the sentences fly off the page like lyrical ribbons of love, fluttering through the air towards our faces, weaving through our eyeball jelly, piercing our retinas, and nesting in our brains, these verbal tapeworms of friendship and sincerity.
And, just like I promised, hard hitting Double Fine Action News:
The excellent game Psychonauts is on the cover of the new Official XBOX Magazine, just a little bit. See it there, in the right-hand side bar? A tiny bit of Raz. Just a little bit, just a tease, to whip America up into a Psychonaut-wanting FRENZY. Video Game retailers all across the country saw that side bar and thought, “We’d better nail plywood over our windows until that game comes out, because we’re going to have a non-stop RIOT on our hands soon. Until that excellent game ships, America will have the insanity… of a manatee!”
And even though no one asked, this must be said about the DF Rodentia: The mice have begun playing head games with us. They no longer throw themselves upon the Peanut Butter traps. It’s like they’ve completely lost their enthusiasm, their mousy lust for death. We haven’t had a good kill in a week. I would say that they were gone, and that man had finally beaten mouse, but level designer Gaurav Mathur claims he “heard something the other night, crawling around under Josh’s desk.”
And my only question, of course, is what were you doing crawling around under Josh’s desk, Gaurav?
Ha ha ha!
Did I mention that this post was free?
Well, that worked better than I had even hoped! On Tuesday I swore to update the web page every day, and failed to do it even once! The second I made updating the website a task I had to do, I completely failed to do it. Victory! Victory in Failure! That’s the company motto. I think we’ve all learned a little something about ourselves here today. And thanks, everyone, for all the email letting me know that my failure was complete.
We are very fortunate here at Double Fine in that we receive hundreds of emails daily, from all over the world. We get letters from old people, from young people, rich and poor alike. And you know, I’ll tell you one of my little, secret pleasures. When I need to take a break from work, here is a little routine I’ve developed for after hours, during lunch, or just whenever: I’ll get a cup of coffee, put on some music, slip into my worn old cardigan, open up that mail box, and just start deleting emails at random, without even reading them! I’ll I can be in the worst mood, and still somehow, that gives me a little smile.
Sometimes I try to imagine what the unread messages are saying. Mostly I imagine they are people asking me where I buy my clothes, where I get my hair done, do I want a backrub, stuff like that. But some people, I imagine, say things like, “Why do you only post news about mouse poo and coffee? Where is all the game news? What about the excellent game Psychonauts?!?”
And to that imaginary mailer, I say, “Shut up. Man, I’m glad I deleted you. I think I’m going to drag your mail out of the trash, into my inbox, just so I can delete you TWICE!”
Here’s the thing: Double Fine isn’t just about Psychonauts, you know. It’s not even just about video games. We have several other product lines that you might like to hear about. For example:
One of the many products Double Fine produces is catch phrases. Catch phrases that sweep the nation and captivate the tongues of people who can’t think of what to say for themselves. Like, “Don’t go there!” and “Talk to the hand!” The problem with most catch phrases is that the people who create them don’t take care of them. They just toss them out into the air, and callously walk away, leaving their phrases, their children, to fall unloved into the public domain. Where’s the business plan?
Double Fine thinks it’s time that companies take catch phrases seriously. We intend to produce high-quality catch phrases for a broad market, on time and under budget, and release them through well-established distribution channels. Most importantly, we will maintain the intellectual property rights to the phrases so that once they are in common parlance, we will then sue everybody. Genius? Yes.
So here is the first phrase. I have been beta testing it for about a year, and it’s been going very well. Get a pen, as you will want to write this down:
“You have the insanity… of a manatee.”
entire catchphrase (c)2002 Double Fine Productions
The proper usage of this phrase is at home or in the office, when someone says something that is flabbergasting in its strangeness, you just turn to them with your jaw dropped, and then say, “You have the insanity of a manatee.” If you do it just right, you’ll notice it rhymes. The ellipse (...) is optional. Use it if you need a dramatic pause. And you can shake your head a little bit when you say “manatee.”
Eavesdrop on some conversations today, and you might notice that the phrase has already caught on among the nations “opinion-setters.” Don’t get left behind! Catch “manatee fever” today!
Now, onto the real news about the game:
Oh, wait. My phone’s ringing. I’ll do the real news tomorrow!
Okay, this week I’m going to try an experiment. I’m going to try to update the Double Fine Action News EVERY DAY. Whether I have anything newsworthy to say or not. I guess that’s not really much of a change. Except that for this whole week, I’m going to do it even if I don’t feel like it. Even if I have an earache, or if my legs hurt, or I’m all itchy, or if I have absolutely nothing to say.
Why you may ask? After all, there has been no great demand for this service. No one has said, “please, more updates!” In fact, many people have said, “uh… what’s with all the updates? Don’t you have a job? Or some real news?”
I do have a job, but nothing is more horrible than the work you HAVE to do. I have a huge pile of writing I have to do for the game, but writing for the Action News is more fun right now because I do not HAVE to do it. See? So, my theory is that if I create a situation where I HAVE to write on the web page every day this week, it will become such an obligation and a chore that I won’t enjoy it anymore. Then, the allure will be gone and I’ll stop doing it and get back to the work I have to do, which is writing dialog for the excellent game Psychonauts.
Or, wait, how about this: I’ll write dialog for the excellent game Psychonauts and put it on the web page, thereby killing two birds with one ingenious stone. Okay here we go. Freestylin’ dialog. Right off the top of my head. Warning: spoilers below. Maybe.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: “Whoa, dude. You are, like, totally reading my mind.”
RAZ: “Take that!”
PRESIDENT CLINTON: “Hey, I’m not president any more. Shouldn’t that be EX-president?”
RAZ: “I knew you were going to say that.”
EX-PRESIDENT CLINTON: “In fact, are you sure I’m even in this game? I’m going to check with my agent, but I don’t think I’m in this game Psychonauts, although it is an excellent game!”
RAZ: “Diabolique! Please enjoy the tasting of your head’s exploding!”
Brilliant! And that is just a taste—a swig, if you will—of the delicious dialog you will be enjoying when you play this very excellent game, Psychonauts.
The other point that I am making on accident is this: With the increased frequency of postings, the quality is going to go WAY down. From the very low mark it already set for itself. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the sheer volume of it all.
Tomorrow, I promise, real actual news. Like, a ton of it.
Fine Productions is two years old today!
it. That's the whole extravaganza. Now get back to work. What are
you looking at?