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The Color of the Sky in Your World

On the ten-year anniversary of Psychonauts, Double Fine veterans reflect back on the turbulent production. Tim decides it might be time to return to the Psychonauts universe.

Published: January 20th 2023

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Episode Transcript

I can't believe that this stuff has been up actually for--

since April.

PAUL: So, what's next?

Psychonauts 2.


TIM: ...and have cupcake.

Um, I just feel compelled to do this now because it's, like, a habit.

But I want to say happy birthday to Psychonauts!

And congratulations to the Psychonauts team!

Who is still here and...


...has survived.

Or haven't thought of anything better to do.

Or have done that, and then come back.

RAY: Oh, Psychona-- oh, yeah!

We should talk about the Psychonauts anniversary.

Ten years.

That's crazy!

TIM: Between us, old-timers, we can remember anything

about that old game.

It's been a long time!

RUSTY: My gosh! It just doesn't feel like ten years have gone by already.

I mean, when you think about everything that's come out

from the studio since then, it does.

But, you know, there is still some vivid memories,

you know, of making that game, so.

Mostly good memories at this point.

Whoa, whoa! Here's our community report from Spaff!

Spaff, how's our community?

Psychonauts 10th anniversary stuff has been making people happy.

Sharing memories and generally talking about that.

I've seen some people streaming it and revisiting it.

So, that's pretty cool.

GREG: Similarly, like we were talking about, with all of Tim's games,

it's just kind of an evergreen title that just continues to sell.

It's still, like, our most popular game on Steam.

Uh, and it's definitely the most requested game we ever get.

Like, any time we put anything out, or do any kind of newsworthy press,

there is a comment about, like: "When are you guys doing Psychonauts 2?"

I mean, that would be awesome.

That would be awesome to be making a sequel.

I'll say that'd be great to be making a sequel.


TIM: Uh, that'd be great to make a sequel!

I'm not against that, but, uh, it's hard.

Costs money.

I mean, I don't know.

I feel like it was always on the horizon so many times.

So, he was like: "Dude, I think we might do it."

I'm like: "All right, let's do it!" He is like: "We might..."

And then I don't hear from him for a while...

"Dude, I think-- I think we are gonna do it!"

Tim has said, you know, if we do it, he wants me to work on it, so, um...

So, I'm like: "All right, let's-- let's go for it."

I have wanted to make that for a while.

And it's the kind of game that I would want to play

out of our old games that we made.

More than adventure games, more than RTS games.

I think platformers...

like, action platformers is what I'd like to do.


I brought this.

Dreamscape. We watched Dreamscape.

Dennis Quaid stars as Alex Gardner, a psychologically gifted young man.

It looks just like Temple of Doom.

It's got Kate Capshaw on it.

TIM: Because this is, like, going back to-- I'm trying--

In one way, it's putting my head back into, like:

"Where was I when I came up with that first idea?"

Like: "What was going into my head?"

Just to kind of reconnect with what I was thinking then.

And then, yeah, stuff that I've experienced since then.

HENDERSON: But, yeah, this, I believe--

Did it actually start--

Like, the original seed for Psychonauts was, like,

a sequence in Full Throttle?


TIM: The story is that I, um--

making Full Throttle I really wanted to explore interactive dream sequences.

Specifically, I wanted Ben to, um--

Ben Throttle to take peyote, and wander out into the desert, and have a vision,

and that somehow in the vision there was a secret to knowledge

he had in his brain, but he couldn't access.

And, um, so it was kind of, like, an interactive peyote trip.

But there was a problem.

Lucasfilm is much more-- you know, it's a family company.

Peyote trip was a little bit much.

And so, I kind of shelved it, and then--

But I've always been interested in that idea

that there is stuff in our minds that we don't, um, know about.

Like, in our unconscious minds.

And that if we could just get in there and dig around,

we could uncover secrets that are in our own brain.

I was kind of talking about this idea, and then, um...

one of the programmers from another team came into my office and was like:

"Hey, tell me about this game idea about going into people's heads."

And-- and-- and--

Um, I was like: "No, no, you don't go into other people's head.

You go into your own head."

And then I was like:

"Wait, that's much better. That's much better!

Going into other people's heads is much better."

And then, there was another time

where, uh, we were at lunch with friends from work.

And someone said something kind of strange,

and another friend just stared at them and said:

"What color is the sky in your world?"

And he was just like-- he was just like-- like, he saw a--

And, like, what color is the sky in your world?

And I just kept thinking about that phrase.

Um, yeah, if you could go into someone's world,

like, what color is the sky in their world?

You don't want to hear these stories. Psychonauts...

Look at my-- My handwriting was better then.

"Oh, well, maybe it's a summer camp. Summer camp isn't bad."

"If the whole place is bad, who cares if you win?

It has to be a good place, a happy place.

And they are training you to be in the Psychonauts."


That was a good day. That was a good day!

Sometimes in the book you just write out everything,

and get everything done.

And then, that's when the idea really took off in my head.

All these metaphors, different paranoias, or fears, or mental hangups.

And what that would look like in their mind, and then it just--

It was just like one idea after another started coming out.


And eventually, um, I left the company.

And, um, I left the company for a couple of reasons.

One was just wanting to have control over what I was doing, and what I created,

because of that--

that incident where I had heard second-hand

that they were going to make a sequel to Full Throttle

and I wasn't involved, and I, like...

That felt so creepy, because I felt such a personal ownership

over that character and that world.

And I realized I didn't own it, and that was fair.

So, if I really wanted to own my own stuff,

I'd have to take a risk on starting my own company.

TIM: Nice packing job!

TIM: On the 26th of July, which is my birthday,

and it's not that way on purpose,

was the first day that Dave Dixon,

our first Lead Programmer could start work.

So, he, um...

He was like: "I can start that day!"

And I was like: "Okay, that's weird. That's my birthday!"


TIM: This is the first page of us brainstorming ideas for the company name.

Hella Fun.

QuitCo. We were so excited about quitting.

Soul Patch. Because we all had soul patches.

Double Fine.


TIM: That was-- that was just-- that was still a fun time.

Like, starting your own first company, it's still so crazy!

You are, like, looking at the walls.

You are like: "This is all-- This is my company.

For starters, that person works for me. That's so weird!"

-SCOTT: Ow-w-w! -BAGEL: Whee-oo!

-Ow-w-w! -Ow!

Hey, check me putting-- putting this shelf in!

Ow-w-w! The party!


I don't know if you've heard about that cool garage.

But it was a pretty punk rock garage!

PAUL: So, what was the experience like being at the original Clara office?



It was-- It was, uh... interesting.


It was very, very cold in the winter.

And so, we had these space heaters.

And when you plugged them in...

uh, the power would completely go out in the entire building.

KEE: I think, at the time--

There was definitely some, um--

difficulties when it comes to just the facilities, right?

TIM: Ugh.

And, of course, there is the exploding toilets

that we used to get when the rain came.

The junkies.

TIM: There it is. Our first dirty needle.


RUSTY: There was a terrible time

when somebody was getting a blowjob outside

on our big metal garage door,

but they were banging up against it.


TIM: So, there were some hazards about it, but it was really good for parties.

These are the priorities you have when you are starting a company

when you are in your twenties, right?

TIM: I can't believe we actually could afford a band for this!

And my wife, that's where I met her.

She came to one of the parties.

And being able to make-- I made everyone's desk at first.

I mean they were these cheap IKEA desks, but I hand-stained them.

I let them pick: "What color do you want?"

And, like, mixed the stain, and like:

"This is really important to our company that I hand-make you a--

so you feel like I made you-- There is your desk!"

TIM: And there is Dave!

Smart choice of desk color, Dave!

I've gotta commend you on that.

Really tasteful!

DAVE: See that blue? That blue is shite.

TIM: Blue is what?

Blue is shite.

TIM: It's sh-- oh! Oh, he is speaking British!

TIM: And they were really unstruc-- Structurally unsound too.

So, we had to get rid of all of them, but, um...

I was sitting there staining desks on the weekends.

Back then, I think, I was thinking a lot about just cultural fit.

You know, like: "Will this person, you know, work out here?"

And, you know, it's, like, almost fifteen years later

for some of those people, so.

Uh, I was at least right fifty percent of the time.

TIM'S MOM: But, Timmy...

TIM: What?

You have nice friends!

TIM: Oh, were they nice?

-Really nice guys! -Yeah!

TIM: I feel like you can tell when you meet somebody

whether they are just like the kind of person

who gets involved in things with their whole person.

They were just like: "I'm going to give everything I have to this game."

And you could-- You could tell that when you met them.

Thirteen years for Kee Chi! Where is Kee?

-Kee! Kee Chi! Thirteen years. -[CLAPPING]

TIM: Well, it says thirteen years,

but it doesn't mention an outage for... about a year.

But I would never draw attention to that to make him feel uncomfortable.

Otherwise, that would make you tied with another person.

But you gave someone else a slight edge.

Happy thirteen-year, for real, anniversary to Anna Kipnis!


TIM: Holy crap!

Wel-- uh, welcome to the company.



I don't know if I've ever said that before, but welcome to both of you.


TIM: And Scott, uh...

I only knew Scott a little bit.

Because we both worked at Lucas.

But I worked at LucasArts, and he worked at Lucas Learning.

TIM: There! Handsome man!


TIM: Who is a handsome boy?

SCOTT: I remember exactly when I was, uh...

turned to being super into him.

Like, where I was like: "Oh, this guy is a super genius!"

And it wasn't from his games or anything like that.

It was mostly...

He sent this company-wide email out one time.

About something he discovered on email, like, to do.

Like, he figured out how to do something.

And the way that he wrote it was the funniest thing I've ever seen.

It was so funny! I was like: "This guy is..."

Like, he's, like, he's used the medium of email--

like, he's mastered it already, you know?

Like, that's, like, masterful writing.

Like, just from email writing.

So, after that I was like: "I love this dude!"

I'd see him around and be like:

"Oh, man. There is that guy. He is so funny, man!

That email was so funny!"

When Tim first came to me about-- for Psychonauts, he was, like--

when he was pitching me the game and stuff,

he was talking a lot about, like, Rankin/Bass, stop motion stuff, you know.

Which is already really interesting, because you are looking at, like--

those were, like, '50s illustrations that they successfully turned

into 3D and stuff like that, so.

Like, it was--

It was really cool to imagine the stop motion, like, world like that.

And I loved how he thought about, like, that.

Like, we are doing 3D,

trying to make it not look like real humans,

but make it look like it was little toys and stuff, so.

That was super attractive.

But I know that he hired me because, uh-- to art direct it,

because he was wanting it to be the style of kind of my paintings at that time.

I went to one of his art shows, and he had this, um...

this piece that we have hanging up on the wall now.

Which is, like, from a show called Tongue-Tied,

where there are all these little pictures of people in awkward situations.

And just looking at that-- these little doodly drawings of characters,

I was like: "I've never seen anything like that in a video game.

I've never seen characters like that ever in a video game."

TIM: Brilliant. Excellent.


SCOTT: The kid head.

TIM: Oh, sorry, the head was upside-down, I couldn't tell.

TIM: And that was the appeal.

It was, like, kind of an outsiders take on-- on art.

And I really felt import-- It was important to hire people

who are not just kind of from the mindset of games as they were.

But, like, from the world of fine art, or outside of games.

To bring a really fresh look to it. Because I didn't want them to look--

I didn't want Double Fine games to look like other people's games.

TIM: Could you please say your name?

Hi, I'm Peter Chan.

TIM: Excellent.

Could you please state your full name?

Peter Chan.



TIM: But there was a lot of just figuring out how to be a company.

I forgot that part. We were starting a new company.

So, like, figuring out how to, like, exist as a business entity.

TIM: Okay, tell us what that is. Sell it. Sell it, baby.

This is the box called X.

It's hu-u-uge!

TIM: Yeah, we were just-- you know, we started that,

and we were really, really lucky that the Xbox launched right then.

Because, you know, Ed Fries was running it.

And he had this thing about games being more than--

"Games can be art."

And I was like: "That sounds like what I want to do!"

I played video games!

That was what I did when I wasn't at work!

I mean, I loved video games and played them all the time.

That was my hobby.

So, I'm-- I have a lot of connections in the Game Group,

and I'm calling on all of them.

Microsoft Games Group.

FRIES: Because I need content desperately.

And-- and, you know, just everywhere I can

I'm trying to get these projects together.

TIM: I remember I was going to give a talk at GDC.

My very first talk at any conference.

And it was about character design.

And after the talk Ed Fries comes up, who is running the studio.

Um, and he comes up, and he is like:

"I really liked your talk, I want to talk to you about making games."

And he put this down on the table.

He was like: "I'm really excited about the stuff that we talked about."

And he just left this on the table.

Like, this is the table.

Hold on, let's add the drama.

Here is the table.

He was like: "I'm really excited about the stuff we talked about.

Hope to talk to you again in the future."


So, uh, we signed the contract with Microsoft.

And everything went smoothly, and we shipped the game, and that's it.


Um, but other than that,

we were having a lot of fun coming up with the brain ideas, you know.

Just-- just, um, every person you could think of, like, what--

what color in the sky--

What color was the sky in their world, we'd ask for every person, and, um...

I think things at the Theater just came

from thinking about that mental state of, uh, being bipolar.

And being really, really happy, and switching between these two moods.

Like, how could that be represented in a theater

that, like, changes its sets really quickly, or flips over.

The Milkman Conspiracy was about those--

Based on that character who's really had a lot of conspiracy theories.

But it didn't-- In the original inception it was like:

"Well, his mind will represent that he is caught in a web of conspiracies."

So, he'll be-- His street will be--

His house will be in the center of this spider web of streets.

And then, Peter Chan drew it as, like: "Wah!"

It's, like, all turned on its side.

And he is like: "What about this instead?" And I was like: "That's a lot cooler."

And the programmers were like: "No-o-o! Don't do it."

I was like: "Tough luck. Come on, figure it out. It's fun!"

And so, sometimes the whole concept for the level would come from that.

And then we'd take that back, and level designers would go like:

"What can you do with a world that's twisted around on itself.

What can you do with a world that's, like, on a cube."

It was just a really exciting, collaborative time,

where everyone was inspiring each other to come up with crazy ideas.

It was an extremely ambitious project.

And he had some pretty crazy, high concept ideas for it

that were going to be really challenging, I think, to pull off.

"Dude, that seems like a lot of wo--

That seems hard, you know?

A lot of worlds to figure out."

But then, when I was on the project, I was like:

"What the heck! We are actually doing this crazy thing!

Okay, we are in it now."

Now, it's, like, there is so much knowledge that's, like, totally available.

But in 2003? Like, no way!

Like, it was a bunch of people just trying to, like, play the games,

and figure it out, and it's really tough, you know.

And if you haven't done it before, and taking it all the way to the end,

like, you are not going to have that kind of knowledge.

And so, just nobody really had that.

There were-- Plus there were a lot of, like,

green people that were right out of school.

TIM: Could you state your name, please?

Oh, I'm not-- I'm Raymond Crook.

TIM: Very well. And what is your position at this company?

Uh, company grunt.


I remember he was like: "Well, how much do you want to get paid?"

And I'm like: "I-- uh, I don't know."

So, I, like, threw out two numbers, you know.

Like, a higher and a lower number. And he picks the lower number.


I'm like: "Okay. Okay."

No, he did actually, I will-- I will say, he--

We were-- you know, I wasn't very long in the project,

like, a month, or a couple of weeks.

And we were working super late already.

And I remember him pulling me aside and saying:

"Hey, I'll give you that a little bit higher salary."


SCOTT: It was definitely an up and down ride.

You know, a lot of late nights in the very beginning.

I mean, everyone wearing a million hats,

to kind of, you know-- spending the night, to try to just get the first--

the theater level done, to prove, like, what we can do.

And prove what the thing was like.

TIM: Everyone say: "Hi!"


TIM: "I love crunch mode!"

Say it! Say it!

RAY: When I came on, I just assumed that these guys were all, like,

hardcore veterans that knew exactly what they were doing.

Um, but I quickly realized that really nobody knew what they were doing.

TIM: Show me your-- show me your bat.

Make it do something. Say: "The bat."

BAGEL: Whaa-whaa-ow.

TIM: So, you are trying to act like you know what you are doing.

But you don't know what you are doing.

And you are quickly trying to figure out what to do.

And then, once we had our first playable version of the game, we realized:

"Oh, we don't want it to be anything like this.

This is playing-- This is playing terrible!"

Like, we had a different version of the main character.

He wasn't very compelling and he moved really slow.

SCOTT: Because he was like:

"Wow, this is not the leader of this cast of characters, you know.

This guy with, like, a stocking cap, he is so odd looking

compared to all the other odd characters, so.

Um, that's why we had to redesign him.


So, he ended up throwing that version out, completely almost.

And-- and starting over again.

So, a lot of it was the throwing stuff out and starting over again.

Learning process.

TIM: Geoff Soulis!

-GEOFF: How's it going? -TIM: What are you working on there?


GEOFF: You excelled by just sort of getting in there and doing it.

You know, they were still trying to figure out the jump distances.

And so, I'm just like: "Well, let's give this a try, and...

and we'll go from there."

But, you know, that's what you do

when you first get a job in the games industry.

Especially when you love it.

It's-- that's just-- You work.



TIM: My best, most comfortable nights were sleeping on the floor sometimes.


TIM: Are you still asleep?

Uh-heh, I'm going to, um, All Star Donuts.

Wow, a late night?

-I'm just waking up. -[TIM LAUGHS]

SCOTT: And jokes were a lot funnier late night, you know?

But, yeah, I kind of enjoyed it in a weird way, but...


KEE: Like, I was thinking about how we were working then.

Because, I mean, there was a certain amount of naivety.

Like, I think if I approached Psychonauts now, like--

The amount of custom and reuse that we didn't do,

would be the stuff that I would be, like, really scared about now.

But back then it was like: "Yeah, let's do it that way!"

There was a lot more...

...naive optimism maybe? I don't know.

You know, whenever some, like, crazy new thing came up, we just did it.

Instead of pushing back and thinking like:

"Oh, wait, I don't know if that's such a good idea."

TIM: That's our schedule. Don't look at that!



ANNA: We didn't know exactly what we were doing, um, in some regard.

It was okay, because that was part of the fun of the culture.

And, like, even just working on your first game ever.

GEOFF: There was a lot of camaraderie, you know.

There was a very family atmosphere.

Um, and it was also sort of, like,

in the trenches atmosphere.

Like, it was such a-- a tough project.


You know, everybody sort of really bonded together.

TIM: Oh my god!

Best present ever!

RAY: But there is a lot of good memories.

It was-- it was fun. I mean, it was fun!

I mean, it was-- it was difficult, but it was actually a lot of fun.


Okay, here is homie crossing a street.

-Homie crossing a street. -He is going to the wrestling match!

-[SCREAMING] -Awesome!


RUSTY: I remember during the crunches, you know, we'd get food in,

we'd sit in this room, we'd all be eating our Indian food,

we'd watch Arrested Development on the TV.

And those are some of the happiest memories

I have of working on Psychonauts.

But it was during the worst time of working on Psychonauts.


TIM: You crashed it, man.

TIM: For a long time the game just didn't feel right,

and it was really bugging us.

We were building environments, but the character didn't feel right.

And so, we finally started the Raz Action Status Meetings.

So, like, you know, what about sliding up the ladder,

sliding down the ladder, getting off the ladder,

jumping onto a tightrope.

And, like, we'd just go over those every single time we met.

Which was-- for a while it was, like, every other day.

And we'd just do it over and over and over again,

until he was snappy and it felt really good.

TIM: I'm new D'Art, and I run and I lean!

RAY: Oh, he's got the little side-- the little side run?

-TIM: Isn't it cool how he leans? -RAY: Yeah, that's cool!


But we still struggled to make a good, fun level.

We still were having trouble just coming up with a level

that really felt-- felt fun.

After trying to make the levels for a while

with level designers and artists...

There was always-- these big fights back then

about who owned the levels.

"Am I making the level and you are just making it pretty?"

Or: "Am I making this beautiful thing

and you are just dropping in logic into it?"

Eventually I felt like I had to pick one side or the other.

And, um...

Even though things were starting to look kind of pretty in the game,

things were not fun yet.

So, eventually, uh...

I don't even know if I want to go into all this stuff in the thing,

but we laid-- I fired my Lead Level Designer.

We promoted, um...

one of our level designers that we believed in.

It was Erik Robson.

Promoted-- made him the Lead Level Designer.

And then ended up clearing out the whole level design team.

It was our first, like--

Three people fired on the same day.

It was horrible, horrible day.

And, um... and then started again from scratch

with these new World Builders, like Geoff Soulis,

who were very junior at the time.

And, um...

And there was a lot less acrimony and a lot less fighting,

and things started getting done.

Um, but Microsoft was starting to be--

become tired of waiting for the game to become fun,

and were like: "You guys really have to...

make this game fun in the next three months.

Or we are going to can the project."

Microsoft didn't--

had reason not to trust us-- didn't trust us.

And we definitely felt that.

TIM: Erik just sat down with the current Black Velvetopia level,

and, like, rethought the whole thing.

And came up with the bull running through it thing.

We mocked that up and it started--

That's the first time the game started feeling like a real game.

We had the paintings you could hang, and it started coming together.

And they came down, and then they checked it out.

And I just remember the-- they had a design consultant,

who, um... who knew a lot about games,

because he had been a tester at Nintendo.

So, they were like: "He's gonna tell you if your game is any good."

And he was like: "It's mildly pleasant."


TV COMMENTATOR: So, Microsoft must be particularly pleased

with getting the nod for best original game for its Xbox.

Psychonauts won in that category. We are seeing it here.

It's a unique game about Raz,

a kid who goes to psychic summer camp to shape his psychic abilities.

He then gets to control people's minds.

Almost like a combination of Stephen King's Firestarter

and something from the X-Men.

That should hit shelves next spring.

But the impression that I had was it was pretty close to shipping.

Um, which it definitely was not.

We had really started to find-- figure out how to make the game.

And we were moving along pretty-- at a good rate at that point.

But it took us a long time to get there.

I remember when we got a call.

You know, we heard that there had been a change, uh, with the management.

INTERVIEWER: It kind of came as a surprise to a lot of gamers certainly,

and to most of the industry,

uh, when it was announced that you'd be leaving.

I mean, what was the kind of thinking behind your decision to leave.

ED FRIES: Uh, when I started in the game business

it was because nobody cared about it, and I could do it my way.

And I'd either succeed or fail, but, you know, I knew it was my decisions,

and that's where it was going to go.

Now... it's so important to the company

that there is a lot of people who have opinions about

how things should be done.

And, I'm just-- honestly, that was a difficult environment for me to work in.

TIM: "Ed Fries just quit. Um...

Uh, but everything is going to stay the same.

Nothing is going to change. But he just quit."

I was like: "Oh, well, that's-- I wonder if that's going to change anything."

After we'd heard everything is fine, I think it was the next day

that everything wasn't fine.

And we found out that we were-- we were canceled.

Well, for some reason they got nervous and they dropped it.

And I fear that they dropped it in favor of a really middling title Voodoo Vince.

Which-- which was a very pretty game, but not--

this is, I think, going to be a winner.

Now, who's call would that have been?

Um... I'm not 100%, but whoever it is, (they should be ashamed.)

PEREIRA: All right, fair enough.

I guess there is, like, a very-- that's a very common thing.

When, like, a new guy comes in, he wants to cut any none-sure bets.

Like, it's good to just, like, chop those out,

because you'll take the blame for them, if they don't pan out.

But I remember there was some of that focus group stuff that they were doing.

Based on all this feedback they got from people,

the weird score was, like,

much too high for them to, like, keep it around, you know.

Uh, here is the marketing document that Microsoft made for Psychonauts.

"Based on the twelve focus groups conducted worldwide,

the primary weakness of the game are:

The storyline, which is considered unoriginal, childish, and overly complex."


"Tongue-in-cheek nature of the game is a weakness.

In addition, many feel the humor would get old,

limiting replayability.

Humor should be simplified, and made immediately apparent."


"To help international appeal, limit game components

that feel especially Americanized, i.e. summer camp."

We did get dropped,

and we thought that all of that work

that we had done was going to be for nothing.

For that to just go away, just...

That was a-- a horrifying feeling.

I was like: "Oh, god."

So, we just, um, told the team to-- "We need to get ready for making a demo

that we are going to use to re-sign this game."

But... everybody stuck around.

RAY: Because everybody believed in it, and we-- we--

we were at a point where you could kind of see

what it was going to be.

And you knew that it was something special,

and so, we just kept-- kept working.



You know, and I'm not 100% sure how even the company kept, um...

running at that point?

I'm not-- you know, I don't really know where the money came from.

Maybe I don't want to know.

So, we are dragging it around, showing it everywhere,

and it was just really grueling.

That's where I started hating the word creative.

Because you pitch it, and then you knew if the first thing the publisher said was:

"It's very creative."

That, like, you weren't going to get signed.

That wasn't-- because that's not what they wanted to hear.

They are like: "It's very creative, very creative."

It's a way of saying-- it's, like: "Does not sound like money to me at all."

And that was a really dark and horrible time.

We thought this one publisher was going to sign it, and they were like:

"Give us your routing number. We are really--

We are into it. We are going to sign it."

And, um, so I was like: "Oh, this is going to be good!"

So-- but I was running out of money,

so I asked, um, a friend of mine, who I knew pretty well, um,

in the games industry, who I knew had done really well,

if I could, um...


uh, the equivalent of one-- one payroll.

Which was about $250,000.

"Quarter of a million dollars.

Can I borrow it? So I can make-- make it to when this wire is going to come in."

And, um, he was really generous, and he was like:

"Yeah. Yeah, sure. I looked into it, talked to my lawyer,

you can-- yeah, you can just do it."

And I was: "We'll pay interest!" And he was like: "Yeah, yeah, whatever."

And then, I was like: "Okay, we are going to make it."

And I went back to the office. And that-- that publisher

who got our wiring information just stopped calling us.

Just-- just not answering our calls. Just disappeared.

And I was like: "Oh my god!

Like, I-- I personally owe this guy quarter of a million dollars."

Like, even though I could go bankrupt and not pay him back,

because he was, like, a friend of mine, I pretty much have to

for the rest of my life pay him back until it was paid back.

Um, and I was just like: "Oh my god, I can't believe

I owe quarter of a million dollars to somebody,

and I'm going to just lose it all."


RUSTY: Yeah, and what a day that was.

I just remember...

Tim called us all...

I think the meeting happened, like, just right there.

That's where our old meeting space was.

And... we knew something was going on,

because Tim is not real good at hiding his emotions.

You know, his voice can kind of tremble, and his lip kind of goes like this.

And so, we knew something bad was going to happen.

And I stood up in front of the company and, like, said:

"Wednesday is your last paycheck.

Uh, we are out of money."

And then I just couldn't move my throat, and I just couldn't talk.

And no one could talk, and I just stood there,

and I heard, like, birds tweeting outside.

And we just stood there, like, for, like, I feel like 30 seconds or a minute.

Just standing. Just...


Until I could, like, say anything else.

And, um...

I was like: "You can use our computers to put your resumes together,

or, you know, you guys can stay working here for no money,

if you want to see if anything happens before the rent.


And, like, and then, I feel like--

I don't know if it was right then, when I went back to my desk,

or a little bit later that day.


But I saw the message about Majesco. Majesco was interested.

And we flew out there, and just somehow made that happen,

and signed that deal, and saved the whole company.

And, um...

We were able to pay that guy back, with interest, the money he had loaned us.

And, um...

And then the team was just like: "We gotta finish this game."

And everyone just threw themselves wholeheartedly

into finishing the game and making it awesome.

KEE: Towards the end, we were really going at a very, very fast speed.

And we were trying to get things done, like, bugs done:

"Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam."

Because, towards the end, like,

we all started going through all the levels.

RAY: There is a lot of detail in Psychonauts,

that Tim really wanted, that at the time we were kind of like:

"Agh, dude, why-- it's like-- It's, like, two in the morning.

Why are we hooking up this dialogue

that three people are going to see, you know?"


TIM: We kind of misprioritized a lot of hard to find stuff in the game,

that we put a lot of work into.

So, there is a lot of little things you can stumble upon that, um...

obviously, it's, like, two weeks of someone's time.

And you are like: "Wow, I didn't know that was in there!"


NIGHTMARES: (Why did you let us die?)

But now, you realize

those make Psychonauts special.

But, you know, everyone mostly kept their cool.

And most of the team stuck together,

and we-- we got-- we got through it, uh, somehow.

RUSTY: I mean, people were sleeping under their desks.

I remember Bagel sleeping under his desk.

I mean, it was exhausting.

We started sending out, or seeing these emails, like:

"Yeah, I just finished this level

and, uh, it was, like, actually fun."

I think we ourselves were the first to be surprised

that some-- that this-- that any of this--

that any of our efforts really paid off.

And that was the first time I was like: "Wow! All together it's pretty amazing."

"Wow, okay. We really have a good game."

Uh, but we did it. We finished the game.

TIM: So, here are...

...the things we need to talk about.

Mostly, the fact that we are done!


TV HOST: And they pull it off.

Double Fine Productions finally wraps up Psychonauts

on February 26th, 2005.

But, uh-- Uh, I'm not going to make a huge speech

because my hair is really puffy, and I'm on TV.


Thanks, everybody. A lot. I hope you are all feeling good.

So, congratulations. That's it!



It's been like a roller coaster.

It's been really great to see it turn into something

that we really consider fun.

GEOFF: I think, largely, at the studio,

it was just sort of, like, a sigh of relief.

Like, once it went out the door.

Uh, and you didn't have that--

that sort of long tail that you do nowadays.

Where it's like:

"Okay, the game came out! Time to start making DLC for it."

And all that other stuff. It was sort of like:

"All right, it's-- It's getting pressed to a disk, you know?"

We are done, and that's it!"


It was like being released from--

a prisoner coming back from war.

And you are like--

You don't know how to identify with outside people,

you know, go to parties and stuff like that.

Because you were just such a tight-knit group.

It was pretty comforting actually.

Dude, I gotta say though, I mean, when it was over,

I was-- I definitely didn't need to look at it all, after that.

And my mom was so excited.

Wanted us to play her Psychonauts game to help her get through it a little bit.

And all of us sat in there, and Tim was playing it.

And it was so quiet.

Because we were seeing so many bugs, and so many things,

and so many things we wanted to fix, so...


My mom is like: "Thanks for helping me out!"

And we are all...


The whole time.

Uh, we were-- everybody was really happy the way it was received.

NAVARRO: ...and exploring the ins and outs of people's minds.

All of which are just totally insane and fun to explore.

And you are just going to enjoy every minute of it.

BRAD: When we saw the reviews, we are like: "Yeah!"

You know, like, the reviews were by and large pretty good.

And yeah, I think that it was...

a bit disappointing that it sold as poorly as it did.


PAUL: What was the feeling?

I remember being really proud of it.

But then thinking, like: "Why aren't more people buying it?"

At the time, it just felt like: "Uh, I wonder why...

this game didn't just take over the world? Because I worked so hard on it."

And I think the team took that really hard too

Because they-- like I said, they put everything they had into it.

Even my own family.

The style, you know, the faces and stuff, like:

"Oh, that looks weird!"

And I think a lot of people just might have said:

"Oh, that-- eh.

That's just too odd looking for me."

If it didn't sell...

I mean, I was not really expecting it...

to sell at all.

I mean, I wasn't expecting it to come out for a while there, so.

Anything was good to me, you know?

I was very-- I was very happy with the reception of it, so.

ANNA: We'd gotten all these ridiculous awards like:

"Best game no one played."

Um, I don't know if Tim is going to like me saying this, but, like, he had a joke.

It was like: "You should-- Anna, you should go tell them

they are the nicest guy no one has slept with."

I was really frustrated, because it had sold okay.

Our numbers, they were telling us, like, 400,000 copies.

But in the public they were saying it sold 100,000 copies.

And all anyone would talk about, was, like,

how it was, like, a poster child for a good game that didn't sell.

Can't we just talk about it being a good game?

Instead of, like, how much it sold?

So, I-- I had a big chip on my shoulder for a long time.

But, um...

I was really happy with the response that people who did play it had to it.

B- Mask: ...memories or that person's thought process.

offering clues that say:

"Hey! There is a bit more going on here!"

Or maybe it's just weird.

See this room? Okay, you can shrink down and go inside the board.

See that window?

I think about this a lot.

ANNA: You know, it continued--

I guess it just had a weird-- it had a reputation.

And then, there must have been enough copies of it in the wild

that people did check it out.

But, I mean, I can't tell you how happy it makes me

that people kept playing it.

For sure, yeah. We didn't expect that at all.


RAY: But I think it's that story, uh...

and that world that I think people enjoyed more than anything.

Like, more than the platforming.

And, you know, it also...

in a lot of ways connects to, like, the--

the, like, you know, teen existence in all of us, you know.


People have found it, or they've heard about it.

And they are like: "Oh, yeah. I wanted to play that."

So, they bought it, and then they've told people,

and they've told people.

It's-- it holds up really well, and it's-- There aren't many games like it, you know?

Which is-- which is really cool.

It's nice that it's one of the games

that people seem to have a really special fondness for, because...

I feel like it's a really good-natured game.

No one in Psychonauts is, kind of, irredeemable.

They are all-- When you go into their mind,

you see they are just facing a lot of tough things.

And you fight-- you help them fight them, and help them kind of heal or... overcome.

And this gets them control.

So, I feel like it's a-- it's a positive-spirited game.

And so, it's nice that people reacted to that.

I think, people just respond to all that stuff.

And-- and-- And want to see it again.


Hey, everyone! Welcome back to Inside Gaming Daily for Tuesday.

How you all doing?

First up, headline. Let's get right to it. Notch wants to make Psychonauts 2!

TIM: I mean, in some ways, I-- I have to credit Notch for some of this.

When he started that, uh, process of tweeting at me, like:

"Hey, let's make this happen!"

It did kind of, like...

spark this idea of, like:

"It could happen. You could do it. You could actually make it."

Like: "I thought we could never make it. But maybe we can make it!"

And... we went down the road with him a little bit

like it was going to happen, and it ended up not working out.

But by that point, that part of my brain

that thought it was a possibility that it could happen, was already awake.

It was, like, already lumbering towards the finish line.

And I was like: "Oh, god." Now I've got this sense of, like:

"I gotta make this game, and it can't be stopped."

Seeing how excited also--

Not just his tweet, but seeing how people reacted to it.

You know, it's waking up to one of those phone messages like:

"You should look on Twitter."

And, like: "Wha-at? That's a lot of tweets."

And, um...

Just seeing how excited people were at the thought that it might happen.

I was like:

"Maybe people do want this to happen. Maybe we-- it'd be worth doing."


I mean, I'd always be excited to work on another Psychonauts.

Just getting, like, that energy back.

And to go back to that world, to go back to those characters.

I would-- Yeah, I would--

It's exciting just to think about going back, and--

and making that game again.

PAUL: Do you expect it to go smoother overall?

(Oh, god, yes.)


Yeah, I'm too old for it to go the way it went the last time.

I mean, we kind of all made a pact with each other

that that would not happen again.

He just pointed to the UI.


He said: "I found this thing."

KEE: The big challenge, really, going at this game again,

is to kind of retain that, like,

naive optimism that we had from the beginning.

Where we would say, like: "Yeah, let's do that!"

Instead of, like: "Uh, I don't know."

And, um, I think we are experienced enough to pull that off

without completely destroying ourselves.

So, um...

Yeah, I have-- I have very high hopes for it, for sure.


TIM: Our animation style, I think, has changed a lot too.

RAY: Oh, yeah. It's gotten a lot better.

RAY: Yeah, I mean, Tim keeps saying--

Because, you know, he talked about doing a sequel.

And I just said: "I'm kind of terrified of doing this project again."

And not even because how difficult the first one was, but...

I think it's more just what expectations of people--

that people have.

Um, there is a lot of people with a lot of fond memories of-- of the game.

And, uh-- and they want to have those--

They want that again.

And that's very-- I think that's really hard to, um...

...give people.

"I really loved the first one, but they really shit the bed with this."

You know, like-- because there will be.

And that's the thing is that--

You have a team that's going to be different

from the team that we had back then.

They are going to have different personalities

and those personalities will be reflected in a different way.

Just because that's how it is. That's how--

People make games, you know what I mean?

So, the game is going to be different.

And for some people it's going to be different enough,

where they are no longer--

they-- they don't connect with it in the same way.

And that's a bummer, but...

I think people--

as long as everyone is okay that that's what's going to happen then--

then it's no problem.

TIM: "What if no one likes what I'm doing? Like, well, what is it--

Who do I want to make like this, you know?"

I mean, for me, it would be, like, everyone who liked Psychonauts.

I would want them to like Psychonauts 2. I would not want to change that.

So, um...

But I feel as long as it's coming from the the same place,

and all of our intentions,

it will only be deepened by the fact that we have more life experiences

to draw from to make this game.

TIM: ...crazy production on that project.

Um, and for those of you who weren't here...

Uh, no hard feelings. We don't hold it against you.

Hopefully, you get a chance to work on a Psychonauts game in the near future.


Maybe! So, happy birthday!


Hey, Ray!

TIM: Splitting in half.

This is what we did with Broken Age.

The sweet, sweet filling was right in the middle.

This is actually what you do with a video game.

Because you never-- you always want your filler to be in the middle.

Never on the end or the beginning.

So, there you go.

How to make video games.

It's easier than you think.



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