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Bringing Back Psychonauts

The studio prepares to announce Psychonauts 2 on a new funding platform, creating both fresh opportunities and complications.

Published: January 20th 2023

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Episode Transcript

GREG: All right. Ready, Tim?


TIM: Grasslands is starting to warm up.

For new guys, that's Psychonauts 2. That's our code name for Psychonauts 2.

Next week is the art jam.

Which I have to do,

because I need some-- some more ideas.

How is it going so far?

-Pretty goo-od! -TIM: Yea-ah!

But also, some of the art would obviously be helpful

for the, um, sequel to Psychonauts

that we are going to be crowdfunding in December.

It would be pretty embarrassing to not do well.

-TIM: Three hundred and fifty-five others. -BAGEL: Another explosion?

SCOTT: Three hundred fifty-five thousand?


A hundred people are dead at the concert of the Eagles of Death Metal.

-Eagles of Death Metal? -Yeah.

The band Eagles of Death Metal was playing in Paris,

and they don't know if the band is alive or not.

So weird.

That's crazy! And no one is claiming what it is?

-No one is claiming responsibility? -TIM: No...

SCOTT: All European borders are closed for the first time since World War II.

-So, basically, it's game changing. -TIM: Man, what a rough day!

Fucked up! 9/11 happened during Psychonauts.

Remember that? Joe Ching brought in his TV and set it up.

And we all just stood around the TV watching it.


-Morbid. -Jeez.

SCOTT: Yeah, is there any other things we should chat about?

This is like our-- We are coming to our close here.

TIM: Like, the campaign--

-TIM: Some of the campaign stuff. -Campaign stuff.

TIM: A nice piece from both-- all three of you guys would be great.

Campaign piece.

You want-- you want the interior to be the campaign piece?

Like he just walked in through the front door.

TIM: To kind of tell the story, like: "Oh, we are going to a new place."

Whatever you think would look cool. Whatever you are thinking--

you feel comfortable would make a cool thing

that would make people look at it and be like:

"Oh, yeah, the Psychonauts are awesome! And they are doing new Psychonauts stuff!"

PETER: Gre-e-e-g!

GREG: I'll email about the campaign stuff.

BAGEL: Is it three weeks--

Yeah, a lot to do.

GREG: Uh, but, yeah, now everything is Grasslands.

So, now that it's done, now we are focused on the campaign.

And getting things ready for that, um...

So, plan is still December 3rd for launching that.

-What?! -We've got trailers in the works.

-TIM: That's way too soon. -It is very soon.

So, it is going to be accelerating quickly.

GREG: I feel like as soon as Broken Age shipped,

I went immediately onto trying to plan this campaign and figure everything out.

So I feel like it's actually been, you know, five months maybe of work,

or at least thinking about it.


GREG: Yeah, all right, come back!

Thanks for letting me play video games on your couch.

-That was fun. -Yeah, anytime, anytime!

Shit's good!

-GREG: We just invited you. -TIM: Yeah, we just invited you.

MATULEF: Okay, sounds-- sounds good.


All right, so...

-Psychonauts 2 is happening. -TIM: What?!

Oh my god! Who leaked that out?!

TIM: That's crazy. Yeah, it was us.

-Probably us. -It was me.

TIM: And we are going to make Psychonauts 2,

and hopefully crowdfund it.

A combination: crowdfunding, Double Fine revenue,

and, like, an outside publishing partner.

Um, but we are going a different route now.

We are funding it with Fig and crowdfunding.

Which is, um, of course scary, but I think really exciting.

Because it's a-- it's a whole new deal. That could be really great.

GREG: But, uh, yeah, Fig is, uh, Justin's new gig.

Uh, yeah. So, after Broken Age shipped,

uh, he went over to start this new platform,

which is where we are gonna be launching our crowdfunding campaign on.

And then, the new big thing is, uh, the investment portion of it.

Just any fan who is interested investing in the game, uh, could choose

to either do a rewards based investment, or invest in the game for actual revenue.

JUSTIN: Yeah, there's a great message here, I think, too.

Because Tim three years ago went to Kickstarter

and kind of started this-- the ball rolling.

And then, now, to take that next, evolutionary step is-- is really exciting.

Evolutionary step.

I'm working on the PR messaging now.

TIM: Yeah, I can sense that.

GREG: I have no idea what to expect.

I mean, I feel like it's always going to be hard to be like Broken Age.

That was, like, such an out of left field thing.

And I do feel like, um...

As much of a fan base as Tim has for all those old adventure games,

I feel like the Double Fine fan base feels really at core a Psychonauts fan base.

And I feel like we hear: "When is Psychonauts 2 coming?"

more often than: "I want another adventure game from Tim."

Well, it's, um, 3.3 million.

Because that's what we got the first time. And we wanted to kind of,

as a way of in some way saying 'Thank you' to the people who gave us that money,

kind of recognize them with that amount.

But also to be really honest about what we need.

Because we don't want to, you know--

I think it's morally wrong to ask for less than you need.

Because if you just, you know-- We didn't--

I mean, when we asked for, um, $400,000, that was what we needed

to make that little Flash game that I thought we were going to make.

And then we got much more than that, so we changed our plans.

But this time, we have a model for what we are going to make.

We are going to make a game that we can compare to Psychonauts 1.

So, we know the kind of game we want. And we know that it'd cost money.

And so, we know--

We are just going to say: "This is the amount of money we make.

And if we don't get that much money, then we are just not going to make it."

I mean, that's-- We need that.


PAUL: Is there anything that you are particularly worried about?

-TIM: Yes! -PAUL: Outside of everything.

TIM: There are many things that I am particularly worried about.

I am worried about the entire thing!


And we are asking for a lot of money. We are not just, like--

I was nervous about asking for $400,000.

And now we are asking for 3.3 million.

Mostly because if we can't get that, we don't want to do it.

Like, we just-- We can't do it.

So, um...

It could go bad, but, I mean,

that's in some way is the beauty of crowdfunding is that if it goes bad,

you know, you don't want to make that.

You know, if you can't get the right amount of money to make it,

then you shouldn't make it. So, it's kind of self-correcting.

It's just going to be a painful correction,

if that's what the message people send us is that they don't--

that they don't want to back it.

But I feel like they will.

There seems to be this pent-up excitement about it that, I think, um,

as long as we haven't made some horrible technical error,

or there is something just, like, someone is like--

Because sometimes it is just one fact about a campaign.

Like, someone is confused.

Or if they are too confused about the Fig portion of it,

they are confused about equity crowdfunding and what it means.

If some of that messaging throws them off, um, it could blow the whole thing.

But I think there'll be enough just genuine Psychonauts fans

who want to back it, who will--

who will plow through the confusion and-- and back it,

that it will-- it will work out.

TIM: And we are figuring out a kind of investment

that has not-- was not even legal, like, a little while ago.

And it's still not technically legal now.

It's just going to be by the time we are ready to take the money.

It will be legal then.

How about that? It's like we are setting up a weed store.


It's like we are setting up a medical marijuana dispensary

before it's legal, because by the time we open the doors, it will be legal.

But that's exciting! That's cool, isn't it?

That's how you know you are doing something that, uh...

Um, I mean, we are always--

I've always been attracted to that kind of thing.

You know, things that are like: "Oh, this is fresh territory."

You are hacking through branches instead of following a trail.

Yeah! It's exciting.


It's a little scary.

But it comes back on us, right?

These are our fans that are going to be like:

"Hey, you guys have sold 600,000 units, and I still haven't broken even."


Is this just for accredited investors or is this for the one where anyone--

-This is for non-accredited investors. -Okay.

Because the one where anyone can invest needs to be plain English as well.

I don't know. I think you--

I think that would get into this fuzzy territory

where you are exploiting people who--

I mean, I think you have to treat them the same.

You do, but I am saying--

but you have to, like, spell things out a bit more.

You have to point out the risks and, you know...

Yeah, but... Exactly, like, pointing out the risks.

You can't just be like: "Hey, I'm Tim! Now you can invest, give me some money."

And, like, if it's too casual, it's--

Oh, no, I don't mean casual, I just mean it needs to--

Like, there are people who aren't used to reading legal texts,

and in fact have never read it, ever, in their entire lives.

This text is very intimidating.

I mean, I just think, in fairness,

like, morally, in some ways it should be intimidating.

I mean, it shouldn't be, like, easy to, like, give your money--

that much money, like, a thousand bucks to--

You should think, you should pause, I guess.

Yeah, we should spell it out.

SPAFF: So, there is a ton of stuff going on right now,

and it's kind of breaking me. But it's--


But, you know, it's fun underneath it all.

It'll be really rewarding when it's done.

Uh, the Fig page text is there.

There is no FAQ in there yet though.

The rewards stuff needs to be written.

I need to write blog posts,

newsletter posts, social media posts for every single announcement,

and across, like, all the things we are doing.

They don't really exist yet. So, there is a lot of writing to do yet.

Psychonauts was born on April 19th, 2005 to critical acclaim,

but disappointing sales figures.

However, Psychonauts had the uncanny ability

to get inside the minds of those who played it,

and they told their friends about it.

I don't know why we keep emphasizing the disappointing sales figures.

Why do we want to tell that story about Psychonauts all the time?

Uh, I think what the story we are trying to tell is

that they aren't disappointing sales figures anymore.

I think we should take out the word "disappointing sales figures."

-[TIM LAUGHS] -Okay, yeah.

Well, I mean the-- the gist of this is, like:

"The story out there everyone knows right now is that

the game did not sell well."

But we are saying: "It has now. It's picked up momentum.

It is selling more now."

Yeah, I mean, it's frustrating for me,

because at the time it was overstated how badly it sold.

Like, it sold fine for us.

-Mm-hmm. -And it was just--

People really jumped on it as being a poster child for not selling,

you know, original games not selling well.

They kind of overstated it, and so it's, like, I feel like--

I agree, but that became the story, right?

I know, but I don't want to reinforce that story all the time.

The first interview we did,

that was the first question they asked about Psychonauts.

It was like: "Didn't sell that well, right?"

And then we had to answer that.

I can just rewrite it, so that it says: "It came out to critical acclaim,

and then grew to become a cult classic."

MATT: Yeah, I think that sounds great.

SPAFF: But also, on the back end of that, two days later is PlayStation Experience.

We are going to announce, um, Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin,

which is the VR project that we are making.

I want him to just jump up and be in the center,

just like Palmer Luckey is in that thing.

But he goes right to the side, he gets shoved right to the side.

SPAFF: And...

I wish we really weren't announcing that two days later.

That's definitely going to be something that, I think, you know, is going to cause

some people to be confused for sure.

Um, people would be like: "Oh, is this Psychonauts 2?"


Um... so, yeah.

The timing there, unfortunately, is something we have to do.

Um, and I wish we didn't have to do it.

But we'll make it work.

I just wish we had a little bit more time to plan for that messaging.

I feel like we'll get there.

We are going to be shooting the campaign video maybe this week?

As early as this week, it sounds like?

TIM: It sold a couple of hundred thousand copies,

went out of print,

and then faded off into the sunset forever.

Or so it seemed.


Which is great! But what about another kind of game?

Whatever happened to 3D action-adventure platformers?

With color, and sound, and...

Well, they all have sound. Fuck me, okay...


Is that good?


Is that a wrap? Is that a wrap? Okay, guys, thank you!

Thank you, everybody.

And we got videos of everyone talking about how they are into it.

TIM: Um, and that's been fun.

Dude, why are you even asking me? You know I'm into it!


Wait a second. That's the one I was in, right?

-PAUL: Holy shit. -[TIM CHUCKLES]


He is the best!

He is the best.


I feel much better about this campaign now.

Yeah, just from that.

TIM: It's exciting to see people legitimately being excited about the game.

As I ordered them to be.

GREG: Yeah, I didn't even see this at all.

This is the page! This is the page. Show us some of this art.

There is new stuff no one's seen down here yet.

There is a carousel. We are going to have--

You are in the carousel.

Oh, lovely key art! Emily.

There is a new Peter Chan, the Psychonauts headquarters.

Just, like, an early look of this--

The kind of-- the feel of the lobby.

GREG: I feel like there is always, like, so much second guessing.

And thinking about every little detail, and overthinking every little detail.

And a lot of anxiety,

and it's just going to be nice to just be like:

"It is what it is. It's done. It's ready. Let's put it out."

I don't know. I just, like-- We just looked at the trailers,

and everything like that, and I feel like, um...

It's hard to not watch them and get goosebumps.

So, that's a good sign.



TIM: Yeah, everything is coming in kind of hot.

But, you know, everything always does.

That's deadlines, that's why you have deadlines.

If it wasn't for the Video Game Awards show

being on a certain date, um,

we probably would have pushed it out to have a little more time, but...

It's gotta happen sometime, might as well happen now.

And, uh, that awards show is just too big an opportunity, I think.

Tomorrow we are going to go down to LA.

And we are going to do the Video Game Awards,

where we are going to show the trailer for Grasslands,

which we'll be able to call Psychonauts 2 tomorrow.

This will be really exciting, yes.


And we are trying to be really good about the secrecy.

Even though I've done some embargoed interviews and stuff.

I'm hoping everyone just keeps quiet about it until it comes up.

Because the way that trailer is going to go,

it's just like you guys said in that thread.

Everyone is supposed to think it's, like, a Call of Duty trailer,

or something really-- not even thinking about Double Fine at all.

And then, when he says: "Psychonauts." And everyone is like: "What?!"

And their heads spin around, and then shoot into the air.

Which is weird, because-- Okay.

Um, and then, it would hopefully be super, super exciting.

So, we want to have a viewing party here, in Lola.

So if you want to come and watch the awards,

and watch Tim announce Psychonauts,

and then we can press the big button and launch the campaign.

Because we have to manually launch the campaign.

So, we can wire that up here, and we can-- we can launch it.

So, that'll be fun.

Um, it's going to be exciting.

And, uh, hopefully, I won't be able to come back in on Monday,

because there'll be just a big wad of cash by the door,

and I won't be able to open it.

Ah, it's exciting to think about, isn't it?

We'll make, uh...

If it overperforms, then we will overperform on the team

and make an awesome game.

PAUL: Should we record our three messages depending on the outcome?

And what was-- what was my response if we didn't get funded?


No spoilers. I'm actually going to play that.

GREG: These last few days have been, like,

a bit of hand-wringing, and just waiting, and just final tweaks here and there,

and touching up, like, uh, just little, little issues, and polish.

And, uh, at some point now it's just: "Pencils down and let's go."

JUSTIN: Yeah, we'll work on the, um, all the language

that we are going to send over to Double Fine to, like, approve.

And we'll do that, like, all done in the next hour.

-JUSTIN: Does that sound good? -Yep.

-Okay. -JUSTIN: Talk to you, guys, in an hour.

-Awesome, thanks for talking. -Thanks, guys!

And then maybe we can get food. Or look at the campaign page.



PRESENTER: Streaming live.

Downtown Los Angeles.

This is The Game Awards 2015.


PRESENTER: And now, please welcome the creator of The Game Awards.

-PRESENTER: Here is Geoff Keighley! -Geoff Keighley!



-Oh, Jesus! -Oh, whoa, whoa!

-He is not sorry. -He is not sorry at all.

KEIGHLEY: Uh, and right now we are going to get right into

our first award of the night.

Thanks for backing our campaign.

Thanks for checking our campaign.

So thanks for--

So check out our campaign at, because we can't do it without you.

And thank you for helping me bring back Psychonauts!

After this is a commercial break,

then CHVRCHES, and then us.

-GREG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. -That was cool.

Where you are just like...

So check out our campaign at, because we can't do it without you.

And thank you for helping me bring back Psychonauts.


All right, I think we are after this.


ANNOUNCER: World premiere.

Oh, shit!

-Yeah! -Yeah!


General! We've located the base where they are holding the hostages, sir.

Excellent! Mobilize the ground troops we have on standby.

Sir, the base is on an island, thirty miles off shore!

Then you better get the admiral on the phone.

The surrounding waters are heavily mined for miles, sir!

Then send in the Air Force!

Sir, the air space around the island is patrolled by dirty bomb drones,

which are telepathically controlled by a comatose young girl,

who believes she is herding a flock of sheep, sir!


Then send in...

The Psychonauts!

Oh my god!

R-- wh-- what?!

The fuck?!

Look at the tweets!


Is this an actual fucking sequel?

Oh. Oh!

Wow! I never thought I'd see the day.

That's amazing.

Oh my god!


PRESENTER: ...Tim Schafer!

We are going to launch our page now, you guys.

-Yay! -Okay.

SPAFF: Who wants to push the button? Come on, everyone gather in there.

-Everyone get in there, lots of people. -TIM: Thank you, thank you!

SPAFF: It's the blue one. The blue one. Everyone hover over that.


Thank you for playing Psychonauts! Thank you for--


Eight! Seven!

Six! Five!

Four! Three!

Two! One!


Okay. Did it work?

Did it do it?

-Yeah! -Oh, okay! It's up, it's up, it's up!

TIM: So, please, check out our campaign at,

because we can't do it without you.

And thank you for helping us bring back Psychonauts!

Thank you!



KEIGHLEY: Psychonauts is back.

Psychonauts 2. So excited about the game.

I've been waiting for Tim to make that for many years.

"Psychonauts 2 is real! Take my money!"

"Psychonauts 2! What?!"

"The Game Awards, yeah!"

"GregRicey is good."

"I just screamed until my skull broke in twain."

"Psychonauts is tight."

Psychonauts is tight, you guys!

Okay, I'm happy now. Just gotta sleep for, like, two days.

-Right?! -And then...


Except for all the stuff we have to do!

-Yay! -Nice job, guys!


I know! It's, like, a real, like, a grown-up man.

The classic man.

KEIGHLEY: All right, and we wanted to announce one other

exclusive sale for the fans tonight, for a limited time only...

We can continue watching the awards if you want,

or we can just get really drunk now.

or we can just get really drunk now.

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