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Psychonauts 2’s funding campaign is in full effect, but Double Fine finds itself confronting criticisms of previous projects in order to move forward.

Published: January 20th 2023

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Episode Transcript

SPAFF: Oh, wow!


-SPAFF: What a day for that to show up. -Yeah.

"How does it feel to milk so much money from the nostalgia of fans?"

"Why are you so shit? Thank you."

That's a good question.

SPAFF: "On a scale of 1 to 420 how much did you blaze it

when making the trippy parts of Psychonauts?"


SPAFF: "It was not my intention when writing..."

I don't want to do, like, one of those non-apology apologies,

where you are like: "I'm sorry if you were offended."

Because that's just kind of saying--

that's what people always say when they aren't apologizing.

SPAFF: Yeah, so say: "I'm sorry I offended you."

You offended that person. That's a fact.

You offended that person.

This is a chance to, like--

This is a real human person who was a Double Fan, who's met you, and...

This is a chance for us to see...

It's, like, the other side.


-Psychonauts 2 is happening. -TIM: What?! Who leaked that out?!

TIM: And we are going to make Psychonauts 2,

and hopefully crowdfund it.

-GREG: ...December 3rd for launching that. -What?!

It's a little scary.

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

and it's kind of breaking me.

GREG: We are talking about VR experiences.

TIM: Um, as kind of a missing mission between Psychonauts 1 and 2.

And we are going to do the Video Game Awards.

ANNOUNCER: World premiere!

TIM: Where we are going to show the trailer for Psychonauts 2 tomorrow.

Then send in...

The Psychonauts!

Oh my god!

-TIM: Ra-a-ay! -RAY: Hello! Welcome back!

-Hello! -Welcome back, welcome back!

TIM: So, we launched our campaign last night.

And I was really nervous, and... went great. I have to say it went--

It was, like, best case scenario on everything.

Because, like... I was really nervous,

because everything is coming in very last minute,

a lot of things were not agreed upon.

And I was so worried it was going to slip.

We had heard that there was something-- there was another reveal

that was supposed to happen in the show.

And it leaked early, and so it was cut from the show.

And I wanted so much to have that moment, um, on stage

where we would show the trailer, and people didn't know what was coming,

and they thought it was a trailer for Call of Duty,

and all of a sudden it's this trailer for Psychonauts.

And I wanted that moment.

It happened. It was so great!


Awesome, okay. I'm going to go lay down for a bit.

Good luck, you guys!

All right, thank you!

Let's do it, you guys!

All right.

-Thank you! -Thank you!

That's Bonnie Ross! She made Halo!


TIM: And then people on Twitter were freaking out,

and everyone was so nice and happy.

And then the campaign just took off, even faster than we were expecting.

So, it was just--

It was just nice to get that validation that people did actually want the game.

And the internet was nice for once. And that was great.

I shouldn't say that. The internet's been very nice to me.

Most of the time.

Part of the time.

The funniest one was, man...

"Anyone who backs Tim Schafer--

Anyone who keeps giving Tim Schafer money

after Fez II is really bad at pattern recognition."

-[LAUGHTER] -TIM: I was like...

"I can't tell if you are being a genius right now or super stupid."

So, what's going on with that campaign?

SPAFF: Do a refresh, see where we are at.


-Welcome to my life. -SPAFF: Oh, it went up!

-Oh, 952! -SPAFF: By one thousand!

-[SPAFF LAUGHS] -TIM: Oh my god!

Okay. So, that's what's going on there.

Let's talk about GVR!

Hey, Rhombus of Ruin!

-You can say that really loud. -Woo!

Hey! Give me an update on Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, guys.

If you can't wait for Psychonauts 2,

we do have something special, just for you, guys.



TIM: That's Chad's update. He just started clapping.

He is like: "I'm excited."

He just can't hide it.

Most of the team now can stop working on the trailers,

and start working on the game again, which is good.


We could do a little more polish.

We never got around to the barefoot thing.

So let's, um, keep working on it.

As a team we are kind of figuring out

how we are wrapping up the end of this year.

Kind of going into production starting January.



Awesome. You are public now.

ANDY: The game was announced, which is really, really cool.

So, it's good. I was--

I was happy to tell everybody that I know, like, what I'm working on.

I'm continuing to do organizational stuff.

I'm working on some budgeting stuff

and getting staffing running out through the remainder of the project,

especially into production, so that we actually have enough people,

and no other games steal them.

Especially because by five o'clock on the 17th, I am out of here!

Because I have a very important movie to see!


That's the second--

-I'll be leaving that night as well. -Yeah.

-[CHUCKLING] -I'll be leaving Earth.

ANDY: All right. So, uh, yeah.

We are making this Rhombus of Ruin game.

How are we making this Rhombus of Ruin game?

Well, let's start-- Starting from the back.

That's when this game is supposed to be done.

Okay, can we look at the budget real quick?

Ooo, tiny numbers!

RAY: So, the animation-- Because we are l--

looking to hire an animator.

We need somebody to go onto Psychonauts 2 also.

Oh, that game...


Could be you, Ray.

TIM: Got an open spot.

I gotta do these other things.

-ANDY: Ray-- Ray is... -TIM: Chad's got it!

...intimately involved with this chart.


Look at that chart. Do you want to stick around for this?!



PAUL: That looks like Psychonauts.

Cool, I'm glad-- That's good to hear.

So, we are just starting to ramp up now.

And we are just getting things moving, so.

It's all slowly starting to happen, so.

Everything here...

was made in Maya.

And Unreal basically is a level builder.

I kind of work messy, and I have all my stuff in one big file.

But, basically, I'll break this down into smaller files,

where you have, like, a chair file.

For example, like, this file here, basically, gets imported into Unreal,

and then we just place it.

It's all modular, basically.

We dropped the characters in.

And those are slowly coming online now too,

which is really cool, so.

So, things are slowly coming in.

What the?! When did that appear?

The jet is meant to be more of a-- a very small sandbox for your powers.

So, we want the player to experiment with their powers,

and figure out, like, what they can do.

Oh, cool! Oh, look at that!

Yeah! Here! Now you can have it, Coach.


-Can I set it all on fire? -SILVIO: You can!

RAY: The whole cabinet is--

SILVIO: Give it a second, give it a second.

-SILVIO: There you go. -[LAUGHTER]

TIM: And close it!

Oh, no! You guys, we gotta land.


SILVIO: We are very close to getting a flaming bag of poop.

Which is something Brad really, really, really wanted.

Flaming bag of poop would be really good though.

Where did the poop come from?

-PAUL: Do it in his honor. -Yes.

PAUL: So, what's your general level of comfort in Unreal at this point?

LEVI: Oh, look at that! I don't even know what I did.


Pro. Pro at work here.

I have not touched this engine before.

H stands for height.

Pro tip.


They had gotten to the point where they started needing, uh,

a look into material dev for, uh...

just where Psychonauts had come from,

and where it's going to go in terms of the two generations

that it's kind of, like-- that have been since the original.


Especially, like, now that there is just so much more that you can do.

Material work was pretty much hand-painted before, right?

Um, so, it didn't have much, uh, roughness or specularity,

or normal mapping going on.

Maybe, like, Raz's helmet did a little bit.

But, uh, mainly everything was just, like, painted in shadows, and, uh...

So you got a really, really, uh, strong artistic thumbprint for the game,

because it was handcrafted.

Every single thing was, like, you know, an artist's touch.

Like, all the way down to the little spatters of paint,

or, uh, the texture of the brush.

And I have this kind of wood plank in there,

that, uh, was based on an old one.

I'm still working on it, but this is an original Psychonauts texture.

Res'd up a little bit.

Yeah, being able to res those up, and see the world coming together

in just, like, a higher fidelity is-- is pretty, pretty exciting.

So, we are trying to find, like, that halfway point of, like,

believable materials, but not losing, um...

that handcrafted feel...

that Psychonauts is, like, I think, resonated with people.

PAUL: Were you given any sort of, uh, limits?

Just because of performance, and, like, the VR strain?

LEVI: Nothing yet.

Um, I haven't checked any of this stuff in yet, so.

I'll just check some stuff in,

and then I'll hear my name and cursing from down the hall.

And then we'll know we are at the limits.

ANDY: So, we are kind of changing gears.

Up until now, the focus has been making one level look really good.

Which was the jet.

And learning about how that's going to work,

and there was a lot of back-and-forth.

Now we are moving forward on:

"Let's get designs locked down,

let's build out environments in a rougher, faster sense,

to get the gameplay... kind of foundation put together,

so we could start moving forward on multiple environments."

TIM: The Rhombus of Ruin team is getting more and more independent.

I just had to help them finish the last-- the, um, design,

and then I can write the dialogue.

TIM: Phew!

-Okay, excellent. -Cool.

Keep up the good work, you virtual people.

Thanks, Tim. Good luck with the writing.

-TIM: Yeah! Thank you. -[RAY LAUGHS]

Hint, hint, hint.

TIM: Do you want me to show you my GVR dialogue?

Let me show you the awesome GVR dialogue!

So, I'll turn in a dialogue file like this.

And then the team can make comments right here, see?

That's a good reaction from me: "Nope."

There's Chad talking about a puzzle changing.

So, we talk back and forth in this Google Doc.

When is the dialogue that's been written so far is going to be implemented?

-Um, that is a good question. -Because I'd like to see that in the game

before I write more dialogue.

TIM: I mean, you do your best to just imagine it.

But it's, like, a lot.

Like, all of Grim Fandango I was just--

I was imagining how the game would be done in my head,

because I was trying to--

We had to get it done so far in advance that when the game actually got wired up--

So I was wiring up rooms that had never been drawn.

I was just like: "He walks into a room." And, like, you know, um...

And so, you do that a lot, predictive writing.

You do your best, and then you make the stuff,

and then you see where all the gaps are,

and you are like: "Okay, what are we missing?"

And then, hopefully, you have a smaller amount of work to just pick up.

We got that new Psychonauts 2 designer coming in.

RAY: I know...

And Tim's head seemed to be on:

"I gotta start meeting with that guy every day, and...

that's going to be my main... focus on."

You know?

I mean, I feel like I can pull, like, one day a week towards GVR.


-[RAY LAUGHS] -TIM: Because I have this other project...

-TIM: ...that I am doing. -RAY: I know! Who's gonna write this game?

Why do you think it takes more than a week?

You got a day.

-I wrote the last one in a day. -RAY: Did you?

-Yeah. -Oh, okay.

TIM: In a weird way, like, once you make those characters,

and they are in your head, like, they just start talking again.

I think...

Who knows, maybe when you play it, you are like:

"This doesn't sound like them."

Except I never write like this.

I write, as you know, with my Pandora heavy metal station on.


TIM: And I've been able to write dialogue in sections.

It's been pretty fast, so.

I think I can just help them with dialogue,

while I'm designing Psychonauts 2.

And it's good, because it's all one big Psychonauts world to work in.

It helps me, because I can put things in both games that speak to each other.

And occasionally play it and say: "That doesn't seem very Psychonauts."

-Yeah. -Okay.

-Your scale is different in the rat. -Aah!

-[CHAD LAUGHS] -It's the chair.

CHAD: Move down to that car with that glass roof.

That's where Lili should be now.


TIM: And I can't move the...

CHAD: Well, we can still do a bit of this puzzle.

Then you can get a sense of it.

TIM: I think this one is neat. Is that burning?

-CHAD: Uh, that one is not wood. -TIM: It looks metal.

CHAD: Yeah, that one up there is wood. You got it.

There's only two that are wood.

And then it's a sliding puzzle.

It's a little hard to tell what to do without her here.

But, um, you can feel, kind of, how it is to slide the, uh,

slide the blocks around.

TIM: So, we gotta make a path for her

or is she constantly moving into the empty space?

CHAD: She is constantly moving into the empty space.

But that's sort of the sequence. It's like five cars.

It's neat. And the sliding puzzle, it's--

It's, um...

Yeah, it's hard to gauge how fast was it.

It seemed like it went by really, really fast.

I just wish it was, like, a little-- slightly harder one.

So you kind of, like, taking that skill you learned, and then, um...

doing a cooler version of it.

And, like, there's-- there is one that is almost the same,

but the first one doesn't have any crates you have to burn.

You are like: "Oh, I slide it around. That's easy."

And the next one is like: "Holy crap! It's all jam-packed. What am I gonna do?"

So you have to figure out:

"Oh, I gotta burn all the wood crates, and stuff."

CHAD: Almost everything we show Tim,

he wants it to be more elaborate is his feedback.

And there is a sliding puzzle with Lili and a guard.

So, like, if you ever led them into the same place...

Like, it's-- you have to, like, keep them separate or something, I don't know.

Like, most of his ideas are-- are good.

Um, he'd probably say all.

But I'd say most of his ideas are good.

And you want to get it in there,

but, you know, the practical side of you, um, is definitely saying:

"That's a whole new character, that's new animation, that's new work.

Um, is it worth adding those things?

Or should we take our existing things and polish them, and make them better?"

But, you are right, it's, um... It's always a trade-off with time.

I want to try to hit this in preparation

for there being any sort of E3 demo.

We are contractually obligated for E3.


-It's a lot of work. -We can just limit it to, like, the jet.

I would say that, you know, the opening six minutes of the game.

But then, that-- that takes us back to the same thing.

-ANDY: Right. -RAY: Which is...

We would need to-- Those would be near final.

Not near final.

Near final?





Oh, sorry. It was a long campaign.

-Friday. -Final weekend.

Are we doing anything over the weekend for the campaign?

Um, we haven't talked about that.

-I'm sure we'll be out on social. -Yes, we will.

I don't know what that...

Okay. Let's first talk about the AMA.

-Yeah. -AMA.

You pre-sighed that conversation.

You went: [TIM SIGHS]


GREG: Now the number two question is:

"What's your big takeaway from doing the Double Fine Adventure doc?

Did the transparency gain you more trust or suspicion from your supporters?"

TIM: We are making a bigger game than we Kickstarted.

We are delivering it later, but we are paying with our own money.

And then to have that framed as a total scam and a rip-off by us...

...just is kind of mind-boggling.

You know, after--

You know, when we split the game in half we lost some people forever, you know?

And when the Gamergate stuff happened, that probably was a chunk of people.

SPAFF: Gamergate turned all these people against you.


GREG: There is, like, a group of people that are...

...hoping that we won't succeed for some weird reason.

Um, or that are, at least, heavily scrutinizing us.

And it definitely has been something that's been weighing on a lot of people.

ANNA: And, like, you do-- you question yourself.

Like: "Yeah, maybe we don't-- What the fuck?

Maybe we don't know what we are doing. Who knows?"

SPAFF: There is definitely a chance here

that lots of people who have issues with Tim

or with the Broken Age campaign, you know, will come crawling out

and start shouting about the things that they are annoyed by.

But I'm quite hopeful that they'll just be kind of drowned out

by the people who are excited about Psychonauts 2.

Which I think will be more people than--

than the people who are, you know, mad about one thing or another.

So, we'll have to see, I guess.

Hopefully our community will... look at it and upvote, downvote--

But I don't necessarily want the negative questions to be downvoted.

Because I kind of want this opportunity to have--

that we are on record.

I just don't want someone to be able to have, like:

"Look at this mess of an AMA where it's all just pure negativity."

So hopefully it's a bit of both.

Yeah, I think, we--

It's our main chance to actually address that stuff.

-Yep, agree. -I think it's the main opportunity here.


GREG: Many people have lost trust in your company

due to mishandling of several past games' resources.

What would you say to ease the fears of those worried

that Psychonauts 2 may suffer a similar fate?

TIM: Regarding games going over budget.

Many times in the past I've made the choice

to invest more in a game than the original budget specified.

And that's because in the end,

my highest priority is the quality of the game.

Most of the games you play, not all of them, but more than you think,

went over budget and extended their schedule at some point.

Double Fine is just more honest and transparent about it.

There are many things that lower the risk of Psychonauts 2 going over budget.

It's a sequel, and so the gameplay and IP of the game are already known.

We are using the Unreal Engine,

so we don't have to write an engine from scratch.

And our team is much more experienced than when we made the first game.

But even after that, if the game has any overages,

Double Fine is committed to paying for them ourselves,

as we have done in the past.

We have shipped 17 games over 15 years, and overall

we have a great track record of shipping great games

and being extremely transparent and honest with our community.

This is the more lasting reputation of Double Fine,

and the reason people can feel confident about Psychonauts 2.

-SPAFF: Nice. -Boom!

JUSTIN: I would suggest breaking that answer in two.

And doing the first part-- Sorry.

-What? -JUSTIN: I'm joking!

-[LAUGHTER] -You! Don't even...

-Not today, young man. -[LAUGHTER]

I need to make sure that we can really answer their questions,

and that we've learned from...

um, you know, our first Kickstarter, our first crowdfunding campaign.

TIM: Hm?

I sent you the link on Slack.

-To what? -To a comment.

Um, and it might be worth replying to.

If I just said, like: "I'm sorry." Like, I feel like I'm saying:

"I did, I did do that thing you are saying I did."

But I didn't!

I don't want to do, like, one of those non-apology apologies,

where you are like: "I'm sorry if you were offended."

Because that's just kind of saying--

that's what people always say when they aren't apologizing.

SPAFF: Yeah, so say: "I'm sorry I offended you."

You offended that person. That's a fact.

You offended that person.

This is a chance to, like--

This is a real human person who was a Double Fan, who's met you, and...

This is a chance for us to see--

It's, like, the other side.

TIM: Well, then I'll just say: "I'm sorry I offended you.

That was not my intention."

PAUL: Well, I mean, the person you apologized to accepted the apology.

And they seemed happier for it.

I mean, a lot of people--

Like, before Gamergate, I was always the person who said:

"If you just talk to angry people--

like, angry customers and stuff, if you just talk to them,

they are usually so happy that you talk to them

that they settle down and they talk rationally,

and they come around to being friendly."

And, um...

And then, during Gamergate, there was a lot of just-- people were like:

"This person does not want to resolve the situation.

This person just wants to yell at me,

or get their point across.

And every time I try and talk to them reasonably,

they are-- they just--

they are not interested in coming to a consensus or understanding.

They just want to yell." And so I kind of gave up on that.

And so it's nice to know things can get back to normal

where you can actually engage with someone who is irate.

And talk them off the ledge and--

and restore that relationship.

TIM: So, uh, we've been doing an AMA all morning.

So far it's going well.

Um, but it's, like-- There are a lot of--

There are a lot of just really interesting questions about, like:

"What's Psychonauts is going to be like?"

And all this stuff. And then, um...

A couple of question that, I think, are from Bert.

-Because they are pretty... -[LAUGHTER]

-TIM: Pretty hostile and negative, so. -[LAUGHTER]

TIM: What's your favorite foreign object you've ever stuck in your beard?

Your mom's *****.

GREG: Oh, shit!

That's it!

AMA over.

Okay. So, that's that.

And the campaign is going well.

What's that at now? I don't have my phone.

-Three point five-- -Three point five five.

Five five? Nice.

Oh, man! It'd be nice to hit four.

Would be cool!

Uh, we are going to be doing a livestream tomorrow in here.

It'll be a big old hootenanny for the final hours.

Which will end tomorrow... 1 PM.

Uh, thank you!

Any other questions for me and the doll?

Oh, what a lovely pose you gave her.

That's nice.

-She'll never... -Balancing.

-Wah! -GREG: Cute!

All right!


TIM: We still have a minute to go, Peter! Keep going!


PAUL: Another campaign.

TIM: Woo-o-o! Yeah, it's done!

I secretly hoped it would go to four million, but... it got close.

Well, the first time was an unbelievable miracle.

This time, you know, kind of just by setting the goal at 3.3 million,

we are like: "The miracle has to happen again."

So, it can't be seen as a miracle. It has to be, like, business as usual.

This is what we need.

Um, and it got it. And so it's really rewarding

that everyone, you know, got behind it.

And it's amazing that we are going to get to make the game.

But it does feel different, because the first one was just like:

"What?! How can this even happen?! Where'd this money come from?!"

But since we want-- We want it to be kind of--

In some ways we want crowdfunding to be a little more boring.

In that we want it to be an everyday, common experience for funding games.


So, just another day at Double Fine.

A bunch of people gave us millions of dollars.

We are going to make a game.

No big...

TIM: Um, and most of all,

I want to thank all of our backers for making this possible.

You guys have always been our boss.

And now you are directly our boss without any middleman.

So, uh, I look forward to making this game with you,

and all of you, people.


And now we can! So, thank you!


Remember, your character is Chad.

And you are the "project leader" of this game.

It's called Rhombus of Ruin.

It's a VR game featuring these characters from Psychonauts.

CHAD: By Double Fine.

You got your lines last night, right?

Don't ever tell anyone that we fake all of this footage.

Don't ever tell anyone that we fake all of this footage.

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