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A Couple Years of a Lot of Work

The Psychonauts 2 team staffs up with both veteran team members and new hires, while attempting to create a prototype of the game experience.

Published: January 20th 2023

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Episode Transcript

ZAK: I would like to talk about brains. So, how is it going?

-ZAK: What, what, how... -TIM: Um...

ZAK: So, if you were going to present this in a week,

how do you get from here to there?

I mean, dead person was always the one that we talked about.

Like, we are not going to-- I don't think we are going to do

a brain in a jar, and a dead person.

I think those are too similar as a host.

TIM: I wonder if it'd be cool if--

Your inner world where everything has five meanings somehow.

ZAK: Um, I like the snow globe one.

I think narcissist is really-- Easy set of ideas.

Gristol could be a narcissist actually.


ZAK: Um, okay. Well, we have a week to get this.

-So, a week from now. -Like, a Tuesday.

We will know who the next president is going to be.

-Everything will be so much better. -Oh-h-h!

I can't believe we are going to know who the next president is going to be soon.


Oh, god. I'm so tense about that!

Do you have anything to say to future generations right now?

You may be-- This may be your last statement

you could make on record before a Trump presidency.



Please join me in welcoming

mister Zak McClendon to Double Fine Productions.

-Zak! Please stand up! -Hi.

In case you guys didn't get that, he is the Lead Designer on Psychonauts 2.

RAY: Whenever Grasslands is going to start,

pre-production is going to start,

you know, Tim is just going to start taking our people.

TIM: Okay, what are the brains?

What are the ten brains?

ANNA: Is it going to be cool?

-TIM: Is the story going to be cool? -ZAK: Oh, shit!

We hadn't thought of that!

TIM: So we have to be in that place that we were on Day of the Tentacle

or, like, overprepared and designed.

TIM: And eventually the actual making of the game

would probably be led by someone else.

With me just checking in

and, um, seeing how they are screwing up my impeccable vision for it.


ZAK: So, they are filling in the construction site next door

with concrete, on a regular basis.

TIM: This morning there was an engineering class watching it.

-TIM: Up on the landing. -ZAK: Yeah.

TIM: A bunch of students and a teacher.

And they were all just looking at it, and pointing at it, and talking about it.

And I was like: "Hey, can I ask you, guys, a question?"

I was like: "What are the pits for? Why are there pits?"

And they are like: "Oh, that's because the floor needs to be thicker there,

because there is going to be a strong load-bearing thing right there."

So that's-- That's why there is pits.


ZAK: That's all.

-ZAK: That's what I have... to do. -TIM: So, do you feel good about...

ZAK: I'll keep myself busy one way or another.

TIM: ...for being productive.

I mean, I don't feel great about it overall,

because I don't feel super productive right now, like, generally.

Just because we don't really have a team.

-And I want to, like, build a game. -Oh, that thing where we make a game?

-That thing where we make a game. -Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ZAK: That would be cool. So, this is not a...

This is not a super productive period for the project right now.

It's supposed to be that great thing where we get ahead on the design.

ZAK: But we don't want to get ahead! That's the--

That's the trick, is that you don't actually want to get ahead.

-A little bit. -You want to--

Just a little bit, just a little bit. I feel like we are there.

I feel like we are there in terms of, like, what we want the game to be.

And I feel like we can describe the creative goals of the game.


ZAK: So, we've been generating a lot of ideas.

Talking about, like, the global, high-level creative direction,

kind of creative promises of the game,

organizing all that stuff.

While simultaneously working with Molasses Flood

to get Raz up and running in the new engine.

TIM: But we have a lot of, like, picking the brains work to do...

ZAK: Yeah.

...before we are blocked by not having a team, I think.

Like, a lot of, like: "What brains can be in this game?"

And what the story is, and stuff like that.

I'm blocked by not having a team is what I'm trying to say.

Yeah, as far as the gameplay mechanics...

ZAK: But we can-- we can figure out more of the stuff that we do want to do.

Um, it's just without a team rolling on soon--

Like, I'd like to work with a team on what they are excited about building.

ZAK: The biggest impediment has been...

without a team kind of on the back end

applying pressure for us making decisions,

um, it's been very easy to stay in kind of, uh, brainstorm land,

and sort of, like, come up with a lot of ideas

and keep exploring all of those ideas.

I don't know, when I got hired people have talked about that--

of, like, wrangling Tim and dealing with ideas, and I haven't--

I haven't really had any problems really.

I mean, ask me again in a year,

if I am infuriated about some particular thing.

One of the more challenging things with him...

His headspace is more on Rhombus of Ruin right now.

He is doing writing. He is, like, the writer on that project.

It's hard to balance multiple things in your creative headspace like that.

So, I think once he gets done with GVR,

it'll be a little bit more all hands on deck on Psychonauts 2.

PAUL: At least in this situation he is immersed in the same fiction.

ZAK: Yeah, I mean, and there have been things already where it's like:

"Here is a weird thing that we'd like to do with the story.

And it actually affects the end of-- of Rhombus of Ruin."


And we should probably tell them,

because they are going to need to change something about the end of the game.

TIM: Yeah, they are up against a tight deadline with GVR.

Um, we don't know...


We feel like they are going to need some extra time.

And we are talking to the publisher about that

and seeing if they would be okay.

ANDY: So, in the meantime, I'm still going to keep ordering food

Wednesday nights, like I have been.

Um, I don't think there is any... absolute nightmare scenarios

where we have to be staying, like Duncan has,

three days straight or whatever it was.

DUNCAN: A lot of it is just-- is balance.

Um, because it's never going to be perfect.

We are not going to do everything that we want to do.

That's never going to be the case.

Because there is no lack of ideas or polish that we could put on it.

Um, but there are budgets and deadlines.

The Sony PSX is the first weekend of December.

Which sounds like a long time away, but...

DUNCAN: It'd be great if we didn't crunch a lot on this project, but...

I think we'll see how it goes in the next couple months.

ANDY: Cool, all right, I think that's everything.

Thanks, guys.


Ray is... Ray is asleep.

Been working too hard.

Put his kids to bed.

He looks so peaceful.

ANDY: We need to plug this hole.

Right here, during this scene.

Because you can do this.

RUSTY: Oh, gee, she goes all the way out there?

Right, so, the reason I'm bringing that up is

this animation sequence is gigantic.

It is a lot of frames.

We do not have a lot of time.


My thought was...

when she goes off-screen,

if you couldn't see through this hole,

that would substantially help animation.

You can't peek around the corner?

ANDY: I don't know, let's find out.




Damn VR.

Isn't it fun? It's fun.

It's the future. The future is now.

ANDY: Um, but we need to keep it up.

Because if we don't--

If this game isn't... wrapping up,

we are going to start hemorrhaging people regardless of whether we are done or not.

So, that's kind of what we have to keep in mind.

Because the Psychonauts 2 train is a coming.

And we are all going to want to hop on board.

Or get run over. One or the other.

We may all just get run over by the Psychonauts 2 train.

ZAK: Uh, so, I'll get you that list, um, as soon as I can.

There is a bunch of other backlog-y stuff going on.

So, if you, like, are running out of stuff to work on, then let me know.

ZAK: I'm learning how stuffing roll-on, roll-off works at Double Fine for me.

-It's different. -You shout, and complain, and yell.

Uh, so, my understanding is...

Emily is pretty much free right now.

Um, Geoff, and Anna.

-Did you say Emily? -Emily.

Psychonauts 2.

Our team is, uh... exponentially larger, I believe, this week.


TIM: Good, keep busy.

Uh, also, apparently Bagel is quote-unquote sitting on his hands.

Why isn't he doing GVR stuff?

Apparently he has nothing to do.

So, I don't know if you have any-- any thoughts

on what would be good to have Bagel start working on,

if he is doing literally nothing.


ZAK: Um, so we are going to build a sexy art test.

-Mostly Geoff is gonna build it actually. -TIM: Mister Sexy!

ZAK: Along with doing a bunch of other pre-production materials.

But this is sort of, like, the big thing

that we are going to do a lot of rallying around.

Uh, if you are going to be around,

if you are not leaving on vacation, Anna,

then, um, we should also figure out-- I don't know what--

I wasn't thinking you'd be doing anything towards this in the short-term.


GEOFF: Uh, and Raz starts off in sort of, like, an abandoned mining camp.

And at the end, uh, you sort of come out onto the large quarry with--

and you see the Psychonauts headquarters, and--

and, you know, that's how we close out the--

the little demo, or-- or not demo...

-What are we calling it? -Art test.

-GEOFF: Whatever. -TIM: We are demonstrating something.

-We are demonstrating. -[GEOFF LAUGHS]

We are demonstrating our confidence with these things.

GEOFF: In Maya right now I'm just creating assets.

So, like, um...

I built-out a bunch of basic block shapes.

And I'm using those to define the player path,

uh, and the sort of platforming distances.

And once that stuff gets locked down,

then I'll go in and build in actual visuals for everything,

um, based off of Emily and Bagel's concept art.

-Hello! I'm here. -Emily is here too.

GEOFF: So, it's-- it's a lot, but...

We'll get it done. We always do, so.

That's how it works.

ZAK: So, the idea is we have, like, eight weeks

before we want to present this thing, or have it in a presentable form.

Uh, which means that, um, we are trying to get it done in about six weeks.

GEOFF: Um, so it takes place in the area around the Psychonauts headquarters.

And it is primarily meant to sort of just get us used to making stuff,

and what a modern Psychonauts would look like.

ZAK: Uh... okay.

And we are gonna-- I'm gonna announce at the 2:30 meeting the thing that--

I think most of you were here, or some of you were here,

that Zak is going to be the Project Leader of this project.

I think that wasn't clear to everybody before.

But we are going to tell everybody else, so everybody just knows...

ZAK: And then all of you will throw stones at me at the meeting.


That's exactly what's going to happen.

Yeah, if by throwing stones you mean everybody going: "Phew!"

-ZAK: "Not me. Dodged that bullet!" -[TIM LAUGHS]

-ZAK: "Not taking the fall for that one." -ANNA: Does Zak get--

TIM: And then I go on vacation.

-What? -Does Zak get to tell you what to do?

Uh... oh, Zak has been telling me what to do for weeks.


TIM: We hired Zak-- I knew he had run projects before.

And we kind of didn't want to--

I didn't want to make a huge step of hiring somebody from the outside

and putting them in charge of a project.

Because I think that would make everyone's head spin.

Like: "What? Huh?"

And so, um, we wanted to bring in Zak first,

and get to know him as a Lead Designer.

And the one thing I'm really--

I'm really open to reconfiguring how we execute and produce the game,

compared to the first one.

Like, the first one, it was this thing, where like a tornado,

and you are just trying to hang on, and just stay together,

and get things made.

You know, the first attempt we made at levels just were not working out.

And we ended up reconfiguring the entire team,

putting different people in charge of different things.

Um, and we, you know...

And then we just got it done by brute force,

by everyone staying here until five in the morning and stuff, so.

That's how we got the first one done, and we don't want to do that again.

So now we are using, I feel like, a more logical approach.

And Zak has a more level designer-based approach,

which I think makes sense.

As long as you don't split the game in half.

-We are gonna split it in thirds. -Just don't Sp--

-[TIM LAUGHS] -ZAK: We are gonna split it in thirds.

But also there is a lot of--

There is a lot of just more important running of the project,

and also, um, creative things that it's great that he is pushing on,

and making-- Like, this art test is moving forward

because he is-- he is pushing on it.

And he is hiring-- doing the hiring and stuff like that.

And I feel like I'm there every-- We meet and talk every day, so.

It's not like it's going to change the tone.

I'm still going to write dialogue, like I did before,

and be around for the brain design, and stuff like that.

This will-- It'll actually happen.

The game will actually happen.

Welcome! Welcome, team!

Look at this team!

It's a video game team to make a video game!

I know-- I know I said we wanted the team to get bigger,

but this is a little excessive.

This is just, like, crazy.

We have, uh, 2D art, we have 3D art,

we have FX, we have animation,

we have design, we have writing, we have production.

We have no programmers.

If we get a little person who is good with the ones and the zeros,

we could, uh, have a game going here.

That's what I call programmers.

ZAK: And we also have Kee now, who has joined the team as well.

Thank you, Headlander, for giving him up.

Um, so we'll actually be able to get a real branch set up,

and start doing, uh, gameplay prototyping and code,

which is awesome.

That's-- that's awesome.

Don't tell anyone, but I've been on this project for, like, eight months.


No one notices, no one is-- No one remembers, they are like:

"Oh, yeah, actually, Zak's been on Psychonauts 2 for eight months."

Oh my god!

I know! It would be cool if there was a team on it too for that time.

-But it's happening now. -I know it is. I know it is.

I just want some programmers.

I just want some exciting programmers, so.

-Oh, exciting ones! -Exciting.

I know! All programmers are exciting to me.

They are all exciting programmers.

ZAK: And we are still working on our list of brains.

We have not picked our final brains at all yet.

But we will be doing that soon.

And we are still doing brainstorming with the team,

but I'm hoping in the next, like, month or so,

we will start to pick out our first round of brains for the game.

So, that's where we are.

TIM: And we have a giant jungle gym.

I like that.

Let's say that maybe...

So, it goes... This brain...

Abandoned person could be the first person you meet.

Cooking... is out here, we don't know.

TIM: Uh, while Zak is busy running the team,

and working on that art test,

I am focusing on trying to nail down

what brains we are going to have in the game,

and what other brains are going to look like inside.

I'm hoping I can actually...

It's nice to actually...

We are doing a lot of group brainstorming.

So sometimes it's nice to just be alone with them.

Be alone with the ideas for a little while,

and then go back into the group,

and talk about some thoughts that I had.

These are-- These are the unused ideas so far.

Big backup!

If these don't work out, we've got a lot of brains.

All right, Raz is an animal.

I like that one, now that I think about it.

It's important to have contrasting color pin and card.

Deep fried.

Something I know, there will be a deep fried mind.

Or, like... This is how it's really done.


Nope. Recursive Rip Van Winkle fake out.

Actually, that's not bad. [LAUGHS]


TIM: Like, the first explosion of stuff, it's, like...

The first 50% is really fun, and then you are just like:

"Oh, god. Now what do you do?

Now what do you do with the rest of it?"


They don't look too committed, right?

-TIM: I don't want to freak out Zak. -ASIF: No, no. Not at all.

-ASIF: So, you are fine. -TIM: I hope at least one person can.


TIM: We disagree...

The strongest disagreement we have... probably whether to call them cantilevers or H poles.

I mean, H poles... What a ridiculous term, H poles, right?

Pfft, that's stupid.


So, horizontal, right?

Obviously that's what those are.


And what's the other thing... He won't call it the RASM meeting.

We always called it the RASM meeting.

The player movement meeting.

So, we've had some pretty knock-down, drag-out fights

about those issues.

I was going to ask about that too,

because the thing that you don't like to call the RASM meeting,

for the RASM meeting.

At what point are we starting that level of polish of, like:

"Let's look at every single thing every day,

and, like, really tweak everything."

ZAK: Well, so there will be a pl--

My-- my dream is eventually there will be a player group.

Whoever wants to come to that and provide feedback can.

But it's sort of, like,

the same way that you have a level team, or anybody else.

It's like: "Yep, we are gonna be working on Raz for the whole project."

So, we need to get-- figure out who those people are.

TIM: Hi, everybody!

Please join me in welcoming to Double Fine...

mister Devin Kelly-Sneed!

Devin Kelly-Sneed, stand up. Please, stand up!


TIM: Can you guys see him?


Can I ask you a question?

-DEVIN: Yeah. -TIM: Yeah.

TIM: Is-- is Oliver here?

No. Oliver? Great.

This is great, because I heard back when you worked at LucasArts,

you actually went to Oliver's bachelor party.


-[LAUGHTER] -That's great.

Tell us everything that happened at Oliver's bachelor party.

-[LAUGHTER] -DEVIN: Yeah, sure, yeah.


TIM: He is not here.

I swear he is not...

DEVIN: And I'm sure no one is recording this at all, right?

-No! I know... -[LAUGHTER]

DEVIN: I've had a pretty big appreciation for platformers for a long time.

When I first started working

on games-- just on my own,

just, like, a hobby,

I was building really simple games that--

where I just understood how the things worked.

So, you know, building, like, Asteroids, or Pong.

There was nothing complicated in those.

Um, at least from my perspective,

I could understand the basic mechanics of them pretty clearly.

And 3D platformer games were kind of...

sort of a mystery to me how that worked.


And I guess I've kind of spent my career learning how those things work.


ANNA: Nice.



DEVIN: Some games you have a lot of, uh, expressive control

that's not necessarily required most of the time, but is kind of nice.

So, like, Mario has the turnaround jump, and the crouch long jump.

The more of that you have, the more tools someone has

to kind of come up with creative ways to do something faster.


We did all this work this week...

-...and it's not in the build. -This meeting is over.

DEVIN: We are kind of building out this stuff.

So, one of the things we were doing this sprint was--

We had previously done the thing to jump from one H pole to the next.

H poles...

DEVIN: And now we wanted to also jump from an H pole to a ledge.


We got the functionality in, which is what we need for level layout.

Making that smooth isn't terribly important right now.

We are in pre-production,

but we want to be able to start building levels

for the game relatively soon.

And so, the most important thing is that we have the moves available

that, um, level designers will need to build out a level.

Like, if we haven't built out how, um, say, a ladder works,

then the level designers can't put a ladder in their level.

ANNA: It was super terrifying, and maybe--

You should just go for the platform.

-ZAK: This-- the-- -TIM: Oh, fuck! Okay, okay, all right.

TIM: Wa-ah! Woosh!


GEOFF: Now you are trapped forever.

No, I got it. I got this.


-ZAK: Are you trapped forever? -GEOFF: Yeah.

[GEOFF LAUGHS] There is no way to get out of there.

Yeah, is there a death-- There's got to be a death thing, right?

No, there is-- There is-- no.

TIM: I'm going to make it! I'm going to make it!


This is the Time Bandits level.

Uh, I just have to restart it? Okay.

TIM: I got to the end. I got to-- You guys saw I got to the end.

Yeah, I mean, it's all interesting. The only one, I think--

I really don't think we are going to stick with that four balloon side float.

Just because it's--

Even though I get that that way-- we can talk about it more with you.

ZAK: The old one was just that little--

He was just kind of, like, hanging on for his life on the-- on the balloon.

Like, it's a balloon.

GEOFF: When you open-- When you open the inventory, his--

It's his Thought Bubble that he is floating.

There is something about the airplane gesture that--

but we can talk about that later.

All right.

And then, what exciting stuff are people working on, uh, next week?

Do we know?

Uh... this still.


ZAK: Yes!

ZAK: Here is the thing-- question I would like to ask.

Because all of this is, like...

not new to me, but I don't know how the role is defined.

What is my respons--

my fiscal responsibility to this project?

That you would, like-- If I screw it up, you are like:

"That was supposed to be your job! Why didn't you do it?"

Because, like, Lead Designer, coming in, I'm going to tell you--

Like, I'm going to help-- Like, this game is going to be great,

I'll do everything I can to make the game great,

make sure we hire the right people, make sure the game--

everything about it is good, that's my responsibility.

But now I'm in the Project Lead role, and so I don't know

how that connects specifically to budgetary constraints, all that stuff.

TIM: I mean, the Project Leads do have to get the game done

with the money that we are able to generate for them.

-Right? -ZAK: Yep.

There is both the stuff that you are doing now,

which is to advocate for the quality of your game.

ZAK: Yep.

Which means pushing us and management to get the most money we can.

-ZAK: Yep. -Right? You are just like:

"Look, this is the best version of the game that we can make."

ZAK: Yep.

But then, also as, uh...

the actual budget gets more locked in, and we realize that:

"Okay! And, like, that's-- We have to make a game for that."

-ZAK: Yep. -You know what I mean?

PAUL: There still isn't a publisher attached.

TIM: Mm-hmm.

Um, we would like to have this signed, uh...

before the end of the year.

It's not like we will run out of money then,

but it's just we don't want to get that close.

We are starting to do, like, next round of publisher pitches.

They are going to wonder why we need money now, right?

And why we are not gonna ask much before that.

Yeah, and I feel like we can-- we can let them in on some of that.

Which is just, like, uh... I think everybody--

We've always talked about how we have this money from Fig now,

so it allows us to get moving on stuff to where we can wait on the decision.

And so, I think it is just letting them know

we are getting to the point where

we need to start having money coming in from outside the studio as well.

TIM: You know we haven't-- We are not in a position--

Usually, we are, like--

We can't start a game before we have a publisher.

So we are really desperate for, like, you know:

"Oh my god, we are going to run out of money in two weeks.

Can you please just sign this?

And we'll take any terms you want."

And this time we have money.

We don't, um...

We could start the game, we could get a prototype made before we sign this.

So I haven't really been pushing them to, like, um...

make a decision right away, and...

But now we decided we-- we need a publisher,

a partner to make sure we know what game we are making

before we leave pre-production.

Because we can't leave pre-production without knowing what game we are making.

And you don't know what game you are making,

until you know your final-final budget.

MATT: They'd want to see that there is a plan.

But they'd also probably want to see that there is a risk mitigation plan as well.

Because I think that that's going to be a part of it.

Or it's like: "That's awesome.

If everything goes to plan, it looks great.

But, as everybody knows, that's not going to happen."

TIM: We should add $300,000 to it.

TIM: So, if we have more, that changes, you know,

how many brains we have in the game, and how big the game is, so.

We are holding out for the best deal we can get.

PAUL: Is there a point when you are going to start worrying

that there is no publisher?

I'm always worried that there is no publisher.

TIM: There is a certain amount of money, we just have to get that much money.

And we are going to go until we get it.

You know, in the history of Double Fine

that is just a position we've been in many times.

We are like: "Well, I guess we gotta get that money.

We gotta just hit the road.

Constantly having meetings until-- until we make it happen."

And that is the other key risk as well.

Because everybody who wants to see prototypes,

wants to play prototypes.

And they are not there that, I think, you can put it in someone's hands

and persuade them that they should sign this game

based on the experience of playing the game.

GREG: I feel like what we can show now should get them excited again, maybe,

and get them to come out eventually to actually--

ZAK: It will get them excited in the room, and then they will go off,

and be like: "Well, we didn't really think

they wouldn't be able to make nice art."

Like, that’s-- that's always been my experience with a level test.

It's, like-- it gets a great in--

Like an art test, it gets a great in-room reaction from people,

but it doesn't actually convince them that you can make the game.

What do they say outside the room?

Like, it got a good reaction, and then they leave the room,

and they are like...

ZAK: Oh. "Can't wait to see a game there."

-You know what I mean? -Mm-hmm.

I don't think anyone is going into a Psychonauts meeting afraid

that Double Fine can't deliver really good art.

GREG: Yeah, I agree.

ZAK: I don't think that's a primary risk.

Um, I think we need to get the gameplay to a point

where we can put it in someone's hands,

and we have a lot of confidence internally that, like:

"When you play this game, it feels great. And it is fun to play."

Um, and that's the thing that will get people excited

about actually signing the game, so.

I will try to think about the ways that we can reallocate resources.

We got Devin on the team now.

He is going to be focused on player stuff.

We can do some fundamentals there.

Um, but it's still realistically just a ways off.

ZAK: Long-term, we are going to need some metrics.

Like, we should just not be putting this at oblique angles.

Yeah, because this is bad. This is bad stuff.

Zach did all the turnarounds.

This I just noticed, I'm going to fix it.

Going this way, the rope is a little below.

But I'm going to take a look.

I don't know...

Like, honestly, like, this kind of stuff is-- is--

I'm going to fix that, like...

All right, well, you can fix it, if you really want to.

-It's just-- I think this is, like-- -No, it shouldn't look like that.

It's good. It's really good right now.

-This is-- I'm glad you like it. -[CHUCKLING]

ZAK: This is, like, at the level...

Like, if the primitives and moves are at this level

coming out of pre-production,

we are in really good shape.

-ZACH: Okay, cool. -And then we can nitpick stuff... it becomes the most horrible thing that is in the game.

Because this is actually pretty good.

For-- for, like, the basic moveset of Raz,

so, how he runs, jumps, attaches to things, um...

in terms of-- on the implementation side is me.

Um, but then, you know, a lot of work from Zach on animation.

ZACH: Are people aware of what I fixed on this?

It was the turnaround, basically...

Now he knows which way is forward,

and he just does this.

And then the other way is forward.

ZAK: Yeah, he goes: "Woosh, woosh, woosh, woosh."

It's not really critical to the art test, but for the full game it would be neat

if that-- that could be, like, a little more acrobatic.

-Like, he could do a little pop. -Little pop, yeah.

Like, a little, like: "Wa-ah-p!"

-I don't know, if that would-- -Oh, to turn around?

Yeah, like, it seems like that's something--

that trick that an acrobat would do right there is--

-Turning around. -Yep, yep.

As long as it can be quick.

Yeah, I mean, that will actually help.

It'd be quicker as well.

ZAK: And it's something to explore...

ZACH: Just focusing on, you know, strong-- strong poses,

so, uh, Raz always feels cool.

Uh, and you feel cool playing him, by extension.

A lot of these animations I would just pull up

the first game and, like, see what they did.

And I was surprised by the-- There were--

Some things, you know,

you immediately could see could be improved,

but there were some things they did, that were--

I was actually pleasantly surprised by.

Ah, he is leading with the right shoulder actually.

Yeah, mine is-- the one I did was more, I think, on the toes.

Hey! Woah, this feels really floaty.

Wow! Ha-ha!

He feels so heavy!


Like, ours is you jump right away.

Yeah! Ten years!


ZAK: Uh, yes, so...

How do we go from that list of-- of all the ideas we have to:

"Here are the twelve-- eleven brains in the game.

We have a shorthand understanding of what they are."

So that we can kick them off. We have a level team, and we are like:

"All right! We are going to do this brain. Here is what we know about it."

Cold open.

Right now it's a Casino Patron or something.

-The first brain, the mission. -ZAK: Yeah, yeah, the spy mission brain.

-Three HQ brains. -ZAK: Yep.

-Three Ford brains. -ZAK: Yep.

Notice these are smaller, right?

The cards are smaller, so clearly that's less work.

So-- so, it's not bad to put Deep Fried on something?

Ooo, deep fried macaroni world.

We don't really have a concept for Gristol's brain at all.

Except for that it's, like, expository.

Like, should it be-- Should it be a level?

ZAK: I think it should be. I mean, I don't know.

I like the, like, the idea of, like, you going in,

and you think it's Truman's brain,

and it's, like, Potemkin village that, like, falls apart.

I think there is a lot of fun things you could do about that.

Of, like, you know, it looks like a movie set,

it looks different from different angles.

Like, I think-- I think the team could do something super exciting

with just that part of it.

Because this made me laugh. Poor impulse control hairdresser.


See? You laughed, see?

It also sounds like that could be a funny thing for Ford to be.

ZAK: Yeah.

Like, maybe that's better down there anyway.

Ford 2.


ZAK: I would like to have something

that we could put in front of the team in two weeks.

All right.

Because either way it will start slowing down by then.


ZAK: So, uh...

Here is a good attitude to take for looking at this thing.

You are either a publisher or a consumer of video games,

and this thing is happening in front of you,

and here is stuff that is not done yet.

Um, and so, everything that needs to be fixed,

we should be calling out at this point.

If it's not good, and it's not on a path to being good,

and we don't understand how it's going to be good,

we should talk about how we are going to fix that.

Um, such as, I should be able to TK this thing off of there.

You can wiggle it, but you can't.

Uh, we need to get water, and water effects for the river in.

TIM: And one tree is a little high.


Yeah, it shouldn't be floating.

ZAK: There is a floating tree in the campground.

GEOFF: We need-- there need to just-- Tucker, can you put a foliage pass?

-Yeah. -GEOFF: That needs to happen.

ZAK: Uh, we should put a secret up there.

TIM: Aaa! My brains!


GEOFF: Oh, you are behind the wheel.

ZAK: Oh, god!


There is also, from, like, a compositional standpoint...

Uh, coming in here...

you are totally looking at this barren rock wall.

GEOFF: Mm-hmm.

ZAK: And there is all these, like, nice trees up above the view line.

Like, do we want to think about pulling that in,

about, like, shaving it off,

so that there is, like, more of a canyon right there.

-Like, it's just very flat. -ANNA: I think a waterfall would do that.

-ZAK: Like a little: "Pshhh." -ANNA: Yeah.

-ZAK: A little, tiny spray waterfall. -ANNA: Mm-hmm.

Do you think that's feasible to put in there?

GEOFF: Yeah.

ZAK: Uh, do you want to just do something interesting there,

or do you want to do a waterfall?

GEOFF: Um...

ZAK: So, one of the things that's also missing

from this is any sort of, like, good interactive statement

of what we are trying to do with, um, Raz's powers,

and interacting with the environment, and solving puzzles, and all that.

We are not going to have any combat, because we are not far enough along.

Um, but we talked about having, like, one simple puzzle in there...

...would be the ability to, like, TK the end of a tightrope,

and then plant it somewhere else.

So, basically, you'd be able to, like, uproot one end of a tightrope,

and plop it back into a specific slot.

Which is, like, using your powers to interact with the environment

and solve a puzzle that lets you navigate through the world.

Uh, but I do think it, like, sets the tone for the kind of interactions

we would want to say this game would be doing

versus the first game.

TIM: It's definitely a thing.

But TK couldn't reach all the way across this length for example?

-ZAK: Yeah, why not? -TIM: Really?

I mean, real TK in real life?

Just it does seem like--

Well, if you could pick up objects that far away,

are you going to be able to pick up objects that far away all over the game?

-Yeah. -That seems like it'd be...

-Yeah. -Oh, god!

That's, like, the definition of TK.

-You pick up stuff that's far away. -Just that it's a little hard to tell.

Because that means there is just so many more objects to choose from

when you are picking up things.

If that's going to be, like, a puzzle constraint,

then it has to be farther than his, like...

-ZAK: Jump. -Jump, right?

Like, because then it's just why-- why do it?

So, like, that tightrope could go--

The near tightrope could be stuck in that wall on the right.

Is that something that we can do in the next two weeks?


-All right. -DEVIN: Put it-- put it on the list.

All right. So, uh, let's put that on the list.

-TIM: Bravely put it on the list. -ZAK: Um, I think...

Okay, I gotta go meet with Lee.

-Oh, okay. -You guys have fun.

All right. general.

I've got one already.

I get two? Okay.

ZAK: Uh, I don't think we can even detail

all the work that needs to be done on this area because this is--

GEOFF: Yeah, this is an entirely different meeting, yeah.

ZAK: I don't know how we feel

about the ability to polish this thing up in the next two day-- two weeks.

Um, it seems...

I mean, I've seen-- definitely seen things come together very, very quickly,

but it feels like...

So, the other part of it is...

I had originally pitched this as something that we would use to launch

our reveal of the game to publishers.

Since that time, we decided that, like, basically, like,

bizdev and Greg were like: "We need to get on this now."

The broader question I have, like, for people is...

Does this feel interesting enough?

If I had to compare what--

what this, um, is missing from something that, like, is a Psychonauts level.

-Raz talks all the time. -Yep.

-About everything he sees. -Yep.

Yeah, there is a lot that just doesn't make it feel alive, in my opinion.

-Like, that's pretty much... -ZACH: There is not a lot of movement.

-Yeah. -Yeah.

ZACH: I mean, the water wheel, and that's kind of it.


CAMDEN: I can tell you, I'll prioritize music.

-Because that will help. -Yep.

ZAK: Because it is, like, a-- not-- not a throwaway thing,

but it was sort of, like, meant to be small in scope,

so that we could learn some stuff, and then get on to making a real level.

So, if we push this out, like, very far into October,

that means we essentially--

we will be pushing off the kickoff of real levels.

GEOFF: Yeah, I don't want to do that.

ZAK: I don't think it's the worst thing in the world.

Just because, like, we need to understand how to do all this stuff.

And I feel like we don't.

And so, having a good idea of, like,

what does it really take to make that last 90%,

and what does it mean in terms of, like, world detail, and Raz's reactions,

and environmental storytelling.

-And, like... -Camera.

GEOFF: I do think a big part of that too is, like, getting...


Well, I mean, we don't have an Art Director.

So, that's a big problem.

But, like, parts of this would feel more Psychonauts,

if the materials were more harmonious.

-ZACH: And defined. -GEOFF: And defined as something...

GEOFF: ...that looks like it is from Psychonauts.

ZAK: Who do we have internally that we feel could do that work?

One of these Mario Kart trees?

LEVI: Yeah, it does.

I see that every single time I look at them.

Mm, man, I'm hungry.

Anybody have any sea salt?


ZAK: Levi joined the team on... Monday.

Tasked him with sort of figuring out

core aesthetic direction, in terms of, like,

palette, mood, lighting, composition for the art test level.

Um, all right.

So, the thing, uh-- So, Levi is on the team now.

-ZAK: Yay! -GEOFF: Hooray!

ZAK: Is it short for-- Is it short for anything, Levi?


-ZAK: Is it really?! -No.

-ZAK: Oh, damn it! -[LAUGHTER]

LEVI: We don't have an Art Director right now.

Um, so, there are a lot of, like--

a lot of senior roles that still need to be filled.

So, um, I'm bridging the gap by working together with Geoff.

He is a World Builder Lead, so he is--

He knows a lot more on the structure, and getting the world built.

So, he is taking that part on, and orchestrating that.

And I am kind of looking at what else needs to be filled up.

Until we get an Art Director, if we do.

LEVI: These trees feel great though. I'm just--

I just love being next to these things. And, like, they are--

It makes you feel really small in a really cool way.

LEVI: And we are trying to bridge the gap with what people expect Psychonauts to be,

and what we think it always could have been...

It looks like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup that you should not eat.

LEVI: ...but respecting and noticing

what we felt was awesome about, um, the original one.

And it's not the low res textures on the PS2, I'll tell you that.

Um, I'm going to sync up and get that all set up, and...

GEOFF: Okay.

...see the current state of lighting.

I think it would be nice to breathe some more color into the fog.

TIM: No, I mean, uh...

One problem is we have not been able

to hire some senior positions yet on the project.

We've been very picky with Art Director.

For obvious reasons.

And so we still haven't hired an Art Director.

Uh, we've gotten some help from Lee.

ZAK: Uh, okay.

Do you want to look at the level from the beginning?

LEE: Uh, sure.

And the lighting has changed quite a bit too, right?

GEOFF: Yes, Levi did a pass on the lighting.

Yeah, cool.

You know, um, it definitely looks a ton better.

How should I say this...

I think there is a path for making Psychonauts 2

that will look fine to most people.

No one will complain about it.

And, I think-- I think you guys are already on that path.

-Yep. -LEE: Right?

LEE: And...

There is possibly an opportunity to do something much more intentional looking

that stands out in a different way,

that would be more memorable and people--

Just, like, I don't know...

Like when Wind Waker came out. Everyone was like:

"Oh my god! That game looks so different!"

Right? And part of it is the design of the characters,

but a lot of it was just the fact that they were like:

"Fuck it! We are flat shaded."

ZAK: Yeah, I have a-- I have a-- yeah.

I have a tough time thinking about us succeeding at that

without having a full-time Art Director and graphics R&D time.

LEE: For sure, for sure.

I just bring it up as something to always kind of keep in the back.

And maybe the answer is you don't want to do that in your overworld.

Instead you want to push it in really strong--

in tangents within the brains.

LEVI: We... we are continuing on.

Like, we...

We didn't fully, uh-- get it fully figured out, I feel, in GVR.

Like, we did a good job, but, um...


We-- we are now just, like, kind of taking a second stab at it.

ANDY: If I keep any more people away from Psychonauts 2,

they are going to start... yelling at me.

ZAK: They are, like, crunching away on GVR right now, but the roll off--

Like, I don't know--

I also don't know if the roll-offs are going to happen

exactly when I've been told they are going to happen.

I'm fighting them off as long as I can.

There is a lot of pressure.

Everyone should know that, there is a lot of pressure.

Psychonauts 2 is beginning to really get going.

Which is a good thing, but there is a lot of pressure...

It's not just that we need to get this game done

because we need to get it on sale.

We need to get this game done, because Psychonauts 2 needs...

It needs our help. All of us.

So, it's...

There is a lot--

It's not just about getting this game done on time.

It's about, like: "Let's get going on the big one."

Which is Psychonauts 2.


ZAK: Um, he dived in and relit it,

redid the fog, started doing paintovers.

So that stuff is, like, much better looking right now.

Took a big burden off Geoff,

so Geoff is able to do more, like, actual world art work.

And those two guys have, like, a really good working relationship.

And so, Ryan just started.

And so Ryan now is doing the design aspect of that.

-And so that started to move forward. -How long has Ryan been here?

He started Monday.

We have a new team member who we hired.

Ryan Mattson joined our team...

-ZAK: Lead Level Designer. -TIM: Ryan Mattson!


Ryan, where have you come to us from?

Previously I worked at Crystal Dynamics for a while.

I worked at 2K for many years, so.

That's where that-- That's where he was.

RYAN: I-- uh, yeah. That's how I know Zak.

And before that I worked at--


ZAK: They expect us to zig, we are going to zag.

PAUL: Looks like we are going to...

Sorry, I can't hear you. Zak is talking right now.

Thank you! And welcome to Double Fine, Ryan.

Watch out!


TIM: That's weird. Why did that, um...

You might want to catch that speaker, before it rips out of the, uh--

Cord. Ah, we'll get it.

RYAN: And so, in addition to the artwork that's been going on in that level, um...

I've come in and started, you know, uh,

working on some of the-- uh, the paths through the level

in terms of the platforming aspects,

in terms of trying to find what that platforming pacing feels like.

Um, using some of the initial primitives that we've built.

Um, getting some interesting flows through the level as well.

ZAK: Uh...

You have not put any of the movable tightropes in... all yet? -This one is.

Oh, this one is movable now?

RYAN: You can grab it and then move it up.

ZAK: I'm trying to grab it.

RYAN: Yeah, you have to aim. It's pretty-- pretty tough.

ZAK: Not what I wanted.

Uh, okay, this is different than the layout

we had initially sort of talked about, but I think it's...

All right. So, this thing is there.

RYAN: It doesn't snap or anything either right now.

ZAK: Yeah, yeah. Kee is going to do the snap, so.

Uh, uh...

Oh, I just, like, let go of it, right?

RYAN: Yeah, you cancel out of it with 'B'.

ZAK: Bonk.

Right, so-- Oh, look at that!

-RYAN: See what I mean? -ZAK: Look at that!


-RYAN: That's what I'm talking about. -ZAK: Yep, all right.

ZAK: Uh, I don't know how we will fix that, let's think.

A screen space auto-snapping.

Oh, yeah, where it's like--

RYAN: Yes, yeah, to whatever the socketed items

we want it to be positioned to.

ZAK: Yep, and if you get--

Basically, if you get close enough it-- close enough in screen space,

it just goes "Bnk!", that kind of thing.

Let's try that.

That's better. Look, we did it, everyone!

-ZAK: All right. -ZACH: Can you walk on it?

-ZAK: Um, yeah. -ZACH: Oh, awesome.

ZACH: Did you show him the tracking you did with 'R'?

We should-- Uh, when you hit 'R'.

-DEVIN: Oh, uh, yeah, that's-- -That's pretty cool.

ZACH: It's just good to see discontinuities in the motion.

It's really helpful for me.

We can really polish that stuff.

ZACH: And, actually, Devin implemented a pretty cool thing.

Where he is drawing Raz's center of gravity motion on every frame.

Which is super helpful, uh, because we can check--

Look at that. That's beautiful, right?

I mean, when it's like that, it's...

That's what we want. It needs to be smooth and continuous.

DEVIN: For a while I've been thinking I needed something like that.

Because sometimes I would do a move in the game and it would feel wrong.

Something-- something would look wrong,

but I couldn't quite figure out what was wrong with it.

I mean, just a pause would be great.

ZACH: In animation a lot of times you-- you feel something's wrong,

but you can't quite tell what it is.

This helps us do that in-game.

That feels pretty good, right?

This is nice, right? This feels great, and looks great.

This, uh...

There is-- There is some issues here.

And then, just having a tool like that will allow us

to get the last five percent,

and just make it feel really, really good.

ZAK: All right, so...

All of this is working pretty well.

Like, I think that's probably just, like...

-...done for right now. -Okay.

I don't think we should really touch more of it.

DEVIN: I think some of it feels good, and some of it feels bad.

It's, you know...

It's going to be a couple of years of a lot of work

to make everything feel good.


TIM: So, um...

Do you remember the first one?

Yeah. Host, mental condition,

the setting, the aesthetics, and the twist.

So, the cold open for the game is...

You start inside of-- We don't realize where you are.

It's just Raz inside an office space,

which is, like, boring 9 to 5 world.

You finally realize, you are in Loboto's brain.

And they are trying to figure out who hired Loboto to kidnap Truman.

So, he's been booby-trapped against this exact same course of inquisition,

and he just goes nuts.

And you guys fail, but you get, like, one clue.

Which is the-- the word Maligula.

-Which you find. -ZAK (OMINOUSLY): Maligula.

TIM (OMINOUSLY): Maligula.

And they are like: "What?! Maligula?

The crazy, old, uh...

psychic who almost destroyed half of Eastern Europe?"


We had some favorite brains that we wanted to go into.

There is a brain in a jar.

The brain is without any sort of physical stimuli.

He is just, like, in his own mind,

listening to his own thoughts all the time.

Kind of overwhelmed with his own voice.

You go into a... a bowling alley shoe,

and there is a whole world of germs in there.

And the germs have their own bowling alley inside the shoe.

The town drunk. Just because he is hiding a secret.

Like, there is something really horrible in his past, or the village's past.

And that's why he drinks.

Because he just doesn't want to think about it.

And when he-- when he is sober, he is haunted by these ideas.

Like, ghosts are haunting it.

But when he is drunk, it's, like this--

It's, like, a drowned world where the whole village, it's just--

All the ghosts get washed away, and he can tolerate it, um...

-TIM: Yeah -ZAK: Yeah.

TIM: A little bit like an ocean of alcohol.

Like a Porky Pig anti-drinking cartoon from the '50s.

Just because I have always wanted to recreate Wet-Dry World from Mario 64.

But, uh, just, like, a--

Like, a world that's flooded, and then it's not flooded.

There is ghosts, and there is not ghosts, and stuff.

Um, you'll notice some of my favorite ones are still not in here.

Bathhouse, Cooking. Still hasn't found a home.

Deep Fried hasn't found a place.

If you think we are shipping this game without something Deep Fried,

you are wrong!

And Deep Fried can go with that, obviously.

-ZAK: Deep fried bathhouse cooking. -TIM: Deep fried bathhouse cooking.

You can basically cook all the pasta,

and then make it all pliable, and: "Whoosh."

And there is weird things that can hurt you when they are, uh...

dry macaroni, but they are--

but they are more brittle, so you can punch through them.

So maybe you have to dry the macaroni or...

ZAK: Would it just be macaroni or all kinds of pasta?

Because you'd want, like, a lasagna-- Like, lasagna sheet walls, and...

-...little corkscrews. -I am not sophisticated.

When I say macaroni I mean anything you could glue to a paper plate.


All right. I think we are done.

-I think we are done. -TIM: Okay.

Thanks, Tim.

-TIM: Thanks, you guys. -ZAK: Ya-a-ay!

-Yeah, thank you. -Thank you.

Okay, what are you guys-- what are you guys working on?

-Nothing. -Nothing.


We are making the video game.

Okay, and so, we are looking at it on Monday?

ZAK: Yeah, yeah, we are going to show--

Well, we are doing the field trip tomorrow.



All right, uh...

Now we are going to see the beauty of Psychonauts 2.

-Finished. -ZAK: Uh, yeah.

ZAK: So, you start off in kind of an old, abandoned miner's camp.

Um, we've got some squirrels running around.

Anna has been working on our early AI infrastructure.

Uh, so, we've got these guys running around on waypoints.

We did not get in the little, uh, acorn you could throw and have them chase.

But that's coming soon.

Um, so that's exciting.

Uh, we've got our first pass at the new TK in here.

Which, um, Kee worked a lot on,

and then Jeremy Mitchell did the cool effects for.

So, now you can actually pick stuff up.

Like this bucket.

Oh, I didn't mean to pick up that bucket.

Uh, and you can move it around in 3D space,

and place it wherever you want.

We've got this, uh, TK tightrope kind of puzzle.

Uh, where you actually can TK the end of the tightrope,

and move it over to the next post,

and snap it on there.

Which is cool.

And jump across there.

Uh, we don't have many secrets in this, but we do have this one area.

Uh, which is, like, where the cool teens hang out...

-[LAUGHTER] -ZAK: ...who work as interns.

ZAK: Um, so this is Emily's-- Some of Emily's concept art.

Making fun of the people who will be teachers for the interns.

Um, and then the idea was

at the end we were going to show sort of a long shot of, uh,

the actual Quarry area

to give people an idea of kind of the size and explorability of the space.

Uh, we didn't quite finish that totally,

so it's not quite as polished as everything else.

Um, but it does have at least a little bit of, uh--

of kind of the complexity that we are thinking about doing for that.



So, that's what we got for Psychonauts 2 so far.


ZAK: Did I forget anybody?

Was there, like, the one person I forgot to call out?


So, everyone is off-off of this.

Or is anyone doing last minute things on it?

I mean, we-- we could.

It's just, like, there has to be, like, a reason to.

I don't think we would have done something at this scope.

Like, that end was not anything

that we are going to learn anything super useful from.

So, I just was like: "Let's just stop working on it."

It's all going to be in, uh, production for the whole game.

-Yeah. -So, almost everything in there is...

Like, the double-- The jump is gonna get totally refactored.

The ground movement is still going to get retuned.

Like, I would love to hear the feedback.

-Yep, okay. -Totally.

Like, any feedback you have is good feedback.

I just wish the audio-- the only thing I wish

the audio of hitting your fingers on things

is one of the most satisfying things in platformers.

When you... [GRUNTS] ...and you catch a ledge.

-Yeah. -And there is no...

Do you want-- do you want audio, or do you want grunts?

No, it's like this--

You know that Nathan Drake fingers hitting a ledge sound?

-No, I don't actually. -Come on.

And leather--

-He, like, grabs-- -I don't know what it sounds like.

I couldn't tell you.

-Different-- -[CLAP]

-Different things sound... -There.


RYAN: Well, I'm just thinking, like...

Are there other places that we could swap out?

That are a little-- a little more, like, interesting,

and surreal, and Psychonauts-y.

-ZAK: Psychonautical. -EVERYONE: Psychonautical.

-Psychonautical. -I... I apologize.


Can you not have that?

Can you not have that?

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