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Bittersweet Gravity

James finds his footing with the team and Psychonauts 2's first mental landscape takes shape.

Published: January 20th 2023

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Episode Transcript

ZAK: I guess maybe if you called out the path that is coming around

from the other side a little bit better, but...

There is no-- there is no--

There is no other obvious place for me to go, except drop down.

"And then you walk off a cliff."

Like, players don't want to just walk off a cliff.

"All right, I guess I'm supposed to go over there..."

-JAMES: I guess there is not... -ZAK: "Oh, oh! Oh, I failed!"

Which means we probably want to expand that space out a little bit more,

so it looks a little bit more clearly like it's further away.

ZAK: Uh...

This area still has massive layout problems.

JAMES: Imagine this was great...

for the section.


ANDY: I can imagine they are not exactly thrilled.

I know they need programmers.

-TIM: And James Marion. -And James Marion!

ZAK: I'll-- I'll fire him if he is bad.


Further kick off the hub. Because it's so big.

-RYAN: It's huge, yeah. -ZAK: Making the layout of the whole hub.

And then, figure out what brain we would want to do.

ZAK: So you guys want to do the Brain in a Jar?

-JAMES: Yep. -JEREMY: Locked.

Today is level presentations.

ZAK: Yeah, I'm not sure that makes sense.

JAMES: Zak said a lot.

TIM: This changes everything.

Like, this gives me ten thousand more ideas all of a sudden.

JEREMY: That seems awesome!

JAMES: Keep going? Good? I got thumbs up? Okay.

Are we clear to go into whiteboxing?

I think so-o-o...

RYAN: Sure.

JAMES: There is more to be worked on with powers in this step?

This whole phase?

-ZAK: Yes, of course there is. -JAMES: Okay.

-Well, what kind of stuff... -Of course there is!

Would you like me to do f--

ZAK: I wouldn't worry...

I think right now whiteboxing is about, like, scope, area theming, flow.

-Like, getting mesh built. -Mm-hmm.

You can just have a stub of, like: "And then a puzzle happens here."

Same way we are going to have, like: "And then a combat happens here."

-"And then there is a cutscene here." -Yeah, yeah.

Like, you can just-- Don't worry.

You don't need to worry about it right now for the first step of whitebox.


We should get to that, but, like, the most important thing is, like:

"How big is this level? What does it mainly look like?"

So, for the next week or two?

I don't know how long we have on whitebox one.

-Three weeks. -Three weeks.

-ZAK: The Brain in a Jar. -TIM: And who is the level team?

ZAK: The level team is...

-ZAK: James. -TIM: New guy.

-ZAK: Jeremy. -TIM: Old guy.

ZAK: Uh... and Levi.

TIM: Really old guy.

ZAK: And you, as the writer.

-[TIM CHUCKLES] -ZAK: You are the writer on the level.


-TIM: As "the writer." -ZAK: As "the writer."


And then you cut to me and I'm, like, smoking,

and typing on the old typewriter.

-Like the beginning of Barney Miller. -[TIM MIMICS TYPEWRITER SOUNDS]

Sleeves all rolled up. [TIM GRUNTS]

Pull out the paper.


Also in this whiteboxing phase,

I get the impression that...

we don't want to show this kind of stuff to Tim

until it looks like something that will get him excited about the level.

PAUL: He'll just be like: "Why are you wasting my time?"

Well, yeah, at some point it's just kind of clutter,

as far as the information we are delivering him.

And there is not much changing about the narrative right now.

Can you actually make a note for yourself to revisit the door metrics?

-Because I think they are too small. -They are too small.

-Yeah. -Yep.

Um, yeah... So, then...

These are the three islands,

and this is kind of the rough size of what the whirlpool should be

in terms of, like, a comparison to the islands.

There'd be, like, a big harpsichord that has fallen over across this gap.

ZAK: Yeah, we might run into some--

some maximum, uh, allowable length issues for tightropes.

Oh, interesting.

We've never made tightropes that long.

-I didn't know that was a thing, sorry. -It's not.

-[JAMES CHUCKLES] -That'd be just fine to have them.

LEVI: But this is outside of direct light in this area, so...

Yeah, it's porous though.

LEVI: It's going to be a little dimmer, and Raz's influence is going to be...

Yeah, I'm less-- I'm less worried about, uh...

what the aesthetics of each individual area at this point.

More so, like: "What is this area eventually going to be?

And what's going to be happening there?

Like, what is the purpose of an empty box being here right now?"

-ZAK: And it represents this thing, so. -Okay.

ZAK: Um... I have full faith that we'll be able to make it beautiful.

Yep. So, then you jump down: "Hey! Ship!"

JAMES: Because I've never... sat down in my life

and tried to build platforming paths in 3D.

So, uh...

I think I'm doing a pretty good job getting a flow

for, like, how things connect, and all that.

Yeah, I've never worked on a platformer either, to be honest.

And, like, it's kind of bad, because, like...

I'm not very confident in, like, my, like, level design stuff.

So, like, I don't ask for as much feedback as I should.

I don't know.

It was, like, one of the things I was thinking about.

Between, like, the cave and then this area.

Is it a lot now? Compared to what it was before.

There is, like, three puzzles here.

-Are you asking me or Zak? -Just everyone.

Uh, it doesn't feel-- I mean, I don't-- we are not done with it,

so I can't tell you if it feels like a lot yet.

Are you-- Sorry, what do you think about it?

Do you think it's too much right now? Or...

Uh, just, like, when we were talking about it before...

These two areas, like... seemed really small.

-Yeah. -And now they are... huge.

I'm just wondering if, like...

If this level... is already getting bigger in scope

than we initially thought it would be.

ZAK: There will be definitely, like,

major scoping is meant to happen during the whitebox phase.

So getting the first version up

that is as big as you'd ever want it to be,

and then paring it back from there

is absolutely the process you should be doing right now.

-Cool. -Um...

-JAMES: Go, team! -ZAK: Yay!

RYAN: Good start, good start!

TIM: Let's talk about last week in the world of Psychonauts 2.

ZAK: Uh, yeah we are just kind of plugging away at our first two levels.

So, we got the Brain in the Jar.


And the whole Hub 1: HQ and surrounding areas.

Uh, but that's very exciting.

Those our first production levels.

And especially, um, you know...

The brain is our first brain level,

and the hub is going to be a huge chunk of the game.

So, that's exciting to have some of that stuff figured out.

PAUL: How do you like Ryan's, uh... hub level?

Not a fan-- oh!

I thought you were just talking about Ryan.


JAMES: The hub level is really cool, it's a...

I don't envy their... job.

Because it's such a huge space,

because it just kind of has to exist and support the narrative.

They are creating paths,

and then they have to create paths between those paths.

And then, explorable areas between those paths

that don't detract from those paths.

It's kind of nutty to think about.

I'm trying not to do too much to, like, make the scene look good right now.

But you still have to do enough to make it readable,

and let people...

...start to understand what it could be in the future.

Like, so...

RYAN: This is the first stab! There is some stuff happening!

-Which is exciting. -ZAK: Yay!


A tool that shows, like, jump distances and stuff from a point.

Is that too far off to even start worrying about?


I would love to have a tool like that eventually.

But it's probably a substantial amount of programmer time.

And we need to get all the moves in first.

Um... so, yeah.

RYAN: We'll figure it out. We can spec out what we want,

and then see what some steps are to get towards that.

JAMES: Cool.

RYAN: We are learning how to work together.

We are learning how to work with the tech we have.

Um, fortunately, uh...

Now that the Rhombus of Ruin team has, uh...

um, finished their game and released it.

Um, and we've got a couple of the programmers from that team.

You know, we have people who understand the tech a little bit better,

so that's great.

-ZAK: There you go. -[LAUGHTER]

-It's actually kind of... -ZAK: Code bros!

-[LAUGHTER] -ZAK: There they are!

Uh, all right! Welcome to stand-ups!

Uh, what did you do yesterday? What are you doing today?

And are you blocked by anything or need anything?

Uh, today we have an interview.

Um, the bouncer should be done,

so I'm going to do some quick tuning on that.

Uh, we are having a meeting on relative gravity.

To talk about just what the requirements are.

We are-- we are talking about...

kind of similar to, like, what was in the Milkman level.

Well, we could talk about that too. That's the other big thing to talk about.

PAUL I mean, you must have known

you are going to come onto Psychonauts 2 afterwards.

But you got thrown into gravity.


PAUL: It's something that, I think, like, fans are really... expecting.

And with the way that the team has been rolling forward with whiteboxing.

Just not having that in place means that they haven't really been able to...

DUNCAN: It's true.

PAUL: think about it in a design sense.

Yeah, I think the Milkman level was, um...

A lot of people who played the game, you know, when you ask them:

"Oh, you know, what did you like about the game? What was memorable?"

They are all just like: "Oh, yeah, that Milkman level was really cool."

Like, that's something that always comes up.

And, um, I think it just subverted a lot of people's expectations at the time.

It's visually extremely compelling,

because the artists we have here are amazing.

And the physics behind that gravity system really complemented that.

Um, and so, I think that's--

The fact that it was so memorable in the first game,

I think, is why we'd want to bring that part of it back here.

Because that's one thing in, like, Sasha's Cube, like...

Having momentum as you jump over the edge.

-LEVI: You kind of slingshot as it goes-- -ZAK: There is a little of that...

ZAK: ...with the bounce back from the melee.

But I think they kept the-- the momentum

and vectors of the gravity changing stuff, like, really simple and predictable.

So that as a player you could tell what's going on.

Because I think if there was that kind of complex--

-LEVI: Momentum system. -ZAK: Like, multiple momentums going on...

ZAK: It would just get super confusing from an over the shoulder kind of view.

LEVI: Right.

-Anna, you are going to barf. -Anna, you are going to barf.

-Oh, really? -Yeah, oh, yeah.

-Just... if you are going to spew... -Yeah, we've got a bag for you right here.

-Spew into this. -It's right there.

ZAK: That's great.


DUNCAN: And so, I think there is an interesting challenge coming up with:

"How do we make it memorable?

But not just do the same sort of twist that we had then."

So, you know, I'm kind of excited to see what people do with it.


We have a great set of people making Raz feel as good as possible

just walking on a flat surface.

I want him to feel the exact same way no matter where he is walking.

And so I'm trying to be as sort of surgical as possible

to avoid changing any of those tuning, um, values.

And to sort of exert as little design as possible.

Just to get it working initially.

And then we can start making interesting decisions about:

"Well, if we did want to change the way he feels

when you are going around a surface,

then what would you need to change from the default?"



ZAK: We'll come up with an approach that we do first, then we'll play it,

and we'll decide if it's crappy, and then we'll change it.

There is a couple of other, like, wacky things like glide rings,

or different kinds of disappearing platforms,

or a cannon, or whatever.

But they are not all-- They are not--

They are not, like, bread and butter, or would be in a lot of levels.

Yeah, and we-- we have some, like...

-We need to revisit tightrope. -ZAK: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah.

-But it does exist. -ZACH: Long jump?

ZAK: Yeah, but long jump and high jump are meant to

replicate things you can do with the ball.

-ZACH: I see. -So they don't impact layout.

They are just, like, a game feel addition.

So, we might not get to those until later.

-DEVIN: Okay -Um...

How suspicious are you of your--

You are making a sour face, you are not making an excited Devin face.

You are not like: "Hell, yeah! Ropes!"

I'm-- I'm still, like, mulling over the controls problems.

ZAK: I mean, we can do some reference of other games

and that will make us feel a little better.

ZAK: Um, it's got locked dodges that are all, like--

have a ton of air steering in them.

KEE: Oh my god!

ZAK: Well, because you are doing, like, really precise, like, avoidance.

And some of it, if it was all locked in

you'd jump right into rockets a lot.

-KEE: Huh. -GEOFF: It's a little floppy though.

GEOFF: Like, when he is jumping to the side, it looks like he is...

It's like you would throw a doll to the side.

-Not that someone is actually doing it. -Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

ZAK: Yeah, because it's got, like, a less leisurely loop at the top.

-Where it's his feet go across. -Yeah.

ZAK: Oh, yeah, wait, uh...

ANNA: Oh, they have that!

ZAK: Yeah, oh my god!

It's only on, like, specifically-- whoops, specifically marked walls.

KEE: And do you slide down if you don't jump?

ZAK: Yeah, and you just-- And you--

-ANNA: Can I try it? -ZAK: Like, as soon as you hit one...

ZAK: As soon as you hit one, it's just... that.

Just 'X'.

KEE: Oh, okay.

GEOFF: There is no back and forth. It's just jump, jump, jump, jump.

KEE: The back and forth stuff is-- feels, like, unnecessary a lot of the times.

-GEOFF: Yeah. -ZAK: Yeah.

GEOFF: I always remember in Mario stuff it was a little--

it felt a little bit better, because you had to press back and forth.

Nice thing about that is you don't have to do any tuning

of, like, because--

Because the players instinct is to jump and then press away from the wall,

which means sometimes they don't hit the wall,

whereas this is, like, it's just all simplified to...

Yeah, you just pop on.

You made the change, so you don't have to push into the wall anymore?


So now you just press jump and he'll continue to do that.

DEVIN: And you can slide down.

Oh, I don't know if I set the data for infinite slide down.


ZAK: Yeah, so we'll get the...

That'll actually have the, um, animations.

-And then... -Wall slide.

Wall slide stuff. This is almost in, right?

-Hyah, hyah, hyah. -Whoa-ow!

-What?! That's awesome. -Badass, that's badass.

Yeah, and the idea, uh, long-term is, I think, I'd like to get, like, the ball.

Like, he flattens out the ball against the wall,

and is sort of, like, riding it down, and then launches--

and then launches off the ball.

KEE: And... at what point do we need

to address the camera a little bit more too?

After all the primitives are in?

It does seem like it's getting in the way... -Yep, yep.


I think we should continue to do more primitives, because...

It's-- it's going to be--

It's going to be a long hard journey into darkness... to do the camera.

Someone is going to get lost... up the river for a while.

So we should put it off for as long as possible.

And it's not going to get any better.

Um... no, I just feel like we can make super rapid visible progress

in all of the primitives, that helps us build the game.


And then, once we have the-- most of the primitives

and player moves in, we will circle back to camera.

DEVIN: Do you think we are going to run into situations

where, like, after we've done work on the camera,

and made the camera, like, acceptably... okay.

Uh, that we'll be like: "Oh... the camera is fine.

But certain types of level layout cause it a problem.

So just don't do those types of level layout.

I think that probably will end up happening.

So wouldn't it be useful to know that before we build all those levels.

It would be, but I think it'd more useful to have all the tools for building levels

that create positive layout possibilities, rather than knowing--

So, we've got, like: "Here is all the possibilities

that we could make with all the moves that we have,

and here is some subset of that

that we should disallow based on what the camera can do.

And I think it's more important to get that full subset.

Like, to create our language for building out levels

before we know what parts of it we shouldn't let people do.

-Okay. -Um...

It's-- yeah...

It's one of those things that you just-- We are going to regret it.

It'll be, like, six months, we'll be like: "Damn! We should have done the camera."

And, like: "Yes, we should have."

If we had more resources, we would be working

on the camera right now, and that would be a better thing to do than not.

But given the fact that we only have three gameplay programmers.

And soon to have a fourth.

I mean, if we want to devote Duncan full-time to camera right now...

Um... we could.

But I feel like we are not going to even have

all of the use cases or needs until we get further along with the primitives anyway.

And so, that work will be shorter, once we actually know what the cases are.

-So... -Okay.

-Cool. -Yay!


I mean, the entire camera system... probably not.

RYAN: Oh, I heard you felt really excited about it.

And I was really excited that we are going to have somebody

who was interested in working on the camera system.

DUNCAN: I heard we are hiring another gameplay programmer.


ZAK: ...and continued player work.

So, we are getting more of the new player, uh, movement in.

We got the wall slide, um...

And then, we are working on other really big ones like monkey bars.

To be able to do hand over hand monkey bars on stuff.

-See, I can't do that. -ZAK: You can't do that.

-Stuff, like, not even we can do. -TIM: Yeah, not, definitely.

Finally Raz is doing something I can't do.

-ZAK: Yes, that's true, that's true. -[LAUGHTER]

ZAK: Uh, we are just about leaving pre-production.

We don't have as much done as I'd like to have done.

But that's kind of always the case.

Uh, we didn't have enough programming resources early on

during pre-pro, so we are not through as much of the core gameplay

as I'd like to be for production.

Um, but prioritized all the player moves stuff,

so that we'll be able to build levels properly.

And then, the other exciting announcement staff-wise for us is...

Uh, we've spent a bunch of time, uh, with Kee doing such a wonderful job,

filling in for our Lead Programmer, that Kee is now our Lead Programmer...

-...on the project. -TIM: Yay!


Since Kee's just been doing all that work, we should make that official.

So, Kee is now our Lead Programmer.

-ZAK: So, that is awesome. -[LAUGHTER]

KEE: So, the thing that I've done a lot was the gameplay on smaller teams.

So being a Lead Programmer now on a bigger team,

there is a lot of things I-- I don't know what I'm doing.

There is a lot of things that I haven't done before.

Not to mention I have been so-- so--

targeting, specifically thinking about gameplay stuff.

Like, stuff that are more system side,

like graphics, memory management, stuff like that,

is stuff that I'm kind of broadly aware of,

but nothing that I have deep knowledge of.

The general goal of saying, like: "We are out of pre-production for tech."

So, the main focus is that once we are in production, uh...

content creators have everything they need to move forward.

Uh, focusing primarily on level teams.

Uh, and that is along the lines of why we are...

uh, focusing on player moves, and primitives, and stuff like that.

KEE: So, you know...

I think it definitely would've benefited this-- the project better

if someone was in this position that had the wealth of experience.


But that person is also very hard to find,

and it's also very hard to find for this particular game,

that fits with this game, and fits with the studio.

So, um...

Hopefully I'm doing okay.


Crafty motherfucker, Michael Tucker.


Uh... what are we waiting for?

Why are we starting so late?

What is going on?

GEOFF: Uh... James is having some check in issues.

As in he didn't check in yet?

JEREMY: I think he is trying to push?

Because I-- I have a suspicion

that there is a substantial amount of content to look at.

-JEREMY: There is a lot. -Yep.

JAMES: Sorry.

-There is a lot of content everywhere. -Yeah.

Yeah, I still-- I still think this path right here,

you need to work on the connections.

Just because it is not an immediate, like: "Where the hell am I going?"

And all of that does not look like a traversable space... to me.

Because it's such a sharp slope.

Like, largely downward slopes would be associated with paths down, not paths up.

I realize you can climb up that thing a little ways.

JAMES: It's those kind of problems that are, uh... really important.

And I think framing, um... framing scenes is also something

that I hadn't even put much thought into before I got here.

Um, but it's, like, most of my job now.

Um, and I think a lot of 3D platformers do that very poorly.

Like, I think there are a lot of 3D platformers,

where you walk into a room, and you can kind of see everything

that's going to be in the entire level, and nothing draws your eye.

Um, and that's terrible.

And, uh...

Once they started talking about that, I did realize, like:

"Oh, yeah! I've played a lot of games where I've walked into rooms in that game,

and just been like: "I have no idea even what I want to do in this room."


So, trying to fix that, and give the player...

a sense of excitement when they are supposed to have it,

and a sense of confusion only when we want them to have it.


That's the kind of thing that we are working hard on.

RYAN: There is stuff happening here.

ZAK: Yeah, there is a lot of video game happening right there.

JAMES: That big turning ship is real subtle.

Yeah, so, uh... I played a little bit of this.

My experience of, like, the initial path, when you are going forward...

uh... is good.

When you try to jump laterally on these things,

it starts to get really confusing.

Because you jump to one, and then you gotta redirect it to the other one.

Um, and you end up doing that a lot.

It is almost always easier to make things harder after the fact.

So, across the board, starting with stuff that's, like,

very clear, you understand what's going on,

and, like, most players can execute it, is more of the goal.

And then, if it's, like: "This is too easy. Let's make it hard."

It's very easy to make platforms smaller,

to make things further apart, to make things happen faster.

Um, you've got a lot of dials after the fact.

And so, like, whitebox is more about, like,

clarity and reliability of execution.

JAMES: But I-- I am pretty inspired by, like, Zak's breadth of knowledge

when it comes to games.

It seems like he has played and understands every game in existence.

Which I don't understand.

Because I consider myself-- Like, I--

Like, I consider myself, like, well-read when it comes to games.

But even so, like, Zak seems to know pretty much everything.

PAUL: Yeah.

Um, and I kind of aspire to have that kind of breadth of knowledge as well.

RYAN: Yeah, I think he's played a few games before.

Zak is one of those developers

who is really good at having a project focus.

Um, and so, he can...

He can internalize pretty quickly a lot about what is good and bad

about a given style of game, um, or a given kind of gameplay,

and help represent that outwards really, really well.

ZAK: Creating and satisfying curiosity.

You know, like, in Mario, they'll have, like, a circle of flowers

and you run around through all the flowers,

and then one pick-up appears in the middle.

And you are like: "Oh, I should try to do stuff like that."

There were these all kinds of different statements of this

we played around with when we were talking about, like, Psychonauts.

But it is sort of like that nostalgic feeling of curiosity

of being a kid at a summer camp...

GEOFF: Mm-hmm.

...and you are curious as to what's out in the woods.

RYAN: Yeah, having somebody who can...

...really easily and coherently talk about what makes platforming good,

um... helps the whole team.



ZAK: Right, and then this is, like, a blockage?

JAMES: That's where you came from.

-So it is blocked. -Oh, okay.

ZAK: If I don't know where I'm going,

presenting a blockage is kind of irrelevant.

Coming down here...

Now I'm in another big tunnel.

This is all eventually going to be more interesting player path, yes or no?

And then, these would be...

Disappearing lattice pieces! Oh, no!

And there is, like, a secret over there. I have to go and get it,

and then I come back this way,

and double back, and do this one, and... yep.

I also don't know where the exit is in this room...

If you could show me where the exit is

when I come into the room, that'd be awesome.

-Over where? Here? -To your left.

-Here? -This does not exist right now.

-What does exist? -[JAMES CHUCKLES]

JEREMY: It was, like, kind of rough.

It's, like: "Oh, shit! We are not doing anything right."


But, I guess...

I mean, that's, like-- I guess that's just the whole point.

It's, like...

I mean, that's just what it takes to, like, get the level to be good.

It's like: "Fix this, do this.

Do this.

Like, this doesn't play very well yet.

You gotta think about this when you are doing this."

And, like, yeah, that's... I guess that's all part of the process.

But man, yeah... [JEREMY CHUCKLES]

It would be nice to get, like, more, like: "Oh, this is fucking fun! Like, look at--

I fucking love this thing! I like this idea. This is a cool idea!"

But... I mean, they don't have to do that.


That's not their job is to be nice to us.

Their job is, like, make the level cool.

And, like, that's the whole process, but...

Yeah, I didn't think, like, that was a thing.

Like, I thought I was the only one that was, like, thinking about that.

I was like: "Man!"

But, yeah...

Well, why wouldn't the sword come out of here?

Yeah, so, the-- I think the better point is...

You had an idea about what it is, but, like,

the player right now is showing you that there is a--

that there is potentially a better solution to this whole thing.

Um, which is: "Don't let me get to the top of the spire,

and have nothing traversable up here."

ZAK: Yeah, and then, the sword would just come out of here.

-JEREMY: Okay, got it. -ZAK: Yeah.

Yeah, I mean, you know, like anything,

half the time what you are doing is

you put the game you've made in front of people, and you are like:

"What do you expect to be happening?"

And most of the time what people expect to be happening,

should be the thing that's actually happening.


JAMES: Um, and most of them, I think, they are on point with their criticism.

But it was all very specific, which I really liked,

and really appreciated.

It wasn't like: "This area is junk."

Oh, wait. No, I don't want to play.

-I want to play from here. Hold on. -Just play it over.

-JAMES: Let's start from here. -ZAK: No...

ZAK: That's how you can tell when your level is getting really good,

if I did want to play it all over, I'd be like: "Let's play that again!"

-Well, that's upsetting. -[GEOFF LAUGHS]

You are in block mesh. You are in block mesh!

"If your level was fun, I'd want to play it again."

Guess what I'm doing? Not that.


But... yeah, it's been a kind of a learning process.


On the path that I worked on...

Like, it was a lot of fun to make.

But then, watching someone else play,

and, like, realizing, how hard and, like, terrible--

I kind of was like: "Maybe... oh, shit! I don't know if I'm good at this or not."

We've been working on this one for a long time now.

And, like, uh... It's just kind of...

We are kind of, like, spinning--

I don't-- I don't want to say we are spinning our wheels,

but it's just been a long time,

so it'd be kind of nice to, like, start fresh.


-Oh, that's fantastic. -Oh, that's awesome.

-Oh, that's sweet! -It's so tiny, it's so tiny!

-Oh! -It's a handheld!

Yeah, it's, like, a 6+.

PAUL: So... yep. What do you got there, Duncan?

DUNCAN: So, um, I have a test level.

Um, and this is kind of how it started.

Uh, and then I just rotated the whole test level,

and put it on the wall.

-PAUL: So, the world space got moved. -DUNCAN: Yeah.

DUNCAN: So, that smooth transition is what we are going for.

And, you know, hopefully, you can sort of go all the way around,

um, and smoothly transition onto other surfaces.

But the camera doesn't really have much time to change how it's looking.

Raz doesn't really have time to adjust.

The camera immediately flips, he immediately rotates.


This is the sort of main proof of concept for now.

And then, we'll-- You know, we'll see how it goes later.

Uh, and so, like, these are also--

Like, they are not, like, perfectly aligned,

but I can probably jump across.

-Oh, hey! More of an animation there! -ZACH: I put that in, yep.

-Alright, good, that's at least something. ZACH: That was yesterday.

DEVIN: This is a nice, perfectly aligned one.

We can also go vertically.

Um, this is where Zak was like: "I'm going to mess things up... putting bumpy stuff everywhere." -ZAK: Going to make things not work.

ZAK: And Devin was like: "Ha-ha!

I unintentionally, without trying at all, made this work."

DEVIN: It-- it doesn't go off-- If the bump is too big, it won't go off.

ZAK: So, there'll be some tolerance on the collision.

This was one, if it's easier to fix in the short-term...

Oh, yeah, this is good.


So, that-- we will-- we will have some stompinators in the game.

Um, but it is-- it is, uh...

The behavior we get is way better than I would expect.

Like, the fact that he is stuck in the ground like this is fantastic.


There was one small one that, if it was just animation-based,

uh, would be nice to fix sooner rather than later.

ZAK: And then we can do some timing puzzles and stuff with it.

So, if you imagine that was a thing that was moving up and down,

and you had to grab the monkey bars, and get across before it crushed you...

Um... then it would be fun.

This is brand new.


-ZAK: Uh... -GEOFF: I have confidence in it.

No, it's going to be good.

It's going to be good. We are going to do this.

We want to support this kind of stuff.

-I'm going to guess... -[JAMES LAUGHS]

No, no, what?

JAMES: It sounded like I just came out of the closet, you are like...

-"We... so... your mother and I..." -"Listen, we wanna be really supportive."

"Art school sounds really cool!"

-[LAUGHTER] -"Whatever... we love you no matter what."

RYAN: Yeah, I mean, I like the intention, but I don't think that...

-RYAN: ...would be discoverable at all. -JAMES: ...was clear at all?


Yeah, there was-- there was no part of riding through that

that made me think I had to go there.

-Or that there was anything outside. -JAMES: Hey, there is work to be done.

RYAN: Sure, yeah. And that's fine, that's fine.

It's been cool to see, like...

how much thought goes into a single, like, set piece in a game.

So, like, to think that there is going to be

over the course of this game, like, 200 or so things

that we'll have to put that much thought into is pretty crazy.

ZAK: Yeah, I mean-- I think-- I think it's workable, um...

The other thing that we want to have support--

that, I think, is going to be really useful, is the wall climbing.

So, the idea is you'd be able to be on a wall climb,

it goes upside-down, it becomes the monkey bars,

it goes around the other way,

it's wall climb again from the opposite direction,

it goes down here, and you stand up, and you are on the floor.

And so you'd be able to have a mix of, like, V poles,

and climbing surfaces, and floor jumps, and things like that,

um, to make something like that work pretty well.

RYAN: It's a little tough right now, um...

because those primitives and the player moves aren't fully online.

We are-- we are building the railroad as the engine is going down it.

Like, you know, we are laying the tracks in front of the engine.

Um, and...

That's-- yeah, that's just where we are.

ZAK: Also... So, today is the last day of this sprint.

Um, so please update your stuff.

Tomorrow will be the first day of the rest of your life,

and the next sprint.


Which is also the end of pre-production, right?

That's our last pre-production sprint.

So, if there is anything that you, sitting at your desk, are like: "Oh my god!

I can't believe this team does not have this particular thing handled

by the end of pre-production. What are they thinking?!"

Now is your last chance to bring that up.

Not right at this meeting, but, I mean...

I feel pretty good about where we are.

There is a lot of stuff that's not done.

Um, but, uh, there is a lot of stuff that is done.

But we should have that exit be a relatively strong exit.

So, if there is anything...

technically or creatively that you feel has been dropped,

um, please bring it up during sprint planning,

and we should try to get it done.

Um, unless, Duncan, do you want to do your announcement

before you demo the thing or after?

Yeah, well, you said there is an announcement, so.

But you could keep people in suspense.

I could, um...

No, uh...

Uh, today is the last end of the sprint for me,

because this is my last week at Double Fine.


As-- as some of you might have heard by now.




-[LAUGHTER] -Yes, yes.

DUNCAN: There are reasons that I'm leaving,

but that doesn't mean that, um, I am enjoying leaving.

Like, it's-- it's really hard to say goodbye.

And I think Psychonauts 2 is going to be a great game.

Um, I think the people working on it are all amazing.

And we've built up a great team.

ZAK: Uh, but in the short time that you've been on the team,

you've been so incredibly productive that you have something to show.

For everybody this time around.

So, I want to show you all some fun gravity things.

-Some bittersweet gravity. -ZAK: Bittersweet gravity.

-KEE: Whoa-ow! -[LAUGHTER]

DUNCAN: Yeah, and stuff already went flying.

Um, but, uh, we have all sorts of weird spline things.

Like ladders working in relative gravity.

-ANNA: We can now do Sasha's cube. -KEE: Yeah, it's done.

DUNCAN: Sasha's cube.

I'm only going to show these two sides,

because those are the only ones I tested...

-...before I checked it in at 3:59. -[LAUGHTER]

Try another one, try another one. Do it, do it, do it, do it.

Do it.



ZAK: Landed on the ground, that's fine.

DUNCAN: Uh, I'm going to miss this place.

It's going to be...

It's going to be hard not to work on these really cool games anymore.

But, um...

But I think we are in a good place.

PAUL: Really the most amazing timing is...

As you were saying: "Going to be hard for me to leave this place,"

Monica walked by in the background doing something incredibly weird.

It's just like: "Yep... it's Double Fine."


KEE: Um, so...

Duncan has done a lot of hard work for us in the past

from, uh, the ridiculously hard Wii U port of The Cave, um, and...

KEE: Part of it is especially because I've gone through leaving myself.


I understand how hard it is to leave this place.

And I think, you know, when it happens,

I think we also have to look at the things that they've worked on and--

and their impact in this studio,

and the things that they've done,

and acknowledge it, and talk about:

"This is what you've done here, and we really appreciate

all the things that you've done, and we are going to miss you.

Not just as a coworker, but as, you know, a friend and family of the studio."

So, thank you for all that you've done,

and good luck!

-DUNCAN: Thank you. -[CHEERING]


I'm going to try not to...

ZAK: All right, we have-- we have one other thing to show.

Aaron has been working on a helpful tool for level teams.

I've been going through and adding some visualizations in the editor

for the level primitives.

So that when level designers are placing

all these little items for platforming and all that,

they know what things are going to link up and sync up,

and do what they expect.

Uh, so, now I actually have a little visualization

that when you select H poles, um, it will highlight, uh...

the regions in which the other H poles must lie

in order for them to connect up.

Jumping from this H pole to this H pole would not connect.

Uh, but that would.

The bouncers that Kee made, uh, had visualizations before,

but you had to play the game, and have a property on them checked.

Now, when you select them, it just does it in the editor as well.

-Woo-hoo! -[CLAPPING]

ZAK: Does that update if you change the target?

Yeah, oh, yeah.

And so, yeah, there is a bouncer at the bottom,

it takes you back to the top.

Um, and you can see the path that it's actually going to take.

The other thing is it highlights, uh, in gray the target

that the bouncer is shooting for,

and then in blue it shows you where you are actually going to end up,

as far as the physics system has predicted it.

So this means if you accidentally place a bouncer somewhere...

that's going to, you know...

if there is something in-between, it'll let you know that.

So, if you have other level primitives or other things in the, uh...

in the game that you'd love to have little debug visualizations for in the editor,

let me know, and I can work on getting those added in.

Hopefully save people time.



JAMES: That is a-- sorry,

it is really hard to understand what that is.

-JAMES: That is a climbing monkey bar. -ZAK: Climbing monkey bar.

-RYAN: Ah! -ZAK: That's what I thought it was.

-RYAN: Thank you! -JAMES: Oh, it looks great! Wow!

-JAMES: That must have just gotten fixed. -JEREMY: Yeah.

JAMES: And maybe there would be some, like, Zelda crack-esque giveaway

that they are crumbling.

LEVI: Older on their way out.

RYAN: So, it's like something that you are basically, uh...

It's-- it's-- Raz's energy is kind of disturbing them.

Yeah, as Raz's energy is leaving his feetsies,

it's also making the ground crumble beneath him.

Oh, cool! There is giant swords falling on you now!



LEVI: Are those moss spores?

Although, having one of those slice through a piece of geometry...

Like-- or, like...

Like, you could be on the thing, and it goes like this...

...and then goes sideways.

RYAN: One of the things that is nice about the area now,

and I actually feel like when I run down here, it--

it is encouraging me to explore a little bit more,

which is really, really nice.

And I like being able to run around the shield, and see the different paths

as I run around and open up different lines of sight through the area.

So, it's-- Yeah, it's feeling a lot better.

ZAK: And then when you exit the area, I feel like you sort of, like,

had a little journey through there,

and you are like: "Oh, and now I'm on the other side!"

RYAN: Yeah.

JAMES: And so I wanted this reveal to be nicer.

LEVI: Yeah.

-ZAK: Ooo! -LEVI: Yeah!

-LEVI: It points you up there, yes! -RYAN: Yeah, we talked early about...

RYAN: ...also, making sure that we get a custom camera for this place.

ZAK: The composition of all this stuff is much, much better.

The way that you enter spaces,

the way that the path is stretching in front of you.

LEVI: Wow!

ZAK: Oh, yay!

JAMES: Oh, I'm going to wait until I see if it breaks.

And if it doesn't, I'm not going to qualify.

-ZAK: You are not going to qualify? -[JEREMY CHUCKLES]

ZAK: It's unqualifiedly awesome.

JAMES: Yeah, I was joking.

It's really cool, and nothing is wrong with it.


ZAK: Is there a different return path?

-LEVI: Woo! -JAMES: That was awesome!

-Oh my god! -Whoa-ow!

You got me!

RYAN: I was-- that was-- I was sloppy.

I knew that was going to happen.

RYAN: Um, and I really like, for instance, where we got the, um...

the Helmut level to, in terms of whiteboxing.

Like, I think there is a lot of really cool ideas in it.

-JEREMY: It makes a lot more sense now. -JAMES: Because Ryan seemed, like...

JAMES: ...mad last time, remember?

He was like: "This has been a consistent note

every time we've looked at this level."


RYAN: It's one of those experiences that we can look back on and say, like:

"Yeah, I think overall especially, it worked out the way we wanted it to."

Um, which is really good.

-Good job, you guys! -ZAK: All right.

ZAK: Yeah, it is a good job.

It's cool to see our first whitebox...

play through it,

it's hooked up to the hub,

we have-- we have a video game happening here.


RYAN: First one.

ZAK: We are basically done.


RYAN: Thanks, everyone.

JAMES: Yeah, it was way more positive.

I can't tell if that's because it was way improved,

or if it's because they were like:

"Well, we are tying this off today regardless, so..."

JEREMY: It was-- It was improved a lot.

-Since the last time, I think. -Yeah...

-You put in a lot of stuff. -Thank you!

Yeah-- yeah.


-Okay. -[LAUGHTER]

Oh, man!

All these extra things I have to do due to being on this team.

-JAMES: I know, it's tough. -[JEREMY LAUGHS]

-Whoa-ow! Mushroom. -[LAUGHTER]

ZACH: That's what I was trying to show earlier.


So, what-- what were you thinking with the...

Is this a squash and stretch test or...

Oh my gosh!


ANNA: I like the tooth sticking right out...

Somebody put him out of his misery.

ZAK: Get-- get gifs of all of this stuff.

ZAK: Get-- get gifs of all of this stuff.

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