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Not Doing the Typical

Despite the previous breakthrough, the team struggles to impress Tim, who pushes for even stronger concepts. Meanwhile, Amnesia Fortnight draws near.

Published: January 20th 2023

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Episode Transcript

It's party hat day, apparently.

I don't know what's going on, but...

Part of the club.

EMILY: You are like a baby unicorn.


Um, today doing whatever art I need to do.

Um, catching up.



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

and tried to build platforming paths in 3D.


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

KEE: At what point do we need

to address the camera a little bit more too?

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

But that's kind of always the case.

-ZAK: Here? -JAMES: This does not exist right now.

-What does exist? -[JAMES CHUCKLES]

ZAK: We are going to kick off another brain.

So, we are going to put Helmut on hold.

Have you talked about what brain that might be?

ZAK: I don't remember where she put it.

ZAK: She's got one where she's got the full, uh...

Raz, like...

TIM: What's the crystal skull?

Why is there a crystal skull in the game?

Do you know that's the worst Indy movie?

I know.

-Why is it modeled? -Um...

-What's happening? -[ZAK LAUGHS]

What did I... Oh my god!

-I am back just in time. -I know.

-ZAK: Well, uh... -[TIM LAUGHS]

Yeah, we don't have an Art Director.

So, I'm not paying as close attention to everything.

-I'm kidding... -And so Bagel did...

-It'll be fine! -I don't think it's fine.

I think we actually-- we should be doing more important things.

Anything else you'd like from me?

No, I mean, just the thing that I said about Helmut's brain.

It's, like...

Knowing what you know about that brain, and all of the key scenes, like...

Does it make sense?

Do you see a path for it to be a good Psychonauts mental world?

-TIM: Mm! -ZAK: You know?

ZAK: Does it have everything we need?

It doesn't have a super great sense of place.

Uh, and it doesn't have a strong cast of characters.

That you don't go in and discover, like, different aspects of his personality.

And so, it's a little bit of an outlier.


Jeez, how do you fix that?

I don't know. I don't know, maybe--

Because those all seem structural to the...

Like, the thing-- Like, the setup is that lonely boat.

Yep, lonely boat. Lonely boat, yeah, so.

ZAK: Uh, so that's more just my question for you of, like,

if you are confident that you can still make that level work

from a writing perspective...

When you pause, it is like: "Oh, we pause it."

And then, when they do a second level,

it'll be awesome, and they'll look back, and be like:

"Oh, you know what? We totally..."

Yeah, they will be. They will be, for sure.

So I don't know if I want to say that right now to them.

So the answer is no, then?



I'd rather get ahead of them on whatever the next brain is going to be

a little bit, so I can provide some of those answers.

So they have a little less... tap dancing they have to do around the hookups.

ZAK: Is that-- so-- so...

Perfectly honest, do you want to, like--

Is this driven by... you would like to provide more work for them, sorry--

you'd like to do more work upfront, so they don't have to do the work.

Or... you are not happy with the solutions they came up with,

and you want to make sure there is stronger direction in place.

Well, I feel like-- I just--


I feel like there is narrative things that I feel like are my job, which are...


Like, telling the bigger story of the Psychonauts.



I feel like there is a handoff...

-...with the level at some point. -Yeah, yep.

And I feel like...

Didn't quite get to the next runner, had to throw the baton...

-Okay. -...this time.

And I would like to get a little closer

where I feel like it is natural for them to pick it up.

Yes, and I guess my question is there, do you feel like in the case of Helmut

the solutions they came up with are good enough or not?

Well, I feel like there is still--

We are still hand-waving over a bunch of stuff,

and saying it's a writing problem.

But I feel like I guess I would like to answer

those writing problems ahead of time.

Because then you can support them in your level design.

You can be like: "Oh, we really want to emphasize

that you need a brain for this reason.

And have that show in Helmut's level."

Well-- or, like, the thing that happened with Helmut,

they hooked onto the small details they did have.

Which was:

"He is...

a viking."

-[ZAK CHUCKLES] -Right, right.

They took-- That's what I'm saying.

I think the concept was underdeveloped, and so they took the only details they had

and they made a whole level out of that.

I feel like we should at least provide a rich thing.

And then they could have a choice of things to develop.

And then...

-ZAK: All right. -TIM: So, um...

TIM: And I bet if I think of anything,

and I think of anything that really makes me excited

about talking about it, I bet they'll get excited.

-TIM: We will all get excited together. -ZAK: Yes.

-TIM: And then, that will be great. -ZAK: Yes.

TIM: Okay.

JAMES: Great. Let's go look at the brain list.

Or not. We can do it another time.

JEREMY: Come on, Levi.

LEVI: Okay.

Let's do it.


TIM: Thank you for reading the brain list.

So, we are just going to--

We are just going through it to familiarize everybody.

Bob Zanotto, who is Lili's uncle,

who is, uh, Truman's brother,

who was older, and friends with Ford.

Um, and he came to fight Maligula,

and stayed in this town.

And he, um...

has this brain where...

when he is drunk, it's, like, this flooded town,

and it's all just... um, underwater.

And then, if you can sober him up, it's dry,

but then the ghosts come back to town.

So, it's like a haunted--

It's like a haunted town, or a haunted house...

that you can get rid of the ghosts by flooding it and--

-I think we decided on the drunk. -Yeah, the drunk one.

Because you think the problem is that he is a drunk,

and then you dry it out, and you find out what his real problem is.

That he is haunted by his past.

He is haunted by all these memories of the--

JAMES: But that has really fucked up, like, implications.

-Where you are, like... -It's very fucked up, yeah.

...sobering a guy up, and then, like...

knocking him off the wagon to change the state of the world.

That's the thing that, like, kind of, like, uh...

gives me the most pause in this level.

-Like, it seems super sad. -JAMES: It seems like we'll have to be...

-...way more careful. -Yeah.

GEOFF: I think Raz should have to jump out of his mind

and then, just up-end a bottle into his mouth

to change the water level in the--

-Cameras are on. -[LAUGHTER]

Cameras are on.

You gotta turn the mic off before you...

-Here we go, here we go. -[LAUGHTER]


Ugh, again... The town drunk.

The one where the narrative surrounding context is the least--

least resolved.



Like, that--

We could do it, we could figure it out.

That's the one-- You know the way that Helmut where, like:

"I'm not sure why he is there, but..."



ZAK: ...level review. All kinds of reviews, uh...

And decided on which brain the team is going to work on next.

So, that's cool. It's Bob Zanotto's.


Uh, today I have lunch with a possible Art Director candidate.

Uh, and that's everything.

All right, awesome.

ZAK: What?

-I wrote a thing. -You wrote a thing?

ZAK: All right.

Let's all go live in the woods.


Some... shit is going to get...


Some shit is going to get kicked off!

ZAK: Uh, okay! Bob Zanotto, so...

Uh, setting the scene here. Bobby Z, all right!

Bob Zanotto is, uh, Truman's...

TIM: Possibly great--

-ZAK: Brother or uncle? -TIM: Truman's uncle.

-ZAK: Truman's uncle. -TIM: That's what we were thinking...

-TIM: ...looking at the timeline. -ZAK: That makes him Lili's great uncle.

-ZAK: Who she probably never knew. -TIM: Yep.

ZAK: Because he's been gone all this time.

He was one of the original Psychic Seven.

-Yep. -He specialized... herbology.

That's in the, uh, colony backstory document.

Yeah, he is totally--

-[TIM INHALES] -Herbology.

Uh, I had somewhat new... thoughts about Bob.

If you want to hear them now.

-ANNA: Yeah. -Sure.

Uh, this is another way that we could do it.

And it would change some stuff.

Um... and it could be done really bad, or it could be done well.

-I don't know if we could-- -RYAN: We should do the good one.

-JAMES: Probably bad. -ANNA: Yeah, let's do the good one.

But if it sounds bad,

you guys just pretend I never suggested it.

PAUL: Now, we had a meeting where you pitched the idea

for this character to the team that you were...

not really comfortable with how they were going to accept it or...

Oh, god! Did I come off as--

Did-- could everyone tell how nervous I was?

ZAK: It is-- it is, uh-- It is cute when he has--

when you can tell how nervous he is.

I mean, that's more just, like,

of somebody who's, like, been doing it a very long time, and it's like:

"Oh, they still get nervous when they are pitching ideas! That's fine."

And that's not-- less about Tim, and more just sort of, like:

"Yep, that's just how every--

Like, that never gets easy when you are talking

about something you think is cool to somebody for the first time."

You are like: "Uh, here is this thing."

ZAK: See, I-- I tend to think he is a little overprotective of that stuff.

He keeps stuff very close to his chest until he feels like it's, like,

good enough to withstand... people.

JAMES: Wait, so is he not a crippling alcoholic,

but someone who just drinks at night?

-TIM: Possible. -ZAK: You also could be an alcoholic...

-...and just drink at night. -[LAUGHTER]

TIM: That's not-- Yeah, it's actually not--

"Wait! Is he, like, an alcoholic?

Or just like one of us, who drinks all night long?"


"Or is he, like, just a normal person

with cans of soft drinks all over his desk?"

-Okay. -[LAUGHTER]

Does not have a drinking problem.

JAMES: I should go.


TIM: It just turns out to be peach schnapps.


ZAK: No, I mean, that was sort of my assumption.

That sounds all like what's already there.

Uh, what we've talked about before.

-Yeah, yeah. -Okay.

-Because I'm only-- I'm only here. -ZAK: All right.

-Um... -Branch point.



And you go in there, and it's revealed, like:

"Holy crap! Bob Zanotto is not dead. He is just hanging out here."

And also, um, someone else says he doesn't-- he didn't want to come back,

because there was a bit of a love triangle...


Right, okay, hold on.


Then he goes-- You fight the ghost...

-TIM: Um... -You do a level.

And you find out-- the love triangle,

he was not in love with Maligula, he was in love with... Ford.

-ANNA: Whoa-ow! -EMILY: Ooo!

And that's part of the whole thing with why--

what the ghosts are about... as well.

-That was just an idea. -EMILY: Love it.


TIM: It's-- you know, it's, like, um...

Whenever you are trying to, like...

tell a story... of something that's not your personal experience.

And you are pitching it to people, who--

that may be actually their personal experience.

It can-- it's, like a-- It can be...

fraught with peril.

You know? And you don't want to... to do it wrong.

So, that can make you... pretty nervous.

It's going to seem silly later... to have worried about that.

But when you breach those kind of, like--

Like, I don't know if we've ever done a gay character in a game.

And the first time you go through that, you are like: "I want to respect--"

Then you are like: "I don't know why we were so worried about that."

But it could be that he just didn't want to go back.

Because if he was in love with Ford, and he finally realized in that battle...

He was like: "There is no--

That's not going to happen for a lot of different reasons."

ZAK: He went into self-imposed exile.

"I'm not going to-- Why? I'm not going to go back to the colony."

Is Ford, like, a real... hunk when he is young?

-Because I-- -He is pretty dashing, yeah.


He's got, like, a Buster Keaton kind of thing going on.

ANNA: The part of the story that--

-GEOFF: He didn't age well, all right? -ANNA: Yeah.

-His eyes sort of went... -TIM: None of us--

-None of us fucking do. -[LAUGHTER]

Part of the story that feels a little, like: "Really?!"

to me is the, like, is everyone in love with Ford?

Like, what is the deal?

TIM: He...

This is something I need to explain to younger people all the time.

All the people actually used to be young, and they actually...


TIM: And this is going to upset a lot of people,

they got it on a lot.

You know, the Psychonauts changed so much.

It was an end of an era when that battle happened.

So there is really nothing for him to go home to at the old colony.

He doesn't want--

He doesn't want to hang around with fractured Ford.

And... he just...

You know, he feels like he needs to check out of that situation, I guess.

We definitely dealt with, um, some heavy topics in the first game.

I think we are just a little bit more... older and have more empathy

towards the human condition, so we want to make sure...

Uh, we kind of lucked out a little bit with the first game

that we didn't just blunder into some incredibly insensitive, uh... stuff.

ANNA: Yeah, but it throws Ford under the bus too, right?

EMILY: You are supposed to kind of like Ford.

TIM: You just don’t reattach that part of his brain.

He's got a little homophobic slice, and you just leave it out there.

TIM: No, but I think, uh, in general, it comes from people you meet.

That's why I think, you know,

doing writing you have to get out there in the world

and meet a lot of people, because...

It's, like, you think about actual people, real people that you know,

and you don't replicate them,

but you use them as inspiration for how these things happen.

And I think it's just hard talking

about maybe a gay character as an alcoholic character.

Because you don't want to, like... I don't-- I'm not personally an alcoholic,

so I don't want to be disrespectful in dealing with that.

We definitely want to have them be...

authentic, and true, and-- and not exploitive.

But we also are a lighthearted comedy.

And we, you know,

we don't want to pretend that we are doing a textbook about psychology, you know.

We are-- we are an entertainment piece that touches on--

that is a humanistic entertainment piece,

so that's all we want to be.

He probably never told anyone his all life that is the case, right?

ZAK: Except in the cool hippie commune.

It could be that, like, within that environment

he finally had found a place that he could be open,

and he did make a public declaration, and he wasn't accepted.

Um, but they seemed to really embrace it, and, like: "Oh, yeah!"

And then they totally changed it, and made it something totally different.


We do-- I do like the idea of Helmut being his... partner...

-...more than Ford. -Oh!

Because he and Helmut were gay and happy,

and then Helmut-- he thought Helmut died.

-Yeah, exactly. -Yeah.

-Um, it could be really interesting. -Huh.

LEVI: It establishes the rainbow bridges.

-That's... uh, offensive. -Yeah...


-It's fine, it's okay. -LEVI: We always knew...

-We always knew... -JAMES: We always knew...

-The rainbow storm in his brain. -JAMES: So many rainbows in there.


So I was like: "That wasn't exactly what I was pitching, but okay.

I think you guys got something."

I mean, if they have something that inspires them to--

to come up with a million more ideas for their level,

then they should just roll with that.


Uh, so I wrote up, uh, some backstory.

That-- just as a proposal.

that takes a lot of the stuff Tim wrote and fleshes it out.

Raz hops into Bob's brain

as he emerges into a brightly lit Mediterranean Cliffside city.

But Raz immediately feels uncomfortable here.

Everything and everyone is too big for him.

He begins to wander the streets of the city,

walking between the legs of the too tall citizens

and begins to get a grasp of the layout of the brain.


Can we talk about it after?


JAMES: Um...

GEOFF: What were you...?

ANNA: So, we can't have scale things.

Like, I think, I need to, like, axe that.

So, the thing is that, um,

the idea that everyone is actually much bigger than Raz,

it introduces a technical challenge that we don't necessarily...

So, if we don't need it absol--

If we don't absolutely need it, we shouldn't use it...

-...I guess is my assessment. -Sure.

Sure, I mean, like, anything, yes, it'll be-- it'll be more work.

So, I mean, it seems like your main point is you don't feel like it's worth it.

-Yes. -ZAK: Because I don't--

ZAK: I guess I'm just trying to understand what--

Is this realizable within the variance

that we'll already have for our characters?

Which is going to be very, very large.

Like, Raz versus the largest characters in our game,

the largest NPC, is going to be a pretty--

a pretty big difference.

As a tech, like, liaison, it's my job to just point out

when things might get--

like, you might be adding extra complexity to something like this.

Mm-hmm, sure.

ANNA: So, that's all I'm saying.

And I personally,

I'm not crazy about the idea because of the metaphor thing.

Because it's, like, the...

It's the brain...

Like, it's the brain's view of Raz.

Rather than Raz's view of-- of, like, the brain.

JAMES: I don't think it has to be either.

Because I think it can just be the state of the brain

and how we experience it.

-Jeremy. -What?

-Would you like to talk? -Why?

About your problems with... the story.


I don't think it's that bad. You guys, it's okay.

Jeremy doesn't like the backstory stuff.

I didn't say I hate the story!

TUCKER: I put that in the notes that you hate the story.

-All right, I'm sorry for saying that. -LEVI: Stenographer, can we get that...

I'm sorry!

JAMES: No, no, it's-- I just want--

If you do, I want to know why, so we can...

JEREMY: I didn't get it at first,

but you guys kept pushing me to fucking give you guys a reason.

LEVI: Okay...

You guys wouldn't just let me back out of it.

You just kept... pushing me.


JAMES: Okay.

TIM: You know, I think, what inspires them,

maybe the coming up with--

thinking about the narrative a lot is what's going to give them gameplay ideas.

But, um...

Uh, it's really when their gameplay ideas click,

and then we can really talk about what the level is going to be.

That's what they are working on now, so we'll see where that ends up.

TIM: Okay, I gotta go hear some pitches.

All right.

TIM: Have a good meeting!


TIM: Hello, Victor! Have you ever done this before?

I'm trying to remember. Did you pitch last time?

-VIC: No. -TIM: This is your first time?

-Yes. -TIM: That's awesome!

TIM: And... except for-- we are starting to set up schedules--

meetings for AF pi-- Amnesia Fortnight pitches.

Amnesia Fortnight is a thing that we do.

Did we ever talk about what that is?

-Eh. -I'll tell you later.


It's a game jam that we do.

And everybody in the company is invited to pitch,

encouraged to pitch.

And some people meet with me in advance.

And we can kind of hone your pitch together.

You got a one-liner for me?

-One-line pitch. -No, but yeah.


I want to make an outdoor adventure VR game.

TIM: Hm!

I've talked to you a little bit about, like, the kayaking portion of it.

TIM: In some ways the Amnesia Fortnight process is still

part of the lore of the company.

The elders speak of it to the younger generation.

And it gets passed down.


TIM: So, Amnesia Fortnight is when we take a break

from what we are doing for two weeks,

forget what we were working on before,

and split the company into small groups,

and they each have two weeks to make a game.

Um, we started doing this in the middle of Brütal Legend,

because I thought everyone was getting kind of bogged down with...

you know, this one game for four years,

and it would be great to give everyone a break from that.

TIM: Okay, I'm ready.

Anyway, it's not a disaster, it's an experiment.


Some of the games we did were just to prove out some, like: "What if..."

You know, we had one that was, like: "What about augmented reality?"

This was way before people were talking about that.

And we just did a test with that, and that was cool!

So people can do crazy ideas for Amnesia Fortnight!

It's not a totally alien concept.

Like, we are just going to stop what we are working on

and make smaller games.

Um, some of the choosing, and the public stuff,

and the, you know, the voting seems kind of crazy to people,

and the pitching, but, um, they figured it out.

But every time we try and get it on the schedule, everyone's like:

"Oh, no, there's so much..."

You know: "It's, like, so much work."

And people who are running projects are like:

"No! We are busy!"

I mean, I think if you said: "Would it be good for the team

to just take two weeks off.

And go relax, and recharge their batteries."

Like, yes, that'd be fantastic for the team!

Um, this is going to be kind of exhausting work for a lot of people.

And, hopefully, the change does help people.

But I think some people may come out

the other side of it, you know, more exhausted.

And then there is just a pure production brain which is like:

"Yep, you just took two and a half weeks out of the schedule for this project."


TIM: I think even-- even from our first Amnesia Fortnight ever,

some people were like:

"We are so under the gun for our schedule.

How could you possibly stop things for two weeks?"

And some people were mad the first time we did it, but...

It's just a-- it's just--

There is never a perfect time to do an Amnesia Fortnight.

And you are always just trying to stick it on the calendar.

You are just like: "Put it there. There! It's there. Everybody work around it.

It's two black weeks on the calendar that you can't plan anything..."

KEE: When does the next sprint end?

Uh, well, next sprint is done Tuesday.

Okay, and when's AF in relation to that?

I think AF is right after that?

-KEE: Oh, I see. -ZAK: Whichever seems worse.

ZAK: Whichever seems better.


What is it like after AF? Like, what is...

Everyone's tired.

It's like the day after AF finished.

AF finished and now everybody comes to work the next day.

What happens?

Is it nothing?

-Is everybody just... -JEREMY: I think it's Saturday.

-JEREMY: Is that right? -ZAK: And then everybody takes Sunday off?


ZAK: I don't know. I haven't been here for one, so.

TIM: But it's definitely worth it, I think.

TIM: This will be a chance to, like...

just branch out and just try something

that maybe isn't planned like this would be a Double Fine game,

or maybe it could be, but...

Just... I encourage everyone to really just reach for crazy ideas.

Who is pitching for AF?

Is it almost everyone?

(It's almost everyone!)

ZAK: It is a... like, a social, cooperative WarioWare in VR.

TIM: M-m-m!

-No? What? -TIM: Yeah.

TIM: No, that's good.

All I heard was: "Money, money, money, and money."

ZAK: Yeah, I mean, for-- for AF...

Uh, I mean, I wasn't sure I was going to do it at all.

Because I'm leading Psychonauts 2,

and so I'm pretty busy.

And the idea of, like, just doing rank and file work

on somebody else's team for two weeks seemed pretty awesome.

Um... but I have a big list.

I have a big giant list of game ideas.

And he really liked this one.

And as I thought about it more, just sort of, like, doing it

in the format of AF, it seemed like a fun project to do.

...with one player in VR.

And that player is quickly taken through a set of different challenges

which are in completely different environments,

and you are a different person.

So, like, maybe you are a cat.

-ZAK: Or maybe you are the president. -Oh, man!

Meanwhile, the people outside of VR are given clues

that are kind of oblique, and strange, and confusing.

And they are all yelling at you about what you should do in VR.

-TIM: Okay. -ZAK: All right.

TIM: Cool, approved.

-Oh, good. We are making that one? -TIM: Yeah.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Cool, maybe.

ZAK: Are you guys doing pitches?

Are you-- are you two doing--

-Asif is. -Asif is doing one?

I know Asif is doing one.

TIM: I've gotten a bunch of pitches in my office already.

We filmed them, and it just reminded me of why I love Amnesia Fortnight.

Because it's just, like, this huge explosion of creativity.

And we find out, like, everybody in the office has an idea.


TIM: Asif!


Would you like to pitch a game for Amnesia Fortnight?

ASIF: Yeah, I will tell you about my idea.

So, it's a third-person action platformer

where you have a limited amount of time to forage for the finest ingredients

before preparing and plating a meal that will prevent giant ravenous gods

from eating the human race.

-Oh, you are feeding the gods. -ASIF: Yes.

-Okay, so you are making a giant meal? -ASIF: Yes.

Like, with bulldozers and stuff? Are you bulldozing--

I-- I will-- I will get to that.

-All right. -ASIF: Um, so...

ASIF: The gameplay is divided into two stages...

Uh, that's it! Okay.

Any other questions about AF?

While we are all around.

Okay! Let's talk about projects.

-How is Psychonauts 2 doing? -Psychonauts 2 is going swimmingly.

Imagine this level as it's built is like...

Have you ever had a stack of really dirty dishes?

-Like, not washed dishes. -LEVI: Right now!

All your dishes. Until all your dishes are dirty.

-Field trip! -ZAK: Yeah.


LEVI: You've got towns people that are hidden away in their houses,

they haven't come out for a while.

But then, maybe when you are in there, the water raises again.

-Yep. -LEVI: And you have this...

...surreal thing is, like, seeing a city underwater.

So, you would have the view of water on the outside,

while you are in someone's, like, kitchen, having tea with them.

ZAK: Yeah, that's all super awesome.


ZAK: So, like, a hanging garden is, uh...

You know, it's, like, vertically arrayed.

And that could be another thing, like,

where the thing is rickety.

And, like, there is a town of them--

As the parade moves around, it's what's causing the thing to--

And everybody gets over here, and the whole thing goes...

ZAK: And all the stuff happening with Bob's level is super exciting.

It's all really good.

-TIM: Oh, yeah? -ZAK: All really good. Good stuff.

-New stuff? -They are exploring.

-A lot of exploration. -Cool, did they pick a setting yet?

Uh, so...

TIM: Wait, why is everyone gathered here?


Uh, who is also super drunk.

So, his-- inside of his brain is all filling and draining.

And it's a big Mediterranean city with a party going on.

It's going to be awesome.

We'll show some stuff in this meeting when it gets further along.


Psychonauts. What's going on with Psychonauts?

PAUL: Exactly.

I don't know.

You know, actually, I haven't had--

I'm not up to date on the latest.

I know there is this idea of, like,

maybe everything is too tall for Raz or something like that.

But, um...

I've seen a little bit of that in the document.

But, I think, we are going to have a meeting soon.

Maybe even today.

TIM: What are we talking about?

ZAK: We are talking about Bob Z.

And the incredible new ideas that this team has come up with.

JAMES: Um, so, it is a hanging planter.

Um... and...

ZAK: Right. So, like, as you do stuff and as water sort of gets poured into it,

it would, like, slosh in different directions,

and, like, those-- those cables would creak,

or snap, or move.

And each of those three levels, I'm imagining, would, like,

react to having water... pushed into it.

-JAMES: Exactly, yes. -ZAK: Like, little-- yeah.

TIM: Why, um... What makes you choose a hanging pot?

Just in my head I feel like... A hanging plant feels really stable to me.

Like it wouldn't tilt, unless it was swinging a lot.

Like, it wouldn't-- You know what I mean?

If it's hanging from a rope, it would be absolutely--

ZAK: Well, the idea is you pour water into it.

And the water drains, and the thing-- the whole thing...


TIM: So, like, the ropes on one side would buckle? Is it...

You know what I mean? Like, the way that's hanging,

it looks like it would-- would never tilt.

But some of those supports have already, like,

uh, have already snapped away, and so the thing is on more of a pivot.

Yeah, but then you are getting away from, like, what people might recognize

as a thing that actually exists.

-Like, who would know whatever... -ANNA: Yeah.

ZAK: But, yeah, I mean, I don't know, this seems...

Uh... yeah.

I don't know.

-TIM: Um, and one more... -I think that's a solvable problem.

TIM: ...thing I'm trying to figure out is how you make every...

like, frame of it look special and unique?

Because once you zoom in on this,

does it just look like you are in a village?

How do you make it look like...

You know, because-- Like, all of our--

We always have this issue where the concept art always tells a story,

but then when you go into player scale, like, you can't see it anymore.

ZAK: Yeah, and we can... make it feel miniature.

I mean, do you want to...

TIM: But I just mean, when you-- once you-- if you zoom into that, you're--

-TIM: It's just-- -LEVI: It's not about pots anymore.

TIM: It's not about pots anymore.

It's more like you are, like, just in a village.

JAMES: And you think that problem is more than just establishing it?

I mean, even, like, Waterloo World. You are always looking at the hexes.

Black Velvet. You are always looking at that aesthetic.

And, like, the stage. You are looking at the stage.

Everything always looks weird every frame, because of the world that you've chosen.

It seems like that's just a problem that's not solved yet,

not a problem that's unsolvable.

I didn't say it was unsolvable.

I just don't know what-- how you are going to do that yet.

But, yeah, if you guys... have ideas for making that.

JAMES: The more I think about it,

I really like the idea of pulling the camera out.

ZAK: I wouldn't count on that as a technique.

JAMES: Sure.

ZAK: Just because it's going to be constrained by...

-ZAK: ...what we need to do for gameplay. -Sure.

TIM: So the stronger theme then is miniaturization?

Like, that's what we feel is special about the level? Is that it's...


-TIM: Yeah. -Yeah.

So the end result would be kind of, like, a...

Like the Pikmin level. Or the Bug's Life level.

JAMES: So it's like: "Oh, here is a tree.

but it is just, like, a blade of grass."

-JAMES: Or like a... -Yeah.

JAMES: Maybe not that small.

But, yeah... a fern.

I guess, uh, the thing about, like: "How do you always know

you are in this location from inside the level?"

Seems like a visual problem, or a visual thing, not even--

ZAK: Well, yeah, and a totally solvable one.

Yeah, I mean, like... Like, even Waterloo is visual.

-You are always seeing these hexes. -TIM: Yeah.

But it's in the...

It's in the... basic premise of the level that it's always going to look weird.


Yeah, I mean, I don't know.

I think this thing is super visually arresting.

And I can totally imagine that working, and having the mix of...

tilt-shifty, "I feel like I'm super small

in a big Bug's Life / Pikmin kind of world."

Plus, as the water comes through,

there is, like, these little rivulets of water

that cause the level to slosh back and forth,

and then everything tilts,

and there is a whole bunch of, like, little kinetic elements

that open and close, and move around because of that.

And then you delve down into the dirt,

and there is, like, the second layer version of that,

and the creepy ghosts at the bottom.

JAMES: Yeah, I mean, the thing that's exciting to me

is the idea of that cute Laputian thing

plus the, like, pretty heavy stuff we are dealing with in the level.

-ZAK: Yeah. -Seems really interesting.

ZAK: Putting you on the spot. Like, how do you feel about

if this goes to whitebox and Psychonauts 2 has a level

that has a sort of terracotta hanging garden

at a miniature scale,

where the thing is getting watered,

and it causes it to slosh back and forth,

and all kinds of, like, kinetic water puzzles...

TIM: I think kinetic water puzzles are an awesome thing to do.






JAMES: Last week we had a good meeting about Bob.

And we are getting real close.

And today we are going to... get even closer.


I was in... maybe a different meeting from you guys on Friday.

It felt like it was, like, nine hours long.


It's going to be a big thing to figure out.


Bob Z-- Bob Z folks... stay behind.

-ZAK: Um... -JAMES: Are we in trouble?

ZAK: No, we are not in trouble, um...

So, uh... but I will tell you what I think is going on.

Um... uh, we need to have a... smaller format, more brainstormy meeting.

Um... I think...

I think a lot of the fundamentals, and core structure,

and everything are pretty solid.

But... I think we are still sort of grasping at the overall, like,

organizational high concept, kind of visually and thematically.


And I think it would be good for us to just sit down, and, like...

Leaving aside the baggage that we already have,

like, just talk about some of that stuff,

and see if we can come up with anything that we like better.

And if it fits with what we have,

or if it changes what you guys have already talked about.

Um, because it feels like...

right now it's sort of putting an overlay of high concept

onto a structure that already exists, and I think that is maybe not...

I mean, as productive as it's going to be...

Um, and really focusing on more of--

ZAK: Tim has to. Yes.

LEVI: Um... okay.

So, we'll do that... later in the day.

-JEREMY: We are getting pizzas? -Why are we getting pizzas?

ZAK: Uh, the high concept was good,

but the execution of it wasn't something that I think was going to be workable.

And I, you know, circled back with Tim to talk about that.

And, I think, you know, we both agreed that, like:

"Okay, the real feedback is that the level needs

a stronger core high concept

that people can kind of immediately grasp structurally and be excited about.

Um, but I don't think that one is-- is workable.

On this project especially we have to make it clear to everyone involved that

that is the goal of the project, to not do the typical.

And every time you get an assignment and think--

Your first thought is, like:

"Well, here's a way to that-- Like, you could do that."

And, like...

And then you need to have a second, and third thought after that of, like:

"Well, here is a less typical way to do that."

But I think he was right.

And I think it was, you know, something that multiple people had said,

that the-- that the level needed

a more direct and arresting high concept than it currently had.

Which was a lot more like a-- a standard city feel, so.


ZAK: Um, but at the end of the day, we are not going to make something

unless we think it's not going to be--

we all think it's going to be super awesome.

So, um... you guys need to, and we need to.

TIM: And just the-- and the basic setup thing that I like,

not specifically, but in general, it's just that...

there is a problem, there is ghosts all over.

-Okay, yeah, yeah. -TIM: He-- he, you know...

He floods the area. "That's great! Problem solved."

But he is eroding the village or whatever, he is doing something bad that way,

and you show him another way of, like: "Okay, look, let's deal with the ghosts."

You know?

-That-- and that being the setup. -JAMES: Sure.

ZAK: Like, let's talk about, like, some high level images and structures,

because I feel like that's what is missing.

Okay, you've got a big wobbly stack of stuff

that drains and moves around.

And what could that thing be?

And so, like, it could be a stack of dirty dishes,

or it could-- you have a drawing of, like--

LEVI: Those are, like, pots.

Like, you know, just the idea of, like, him living in squalor,

and the stacked up dishes is kind of representative...

in the sink of people, kind of just not caring anymore.

I had a guy, I had a friend who-- I was working on cars with him,

and he was, like, living alone, his girlfriend had dumped him.

And he was just like: "I just don't feel like doing the dishes,

I haven't done them in a while."

And his entire sink, his whole counter,

whole kitchen was just empty, dirty dishes.

He didn't want to-- He was in some weird mental state

where he didn't want to, he just didn't want to.

It could be gross, but it could be, like, you are in a mashed potatoes igloo.

You know? Where you are, like, just kind of, like...

Frito pie. He's just been eating junk food.

It might be unbearably gross to play in that level, but you could do this--

It's, like, you know, like they have in Mario,

they have, like, the sweets levels, like: "It's all cakes!"

It's like that, except it's all gross.

Yeah, it's got the gristle from the meat someone spit out.

-JEREMY: Ugh, ugh! -JAMES: Jesus!

-This is disgusting. -[TIM CHUCKLES]

LEVI: Leftover food Dutch landscape.

-Yeah, exactly, exactly. -[TIM LAUGHS]

And then you draw a little, like, dried gravy trail...

-Gravy! -...from the mountain of mashed potatoes.

-Yeah! -Like, that leads past...

I have a question.

Does-- does it feel like...

this overall idea solves the problems we had with other ones?

TIM: Well, I mean, it creates--

If we do it well, I mean, it seems like it kind of creates

an iconic, surreal looking image.

And if we figure out, you know, how to place Bob's struggle in that,

you know, and I think that-- that-- that would be another thing to do.

But it does help-- It's not--

It's a very, um, memorable visual, and kind of a neat idea, I think.

And so, it solves that problem.

JAMES: Uh, I do wonder...

Like, should we spend any time talking about the old idea,

and seeing if there is a way to fix that?

ZAK: Uh, other...

Like, just other high level concept visual stuff.

Because I do still...

And it's just because we haven't spent a lot of time on the dish idea.

But I do still, like, feel like there is--

Most of the other idea is still very strong.

And that what's missing is... fixable,

but I could be-- I could be wrong also.

(Yeah, you are.)

Okay, I shouldn't have said...

TIM: Well, I mean... So, like, the dishes appeal to me was

that it's wrong to have a big stack of dirty dishes.

-Yeah, yeah. -Everyone inherently knows it's wrong.

TIM: I'm just trying to get, like--

Like, in one image indicate that there is a problem.

And then, if you can indicate how Bob is struggling with that problem...

It's just that-- just a village floating in the air...

-...just isn't anything, right? -No, no, I totally agree, uh...

So, okay, so...

The dishes thing might have problems of when we don't want to do the dishes thing.

But do you-- is it any more clear when you imagine a picture of, like...

Bob is trying to do the dishes, and someone is bringing

more and more dishes all the time.

Or just Bob sitting there and not doing the dishes,

while there is a big pile of dishes, like...

It's more surreal because it's grounded-- it's grounded partially in the real world.

And not a place that you would find in a fantasy novel, you know?

Or a place that you'd find anywhere else except for...

-...a game about psychedelic metaphors... -ANNA: It's very human.

...and-- and dream-- dreamlike imagery. Like, you know what I mean?


ZAK: I think a lot of the stuff, uh, for Psychonauts 1 was done intuitively.

And it was also thrown away in production, like, seven times.

Um, and we are trying to sort of avoid that,

by doing more of this work upfront.

And so I don't think there is anything, like,

at all unusual or bad about the situation that we are in.

And I just want to make sure that you guys all understand that.

This isn't like: "Oh, god!

Why are we having so much trouble coming up with an idea?"

Like, we are trying to figure out how to articulate

what makes some ideas good and some ideas bad.

And we are figuring that process out together.

TIM: Some of the levels were-- In the first pitch for Psychonauts,

some of the levels were described in it.

And then, some levels... it was, like, a year into production,

and we just had no idea what Milkman Conspiracy was going to be.

It wasn't called Milkman Conspiracy. We just knew there was a paranoid level.

And it wasn't until we were all at lunch...

TIM: I always remember the first--

the first versions of, uh... all the levels in Psychonauts 1.

I remember some of the older versions of them, and...

Milla's level, and all these levels that went through so much iteration that--


I have to remind myself that, because... the first--

the first versions of the first Psychonauts 1 levels were not good.

At least not right away.

It took a lot of throwing stuff out,

redoing stuff.


It's fun to think.

Think all day.


PAUL: People have been sort of struggling to come up with some concepts.

And maybe taking a step back might refresh...?

Yeah, maybe. I don't know.

Ask me on the other side of that.


Please join me in welcoming Caryl Shaw to Double Fine Productions.

-Where is Caryl Shaw? -[CLAPPING]

Ah! Stand up, stand up!

Caryl, what have we hired you here at Double Fine to do?

I am the new VP of Development here at Double Fine.

-TIM: Yay! Exactly. -[CLAPPING]

All right, that's awesome!

Making the games! You are in charge of making the games.

So, good luck...

-TIM: ...with that. -Thanks.

Do you know what Amnesia Fortnight is?

I... don't. It's like Bagel Day?

Yeah, it's like Bagel Day, exactly.

Very good.

Uh, I would like to ask your cooperation.

Could you guys help us film a brief introduction

to our Amnesia Fortnight video.

Which is just us saying Amnesia Fortnight is starting.

Slide in there, slide that way.

How far over here?

And it's just going to be me being like--

Like: "Hey, you guys, you know what time it is?"

And then no one knows what I'm talking about.

And someone is like: "Bagel Day?"


We are just going to improv it, you guys.

Fuck it, we'll do it live.

Okay, ready?

Nothing is going to go wrong.

Hey! Guess what time it is?

Boxing Day?


-Negative Halloween? -I don't even know what that is.

-The Purge? -No!

Is that a new dryer?

The name is on the box!



Okay! See? One take.

You guys are the best!


TIM: All right, sirs.

I can't believe we are doing this again, we've learned nothing!

-PAUL: Fortnight? -TIM: Mm-hmm.

PAUL: What's wrong with Amnesia Fortnight?

This is crazy.

What's sticking right in my neck?


I don't know what you are talking about.

I don't see anything. What are you talking about?

How could they be sticking in my neck?

-ASIF: Just... perspective. -PAUL: The perspective.

-Do you want me to move it? -ASIF: No, it's fine.


-There, Asif. -ASIF: I respect the effort.

There, okay?

At least-- At least it took you a while to find it.

At least-- At least it took you a while to find it.

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