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Hard to Get Old

Tim celebrates his 50th birthday while publisher Starbreeze puts pressure on the team with an impending visit.

Published: January 20th 2023

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Episode Transcript

TIM: Today we are having-- This is our birthday, uh... meeting.

Not a birthday meeting, that's a terrible name.

This is not the first meeting of the month,

but we are pretending it is, because we missed the rest of them.

But, so, it's birthday time!

July birthdays.

July birthdays are...


-Thank you! Thank you, Anna! -[LAUGHTER]

Um, we are going to-- that means we are going to have cake

in the kitchen after, people.

And the rest of the meeting is going to be talking about my birthday,

and all my thoughts about being super old.

But today is the actual...

fiftieth birthday of Rusty.

Rusty, where are you? There you are.

-[CHEERING] -TIM: Yeah! Happy birthday, sir!


We'll sing later.

Fifty years old.

-LEVI: Did you say fiftieth? -TIM: Yeah.

TIM: Isn't that a ridiculous age for someone to be?

-TIM: That's terrible. -[LAUGHTER]

Oh, shut up!

It's going to be-- I can't imagine being that old.

For another two and a half weeks

I will not have any idea of what that's like.

RUSTY: Not yet! He is not yet!

I think he managed to mention that I was 50 about five times

just throughout the day.

Because he is not yet. By about two and a half weeks, yeah.

He will never let me forget it.

PAUL: Do you ever take time to reflect on your history of employment here?



-That's just my nap, Levi. -Yeah, I know!


I wish I could think of something special to do on my 50th birthday, because, uh...

I remember when I was a kid, reading Kurt Vonnegut...

It was like: "And for his 50th birthday he set all of his characters free.

And he stopped writing about the same old characters.

And he started writing about new characters."

And I was like:


"What should I do?"

We have been talking about, on the actual birthday of the company,

uh, the 26th of July, going on a historical mission

of crawling through every bar that we've named a project after.

TIM: Li-Po is our very first codename of our very first project.

This is the codename for Psychonauts.

-Never heard of it. What's that? -TIM: Let's go!

TIM: We have done it kind of before.

We have done-- there is a lot of-- for people that don't know,

we codename a lot of our projects after Chinatown bars.

Um, Grasslands was our codename for Psychonauts 2.

Who knows if that will happen.

If that happens, we will call it Grasslands.

And, um... we have sometimes tried to go

to every single one of them on a single night.

And we have mostly done it.

♪ We are the champions ♪

♪ No time for losers, 'cause we are the champions... ♪

-Yeah, a lot of history. A lot of history. -[ANNA CHUCKLES]


I would like to see also

if we can start moving at a little bit faster pace.

JAMES: So, I pitched the bonsai idea right before our break.

ZAK: It's supposed to be the surface of a bonsai tree.

-So, like, macro photography. -Oh, okay.

JEREMY: I do think some crazy shit is going to happen

over the process of making this game though.

ZAK: Move that over to now,

we are going to start talking about doing the Hub.

Look at that!

A video game just happened there. That was great.

TIM: This is the first asset that we are building

that we are not going to throw away.

Like, the game is going to have this in it, this is the game.

So, we just have to hit that milestone now with a mental world.



Um, hi! I'm Jeremy.

-ZAK: Jeremy French! -RYAN: Welcome, Jeremy!

-Yesterday I went to the beach... -[LAUGHTER]

...but today I'm going to just get-- yeah, kind of caught up with everything,

and figure out what I'm going to be doing,

and find out how to help make this game.

TIM: Yeah, Psychonauts needs a lot of people to get finished.

PAUL: Staffing up.

TIM: Jeremy French's first day is today.

We call him Little Ray.

Because he looks like Ray.

No, we don't call him that.

But we can't call him Jeremy,

because we already have, like, eighteen Jeremys at the company, so.

Um, he is going to be doing art.

-GAVIN: Welcome! -ZAHRA: Hi!

GAVIN: Zahra's here. She's new. Our new 3D modeler.

-Welcome! -[CLAPPING]

TIM: Zahra is kind of newish.

Zahra came from--

Actually we've been meeting her for years at PAX.

She would come to, like, our booth at PAX and talk about...


getting a job as an artist.

And we were like: "Yeah, well, here's some tips."

And-- and then, eventually, we were just:

"Oh, whoa-ow! Hey...

Okay! Let's..."

You know, she grew her portfolio over all these years.

And then, um... we hired her.

And Dave says she is doing a really good job modeling.

Modeling Gisu.


I was doing this with my nuts.


JEREMY: Did you get that on film?!


RYAN: Esther was...

TIM: Gisu.

She's called Gisu.

-RYAN: Gisu. -TIM: That was Zahra's pick for a name.

As far as, like, a young energetic skateboarding teenager.

ZAK: G, I, S, U?

G, I, S, U.

Okay, cool. Gisu...

-ZAK: We can change that now. -RYAN: Editing that, yep.


ZAHRA: I didn't name her. I suggested the names to Tim.

I think it was my first week?

Or second week?

I got an email from Tim that said: "Hey! We have this character..."

...inspired by, like, that video of the Afghan girls at a skate park.

SCOTT: Oh, that's cool!

TIM: There is some fun videos of them learning how to skateboard and stuff.

I mean, it came from...

you know, wanting to have the interns...

uh, come from all over the world.

The idea for Gisu, uh, came about.

And it's a-- it's a challenging one,

because we wanted to get it right.

You know, whenever you...


you take someone from another culture and put them in this game,

you don't want to just grab a whole handful of stereotypes

and throw them in.

And it's great to have Zahra on the staff,

and just be able to talk to her about her experience growing up in Iran.

ZAHRA: He only asked me about names,

but he was so open, and I gave him a lot of suggestions

about, like, her costume and clothing.

Official first cosplay!

TIM: It gets into, like-- there is a lot of complexities about whether, like--

whether the character should wear a headscarf or not.

You know, that's-- How do you treat that?

Um, what does that headscarf mean to different people?

To some people it's really positive, to some people it's a negative.

And, you know, what do we want to do for--

What's right for that character, you know?

Maybe she is homesick, because she is an intern and somewhere else,

sometimes she does it, but...

Things like that.

Oh! Uh, character stuff.

Um, so, Scott has been hard at work getting characters for the First Playable.

A near final version of our first intern, based on a lot of feedback.

Including some feedback from Zahra which has been great.

She will be skateboarding around in a vignette in the First Playable.

So, that will be really cool!

ZAHRA: It makes you feel amazing

that you work with professional people,

that they don't care about, like...

uh... what level you are,

and when you started, and any of those.

They just think about, like:

"If that person says something that... it seems right,

maybe we should listen."

I feel amazing working here, you know.

PAUL: And she is going to go into the game for this, um...

-PAUL: ...Quarry they are working on. -ZAHRA: Yeah.

-Is that exciting? -Yeah, so excited!

TIM: Awesome! That's going to be exciting!

Uh, okay, let's talk about Psychonauts 2!

-Psychonauts 2! -TIM: What happened last week?

We are working towards our First Playable milestone.

Which is a big polished chunk of real-world gameplay, um, in the Quarry.

Uh, and we are having actually an internal team playtest for that

tomorrow, at the end of this sprint.

All right, you are playing the video game, you are playing the video game.

ZAK: Oh, no-o-o!

Is it plugged in?

-[ZAHRA LAUGHS] -Solved it!

ZAHRA: That's funny!

-RYAN: Have we started? -PAUL: Yeah.

Oh, okay! Um...

Yeah, we wanted to create--

Uh, well, we were working on one particular area in the hub.

Um... and it's the focus area for the First Playable.

And we wanted to start playtesting. Like, actually playtesting with the team.

AMY: Still-- still pretty rough.

But it's an endearing sort of rough.

RAY: You know, it's really early on, so, like...

There is definitely a lot of polish, you know.

In the moves, in the way that he moves and stuff.

But, um... it's really promising.

Argh, no! Why?!

There is a lot of little things that--


There is a lot of stuff to do.

It's a very full experience right now.

Like... everywhere you go, there is, like, another path.

Which is kind of overwhelming, but I think it's good overall.

So, I'm trying to give it a little-- What the fuck was that?!

Was I-- What?

Okay, so-- What?!

When I'm playing it, I'm thinking...

about how hard it is going to be to make the game.

And I'm thinking: "Are we going to be able to pull that off again, you know?"

-But it all feels really good. -ZAK: There is only about 10 minutes left.

ZAK: So, if you are still playing, you have done your part.

And you can move on to filling out the survey.

Please, please, please, please, please, fill out the survey.

RYAN: But, it's really funny, because, like, Jeremy Mitchell was asking--

For one area he pulled me over, and he was, you know, complaining

about a particular crime that-- that I did in the level.

Um... and, uh... He asked me just, like--

He was like: "What were you trying to do?"

And I explained it to him, and he was like: "Oh, that's fine.

That would be-- that would work just-- that would work fine, yeah.

If that happened, I would totally be okay with this whole thing."

And I'm like: "Great! Still give the feedback though."

BEN: Let's see...

Yeah, actually, I was pointing out some of this stuff earlier.

There is actually a great moment right at the very beginning.

Clearly, this is the path that I'm intended to go on.

So, I'm running along, like:

"Oh, there is, like, a cool, little bridge there!

Oh, no! No, there is not."

Um, and it's, like...

It's this perfect-- It's at this perfect height

where if you don't tip the camera down...


It's just like: "Argh!"

And, like, stuff like that.

That's, like-- That's, like, good for a troll.

But it's, like, not great level design.

I feel like there were not enough reasons to use my psychic powers.

Ah! All right!

Like, the map right now I feel--

I definitely feel like an acrobat, but I don't feel like a psychic.

I just put more interaction. We need it in the world.

Yeah! We-- Oh, everybody shares this one!

RYAN: I love it!

This is just really-- It's the last one.


ZAK: There were a non-trivial percent of the people...

RYAN: Cool! Thanks, everybody!



GEOFF: Well... The jury is still out.

I don't know if...

What happened the last time you had level designers?

Eh, we fired them all.

-Oh, no! -[LAUGHTER]

All the level designers got fired on Psychonauts 1.

I have heard that story!

Apparently, they smoked a lot of weed, so we are fine.


-Uh... -[BEN LAUGHS]

BEN: Uh, well, starting tomorrow actually, we are going to do, uh...

we are going to do a meeting to start talking through the character

for the-- the first level that I'm going to be working on.

And hopefully about a week after that, um,

we will have kind of the basic character story stuff figured out.

Fingers crossed.

So, we will be kicking off new levels with our new level team.

These two guys will be kicking off a new level.

Uh, and then, our previous level team will be kicking off a new level as well.

So, we are kicking off new brains, soon.

So, there's just a ton-- a ton of content.

-TIM: Cool! Kicking off new brains. -ZAK: Kicking off new brains. Exciting!

BEN: I mean, because the thing about here is that it's, like,

it's kind of just us, right?

It's us trying to entertain ourselves.

Trying to come up with, like, what's the coolest concept we can think of

for-- for this-- you know, for this level.

ZAK: How we had done this in the future-- in the past was...

-TIM: In the future. -ZAK: How we had done this in the future.

ZAK: I'm sorry, I'm displaced in time.

Um, uh, we had a kickoff meeting,

and then the level team kind of went off and brainstormed a bunch of stuff,

and then, like, pitched it back to Tim.

And that was problematic for a lot of different reasons.

Because what has happened in the past is we've left the concept--

the initial two-week concept period with something that's like:

"Uh, that kind of seems like it would work, but..."

And what happens then

is that the whiteboxing period just takes a lot longer.

Because we are also iterating on the core concept.

And then, while the whitebox takes a lot longer...

it just gets really big.

So, if you go play Bob Z... it's hu-u-uge!

-Bob Z. -JAMES: Hello!

Bob Z... How did we do?

Were your building kits, cinematic blocking, asset list,

and gameplay systems done for representative?

We are done!

GAVIN: Done?

We are effectively done.

Pending rev-- Pending review, but they did the tasks.

Can we-- can we just, like, open it up, and show people where Bob Z is at?

JEREMY: But, yeah, all the-- all the areas have been touched by now.

And some areas might need, like, a little, like, finessing still.

But everything is-- everything is here.

Yeah, that's kind of it.

ZAK: The Bob Z team has been toiling away.

ZAK: You want to talk about that puzzle or tilting stuff?



RYAN: Anyway, we have another meeting right now.

Anyway, so Tuesday is the official kickoff.

Is there a Hollis channel?

There will be after this meeting.

Put your ideas in the Hollis channel!

So, is that actually true? Tuesday?

Are these people going to be able to kick this stuff off?

Are we done enough with Bob Z?

Are we at a place where Bob Z is...

Is there a big party for Bob Z? Or review?

Or whatever... What happens at the end of Bob Z?

When do we play through it and...

Well, like, the First Playable is going to get a big, like:

"Let's all play it, and check it out!"

RYAN: Bob Z is not in First Playable.

I know. I'm saying...

-Oh, sorry, yes. -Does the whole team look at it?

Or what's your end of representative whitebox?

Do you do, like, a whole team review?

Or did you-- What is the process usually?

Well, we've never done it before, so, uh...

Like, how do you end...

Like, say: "Okay, that's whitebox. That's the end of it."


Is there a process for setting it up

for whatever the next stage of that level...

That's a good question, and we should talk about what we want that to be.

-But probably not right now. -Okay, all right.

But that's a very good question.

Well, what is the goal of you playing the very last one then?

Is it you are going to have a bunch of feedback?

TIM: I just haven't seen it in a while.

-JAMES: Tim, let's go play it right now. -Yeah.

[TIM YAWNS] Oh, jeez.


ZAK: I mean, unless you imagine you playing it and being like:

"Nothing to say here, this is perfect!"

Because we are just setting up for you to have to either bite your tongue

and not give the feedback that you want to give.

Or the team to have a bunch of feedback they have to deal with, so.

RYAN: Well, it's also...

We can do feedback after First Playable.

ZAK: Sure, absolutely. Absolutely, yeah.

RYAN: Anyway, we do have another meeting.

Oh my god! What did you guys do in here?

Yeah, we farted a lot. Mostly.

PAUL: So, when you get to sit down

and actually play through one of the brain levels...

We are still sort of exploring

that idea of things being extremely surreal.


PAUL: And it feels like that hasn't quite been captured yet.

We don't have that yet. We don't have a mental world

where you are feeling like you are having surreal fun yet.

TIM: They are brainstorming now on Cassie's level,

trying to come up with something really surreal for that.

PAUL: So, walk us through the process.

They say that you need to make a brain level.

-PAUL: What is the starting point of that? -Panic.

ZAK: Why is this level super crazy, and unique, and interesting,

and looks unique in every single screenshot,

and has a unique twist that makes it unlike any other level in Psychonauts,

and anything else you have seen in a video game?

Which is high-- a high goal.

TIM: It's, like-- because, like, no one piece of this moves

all the way to its completion by itself.

Even the story stuff. Like, it moves a little bit.

And then, the gameplay stuff and the level design move a little bit,

and they-- they feed off each other.

And then, it does have the story things that we think are critical,

which are usually only just a couple of, like, key points.

PAUL: Is her character based on anyone that you know?

Or is it just a collection of traits you're pulling from different experiences.

She is based on a stump from the first game

that had her name on it.


So, this is going to be the needle witch, right?

TIM: Yeah. Oh, I didn't-- I didn't know she was Asian.

Oh, it's all coming together!

-SCOTT: Yes, she is Asian. -ZAK: Although she looks like she is--

ZAK: She is going to take Richard Dreyfuss away.

This one does.

And she has a lot of bees that she can control with her mind.

And then, she works in a-- she gets honey on her,

and then she picks up a lot of pine needles from the forest.

And so, she is covered with these pine needles.

And so, her silhouette looks kind of like Hellraiser.

No, it's more like following a trail of, like, concepts of, uh...

what the difference--

The original Psychic Seven, you know, had different focuses.

And we chose for her to focus on, um, the human potential.

The potential of the human mind.

Like, uh, someone who had written a best-selling, uh, self-help book.

And that ties back into the themes we are working on

where, uh, the Psychonauts used to be about something different

than what they are about now. They used to be about--

Like a NASA for the human mind.

Just exploring all the mysteries and potential.

TIM: And the kids think she is terrifying, but she is not terrifying.

She is just a nice old lady. Misunderstood.

TIM: And then this question comes up of: "Well, who is she really?"

And I think that's going to be

part of her mind, I think, is actually finding that out.

Like, you've been all these different things for different people.

What is your true self?

And then, that question comes up for a lot of people.

Like: "What is my true self?"

Because in some ways it can be something you invent.

Like, a lot of us when we go from high school to college.

We leave our high school or hometown, and go to college,

and there is a chance of, like:

"I don't have to be that guy I was in high school, I could just...

Because no one knows me here, I can be something else."

And so, that's the opportunity she's had.

And then she lost it.

And she is going to try and regain it.

So, um, I'd love it if people just dumped out

any ideas they had about the level now.

Just so that we can try and make sure that it works, uh, for both.

Like, I can start weaving them into the backstory.

And, um...

BEN: Well... okay. So, there was a, um...

When Cassie was introduced to me people were like:

"Oh, yeah, it's the bee lady!"

And so, that was all I had to go on for a while.

I can't remember exactly how I got here, but I wound up looking up

the Borges' short story "The Library of Babel."

And the Library of Babel--

the rooms in the library are all hexagons.

It's a giant honeycomb.

The whole-- it's this infinite honeycomb that expands in all--

TIM: Is this, like, a classic book?

BEN: It's a short story from the... fifties?

-TIM: Oh, okay. -Sixties, maybe?

BEN: The whole book theming was actually one of the first...

level themes that got pitched.

Uh, and we were like: "Oh, that's really cool."

But it was almost like it came too soon.

So, we were like: "Oh, that's cool!

But we haven't-- we haven't, like, generated enough ideas.

So, let's like put this over here, and we'll generate these other ideas."

So, we generated a bunch of other ideas.

WILL: Yep, she's, like, built a maze around herself.

Like, a defensive one.

What if you just see little, like...

'How to dance tango' instructions on the floor.

And that's somehow the clue.

You see these little shoes.

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight."

And you are like: "Look at that bee dance on the floor!"

And then you decode how to get through the maze.

TIM: Brainstorming the Cassie level.

At the beginning it was going to be about bees. It was going to be like:

"Okay, I want to do a game level set in a beehive,

But have it not look like Bee Movie.


And then we sat here, and we had, like, two brainstorming sessions

with Emily, and Ben, and Will. And we were like:


"We drew all over that white paper and we were, like, stuck."

I feel like right now we are moving all the pieces around,

but not really changing anything?

TIM: Mm-hmm...

ZAK: Yeah, I mean, I think, also one of the things that we are learning is...

The first...

Like, at least this has been the pattern for the other level teams is, like...

The first level a level team makes is sort of...

There is some additional startup time,

I think, for just, like, learning the process,

and the team starting to gel and everything, so.


ZAK: But when you get to the third... Hey!

Meep meep.

That's great you guys are done with Bob Zanotto.

What a relief!

We were on that forever!

JAMES: Yep, it's definitely done. Definitely all the way done.

TIM: Can't wait to play all the flooding, Wet-Dry Land mechanics.


I haven't synced in a while though, so I'm assuming...

So, okay, here are my notes on Cassie.

TIM: Um...

-Hollis. -Hollis.

Oh, shit! I got nothing on Hollis.



TIM: Um...

Yeah, but it's a spy mission.

Yeah, heist/spy mission.

Like Mission Impossible: "You do this, you do this, you do this.

And then, Hollis is just not doing her job, because she is gambling.

JAMES: Is that fleshed out?

Or is that also part of the design of this level.

Well, it's fleshed out in that stuff I just said.

-Okay. -LEVI: Do we want it to be a casino?

I don't know, when this idea was originally, like, typed in--

this was one of the-- like, back in the original Psychonauts--

Like: "It'd be fun to have a casino level."

If the boss is Lady Luck.

Oh, man! We should have Lady Luck as the boss!

-TIM: And you have to fight Lady Luck. -JEREMY: Ooh! That's cool.

And then, Octopus could be a hilarious dealer.

Like, dealing cards.

-Octopus... -TIM: Spinning wheels.

Octopus is spinning wheels.

All the dealers are octopuses.


Octopuses are cool.

We could be the first game studio to mo-cap an octopus.

TIM: Oh my gosh! That would be so funny!

Just an octopus with a bunch of ping pong balls on it.

And we are like: "Move! Do it!

No! Damn it!

Okay, back to position one."

-Just kicking. -[TIM CHUCKLES]

Because he gets it almost right.

He goes up, and he, like, deals a bunch of cards.

Like: "Ugh! I said from the top of the deck! You fucking stupid octopus!"

TIM: Ooh! I hate octopuses!

Oh! Speaking of.

-Is this the Hollis meeting? -TIM: I think now it's the Cassie meeting.

Have you guys been having the Hollis meeting?

-JEREMY: Yeah. -LEVI: Yes.

-TIM: Did it get canceled? -JEREMY: Were we not supposed to?

-TIM: Oh, shit, it got canceled! -ANDY: You guys never, like, told me!

-I mean... -[TIM LAUGHS]

We have a calendar.

-What do you mean we never told you? -We showed up for the meeting and...

LEVI: ...we had the meeting.

TIM: We were sitting here waiting for everyone to show up.

JAMES: We just did it.

We should get a producer or something to keep this organized.


-They had the meeting without us. -JEREMY: Oh!

Holy shit! Did you just have the meeting without us?

TIM: Yeah, we did, yeah. [TIM LAUGHS]

JEREMY: We were here, and no one came.

TIM: We came here at four, and there was no one here, so...

Did you not reschedule the meeting?

No, we started, because we were like: "Oh, they'll come when they are done."

And then, I think, we just kept going.

-We just got carried away. -ZAK: Okay.

We just kept going.


The creative energy was just overwhelming.


-Turn them off. -[LAUGHTER]

ZAK: Yeah, they probably should have just get up to speed

on what the hell was going on.

JEREMY: I'll go get Ryan.

TIM: Look, you guys, don't be mad at us.

We came to the meeting when it was scheduled.

And we had the meeting, so I don't think anyone in here did anything wrong.

ZAK: All right. Fair enough.


GAVIN: ...we are down to about 150.


So, still a bit left.

I think, Brian, you have a bunch left in your quest task,

because you hate me, and my graphs.


GAVIN: Yeah, I think that's, like, 24 hours

that should be out of it. But it's still--

It's still over a hundred, um...

ZAK: That's still, like, two people worth of work.

-GAVIN: Yeah. -ZAK: Yeah.

-GAVIN: Yeah. -ZAK: That's a lot of work!

GAVIN: So, there is still a lot of polish work

that is in the tasks that we need to get through.

And really, this sprint, coming up, is our last chance.

Like, we are not going to suddenly find extra time.

This is our First Playable deadline, and we have to nail it.

Uh, we have to send this to Starbreeze, they are going to look over it.

This is our statement for: "This is what the game is going to be.

This is what we can do as a team."

So, whatever you guys can do.

Whatever I can do to help you, uh...

to get through the work in Hansoft,

and to get this thing looking good and playing good, uh, would be awesome.

If you can stay late, if you can get through more stuff,

if you can take on extra stuff, help other people with their stuff,

uh, that would be wonderful.

Um, but...

If there is anything-- any questions about any of that.

Or anything anybody wants to bring up...

Um, feel free... Let me know.


ZAK: Yeah, and-- and for what it's worth, um...

All the work that we've been doing is really great work.

I think our velocity hasn't quite been there.

Which means we didn't have the chance--

as much of a chance to polish what's there.

But what's there is an incredibly good and inspiring foundation

for a lot of the rest of the game to come.

Both in terms of execution of stuff that we tried to start a long time ago

and then also just, like, surprises that have happened recently.

Um... and...

Uh, if there is a way to speed up the whitebox stuff, that'd be great!

For scope reasons.

But I know it's a giant level, so, um...

It is what it is.

GAVIN: All right, would you like to know how Psychonauts 2 First Playable is going?

-GREG: (Yea-a-h!) -CARYL: Yes, we would!

Um, it's close to representative whitebox.

ZAK: From the design perspective, yes.

And then, uh, Geoff is following behind

and actually populating the representative assets.

Um, and then it becomes mostly just a scope--

Like, a per-- a pure asset production problem.

CARYL: Okay.

ZAK: Like: "How fast do we turn that crank?"

And, I think... I think we are good right now.

GAVIN: Yeah, yeah. I don't have a lot of worries there.

GAVIN: Uh, full cutscene.

I was hoping we could look at it in this meeting.

But, I think, it will be another couple hours.

But, hopefully, by the end of the day I can send that out.

TIM: We'll have that by the end of the day?

ZAK: Blocking.

-GAVIN: Yeah, blocking. -ZAK: Just basic--

-With Sasha and Raz? -ZAK: Yeah.

Okay, cool.

-Hey, Rusty! -What, what, what, what?

CLAM: "What's your problem?"

CLAM: Okay, this is-- this is cool,

because this is-- this is our first cutscene, I think.

RAZ: Hey, look, Sasha.

I'm really sorry about what happened on the casino mission.

SASHA: We all make mistakes, Razputin.

I just hope you learned something from it.

RAZ: Yes! That the odds always favor the house.

Especially if the roulette wheel has a double zero.

SASHA: No, Razputin! That the human mind is not a plaything!

TIM: Yeah, that Sasha and Raz cutscene was the first thing I wrote for Psychonauts 2.

So, there you go. The very first cutscene in the game.

PAUL: It's going to get thrown away though, right?

-Probably. -[PAUL CHUCKLES]


See, I follow my own rules. You gotta--

You gotta throwaway the first waffle, which has all the gunk

from the waffle iron sitting in the cupboard on it.


You don't want to use that.

But now the waffle iron is clean.

And hot!

What do you think will be, like, the most underdeveloped thing?

It sounded like combat was something that you guys were worried about.

-Yeah? -ZAK: Yeah.

Which I guess was kind of one of the weaker parts in the original game too.


It's all part of you being true to the first game.


The thing I want to do--

The thing that we have to do this milestone is, like,

fighting needs to be good.

-Sure. -ZAK: Like, we need to get to the point...

ZAK: Combat is the one thing that, uh... due to just not having

programming resources during pre-production,

we did not do adequate pre-production on it.

Which means we have quality and scope risks

across the whole project for combat.

You know, we are still prototyping combat in a pre-production sense.

And my hope is to get through that part for the First Playable, so.

That is the biggest thing that is like:

"Yeah, that's not really, like, First Playable."

That's actually something I would have loved

to have done in pre-production, but we did not.


ZAK: And these guys are all crowding up on me.

And so, I'm losing the focus on the one--

the enemy that, like, as a player I chose to concentrate on.

ANNA: Yeah.

ZAK: Because the rest of them are still moving in.

Like, I think the-- the thing that you should see--

We are going to need to get some toys to play around with in 3D space.

But, um...

ANNA: Wait, I understand what you are getting at.

I know, I know, but I'm just trying to visualize it.

Here, let's use the erasers.

Yeah, so, the hamster can be Raz.

And I would expect, you know, like, you lock on the walrus,

and the elephant and the whale are here,

and mostly that these two spread out.

And this one is the one that gets to attack.

Um, because, like, right now, I think, what's happening is...

you lock on a guy,

this guy attacks, he backs off,

and then, these guys-- these guys sort of crowd in.

And I'm still locked on this guy.

Um, and the expected player behavior, I think, would be...

ANNA: AI is often kind of a black box.

And you want them to be-- you want it to always be very, very clear

why are they doing the things that they are doing.

So, we actually-- I actually have some debug stuff now.

If they are green, um...

Like that guy is right there, he-- he can attack me.

If they are yellow, it means that they are not doing anything,

they are just circling and making sure that they are, like, near you.

If they are this blue, cyan type of color that means that they are going to--

that's their ranged attack state.

That's an illusion that we are trying to, like, weave together.

Like, as a player, you--

you are so-- you are so ready to suspend that disbelief.

That it's, like-- that's where I get the fun.

It's like: "Oh! He just dodged! Oh, that's so cool!"

You know, like, it makes me excited.

I don't know if that's how the player is finally going to feel.

Like, making things feel like they are actually alive.

That's the really cool thing.

Imagine that the enemy has a life outside of this battle that you are in.

Um, so, maybe you are fighting more than one guy, and...

you know, they get upset when, like, one of their friends dies, or something.

And they may have a reaction

that would actually be detrimental to them in a combat situation,

but, like, they'll do it anyway.

Um, like, I'm trying to kind of work more of those things in.

But I have to make sure that everything else is working first.


ZAK: Um, I don't know, I mean, we'll sort of figure out these rules.

I mean, I could write down a: "This is what I think maybe would happen."

But I have a feeling a lot of this stuff will come up organically,

as we-- as we develop and see the behavior.

ANNA: No, no, I mean, there is no dirt.

It's just, like, it really is just about, like, um, the best way to communicate...

Yeah, it's just, like, I think...

just a different, uh...

way of just, like, communicating...

or, like, describing what it is that we wanted.

Or, like, what problems I was having with getting it to what he--

Like, you know where that--

How to bridge that gap, I guess.

Between what he wants and what is happening.

-[ZAK HUMS] -Oh, little animals.

ZAK: Oh, animals. Little animals.

-JAMES: Hey, Zak? -ZAK: Yeah?

JAMES: Something just came up and I wanted your opinion on it.

ANNA: Thanks, guys!




ANNA: She is, like, killing it, yeah.

Oh, yeah.

AMY: All right.

So, yeah, we've been focusing on First Playable powers.

So, just sort of more specific honing in on what we want... uh, TK to feel like.

And doing, like, a special camera for this, like, precise mode.

So, I have worked with, like, Jeremy.

He has put together, like, the fire wall.

And it's all kind of coming together.

I think I will feel more proud of the abilities when they become

a more integrated part of the experience.

Which wasn't exactly the focus for First Playable.

I think I'm especially proud of the-- the more under the hood stuff

than the abilities.

Because it's hard to see--

it's hard to see all that went into, like, Pyro.

These basic systems that allow a whole bunch of other things to happen.

And then, with the abilities just being the culmination of that.

ANNA: You know, I wrote some systems,

and before-- I mean, she's basically been the one to just, like--

She is like: "Oh, sweet! You have a new system?

Yeah, I'll do a bunch of really cool shit with it, like, right away."

No, I want to appreciate someone...

who casually makes the impossible possible,

and the possible a reality.

-Whoa-ow! -Yeah!

Let's step it up, people, with the speeches.

This is getting better.

So, uh, Anna!

-ANNA: Aww! -TIM: Anna Kipnis!


TIM: Aw-w!



AMY: Oh, thank you!

-[CHEERING] -KEE: Happy birthday! Yay!

Yep, thirty.

AMY: Today is my birthday, yes.

PAUL: Why did you come to work?

Uh, I like work.

It's my treat to myself.

Uh, and to fix stuff.

And because First Playable is really soon.

We've got so much work to do.

I'm glad I'm thirty.

I couldn't wait to be older.

It's different, it's different!

Like, when you are a super young developer,

and you are like: "Hey, let's do this thing!"

They are like: "Child!" So, I'm an adult now.

-PAUL: That's what you say to James. -AMY: All the time.



-JAMES: Okay. -ZAK: All right.

ANDY: Hollis has actually knocked out the concept in two weeks.

Which is delightful, which is good.

And Hollis is actually in--

-Knock on wood. -Well played.


ANDY: They are-- they are moving along, they are whiteboxing.

And they are making their test world parts.

So, that's underway.

Uh, the Cassie thing...


ANDY: We are in week five of Cassie's two-week concept phase.

We are whiteboxing now.

-Are we? -Yes.

-ANDY: We are? -RYAN: Absolutely!

-ANDY: Based on the meeting we had... -It-- it definitely did.

Just before this, it was kind of like there is still a lot of questions.

-Uh-uh, there are not, actually. -Okay.

BEN: The problem that we kept running into was

that it didn't feel like we had specifics to grab onto.

But we did know that Cassie was a writer.

Which was why the whole book thing had come up in the first place.

Going into the whole carved book thing was just kind of like:

"Let's-- let's go back. This ideas was-- We thought this idea was interesting.

We didn't really have a chance to really flesh it out.

Let's go back and try that."

And, um, we hit on some really cool gameplay stuff

that the book theming lent itself to.

Like, imagine Raz running around on the page of a book, like--

like something out of one of the old, um, Winnie-the-Pooh Disney cartoons.

The whole book thing just, like, really set that level on fire.

It was great.

EMILY: Oh, I did some, uh, illustrations

to pass off to Jeremy to, uh...

put into a book.

-ZAK: And he did. -RYAN: And he did!

EMILY: And he did!



TIM: He went behind the tree?!

What the fu-u-uck?!

ZAK: Yeah, and you can-- So, you can also constrain his path.

So that it was, like, 2D and walking along that path.

Or 2D and force him up into a mountain or whatever.

Or it could be 3D, fully explorable, where you could, like, go into it.

So, you could do the adventure game thing

where you have to go to the castle really far away.

And you can walk, and get smaller.

-ZAK: And smaller, and smaller... -[TIM CHUCKLES]

Again, this is, like, proof of concept. Concept proven.

So, then it's just, like, formalizing the rules...

-...of how you build this thing. -Concept proven.

No, I think-- I mean, I think so. I think it's awesome.


TIM: Uh, and then, the first--

I think the first, um, test Jeremy did of the flat world,

and falling in and out of the book,

was, I think, one of the first times the game felt really Psychonautical to us.

Like-- like: "Oh, that was a surprising thing. That was cool!"

Okay. First, you are going to have to see how I did the hands.


We've solved video games.

This is how video games are made, folks.

It's just Raz holding it... Nope! Horrifying.

PAUL: Why does it have to be two?

Because this is a video game, okay? This is how we roll.

So, I took these pieces and chopped them up,

and stuck them in the game.

Um, as I move these guys around, you can see it updating.

And then, uh, the most interesting thing is

that you hit the corner, and the page flips.

Yeah, I have these, uh, triggers set up, where--

PAUL: Mm, okay.


Yeah, I think there is a chance it could get old.

I guess it's up to the level designers to figure that out.

If you just did this, and milked it for all its worth,

you could almost get a whole level out of it.

I think there is a ton of variation if you are like:

"Okay, you probably go into a book five times at most in the level.

What are the five different cool variations

that make it interesting every time.

And you find one that has a hole in it.

The bookworms have eaten it, and you fall into a bookworm world.

-Yeah! -Gross monster bookworms.

EMILY: And then, everyone, you know...

-When you-- when you see the thing... -Very amped about it. Like, everyone...

Yeah, people were pretty amped about it.

♪ Take on me! ♪

♪ (Take on me) ♪

JEREMY: The actual level is still, like, really early

and not even whiteboxed yet.

So, we don't-- we are still figuring out what the level actually means, so.

PAUL: Well, it certainly gotten people excited about the idea.

JEREMY: Mm-hmm, yeah.

PAUL: Seems like a good morale, like, encouragement.

JEREMY: Yeah. It's, yeah. People are super into it.

So, you know, there is a lot of different examples of ways

that we could use books and pages and-- and stuff.

So, I think that just having the simplest version of it

being impressive is an important state to be in.

Where, like, the worst case scenario is: "We just have this in the level."

And if that's compelling, then you are in a good spot.

Because if it can't possibly be any more boring than this,

then it's, like, you know, it's a good place to be.

ZAK: But thank you very much, Cassie team.

-BEN: Thank you! -ANNA: Yeah, well done, guys!

-ZAK: Yes, super cool. -[CLAPPING]

No level has been pushed all the way through yet, so.


Things are in various states of, like, being just enough

that the level designers can figure out what they need to do with this.

Or if-- you know, if these ideas are even possible.

I hope so.


That's the idea.

-Lots of hoping in game development. -[BEN LAUGHS]

JEREMY: We need three more FX artists to get this game done.

That's not going to happen.

So, we are going to have to work smart together.

Uh, so...


There is, like, there is a little barrier here.

TIM: But let's get to business!

This week we have Starbreeze coming in for Psychonauts 2.





TUCKER: So, Zak and Gavin are in the Starbreeze meeting all morning.

Uh, so...

But they said that they still care about you guys deeply.

-It's a lie. -Yeah, it's totally a lie.

ICENBICE: So, yeah, let's just play through it and talk through anything.

If you get to a point where you are like:

"Oh, okay. Let's see what's gonna happen here in the future."


ZAK: It's literally being refactored right now,

so the triggering is a little...


And now use it as a door knocker.


ZAK: Yeah, so, I mean, some of the basics of combat

in terms of, like, all the abilities work, they are kind of fun to use,

um, it's fun to hit guys, our basic combo system is in for Raz.

But, like, none of it is balanced, or at all good.

Um, but we have, uh, people on that full-time

basically for the rest of the project.

ICENBICE: It's made a lot of progress in the last couple of weeks, so.

We can actually land on this thing.

-CARYL: Well, that looks fun! -GREG: Yeah, that was a good little path.

ICENBICE: There we go. Very graceful exit there.

ZAK: A-ha! Good mind reader.

Um, so one of the things we also wanted to do...

If you are making a level all about books,

a cool thing to do would be if you could actually enter books.

So, uh, this is the first test we did of that.

-Which is, like, a 3D projected onto it. -What?!

ZAK: Um...

TIM: Like, Raz can pick up a book, and open it, and then it just...

-ZAK: It zooms in. -TIM: And you are in the book.

ICENBICE: That's... amazing.

-That's going to be... -This is cool.

Hey, it's Jeremy Mitchell, who did this stuff!

Hey, Jeremy Mitchell!

Where is your level with the latest and greatest, like, the page flip stuff.

Um... it's in the developer folder.

Later, I would love to see that.

Like, just head over to your desk.

And just see that. That's-- that's amazing.

I love that.

ZAK: Uh, yeah, so we are playing with a lot of, like, 2D to 3D transitions.

Things where, like, you are playing the game,

and then the camera pulls out,

and it's actually a book that you are holding.

And you close the book,

and you are controlling the Raz that was holding the book.

Or finding books, and you open it up, and having the reverse thing.

-And then also, playing with, like... -That's good!

GREG: Like Waterloo times ten.


TIM: I haven't seen the effect on him yet.

-TIM: That's cool. -ZAK: That just went in.

JEREMY: Yeah, I just added the 2D shader on him.

ICENBICE: How many books do you think you'll, uh, jump through?

TIM: It's a real library. Every book is interactive.

-[LAUGHTER] -ZAK: Generate them all procedurally.

TIM: Every person on the team has to write one book.

-Yeah, so we are really trying to push... -Good stuff.

...uh, on the levels having, like, super unique visual identity,

and some interesting gameplay shticks, and change-ups, and things like that.

Which I feel like we are starting to hit our stride on that

after just, like, learning what it is to make a brain in Psychonauts again.

So-- so, that's good.

ICENBICE: This is super, this is fantastic!

Super pumped about this stuff!

ZAK: I mean, those are sort of the-- the showable things.

The two level teams.

Those are what they are working on right now.

Uh, the third level team is working on their plan

for, like, long-term iteration in the Quarry.

ICENBICE: Well, good. I mean, you hit the whole--

I mean, basically what you sent-- What was it, August?

Like, what we are going to hit for First Playable,

and it was dead on.

Which is-- which is awesome.

Well, there is a whole meeting in the yard for everything.

Thanks, Tim.


TIM: Today is the, um...

Seventeenth anniversary of Double Fine Productions.

And my 50th birthday.

That's what 50-year-old Tim looks like.

-Yep. -Now you've seen it.

-High kick! Kick and stretch. -SCOTT: He is so fifty!

He is so fifty as hell!

TIM: When I'm sleepy and tired, I like to sit down.

Which is just more often now.

Did I mention I'm fifty years old?



PAUL: How does it feel to be fifty?


A lot like forty-nine.


Do you have any questions?

-I have questions. -ASIF: Monica has a question.

Since you are fifty now.

What was your favorite memory of twenty-five?


We had just...

Oh, that's the year I got divorced!



JEREMY: Oh, shit! There is grasslands.


You are covering up the name!

Greg, you are covering up the name!


Wha-a-at! Who did that?

TIM: Who put-- what the hell?

ZAHRA: Oh-h!

-Who did that? -That's awesome!

-I bet it was Levi. -It feels like Levi would do it.

ZAHRA: It's my favorite game!


["Stand By Me" by Ben E. King is playing]

TIM: Yeah!

I mean, it's an accomplishment to be old.

It's hard to get old.


♪ Stand by me ♪

♪ Oh, stand by me ♪

♪ Oh stand, stand by me ♪

♪ Stand by me ♪



♪ And can you feel the love tonight? ♪

♪ It is where we are ♪

♪ It's enough ♪

♪ For this wide-eyed wanderer ♪

♪ That we got this far ♪

♪ That we got this far ♪

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