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Written into a Corner

A new art director is hired to help smooth out the relationship between the art and design teams.

Published: January 20th 2023

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Episode Transcript

LISETTE: The stakes are higher, which is why the pressure is higher.

And everybody is being pickier.

-JEREMY: There is a lot of pressure. -LISETTE: It's sequelitis.

LISETTE: It's all the things.

GEOFF: If you get too into your own head...

you are just going to drive yourself crazy.

Because that absolutely happened to people on the first game.

JAMES: Mm-hmm.

You know what else happened?

All the level designers got fired.


That's not going to happen.

We have this community of people who are expecting this amazing thing...

-...that we all feel pressure to deliver. -To sell really well... they make money. -And you are never gonna make them happy.

So, don't even think about it.

Let's just accept we are not going to make a lot of money.


If we can get, like, sixty percent, we are good.

That better not be our Metacritic.



We don't have that yet.

We don't have a mental world

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

Like we don't have an Art Director yet.

That's really crazy to me.

-JAMES: Octopus. -TIM: Spinning wheels.

TIM: Octopus is spinning wheels.

All the dealers are octopuses.

Turn them off.


BEN: We hit on some really cool gameplay stuff

that the book theming lent itself to.

TIM: Like: "Oh, that was a surprising thing. That was cool."

GAVIN: Uh, level stuff...

We are going through and implementing more stubs.

Uh, have that kind of complete.

So, that feels like something-- So, when we play through it,

we actually have cutscene content in there.

Hollis is doing low-detail representative meshes,

scripting action paths for tournament intersection,

fountain areas.

And a bunch of representative work on the casino brain.


Cassie. Low-detail representative meshes.

Uh, scripting action paths, library, Shanghai garden, and school,

and representative props for the library.

Uh, HQ interior. Continued work on atrium.

And then, writing, which, uh...

ZAK: That looks like all the ones from the last sprint

rolled over to this sprint, so...

Yes. So, we have a big list, and we have to talk to him.

Okay, yeah, we need to narrow that down to something that is actually deliverable.

GAVIN: Any questions or anything else anybody wants to talk about?

If not, then we are done.



JAMES: Um, so, then...

This is the other big path that I worked on this sprint, um...

RYAN: Oh, set it up for us before we start!


Where are we in the level?

JAMES: So, imagine the octopus is, like, attacking you and stuff.

It's very cool!

Chips are-- chips are falling over.

-GEOFF: Okay. -JAMES: And that's what this is.

Don't sound so skeptical!

-[RYAN LAUGHS] -Geoff does sound very skeptical.

No, no, no, no. My only skepticism comes into:

"Do we have the time to build a giant, uh, Uncharted set piece action path?"

RYAN: I think there are some cheap ways to go about doing it

that don't involve it being as expensive as an Uncharted set piece.

What matters here is seeing-- at pretty key points seeing, like,

a tentacle moving and doing something in front of you.

And then, you do more stuff.

And then, again, a tentacle moves and does something in front of you.

JEREMY: That would look really cool!

JAMES: But yeah, so, that's the action path.

And you get to the actual roulette wheel part.

It doesn't have to be, like, this fully dynamic, like...

(But what if it was?)

Because we can't... afford it.

As much as I want that in there...

JAMES: No, I mean, the idea is really just that it should feel

like it has been an escalation with the octopus.

That's the really important thing.

GEOFF: Well, I mean, she could actually be chucking things at you the entire time.

And that are not aimed at you at all, but they are just, like...


-RYAN: I think that's the idea. -Those are cheap.

GEOFF: We thought about all of these things.

We just have to make sure we don't go beyond them.

JAMES: Oh, it's going to happen. It's just whether-- I mean, it's just--

I'd rather overdesign the exciting moments,

and then get told I need to cut back than make a bunch of boring areas.

Um, but the game needs, like, exciting moments.

Like, it can't all just be... areas you enter and explore.

We have to at some point, like... do things.

ANDY: Thank god!

What's everyone's plans for tonight?

RYAN: Cool, yep, that's-- that's it, then?

ANDY: Typing up the notes from this meeting.

-Yeah, that's it. -Thank you, thank you.

PAUL: Tell us about how everything is going?

-Ugh... just in general? -PAUL: Yeah, sure.

Well, everything is going great!

Next question.

No, it's...

Everything is, uh, moving along.

We are at the point...

I mean, to be honest, I wish we were further along than we are.

I'd like to have a couple of levels in the bag.

And we don't.

ANDY: I mean, the reason I'm getting fighty is because we've got--

Paul is a great asset.

And he is-- and he is-- he's got nothing to do!

He is building, like, the hot tub, and the bar, and stuff.

So, it's, like... I'm pushing,

and I think I'm making--

Some people are like: "Well, we are not ready yet."

I'm like: "Can we get ready? What can we do?

Anything! I'll take anything!"

But I'm pushing to try to-- Because I want to get--

-ANDY: I want to start building-- -JEREMY: We need to give you stuff.

ANDY: bits! I want to start building metrics pieces.

I want to start building, like, actual stuff.

The reason we put these levels together.

ANDY: Um, sometimes it is frustrating to me, because I want--

I just-- I'm me, and I want things done.

I want-- I want to check something off.

I have a list of checkboxes, I want to clear one.

And that drives me!

But if the creative direction is...

"We-- we decided that this is what has to happen."

Then: "All right." That's: "You got it!"

You know?

There is a team of fifty-something people working on this game.

And the man-month is a value-- is a real thing.

And it's an awesome idea to think we can work on a game...


But-- and people love making video games! It's so much fun!

People like getting paychecks.

EMILY: Uh, this was-- I was doing a master Cassie room.

ZAK: So, this is not the scene where she is written into a corner?

Uh, this is-- this is that room, yeah.

ZAK: Okay.

TIM: Well, like, my counter argument to that is, like,

this is supposed to be, like, the one picture that sets up her problem.

So, the idea before was that she was in this room with, like...

There is all this writing and scribbles around.

And she was literally written into this one little empty spot in the corner.

Surrounded by her words.

And she was stuck. Like, she had this paralysis.

And I don't know if that narratively has stayed

with the level as it is designed.

But if you came in here and saw her just chilling in her living room.

I think you would just, you know:

"Ah, she's fine. Maybe this is what she looks like."

BEN: That's a good point.

But that doesn't look like any problem. That looks like...

Like, I would love to chill out in that little corner and be happy.

-[TIM CHUCKLES] -BEN: Yeah, yeah.

ZAK: Uh, and the thing I'm still most concerned about

with this area is the actual, like, on the ground structure.

Like, where are you exploring?

Because this is all sort of just, like, loose dioramas and it is--

I don't-- I still don't know what the area is.

It needs to be made concrete in very short order.

Um, just because it's--

Ideally, that was the kind of thing that we should've handled during whitebox one.


WILL: But, yeah, there is-- there is a little pressure to, uh...

to execute on what everyone was like: "Oh, yeah, that looks right!"

Yeah, I think there is a lot of key stuff that's...

It's not available to us yet.

It's, like-- They have sort of proven it out

in a very isolated space.

But then actually putting into levels, uh, we always sort of get stopped in a way.

"Oh, no, it's not good right now. Don't put this..."

So, we are missing, like, very core stuff.

Like, clone combat, and portals, and 2D.

Like, actual 2D platforming.

I feel like a lot of the teams are still getting--

are just on their first levels.

I think a lot of people are still kind of figuring out

where they fit in on this thing.

Which is also why, I think, things are taking a little longer.

I don't think everything is gelled yet.

ZAK: Go, team!

-We have to leave. -[LAUGHTER]

ZAK: James is forever frozen in that pose

until somebody picks it up.


ANDY: And I think this is the first game that, like, Double Fine had designers on

for quite some time.

Like, a full-on-- like, a Level Designer role.

So, I think there is a little bit of: "What does that person do exactly?

And how do they interact with the World Builder?

And what's the delineation of work between those two people?"

And we are still-- we are still hiring people.

So, we are still putting a team together.

Which is interesting in a lot of ways.

ANDY: So... what are we going to do?

ANDY: Because we want-- we talked about--

we want to make sure that we are not kicking these down the road.

We want to be stern about what-- where it's at.

We totally haven't hit representative on any of these levels at all.

If we-- We know we are not there.

Can we take apart why we are not there?

And try to come up with, like: "All right. I think we need this much more time."

The other thing I want to do, and I talked to Ryan about this,

is find a way to pull him off of levels.

-At least for the midterm. -Yeah, I agree.

And he is just going to do management.

Management, review, feedback, direction, all of that.

-Because I need him focused on that. -I agree.

ZAK: Level quality from the design stand point.

He just needs to be doing that full-time for a while.

So, we have to figure out another way to work around that.

What's going on? What's going on today?

Uh, okay.

So, yesterday I-- Really I just went back through

and was playing through the level, looking for broken paths, and stuff like that.

Just kind of cleaning up stuff.

There is, um...


ANDY: Here is my take on it.

I think the game's leads started

and have been on this game for, I mean, over a year now.

Started the design process, and writing all the documentation,

and putting together the prototypes, and building the stuff,

with themselves.

From a full hands-on: "I am going to be the Lead,

but I'm also going to be responsible for a certain amount of assets."

You can't be a really good effective Lead

who is looking at all the work that's happening, from all the teams,

and giving feedback,

and be building your own level at the same time.

And then, the bigger the game gets,

the more people that come on to the team,

the more voices you have pulling at you:

"Can you check this out?

I need to know what you think of this.

Can you read this document?

I have a question about this thing.

Can I have a meeting with you about this topic?

Or how this works, or how this--

What's the plan for this element?"

It just goes on, and on, and on.

And the more-- the bigger the team gets the more demand there is.

And I think that's what's happening. It's just, like, you have to be there

to kind of help everyone else with their goals.

And make sure-- and you have to know everything that is going on.

Because your goal is to make sure that that plugs into that.

That everything strings together and it works.

Like, Geoff is awesome.

Geoff is probably one of the fastest builders we have.

But he is also one of the best people at eyeballing something,

and knowing what it takes to get it done, efficiently.

So, his input on a lot of the other builders' work

is super important because of that reason.


Whatever Geoff has on his plate to make,

we have to make sure that it's not-- he is not overtasked,

because there is still a lot of stuff he needs to help other people with.

And it's super important.

Perhaps even more important.

Also, push him a little harder.

-GAVIN: Yeah. -GEOFF: Yeah.

RYAN: Because we are going to have to come back to Bob Z.


I actually added that in into the schedule.

It's really helpful to be able to talk to them.

And, uh, it kind of sucks that it comes at the cost

of them not being able to work on their own stuff.

But, uh, if that's what they have decided, then I just have to trust them on that.

But, yeah, it is very helpful to be able to talk to them on a regular basis.


Uh, I'm crossing my fingers that nobody dies.

-That's going to be terrible. -I hope no one dies. Mm-hmm.

ANDY: How do we find the time we need?

But in the short term, like, we are-- we are still making levels.

We are still-- we are still making everything we intend to make.

And that's the plan.

PAUL: Now, to specifically think about, uh, Tim's role in this one, um...

He is mostly just focused on writing.

And he helps the different teams when he can.

And that's been useful.

But, um, how has his pace been

in terms of being able to deliver those writings?

Outwardly, it seems like he's actually been

sort of ahead of the curve on this project.

Tim's pace is good. Tim's pace could be better.

The limiting factor is the actual writing of the script.

Of course.

There is no point where, I think, we are getting scripts delivered so fast

that our ability to scratch and stub them falls off.

Well, theoretically, we should be.

Theoretically, we should be, but that's not the problem we have.

Like, so, we'll talk about that problem when that problem exists.

Right now, the problem is that there is not enough

at the beginning of the pipe.

We don't have a jam at the end of the pipe.

Theoretically, we could.

If we were getting eleven scripts this sprint.

Yes, I think we'd have some issues with getting them all scratched.

We are not getting eleven.

PAUL: Do you ever feel a sense of futility with what you are doing?

Just pushing that out there for you guys to digest

and do whatever you want to do with that information.

I'm out!


ANDY: The level writing...

I mean, there is a lot-- there is a lot there.

ZAK: Yeah, because the goal for this milestone,

the December milestone,

is to have not only the scripts written up until Cassie,

but have them stubbed into the game.

-What's that date again? -ZAK: Huh?

-December... -ZAK: December 15th.

ZAK: 2017.

-2017?! -ZAK: Yeah.

ANDY: And-- and, uh...

Inevitably there will be a big deadline,

and there will be a lot of crunching on writing.

It's going to happen.

I think that's just the way it goes.

And when you are working with someone like Tim...

Tim's got his creative process.

And it is what it is.

What are you going to do? Rush it? You can't.

TIM: She is really mad, but if I wanted to get her back in...

...feeling some closeness with Raz is that she--

Possibly she has done this in the past, like she did--

I really liked that about it.

I liked the idea that she did this to a professor that fucked with her.

Oh, yeah. She did-- Oh, was that what it was going to be?

JAMES: So, the idea was that the professor was racist

and stole her work.

And she decided to just be like: "I'll just go fix his brain."

And he went crazy.

Oh! We, uh...

At some point we talked about the idea that the Psychonauts came in

and fixed his brain after she messed it up.

And that's how she got introduced to the Psychonauts in general.

Which can be kind of cool.


TIM: Um... or she...

I can't figure out what it is, but I feel like there's gotta be something

where she at least learned something about--

Somehow helps her let go of that old experience or something.

JAMES: Mm-hmm.

TIM: Um, doing writing I, um...

Some of the stuff has taken longer than I... planned.

Because... there is a secret--

there is a secret task in writing that you don't--

You know, people know that when you do a character,

you have to concept it, and then you have to get orthos,

and you have to model it, and you have to rig it, and you--

There is all these steps to getting it done.

But to get a scene done, people...

Even me, if I just think:

"Oh, I gotta write-- sit down and write that scene."

But there are all these preliminary steps.

Like, I have to kind of get the backstories together

for every character that is in the scene.

Is this a Tim meeting?

Or are we watching Tim eating?

-ZAK: Tim eating meeting. -Just a Tim eating meeting?

-Careful, Tucker. -What?

Yeah, yeah, thin ice.

-You were opening the chips. -[CHUCKLING]

I don't want any of your fat shaming in here.

With the next scenes that I'm doing,

it involves all these interns, and I realized, like:

"Ooo, I haven't figured out who these people are exactly."

So, I'm going and writing backstories for all six interns.

Um, and not delivering any scenes the whole time I'm doing that.

Hi, guys!

Thank you for helping me out!

I have to kick out a whole bunch of backstory concepts for these characters.

But it's really more about-- almost, like, free associating with these characters.

Things that could have happened to them, things they might be good at,

things they might care about.

And then, I'm trying-- I'm trying to fit it all together later.

Here is the only thing I know about all of the interns.

He likes Morrissey. We all know that, right?

See, I was going to suggest Joy Division, but...

Look at him! Look at his pompadour,

and his little flannel, and his... wheelchair.

We are talking about Aaron as being, like, the--

-ZAK: Groomed. -Yeah, sort of being groomed... be the next, like, big, cool, amazing Psychonaut.

TIM: That could be why. Because he is so talented.

RYAN: Maybe, yeah. Maybe they are trying to, like, get him

to actually engage with it.

-TIM: And he possibly is Lili's ex? -JAMES: Lili shouldn't have an ex.

-Shouldn't have an ex? -RYAN: She is too young.

JAMES: Yeah, and she also seems so innocent.

EMILY: It's like holding hands when you are in, like, elementary school.

Why do you think it's not innocent to have an ex?

I have a phone call.

-Oh, Jesus fucking Christ! -Hello?

Okay, one bad thing that happened to all of them.

Well, her parents died.

What is-- was his psychic abilities that led him to an accident?

Like, he tried to fly before he really could control it.

-Yeah. -TIM: Psychic accident?

Every time she stops someone's head from exploding, she shrinks a little bit.

Okay, that's about my time, you guys.

I think there is a lot of really good ideas here.

TIM: I have to, um... know who the characters are.

I have to maybe solve some logic problems about, like:

"How do they know this, and how do they know that?"

There is a lot of, um, planning that you have to do before you are done.

And actually sitting down to write the scene can take, like, three hours.

Once you have all that done.

But you have to get all this stuff done beforehand.

And, I don't think that process of writing has been exposed a lot to, um, producers,

or even that I'm aware of it myself sometimes.

You are putting off writing the scene,

and you realize this-- you are putting it off,

because you don't know what you are doing yet.

Um... third, I just want to give a quick schedule update.

We are still talking to Starbreeze about when the right time to ship this thing is.

Um, but Starbreeze is basically waiting to hear from us at this point.

They are super supportive about it.

They understand it.

Um... and, I think, they might be coming out

towards the end of this month to just talk through it.

Uh, Starbreeze is coming.

I think, uh, they are all coming. I think Mikael, and, uh, Evan.

And talk about the schedule, which is in, uh...


interesting state... of--

You know game development.

Not exactly sure where everything is going to land.

And they have been developers, so they know about that stuff too.

So, I'm hoping we just have a friendly discussion

about what we know and we don't know.

ANDY: You know, you've got milestones. You deliver them.

If you meet the goals crafted by the contract,

you get a chunk of change.

There is definitely way more pressure at that end to go:

"Why are we cutting these checks to this developer,

because we are X many months behind?"

Um, but...

I don't think any one person is the one to save the day.

No one is going to-- no one is going to be the one magic bullet that goes:

"A-ha! I've-- I've fixed everything!"

TIM: Please join me in welcoming to Double Fine Productions,

Lisette Titre!

-Stand up, stand up, please! -[CLAPPING]

-So that we might look at you. Lisette! -[CLAPPING]

LISETTE: Yeah, actually, um...

I used to work with Jeremy Natividad at EA.

We weren't on the same team, but you kind of--

all the artists knew each other.

Um, so, it was nice that, you know, he kind of told me about the position,

and that I was able to-- to get in.

-Uh, I just left Ubisoft San Francisco. -TIM: Oh, Ubisoft.

Do you, uh, feel comfortable saying the entire name

of the project you were last working on?


It is South Park: The Fractured but Whole.


You make that sound so innocent!


And what will you be doing here at Double Fine Productions?

I am managing the art team.

So, I will be making sure that the artists know

what they are doing every day,

and that they have the tools they need to do the best work that they can.

TIM: Excellent! Awesome! That is a great thing to have done!


Art Manager position is a unique position at studios.

It's kind of a hybrid of being an Art Director and an Art Producer.

Um, so in addition to, like, overseeing the pipeline,

and, like, quality control, and production,

I also have to look at schedules and budgets, and, like:

"How we are going to get everything done in time?"

ZAK: Uh, so, that's exciting.

This is our camera crew right here, as you see.

They really enjoy filming anything that seems like it might be good.

-Okay. -Uh...

-PAUL: Hey, what's up! -Hi!


-I'm Paul. -Hi. Lisette. Nice to meet you.

LISETTE: Um, I think my assessment of the First Playable was that it--

it was, like, really strong out of the gate.

Like, there was a really strong sense of space.

There was a really strong sense of aesthetic.

Um, there were some visual issues.

Mostly around just using a kit, you know?

Using the same piece several times,

you are just going to get a lot of repetitive shape.

Um, but that's normal

when you are first using, you know, kitbashing as a technique.

Um, but, I think we had a really strong base to start with.

Um, what I was really surprised with was how well the gameplay was.

Like, how Raz moved, and how you navigated the space was...

pretty-- it felt close to ship, even though I know it was nowhere near it.

Um, so that means that we nailed some things really well.

And visually, I think, we-- we definitely hit the aesthetic.

Um, but there were definitely processes that needed to be evaluated

to see what we can do to make things more efficient.

And talking about those techniques with the team,

and seeing what we could do to work smarter.

I think mostly getting this process down, and telegraphing that to the team.


At least down by the end of this milestone, and telegraphed to--

Abs-- absolutely.

GEOFF: And also, I've been talking to Ryan and, uh, Zak about, uh,

sort of, like, decoupling, uh, art from design

in terms of the way we move forward.

Um, because, like, right now, especially on, like, Cassie,

and a bit on Hollis as well...

Uh, you guys are ready to start putting representative assets into the world,

but the level is not actually ready for representative assets yet.


So, I want to make sure that that doesn't happen in the future.

GEOFF: We want-- and we want everybody who is involved in each of these steps

to understand the process, so they can be like:

"Oh, is this done yet? I can't do that yet."

-ZAK: Yeah, and the goals of each step. -GEOFF: Yep.

GEOFF: Anyway, yeah.

You guys should feel empowered to do what you need to do.

And not-- not worry about, like, hurting anyone's feeling,

because that's not going to happen.

JEREMY: I will say...

I think I hear a lot in those meetings, like:

-"Don't worry about that now." -Yeah.

JEREMY: That is the thing that he had said a lot

when we were bringing up, like...

-...concerns about levels... -WILL: I always have to push back on that.

They're like: "Don't worry about that now. It's not the time to worry about that."

WILL: They bring up something, and I'll be like: "That's a kit."

And they'll be like: "Don't worry about it."

I'm like: "That's my job to worry about it."

That's your job! And you should say: "That's my job to worry about it."

GEOFF: That's exactly what you should be doing.

I would say that material test worlds for the artists have been very helpful.

Um, they forced them to come up with a look.

And, like, execute on that look in a very small scale.

Rather than trying to solve that problem in a big level.

Um, so, I think that process works really well for the artists.

WILL: Kind of just to set the scene.

There is not really a feel like I need to jump through that.

And, uh, this would be Cassie's house.

And that's more, like, you know, Pacific Northwest situation up here.

I haven't really put them in here yet, but I was talking to Lisette, like...

Those could be kind of honeycombs back there

that you platform up, and...

-RYAN: Mm-hmm. -WILL: Yep, so it's...

It's kind of a versatile piece.

We can change whatever is on here.

Like, right now I only have the two.

That's why this one is familiar, but...

Um, yeah.

That's what I've been doing visuals-wise for this.



I just love the-- I love the look of the-- the contoured, like, hills and mountains

inside of those pages, and the foliage coming out.

The shapes of that foliage work really, really well there as well by the way.

Like, those are just great!

BEN: The stuff that Will's been doing with, uh...

with the dioramas.

Like, really made, um, the-- the colony area come alive.

That particular art direction there...

Hopefully, we can put the energy into that to, like, really make that hit.

Uh, because that is something that you can draw--

that you can, like, pull a meeting out of, if you do it right.

I think that's really cool, the stuff that Emily's been doing.

Like, the-- Her-- the--

Her take on Shanghai with, like, you know, just flooding it, essentially.

EMILY: Ink is sort of like water falling down.

And there is, like, little fish coming up.

And the paper boats are sort of going around.

And that's what you are jumping on to get to these new islands.

BEN: Um, that was something that I hadn't really been thinking of.

But, um...

Uh, like, the more time that I have spent looking at...

at that concept piece, the more that I can kind of, like, see it as, like:

"Oh, yeah! That-- I could totally see that being, like, the version of that map

that people ultimately walk away from, you know, playing.

And that is really cool.


She does a lot of really good sketches.

And, like, kind of big, gestural things that really help me out

and give me a springboard to do stuff like this.

Yep, that's nice.

I don't-- I don't know if this gets too papercrafty,

but I was thinking, like, the trampolines could...

-...have something like that. -Yeah, that makes sense.

-EMILY: Here. -WILL: The super secret double spring.

This is for you.

ZAK: James isn't here to give me my 'Go, team!'

LEVI: We should do the best one while James isn't here.

EVERYONE: Go, team!


Send a freeze frame of that to James.

LISETTE: So, we are trying to get the artists to be more involved

in having a say in how the design is starting to play out.

Because at the end of the day

they are going to have to build the forms that fill the space.

So, if they feel like they are getting signed up for a lot of work

that they don't think is necessarily feasible,

then I'm asking them to bring that up.

And during the design process, so that it can be addressed in the design.

And not after the fact, once we've-- we've said:

"Oh, this is all approved for representative whitebox."

Because then we-- we-- we can't make any movement there.

We can't.

You know, that's just me going in and cutting things at that point.

And I don't necessarily want the design process to work that way.

It needs to-- scope needs to be considered a little earlier.

JAMES: Uh... scope.

I already discussed it a little bit which is that it's just too big.

So, we've cut two of the boss fights and, uh...

Uh, kept it simple.


ZAK: Uh, the-- the--

So, I'm a little-- I'm a little confused.

Part of this feels like you are presenting a solution to these problems?

-I'm presenting what we've talked about. -Okay, all right.

Because I think there is more discussion on... whether these are...

Yeah, I would like to discuss it as a group.

But I just wanted to fill you all in on what we've been talking about thus far.

ZAK: I'm just saying that there are more interesting usages than--

Sorry, you are just looking at me blankly.

-ZAK: So, I don't know what you are-- -JAMES: No, I'm just listening.


JAMES: Uh, we've run into similar problems with two of our levels.

Uh, regarding... both scope and conflicting visual themes.

So, in addressing that issue, we are also trying to adjust the fact

that it's pretty linear. Well, extremely linear.

And so we are trying to make it a more open level.

Uh, and I was looking at Bob Z to kind of get a sense of, like:

"What we fucked up there versus what we fucked up in Hollis?"

Uh, it was pretty edifying though, because, I think, Hollis is

a much better playing level than Bob Z was.

LISETTE: I've been working, particularly with the level teams,

just sort of looking at how our level design process is,

how art fits within that,

and where we are seeing things kind of sputter along

and not necessarily gain traction.

And also, you know, what is working?

I gotta wash this plate, and then I have to go.

But, I think this is responding to a lot of the feedback

that you guys have gotten, in a good way.

So, um, yeah, I think that it's--

I-- I mean thank you for thinking about stuff seriously,

and sort of gathering it all together, and trying to come up with a solution

that fixes a lot of that stuff.

LISETTE: I have not been in a game

where design and artists have not wanted to kill each other.


LISETTE: At some point they always do.

Because there-- there is a conflict.

And-- and you are-- you are running into the exact same thing

that we had during the original game.

That's legitimately good to know, except for the five years part.


And that's-- and that's-- I think, that's why...

Uh, there is probably a little more pressure this time.

Is because we need to actually do it within--

We don't have a blank check from Microsoft.

All of these problems are frustrating, but are made infinitely worse

by the fact that I'm, like, afraid to talk to...


And I find his energy so negative and frustrating.

I'm not surprised at all.

I'm not surprised at all.

LISETTE: He is not focused on your feelings,

because he is focused on the process.

And if he says he doesn't believe that this is going to be executed,

you have to learn not to take it personally.

-JAMES: I know it's hard to believe me... -Zak is not an evil guy, he is just...

JAMES: I know it's hard to believe me, but I am not--

I do not have a problem with harsh feedback.

JAMES: There are, like, a lot of times when I'm at my desk,

and I really have a question that I need to get answered,

and I will just be like: "I'm just not going to ask this."

GEOFF: No, no. You have to ask people!

JAMES: I know! That's-- That's why I know it's a problem.

Because I'm, like--

I'm making decisions not to get up and ask a question,

because I don't want to deal with it.

And that's not healthy!

I think there is-- No, it's not.

And I think that-- I've had this--

You know, I've had challenges

with certain people that I've had to work with.

And I try to find a common ground and figure out what exactly--

Like, where we have goals in alignment?

We all do want the game to be made though.

-Yeah, and good! -And we are all trying to work together... do that.

And you should be able to use whoever you feel comfortable with

as a resource to help you do that.

And you should never feel that there is a roadblock.

But, ideally, you still need to get to a place

where you are comfortable talking to Zak.

-You just do. -(Sure.)

Like, ultimately, he is the Project Lead.

And you have to get to a place

where you are comfortable sharing your ideas,

or you are not sharing the best of yourself.

Sure, and most of the time I do what I need to do.

And I ask the questions I have to ask.

But I don't feel that it should be such a negative experience.

LISETTE: I think you guys need some help with the brainstorming process

in order to surface better ideas faster, and have the space to feel

like you are not going to be criticized while you are doing it.


Great! Thanks!

-Go, team! -[CHUCKLING]

-Yay! -The best one we had...

Yeah, thirty percent participation!

No, it was when you weren't here.

-Really? -Yeah, everybody did it.

Yeah, the good ones are always when you are gone.

We'll do it someday.

It's going to be my last day.

When I get fired you are guys are going to be, like...

Go, James!

Out of the office!

Nah, we'll do it for ship.

BEN: You know, if-- if Hollis kind of discovers itself again,

then maybe it will be our turn to be in the Eye of Sauron, but, uh...

Yeah, hopefully, it doesn't come to that.


Hopefully, the progress that it feels like we've been making, um, is real.

-Whoa-ow! Whoa-ow! Whoa-ow-ow-ow! -[WILL CHUCKLES]

EMILY: It needs to get-- It needs to--

You need to have more of this dramatic thing.

-Yeah, so... -It needs to get even more...

-BEN: Oh, that's the colony... -ANDY: Oh, okay.

WILL: Geoff was saying that drips should go at this angle and, like...

EMILY: And then, start, like, getting black.

BEN: You are heading towards, like, the dark secret.

Like, this is the thing that Cassie is trying to not think about.

So-- so, it should be, like, twice as long.

-There should be, like... -Well, this is already pretty long.

-Well, I don't care! -You know what players love?

Long hallways!

But it's a-- it's a psychological sort of thing!

Where it gets, like, darker and darker,

and there is more and more ink.

And then you'd get to the end.


Dude, Emily is stoked!



BEN: Cassie is here. She is looking at it. She sees you.

Um, and she agrees to go with you,

and you return to the library, which is here.

TIM: Huh-hm!

Okay, that's big.

-It's big, it's cool, it's very good. -Yes.

It's also very...

-ZAK: ...big. -BEN: It is big.

But it seems like a lot of it could just be arbitrary carved book space.

But it's more like those...

ZAK: I'm not advocating for cuts.

I'm advocating for you guys to figure out, like:

"How is this area going to be built?

Do we have the kit to build it with?

How long would it take to decorate?"

The things that are kind of, like, unique to each area are illustrated.

They are flats with-- with illustrations on them.

Yeah, and the rest of them is, like, the carved book aesthetic.

BEN: That's the hope.

-Yeah. -BEN: Yeah, but, hopefully...

And that's sort of, like, the next big action item for this phase.

Like, just making sure that it is a size

that you guys are committed to being able to build.

Oh, yeah, and then, getting first pass lighting,

which should be part of the representative.

-WILL: Yeah, I'm working on that. -ZAK: Yeah, okay.

For some reason all our-- all our levels end up

with incredibly crepuscular first pass lighting.

WILL: Oh, yeah.

Which-- which we just need-- we just need some guidance

from a direction-- from an art direction point of view of, like, what--

BEN: And, uh, and that we can keep pushing forward and,

and, you know, knocking out, um...

you know, knocking out the next level, and the one after that.


ZAK: Um, these are some early prototypes that we did for the Cassie level.

So, that level is, you know, all made out of books.

You've got this big giant library.

You go into these carved books and carved tunnels.

Um, and then, as transition areas, you'll actually jump into 2D,

um, and walk through a book, and then sort of pop out the other side

into a world carved out of books.

and then, also, there is other, backwards transitions,

where you'll be playing a 3D scene, and then the camera will pull out,

and the book will close, and it's Raz holding the book.

And so, it's kind of a surreal transition.

I mean, there is a bunch more stuff that we are working on.

We've got a million characters in development.

We've got our early cinematics going in.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, you don't--

If anyone, uh...

maybe you need to-- maybe you need to convince him,

but you don't need to convince me, because I'm already sold, you know.

I love the game, I love where you are taking it,

I love the realizations you are making,

you know, when it comes to, like, level sizes and so on.

Because those are super important.

GREG: Yeah. Well, I think, the thing

that's kind of good about you guys being here is, I feel like,

we are about to kind of force a question with a few things.

And I know there's been a conversation,

I don't know how much you guys have been looped in

about our schedule and changes that have been happening there recently.

Uh, and I guess there was already kind of an assumption

that we'd be needing to make a sort of delay announcement sometime.

Was the Fig-- the original Fig campaign had--

-What was the date? -2018.

GREG: Yeah. Fall 2018.

So, when we launched the campaign...

Like with all crowdfunding games, you have to kind of

put a stake in the ground of, like, where you anticipate that it is coming.

As we know, development is always hard to kind of gauge like that.

Especially when you are doing it before the game has even started development.

So, uh, when we came to you guys, uh...

Yeah, the Fig campaign had been live.

And it said next year, fall.

And we just know that that's not the case now.

So, I think, we wanted to just go ahead

and get it out of the way with our next update,

before the end of this year, saying: "It's not 2018."

And leaving it vague, and kind of...

And when-- when is the next Fig update?

Uh, so, we do them every quarter. And the next one would be in December.

So, holiday timing.

I think that definitely it's important to make sure

that we keep the players in the loop.

Especially those that committed early.

Then-- But at the same time...

I'm not sure exactly how they would react to a delay.

Because, I mean, we have delayed Walking Dead twice, right?

And-- and yeah, people-- people are weird like that.

Sometimes it's like: "Yeah, no biggie. You know, we are happy to wait one year."

It depends on how much, uh...

It depends on how much, uh...

What's the word I'm looking for...

Like, emotional capital Tim has with the community.

Like, how much can he still do without them going like:

"Enough is enough, Tim! We want the game now!"

TIM: I'm not-- I'm not afraid of telling the backers.

Because to the backers we are just saying:

"We want to make the game good enough for you.

And this is when it's going to come out to be good enough for you."

I've never-- I've never backed a project and wanted to tell the developers:

"Could you release that before it's done? Because I really want to play it now."

I mean, you get impatient, and you are like:

"Oh, I want that game right now!"

And you can get mad: "Come on! Finish that game!"

But you really, you know, you want them to make the game good.

GAVIN: Script writing.

-GAVIN: Mr. Schafer. -Woo!

-ZAK: Yeah! -Yeah!


GAVIN: Uh, the ones that we called out at the beginning of the sprint...

Intern hazing.

-ANDY: Done. -Done.

-Intern program intro. -ANDY: Done.

-GAVIN: Hollis' mind intro. -Done.

-TIM: Is this what we do in this meeting? -GAVIN: Hollis' mind outro.

-Done. -TIM: Yeah! Thank you.


-GAVIN: Um, and so... -We had a table read.

GAVIN: At the table read today, we went through all those, uh, and so...

-ANDY: And even more! -GAVIN: And even more.

GAVIN: So, we'll scratch those, and all those will be in the game stubbed,

next week.

ZAK: James, you want to be Raz?

-Okay. -James is Raz.

Who wants to be the lead in this production?

I didn't say anything.

Oh, James does!


Don't-- Nope, nope, nope.


TIM: Cut to the outside of the atrium storage closet.

Aaron, Sam, Gisu, Lizzie, Morris, and Norma are all gathered by the door.

Norma knocks on the door.

CARYL: You okay in there, Rusty? What's the hold-up?

It's Raz. I was just wondering...

TIM: Inside the closet Raz is looking nervous,

talking through the door.

If there is an intern uniform, how come you guys aren't wearing it?

He starts shivering.

ZAK: And then you work your way through an exciting action path.

JAMES: Aaron is like: "When I did, I wasn't wearing underwear."

-[CHUCKLING] -GEOFF: Oh my god.

"That's why I'm in charge now."



Do you want to have any moment

where Raz tries to explain that he is cool?

Because he doesn't get a lot to say.

Like, Raz doesn't be like:

"The hero of Whispering Rock Cramp?

That's me!

Did you guys hear about it?"

-You just said cramp. -Whispering Rock Cramp?

-That was funny. -That's right.

Like, they are just kind of mean to him for no reason.

Like any group of, like, on a construction site,

or nurses, or whatever, like...

You join the group, there is always, like, one joke

they always play on the new person.

It's not necessarily out of cruelty.

It's just now you've been--

Now you are in on the joke.

And then, you'll pull a joke on the next person who comes,

so you are, like, in the group more.

JAMES: They always sacrifice themselves for you.


JAMES: There is just a pile of dead interns.


TIM: Yikes.

All right.

Thanks, everybody! So-- so, this needs to be written

along with the two new cutscenes I'm doing.

So, you won't be doing any scratch on this...

ZAK: Until-- yeah, until rewrites.

I hope Monday, anyway.

Until probably after the next-- Oh, god! Then I'll rewrite that stuff.

-It's a never-ending wheel of pain. -ANDY: And so on, and so on, and so on.

TIM: All right.

As soon as I'll get these in. It's ASAP.

ANDY: Cool, I'll send out an email with all the cutscenes--


TIM: Okay, so how do we segue into...

-ZAK: Oh, you didn't like my... -TIM: ...schedules.

-Should we do that? -[ZAK LAUGHS]

-Uh... -Did you have a good lead into that?

No, just sort of you going:

"So, how is the game? How is the game coming along?"

"So, we are going to talk about the game."

Should it be like: "Now, in the Fig campaign

it said it was coming out next year."



Is that a good lead in?

"I think people watching these updates can see that a lot of--

a lot of great progress is being made.

But, uh, I don't know if we are still on that exact same schedule."


I mean, do you want to start right up?

Like: "Hey, we are not 2018. And here is an update."

I was going to say: "Hey, here is how things are going right now.

And what that means is it's not 2018."


So, now the game itself. How is the game itself going?

Uh, really, really well. We showed off our First Playable...


ZAK: ...uh, how long it's going take to make the game really, really great,

and something that lives up to the first Psychonauts.

Um, and so, the downside of that is

that the game is no longer going to be out in 2018.

ZAK: Uh, okay, all right, so...

Resolve the octopus.

-ANDY: Resolve the octopus! -Resolve the octopus.

"Resolve the octopus!"

was the original line before "Release the kraken!"

You know what's more dynamic?

-Bye, Tim. -Yay!

-Bye, Tim. -Yay!

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