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It's Looking Grim

As pressure mounts to complete the game, a worldwide pandemic suddenly changes everything.

Published: January 20th 2023

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Episode Transcript



TIM: Hello! Welcome back.

Hi, everybody! How is it going?

It's me and the bird.


Look at her.


Uh, don't do anything cute while I'm talking, bird.

Okay! Hi, everybody! Nice to see you all.

Let's talk about Psychonauts 2.

We still got open hires.

We have some open hires.

Gameplay programmers.

-What's that? -Hire the bird.

Hire the bird?


That's good PR right there.

I mean, she is our most popular face so far.

James Spafford, would you like to update people

on our communications and marketing?

At the end of next week,

uh, Geoff, Gigi, and Vic, and I are going over to Boston,

to PAX.

We'll take the Loboto demo.

And we'll play Samurai Gunn with people.

And we will avoid getting the coronavirus.

That is our... main mission.


TIM: If possible. If at all possible.


Get over here, you son of a bitch!

ANDY: So, the Helmut effort is going to be led by Emily.

EMILY: The very first part, the Eye Shrine, is going to go to E3.

NAOKO: I'm going to get Tim.

TIM: Some of the bigger, more iconic,

character-based moments from the first game were the boss fights.

And I think some of the levels that we've cut them from really need them.

SPAFF: Have we talked about the one year out meeting at all?

TIM: No, I don't know!

Have we ever talked about the one year out meeting?

When the game is a year out from being shipped, or within that,

Microsoft likes to know what the game is about.

So, we have to make a presentation to them about, like:

"This is Psychonauts 2."

So, it's mostly because they are like:

"Okay, we need a year to plan selling this thing.

What is this game we are going to be selling?"

And us explaining it to them.

So, that's going to be happening when?

-SPAFF: It's March 6th. -ANDY: March 6th.

ANDY: Friday, March 6th.

But the team doesn't have to do anything for it, right?

-ANDY: Nope. -SPAFF: It'll be fun.

I think I might get to ask for more money too.

That'll be super fun.


Super excited about having to do that.

SPAFF: So, it's more about, like:

"This is what we have. And it's going to be great!"


NAOKO: You missed me with this, and the Chicken McNuggets,

and the donut on my desk.

TAZIO: Okay, so we are still-- we are still getting exposure problems.

LEVI: Mm-hmm.

ANDY: We just finished milestone eleven.

We have milestone twelve,

which is going to wrap up all of our levels getting to Alpha.

So, like, the final date we have is May 1st.

We want to be in the state where we can play through all the levels.

We are on track for that.


We are also putting together an E3 demo which is--

The level we are going to use is already looking really, really good.

So, I'll be meeting with some people

who are involved with that effort later this week.

-We did it! -We did it.

We did it!


ANDY: You built a level.

It's definitely something.



JOSH: Okay, so, what do we need to do?

What do we want--

EMILY: All right, Andy, how long do we have left?

In this room?


In life.

Yeah, on this Earth.

All right, there are eight working days left in this milestone.

-Woop, woop! -Okay.

-ANDY: Eight. -Uh-huh.

So, all the tasks that you should be putting up on the board today,

and starting on Tuesday,

should be in reference to what you can get done in eight days.

JEREMY: Uh, I just gotta close up some holes and stuff.

Like, for the most part everything is in.

The other thing was the...


Oh, right!

KEE: The eyeballs that track the player.

TAZIO: Wait. Wait, wait, wait.

Wait, what?

JEREMY: The eyes looking-- Eyes looking.

All the eyes-- All the eyes are looking.

That all works. I'm doing it in materials.

There is no CPU cost.

KEE: Wha-at!

EMILY: See? They look. The eyeballs look at you.

-JOSH: They do look at you. -JEREMY: Oh my god, they do! Oh, shit!

JOSH: Can you pluck them off the bush?

TAZIO: Oh, god. Why is that guy not looking at you?

JOSH: That's fine.

EMILY: He is just breaking it. He is just breaking it.

Stop showing it breaking!

JOSH: We can put a secret down there.

We can talk about making tasks. Or we can play the video game.

We can't do both.

Okay, you are cleaned out then.

Okay, that was all I had.

Okay, those are all the things?

-That was all the things. -All the things.

So, we captured a lot of stuff.

JEREMY: What about Clam?

ANDY: Clam...

Clam is very good at estimating his work.

So, I'm going to trust that you've got that under control.

And also it's five o'clock.

And I'm on fucking fire in this room, so.


Do you know if we have to be on the Xbox?

No, fuck no!


Are we just doing all PCs there?

-Oh, yeah. -Oh, okay.

So, then-- that makes it a hell of a lot easier that's for sure.

Oh, if Microsoft said:

"We really need you to run on target hardware."

I would just-- I would go: "Fuck you!"

I think I was kind of a dick in the last one.


Andy, what are you saying that I need to do better?

Uh, I don't know.

-This-- this-- -[EMILY CHUCKLES]

We all just need to get better at...

following through what it is that we want to make.

I can't--

There is a lot of talking about what we want to do.

And not a lot of writing it down.


Good there, Andy?

Ah, it's just-- This is just--

This is a fucking madness.

I can't do the Post-its anymore.

I can't do it.

I just can't fucking do it with the Post-its.

It's too much.

It's becoming-- It's becoming a full-time job.

Chasing Post-its.

So, we sit down and have these meetings.

Everyone is just like: "Uh, I don't know."

And everyone talks about stuff, but no one is like:

"You, what are you doing? Okay! How many points is that worth?


You, what are you doing?"

Like, I can't get people to pay attention.

And it's freaking me out.

But we are here to kind of talk about if there is improvements,

if there is things we can do, things we need to change,

or things that aren't even considered.

Part of this, um...

I will admittedly say right now,

you know what this doesn't account for?


Do we want--

Are bosses being in the video game are requirement of Alpha?



We are going to-- We are going to try to hash this all out.

And if my account is correct, we've got...

Uh, one, two, three, four, five proposed.

Compton, Bob Z, Hollis, Maligula, Helmut.

JEREMY: Well, I mean, we have yet to...

put a fully functioning boss into the game

that everybody is just, like, fully supportive of.

LISETTE: How long did the bosses take in Psychonauts 1?


-[CHUCKLING] -Forever.

LISETTE: Can I get a quantifiable amount of time

instead of infinity?


Yeah, it's under five years.

For each boss.

EMILY: We are working on seven level simultaneously.

Just so you know.

-ANDY: Yeah. -SETH: Yeah.

SETH: I mean, yeah, the tricky thing with Hollis is, like, we've spent, like...

a year on it or something like that.

Like, between all the iterations of it.

-GEOFF: Probably longer. -Probably longer than a year.


-ANDY: Okay. -Okay.

EMILY: Okay.

Thanks, everybody.




TIM: Barf into my mouth!

Oh, beak!

There is a little beak.


But I think we should wait for Tim.

-Well, let's get started. -Okay, so!

TIM: Because all the other ones I've heard one or two good ideas for,

I feel like.

EMILY: Mm-hmm.

Well, we haven't done anything for Bob Z.

But I've heard some really good intentions to have some good ideas, right?

So, Compton. Let's talk about that.

Because I-- I know there is a big judge thing in there.

But I was questioning whether the special judge was enough of a boss.

Because it was, like, just another judge that you fought.

I mean, they are new in that level, but, um...

The puppets are bigger than the judge.

Like, so, it would be neat if you fought them,

or cut their strings, or something.

Like, there being--

Yeah, I mean it would be easy enough to just have them flop into the space.

Have you played the Hollis boss? Do you like it?

I hates it.


ANDY: And it is an octopus.

And it's gotta be the octopus.

Because you made the--

It's tying into the fact--

your original sin of what you committed.

The-- the horrible thing that you did to Hollis' brain.

And it's gotta undo that.

It's gotta kill the octopus you created,

and it's gotta break the Mental Connection.

That could be a cutscene at the end, but whatever.

-Yeah. -Okay, cool.

Then we get into the next act.

-EMILY: Which is... -Cassie and Bob Z.

Bob Z's big--

Well, it's a big angry plant.

BEN: Yep.

-Or a ship battle. -[GEOFF CHUCKLES]

BEN: And then the final boss.

SETH: I think it would be cool if we could do a ship battle.

But I don't think engineering would say: "Okay."

I think-- I think that's good.


ANDY: So, those are our bosses.

BEN: Those are our bosses.

ANDY: And then, the brunt of all of this work will start in May.

-BEN: Yep. -SETH: Mm-hmm.

So, in the immortal words of Optimus Prime:

"All we need is a little energon, and a lot of luck."


Is that why you called this meeting?


So you can end it with that line?

EMILY: But the Luctopus might be a...

...big monster inside of a little-- little baby.

If that changes, then that idea is up for debate.

Okay, that's fine.

I have not even wrapped my mind about...

-Okay, me neither. -...what we are going to do.

-That boss is not getting done right now? -Not this milestone.

-CLAM: It's in the next milestone. -Okay.

Yeah, and I can let everyone in the design channel know

what's happening, especially Ben and JP.

Just so that they are aware of the decisions that were made here.

-Is JP out today? -He is.

That whole team has been taken down with pestilence.



What-- what kind of pestilence?


No one has said.

Can you be specific about the symptoms?

They are just sick.

You can't just say that anymore!


-Sniffles? High fever? -More hand sanitizer, please.


DEVIN: Joshua has got the fever.

CLAM: Yeah.

He was traveling too.

Did anyone see him after he went out into the snow?

DEVIN: Geoff says he's got the flu.

EMILY: Geoff's got the flu?

That's what he said.

That's just PAX flu, you are fine.

Yeah, that's--

Just don't take any cruise ships.

-Yeah. -EMILY: No, no!

EMILY: Why do people do that?

I was like: "Don't touch your face."

And I was, like, kissing my fingers.


Let's get out of this large gathering!

TIM: Anything else? Does anyone have any questions about anything?

Did I forget anything? Anyone want to talk about anything?

GDC was canceled. That's kind of weird.

Yeah, did we say anything about GDC being out?

We might-- do we know yet?

I think most things that were happening that week are canceled.

Our Day of the Devs show at the Alamo is canceled.

-Aw-w! -Really?

TIM: All the devs had to not come.

They haven't announced specific plans,

but GDC is, um, going to be, like, still streaming

some of the indie award show.

So, I guess they are still having one?

Lee Petty is on the board.

Uh, what's the board called?

Secret star chamber of GDC.

LEE: Well, I'm only on the Visual Arts.

TIM: No, I mean, I've heard from Sony employees

that they are not allowed to travel.

Like, they are being told not to travel and anything like that.

We have not gotten any sort of guidelines for that

from Microsoft, uh...

They are, uh... just canceling their attendance to a lot of these events.


Uh, I'm supposed to go to a big meeting in Seattle.

And I'm like: "Washington is where they are having all these cases."


TIM: Thanks for letting us have this meeting remotely.

I really did want to come up there and talk to you all in one room.

But, uh...

it's crazy times.

Okay, great!

Um, yeah, I'll just run through a little overview of the game

and show a video.

These are the levels of the game now.

This was one of our-- our E3 and a PAX demo.

Have you seen this one?

And you accidentally trigger a sort of a gambling problem in her mind

and you have to fix that.

-MATT (LAUGHS): Look at the-- -MARY: Wow!


TIM: High pressure Iron Chef cooking show-type situation

where he is being forced to cook meals really fast.

Flat 2D-type characters.

Everything made of paper.

And the Tomb of the Sharkophagus.

MATT: This is so amazing!


That is good!

-TIM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. -That looks incredible.

But it's fun seeing it all together,

because the team has been working for a long time,

and we just go level by level and working on this stuff we are like--

We are always like: "Do we have enough?

Do we have enough in this game? Is there enough stuff in it?

Maybe we need some more ideas."

And then, you put that video together and you are like:

"Oh, okay! I think there is--

I think there is enough there. I think there is enough in there."


Yeah, there wasn't enough ideas in that game.

No, I don't think so.

CARYL: Yeah, the other thing that we've added in is that milestone

where we are just going to be working on the bosses.

Um, and that was an initiative we've discussed.

We feel like we are being very conscious

of the bosses being really important

and wanting to give them the time they need.

And then, uh...


Kelsey, is there anything in here that's a big surprise?

I don't really think so, is there?

KELSEY: No, nothing in here is surprising.

MATT: Okay, great.


Uh, okay!

What's the general feel amongst the team

of the-- of kind of the, you know, the game?

How do people feel about it?

They are excited?

Excited to work on it? Feel good about it?

Like, where is everybody at?

TIM: You know, they want-- they want to get things done.

They want to have enough time to polish it and make it really good.

But I think, uh...

people feel really good about--

you know, as long as we can execute

on the quality of all the things that we have planned,

that it will be great.

You know, I would say, you know...

ninety percent of everything is nailed down

as far as creatively speaking.

And it's just a matter of execution.

STEVEN: So, I think we are-- We are mostly aligned and good to go here.

So, we'll have a hands-on demo.

This will be the first hands-on for the game.

We'll have that as a consumer demo.

And I should back up and say...

If E3 is a show, it will be hands-on for consumers.

But it really is a 'seeing is believing' title,

so we want to get as many people through the experience as we can.

-All right. -MATT: Wow.

Okay! Thanks, everybody!

-The game look great! -It's amazing!

-MATT: Thank you! -Right on.

-Okay, awesome! -Thank you!

Thanks, everybody!

See you next time! Hope to see you in person some day.

Bye, bye! Bye!

Bye, bye!


That went well.

There is your people.

Piece of cake.

-Shall we go drink now? -Yes.

CARYL: The one year out meeting was last week for Psychonauts 2.

And thanks to everyone who helped out putting together materials for it.

We blew them away, the meeting went really well.

And the important part of it for me was that

that the budget for the rest of Psychonauts 2 was approved.

Yeah, you guys are here, and you are going to get paid!

-CARYL: Yeah, yay! -[LAUGHTER]

We made this, like, 15 minute video of the entire game,

which will share with you at some point soon.

Um, and it's amazing to see,

you know, the whole game just, like, in that little micro window.

It just looks insanely cool.

And even the 30 seconds of Helmut,

just kind of, you know, knocked the room over there.

They were just going crazy for it.

TIM: You know, if you understand game development,

and you look at it, you are like: "Holy crap!

There is a lot of cool stuff in that game!"

There is a lot of stuff in this video game!

-Yeah, yeah. -[CHUCKLING]


So much stuff!


-Yeah, made of stuff! -ANDY: It is.

Um, whether E3 will exist or not is pretty unknown.

Seems kind of unlikely.

But, um...


You know, Microsoft will do their own thing anyway regardless of that.

So, we'll be part of something.


PAUL: E3. Canceled.

E3 is canceled?!

ANDY: Because E3 is now officially canceled,

the need for a playable, pitch-perfect demo is greatly diminished.

If not completely non-essential.

EMILY: We did Helmut!

And now...

there is no E3.

I'm a little disappointed, but...

PAUL: Are you going to--

So, you'll be working from home soon, do you think?

EMILY: I don't know!

I want to play it-- feel it out.

It's really hard to do my job working from home though.


TIM: We should say something, because people are like:

"What's up? What's going to happen?"

-DENISE: Absolutely. -Yeah.

Um, does anyone here feel strongly about shutting the company down?

Because some places have done that.

SPAFF: I think it sort of depends where people are coming from.

And what they have to encounter on their way here.

-That's true. -CARYL: Public transit was empty today.

So I felt super safe!

Like, I was literally the only person on my train.

DENISE: I don't see us needing to close the studio... at this time.

I mean, does anyone disagree with that?

TIM: I'm open to it, if people want to talk about it.

But I don't-- it didn't feel like we were there.

Especially if people are voluntarily working at home,

that kind of lowers the risk for everyone who doesn't.

So, just to recap where we've been and what we've announced so far.

We definitely, um... are really telling people not to come in,

if they are feeling at all sick.

I hope that's obvious to everybody.

But if you-- Even if you have the sniffles,

just stay home,

and work from home.

Uh, we do not want people bringing an infection to the office.

No toughing it out.

If anyone feels more comfortable working at home during this period,

we really want to encourage people to just go ahead and do that.

And there is no-- There is no shame in it, obviously.

So, um... any questions about that?

It's not much of a real announcement.

But we just want to make sure that people know

where we stand on all that stuff.


SPAFF: The coffee shop is closed,

so I don't know how to survive now.

TIM: Oh, did they shut that down for COVID?

-SPAFF: Yep. -CARYL: The Point is, uh... not open.

SPAFF: It's a ghost town outside. It's crazy.

The freeways are empty.

No one is coming to the city.

TIM: Are we the last people here?

-I think so! -[LAUGHTER]

Oh, maybe we are being too lackadaisical.

TAZIO: Why do you guys think the-- the Point closed?

I mean, obviously coronavirus, but, like, more specifically?

I think for coronavirus.

Did they just close it as a precautionary measure for coronavirus?

Probably, yeah.

Most big-- bigger companies, like Pinterest-size,

are basically closing their shit down to outside visitors of any kind.

I've got a friend who works just up the street,

and their entire company is working from home for, like, the next two weeks.

-Yeah. -Makes sense.

JOSH: Yeah, I've heard, basically, everywhere in the world right now

is in quarantine to some capacity, so.

Which, I mean, that will-- that will help reduce spread of the virus.

Like, that will-- that will do stuff.

I mean, the Northern Italy has just, like, gone full, uh:

"Don't go out of the fucking house, you idiots!"

JOSH: Yeah. Have you seen, basically, all--

-JOSH: It's all of Italy now. -AARON: Jeez.

TAZIO: Oh, really?

Oh, yeah, shit. Front page New York Times.

Oh, man.

PAUL: You think you are going to be here for SDF on Monday, Tim?


I don't know if anyone is going to be here on Monday.



It's looking grim.

And not in a good way.

Can you hear me now?

Hello? Do I sound good?


Hi! Welcome to my show, everybody.

Our first caller...



I hung up on everybody.

Okay, it's a little rough. It's fine, it's going to be great.


TUCKER: Thirty one people in here.

ANDY: Okay, all right.

ANDY: Yeah, Tim, we are all here.

-You want to kick it off? -TIM: All right.

TIM: Hi, everybody! Can you hear me?

-Hi! -Hello!

TIM: Welcome to my home!


Hopefully you all saw the announcement

about us going to full-on work from home

starting next week, um...

I think on this team in particular, Psychonauts 2,

we have, like, a-- you know, a challenging milestone already.

And then, some deadlines.

And then, it's all, um...

It's all challenging, but I really, um...

I'm hoping we can just be extra communicative with each other,

and really still do our best to pull these levels together.

And you, people who have been working remotely,

are of course our models...


...who can show us the way for working at home, and how--

Look at how successful Ray is there working at home.

Look how happy he is.

We are all going to be as happy and peaceful as Ray soon.

-CARYL: All right. -Okay then.

-Thanks, everybody. -Thanks, everybody.

-See you on the internet. -See you on the internet.

CAMDEN: I guess one of the obstacles

during gamedev should have been biblical,

so here we are.

-ANDY: There was no room for error. -TUCKER: Yeah.

ANDY: And then this coronavirus thing happened.

So, that's it. Like, we are off the charts now.

We are screwed.

All right.

This milestone is-- is totally fucked.






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