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Making the Best of It

Intense political happenings, raging wildfires and general unrest cast a dark shadow over the studio as they struggle to finish Psychonauts 2.

Published: January 24th 2023

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Episode Transcript

Hi, Kevin.

Hey, Andy.

Hi, Tucker.

What's up?

-Ooo. -Hi, Malena.


What I wanted to share was kind of--


As of this morning,

I think this list represents--

I love the title!

I'm sorry.

-[MALENA LAUGHS] -ANDY: Yeah. You like that?

Andy, are you okay?


Good morning, everybody!

This is just like every other week,

and everything is totally normal, and there is nothing weird about this.

Google just said that they are not going to reopen

until July 2021, right?

Oh my god!

ANDY: We are down anywhere from thirty to fifty percent.

CARYL: You know, this game, from what I've seen,

could go on forever.

I agree, but we also can't pick a date the team doesn't believe in again.

LISETTE: They are ready for, like: "Just tell me how to finish."

TIM: Let me ask first.

Do you have a catchy name for this milestone yet?


TIM: Because, I think, it's-- It's Alpha, isn't it?

Right? Because we've gotta tell the team something really big and clear, I think,

for a lot of decisions that come down the road,

and people are thinking about what they are working on.

Like, it's-- it's-- This is--

This is basically the milestone that:

"Anything that's not in is not going to go in,

unless there is a really serious discussion about it."

-Right? -Correct.

TIM: This December is a really special month for the project,

because it's our last chance to put anything new in the game.

Because all the levels are in the game, obviously.

There is a bunch of cutscenes that aren't in the game yet.

ANDY: I don't think we'll have all the animation in,

because I don't think we'll have all the writing in.

Not to put you on the spot,

but there is still writing that doesn't exist, so.

That's-- that's not that much.

But, I mean, that's not Alpha.

Just a little bit.


And I will be honest with this group...

I have a reluctance to say this is Alpha, because...

we've done this...


in the past to this team.

And I don't want to do it a third time, because it's not true.

I mean, I've had it said to my face many times on this project:

"Yeah, I've heard that before, Andy."

-Yeah. -And, I think...

So, I'm--

Forgive me, all, if I am a little reluctant

to just get up in front of the team on Friday and say:

"Hey, everybody, this next milestone is Alpha."

I don't want to lie to people and say we are at Alpha, when we are not.

But I also don't want people to feel

that it's possible to add features next milestone.


I like that we've totally broken the production process so much,

we can't even use the language of it anymore.


ANDY: Tim, if you get up in front of the team and say:

"We are approaching what's probably going to be

one of the most important milestones we've had thus far,

so let's talk about what that means."

I think that's the team meeting on Friday.


I hope everyone is doing okay today too.

Because it's super smoky.


Is it pretty bad kind of all up and down the area for everyone?

TV HOST: Kind of spooky.

Apocalyptic is probably the right term to use.

You know, every year they say: "This is the worst fire season ever."

And... is.

Every year builds on the last one it seems like.

TV HOST: Yeah, it really does.

SARAH: The air quality index numbers and stuff, like,

normal is, like, 25, right?

And we were at, like, 145.

RUSTY: 168 here. Down here in Oakland.



TV HOST: Smoke from the dozens of major wildfires mushroomed

into thick blankets of clouds so vast they could be seen from space.

Beneath those clouds a suffocating haze.

San Francisco was bathed in an ominous, toxic glow.


The sky is not orange right now where I am.



TIM: It's good to see you all.

Thank you for sticking with the world through this week.


I know it's been really crazy times.

This is the first time, I feel like, I ran out into the street and yelled:

"What the hell is happening?"



I was as surprised by those orange skies as everybody else.


I don't know what else to say about that stuff,

except for that things never stay the same way forever.

We'll just forget about this year ever happening.


We've had a long talk about the schedule

with the leads, and with Andy, and the milestone.

There is a well-earned trepidation about using the A word.

A lot of the Alphas, the practice Alphas we've had before...

um, that's a joke by the way, I know they were not practice,

...was that we would: "Rush, rush, rush. Let's get our level done.

We'll get everything done by the deadline.

Okay, it's done!

And it's Alpha, because all the features are complete."

But we would look at it together as a team.

Or I would look at it and be like: "That's not a Psychonauts level.

Like, that's not a good enough level.

That's not what we said we were going to make."

And it would turn that level into turnaround.

It would go back into design,

and it would get rebooted.

You know, Hollis was a big example of that.

Where we just, like--

I really wanted to do something, um... stranger and weirder with that.

And the thing I can say now, while looking at the game,

is there is no level I feel that way about now.

Every level to me is approved as far as, like the--

the basic thing that it is.

It just needs to be polished and improved.

There is no level that I would look at now and say, like: "We should reboot it."

And if anyone disagrees with me, we can talk about it.


I thought that Moira was like:

"Well, I just thought of something that's not complete!"


TIM: Oh my god! This is the greatest thing in the game!

This is the best!

Wow, that looks great!

-TIM: Wow! -CAMDEN: Wow, that's good!

Yeah, Kristen did a really good job on this.

TIM: Look at that! Oh my god!

That's like the most Psychonautical moment right there.

Look at that impossible corner!


TIM: Okay, there we go! All right.

First of all, wow! Those barfing effects are crazy!

All right, what am I-- How do I play video games?

GEOFF: Also, Paul, the music in the boss fight is amazing.

I love it.

PAUL: Sweet! Yeah. It's only going to get better.

It looks so much better!

TIM: It looks like Hollis.


TIM: But now, um, we've split the level teams up.

And people are off in these different corners,

just polishing things here and there.

So, as you play the game, you all of a sudden come up

on this beautiful thing that wasn't there before.

This is pretty.

TIM: And you are like: "Who did that?"

It's like they are little elves,

roaming around doing good work.

That's a pretty little ship.

Yeah, little details like hair shavings on the ground everywhere,

which is really helping kind of blend it in.


CAMDEN: We are in this weird place where...

the whole game is kind of coming in for a landing.

Uh, other than-- we are going to be hitting

a whole ton of cutscenes.

And continuing to make the game sound cool.

CAMDEN: It's going to be a bitchin' game.

I think this game is going to be really good.


There is a lot of stuff that's not quite right.

And it needs to be tuned or it needs to be fixed.

It's still doing the ricochet, huh?


TIM: What's wrong with Raz's eyeballs?

The eyeball thing...



KEE: Ooh, that looks bad.

Oh, boy.

And Lili's documents are in her heart.


Look what I can do, look what I can do!

CAMDEN: But I've seen enough of it now and played enough of it now

to understand the game as a whole, as it should be.

And if we nail it, it's going to be good.

Really good.

TAZIO: It's a hallway.

And then, when you return to that space for this moment,

it'll be inverted.

TIM: Awesome!

There's been things that I've been just hoping and dreaming

about seeing in the game for many, uh...

many years, honestly.

And then you see them, and you are like:

"Oh my god! It's really happening."

Um, other than that,

I just wanted to tell everyone in the art department,

you guys are kicking ass.


Um, the game looks really amazing.

Um, and I think if we all just kind of focus on what's important,

and it's each other and our work,

um, I think we'll get through this.

This has definitely been more, like, a....


lonelier, uh...


...uh, milestone.

Feeling a bit secluded.

Not feeling, like, connected with the other environment artists

and what's happening on, like...

other stuff.

Like, one man...

...lonely Janice army.


♪ Across the sea ♪

TAZIO: I didn't do shit today, guys.

I'm terrible.


You know, we are all locked in like everybody is locked in.

And we are trying to maintain what's fun about working at Double Fine.

And that's working with each other.

When your beard gets that long, like, that's what you just do,

because you are not used to it.

-You do all this kind of shit. -Really?

-Yeah. -You forget that it was there.

And then your fingers kind of get lost in it.

NICK: I was just going to say, I'm going to embarrass Jared Mills!

He is having a baby this weekend!




EMILY: ♪ Jared is going to be a daddy ♪

RAY: Good luck, Jared.

You are going to need it.

And so, uh...

Monica and Denise have organized a lot of fun things.

Like, on Halloween we actually all went to a drive-in.

Hi! I know! It's like: "I recognize that voice!"


TIM: And we had trick-or-treating on the cars.

People have brought their kids.

And they wore masks.

And they went one at a time.

And people put candy out on their hoods.

And we watched The Addams Family, and, um...

Uncle Fester?

TIM: Uh, and it was really fun.

It was the first time I'd seen anyone on the team in person.

We all, like, stood in a circle,

kind of far away from each other.

Like: "Hi! How is it going? I like your costume!"

Uh, and that was really fun.

ASIF: Tim, where did you get those horns?

I'm just not-- I'm not gonna cut them until the end of the project.


TIM: Usually I keep them pretty under control.

I don't remember.

TIM: You know, I have this, uh... family.

And they are a lot of fun.

And I felt bad for my daughter,

so we got these kittens.

And it's been just great.

Because it's been-- It occupies a lot of her time and mind.

Just having kittens running around the house.

Um, and for me, my silly hobbies have actually been keeping me really busy.

I've been working on homebrew games.

And... secret... all secret stuff.


TIM: Light show. Ready?


Okay, enough of that.

So, it just happened to hit me that I got really into this one hobby,

which is perfectly suited for me,

locked in your house all the time.


I've been also buying old Vectrex games.

And I have a little arcade set up in my garage,

where I'm down there, playing Vectrex games and drinking.

You know, being drunk on a Saturday night in your garage,

playing Vectrex games...


That's the life.



TIM: Well, I feel like, um...

The interesting thing is that we just don't talk about it that much anymore.

Like, it doesn't come up that we are in quarantine,

or that it's weird.

You know, everyone is just working.

Everyone is so used to, um...

You know, we've developed some new, uh... mechanisms

that are actually good.

Like, I play the game...

Good to see you all.

I will be streaming later.

For anyone that wants to watch that, I'll send out a link.

Otherwise, have a lovely Monday. Bye, everybody!

Just me playing it with the team.

It's like I'm an internal, uh... game streamer now.

I play the game and I share it in a video conference,

and everybody just watches me play it.

And makes comments, and it's recorded.

KEE: This part is super fun. I really like this part.

RUSTY: What is-- What is wrong with you, guys?


I like it too.

I am not going out there.

Are you going to get that half brain?

No! My ball!

Oh, no!


That is funny and that's really mean, but it's hilarious.

You know everyone is going to put their ball right there.

And it's just a good system for me.

Finding bugs, or recording polish tasks.

And later when I'm talking about something,

I can refer to the recording.

See, I don't know about that side path.

Did we talk about that already?

That the side path should just put you back

instead of making you skip all this gameplay.

I think that came up once before.

TIM: So, it creates this document

of, like, what I think of the state of the game.

Which I think is helpful for people, because they just know--

they have a sense that there is an infinite amount of work

that could be done.

They just look at the game-- they are like:

"Wow, there is so much stuff to do."

And at least if they see me playing through it,

pointing out what I think is, like, the major things to get done,

they at least have a starting point.

They are like: "Okay, that's what I'll start working on."

Often when I'm playing this part I forget what I'm supposed to be doing though.

But the PA should be telling me in a way.

Like: "Go to class!"


A lot of camera problems right there.

Boom! That should blow up like in Jaws.

I always have trouble with this wall jump, I don't know why.

We should probably change those flags, maybe if you've beaten that bottle.

Or change the cork.

TIM: And I think it's helpful for people to see--

You know, they all worked on these individual parts,

and they've done their best on their own.

Like their model, or their cutscene, or their piece of code.


Don't jump on my computer, kitten.

And then to see them all together as a game,

uh, is just an important moment for the team.

That was great! You guys, it didn't crash!

We played through all Cassie. It was fun!

♪ Didn't crash! ♪

♪ Didn't crash! Didn't crash! ♪

How are you doing, Nathan "Bagel" Stapley?

Hey! Pretty good!

Yeah, just checking out my favorite show.


I know.

It's fun.

GEOFF: Besides a couple of really egregious things,

that level is a lot closer to Alpha.


I think it was good to...

good to see that,

because the level is, like, a lot longer.

And there is a lot more, like, exploration than I thought it would have.

So, that's good.

TIM: Oh, it's called?

Is Virginia called?

That's crazy.

Okay, sorry.

No big deal.


Thanks for coming, everybody!

Thanks for watching.

Uh, that's all I have to say.


Yeah, let's go ahead and just quickly go around.

Silvio, you are first up today.

All right, um...

I got nothing done yesterday.

I have pretty much just been refreshing Google and Washington Post.

GEOFF: I'm completely ignoring it

until the results come in.

SILVIO: Except for some numbers that apparently don't go up for--

for two fucking days!

Like: "Nevada!"

JAMES: I know we are probably going to keep

politics out of this meeting,

uh, but Pennsylvania is under a hundred thousand difference now.

That's the only thing that's been making me feel better.

Like, just that--

-...that gap closing. -[PIANO IS BEING PLAYED]

JAMES: You know, I actually do find it really satisfying to watch the gaps close.


Nice one, Bert! Thanks!

TAZIO: Did I miss The Rhythm of the Night?


TIM: Hello!

Happy Monday! Good to see you all.


Uh... hi.

Um, so, let's see...

I'm trying to think. Do I have any, uh... news?

I don't really have any big news.

There's been a lot of big news in the world.

I don't want to say... uh, who I voted for.


Who knows what to say about that-- that stuff.

I just felt, like, a huge relief.

I'll just say that. I felt a huge relief.

(It's not over yet.)

(It's not over.)

I remember when, you know, the day after--

I was so shocked by the last election.

That's when, um...

The day after I was like: "What can we do?"

Instead of just tweeting about stuff and being angry all the time,

we started our diversity initiative at the company.

And started looking at our recruiting, and our hiring practices,

and how to encourage more diversity in the company.

And I feel like it led to a positive change inside of our company.

To just, you know--

To see things going wrong in the outside world,

and to feel, like, helpless to control huge macro things about the world.

Like, we can control--

"What can I control?"

You know? I can control what happens at Double Fine.

And try and make that better.

Hopefully you already know this,

but we will be having a virtual holiday party this year.

Let me check my calendar. Yep!

Yep, got nothing going on.

Uh... let's talk about Psychonauts 2.

Andy Alamano, there you are!

-ANDY: Hello. -How is Psychonauts 2 doing?

Psychonauts 2 is finishing up its latest milestone...

in a scant two days.

The end of-- end-of-day Wednesday.

I saw a lot of people still asking the question: "When is this happening?"

End-of-day Wednesday!

So that we can start doing the final assessment

of what it's going to take to get this thing shippable.

Yeah, I would say of all the Alphas we've had on this project,

this is definitely the most recent one.

I always was pushing to just get something playable,

get something playable, get the whole game playable.

As of this week, we did that.

Like, you can-- All the parts of the game are playable.

So, it's kind of, like...


TIM: I want to start with some bad news.

We have some unfortunate news about a team member

who is leaving the project.

And unfortunately it is our Senior Producer,

Andy Alamano.

And I know that will come as a big surprise to a lot of people.

Um, but it, uh...

But Andy has given his notice.

And we are going to be making plans for how to finish this game.

Uh, yeah, thumbs down from Vic.


ANDY: And he froze.

CARYL: Oh, no, Tim froze!

So... uh, Andy Alamano left.

We lost our producer, Andy.

I mean, I will say this before we get started, um...

Due to the nature of my departure and-- and my conversations with Tim,

I am going to be very politically correct in this interview.

I'm not going to give you guys a bunch of dirt.

I did have a meeting with Tim which was kind of contentious.

And I think there were some feelings that have been hurt.


I was-- I was very shocked and sad.

Because it's so close to the end.

And he is a very important part of the project, but...


That's the way it is.

You know, it was a tough decision, and--

But I'm excited to move on to something else.

And it's not like--

I'm not trying to... screw anyone over,

or burn any bridges, or-- it's nothing against anybody,

it's nothing personal, but it is just a decision that I am--

After being here for five years, something else has come along,

and I'm excited, and I'm gonna-- decided to move on.

Totally unrelated maybe, but, like...

1775 to 1780 was exactly five years

that Benedict Arnold served with George Washington

before he, um... betrayed the country,

and was viewed as a traitor for the rest of his life.

-[RAY LAUGHS] -TIM: So, completely unrelated.

That's just something that people should know about...

The good thing is we have a really strong production team.

And, uh, everyone is so...

um... invested, and--

Well, apparently not Andy.

But, I mean, everyone else is really, really invested.

We are Alpha, we are going to get to Beta.

And that's the plan.


Easy as-- right? Like, how hard could it be?


ANDY: All the producers here that I've worked with are incredible.

They are some of the best people I've worked with.

I mean...

They can do this.

So, there you have it.

I think everybody is up to speed.

Malena is shaking her head at me.

No, no. Andy, I am happy for you.

ANDY: I mean, even just this week,

even though I was leaving, there were some--

some things we were looking at,

just some of the cutscenes, some of the story elements,

playing and talking with people in a Zoom call or something,

and there is that tinge in me

where you see people, like: "Oh, this is going to be good!"

I'm like: "Oh, it is going to be good!

Oh, I'm leaving!

I don't want to leave! It's going to be good!"


So, you know, that happens.

And you have to remember those. You have to take those moments.

It's so easy to forget that.

But you get somebody--

a handful of people, and you are playing the game,

and you get excited about just some little moment...

You know, that's-- that's what it's all about.


ANDY: Hey!

MALENA: Cheers to you!

Cheers to me.

Oh, that's a...

-That's a good looking glass right there. -Mm-hmm.

CAMDEN: Hey, Andy.

-Before it gets too crazy... -JAMES: Andy, don't go!

JAMES: Please, don't go!

Before it gets too crazy, man, thank you!

Thank you for everything you did.

Thank you, Cam.

So, yeah, that surprised me.

I mean, I-- I knew he was frustrated.

We all have gone through being frustrated.

I feel for him. And I wish him the best.

I wish he would stay, but...

um, he's been through...

a lot.

I just wanted to let you know that in your honor

I used my extra Grubhub money today

to buy Taco Bell.

Oh, yes!


ANDY: I'm going to miss--

I miss it now!

I'll miss going and getting Taco Bell with everybody.



It's a little rough going down, but it's kind of good.



ANDY: Whiskey club.


I've learned a lot too that, I think, I want--

that I will take with me.

About kind of how the--

How to manage a place,

but also kind of keep it feeling like a family.

And, uh...

I'll miss that.



It's about six o'clock.

I think it's about time.

All right, Andy wants to go.

I can tell Andy wants to start his new life.

All things must pass.

Yeah, you have three months where you can come back,

and we'll pretend nothing happened.

-Okay, I'll keep that in mind. -[GEOFF LAUGHS]

-I might need that! -And after that... have to reapply.

I might-- I might need that.

Um, no. Thanks, everybody.

Kevin is going to do the toast.

No, thank you, Andy.

Thank you, Andy!

-Thanks, everyone! -We'll miss you, sir. Cheers!

It's been an honor, Andy.

You are a big jerk, Andy!

-Humongous jerk. -I love you too, Tim.


-Bye! -Cheers, everybody.

Take care! I'll be around.

TIM: Um, so, it would have been a great time

to have Andy around, but...


we are going to make the best of it.

Just like we have been doing all year long,

in quarantine.

This is just 2020 for you.


SARAH: Think we'd-- wouldn't be this hard.

-Yeah. -You know?

-All this technology... -But you have a dog on your lap, so!

I have a dog on my lap!


TIM: What?

Ah, there we go!

-Perfect. -Exactly what I asked for.

Yes, my pretty kitty!

-Yes! -No, get out of there!


You are so beautiful!


I must touch you with my golden claw!


Hi! Wait, I'm going to move it.

Hold on.

-Thank you... -No!

...Denise and Monica for this awesome party.

-No! -Why you don't want to?

-No. -Okay.

TIM: Uh, happy holidays!

It's so nice to be here with all of you.


Obviously it's been... quite a year.

And everyone has said a lot about--

I don't remember anything that has happened last year.

We are just going to blank out this whole year,

and just forget all about it.

It was a, um...

You know, lots going to be said about this year,

and what a crazy year it was.

And we all-- I mean, I felt really lucky to be...

you know, um, made safe in a lot of ways.

AARON: If we had not sold to Microsoft...

would we all be out of a job right now?

The company joining Microsoft kept the company safe

during unstable times, you know.

And then, the fact that we are all making this game,

and we technologically were able to keep working on it.

You know, it kept us safe indoors.

We didn't-- we weren't required to go out and work

like a nurse or a bus driver.

We also know that, um...

there is reason to believe next year is going to be better.

I can think of a couple of reasons why.

ADAM: He is right here!


-Look at him! -Aww!

NICK: Show me the baby!

Baby time!

EMILY: What is she going to become?

Who is she now?

JARED: I don't know.

Now the babies are going to make each other cry.


The babies!

Also, the FDA approved a vaccine today.

Just today.

And next year we are going to ship our game.

So, it's going to be a great year!

EBBE: And me and Anna have some news.

TIM: Oh, really?

We are, uh... pregnant,

and are having a child in April.




Yay, Ebbe and Anna!


-Awesome! -Woo-hoo!




KEVIN: Go, Bert!




TAZIO: Bert, that was fantastic!

Kermit, the frog!

KEE: These figments, uh...

...look like dicks. They look like dicks.

Yes, they do!

I feel like I already put that in the playthrough.

-They are a penis. -I forgot about that.

See, it's the cleft in the bottom between the two...

uh, base hemispheres, you know?

-LISETTE: Noted. -RAY: I think it's the wiggling.



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