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The Wall

Harper Jay Harper

What's this? A random blog? That's right. Harper here with a bit of silliness. I've always been a bit nervous about cutting loose on the site since I want folks to find recent news quickly but after talkin' it through with my boss we've decided there's room for flights of fancy and random musings. Tim used to hit up the site with all kinds of blogs in the old days and while I can't ever compare to The Man Himself, I wanna find time to show you more and more of the bits and bobs that lurk here at Double Fine. There's a lot of history here since we're a long running studio. That means tons of expertise and memories from devs and programmers and artists. It also means that sometimes you look behind the couch and find Peter Chan's original pencil drawing of the Grim Fandango cover art. There's always something happening, even though I know we've been a bit quiet about our upcoming games the last year or two.

I came to Double Fine as a happy accident. I saw the job listing on Twitter on a random scroll session and thought that seemed like a fun next direction for m'life. It was a chance to be around creative people and learn new skills somewhere I really respected and liked. That said: I didn't quite know what to expect. Now I'm here I get to bask (like a lizard) and take in a lot of cool stuff. Not just people but also the studio space itself! I think we're pretty good about sharing stuff behind the curtain here at the studio, between things like our documentaries and our new dev blogs.

But unless I'm mistaken, none of y'all have been inside the studio. So today I want to share something I really love about the office: the cool stuff on our walls!

My office, as well as Tim's, is tucked away on one side of the studio. It can get quiet over here and because we're not nested amongst the team, who often plaster concept art and other visuals on the walls nearby their stations, so we don't have the most up to date decorations. But what we do have is pretty good: an art wall packed with original pieces from our previous games. At any given time, I can peek outside my office and look at some amazing work by folks like Scott Campbell or Peter Chan or one of a dozen great artists. I don't know how how people guide their fingers in a way such that it creates honest to god pictures but these are pretty great. Better, they provide a sense of how older games developed. There's concept art for semi-unused Psychonauts items such as a psychic water balloons (which I think they evolved into the confusion grenades) and even some of the original art of Eddie Rigg's various pitched designs. He's not even "Eddie" in those. He's just "Roadie" even if the look is established.

Double Fine's been around for almost 25 years! Some folks here at the studio have been here from day one. It's impressive to work somewhere with that kind of continuity. Having an art wall full of classic designs, keeping in mind that these are the original sketches, really helps sell the studio's history.

Of course, the art is really just an extension of the cool people here and so there's an entirely different wall closer to our kitchen that's all about the friendly faces at Double Fine. There's some drawings there but it's mostly covered in polaroid camera shot bearing the silly mugs of pretty much everyone working here since around 2014. Our IT wizard Justin grabbed a camera and started taking shots with reckless abandon. These days, he's using a Lomo'Instant camera to snap candid shots. The result is tons of little crystalized moments. Many of the shots are from people's first day at the studio and Justin takes them without any warning. According to him, it's "fun to ambush people when they're nervous."

Once your picture is taken, you get to pin it on the wall. It's a silly right of passage but one that reminds folks that hey man, everyone is new at one point or another. Video games are this weird miracle of science and nonsense that are mostly stapled together by desperate creatives' absurd talent. They're magickal! They're weird! And while it's tempting to think that the people working on games must all be intense savants who dream in Matrix code, the truth of the matter is that we're just mostly just normal people. That means looking silly in your surprise first day polaroid!

Maybe the surprise is a bit ruined for your first day (yes, you! you're gonna work here some day!) but even if you know that yer gonna end up on the wall, I bet Justin'll still get the drop on you. He gets the drop on everyone. Except me. My picture is perfect and I look super cool in it. Yep! Totally!

Beyond the folks here at Double Fine, there's an amazing community of talented fans who've really attached themselves to series like Psychonauts and Brutal Legends. Throughout the Psychonauts 2 development process, we received tons of fan art and letters from project backers and other fans. All of it is collected on a wall right in our kitchen. I wasn't around for those initial days of the Fig campaign and the excitement of watching The Numbers Go Up. We couldn't have made Psychonauts 2 without everyone's generosity! Being able to see a daily reminder of your kindness and support is really great. When you're deep in development and grinding to put things together, the process can be stressful. Sometimes, it's hard to see the game for what it will become. This collection of art and thank you letters puts the work into perspective.

We still get some mail from time to time though not as much as the surge that came with P2's campaign. Maybe there will be another glut of letters in the future that we'll add to the wall. No matter what, we're always happy to hear from fans. You're the reason we do what we do! We only have the one wall of letters for the moment but who knows how many walls we might cover over the the next few years? One? Two? Seven? Time will tell!

This is just a portion of some of the things you can discover in the office and on our walls but I think it's a fine spread. You have the art, the folks who make it, and the amazing people who support our silliness. I'm gonna post here often with all kinds of stray thoughts but I also will dig around the studio for other curios and trinkets. Keep your eyes peeled in the future! From some vintage games to amazing personal knick-knacks, there's tons of stories on the shelves and, yes.. even on some more of the other walls here at Double Fine.

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