Excellence takes time and patience
In an interview with Games Industry, the famous boss of Double Fine, Tim Schaffer (Grim Fandango, Brütal Legend) is reassuring on Microsoft’s authority on his studio. The Redmond firm would have held his commitments and would not have put pressure on the studio which was looking to terminer Psychonauts 2 for years, even ensuring total creative freedom.
Indeed, when Psychonauts 2 was funded on Fig in 2016, the idea of losing its independence status by being acquired by a big box was not on the agenda. Unfortunately, the sequel to the 2005 game was particularly expensive, and despite a crowdfunding campaign who raised over $ 3 million, funds started to run out.
In seeking to be redeemed, the boss of Double Fine admits to having looked on the side Chinese investment funds, most excellent feedback of the acquisition of Mojang (Minecraft) made Schaffer curious. Indeed, the latter can now confirm that Microsoft leaves lots of creative freedom at its studios, without interfering too much in the development process.
- We were given a lot of creative freedom. Nobody probed Psychonauts to try to guess our decisions or anything like that. We were trusted to handle the creative side entirely, and we could opt for all kinds of resources, like accessibility tests and mental health checks. We had the resources, but we were left with our own creative vision. It has been great, and Microsoft has kept their word in their pre-acquisition statements.
At the time of the announcement of the takeover at E3 2019Schaffer joked to the camera that his primary motivation was money. Technically, this is not wrong, but this has another advantage: the game designer now manages to devote himself more to the development aspect of the studio, with a reduced administrative burden (and the stress of running out of funds):
I was constantly anticipating salary management months in advance. Now I don’t have to think about it at all so it’s a huge load [en moins]. This has been replaced by regular meetings with other studio heads at Microsoft to keep up to date, but the mental load of these meetings is far less than it takes to shake trees for money (referring to his former publishers like EA, ed).
The Loopback of Psychonauts 2 has monopolized Double Fine’s resources for some time, while the old independent studio is known to multiply more or less ambitious projects. However, now that Psychonauts 2 has been released (and is harvesting rave reviews), Double Fine should go back to its old ways.
There was a period at the end of Psychonauts 2 where we were all on deck in order to complete the game, but we finally get back to several projects in parallel. Till next time ? Who knows? We don’t have any set rules about it, but we’re set up to have multiple projects, and we’ve got enough ideas to do it.
Although Psychonauts 2 was funded by fans, Xbox Studios game requires, the title is available on the Game Pass since its launch. Asked about this new way of consume video games, Schaffer believes that it is simply of a natural evolution ways of enjoy his works, like the now essential SVOD platforms.
Ultimately, Microsoft’s service should benefit Double Fine projects, and therefore to the players:
I think the value proposition is now what we can bring to the Game Pass service. I think everything is moving in one form or another towards subscriptions. It’s just a relationship with the players which I think is really great for Double Fine, where we want to do something new, original and surprising, which means there could be a barrier of higher entry for players who don’t know what it is. By lowering that financial barrier where you don’t have to buy one $ 70 game over another – it’s more the time it takes to download them since they’re all on Game Pass – I think that this is an important way for Double Fine games to find their audiences faster.
Come on, we wait Brütal Legend 2, now.