Ingmar: What games that you played in recent years left a strong impression on you?
Tim: I think the adventure games that really made the strongest impression on me in the last few years were the Amanita games. I think you can see that when you play Broken Age; there’s a strong Machinarium influence on it. I mean, those were some of the only new adventure games made that were widely played before crowdfunding kind of brought a lot more adventure games onto the market. There were other adventure games, of course. But since then, all kinds of different things made an impact on me. I mean, I really liked [Middle-earth] Shadow of Mordor. (laughs) It had a really, really interesting nemesis system, and the way they told the story with the orcs, you know, I felt was very interesting. I also loved Hohokum; did you play it?
Ingmar: No, actually, I didn’t. I do have Shadow of Mordor in my Steam library, though, and still haven’t played it, so thanks for the reminder!
Tim: Well, yeah, when it starts off, Shadow of Mordor is all bland, and I felt like I was playing in a muddy trench. But as you get into the interaction between these orcs, and how you can kind of work within their political system to work against them, it’s hilarious. But Hohokum is beautiful, really relaxing, and fun. It has an interesting way of telling a story, and there are puzzles in it. The same company [under a different name, Hollow Ponds] made this game, Loot Rascals, which just came out. I’ve been really obsessed with it recently, which is strange because it is like a rogue-like, and I usually don’t play rogue-likes, but the art is great, so, yeah, I’ve been getting into this one.
And we just published David OReilly’s Everything [available on PS4, coming to Steam on the 21st of April], which is unlike any other game that you have ever played. It’s really like a meditative exploration of reality, if you will. There’s also Night in the Woods. You know, it’s more of a story game than an adventure game, I guess, but it’s just the kind of writing you don’t see usually. Oh, and I just started the new Zelda!
Ingmar: As we get closer to the end of this interview, it would be great to also get a status update on the other projects DoubleFine is officially working on at the moment.
Tim: Yeah, we haven’t talked about our other adventure game which is out there. After Broken Age, I felt like “I’m not gonna make another adventure game for a while.” When we started working on Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, in our minds it was “just” a VR game, but then half-way through we were like, “hey, this is a point-and-click adventure.” It’s more physical because you’re lifting objects through 3D space and stuff, but you’re picking up objects, and you’re poking, and you’re probing, talking to people, and doing adventure game puzzles. So, right after Broken Age, we immediately worked on a point-and-click adventure called In the Rhombus of Ruin. If you have a PlayStation VR, you can play that one!
Otherwise, things going on at Double Fine are that we are making Psychonauts 2; we are hard at work on that one, working with Starbreeze as our publishing partner. And we are working on a secret project, which has not been announced yet. We’re remastering Full Throttle, of course, and then publishing things like Ooblets, Knights and Bikes, David OReilly’s Everything, and Gnog, so… a lot of good things that we’re associated with.
Ingmar: It must be pretty awesome to work on Psychonauts again.
Tim: Oh, yeah! This is a world I have a lot of affection for. It was our first game, so we have a lot of fondness, and it’s great to get back together all those actors, all the artists, go back to that world, and yet have new people on it, like Zak McClendon the lead designer, bringing a lot of great platforming-type design work that we didn’t know much about on the first game.
Ingmar: What has your experience developing for VR been like? Is this something you’d like to explore further when it comes to your future design work?
Tim: Yeah, I mean, I don’t have any rules about it; we’re a very inspiration-driven company, so if we get an idea for a VR game, we’ll make it. I wasn’t a skeptic, but I was not as enthusiastic about VR at first as a lot of people who were immediately willing to say all games are going to be VR from now on. I was, like, weeeeeeell, maybe. But we made In the Rhombus of Ruin, and by the time we were done, I just loved that game. I love being in that world with the Psychonauts, and Milla is bending over to talk to you, and you’re looking into her eyes, and you move your head to the side, and Milla turns her head to look at you. It’s very powerful, you know.
The feeling of presence is so strong, and then we put you in the rhombus, and you’re in this gigantic space, and you’re looking at little bits of dust floating around, and you feel like, “wow, I’m in this crazy world!”, which is what we’re trying to make you feel like in an adventure game all of the time. I think this is a great platform for adventure games because you’re in this other world, and the interface for adventure games is so simple. You don’t need to move around, and do things that would typically make you feel nauseous, so I would love to see more of those games.
Ingmar: Now that we’ve reached the end of this interview, it seems appropriate to close with a few words about my favorite ending of a Tim Schafer game. I noticed the Casablanca references in Grim Fandango, even though I didn’t initially know it happens to be your favorite movie. The ending of few movies have had as much of an emotional impact on me as Casablanca still has, and Grim Fandango has a very similar effect on me. They both have that certain kind of magic!
MINOR SPOILER WARNING for Ico and Shadow of the Colossus
Rick and Ilsa... err, Manny and Meche (Grim Fandango)
Tim: That’s awesome, and that means a lot because we were really inspired by Casablanca. It’s still my favorite movie, and I still feel film schools should be watching it over and over because everything is done so well. In some ways, I feel like they were a little braver than us as they had a sad ending, and how many games would pull that off? Not many games would make you fight, fight, fight, and then have Zelda go off. (laughs) I think Ico and Shadow of the Colossus actually do have kind of a sad ending, but there aren’t many games.
But it means a lot that you like the ending. I felt very emotional about those characters as well. I mean, Manny and Meche had a great relationship, but the part that always got to me is when Manny and Glottis were hugging.
Ingmar: Tim, thanks so much for your time. It was great to talk! All the best with the release of Full Throttle Remastered and the other Double Fine projects!
Tim: Thanks so much, it’s been my pleasure!
|Digital||April 18 2017||Sony Interactive Entertainment|