Thursday, February 9, 2012

Double News for Double Fine

If you've been paying to the internet in any capacity these last couple of days, chances are you've come across both stories I have.  Regardless, I'm going to elaborate on them in my own viewpoint because that's kinda what I do, and aside from this, about all I could do is write some more about Alpha Protocol which I'm not fully prepared to do just yet.  I want to get at least a little bit more through my new playthrough (Yes, I beat it -and- started a new game almost immediately) before I elaborate on how AP went from eh, to bad, to good, to great.  Anyway, Double Fine news, right, yes, right away on that.  We'll go with the earlier, less-publicized story first which is, by all rights, incredibly popular on its own.

Have you ever caught yourself saying, "Man, if only I were rich, I'd totally help make" and then fill in a sequel of your choosing to a game you quite obviously enjoyed?  I'm sure you have, as I'm sure we all have, really.  It's fairly normal, I should think, since even though we complain a lot about sequels, they all started as new IPs at some point, and obviously sequels are okay if they're of an IP we enjoy.  But how many of us would actually do it, or at least really volunteer that if it came down to it?  It's likely something the majority of us will never know for sure, but Indie Darling "Notch" of Minecraft fame, has at least offered to put his money where his mouth is for a sequel that he, as well as a good chunk of gamers out there, would absolutely love to see made:  Psychonauts 2.

Psychonauts is one of those games that, even if you haven't played it, you've heard of it.  And if it ever comes up in conversation that you haven't played it, people look at you cross.  Sometimes if even they themselves haven't played it either which results in everybody looking at everyone else weirdly.  It falls into the same archetype a lot of Double Fine games find themselves in; a fun, funny, imaginative story that draws you in and keeps you til the end even if the gameplay isn't up to snuff which, as implied, it generally isn't.  Regardless, Psychonauts stands out even more than usual and found its way into many a gaming heart back when it was released and years after, so to say that it's constantly at the forefront of the general gaming 'hive mind' sort of goes without saying really.

So when asked about a Psychonauts 2 possibility for no doubt the upteenth time, Tim Schafer said that he'd love to do it, and has even pitched it to plenty of people, but nobody's buying and nobody's funding.  With a couple million in the bank, they would be able to fund it, assuredly, and make it a thing that happens, but that money isn't just going to poof in from nowhere.  Yet with a single tweet, it seemed as if the money might just yet come from somewhere; from the jolly ol' Swede who managed to sell millions of copies of a game that wouldn't even be released for two years after people started buying it.  After hearing that 'all it would take' was funding, he sent off a tweet to Tim Schafer that said simply "Let's make Psychonauts 2 happen."  Chaos ensued and all while the Double Fine man himself slumbered away.

When he awoke to the aftermath of twitter madness that followed Notch's statement (and subsequent admission that he was serious to Rock Paper Shotgun), Schafer and Notch carried on in the public eye (which is not uncommon for either of them) for a while before quietly being ushered into private conversation by people with business sense, but no sense of fun.  The official word that came from it was no word at all really.  "Tim and Markus are talking" which we all knew, became the word and shortly after that the word became, "If this does pan out, don't expect an announcement right away, of course" because, you know.  Even with more money than is necessary, these things take time.  Though Schafer did have another unrelated game announcement which leads directly into the next story quite well.

Tim Schafer went on to say later that he wanted to really get back to the basics, back to his roots which, as we all know, means adventure games since that's pretty much where Schafer started out.  Rather than try to travel about from publisher to publisher asking for funds with this one, Schafer decided to try a different tact; one not wholly originally, but not exactly on the magnitude as it was projected to be and assuredly not on the magnitude it's ended up at.  To make a classic point-and-click adventure game, all Schafer asked for was a mere $400,000 from the collective of the internet through Kickstarter which does this stuff on a fairly regular basis.  The premise is simple (and in fact, has somewhat been covered before in this blog) - a person or a company (usually small) sets up a page that presents exactly what they want to do, a pricetag that they need to do it, a break-down of where that money is going, and rewards for anyone who wants to contribute certain amounts (or above).  A deadline for that cost is set and if, and only if, they've raised enough money to meet or surpass their cost, they get that money to then go on and put towards doing what they want to do.

The deadline that Double Fine set was an entirely reasonable one of March 13th, giving just over a month to raise the money, indicating that they hoped to start development rather soon.  They went on to make their deadline in eight hours.  Eight hours is all it took for the internet as a whole to throw $400,000 at Double Fine in hopes that they would do what they do best in simply making a game.  If breaking one record wasn't enough by being the fastest funded Kickstarter project ever, well, the internet was happy to push itself into breaking yet another one.  In less than 24 hours, the Double Fine project managed to get One Million Dollars in funding and hasn't even stopped yet. 

As of this writing, the project is up to $1,143,713 with 32 more days to go, though I imagine funding will drop off in the next couple days.  Maybe.  While Double Fine has promised to funnel any 'extra money' back into the game they make through all sorts of means, one of which is porting it to non-PC platforms (considering they're imagining utilizing touch-based technology, I'm sure you all know what I'm hoping for) I'm not sure just what they can realistically expect to do.  As it is, the project is $743,713 (which is an ever-shifting number) overfunded, so unless they're planning on hiring only A-List Voice Actors in something of a show of opulence they've been afforded, I imagine it's going to take some doing to figure out what to do with all that money.

Truly a position to be envied.  But it's well-deserved and even though I haven't played many of Double Fine's offerings (nor have I uniformly enjoyed the ones I've played), I like Double Fine.  How could you -not-?  So here's hoping to only the best for them, though they're not going to need a whole lot of hope.  Money bags, yes, but not hope.

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