In 2012, Double Find Studios made a name for itself again, after nearly a decade of being out the spotlight, by opening the floodgates of crowdfunding the creation of video games, both the revival of well loved classics and genres or the birth of completely new titles and ideas. Fast forward three years later however, the indie game studio became the center of controversy for a much delayed, over budget game that received only mildly positive reviews. Undaunted and learning from that experience, Tim Schafer has gone back to crowdfunding to bring to life not a new, experimental game but a the much wished for Psychonauts sequel.
It’s hard to mention Double Fine these days without referring to Broken Age, the Kickstarter game that brought the studio both fame and infamy in equal measures. The campaign started modestly, asking for only $400,000 but walking away with more than $3 million. Despite that budget, however, the game ran into financial difficulty, delays, and drama, almost all of which are documented on YouTube in what might be the best documentary about game design and development available to the public.
Given that experience, it might seem surprising that Double Fine would again ask people to believe in its promises to fund the development of a game. After all, it could have just gone with a publisher again, like what it is doing with Grim Fandango Remastered, another beloved title from the mind of Tim Schafer. Psychonauts 2, however, might have a few things going for it that Broken Age did not.
Broken Age was a completely new title in an unfamiliar world. In a way, it was an experiment to see if Double Fine, and especially Tim Schafer, still has what it takes to make adventure games of its previous caliber. Psychonauts, on the other hand, is an established game with a cult following and an on-going demand for a sequel. The Psychonauts 2 campaign also promises that much of the original team members will be working together again on it, which could inspire a bit of confidence in the final outcome.
Again, it’s hard not to think of Double Fine without thinking of the hype and controversy its first (but not the latest) crowdfunding campaign generated and some might find the $3.3 million goal might be a bit hard to swallow. But in Double Fine’s defense, while the game it made was somewhat lackluster even for some old fans, the documentary it produced, which was half the Kickstarter promise, was topnotch (thanks to 2 Player Productions). It also kickstarted (pun totally intended) a new trend that benefited dozens of games today. Maybe those would be reason enough to give the Psychonauts 2 campaign a cautious look. After all, Double Fine seems to have learned from its lessons and is bringing in a third-party investor and is setting its delivery date 3 years into the future.
SOURCE: Psychonauts 2 on Fig