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Psychonauts 2 Announced (Crowdfunding on Fig, PC/PS4/XB1, UE4, $3.3M goal--funded!)

wwm0nkey

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Jan 2, 2010
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Update #1 went out!

Hello Psychobackers!
So much Psychonaut news is in the air!

First of all, the original PlayStation 2 version of The Excellent Game Psychonauts is now available in the PlayStation Store for PS4, in addition to PS3. (Out in Europe in a few weeks time, when the PEGI rating goes through!) The new PS4 version features widescreen support, faster load times, and trophies. It's a great way to go back and wander alone at night along the perfectly-safe paths of Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp! One word of caution: The squirrels are all LIARS.

Psychonews™ item #2: Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, our Psychonauts Adventure in Virtual Reality, is going to be shown for the very first time next week at E3! New Psychonauts content for the first time in over 10 years! More info on that game below.

Oh, and finally, we're making a sequel to Psychonauts! Surprise!



Wait, you already knew that? But how...? Are you psychic?

Oh, that's right. You made it possible! Well, you'll be happy to know that Psychonauts 2 is going well. We are working through the pre-production phase, taking advantage of this time where a lot of our team is busy on Rhombus of Ruin or shipping Headlander (a non-Psychonauts game that nonetheless focuses on heads) to do something I've always wanted to do: Get ahead on the design! Amazing!

And leading that charge is new-ish Double Finer and Psychonauts 2 Lead Designer Zak McClendon! We are super excited to have Zak join us for the project, mostly because now all the great designers we know in the industry who have been telling us how great Zak is for years will finally pipe down. Pre-Fine, Zak was Design Director at Harmonix, Inc. and before that he was the Lead Designer on Bioshock 2. He is super smart and his talents are as supple and versatile as his hair. And if you don't believe me you can watch 2 Player Productions' mini-documentary on the man—A Zakumentary if you will.





Zak has been leading company-wide brainstorming sessions, gathering our collective thoughts on The Excellent Game ten years later—working out what we are still proud of, and what we want to make better. Because, I'm not sure if you remember the video we made with the champagne and tiny fireworks, but we want this sequel to be the best game ever. So we've been taking a deep look into the first game, analyzing the mechanics, identifying the heart of the game play, and prioritizing the feature set to better support it. We want to revamp the collectibles, the PSI Powers, the interface, to make sure they all feel great, do useful things, and support the narrative of the game.


We will never reveal the secret, codified meaning of the pushpins' colors!





A storm of brains



Along with this, Zak’s been leading the whole studio in brainstorming brand new ideas for moves, powers, combat, collectables, gameplay systems — anything and everything you can do or interact with in the game. These have all gone up on a huge board of 3x5 cards and we’ve begun the process of winnowing down to the ideas we think we’ll tackle (or at least will start prototyping). A lot of the details of these will be worked out when we start building them, but we have a pretty good high level idea of the gameplay goals, scope, and specific features for the game right now. An outline, if you will.



We have another whole board that just says, "Super Amazing Features."



We've also been designing the game's Mental Worlds (i.e. the "brains," or levels in the game). Which of course involves even more 3x5 cards and marker sniffing. If you'll indulge my rambling for a minute, I'll try to explain my THEORY OF BRAINS™

I believe each mental world gets its character from a unique combination of five main elements:

1. A specific host
Boyd is a guard. Edgar is a painter. Fred is an orderly.

2. A mental condition
Boyd is paranoid, Edgar is creatively blocked by rage, Fred is tortured by feelings of failure.

3. A base setting
Boyd's house is in a suburb. Edgar is in a spanish village. Waterloo World takes place on the hex tiles of a board game.

4. An aesthetic twist
Boyd's suburb is flavored by 1950s cold war paranoia. Edgar's village is painted on black velvet. Fred's board game uses Napoleonic France as its visual theme.

5. A gameplay twist
The streets of Boyd's neighborhood are twisted into gravity-defying ribbons. Edgar streets are patrolled by a giant bull. And Raz goes through several, nested scale changes in Waterloo world
There you go—a numbered list! What was once scary art and inspiration-dependent is now a simple, quantifiable scientific formula, no more threatening than the instructions on a box of instant oatmeal! Games are easy!

For Psychonauts 2 we created lists of ideas for each of those five elements. We wrote them on 3x5 cards, shuffled them up, dealt them out, re-dealt them out, and then dealt them out just three more times, until we hit on combos that got us excited. Some of the best ideas come from the strangest combos, so unsurprisingly, this method has led us to some surprising places. We write the best ones down, and generated a list of approximately three million brain ideas. Next we looked for the most logical (and sometimes, least logical) place to insert them into the story. Presto! Instant game! Easy!



The hi-tech solutions are always the best!



Okay, so maybe "easy" isn't the right word. But it is fun. And you'll be happy to know that 2 Player Productions is filming every meeting. I'm not sure what format or schedule their final documentary is going to have, but they're recording everything, and one way or the other you'll get to see the Gelbwurst get made. (Gelbwurst is a delicious sausage made of BRAINS. Popular with German zombies.)

While all that brainy stuff has been going on, we've also been prototyping the mechanics and visual direction of the game.

"But Tim," you say, "How are you doing that if so much of the team is working on Rhombus of Ruin and Headlander?" Well with the help of our friends at The Molasses Flood, of course!

The Molasses Flood is an indie game studio based in Boston formed by many ex-Bioshock veterans, and known for their excellent, crowdfunded rouguelike survival game The Flame in the Flood. We have never shipped a game in Unreal before, and they have, and so their wisdom and experience is flowing thickly all around us, like a wave of sweet, sticky... uh I don't know... Caro Syrup? Using some old animations and some new, they've got Raz up and running around in a metrics test room, performing prototype versions of Raz's basic move set, plus some simple psychic powers. This forms a great test bed upon which we can try all sorts of new movements and PSI powers for Raz and start building out or world.

Alongside that, they are also turning some of Peter Chan’s original concept art from the first game into new props and environments to explore what the "wonky" Psychonauts art style could look like on modern hardware, with all of Unreal 4's bells and whistles. This will help us set a bar for visual fidelity that is both true to the original, but also contemporary and awesome looking.



TMF rebuilt some elements from the original game so we could have a common point of reference when talking about Psychonauts 2's updated look. Here you can see Zak typing at the art.



Getting back into the Psycho-Saddle has been a blast, revisiting the old characters, digging up the old art, reconnecting with old team members--but also dreaming up new characters, creating new art, and working with new team members like Zak and skilled collaborators like The Molasses Flood.



Scott C. shares some some early character ideas with us, along with some good vibes



And we did jump right back into it--the day after the Psychonauts 2 Fig campaigned closed, I was in the sound studio with Khris Brown and Richard Horvitz recording voice for the Rhombus of Ruin. We were talking about Raz and his motivation and the nature of his relationship with Lili—It was like picking up a conversation with an old friend after ten years of not talking, and having it feel like it was all just yesterday!



Richard Horvitz (Raz), Tim Schafer (Television's Tim Schafer), and Khris Brown (Voice producer/director) celebrating a good day of recording with the Raz dance.





Nicki Rapp (Lili), Alexis Lezin (Milla), and Tim Schafer (Caption Writer) in the studio for Rhombus of Ruin.





Nicki in one of her sadder moments.





Stephen Stanton, voice of Sasha Nein, champion of good taste.

I hope you feel the same way as you watch this adventure come together—we couldn't do it without you!



Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin



One of the things that's helping us make Psychonauts 2 is that we're not going in cold. We get to warm up the world of the Psychonauts by making another game! Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin is a completely original, stand-alone adventure that takes place right after the end of Psychonauts, and ends right before the events of Psychonauts 2. It's funded by Sony and exclusive to PlayStation VR.

As you will recall, Psychonauts ended with Raz, Lili, Sasha, Milla, and the Coach jumping in the camp jet, flying off to rescue Truman Zanotto—the Grand Head of the Psychonauts (and Lili's father)! No longer just a camper, Raz is now going on his first real Psychonaut mission with his lifelong heroes and new girlfriend by his side. Did I say girlfriend? Is that premature? Ah who cares. Labels are for cans!

In PitRoR (an acronym we don't actually use but I'm going to pretend we do for the purposes of this update) Raz uses his PSI powers to manipulate the world around him and solve puzzles. His clairvoyance ability allows him to see from the point of view of other characters, and by jumping from POV to POV, the player can navigate the environment, hunt for Truman Zannotto, and free him from his mysterious kidnappers. All while Raz AND the player are wearing cool goggles.



The Rhombus of Ruin team, sharing cool goggles nicely.



We are going to be showing PitRoR for the first time ever next week at E3. If you're curious, you should be able to get a glimpse of it on the PlayStation Blog or one of a bunch of different E3 streams we’ll be popping in on!



Enough psycho-babble! Where are my rewards?
We have manufacturing quotes on all the physical rewards, and are starting to prototype and design everything with the hope of shipping a fair amount of it by the end of the year. We’ll make sure to share more pictures and designs of that stuff as soon as we can!

Once again, thank you for backing Psychonauts 2! And thanks for reading this first of many updates about the game. Next time, more pictures. Until then, See you at E3 and PAX West!

Love,

Tim and everyone at Double Fine Productions
 
Jun 12, 2015
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Mm, loving that gameplay, even if it is really early footage. Also, hearing them acknowledge that Psychonauts wasn't perfect in terms of game feel is a relief. Hopefully updates become a regular thing from here on out!
 

HellBlazer

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Oct 14, 2013
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Cool stuff, happy to start getting updates on this game. Animations already looking pretty good, as wwm0nkey said.

Has the situation with Fig and the investors been resolved yet though?
 

Fahzgoolin

Banned
Jun 12, 2014
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I burned out on Psychonauts at the annoying circus platforming section.

Is it worth revisiting or was I close to the end?
 

thenexus6

Member
Nov 6, 2013
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They already started recording and we have a video of the lead designer now. don't think we are to far away from the video series starting

Yeah I saw that one. Sucks because I didn't back the game (I wanted PS4 disc version not digital) which means I won't be able to watch it live. Unless 2PP release it on their site simultaneously for ££.
 

CecilRousso

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Jun 29, 2008
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They already started recording and we have a video of the lead designer now. don't think we are to far away from the video series starting

I remember them saying that while 2PP are filming the development process, the idea is not to make the same kind of long documentary episodes as with Broken Age.
 

Asif_2PP

Neo Member
Feb 10, 2014
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Everything I write is purely speaking for myself so please do not take this as an official statement from 2 Player or Double Fine!

We've mentioned this a couple of times before, but it's worth repeating that the Psychonauts 2 documentary will not be following the same "live" release schedule as Broken Age for a number of reasons that we think will better serve the studio / the quality of the doc / and all you viewers.

The level of coverage, however, will not be changing! In fact, we hope to dive even deeper if we can now that everyone here is used to us and gets the spirit of what we're trying to accomplish. Because this is a 3D platformer, there's going to be a lot of new material to cover that we never got into with a 2D point and click. So you'll still get to see the sausage being made, but it'll just come in different packaging.

(Reminder: not an official company statement, just me talking) Personally, I'd like to see more of these smaller, self-contained videos go out with the updates as the project is being developed. In the meantime, we'll continue editing the long episodes just like we did for Broken Age, only we'll wait until the game is closer to coming out so that we can release the episodes on a regular schedule culminating in people getting to play the game shortly after the finale airs. Ultimately, we want as many people to watch the series as possible, and Internet Video Law states that a reliable release schedule is the surest way to retain viewers.

We never really stopped shooting once Broken Age ended. Everything just sort of bled into the team starting on Rhombus of Ruin, folks around here preparing for the P2 Fig campaign, and now, as the update stated, we're in just about every design/brainstorm meeting that Tim and/or Zak have. So there's already a ton of content in the can. If you enjoyed Double Fine Adventure, I'm confident you'll find this new material just as interesting.

Thanks to those of you who watched the first series and are eager to see more. You are the people for whom we are doing this in the first place.
 

SMG

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Dec 13, 2015
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Good to hear, it was nice to see a game doc that was more than "We made an E3 demo", however you go forward I trust it will be worth watching.
 

Asif_2PP

Neo Member
Feb 10, 2014
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::quietly slipping the "Rhombus of Ruin E3 Demo" mini-episode back into my pocket and walking away while whistling::
 

Ultimadrago

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Jan 19, 2012
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I can understand you guys holding the live stuff going forward. While I do really enjoy the videos and would like them frequently, I would prefer a pace that both parties are more comfortable with during development. Thanks for the statement and I look forward to more news on the game and 2PP!

::quietly slipping the "Rhombus of Ruin E3 Demo" mini-episode back into my pocket and walking away while whistling::

Come back here with that mini-episode, sir! (Please~)