Eurogamer: Is the space warrior costume a space marine?
Tim Schafer: It's a funny sad space marine. He is kind of a funny space sad marine, actually. No! He's not a marine, he doesn't have a gun.
Eurogamer: So he's just a space warrior?
Tasha Harris: A generic space warrior. That one is also based on a costume I made as a kid. I really wanted to be Darth Vader this one year but my mom wouldn't buy me the official Darth Vader outfit, so I had to make my own outfit out of stuff I found around the house. It just came out looking like this hodgepodge crappy space warrior.
Eurogamer: That's what you should call it: hodgepodge crappy space warrior.
Tim Schafer: That's the sequel to Funny Sad Space Marine.
Eurogamer: It teams up with Battlecob.
Tim Schafer: Battlecob? You changed it. That's even better. Battlecob!
Eurogamer: I've confused corn on the cob with that battle unicorn thing. It's been a funny day. Okay, the environments. You've said there are three main areas.
Tim Schafer: An every town suburban neighbourhood, like we grew up in...
Tasha Harris: And there's a shopping mall. I think that level is awesome. In a way it's an homage to the mall level in EarthBound.
Tim Schafer: You didn't tell me there's a mall in EarthBound.
Tasha Harris: There is.
Tim Schafer: Oh, we've got to cut that then. That's totally derivative.
Tasha Harris: They don't trick or treat in the mall.
Tim Schafer: I like that level because it was fun to think of names for stores. That is always my favourite thing on The Simpsons, when they come up with, like, A-1 Baby Crutches or something, as a name for a store.
Eurogamer: The Simpsons used to be funny. It's not any more.
Tim Schafer: It comes and goes. For some reason, when I was writing the store names for the mall – that was one thing I contributed – I don't know why I thought it was so funny, but there's a store called Husky Toddler. I laughed and laughed. I really amused myself with that. I'm not saying it's a great joke, but it made me tear up. Husky Toddler... It's so mean.
Eurogamer: You wrote the dialogue for Costume Quest. The humour isn't self referential, though.
Tim Schafer: It's not like Monkey Island. It doesn't break the fourth wall. It stays within a fantasy world.
Eurogamer: But it has that trademark Double Fine style, which people associate with you. How would you describe the humour you put into your videogame dialogue?
Tim Schafer: Mostly we work hard on defining our characters and their back-stories and think about where they came from, what they care about. And then, in the moment of writing, you're like an improvisational actor. You're acting out the lines as if you were those characters.
I try to make them real. To me, humour is all about surprise. I try to put in not the line you were expecting, but some surprising line in instead. By keeping the characters real there's a lot of empathy. We try to write them like they're real people we care about. That makes a certain tone in the game.
Eurogamer: It's quite intelligent, isn't it? It's not slapstick Tom and Jerry stuff.
Tim Schafer: Well there's nothing wrong with slapstick Tom and Jerry stuff.
Tasha Harris: Sometimes that comes across in the animation, though. Not really in the writing.
Tim Schafer: There's a lot of physical comedy that's pretty funny in the game, like when that monster – it's so unnecessary – he falls off that dumpster and topples into the trash can. I always crack up on that. That's not exactly high brow. I'm not snob when it comes to comedy. But I do try and use Einstein's theories a lot when I'm writing, because he's very smart.
Eurogamer: I did notice that. I thought it was too obvious to mention, though.
Tim Schafer: It's a response to Stephen Hawking theology. It's a subtext. He's represented by the cat's butt.
Eurogamer: I didn't see the cat's butt. Where is it?
Tasha Harris: Oh, you're going to have play it again.
Tim Schafer: In here [points at own heart]. The cat butt is in here, in your heart.
Eurogamer: Sorry for causing you a difficult week, by the way.
Tim Schafer: Not at all. Actually I really enjoyed it. It was fun.
Eurogamer: What do you think of Bobby Kotick?
Tim Schafer: He's a really nice guy.
Costume Quest will release on 19th November on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Store.