Why won't there be a third Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness game?
Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik (Gabe) said last March it was because developer partner Hothead was preoccupied with DeathSpank. But the latter has now been released, as has sequel DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue.
Last month, Hothead dragged the conversation back out of bed by teasing that if Penny Arcade Adventures Episodes 1 and 2 sold more than 100,000 copies on the Mac App Store a third game would be made. "Seriously. Do that and we'll make it," the tweet, now removed but archived on Joystiq, read.
A back-and-forth between developer Hothead and Penny Arcade ensued, with Mike Krahulik (Gabe of PA) arguing that the information was "actually not true", forcing Hothead to eventually rescind the comment in question.
Now, in an exclusive interview with Eurogamer, Hothead director of technology Joel DeYoung prises the wound back open and explains what really happened.
"Well there's a lot to say about that," he began.
"When we had the chance to work on Penny Arcade it was really great. They had not agreed to make a game with anyone else in the past, despite being asked, because they didn't want to lose creative control. We felt one of the secrets to an authentic experience was to have the creators involved, so we agreed to that.
"So we said Tycho [Jerry Holkins], he's going to write everything - every word in the game. And then Mike was going to basically art direct it. He didn't create any art assets, because he's a 2D artist, but he concepted everything, every character.
"Tycho publicly acknowledged that he had no idea what the volume of work that would be required was. And we were working on those games in rapid succession. I think he really struggled to get the volume of text written for Episode 1, and then with Episode 2 coming out so quickly thereafter - it was five-and-a-half months. That was not worked on in parallel, and getting him to deliver that text was, er, frankly quite a struggle."
"That was a wake-up call," he added. "I remember him saying publicly that he doesn't understand how any game ever gets finished. And it was cool because those guys are all about loving videogames, and they were kind of living the fantasy - they got to basically be game players that got to make their own game."
And it wasn't always plain sailing.
"The thing I noticed, and this applies to Gabe and Tycho and Ron [Gilbert, creator of DeathSpank], is there does seem to be a lot of emotion and a lot of passion associated with being creative. There were times working with Gabe and Tycho," DeYoung revealed, "when they were extremely picky about how their stuff was going to be portrayed, and discussions around that could sometimes get heated."
DeYoung admitted the Hothead tweet about a potential third Penny Arcade instalment was "misplaced, to be frank", and brought about by excitement over the game's renewed vigour on the Mac App Store.
"I've had to say sometimes you need to bring a couple of more million people to buy Episode 2 and we'll have the resources to make economic sense to make Episode 3," he added, trying to make that outcome sound unlikely. "It's a fad reality, right?"
"The tweet may have come across as: we've set some number if it sells on the Mac App Store 100,000 units we're going to make Episode Three. That actually is not the case."
Ultimately, the future of the Penny Arcade Adventures series DeYoung said "was something that we had to look at together, based on: the sales of Episode 1 and Episode 2, the work that was required and where we were with DeathSpank - all those things fed into a mutual decision to not proceed with Episode 3".
Is there any hope whatsoever that the series can be resurrected and a third game made?
"I have to leave the details of the deal to the business people; I'm not really striking a chord on that as to what the specifics are," stated DeYoung.
"That was a great title for us to work on as a company and we enjoyed doing it, but we've kind of moved on.
"It's something we created, something we're proud of, but we got working on DeathSpank, on Swarm, we've got new stuff in the works and I think it's something that's sailed."
He added: "Those were fun games to work on and those were great guys to work with, and being our first game holds a special place in our heart."
Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness was (a massive name and) a turn-based role-playing series originally for PC and Xbox Live Arcade styled to resemble the Penny Arcade webcomic. Eurogamer scored Episode 1, 6/10, and Episode 2, 7/10.