Double Fine's Tim Schafer

On Psychonauts, motion control and more.

Tomorrow, Double Fine Productions CEO Tim Schafer will deliver a keynote presentation to the Develop Conference in Brighton. He's set to discuss the studio's ten year anniversary, presumably with reference to hit titles Psychonauts and Brutal Legends.

But before all that kicks off, Eurogamer sat down with Schafer for a more general chat. Read on to find out about his favourite films, his favourite games, his attitude to Bobby Kotick and his view on holodecks.

Eurogamer: Hello, Tim. It says you're going to be revealing the secrets to your success tomorrow.

Tim Schafer: [Laughs] That was nice of them! The title of it was like, 'Successful, creative, and then GSOH'. And I was like, what does GSOH mean?

Eurogamer: What does it mean?

Tim Schafer: It means good sense of humour.

Eurogamer: Oh right.

Tim Schafer: Is that an expression?

Eurogamer: Is it an internet speak thing, like LOL?

Tim Schafer: No, because if it was it would be misspelled and there would be a number in there. There would be a 4 or a $ sign.

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Schafer resplendent. That's just how he rolls.

Eurogamer: So you know how to make funny games that are successful, and everybody is going to turn up to your talk so they can copy you.

Tim Schafer: I don't know if I would advise anybody to copy me. Sometimes the things I do, or we do as a company, come from an actual compulsion. It's more like we have to make those kinds of games. Is it a plan? Or is it we've sat down and thought the best thing to do would be make funny games? No, it's more that's what we feel compelled to make.

Eurogamer: Why?

Tim Schafer: It's almost an inexplicable force from within. I do think there is definitely a place for comedy in games that's wide open and needs to be filled. Games take themselves so seriously. There are a lot of people who like comedy and humour and would like games more if they had more of that in them.

Eurogamer: Why is comedy in games untapped?

Tim Schafer: The industry is imitative. A lot of people are chasing the last thing that was a big hit. What we need is a big hit comedy game. As soon as we have one, everybody will follow, of course.

It's just like with movies. Easy Rider was one of the first indie movies that ever made a massive profit, because it cost almost zero to make and then it was a huge hit. People were like, 'Oh, that's an interesting business model. Spend no money and make a lot of money'. Eventually Miramax or whoever turned that into a real art form or a business. Now we have a really active independent movie scene.

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Easy Rider. Dennis Hopper RIP.

If you're making smaller works that aren't so expensive you can do more of them, and you don't need every single one of them to be a blockbuster. You just need to be a tidy little business, and then every once in a while one of them will break out as a hit.

I was watching a documentary about the making of Casablanca. It's one of my favourite movies. And they were asking the guys who made it, 'What did it feel like to the most beloved movie of all time?' And they were like, 'We had no idea. We made 50 movies that year, and that was just one of them', which is an interesting take on that.

Eurogamer: What's your favourite movie of all time?

Tim Schafer: Casablanca! For years I was like, Casablanca is number one, Road Warrior is number two. That's why Grim Fandango and Full Throttle, and even Brutal Legend, you can see a lot of those two movies somewhere.

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