Eurogamer: What is it about Casablanca that appeals to you so much?
Tim Schafer: Casablanca is just a really well crafted, tight, economical, stylish, melodramatic story with great characters and a great setting. It's also very authentic and sincere. Yeah, I stole a lot of that for Grim Fandango. Or referenced! Homage!
Eurogamer: What's your favourite game of all time?
Tim Schafer: Different games at different times have hit me over the head. The first time I played Super Mario 64, it had this huge impact on me. It broadened my mind out to 3D. It was that feeling of how exciting it is to just explore space. That's probably what led me to getting into console games and making Psychonauts.
When I was younger I probably would have said Zork, the text adventure. The last five years I've liked crazy things like Katamari Damacy. I always like games where you're seeing the crazy imagination of one or a group of people.
Like in Psychonauts, it was that same feeling. You're surrounded by the creativity and imagination of one person, or a group of people who have worked together like a band. That is always inspiring to me. So when I'm playing a game like that I get inspired.
Eurogamer: So do you have a favourite game of all time?
Tim Schafer: Of forever? Of all time? That Mario game was definitely very influential at the time. I don't know. Brutal Legend? Wait...
Eurogamer: You've been in the business for a while now. You have to say you're excited about all the new stuff you make, but, really, does anything excite you?
Tim Schafer: Obviously I hope anyone who's played them can tell they're labours of love. They're not just something we toss off or do for a quick buck. They're obviously something we put our whole selves into.
It does get tiring, just because you spend a long time with that one idea. It's like a marathon race. It's not a quick sprint. A big thing you have to worry about is how to keep yours and the team's motivation as you're going through projects.
Eurogamer: What, in 2010, gets you motivated and excited?
Tim Schafer: The new games we're working on... I can't really say until the announcement, but there are things about them that are new and different.
I'm not the kind of person who gets excited about new technology, like a new controller. I am curious to see how Kinect does, and if it has the same broadening effect the Wii does.
Mostly it's just when you're sitting at lunch with your friends, and you're talking about some movie, and you get that flash of like, oh, that could be a great game! The more you talk about it the more ideas you have, and then you know something's catching fire. That's just as fun now as the day I started.
Eurogamer: I get the impression your new games won't be big-budget monstrosities like Brutal Legend was...
Tim Schafer: We won't be announcing a big monstrosity, no.
Eurogamer: Are we talking about an Xbox Live and PlayStation Network game?
Tim Schafer: I'm very interested in those kinds of things. Those could be a way of getting creative ideas out there without risking $30 million on them. When you risk $30 million on something, publishers want to mitigate their risk.
If anything is in your game that might alienate a single customer, they have to take it out. That's something that's really hard to work with.
Eurogamer: So you are making an Xbox Live and PlayStation Network game?
Tim Schafer: I have not said anything of that kind. What are you talking about? You have to go to my talk!