Eurogamer recently discovered one of its very own personal heroes padding around EA's Guildford offices wearing a hoodie and looking eminently lovable. In-between gazing longingly at him while he ate free sandwiches and attempting to force him into playing Time Gentlemen, Please! by stutteringly telling him that "it's definitely not rubbish", we interviewed him about Brutal Legend, Psychonauts and all his new celebrity rock royalty friends. At no stage did we climb into his lap and tell him that the Milkman level in Psychonauts was fabulous, and that we should definitely be best friends forever. That's for next time.
Eurogamer: So you're a very funny man, and so is Jack Black. So when you were doing the recording how much licence was he given to change lines and improvise?
Tim Schafer: I was like: "Just shut up! Mr... big! Mr movie star! You do realise I worked on..." Nah, we'd start with the script, then he'd like to read it out - but then he'd like to do loads of different reads on that line. Then he'd start changing it and improvise, using the same essence. Sometimes we'd say to move on and that we'd got it, but he'd keep on and say "How about like this?" thinking we weren't recording any more - and do a really funny version of it. Sometimes we'd use that version of it - it's a mix.
Eurogamer: From the first time you see Brutal Legend in motion the comic timing and Eddie's reactions seem to be perfect. There's a lot of comic acting done in just the way his eyes move... Is that Jack Black shining through too?
Tim Schafer: Yeah, we put a lot in from when we were recording the voice-overs, but we also watched a lot of his movies. There's a point in School of Rock where he looks through a window into the classroom and he raises one eyebrow after the other in this crazy wave motion. When you're working with an actor like Jack you've just got to get some really nice eyebrow-work in there...
Eurogamer: So when he turns up at the MTV Video Awards dressed as Eddie and waving an axe - is that something he's asked to do, or is that his own doing?
Tim Schafer: I think from him, that was his idea. He's been really good support and he's a natural for it - it's a natural thing for him to do. Dress himself up. I'm worried about all the steroids he's been taking though.
Eurogamer: So what's gone into Brutal Legend that you learnt during the process of creating Psychonauts?
Tim Schafer: Well, we developed it in a more agile way; we started with the gameplay. With Psychonauts we worked on creating all these assets - the world, the characters, the animation. Then we put it all together at the last minute, hoping it would work - making a few changes so that it fit. With Legend we started with the core gameplay: Eddie, the axe, the car, him running around. Then we added the headbangers, and then some ideas for the world that he would go into. I think that's better, from the very beginning we had a fun gameplay experience there.
Eurogamer: Going further back in your career, does the mini-resurgence of adventure games make you want to revisit your roots at all?
Tim Schafer: I didn't get out of adventure games because anyone told me to, I could have kept working on them. I just got excited about directly controlling a character... I got more excited about playing those games. Whether popular or not, I'm more far likely to make whatever game I'm interested in.
Eurogamer: You don't miss making games like that anymore then?
Tim Schafer: You know what I miss more than adventure games? Platform games. I was really sad that by the time Psychonauts came out it was illegal to make a platform game. I like a happy, brightly coloured platform game - now everything has to be dark and gritty, and have a lot of shooting in it. People bemoan the loss of adventure games, but no-one wants to be sad about platform games. I think that's a big loss... younger kids want to act like older kids, wanting to have guns, shoot things and be violent. A lot of them would like a fun, happy platform game.
Eurogamer: Psychonauts was pretty dark in places though.
Tim Schafer: But not dark like "I've been tortured for five years and everything's melodramatic!" Psychonauts was dark in the way that life is, it was about that mixture of happy and sad that everybody's life is.