Tag Archives: schafer

Kickstarter for Last Life has Double Fine’s seal of approval

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What’s more interesting than solving the mystery of your own murder? Doing so on Mars.

Last Life, a narrative-focused #adventure #game, has launched its Kickstarter campaign. Its creator, Sam Farmer, hopes to raise $75,000 in order to make the first episode of his three-part brainchild a reality. Luckily for Farmer, he has some high-profile support; the Kickstarter campaign’s webpage has a video of Double Fine chief Tim #Schafer announcing that his company will help promote and distribute the game.

Double Fine will also be advising Farmer during development. Its flagship adventure game, Broken Age, raised over $3.3 million, 834 percent of its initial funding goal, on Kickstarter in 2012.  Broken Age, like Last Life, was split into three parts. “Act 1″ released on Jan. 28 with mostly positive critical reception.

The developer ran another successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013, this time for its upcoming tactical strategy game, Massive Chalice. Last Life is the first game from outside the studio that the company will distribute under the label “Double Fine Presents.”

Farmer was the lead game designer for BBC Worldwide before he founded indie team Rocket Science Amusements. Before that, two of his independent games, Paper Cakes and Spectre, earned awards at the Independent Games Festival (IGF).

“This is a developer and a game that we really love, and we think you will, too,” said Schafer.

If it reaches its funding goal, Last Life will be coming to PC, Mac, and Linux.

Reblogged from: venturebeat.com

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Double Fine’s Broken Age Game Fulfills Dreams of Freedom

Broken Age game for Windows PC, Mac and Linux
Broken Age Vella, a character in this game for Windows PC, Mac and Linux, flees a possible sacrifice to a monster. Double Fine

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Broken Age, an enchanting, imaginative fable from +DoubleFine Productions, is that its makers have created a video game that is at least as interesting as the story of how it was made.

Its release — the first act of the game went on sale this week, with the rest promised as a free update later in the year — cements Double Fine’s pioneering status as a studio that has made the transition from Triple-A publisher (industry lingo for the producers of big-budget blockbuster games) to indie developer, instead of the other way around.

When Tim Schafer, the founder of Double Fine, went to Kickstarter a couple of years ago to ask video game players to give his company $400,000 to make an adventure in the tradition of the games he made at LucasArts in the 1990s, he was considering laying off some of his employees if he couldn’t raise the money, according to the web documentary about the making of the game that was released to backers of the project. In the preceding couple of years, the sequel to Brütal Legend, a paean to heavy metal that starred Jack Black and was well-received by critics but underperformed in the marketplace, had been canceled. After that blow, Double Fine pivoted to smaller projects but was apparently struggling to stay afloat.

“It had been a long time since we had an experience where it felt like we were the winners,” Mr. Schafer says in the documentary of the moment in February 2012 when the company turned to Kickstarter.

A mere 24 hours later, instead of fighting for his studio’s life, Mr. Schafer found himself love-bombed by fans, who handed over more than $1 million in a single day. By the end of the fund-raising drive, Mr. Schafer and Double Fine had collected more than $3.3 million.

Two years later, the Broken Age is finally here — or at least the first half of it is. Although the project was financed by 87,000 people over the Internet, Broken Age doesn’t feel lo-fi. The art is lush and gorgeous, with the feel of an interactive children’s storybook. The voice cast includes Elijah Wood and, once again, Mr. Black. The writing is funny, tender and first rate.

Broken Age tells parallel coming-of-age stories, one about a boy named Shay who lives on a spaceship and the other about a girl named Vella from a small village. Each is trapped by circumstance and tradition, cloistered by a culture that thinks it knows their wants and needs better than they know themselves. The player can switch freely between the two stories, which otherwise unfold in a relatively linear fashion. Most of the puzzles, which involve trial-and-error clicking on objects, are simple and easily explained, although a few reduced me to guesswork.

Shay is doted on by an oppressively mothering computer, HAL 9000 crossed with June Cleaver, that calls him “Commander Sweetie” and force-feeds him nutrition paste and breakfast cereals with names like Soylent Dreams.

As Shay awakens to the reality of his insufferably cute prison, he fears that there is no escape. “Just once, I’d like to see a huge, flaming asteroid, hurtling in our direction,” he says at one point.

Vella’s life crisis is less existential. Her family has asked her to prepare for her “special day,” the Maidens Feast, which turns out to be an opportunity to be sacrificed to the sea monster Mog Chothra, a sort of floating brain covered with eyeballs and tentacles. Vella proposes that she and her fellow villagers fight the monster rather than offer up girls to be eaten by it — a suggestion that her relatives dismiss as a childish fantasy.

Naturally, she escapes, goes on a series of adventures, and her path crosses Shay’s in a cliffhanging climax that will leave players eager for the release of Broken Age’s second act.

The story of Broken Age mirrors the development process of the game, whose fans handed over money partly because they wanted to play but also surely because they wanted to participate in an experiment to change the way that video games are financed. It’s hard to believe that Mr. Schafer’s decision to create a video game about rejecting the well-trod path of one’s forebears isn’t intended as a metaphor for the reinvention of his studio and its liberation from the creative input of large video game publishers.

Reblogged from: nytimes.com

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Broken Age – a crowdfunded game that Kickstarted the industry is released

Back in March 2012, a project known as “Double Fine Adventure” was successfully Kickstarted for over $3 million — and it changed the fate of the studio that would make it, and the Kickstarter platform itself.

That #game is now released to its backers. Today, Broken Age Act 1 is delivered to players on #PC, Mac, and #Linux. Everyone else will be able to buy it on those platforms on January 28.

A host of stars have lent their vocal talents to Broken Age, including Elijah Wood, Jack Black, Wil Weaton, and Jennifer Hale

In a note distributed to the press, Double Fine head Tim Schafer reminisces: “This game started two years ago when a modest Kickstarter project to make a documentary about a game company added a small game to the deal. The response to that campaign surprised us all and we knew things were not going to be the same for a lot of people, especially us and our fans.”

“I think the ‘Double Fine Adventure’ is the most transparent game development process in games history. This has made it exciting, and at times terrifying, but in the end any fears or doubts we’ve had have been swept away in an immense wave of goodwill and love from our backers.”

While handling production and PR for a crowdfunded game has been a learning experience for the team, Schafer writes that the team never lost sight of its goals: “I hope, after playing this game, it’s clear to everyone that we took not just the money we got, but also all the love, and poured it right back into the game.”

Reblogged from: gamasutra.com

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The raw truth about Linux game ports

Tim Schafer explains what porting Psychonauts to

Linux was like

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What is the big problem with Linux? That’s a question I put forth several years ago to a range of Windows users. Why don’t they use Linux? What’s wrong with it? What does Linux need to do differently to entice them?

For some, the answer was “nothing” – they’d never consider Linux ever because Windows suited them perfectly. Ironically, this was in the pre-Windows 7 days and these same people were pining for its advent to free them from Windows Vista.

Nevertheless, some very interesting results came out and it was abundantly clear “gaming” was a major roadblock.

Linux has justly received a solid reputation as a serious server operating system platform but has never made the same inroads into the desktop market. The oft-prophesied “year of the Linux desktop” has not materialised. I could tell you “next year will be the year of the Linux desktop” and you could return and read this article any day of any year and it would still make sense.

It’s not for the lack of a PhotoShop or a Microsoft Word, but instead, I proposed, the lack of big gaming titles.

What I would like to see, I said, is a greater push for Linux ports of modern, desirable games.

In the years since I made this almost-paradoxical request for Linux retail software – a platform best known for being free open source – a wonderful development has occurred.

The Humble Indie Bundle project began, bringing a collection of DRM-free computer games all available equally on Windows, MacOS and Linux. The Humble Bundle stands out for several important reasons.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8dpmHqqOIg?rel=0&w=480&h=360]

As stated, each game is available for Linux just as it is available for Windows and MacOS. This is vitally important. Other game bundles have emerged but without this same core tenet.

Secondly, each game is from an independent publisher. The likes of Electronic Arts or Blizzard are not included, but iconic independent titles like World of Goo and Osmos and Machinarium have found their way to the Humble Bundles.

Thirdly, and remarkably, the price of the collection is set by the buyer. The Humble Bundle invites its purchasers to name their own price. While people can legitimately and legally purchase each collection for a single cent it is also possible to pay a higher amount, maybe $15, maybe $50, maybe $100 or more.

The Humble Bundle teaches many very interesting lessons.

For one, the model has worked with sales reaching millions of dollars. For another, some people will clearly pirate software no matter what because if a name-your-own-price DRM-free collection can’t eradicate the bulk of claims used to legitimise piracy possibly nothing does. For another lesson, the bundle shows the average price paid by users of each platform and it is consistently the Linux users who are more generous than their Windows and Mac counterparts.

However, these are lessons to be analysed another time. What I want to focus in on here is that the brains behind the Humble Bundle work with developers to bring their games to Linux where an existing port does not already exist.

In the most current Humble Indie Bundle, number five, the popular game Psychonauts has been included, developed by software house Double Fine who have also recently received fame for their well-funded KickStarter project.

Yesterday the Humble Bundle crew participated in an “ask me anything” (AMA) thread on social web and news aggregator site Reddit. In this topic Tim Schafer, co-founder of Double Fine, was asked by a smart Redditor named “phort99” asked the insightful question, “How did the Humble Indie Bundles influence your decisions to port your games to Linux? What was the porting process like?”

Schafer replied “Linux was like a party that sounded fun we were afraid to go to because we didn’t think we’d know anybody there, and the HiB guys were like your socially fearless friend who says, “Don’t worry, we’ll go together.” And when he gets to your house he says, “Is that what you’re wearing?” and you say “uh…” and he says, “Don’t worry. I know a guy.” And he lends you a cool leather jacket and you go to the party and when you walk in there’s a needle scratch and everybody turns to look at you and your friend gives a cool nod and then everybody goes back to the party. So kind of like a John Hughes film. Hope that helps explain things. That’s about as technical as I can go.”

While humourously phrased, Schafer’s comments essentially say Double Fine had thought of bringing their games to Linux in the past but lacked the knowledge of the platform to build for it. The Humble Indie Bundle crew lead them through the process (and presumably assisted with the funding to do so.)

Schafer additionally notes, “Oh and also, if you want to be cool at the party, stay away from wine.” This is a clever pun on the WINE layer that provides a degree of API-compatibility with Windows, permitting certain Windows apps to run under Linux with a degree of success. Of course, a native port is always far more preferable (not to mention robust) than an emulated version.

Writing for Windows is not the same as writing for Linux; while assets like music and graphics are portable, the game engines, methods of packaging and deployment and other matters are critically different.

It is no small wonder then that small enterprises don’t include Linux in their plans, but yet with the Humble Bundle experiences behind them – both in terms of the technology and the sales figures – I’d be hopeful Double Fine will see more of Linux in their future. Similarly, I’d be hoping that the big games houses –who either have the talent already or can afford it – will be intently watching the Humble Bundle project and decide that there is indeed money to be made from Linux.

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