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The Gamasutra 20: 2008's Breakthrough Developers

August 13, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 8 of 21 Next

Gamasutra 20 'Breakthrough' Honoree:

Double Fine

Studio overview

Double Fine is located in San Francisco and is best-known for creating cult favorite Psychonauts, which was released in 2005; the company was awarded the award for Best New Studio at the 2006 Game Developers Choice Awards.

Key staff

Tim Schafer, who is arguably one of the few auteur designers in the videogame industry, got his start at LucasArts, where he made a name for himself working on classic titles such as The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango. Schafer left LucasArts and founded Double Fine in 2000.

Resume highlights

Double Fine's first release, platformer Psychonauts, was hailed for its original premise (summer camp for psychically blessed children), strong artistic vision, and hilarious dialogue.

The game earned a number of end-of-year awards from gaming publications in 2005, although unfortunately many of them were of the "best game you didn't play" variety.

Happily, however, Psychonauts has enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence; last year the game made its debut on GameTap, and it was one of the launch titles for Xbox Originals when the service premiered at the end of 2007, bringing it to a wider audience.

What's next

Though its publishing status is currently in question as of this writing, Brütal Legend is expected this fall; the game is an action-adventure journey tracing the adventures of metal band roadie Eddie Riggs as he makes his way through a fantasy world that fuses metal rock with Nordic legend.

With Jack Black voicing the protagonist, odds seem good that Brütal Legend will enjoy commercial success - though its publisher is currently unclear, with Activision apparently opting not to publish the title after acquiring Vivendi Games.

Our take

"Tim Schafer has been making some of the most remarkably imaginative video games around for nearly two decades, while avoiding working on licenses or getting bogged down by sequels.

One of the top few writers in the industry, Schafer has a knack for blending a deft sense of humor (itself a rare trait in games these days) with genuine emotional weight.

Psychonauts didn't net Double Fine huge commercial success, but the game got enough admiring attention from the industry and the press to secure another publishing deal -- and the upcoming heavy metal adventure Brütal Legend -- looks to be more saleable than its predecessor."
- Chris Remo

Article Start Previous Page 8 of 21 Next

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