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Double Fine founder Tim Schafer has some advice for indie devs

Double Fine founder Tim Schafer has some advice for indie devs

April 14, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon

"Whenever I meet another indie dev, especially someone who is shipping their first game, I don't know how to say it but I want to prepare them for the fact that shipping games sucks."

- Tim Schafer shares one of the lessons he's learned in his 20+ years of game development. 

Double Fine founder Tim Schafer sat down with Glixel recently to talk about everything from the time Psychonauts almost didn’t happen to the lessons he’s learned at the helm of a major indie studio. 

One such lesson is something he says he tries to share with other indie developers at every opportunity: "the act of shipping [games] is really grueling."

“You'll make more money on your first big Steam sale than you will on your launch day. Just to try to prepare for not getting all your hopes up for this amazing launch that's going to change your life," advises Schafer. "See it as just one more step in this long career where you're making good stuff, putting it out there, and making money over time with it, enabling you to do the thing that you love.”

Schafer goes on to talk about how they have seen more money from Psychonauts in the past five years than they did during the years immediately following the game’s release.

Double Fine is currently in the process of creating the sequel to Psychonauts after having the game crowdfunded for $3.8 million last January. Crowdfunding or even financing your own games comes with its own set of challenges, and one of those is learning to operate under self-imposed deadlines. 

“You have your own producers, internally. It is challenging, because when a publisher says, 'We will not give you the money that you need for salaries unless you deliver all these features by this date,' that really gets your attention and motivates you,” says Schafer. 

“But you just have to create that feeling internally. Everybody wants the game to be on time. Nobody wants the game to be late. But they don't realize, sometimes, when they're making a design decision that they're affecting the schedule in a really profound way.”

The rest of the interview over at Glixel is packed with both educational and entertaining stories from Schafer, including a look at the philosophy that powers Double Fine and a closer look at how Rubik’s Cubes are actually similar to adventure games. 

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