Tim Schafer on Indie Trailblazing, Costume Quest, and Double Fine's 'Creative Campus'

Last Friday evening at the IndieCade 2010 awards, eleven independent games received awards for excellence in a variety of categories. Along with the crop of stellar games honored, Double Fine Entertainment's founder, and beloved game developer, Tim Schafer, received the festival's very first "IndieCade Honorary Trailblazer award for Lifetime Achievement."

I caught up with Tim after the ceremony to congratulate him on the award, and he was kind enough to spend a few minutes chatting a bit about the October 20-due downloadable game, Costume Quest, what it's like to make games at Double Fine, and about transitioning from huge multi-year development projects to focus on a greater number of smaller games.


"It's awesome! I've never won an award like this," said Schafer. "It makes me feel old, but I think that's because I'm actually very old." "But you're young at heart, right?" I asked. "No," he quipped. "My heart's probably my oldest part. Especially considering my family and my 'hereditary.' My 'hereditary.' My 'hereditary?' Is that a thing? My heritage! It's barely working. Just say that."

Double Fine has been an independent game development studio since Tim founded the company in 2000, producing feature-length titles Psychonauts and Brutal Legend. Following the announcement that a Brutal Legend sequel was no longer on the table, Schafer reevaluated the company's options, and restructured things to allow for the simultaneous development of multiple, smaller titles. I asked him about what ultimately led Double Fine in that direction.

We took our team of 60 people, who made one big game over four and a half years -- Brutal Legend -- and we split that team into four teams. They're all making a game. The games are roughly a year in production.

Monkey Island, the first game I ever worked on, was only -- less than a year -- it was only nine months in production. I figured, 'That was hours and hours of entertainment. Why does it take five years to make, y'know, EIGHT hours of entertainment, when you can make 40 hours of entertainment in nine months?'

The complete interview, in which Schafer explains how the new Double Fine is similar to the LucasArts of old and shares what he'll miss most about making mega-budget titles, is available on Indie Games Channel.