☆ EGX Rezzed 2018 "Tim Schafer & The Lucas Games Ranch Nerds" ☆ @DoubleFine

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This years EGX Rezzed was another rip roaring affair with so much indie gaming goodness to take in and such a great atmosphere.

Tobacco Dock is a brilliant venue for this highlight in my gaming calendar and I always look forward to visiting its dungeon like underbelly for the awesome leftfield collection and the brick cavern like gaming areas on the first floor to experience more mainstream indie delights.

For me this year there was a highlight of the show that really stood out for me.

It was an awesome talk from Tim Schafer about his video games writing / developing career which was a brilliant way to spend 45 minutes listening to an industry legend’s experiences at Lucas Arts and Double Fine.

Tim Schafer & The Ranch Nerds

Tim had a sit down chat with Oli Welsh from Eurogamer and it was a great chat that led us from Tim’s start in video games right up until the present day.

Tim started with his first console at home which was the mighty Magnavox Odyssey and went on to recall how he went on to study computer science and then creative writing to create the perfect storm of a writer who could also program video games. It meant that when the opportunity to join Lucasfilm Games as programmer / writer he was the perfect fit for the job!

Tim spent his time on the Lucas ranch with all the fellow video game nerds eating pizza, making games and having the most amazing time on this beautiful ranch doing what he loved most.

The job enabled him to use writing or programming to solve issues when designing games like Monkey Island. As we all know, Monkey Island was a runaway success and it led to working on Day Of The Tentacle as the follow up to Ron Gilbert’s legendary Maniac Mansion. Ron left Tim with a heap of ideas for Day Of The Tentacle before he left LucasFilm Games to set up Humongous Entertainment. It was down to Tim to make sure that Day Of The Tentacle was a great game and it was and still is.

Next up was the awesome Full Throttle which was inspired by Biker and Samurai movies. It came about from a conversation about how bikers live on the edge of society like Pirates and from this idea Full Throttle was born.

When you start to think about the amazing games that Tim has had a hand in, it reads like this list of games you need to play before you die. Next up was Grim Fandango which was inspired by the Mexican folklore around the 'day of the dead' festival and Humphrey Bogart movies.

Tim did admit though that tank controls in Grim Fandango were a mistake but in his defence he highlighted that they were popular at the time. There’s actually an achievement in the remastered version for playing the whole of Grim Fandango with T^nk contrls.

After ten years at Lucas Games Tim left to create his own studio and he founded Double Fine. He felt that it was fresh start and an opportunity to create his own team and a company with its own culture. No longer owned by George Lucas Tim was able to create what he wanted to and came up with the amazing Psychonauts which is now going to get a sequel. Tim pointed out that there was further opportunity to explore the characters stories and expand on story seeds that were sown in the first game.

After Psychonauts came the game that Tim had always wanted to make that came in the form of Brutal Legend.

Tim then spoke about the amazing Kickstarter campaign for Broken Age that achieved $3.3 million versus the 400k that they were looking for. It was early days of the crowd funding days and funders didn’t always realise what they were actually getting involved in as Tim recounted stories where backers thought that they would have a full say in what game was being made. Tim feels that now the model has matured more so have backers who now realise what they will be getting for their investment. Tim sees crowd funding a great business model for Double Fine.

Double fine have now moved into publisher and develeoper status and Tim said that this works well as they can now see the process of making a game from the Dev and Publisher point of view which is pretty powerful.

Oli asked Tim if he had ever thought of quitting game development and Tim pointed out that for one he doesn’t have enough imagination to work out what he would do if he did quit. Tim also pointed out that he was lucky enough to earn a living through being creative and that he wants to keep on fighting for the right to continue making games and being creative as he felt he was in a privileged position as a games maker.

Tim went on to impart two key pieces of wisdom to the audience:

1.       The hardest lesson that he learnt from game development was to try and concentrate on making one key mechanic amazing rather than being a jack of all trades and maybe not quite hitting the mark.

2.       New developers should take all the influences from other devs but be yourself and make a video game that is personal to yourself while you still can as when you are in a games career maybe that opportunity wont come around again.

Oli wrapped up the interview with questions from the audience and unfortunately I was a bit of a chicken and didn’t ask my question to Tim about a potential follow up to Full Throttle (I really want a game that scratches my need for a Sons Of Anarchy video game)

It was an awesome time spent listening to one of my heroes in video games and I could have listened to Tim all day long.

Unfortunately I didn’t bring my big box version of Day Of The Tentacle for Tim to sign afterwards so maybe next time I’ll get that opportunity again, but we’ll always have EGX Rezzed 2018.


Rich @ EGX 2018

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