“Really Didn’t Feel Like It Would Be Good” While Making Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2: For the Xbox 360, Double Fine and Xbox Game Studios created the platformer Psychonauts 2. The game was revealed at the 2015 ceremony for The Game Awards, and it was released on August 25, 2021, for PC, PS4, and X/S consoles and on May 24, 2022, for Linux and macOS.

Players take control of Raz, a young acrobat who, like in the original game, is in training to join an international task force that uses its members’ psychic abilities to stop those who commit evil acts using their psychic details.

In the sequel, Psychonauts 2, which is a direct continuation of the interstitial virtual reality game Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, the Psychonauts investigate the circumstances surrounding the capture of their leader, Raz, and discover a shocking secret about the origins of the Psychonauts and Raz’s family history.

Raz enters the mental worlds of various characters to learn more about the mystery. Raz’s new and rediscovered psychic abilities serve him well in these altered states of consciousness, allowing him to avoid being captured by the twisted minds that inhabit them and defeat the mental monsters they spawn.

Although it received high reviewers’ marks on its 2005 debut, the original Psychonauts was a commercial failure due to poor sales. The developers at Double Fine and Tim Schafer, who oversaw the original game, had discussed making a sequel to Psychonauts. Still, the high cost of doing so delayed any backbreaking work on the project for a while.

After regaining control of Psychonauts’ intellectual property from Majesco Entertainment in 2011, Double Fine re-released the game on current-gen platforms to rave reviews, increasing player demand for a sequel. When it was announced that Double Fine would be developing Psychonauts 2, it simultaneously kicked off a US$3.3 million crowdfunding and investment drives through Fig to help pay for development costs.

Nearly $4 million had been raised by the beginning of 2016. Starbreeze Studios, which had signed a publishing-only agreement to release Psychonauts 2, went bankrupt in 2018. When Microsoft purchased Double Fine in 2019, it also acquired the publishing rights from Starbreeze, making Double Fine a part of Xbox Games Studios.

Thanks to the purchase, development studio Double Fine was able to see the project through to its original conclusion. Many critics agreed upon its release that Psychonauts 2 was as entertaining as the first game in the series. The platforming, level design, visuals, writing, and tone were all praised, while some gameplay and boss battles received negative feedback.

Psychonauts 2
Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2 “Really Didn’t Feel Like It Would Be Good” During Development

The famed Double Fine producer, As Tim Schafer recently explained, “truly didn’t feel like it would be good” during the production of Psychonauts 2, a game that has since received widespread acclaim. In addition, Schafer compared the whole thing to a “roller coaster,” saying that the studio may “crash and burn” at any time.

The NME interview is the source of the news. The Secret of Monkey Island, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Broken Age, Massive Chalice, and Psychonauts 2, released in August of 2021, are all works by Schafer that have become cult classics. Schafer remarked, “Psychonauts 2 was such an ordeal. And much like the first game, so many things went wrong.

At one time, we couldn’t find a publisher to take us on. It was a wild ride, and there were times when I thought nothing positive could come of it. The designer continued by saying that it “took a while” for the team to grasp the game’s central premise but that once they did, it was primarily a “buckling down” to get the product out the door.

Even during the production of Psychonauts 2, when Schafer feared the studio might “crash and burn,” the partnership between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard appears to have provided some stability. The four years we spent developing Psychonauts 2 would have been for naught if the company had failed.

It hurts my heart to think about that version of Psychonauts 2 dissolving into thin air,” Schafer remarked. Schafer spoke on his method for creating video games, noting that he stays away from using a “grab bag of preconceptions” so as not to “harm people.”

According to the creator, “someone pointed out a term and questioned whether we knew what this word means to particular people” during the game testing process at Double Fine. Schafter continued, “For any art, I’m thinking about how the spectator will understand my art, and I had no idea that people would critique that and say ‘woke culture, PC police’ and whatnot.”

Schafer said they were “simply older and had more sensitivity to many topics that organically manifest themselves in the game” when developing Psychonauts 2. “Because it’s a comedy, it was vitally crucial that audiences understand we weren’t poking fun at anyone, but rather taking a lighthearted, affectionate peek inside the human brain,” said one of the writers.

To elaborate, the designer said, “you naturally want to think about how your words affect people and ensure that the creative objective is achieved.” Is that the kind of language that shames people? Images of persons that are too distant?”

Schafer summarized his findings by saying, “The best writing is never based on preconceptions.” Research, real-world examples, finding dialogue, and one’s own experiences make for the best writing. It always results in work that stands out as original rather than a collection of stock tropes.

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