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Greg Rice

Episode 17: A Deadline for Tim

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HELLO! BACKERS OF ADVENTURE!! It’s been a while, but the time has come for another glorious Double Fine Adventure episode! This one covers a time period going all the way back to last April and documents the early parts of Act 2 production work. So pop your tastiest dinner pill (Mine’s Light Brown), sit back, relax, and enjoy!

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Project Update

A bunch has actually happened since this episode wrapped. Most importantly, TIM FINISHED WRITING ACT 2 AND THE FINALE! Also that pesky design issue that appears to terrify the team in this episode has been sorted. We now have a super clear and detailed picture of how the rest of the game looks. This is a huge milestone for the project and means we are able to push forward with a lot of things that were waiting on those details to be locked in place.

For instance, with the cutscenes now written, Peter was able to write a bunch of new music including a piece for the finale of the game! This was recorded just this week with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, alongside the new live versions of Grim Fandango’s score for our upcoming remaster.

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It also meant we were able to get back in the studio to start recording the remainder of the voiceover work for the rest of the game. Tim actually was down in LA just this week for that very reason. There will still be another session to cover any new lines needed to address playtesting feedback, but this session covers the last major chunk of dialog. It was great to get back together with Khris Brown and all our amazing voice actor friends.

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As for the rest of the team, the majority of folks are currently focused on the final sprint of taking Vella’s half of Act 2 to Alpha. After that, we’ve just got the finale left and then the entire game will be at Alpha!

Well, in actuality the game will be a bit further than that, and many parts already are! The nice thing about working with our friends at SuperGenius is that it has allowed us to parallelize a lot of Act 2 production. So while the core team at Double Fine is still working on taking things towards Alpha, Supergenius and our audio team are actually running with Beta work on much of Shay’s half of Act 2, which as you saw in the episode is playtesting reaaaallllly well.

The topic of a ship date is still one that’s ongoing at the studio, but now that we have the final writing we’re able to put together a much clearer plan for the remainder of development and are in the process of doing so. Until then, everyone is hammering away on the game and working to get it in your hands as soon as possible. Ultimately we’re going to give the game the time it needs to be something truly special, and we really appreciate your patience while we do so.

So yeah, a lot of stuff has happened since we last talked and the game is really shaping up. We’re confident we will be able to deliver something that falls in line with Tim’s original vision for the game and hopefully will be really satisfying to you the backer. It’s looking like it will be longer than Act 1, continue to build in puzzle complexity from where we left off, and most importantly will wrap up the story in a meaningful and satisfying way. Suffice to say, WE’RE REALLY EXCITED!

Dialog Systems in Double Fine Games

Now that Tim is done with the main writing work for the game, he has time for other things. For example, MORE WRITING! He’s working on a post for the backer forums that describes the tools and format used for getting interactive dialog working in the game. Lots of folks ask how we go about organizing our writing to take interactivity into account, and Tim promises to reveal all, or at least a lot, going all the way back to The Secret of Monkey Island for examples of how these scripts have evolved. It should be done “any minute,” according to Tim. Another deadline for Tim! Good think he kept that book.

Until that’s ready though, we do have another dialog-related special treat. Our very own Anna Kipnis recently gave talk at GDC Europe entitled Dialog Systems in Double Fine Games and we’ve got a recording of this very speech! This will give a broad overview of how dialog gets into a Double Fine game, from the moment a line is written to hearing and seeing the line in the engine, even in a foreign tongue. It focuses on the technology required to make it possible, as well as some useful approaches, including examples of dynamic dialog systems. Enjoy!

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SideQuest: "It's Not Like This Every Day"

We're celebrating our 15th Sidequest with Broken Age team member Ben Peck! The new episode of the documentary saw an increase in screen time for Ben so we figured it was time to get to know this mysterious programmer a little better...

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Good New Games

Costume Quest 2

Before we get into rad new work from other developers, we wanted to take a second to congratulate the Costume Quest 2 team on shipping on PC, Mac, and Linux last week! With Halloween on the horizon it’s time to don your fanciest costumes, chow down on some candied treats, and punch some monsters in the face! The game will be here soon on console, but all you PC folks can grab it right now on Steam.

Elegy for a Dead World

This one is perfect to put in an update that’s heavy with Broken Age writing news! Elegy for a Dead World is a game about writing fiction and is something quite different than everything else out there. The game lets players explore a dead world and write a fictional account of what may have happened there. These stories can then be shared with the rest of the world, which will lead to numerous varying accounts of what went down. The game is entering the final stretch of its Kickstarter, so back it now while you can!

The Flame in the Flood

From the Art Director of Bioshock and a team of industry veterans gone indie, The Flame in the Flood is described as a rogue-lite river journey through the backwaters of a forgotten post-societal America. Well it’s also described as Toobin meets Oregon Trail which pretty much sounds like the greatest thing ever. And holy moly is it looking beautiful. Just passed it’s Kickstarter goal and still going strong. Check it!

That’s it for now! Thanks for bearing with us through the slower update cycle. With production firing on all cylinders you can expect more frequent production updates going forward, so chat soon!

Episode Notes

00:42: Louie the Large Mouth Bass is one of many novelty singing fish plaques. Others include Big Mouth Billy Bass, Tommy the Freshwater Trout, and one based on the shark from Jaws that sings that movie’s theme music.

03:17: Check out Ben’s new sidequest!

5:24: Just want to point out how funny of a face Matt Hansen makes in the background of this shot after Greg jokes about the new computers…

5:38: Check out DFA14 for a reminder of all the bugs the animators had to deal with in Act 1.

6:16: And check out DFA15 to see how much fun Oliver was having fixing compatibility errors

6:40: If you want to know more about the engine being employed in Broken Age, Oliver has written several in-depth posts for the backer forums.

11:04: For immediate consideration, interested and qualified candidates should send their resumes and samples of previously executed effects work to jobs@doublefine.com. Please include in the subject line “Senior Visual Effects Artist”.

14:14: http://supergeniusstudio.com

16:20: Tim keeps about a dozen different post it notes ready on the inside of his door for various occasions.

17:27: The return of Schafer Cam! This sequence was stealthily shot on an iPhone.

21:32: Reminder: look forward to the uncensored versions of these episodes on the eventual blu ray release!

27:45: Tim’s gallstone troubles first popped up in DFA8 soon after he ended his juice diet. Gallstones generally form because the bile inside the Gallbladder is saturated with cholesterol. They are more likely to appear if you’re overweight and over 50. Other factors that play into it are a family history of gallstones or recent rapid weight loss. Stay healthy, backers!

29:55 - Louie the Large Mouth Bass is still a regular fixture of the Reds programming pit and likes to randomly contribute during standup meetings.

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I can't describe to you how big the smile was that spread across my face at the halfway point in this episode. After Episode 16, this felt like a real step forward for the project.

And I'm VERY glad to hear that Act II is going to be less linear and have more difficult puzzles. (Sorry for being a "hater," Tim! Rest assured that I still loved the game despite my misgivings about the difficulty.)

But most of all, I'm excited that the project is still on track for releasing in a few months. The radio silence was a little worrying, but it's clear that there was nothing to worry about. Cheers to all you folks at Double Fine and 2PP for this!

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Nice. Just take your time with it, don't have to rush it. Know that your fans and backers are behind you 100%.

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Great episode and best wishes to the team in the last few months!

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Great stuff, this episode has really got me amped for act two again as it seems like they are addressing the issues poeple had with act 1 (awesome though it was).

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Hey, Tim has a Japanese puzzle box! Nice! I never noticed that on his desk before, unless it's new.

The censoring of the plot points made me laugh for some reason.

I'm excited to hear about the puzzles. Yeah, I'll probably get stuck at times, but I'm curious to see exactly how they've evolved from Act 1.

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I always know it's going to be a good day when I hear that Double Fine Adventure intro music.

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It's almost disturbing how closely Tim's deadline troubles parallel my own thesis-writing problems. Except that he's apparently finished now, which I am of course deeply jealous of inspired by. Great episode as usual!

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The censoring of the plot points made me laugh for some reason.

Yeah, Lee Petty wasn't his overly crude self in this episode, so I just thought "dildo" every time they bleeped his voice.

My only other main thought was people wanted a traditional adventure game; how appropriate that there would be a dead end in the game where you have to start over because you missed something important. :P

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It's almost disturbing how closely Tim's deadline troubles parallel my own thesis-writing problems. Except that he's apparently finished now, which I am of course deeply jealous of inspired by. Great episode as usual!

I thought exactly the same thing! Writing is hard, folks..... You might like to think you can sit for hours and hours and just crank it out, but that just doesn't happen 100% of the time.

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Sorry

Because of its privacy settings, this video cannot be played here.

The same happens to me in the kickstarter page :(

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My only other main thought was people wanted a traditional adventure game; how appropriate that there would be a dead end in the game where you have to start over because you missed something important. :P

No kidding! The only point and click adventure game I can remember spending any real time with before Broken Age was a King's Quest (or similar) game back in the day. I remember I only made it as far as a room with with a locked door and a slowly descending ceiling. Due either to a bugged save (I can't remember) or to me missing the necessary item needed to jam the gear mechanism, I couldn't stop the ceiling, solve the puzzle, and proceed. Unfortunately, for some reason I had decided to save inside of the sealed room and so the poor player character was doomed to be crushed over and over again as I repeatedly searched in vain for a solution I would never find.

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Holy trout, Ben's sidequest video was great!

I was all but pressing my face against the screen when he started talking about how Wall-E made him want to work as an animator for movies. Dude, for me it was Wreck-it Ralph, but still it's amazing and very heartening to see a success story of someone setting out to do something like that and achieving it, even if it was only temporary and *especially* if it led to working at DoubleFine.

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whoawhoawhoa, is Greg wearing a The Locust shirt @16:47?!?!?!?
Wait, what is that?! I got that shirt at a thrift store and people are always asking me what it is, but I have no idea!!

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Hi,

Any chance I can see it on Vimeo's site ? I want to see it on my big screen and without adding it to my vimeo queue it is a hassle,

Thanks

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So, am I the only one unable to see the videos?

I am a backer and could see the previous ones without problem.

Maybe it's because I'm from Spain and it's region locked somehow?

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whoawhoawhoa, is Greg wearing a The Locust shirt @16:47?!?!?!?
Wait, what is that?! I got that shirt at a thrift store and people are always asking me what it is, but I have no idea!!

It's a bit different but it looks like part of the cover of Plagued Soundscapes by The Locust. The art itself might totally be from something else originally.

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Thanks for the update. Glad to hear things are coming along and that Tim is "that close" to completing his "epic novel!" Really enjoyed Act I and am glad puzzles will have a few more steps in order to complete in upcoming act. Everyone involved has done an amazing job with the game and I look forward to playing Act II (to quote Blizzard Entertainment) "when it's done!" Don't strangle your most creative adventure game in over 15 years just to make a date. I'd prefer to have the complete vision that Tim has in his head to be realized (like the Peter Jackson's extended versions of his films months after theatrical version) for this game instead of a rush job to hit a date. Good luck and thank you for all the amazing PC games Double Fine has created since Psychonauts! P.S. Thanks for managing to wrangle Grim Fandango back from the dead!!! Cannot wait for that release too!

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Good episode! And it's also great to hear that part 2 might be longer than part 1. I was fine with part 1's length but early on when it was looking like it could be shorter, I said that I thought people might possibly feel short changed by that, so it's good to hear about the direction that's gone.

I understand the desire to get it out this year but if it takes an additional month or two and you guys can afford that, great.

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Great to have an update and to see how much focus you guys and gals are putting in to act 2... As to the game being released I personally would much prefer you take your time and get it right as opposed to have to cut things or risk quality... having said that I totally get from a business standpoint why getting it out this year is so beneficial.

What is it Shigeru Miyamoto says? .. 'A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.'

But overall I feel very encouraged, it sounds like the puzzle difficulty is going to be much better this time around (the only thing wrong with act 1 in my mind) and that makes me very happy :-) :-)

Am a little worried about the scale issue though of the boy as it did look weird seeing him look so small in the girls world.

Great news as well to hear about even more updates from Tim etc to come.

Keep up the great work

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Great update. Good luck to everyone for the final push. I can live with Jan. Or Feb.

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I just wanted to say thanks for the update. This is such a wonderful story with ups and downs. I am so happy I didn't choose game development as a career; I like my gallbladder right where it is. :)

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The gallbladder is, similarly to the spleen, one of those merely slightly helping organs that the body really doesn't need because their function can be either entirely done away with or can take place elsewhere. The bile it contains is not nearly enough for your needs, during the digestion of a single meal you need enough bile output from the liver (which in turn comes from re-absorption of bile in the gut) that the amount stored in the gall bladder is insignificant in comparison. You wouldn't miss your gall bladder much if you were to live without it.

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I too am getting the "Sorry Because of its privacy settings, this video cannot be played here" message on the videos.

I'm in the US (Arizona) so I doubt it is a regional issue. I've tried both Chrome and Firefox. I've discovered that older backer-videos from the forums that have played fine for me in the past no longer work. I've tried this both signed in and logged out of my Vimeo account.

Any suggestions?

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