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Gamer Roulette: Double Fine Sets For New Adventure

Eric Parra |
February 11, 2012 | 3:22 a.m. PST

Staff Columnist


Yeah. I'd give this guy my money. (Creative Commons)
Yeah. I'd give this guy my money. (Creative Commons)

From Kanto to Hyrule, Mobius to Santa Destroy, Planet Reach to Little Big Planet, Cinema Student, Screenwriter, and all around gamer, Eric Parra is a bad enough dude to bring you your weekly fix on relative gaming. Whether it’s reviews, previews, or FAQ’s, matters that are professional or just personal, make sure you check Neon Tommy every week for all sorts of interesting tidbits in the world of video games. And remember, it’s dangerous to go alone.

Can you imagine a world where pirates roam cursed islands of voo-doo powered root beer, challenging people to insult-arm-wrestling where it’s always 10 p.m.? How about a world where the Grim Reaper is a travel Agent with the Department of Death and must solve great mysteries of morally corrupt individuals in order to earn his own redemption points, all the time evading pursuit of the other agent he’s stealing work from? Okay, what about a medieval fantasy world full of skulls and demons and heavy rock where the hero is voiced by Jack Black? A summer camp for Psychics? Evil tentacles attempting to achieve world domination?

Well, the good news is that you don’t have to! The bad news is that if you had, people may have given you a million dollars.

You see, Tim Schafer is a man with a plan. Now, I don’t know the man quite well enough to say exactly what that plan may be, but I do know it involves making a lot of money and being awesome, which I full-heartedly endorse.  And so I will tell you what I do know, and hopefully it will make an entertaining and educational story.

So all of those worlds I mentioned, the ones that you didn’t imagine on your own? They were more or less constructed with on behalf of Tim Schafer’s blessings (there were others involved). If you ever have the time and a computer with not much more than a mouse, check out "Monkey Island," "Grim Fandango," or "Day of the Tentacle." If you want something that’s not a point and click adventure (for whatever reason may possess you) definitely take a look at Double Fine’s work: "Brutal Legend" and "Psychonauts," for starters. These are games that are a word stronger than awesome, a word that I can not really think up while switching between open tabs of other adventure games that I may or may not be currently distracted with, but just think greater than awesome.

Anyways, while these greater than awesome games were definitely worth your time and money, for some reason a lot of people glanced over these titles. Have you ever heard of these games, much less even bought and played them? Hopefully you have, because I know I didn’t until a friend of mine forced me with his encouraging words of “dude, buy it and install it already.” I like to think of the whole thing as “The Arrested Devleopment” effect, but only because I know a lot of cinema students who I’ll ask to read this know more about “Arrested Development” than video games, and there’s my target audience. 

So I read some stuff on Tvtropes, and I have to say that Tim’s story is very touching. Despite how greater than awesome his games are, not enough people bought them (which may or may not be related to PR, which may or may not be similar to a previously mentioned show), publishers find faults, make changes, no one wants to fund a good game, and therefore only plain awesome games are made, not by Double Fine.

A game that clearly lacks chainsaw machine guns, sexual tension, and a good co-op mode (pokemon.com)
A game that clearly lacks chainsaw machine guns, sexual tension, and a good co-op mode (pokemon.com)

And then Tim decided all on his own, from the nagging of many of his fans with apparently full wallets, that perhaps we could use a nice, new, greater than awesome adventure game. Publishers obviously would have nothing to do with it: “An adventure game? In this day and age? Ho ho ho! There’s no room for chainsaw machine guns, dramatic sexual tension, or online multiplayer in one of those! Good day!”  A hypothetical publisher may possibly say to such an idea.

But the fans would say: “Bring it!” And very likely other things that I don’t feel up to imagining when I could be playing a flash game on the internet. 

To shorten this up and get to the inevitable point that I’ve been skirting around for a while: Tim Schafer and Double Fine productions decided to work with Kickstarter and ask the fans to fund them to make a new game in the hopes of being greater than awesome once again. Skipping the whole need for a publisher, the bar was set at $400,000 to be raised in a bit over a month. 

About eight hours passed and they made their quota. 

About 24 hours passed and they made $1 million.

Gosh, that’s a lot of money. I bet I could make a great flash game with that much money. But in the hands of Double Fine? They best know that expectations will be high. But to think, that many fans are willing to give up that much money, and publishers won’t even listen to the idea? Could this be a revelation in the tedious stage that games have been teetering through? Could hardcore gamers finally hear their fanboy prayers answered as publishers take note of this accomplishment to release better, less mass-marketed casual games and dead-end sequels? 

(Futurama/Memebase/The Internet)
(Futurama/Memebase/The Internet)

I definitely don’t know. If you can’t tell, I’m currently pretty invested in these silly computer games. But this is still definitely a big deal and worth attention. If you’re a fan of originality and good, clever humor, and if you’ve got a few extra dollars burning holes in your bank account, why not give Double Fine some of your money? There’s even some rewards to those who donate enough, including the finished game and a documentary of the making of the game (I’m interested in bowling with the Dev team or getting a self-portrait drawn). So go, check out the details, check out the biographies, check out your credit statement, and go do something productive. I’m going to beat this game and sleep forever.

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Check back next Saturday for Eric's next column.



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