Whether you know him for Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Brutal Legend or one of the many other iconic games Tim Schafer has worked on, you know that he always offers something that’s new, vibrant, imaginative and wholly unique. Given this rich history, he is a more than worthy recipient of this year’s Fellowship at the BAFTA Games Awards.
Earlier this month, MyM Buzz had the opportunity to speak to the man himself and ask what that commendation meant to him.
“It’s obviously a tremendous honour and I respect the organisation so much, so it’s a really meaningful acknowledgement. It’s nice that it’s for the games but I feel like that it’s also some recognition for the more holistic thing we’ve all been trying to do in the game industry – that’s supporting a positive development and growth of the art form.”
Schafer has clearly played his part working towards that noble goal, too, with a back catalogue of titles while at LucasArts and Double Fine that regularly travels way out of the confines of common game settings or styles. They’re also bloody funny. That may be all to do with the starting point he works from when first thinking about a new game.
“Usually the world,” he explains. “I think about a world I want to go to like The Land of the Dead or the world of biker gangs. Then I think about the main character and then the antagonist and that all creates a tension and gives me more ideas.”
The Fellowship has also given Schafer a chance to look back at his work through the years: the “scary moments” where he felt like it could have ended, many others of profound inspiration, and a few surprises thrown in too.
Perhaps the biggest of all was the near $3.5 million raised through Kickstarter to develop the traditional point-and-click adventure, Broken Age, and finding Double Fine a major leader in the crowdfunding revolution of the early 2010s. Does he foresee any major developments in the games industry on that sort of scale in the near future?
“I’m really more excited about people using games to tackle new subjects. Playing a game like Bury Me My Love or those games that are breaking new territory. I think that’s what is exciting – that new subject matter and emotional territory.”
That same passion can be seen in the projects Double Fine has taken on during its existence. We’ve seen everything from matryoshka doll puzzle-adventure, Stacking, to bizarro 70s sci-fi Metroidvania, Headlander.
More recently, the company’s publishing arm Double Fine Presents has picked up games such as oddball Harvest Moon and Pokémon mashup, Ooblets, to a charming co-op action-adventure set in the minds of two young children, Knights and Bikes.
“We always try to chase our inspiration and just be open to ideas. It’s really important to keep in mind what makes you excited and inspired and happy and chase after that. That’s really our business plan. It sounds like not much of a business plan, but I think it really is the way to stay engaged and also to make the best games.”
Pictures courtesy of BAFTA and Jamie Simonds.