According to Psychonauts co-creator Tim Schafer, Markus “Notch” Persson is a-ok with a budget of $13 million for the prospective Psychonauts 2.
The past two weeks have been good to Bruutal Legend and Psychonauts studio Double Fine Productions. First there was a tentative Twitter-based offer from Mojang’s Markus “Notch” Persson to help the company build a sequel to its critically-acclaimed Psychonauts title; a week later the studio, led by developer Tim Schafer, tore its way through Kickstarter records by raising over $1 million in funding for an as-yet undesigned adventure game in just 24 hours.
Now, like a glacé cherry atop a sponge cake made wholly of unusual funding, Schafer has revealed that chats with Notch about Psychonauts 2 are both ongoing and positive.
Schafer, in an interview with Kotaku, described a recent conversation with Notch. “I was like, ‘I don’t think you can make [Psychonauts 2] for a million dollars.’ The original game was, I think, $13 million, I think you have to match the original game…As soon as I mentioned the amount of money he said, ‘Yeah, I can do that.'”
Psychonauts, released in 2005, was a crazy-colorful platforming adventure which involved a young boy bouncing his way through the minds of oddly-shaped characters to stop a brain-snatching conspiracy unleashed by his psychic summer camp leader. While critics raved about the game, however, it didn’t perform financially. Schafer says that he has since approached publishers about funding a sequel, but to no avail.
Schafer explained that, “My pitch also involved how the game sold something like 400,000 copies initially. It wasn’t enough for us to make money. But since then, through Steam and Good Old Games and all the places it’s been, it’s gotten in the hands of a lot of people.”
“We had a lot of plot elements that were backstory in that [first] game that we planned on revisiting in the future and tying it back in,” added Schafer. “We had a longer story arc planned for those characters.”
So now it’s just a wait-and-see situation. Notch has maintained his seriousness towards this project since his intial Tweet, and there does seem to be a decent amount of fan interest. As Schafer pointed out, Psychonauts turned out to be one of those cult hits that slowly accrues a decent fanbase over several years, many eager for a sequel (Beyond Good and Evil 2, why won’t you return my calls?). We’ll keep our ears to the ground for further developments in the meantime, and then we can all have a nice, long talk about indie publishing if Razputin really does wind up with a second day in the sun.
UPDATE: Notch has taken to his blog to fact-check a few astute and sobering realities for the internet at large, beginning with the fact that the budget for Psychonauts 2 would actually be at least three times higher than his “initial impression.” He also notes that he (quite rightly) expects that Double Fine will be very busy with Double Fine Adventure, at least for the next several months or so. Long story short: Psychonauts 2 is nary a zygote and if it does grow, it will be slow to do so. Any hopes that were raised should now be lowered to an appropriate level.
Notch did write, however, that “All I know is that IF the numbers work out and IF they still want to do it and IF they don’t decide to self fund a sequel by doing more crowd funding (which is honestly what I would’ve done if I were them), I would be most interested in doing this type of investment.” He would invest in the game not as charity, he says, but because he’d expect it to turn a profit.