OK, who knows who Tim Schafer is? I know you all know that name. It's the name printed all over the box art for some of the greatest games ever made. Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango were all written and produced by Tim and his team, and before that Tim worked on both of the first two Monkey Island games (among others). He is an adventure gaming legend.
Tim recently started his own company after, of course, leaving LucasArts. He found an office in San Francisco and moved there. With him he took a big slice of the Grim Fandango team. (“Of the 15 employees we have, only 3 of them are 100% LucasFree. The others all worked for LucasArts or Learning at some time or another”)
His new company? Double Fine Productions.
Little was known of what Double Fine was up to, or why it was even called Double fine. We wanted to know!
After our trip to LucasArts, the EMI party etc, Jake and myself decided to call Tim and see what was going on. Luckily for us he invited us to have lunch with him. So now at last we can reveal all about his game, and the future of Double Fine. Except that we actually can't! Having seen nothing of the game, and Tim being extremely quiet about it, we really can tell you nothing.
We can however show you these lovely photos of the trip, and some inside information on the Double Fine team and workspace. Firstly, as many of you may have seen on their website, Double Fine Productions is named after a sign that greets you as you cross the Golden Gate Bridge. The sign reads “Double Fine Zone”. Tim had always considered “Double Fine” to be a great name for a band, the explanation was that any fans of the band, would see the sign and wonder how they could afford such expensive advertising!
When Tim found his forté was making games instead of being musical, it was only logical to call his own company Double Fine Productions.
Most excitingly, we have a world exclusive preview of.... the Double Fine Productions Logo! - well part of it... a small part of it. But that makes it sooo much more exciting! - and here it is to the right:
It is a great logo, and hopefully we will get to share more of it with you at a later date.. I'll just keep nudging Tim. For now though, this will have to tantalize your imagination.
Once again then, we set of to San Francisco. This time driving down many a dark back street in order to find the office. Tim described it as “a poo colored garage door” and eventually we found it.
The office used to be a small warehouse, and so there's room for 6 or so cars inside. The interior was still under development, and was shaping up to be a pretty damn nice working space. We parked inside and after a quick introduction, we headed up the road for lunch. Tim's choice - a little Italian place 5 minutes walk away.
The infamous Double Fine Zone.
Spaff rings the bell on the “poo” coloured door.
Tim looks odd whilst eating at the Italian place.
Jake looks wierder than ever before. But maybe not. Jake has a knack of being able to look strange in pictures.
No idea, and I'm not going to comment.
This is what Tim had for lunch. Well, after he'd finished eating most of it, anyway. Looked nice, huh?
After the Great food, we headed back to the office to badger Tim about all things Double Fine.
The long descriptions of photos in “these type” are quotes from Tim.
“Left to right: Gaurav Mathur, Chris Schultz (animator - In Grim, he did tons of stuff. My favorite thing he did was the little pigeon that saluted and talked in Salvador's voice), and Raymond Crook (Modeler and animation setup-er. He's new. 100% Lucas free!)”
Tim looks really happy in this picture. In fact, he looks proud and happy to see his Biker gang adventure - Full Throttle. He was digging about in the store cupboard to find us a special gift!
“Our art director, Scott Campbell. He is a good drawer. He came from LucasLearning. Notice the enigmatic subliminal message on his forearm. Behind him is Camilla Fossen, our associate producer from the rock-bound coast of Norway. She worked at a company called ‘Chimney Pot,’ which sounds cool when she says it in her accent.”
We get back to find Jake's car is stuck at the back, the owners of the front cars have all gone to lunch. We are of course highly annoyed by having to stay longer at Double Fine.
Tim takes a picture of us, behind me to the right is the admin office, and down the steps you can see the “kitchen” which is a temorary one, whilst the actual one is being made.
Tim takes a picture of us together. All look odd, but its a pretty well framed picture for a self taken one. Again, you can see the partly decorated office space in the background.
“On the left are couple of random tormentors of the sheepcheesewheel. Coming out of the bathroom is the easily-surprised Nathan Travis Stapley. Who is an artist. Nathan did textures for Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Star Wars Racer, and Escape from Monkey Island. He did layouts for Jar Jars Journey, and was a concept artist on Escape from Monkey Island. He can play ‘Desperado’ very slowly on the guitar.”
Tim signs stuff .. including a copy of Vollgas, a great game of his.
He also tries to cover up the fact that he has Xbox boxes under his table.
Dave's Xbox, apparently. At the back of Double Fine we find loads of strange things, (see below) but amongst them, boxes of equipment.
VOLLGAS: Your favourite game and ours too. Tim signed it “Herr Schafer”. If you can prise it away from me, it can be a contest prize.. but thats not likely..
Tim loves Marmite, which is actually a lie because he hates it. But you do either love it or hate it.Oh, and I love it.
Double Fine's fridge, upon which we see a Day of the Tentacle magnet. Tim hasnt forgotten the good old days of LEC; he even has a lucasguy magnet.
Spaff relaxes in the pre-constructed press photo area. We have no idea if this area was made for that purpose or not.
That box and bottle of whisky mix well with the lighting. Mmm, nice.
This is our nice press picture of Tim. It's better than the one of me.. but that's because it has Tim in it.
OK, so we have 2 of them.. but we like them!
“Gaurav Mathur. He built the Blue Casket! He is very good at ping-pong, but not so good at arm wrestling. At LucasArts, he worked on Grim, Rogue Squadron, and Starfighter.”
The Ping pong table. Every company seems to have one.
Errrrrm the darts ... Jake took this.. he can comment on it later, perhaps?
The choices of carpet, or are they textures from Tim's game?!?!?
We are forced to leave, and the garage door is lifted for us.
One of the coolest things we saw, was the picture made for Tim on his birthday by the Grim team. I'm sure a lot of you will remember this picture which features Tim down in the bottom left:
Thanks, Tim, for a great afternoon. It was great meeting you and even greater hearing your tales and stories. Thanks to all at Double Fine, we are looking forward to hearing more about your games! Same time next year?
Make sure to check out the accompanying gallery for even more images!