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Tim Schafer shouldn't make another game (Updated) 03 Nov, 2009, 00:42 / 23 comments

Alex Riviello at Chud loves Tim's stories, but hates his gameplay mechanics. He suggests Tim leave game developing behind and turn his talents to movies and/or novels.
No one ever plays a Schafer game for their rewarding and exciting gameplay but it seems like he's taking his work in a much more twitch-based direction, which unfortunately conflicts with his strengths as a writer of stories.
You can read it all right here. What do you think, are Tim's games as much fun to play as they are to unravel the story?

Update by Kroms: Yahtzee (from The Escapist) writes that Tim's worlds seem to be consistently great, but the gameplay, stretching all the way back to Day of the Tentacle, hasn't been. Tom Chick offers Tim some similar questions in this spectacular interview, and Tim responds. Beware that there are some serious Brutal Legend spoilers in there, even before the all-caps SPOILERS warning. I'm not kidding.
Comments: 23 / Source: Chud

Comments

  • Icebox on 06 Nov, 2009, 16:02…
    Right on, Yahtzee.
  • syntheticgerbil on 05 Nov, 2009, 19:08…
    Oh look, Yahtzee bagging on adventure game designs for hits.

    So what about all the adventure games Yahztee made? How come he fails to mention any of this when criticizing Tim Schafer?
  • Capn_Nacho on 03 Nov, 2009, 20:57…
    Having only played the BL demo, I can say the most impressive thing about what I experienced was the integration of the story and gameplay sequences, accomplished better than anyone else has. I think Schafes taking on a novel would be great, but games are just his thing and he's got a great team.
  • Sp0tted on 03 Nov, 2009, 12:14…
    "Tim Schafer shouldn't make another game"....... unless he is going to release it on all platforms, that way douchebag reviewers like this one are silenced be the people who understand his game designs, but don't own an Xbox because we are not gaming elitists who can't get dates.
  • tabacco on 04 Nov, 2009, 03:36…
    Good thing you're not a gaming elitist ¬¬
  • SurplusGamer on 03 Nov, 2009, 09:53…
    Tim Schafer makes worlds, and currently games are the best medium we have for people who are interested in creating worlds that can be explored in detail.

    Maybe he would make a good film or whatever, but why would he when games are the best medium for his particular talent?

    Besides which, I find the gameplay in all the games he has made fun and entirely defensible on their own merits, even if they're not going to set the world on fire.
  • frozenhamster on 03 Nov, 2009, 20:09…
    I have to disagree with this. I think Film and TV are just as capable of supported the fully realized worlds Schafer creates. Just look at stuff such as:

    Star Wars
    Blade Runner
    The Wire
    Mad Men

    Just a tiny number of films and TV shows that contain deftly realized and totally complex worlds. Blade Runner was only one film, yet the depth of its world has been studied endlessly and has even influenced things such as modern architecture.
  • SurplusGamer on 03 Nov, 2009, 21:28…
    Sure, those are well realised worlds and nowhere in what I said did I say that other media are incapable of making a well realised world.

    Of course that's true. But the very fact that games actually place you in a world and allow you to explore it mean that they have a greater potential to really flesh it out in a detailed way. Most games haven't taken this opportunity, but it's there.
  • Kroms on 03 Nov, 2009, 20:17…
    I'd still rather Tim did games than movies. Even if they need to refine gameplay in future products (or so people say), I love them for their gameplay as much as for the stories. (Exclude Brutal Legend from this, since I won't play it before December arrives.)
  • Yachmenev on 03 Nov, 2009, 08:33…
    Tim Schafer doesn´t make gameplay worse than other developers, he just makes gameworlds so much better than everyone else.
  • Logic on 03 Nov, 2009, 05:38…
    I haven't played Brutal Legend (I'm a consoleless mofo) but I thought Psychonauts played beautifully. It had more than a few amazingly original gameplay and game-world concepts that could not have a place in anything but a game. In fact I'd say the inspired design, and resulting gameplay, of levels like waterloo, milkman, the dance party, etc, gave me more joy than the story itself.

    Feel free to disagree and not like Psychonauts though... but why the hell would you want Tim to leave the game industry when he's one of the most creative figures in it? We need the Double Fines of the world to liberate us from perpetually generica. I'd rather play one rough gem than a hundred pristinely polished lumps of samey crap.

    Besides, even if he never makes a game you like, his presence in the industry keeps the fire of creativity burning and will hopefully give other folk confidence and inspiration to explore their own unique visions.
  • Logic on 03 Nov, 2009, 05:40…
    *perpetual generica.

    I often find myself editing sentence structure and forgetting to change a word :p
  • Kroms on 03 Nov, 2009, 05:15…
    I think if anyone puts in a choice about selecting no during missions earning you a slap from Crulller, then that person knows games.

    And I actually thought the Psychonauts gameplay was a lot of fun. That leviatation ball, especially.

    That having been said, maybe they should refine their gameplay a bit more in the future? I can't say because I haven't played BL yet, but from all the reviews you'd think that at times the gameplay was something out of a licensed video game of a Disney movie.
  • WorldMaker on 03 Nov, 2009, 03:17…
    I'm another dissenter. Psychonauts and Brütal Legend would not be nearly as interesting without the interactivity. The ability to truly dig through every corner of those worlds, and in turn the artist's attention to details, truly sells both game's stories. (100% and 99% of things done, respectively, by the way.)

    I do like the suggestion for a Psychonauts Adult Swim cartoon... however I don't think that Tim Schafer is necessarily the best person to lead that project. (Just like how I think that Brütal Legend: The Cartoon Dethklok: Metalocalypse is doing perfectly fine in the hands of Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha.)
  • elTee on 03 Nov, 2009, 02:06…
    I think this happens time and again, where people associate a skill in one field with a skill in another. Writing a novel is not the same as writing a movie, and neither are the same as writing a game. Tim is a great game writer, sure and he can write a hilarious blog post, but I've not seen any proof he could sustain himself for a few hundred thousand words. I'd love to be wrong of course.
  • valkian on 03 Nov, 2009, 04:03…
    I'm sure he is totally capable of writing good prose, but you really have a point. He is not a great game writer because he is a great fiction writer, he is great at it because he understands the elements that compose a videogame. You put Stephen King to write a game and it's probably going to be crap (and it's going to take place in Maine).
  • Kroms on 04 Nov, 2009, 06:47…
  • Ascovel on 03 Nov, 2009, 02:04…
    Bah, this article is useless. For its author gameplay design in adventure games is nothing beyond providing controls for the player character.

    I agree that Psychonauts had rubbish gameplay though.
  • MarioColbert on 03 Nov, 2009, 01:31…
    I disagree, plain and simple. It seems that few people realize the strengths of his writing for the medium. Sure, the writing in the cutscenes is entertaining and fantabulous, but the overwriting of his games and the appearance of carefully placed "Slowy Joey" bits amidst the gameplay is what renders Schafer's games as Schaferrific.

    Furthermore, I can't possibly agree with the "lackluster" gameplay claim when it comes to Day of the Tentacle - that game is damn perfect, its design standing head and shoulders above any other adventure. I suppose the want to point fingers at his last two games warrants a new look at just how enjoyable Psychonauts is to play despite the (superfluously abundant) "controls like a tank!" concerns that I keep hearing. Having played Ratchet & Clank recently, I honestly do not see enough of a difference. That said, having playing God of War and Brütal Legend, I do.

    Ultimately, he's one of the very best writers for video games, and sacrificing him to movies or comics simply won't do. Hopefully Tim will swallow his pride that the negative reviews will probably scar a bit, and develop a game that will be deemed "satisfactory" by all those who are legitimately upset about gameplay mechanics in his recent titles.

    That is, keep telling Double Fine what you think and expect fixes to their shortcomings in future titles. Don't assassinate Schafer's standing as an incredible storyteller in a medium that means a lot to us. (By the way, this attitude is far more likely to be of benefit to all parties involved than screams to not purchase titles.)

    If DOTT can be equated to Psychonauts, and Full Throttle to Brutal Legend, here's to hoping that Double Fine's third will be at least half as iconic as that third LucasArts one he did...
  • valkian on 03 Nov, 2009, 01:24…
    I don't agree at all, I think his game developer skills are really underestimated in comparison to his writing skills. I think an adaptation of one of his games into film would prove that, because not having the gameplay element everyone would realize that those stories just doesn't work in that medium.
    He is always trying new things and If he fails at it I think it is still worth more than someone playing it safe doing the things he or she perfectly well knows how to do.

    And by the way, I just got an auto-reply email from the man:
    "Tim is on vacation! It had to happen sooner or later. He's going to be out of the office for X weeks, and when he gets back he'll probably have so many emails that he will just delete them all and start over. So if you've got something important to say to him, you should just hang on to it, and try again. He cares though.

    I can talk about him in the third person, because I am just a humble mail robot. The vacation was my idea. I think you should take one too."
  • Ascovel on 03 Nov, 2009, 01:19…
    Those links really suck in terms of leading to somewhere.
  • jp-30 on 03 Nov, 2009, 01:26…
    Crap. Click the Chud link by the "source" in the top section there while I fix them.
  • Icebox on 03 Nov, 2009, 01:14…
    I've been saying it for years, the man needs to make a Grim Fandango stop motion film. Or a Psychonauts Adult Swim Cartoon. Or a Brutal Legend comic book series. Or a Full Throttle Animated film. I agree with that statement more than you could ever know.