Its one of the best games of its type I have every played.
This may be old news, but latest issue of Game Developer magazine supposedly have the post mortem of Psychonauts. The game cost USD 11.8 million and 4.5 years to produce.
At its peak, team consist of 42 full time and 5 contractors. A bit of trivia about this game, lines of code: 166,781 in 381 files in C++, game script: 332,650 in 2,433 files in LUA, lines of code tools: 81,260 lines in 445 files in C++/C#, 11,318 lines in 51 files in Python.
The outcome? The game sold a combined 15,000 units (Xbox + PS2) in June, with the PC version faring no better. The sales info is in this thread,
Now disregard the above information. Suppose Tim Schafer himself came to you with a detail design document and ask for 10 million, would you have funded/give go ahead with the project? If the answer is no, then it does argues for more rehash/sequel as per movies industry.
Its one of the best games of its type I have every played.
Okay, I haven't played Psychonauts yet although I do own it and plan to get around to it some time this year. However, based on what I've seen on TV and screenshots, it seems as though this game should not have required ~50 people working for almost 5 years to produce. Is the game really that complex from a production standpoint? It doesn't seem like it. I would think that 25-30 people could produce this title in about 2 years or so. It still would have lost a ton of money, of course.
I'm hoping this game somehow manages to generate some hype and start making some sales. It'll never get in the black, but it's just a travesty how poorly it's sold thus far.
But I can't disregard the above information. At this point, no way in hell would I give Tim Schafer $10mil to make a game -- much as you or I or anyone else here might love his games, I'd be throwing away $9 million (give or take a bit).Originally Posted by Galadriels
Is it the industry's fault that they keep cranking out rehashes/sequels, or the consumer's fault for buying them in droves? Lament all you want, but the market clearly doesn't want big-budget creativity.
(all that said, I tried the Psychonauts demo, and was completely put off by the distorted, ugly, surreal visual style. I plowed through a bit of it, but I don't generally go for platformers unless I'm playing a guy with a sword running around cutting off heads (PoP, GoW)).
I've played about half of Psychonauts so far, and yeah it's totally great.
But 4.5 years and up to 40+ people? Geez!
It seems like the kind of game that should have taken about 20-30 people 2 years. Well, 20-30 people plus voice talent.
This is just one of those things that reminds me:
What it takes to make games today is not what it used to take.
That sad truth of the matter is that the people who made some of our favorite games in Ye Olde Floppy Days just don't have what it takes for a "today" kind of game. Design has evolved, the production process is totally different, etc. That goes for more than just the lead designers and producers and such, too. A guy who had a perfectly good skill set for making and animating 3D models in the Quake 2 time frame simply may not have the skills to be productive and useful in the upcoming world of movie-quality models and animations.
A lot of game makers in all postions are going to going to discover this hard truth over the next few years.
I have been playing this game more carefully and I can't think of a game that I have played that is quite like it. (I also have been thinking of starting a new thread, so forgive me if I derail this one slightly.)
It really is electronic entertainment. Only a small part of the entertainment comes from platforming and action (20-30% maybe) and 70-80% the setting, the characters, the writing/plot as a whole and the dialog delivery. Pick any conversation at random from your memory and everything about the scene really works- this is an amazing feat that requires talent in so many areas and polish (money).
The problem from a budget standpoint is that you move through all of this content fairly quickly. They made enough unique graphics and speech for three or four games. I can't recall a game with as many unique environments that you use for such a short period of time.
Every time I get inside a new characters mind and I punch everyone, talk to everyone, use clairvoyance on everyone, etc- I am surprised that there is content there to reward me for that effort. (Such as appearing as a worm to the 'Eagle wrestler' in Velvetopia.)
I have never played a game before where so many times I said to myself, "I can't believe they took the time, and had the budget to do that little extra bit, for a title of this nature". Replaying it and going round the camp again, I can't believe how much I missed the first time. The branching permutations of the speech between the campers based on previous encounters and the progression of the story combined with the locations, is crazy.
Polish costs a lot of money. Polish and content that can't be reused costs even more. Polish, unique content, and better acting than many movies can make for a nightmare budget- especially when you consider they are doing this at the same time they are building a team and creating new technology.
Not too surprised at the sales, however. Today’s sales channel/marketing/distribution, just can’t handle innovation. Everyone from the publishers marketing and sales department to the retailers and reviewers really need (demand?) that a well defined and successful genre get slapped on it. What can a company do to position a game like this properly? So they call it a platformer even though it is mediocre as one, in fact if strictly interpreted as one I imagine many would take it back to the store or that is why they have ignored it. All that text and plot, not much to shoot, the camera is annoying, etc. it is not a great platformer. The platforming serves at the interface to bring you through the rich story. But you can’t put that on a box.
I feel really bad for that team. They clearly made a labor of love and created a genuine work of art. And they don’t stand a chance of seeing a financial reward for their efforts, nor does Majesco who bravely picked it up and even put money into television advertising.
So thanks Tim Schaefer and all you guys and girls you busted your ass. My whole family really digs the game, and my five year old is apt to occasionally drop an ,”I am the Milkman, my milk is delicious”, or a “Punchy, punch, punch-punch!” Thanks.
Maybe they should sit on all the assets and rerelease it when the PS3/Xbox 360 launches with no good games to speak of. I'm surprised that isn't done more often on games with such investment/potential.
There's also the fact that the game hasn't shipped outside America as yet, so there should be a few more sales on the way.
It's quite an amazing little game.
Ok, I never played this, but what went wrong? Everyone here says its awsome, so why did it tank? Those sales numbers are awful, espeically for console titles. I can see the game not making money with that long of development, so even with normal sales numbers it could still tank. However, it sold horrably bad opposed to simply not enough to make up for the costs.
Its not GTA x100 or Madden 2010.
It seems most likely that the game bombed because it's just too weird. You see the box, the ads, the screens and can't help but think it's an "odd" game. Weird stuff doesn't sell very well.
This is also evidence that, despite what people seem to think, not all console games make tons of money.
Reading on adventure gamers forum, the problem seems to be they did the whole game twice. They got within 6-8 months shipping for microsoft and it did horrible in focus groups. Double Fine started on a complete redesign and they were let go. (or so I've read)Originally Posted by Jason Cross
The really funny and unique aspects of the game come from something other than platforming- yet it is a platformer. (That's a problem.)
Often it is not that fun, compared to other games in the genre, but you work your way through it just to get to the good stuff. In this case the good stuff is new stories, dialog, and enviornments- something more akin to adventure gaming.
I have been thinking about it alot, and I think the pacing of the game might have been better suited if the platforming was smoother/easier or if it was a different genre. Then it occured to me that the same thing might have been said about Full Throttle or Grim Fandango- hence 'the switch' to a platformer.
It is not as simple as writing it off as quirky. Look at Katamari Damacy. The primary difference is that the fun in Katamari is as straitforward as any game you can think of- it is easy to understand and describe.
Also, it does not help that the tutorial & begining elements of the game focus on the platforming and don't teach you to chill out, explore and interact with the environment as much as you should. It leads you through the game a little too quickly, or sets an urgent pace.
So how can you make a story telling game of this nature? What should it have been, or should they have cleaned up the platforming?
Definately looks like the game went well over budget which for a title like this would be the kiss of death. Then again with 15K units it was doomed from the beginning. You can look at a game like the new Oddworld title that while was basically a shooter with some platforming did pretty poorly I believe probably because the theme was just to well odd for many people. Sadly take that basic premise and put it into a generic fantasy world and it sells better.
My ears pricked up when I heard about the game. I'll definitely rent it when it hits my local video shop.
As interesting as it seems, I've read several reports that said it was basically a mediocre platformer. My interest fell after reading that.
Plus the fact that G4 TV's X-Players gave it two thumbs up. That made me suspicious.
A lot of people would saw it was an amazing platformer.I've read several reports that said it was basically a mediocre platformer.
Don't get me wrong, I loved Psychonauts but the actual game play was that of a mediocre platformer.
Exactly. It had everything but gameplay.Originally Posted by Rob_Merritt
I had more fun watching my wife play it than I had playing it myself.
Originally Posted by DeepTOriginally Posted by Andrew MyersOriginally Posted by ranvarian
You obviously haven't played enough mediocre platformers. Spend a few hours with Malice or Vexx or Dr. Muto or PacMan World 2 or the SpongeBob Flying Dutchman game and your tune will change.Originally Posted by Rob_Merritt
Psychonauts was at least as good as Rare's games for the N64 or the Spyro games for PS. You may not be into collectathons, but there's a long tradition of them.
Those games all qualify as awful platformers, though. Compared to Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper, etc, Psychonauts' platforming is mediocre. Great story, atmosphere, art, etc etc etc though.Originally Posted by RickH
On control alone, I would put Dr Muto on par with Psychonauts.
Well, I'll try to keep this to the point. Everyone talks about how great the atmosphere, story, etc. are. That does not make me want to buy the game.
Why would I go buy Psychonauts instead of fire up Ratchet & Clank again? Even the Psychonauts fans are here saying that the gameplay is mediocre. Well, that might be why it isn't selling well.
Do I really want to spend my time and money to play a mediocre platformer made by <Insert Awesome Developer Here>? No. I would rather play a great platformer made by <Insert Any Developer Here, I Don't Care>.
I don't know if we can chalk up bad sales because of "poor gameplay" because:Originally Posted by McBain
a) You wouldn't know this unless you played it or someone told you it was so, and
b) almost every review was a rave, so people weren't exactly complaining about the gameplay.
I used the word mediocre. The same word that some other people used in this thread.Originally Posted by Troy
The latter. What's this "word of mouth" I hear so much about?Originally Posted by Troy
When nearly everyone who raves about the game talks about the great story, style, sound, and voice acting, but really doesn't say much about the gameplay, I form certain inferences. When people who liked the game come out and say bluntly that the gameplay was mediocre, those inferences are strengthened.Originally Posted by Troy
Look at Katamari Damacy. Weird game. Sold well. Sure, price might have had something to do with it, but everyone was talking about how cool the GAMEPLAY was. Possible correlation? You decide.
I got a poor gameplay vibe from the demo released a while back. The weak platform + collectathon elements turned me off big time. Combine that with Nickelodeon humor and I skipped it without regrets despite the fact that Grim Fandango was one of the best adventure games of all time IMO.Originally Posted by TSG
IMHO, Schafer would be better off making smaller games for the PC audience and spending less money to make them. $11.8 mil to aim a funny, quirky, kinda-kids'-game-lookin' title at a teen/college-age male console audience that wants licensed stuff and/or to just blow stuff up (not that there's anything wrong with that)? It doesn't make any financial sense.
Most of the word of mouth that I heard was the opposite, though. I had friends raving about it. Even here there was more than enough enthusiasm about it to override a lot of concerns.
This isn't a Black and White situation where the editorial consensus didn't jibe with what everyone else saw after a few hours. Word of mouth was strong on Psychonauts - not for everyone, obviously - but strong enough that whatever mediocrity there was can't account for how dismal the sales were.
And Black and White had worse word of mouth and sold much, much, better.
Is there now a consensus that Psychonauts had mediocre gameplay?