Tim Schafer at GDC 2011.
July 26, 1967 |
Timothy John Schafer (born July 26, 1967) is an American computer game designer. He founded Double Fine Productions in July 2000, after having spent over a decade at LucasArts. Schafer is best known as the designer of critically acclaimed games Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Brütal Legend, and Broken Age and co-designer of The Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge and Day of the Tentacle. He is well known in the video game industry for his storytelling and comedic writing style.
Before joining LucasArts (1989)
While studying computer science at UC Berkeley, Tim Schafer worked at Lucasfilm Games. During his application process for the job, he had a somewhat disastrous phone interview in which he mentioned being a fan of Ballblaster. The interviewer, David Fox, informed him that the Lucasfilm Games title was Ballblazer, and that only the pirated version was known as Ballblaster. Schafer was still permitted to send in his resume and a cover letter, so to make up for the phone interview, he sent in a comic of himself applying for and getting the job at Lucasfilm Games, drawn as a text adventure.
On March 21, 1989 Schafer sent a job application to Atari, which was denied. Atari stated that they had no available positions at that time, and that he would be reconsidered depending of their needs in relation to his experience and skills.
After play-testing the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade action game and assisting with the NES version of Maniac Mansion, Schafer was assigned as a writer and programmer to the production of the pirate-themed adventure game The Secret of Monkey Island.
According to series creator Ron Gilbert, Schafer and fellow writer-programmer Dave Grossman were responsible for about two thirds of the game's dialogue. Monkey Island is noted for its humorous story, though it was originally conceived as having a more serious tone; Schafer and Grossman wrote much more humorous placeholder dialog, which persuaded Gilbert to turn it into a comedy. The Secret of Monkey Island became one of the most acclaimed games of its kind. The same team created the sequel, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge.
In his first lead role on a game project, Schafer co-designed (with Dave Grossman) Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, a time-travel comedy adventure and the sequel to Ron Gilbert's Maniac Mansion. Schafer's first solo project, the biker adventure Full Throttle, was released in 1995. He went on to design the highly acclaimed Grim Fandango, a noir adventure game set in the Aztec afterlife featuring characters similar to the papier-mâché skeleton decorations from the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos. Grim Fandango won many awards, including GameSpot's Game of the Year award of 1998.
Psychonauts and Brütal Legend (2000–2010)
Schafer worked on an unannounced PlayStation 2 action-adventure game at LucasArts, but it never entered production. He left the company in January 2000 to found Double Fine Productions, where he created the platform game Psychonauts. The game was first released on Xbox in North America on April 19, 2005. It won much critical acclaim, including a Game of the Year award from Eurogamer.
On March 7, 2007, he hosted the annual Game Developers Choice Awards. He later hosted it again in 2009. To coincide, Double Fine released a free Flash minigame entitled Host Master and the Conquest of Humor, a pastiche of Schafer's LucasArts games in which the player takes on the role of Schafer backstage at the GDC Awards.
In fall 2009, Schafer completed a new game called Brütal Legend. The game was released on October 13, 2009, on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles. In an April 2009 interview on The Jace Hall Show, Schafer had this to say about Brütal Legend: "For Brütal Legend, I've always seen this overlap between medieval warfare and heavy metal. You see heavy metal singers and they'll have like a brace around their arm and they'll be singing about Orcs. So let's just make a world where that all happens. That all gets put together, the heavy metal, and the rock, and the battling, actually does happen. Let's not flirt around with this; let's just do it."
Amnesia Fortnight and Broken Age (2010–present)
Schafer announced in July 2010 that EA had canceled the sequel to Brütal Legend. Instead of Brütal Legend 2, Double Fine had a period called "Amnesia Fortnight", where the team came up with prototype games that could be pitched to publishers. From these, four smaller games were made that for the first time in Double Fine's history had project leaders other than Schafer: Costume Quest, Stacking, Iron Brigade and Once upon a Monster.
On February 1, 2012, Schafer returned to the role of director in Double Fine Happy Action Theater, a game concept he devised in order to be able to play a game with his two-year-old daughter that she would be able to enjoy as well.
On February 9, 2012, Schafer launched a crowdfunded project for an unnamed adventure game via Kickstarter.com. The game and accompanying documentary were projected to cost US$400,000. Contributions exceeded that amount by more than three times in less than 24 hours, making it the first Kickstarter project to reach a $2 million figure, and the second most successful project on the website thus far. When the project ended on March 13, funding reached a level of $3,336,371 in Kickstarter with an additional $110,000 from premium pledges.
Another title from the "Amnesia Fortnight" prototype session was developed into Double Fine's first free-to-play iOS title with funding from Dracogen. The game, titled Middle Manager of Justice, was accidentally released in all territories on September 5, 2012, but was quickly pulled. That build was later branded beta, with the final release coming later in 2012. Like the other four "Amnesia Fortnight" titles, Middle Manager of Justice had a project leader other than Tim Schafer.
A remastered version of Grim Fandango was announced by Double Fine Productions in June 2014, along with a remastered version of Day of the Tentacle, announced in December 2014; Double Fine was able to negotiate a deal with Disney for the remastered versions following the closure of LucasArts in 2013.
On March 5, 2015, Schafer hosted the 2015 Game Developer’s Choice Awards where he received criticism from Gamergate supporters for making jokes perceived as an attack on the hashtag #NotYourShield while using a sock puppet as a prop.
Influences and philosophy
In an interview at Game Developers Conference in 2003, Schafer stated that he strives for integrating story into the gameplay, setting a creative goal of someday creating a video game without any cutscenes at all. Furthermore, he said he often sets a story in an established world:
"[O]ften, the world is the initial inspiration for the game. One day I was listening to someone tell me their stories of spending the summer in Alaska. They had hung around this one biker bar, with these people with names like Smilin' Rick and Big Phil. And I thought, 'Wow, what a crazy world that is.' It's so apart from everybody's life, and yet it's right there, it's so mundane in a way. And that's where Full Throttle came from."
- The press first previewed Psychonauts at the E3 trade show of 2002, where it won the Game Critics Award for Best Original Game.
- An hour-long episode of Icons on the G4 Network documented the last week of Psychonauts' production and explored Tim Schafer's career. (Original airdate: April 28, 2005).
- At the 2006 Game Developers Choice Awards, Tim Schafer and Erik Wolpaw won the award for Best Writing for Psychonauts. Tim Schafer and Double Fine Executive Producer & COO Caroline Esmurdoc also won the award for Best New Studio.
- In October 2006, Tim Schafer received a BAFTA video game Best Screenplay award for Psychonauts.
- In 2012, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) organized the "Game Masters" exhibition, where Tim Schafer was featured as the creator of Grim Fandango, among a few other visionary designers, credited for having "pushed the boundaries of game design and storytelling, introducing new genres, creating our best-loved characters and revolutionising the way we understand and play games"
|Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game||1989||tester||LucasArts|
|Maniac Mansion (NES port)||1990||tools programmer, SCUMM||LucasArts|
|The Secret of Monkey Island||1990||co-writer, programmer, additional designer||LucasArts|
|Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge||1991||co-writer, programmer, additional designer||LucasArts|
|Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle||1993||co-designer, co-producer, co-director, co-writer||LucasArts|
|Full Throttle||1995||project leader, writer, designer||LucasArts|
|Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire||1996||Never actively tried to sabotage the project||LucasArts|
|The Curse of Monkey Island||1997||additional design||LucasArts|
|Grim Fandango||1998||project leader, writer, designer||LucasArts|
|Star Wars Episode I: Racer||1999||Never actively tried to sabotage the project ||LucasArts|
|Psychonauts||2005||creative director, co-writer, designer||Double Fine, Majesco|
|Brütal Legend||2009||creative director, writer, designer||Double Fine, Electronic Arts|
|Costume Quest||2010||creative director, writer||Double Fine, THQ|
|Stacking||2011||creative director||Double Fine, THQ|
|Iron Brigade||2011||creative director||Double Fine, Microsoft Studios|
|Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster||2011||creative director||Double Fine, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Haunt||2012||voice actor||NanaOn-Sha, Zoë Mode, Microsoft Studios|
|Double Fine Happy Action Theater||2012||director||Double Fine, Microsoft Studios|
|Middle Manager of Justice||2012||creative director||Double Fine, Dracogen|
|Kinect Party||2012||creative director||Double Fine, Microsoft Studios|
|The Cave||2013||studio creative director||Double Fine, Sega|
|Dropchord||2013||creative director||Double Fine, Dracogen|
|Spacebase DF-9||2013||creative director||Double Fine, Indie Fund|
|Broken Age||2014||director, writer||Double Fine|
|Massive Chalice||2014||creative director||Double Fine|
|Grim Fandango Remastered||2015||creative director||Double Fine|
- Schafer, Tim; Bush, Josh (March 23, 2014). DFGameClub - Broken Age, Act 1 (Podcast). Twitch. Event occurs at 1:27:30. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
Like The Secret of Monkey Island, is it more exciting if I keep it a secret forever? Yeah, my full name is Timothy John Schafer.
- Schafer, Tim (March 23, 2014). Cheese talks to: Tim Schafer (as a part of the Double Fine Game Club). Interview with Josh Bush. DFGameClub. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- "Let the Games Begin". Sunday Herald Sun (Australia). June 24, 2012. p. 12 - "Play" section.
- Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts pg. 54
- "Double Fine – Action News". Double Fine Productions. September 27, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- "The Secret of Creating Monkey Island – An Interview With Ron Gilbert". LucasFilm Adventurer vol. 1, number 1 (online transcript). 1990. Retrieved December 24, 2006.
- "Best and Worst of 1998: Game of the Year". GameSpot. 1999. Retrieved March 27, 2008.
- "Sierra Entertainment and Double Fine Productions unearth ancient tome and decrypt Brütal Legend" (Press release). Double Fine Productions. October 19, 2007. Retrieved March 30, 2008.
- "James Gunn & Brutal Legend". The Jace Hall Show. Season 2. Episode 5. 20089-04-16.
- "Tim Schafer confirms Brutal Legend 2 canceled, announces four games". November 5, 2014.
- Palacios, Tina (January 24, 2012). "Talking Happy Action Theater with Double Fine". IGN. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
- "When making a game is a game in itself". cnn.com. February 10, 2012.
- "Double Fine Adventure". Kickstarter.
- "Double Fine Day". Kickstarter.
- "Double Fine™ - Action News". doublefine.com.
- "Double Fine Blooper Becomes Middle Manager of Justice Beta". The Escapist. September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
- "PAX: Double Fine's adventure game is called Broken Age". November 5, 2014.
- Nunnely, Stephany (June 9, 2014). "Grim Fandango remastered coming to PlayStation". VG247. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
- Gera, Emily (June 9, 2014). "Grim Fandango is coming to PS4 and PS Vita (update)". Polygon. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
- Siddiky, Asif (June 10, 2014). "A Closer Look at Grim Fandango’s Surprise Revival". PlayStation Blog. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
- Albert, Brian (December 6, 2014). "DAY OF THE TENTACLE SPECIAL EDITION ANNOUNCED". IGN. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
- Griffin, Andrew (March 5, 2015). "GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards". The Independent. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
- Celia Pearce (March 7, 2003). "A Conversation with Tim Schafer". Game Studies. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
- "Winners 2002". Game Critics Awards. Retrieved March 27, 2008.
- "Icons: Tim Schafer Recap". TV.com. Retrieved March 30, 2008.
- "Games Nominations 2006". BAFTA. Retrieved March 27, 2008.
- "Video Game History Month: Tim Schafer". GameSpot.com. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- "Tim "The Raccoon King" Schafer Never Actively Tried to Sabotage The Development Of Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire". GameInformer. October 25, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
- "Star Wars Episode 1 Racer for PC Credits". Retrieved September 21, 2014.
- Sheffield, Brandon (December 29, 2011). "NanaOn-Sha: Changing The World Of Games". Gamasutra. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tim Schafer.|
- Tim Schafer at MobyGames
- Double Fine Productions Schafer's game development studio
- What does the game industry have against innovation? (a news feature centered on Psychonauts, with comments from Schafer)
- "Tim Schafer on Taking Risks" (D.I.C.E. Summit 2005)
- "Tim Schafer on Memorable Character Design" (GDC 2004, audio recording)
- Tim Schafer on the Monkey Island Wiki
- Trip to Double Fine from The International House of Mojo
- Return to Double Fine from The International House of Mojo
- Millennium Gaming: 20 Gaming Visionaries Usher In The Next Millennium of Gaming at GameSpot (1999)
- A Conversation with Tim Schafer by Celia Pearce at GameStudies (2003)
- Rebel With a Cause: Traveling through the mind of Tim Schafer at 1UP.com (2006)
- Tim Schafer's KickStarter Project Interview at DICE (2012)